Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mini Review: In Time and Tower Heist

Two and a half weeks. Is that really how long it’s been since I’ve written at least anything remotely interesting? Sure, In between that time I’ve only watched a measly count of TWO movies, ranging from In Time to Tower Heist, but it doesn’t make sense NOT to write about them. I still haven’t figured out what went on. Maybe it was that temporary writing block that slapped me in the face a while back, or the fact that I’ve run out of DVDs’ to watch. I’m losing focus, the point that I’m trying to make, is that I’m back. I’m ready to start watching classic films again, every hour of the day, and not only watch them, write about them. So, to start off my return to the blog, here are two, albeit a little late, mini reviews on both In Time and Tower Heist.

In Time

A twisted future where humans seem to stop aging at the ripe old age of 25, but are only given a year’s worth of time left to live, Andrew Niccol’s In Time depicts a world in which time has become the new currency; the more time you own, the richer you become. But what happens if you run out of time? You die.

The film centers around Will Salas (Justin Timberlake; Friends with Benefits), a young industrial worker living off minimum wage, as he attempts to survive in the ghetto of a grey Los Angeles. Things suddenly seem to spin out of control for Will when he obtains 100 years, a rarity to the everyday citizen, from a man in distress. This new time, or money, sends Will into a tornado of unfortunate events as he becomes entangled with Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried; Chloe), the daughter of a billionaire, and a “time-cop” (Cillian Murphy; Inception) slowly catching up to him.

I am failing to mention a few key details in the story, but the film itself is ultimately lacking an explanation to why time has become the new way of life. The cinematography is stunning as it was beautifully shot in modern-day Los Angeles, but somehow comes out post-futuristic.

The one major flaw that I noticed in the film, which has been reoccurring with most movies nowadays, is the ending. Everything adds up to this single resolution with all of the events unfolding right before your eyes, but instead leaves you with questions unanswered and a meh sort-of attitude.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it. With an amazing concept, good writing, and fairly decent acting, In Time is a great sci-fi to be enjoyed by all.

2 out of 4

Tower Heist

From Ocean’s Eleven to Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, a great heist movie comes in all shapes and sizes, but most contain a sense of the basic, ‘Give me all your money Punk’. Tower Heist on the other hand, is no cookie cutter.

The film centers on a large apartment building in central New York, which is home to investors, the wealthy, and businessmen alike, as well as the best damn hotel crew that the city has ever seen. The hotel manager, Josh (Ben Stiller; Little Fockers), has become devoted to fulfilling the needs of every resident living in the building, but may trust one resident a little too much. He decides to invest his and the hotel crew’s money in a wealthy investor (Alan Alda; M*A*S*H*), only to find out that it was all one big Ponzi scheme. Josh, now losing the trust of his crew and soon losing his job due to Alda’s character, devises a plan to steal back the dirty money from the greedy shark with the help of his fateful friends (Matthew Broderick, Michael Pena, and Casey Affleck), and a law breaking acquaintance (Eddie Murphy) who is going to show everyone that stealing is a piece of cake.

Hilarity ensues as the gang readies for the big day of the heist, in their own wacky sort of way. Eddie Murphy is hilarious throughout, a character he hasn’t played in a while, as well as Ben Stiller who plays a great portrayal of a solid man with a plan.

Will the heist resolve in success though? Will Josh and his cohorts be able to reclaim the large amount of money from the tower, or will his plans just come crashing down upon him? One thing’s for sure, Tower Heist is unpredictably entertaining.

3 out of 4

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Rum Diary Review

The Rum Diary, a tiring epic that follows the notorious gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson, in a series of confusing and corrupted events, infused with shots of rum here and there. Starting with swigs of alcohol that are borderline pure gasoline to relying on money from backroom cock fights, Thompson is merely at the start of his infamous career as the “In-Your-Face” writer who had no limits, as he attempts to settle corruption in the tropical land of Puerto Rico.

The film centers on Hunter (Johnny Depp; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) as he applies for a new job at the local failing newspaper in the sunny land of the Caribbean, along the way befriending a local loud mouth drunk, Sala. Things get complicated when he becomes infatuated with the girlfriend (Amber Heard; Drive Angry) of a wealthy and sneaky businessman of sorts, Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart; Thank You for Smoking). The relaxation in the colorful paradise takes a turn when Thompson uncovers corruption involving Sanderson and the small newspaper agency. Now, it’s up to him to resolve the many conflicts in the lush island, while still drinking some rum along the way.

Though the film had some hilarious moments here and there, it still wasn’t able to make up for the long and grueling hour and a half of confusing story. At times, I was able to understand what was happening as well as what was to come, but it mainly ended up being a crash course about a twisted vacation.

The movie can be best described by this: The film was like a drunken man behind the wheel of a car, able to stay in the lane one second but veering off course another, only to end up swerving left and right down the road. It had a clear and coherent story one second and then suddenly became off-topic and confusing, making it a jumbled mess of partying in paradise and crookedness in the main-land.

I had high expectations for the film seeing that it came from the mind of one of the greatest writers to break the limits of journalism and that it was also closely related to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but I was left sadly disappointed.

The Rum Diary, a very long and interesting take on a trip to a distant land, may be funny at times but leaves you confused and tired in the end.

1 ½ out of 4

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Review

From confusingly endless sequels to remakes that don’t give the original justice, good horror movies have almost become a rarity in today’s society. Nothing though, can ever beat John Carpenter’s 1978 horror-classic, Halloween.

For those of you who somehow don’t already know the story of one of the greatest thrillers in cinema, Halloween tells a twisted tale that all plays out on one Halloween night. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee-Curtis) is an average A+ high school student whose Halloween plans are to babysit the neighbor’s kids and hang out with a couple of her friends, until all of that changes when word gets out that an estranged murderer, a.k.a. Michael Meyers, has escaped from the county insane asylum. Now, he’s returned to Laurie’s hometown to finish business from his past and kill anyone that gets in his way.

With the 9 Halloween titles/sequels amongst the years, the main story has become jumbled and confused along the way, making the originals less and less popular to today’s crowd. All that people want to see today is blood, gore, and over-the-top deaths, but Carpenter’s original simply contains none of the above.

The long and eerie shots of Meyers’ stalking his unknowing victim in plain sight can alone give the film its chill factor. So simplistic and yet so advanced for its time, you’ll start to wonder who will live and who will die next. And guess what kids?! No CGI included!

Even in the 80’s, so many directors sought out to create the scariest thriller of its time and most could simply not perfect the art. Then Carpenter comes along and creates one of the greatest horrors in cinema history, with many more to come including The Thing, The Fog, and Escape from New York. Though it may not be as popular today, with Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake giving some shame to the original, it will always be one of the greatest in my books.

All that’s needed to make a great movie is a man, a mask, and an unexplained need to kill. Halloween is simply, a horror like no other.

3 ½ out of 4

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

50/50 Review

Cancer, a horror like no other, is a deadly mutation of our white blood cells. Though treatable, it is never to be taken lightly. It has the power to take the lives of the ones we love most and to rip the rug out from under our feet when we least expect it. Those living with the horrid disease can only truly understand how it eats away at their health but it’s when it hits home that we can actually comprehend the destructive capability it has on us all.
In Jonathan Levine’s dramatic comedy 50/50, Adam Schwartz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 27 year-old radio publicist with his entire life ahead of him, is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. Through the help of his supportive, yet questionable girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), he undergoes the task of living with the disease. His best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), guides Adam along the road to recovery, though he may seem selfish at times, Kyle only wants the best for him.
Adam’s never smoked though. He’s never committed a felony, never drank alcohol – he even recycles, and somehow he is the one to be burdened with the deadly curse. As the side effects start to plague his mind, Adam is prescribed a weakly dose of therapy with the hospital’s newest therapist, Katherine (Anna Kendrick). Though, Adam was sent to her to help relieve the tension on his own problems, he starts to show her the finer sides of life as their relationship strengthens.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt acts in one of the greatest performances of his career. You can see the true sorrow and sympathy in each and every one of his friends as he tells them the news of cancer. Seth Rogen is even known as the idiotic stoner in most of his movies, but he portrays a character like no other in 50/50. Amazing writing supports the, what seems to be, even more amazing characters as the story continues on.

The film will make you laugh till cry and make you cry till you, well, cry some more. It’ll show you the true, deadly affects that cancer can have on not only the one living with it, but also the friends and family who continue to support their friend in need. The film can hit you with the hard realization of the fragility of life itself, but will also show you how to respect it in a finer way.

The dramatic and heartwarming true story of a man understanding the finer side of life and overcoming the ultimate fears of death, 50/50 is an amazing character study that is by far one of the best films of the year.

4 stars out of 4

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Cronenberg’s Videodrome is a mind bending piece of absurdity at its best with a subliminal message that is ultimately starting to become our reality. Sure, the film is definitely less known upon the standard movie viewing crowd but maybe it needs to be displayed once again to a more modern audience. Help spread the message that television can f#%k with your mind.

Max Renn (James Woods), a TV executive in charge of a sleazy, late night television network accidentally stumbles across a fuzzy satellite feed one night, in which he witnesses a “show” of horror, torture, and what could possibly be murder. At first Max is strangely compelled and addicted to these acts of violence but as time goes on, he starts to question it all. Who could possibly be the mastermind behind these horrid obscenities? It was the one question that Max wanted to know, but the one answer he never wanted to find out.
With this cult classic, you almost have to treat it the same way like you might have with Inception, constantly asking yourself if what you are watching is reality or simply a dream. The story itself conveys a very strong message to the viewer about the television business and the trance it has on us all and A numerous amount of memorable quotes seem to flow in and out of the somewhat perfect dialogue.
Almost everything in the film has a certain amount of strangeness composed into it with cinematic "hallucinations" and an ever-twisting plot. Towards the end, the film leaves me unsatisfied with so many questions left unanswered and a confused look on my face.
Videodrome is an ultimate hypnosis of the mind, a surreal work of fiction waiting to be displayed to the rest of the world.