[sticky post]2015 Movie Reviews

For those who are interested, I will be placing my movie reviews here. Be warned, my reviews WILL contain spoilers. These are my reviews of what I liked, didn't like, and what I thought of the performances. If you want a generic review, then I may try to put together reviews for those posts as well. I'll be sure to mark each review as either Spoilers! or Spoiler-Free. My spoiler reviews will not be included on friend feeds in order to help you all out in not being spoiled. If you want to read a spoiler review, then please check this post and click on the appropriate link.

Boyhood (Spoilers Version)
Divergent (Spoilers Version)
The Imitation Game (Spoilers Version)
Into The Woods (Spoilers Version)
Into The Storm (Spoilers Version)
The Maze Runner (Spoilers Version)
Foxcatcher (Spoilers Version)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Spoilers Version)
The Theory of Everything (Spoilers Version)


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I can't believe it has been over a year since my last journal entry, but then again, with most of my friends on Facebook more than anything, I just stopped checking over here. I'm often just too lazy to try and post an entry, especially since I know I'm the only one really looking at it.

But, looking over old posts reminds me that it's good for me to journal if for no other reason that to give perspective when I read old posts and remark at how I felt about a given thing at the moment when it was fresh as opposed to how I feel over time. Usually, the things that are giving me fits at the moment don't matter in the end, and when I re-read what I read, I realize just how silly it was to get all bent out of shape, or I sigh a big sigh of relief that I managed to get over whatever it was that had my panties in a twist.

I've been thinking about anything significant that happened in 2016, and honestly, other than some of my favorite celebrities dying, and the political election being a complete screw-up, I can't really say 2016 was that eventful. I can't think of anything personally that happened that was like a highlight of the year. Of course, it might have been different if I had blogged during the year. Professionally, the biggest thing was that I'm getting promoted. It's a slow-going process, but hopefully the promotion goes through soon. It'll be a little better pay, but the biggest thing that's already happening is that it means a change in my job duties. Having been at MoFo in Records for two years already, it's time to change things up.

As for what's happening right now, not much really. I'm at work relaxing since I don't have a whole lot on my plate at the moment. I have 126 boxes that I have to send out, but they're not ready yet. That will likely happen tomorrow.

Oscars will be announced tomorrow morning, so I spent the weekend preparing for it, mostly by watching a couple of movies that I've heard have some Oscar potential. The two that I watched are "Arrival" and "Fences". I enjoyed "Arrival", but I don't know if it was Oscar-worthy. As for "Fences", I highly expect Viola Davis to get an Oscar nomination because once again, she hit it out of the park in terms of emotional intensity and stage presence. I'm not sure if Fences will get nominated for anything else especially considering the other films I'm hearing buzz about. I plan on watching Moonlight and Hacksaw Ridge soon.


Movie Review: The Theory of Everything (Spoilers Version)

Directed by: James Marsh
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox

Review to Come:


Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Spoiler Version)

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe

Review to come:


Movie Review: Foxcatcher (Spoiler Version)

Directed by: Bennett Miller
Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Rufalo

Mark Schultz was an Olympic wrestling champion in the 1984 Olympics. John Du Pont was a multi-millionaire philanthropist who becomes Mark's coach with the goal of winning the gold in the 1988 Olympics. Du Pont hires Mark to help him choose and train a team of wrestlers to take first to the 1987 World Championships and then to the 1988 Olympics. Because his family farm was known as Foxcatcher Farm, their team would be known as "Team Foxcatcher".

At first, Mark is appreciative of the opportunities that DuPont offers him though he is disappointed that his brother, Dave, also a gold medal wrestling champ, at first declines DuPont's offer to go to Foxcatcher Farm with his brother. What first begins as a coach-wrestler relationship soon develops into something deeper which is Mark's downfall when Du Pont introduces him to cocaine.

When Mark begins to change and becomes withdrawn, Du Pont offers Dave a huge sum of money to come to Foxcatcher and help him with the wrestling team. When Mark almost loses a championship, it's Dave who helps his brother pull himself together. This seems to be the beginning of Du Pont's undoing as he soon becomes mentally unbalanced.

After the 1988 Olympics, Mark Schultz decides to leave Foxcatcher while Dave remains to help Du Pont with his wrestling team, but not before securing that Mark will receive a stipend regardless of what he does in the future. Du Pont is forced to accept because he needs Dave's help with the wrestling team. However, Du Pont would continue to grow resentful of the Schultz brothers. This culminates in the unexpected events of January 26, 1996 when Du Pont and his head of security, Patrick Goodale, drive up to Schultz's driveway on the Du Pont's estate. After asking Dave if he has something against him, Du Pont unexpectedly pulls out a gun and shoots Dave Schultz four times resulting in his death.

The film ends with a short police chase where Du Pont is captured and is sentenced to 13 to 30 years in prison. Meanwhile, Mark Schultz has found success in the UFC.

Based on true events, I'm sure that the movie embellished the details in order to suit the dramatic arc of the story. Although it is more an implication than explicitly indicated, one motive for Mark's decline in emotional and mental state seems to be an implication that Du Pont and Schultz were involved in a sexual relationship that leaves Mark feeling guilty and ashamed. Also, another implication of the deterioration of the relationship between Mark Schultz and John Du Pont was the fact that Mark had originally looked up to Du Pont as a father figure since his own father had been absent in his childhood. When Du Pont, the father figure introduces Schultz to a life of drugs, it would make sense that Schultz would react in the way he did.

The performances by Carell, Tatum and Rufalo were solid and believable. Plus, this was one of those films where the lead actor, in this case Steve Carell, goes through a complete makeover to look more like their character than themselves, which should garner at least an Oscar nomination for Carell.

Foxcatcher is one of those films that leave you thinking and wanting to discuss it with friends once it is over, which in my opinion is a good thing. Although it seemed to drag in places and had an uneven pacing, I enjoyed Foxcatcher and am glad I saw it.


Movie Review: The Maze Runner

Directed by: Wes Ball
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter

Review to Come:


Movie Review: Into The Storm

Directed by: Steven Quale
Starring: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh

Plot: Filmed in the Found Footage style, Into The Storm tells the story of people caught in the middle of the mother of all storms. The town of Silverton had no idea what was about to happen. Some people were preparing for the local graduation, some people were trying to be the next internet superstar, and a team of storm chasers were trying to find the next big storm so they could do the impossible, film the eye of a tornado. What happens is the worst series of tornadoes ever recorded, and the people of Silverton are caught up in the middle of it trying to survive when nature is against them.

Breakout Performer/Character: There isn't one breakout performer. Instead, the story that forms the plot of the story, that of a high school vice-principal who is raising his two teenage sons alone will go through any lengths to keep his children safe, is the driving force of the film and rightfully so. You really root for this family and hope that they can beat the odds and come out unharmed.

What I Liked: Into the Storm is a fun, action-packed disaster movie where as long as the viewer is able to suspend their disbelief they should be thoroughly be entertained.

What I Didn't Like: This movie is not a deep movie, so as long as I don't think to hard on it, there's nothing that I dislike about it. For a popcorn, escape-from-reality type of movie, it hits the spot.

Would I Recommend Seeing It: If you enjoy disaster movies like Dante's Peak, Deep Impact, Volcano, and especially Twister, then you will definitely want to see this one.


Movie Review: Into The Woods

Directed by: Rob Marshall
Starring: Meryl Streep, Anna Kendricks, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine

Plot: Based off of a musical, Into the Woods is a retelling of classic fairy tales where the stories are interwoven. More in line with the original Grimm versions, these fairy tales are not quite the same bedtime tales. This one involves a Baker and his wife who long for a child. When their next door neighbor, the witch promises they will have a child if they bring her back four items: A cow as white as milk, a cape as read as blood, hair the color of corn, and a golden slipper. As the couple rush to get the items they need within three days, they set in motion a chain of events that will affect no only their story but the story of Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.

Breakout Performer/Character: Meryl Streep as The Witch. No matter how well cast this movie is, it will assuredly come down to Meryl Streep's performance as the one that you remember the most. She's delightfully wicked and dangerous, yet sympathetic at the same time.

What I Liked: There was so much about this film that I loved. The cast was awesome. I enjoyed the music, though there have been some critics who say that they don't sing the songs as much as speak them. The set is exactly like what you would expect from a fairy tale. Also, this film is entertaining from the beginning right up to the end. I didn't even wonder how much longer this film had because I enjoyed it so much.

What I Didn't Like: I can't think of a single thing.

Would I Recommend Seeing It: Oh, absolutely. If you love musicals, ensemble casts, and fairy tales, then this is the movie for you.


Movie Review: Divergent (Spoilers Version)

Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller

In a dystopian future, Chicago has become a walled city, completely cut-off from the outside. Here, there is peace, but only because the citizens are separated into factions, each faction representing a different characteristic and purpose of life. When children reach the age where they can choose to which faction they belong, they are administered a test to help them make their decision. This test will tell them which faction they should pledge themselves to. However, Tris is Divergent, someone who does not conform to one faction over the others. Being a Divergent places Tris in danger because there are many who see Divergents as threats to the balance of their peace. If her secret were to come out, there would be many who would not stop until she was dead.

Breakout Performer/Character: Shailene Woodley truly shines as a young woman facing difficult choices where her life is in danger for something she has no control over. Whatever Tris goes through, Ms. Woodley brings it to life so convincingly that you forget she's only acting a role.

What I Liked: Honestly, I didn't expect to like this movie much at all. I was starting to get a little bored with films based on young adult fiction. However, the story, the direction, and the actors keep you entertained longer than you would expect. Plus, the story is a satisfactory story even though this is only part one of a trilogy.

What I Didn't Like: Lately, I've grown tired with the tropes that seem to be in every story that I read or movie that I watch. Character A is thrust into a situation that they have no control over, they must survive on their own after being separated from their family, and in the end sacrifices are made to get Character A, the Hero, to that majestic conclusion and heroic deed that will be remembered forever. In Divergent, there is a lack of originality when it comes to the smaller beats of the story. When her loved ones sacrifice themselves to keep her safe, it feels so contrived and loses a little bit of the emotional impact that the sacrifices should have.

Would I Recommend Seeing It:
I would definitely recommend this movie, especially to people who enjoy fantasy/dystopian stories. This is a fun movie with a good story that entertains from start to finish.


Movie Review: Boyhood (Spoilers Version)

Directed by:Richard Linklater
Starring:Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke

Plot: Boyhood follows the life of a young boy named Mason from the time he is five to when he is seventeen. Mason is a young boy living with his mother and sister, Samantha. While his mother tries to put herself through school to get a better paying job, Mason and Samantha have to start over and over because of constant moving due to their mother's work or new relationships. Their father is involved with their life, but he is unable to provide the stability that they need when he only sees them a few weekends and a few weeks during the summer. As Mason struggles with adolescence, he learns the hard lessons that comes with being a child of a single parent.

Breakout Performer/Character: Without a shadow of a doubt, Patricia Arquette as the mother really sticks out. As a mother struggling to raise her children the best way she knows how, Arquette shows vulnerability and emotion that brings sympathy for the character without stealing the focus of the film.

What I Liked: For me, the best thing about the film was Patricia Arquette. I also have to admire the dedication and commitment that went into this film since it was filmed over a period of 45 days but stretched out to 12 years. There's no doubt that Richard Linklater, the director, has talent and skill.

What I Didn't Like: Two things bothered me. First, I did not find any empathy for the main character. In fact, I felt he kind of dragged the film down. There were so many times that he would get a strong talking to, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears. It bugged me that the character was so detached from his own life that he didn't seem to care what happened one way or the other. This made me feel that the main character was just wasting my time. Second, I felt like the movie lacked a plot other than telling the story of the main character's life over 12 years. It felt like just when something was actually happening, the director wrapped it all up very quickly without giving the viewer a sense of closure. There were several moments in the film where it needed something to complete a story point that would have made it better.

Would I Recommend Seeing It: Yes, with the warning that if you are looking for a movie that will keep you entertained or invested in the story, then you aren't going to like this movie very much.

Over all, I applaud the director for his vision and for doing something risky, but I felt the movie was too long, lacked direction, and while the supporting cast put in some good award-getting performances, it was diluted by a main character that didn't seem to care about anything and dragged his feet through life as just another emotionless stoner.


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