Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton

The Movie:
Michael Keaton plays a washed up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of a Broadway play.

Finally a movie I feel deserves four Oscar wins, not to mention best picture. Every Oscar season I tend to spend a lot of time catching up on past nominees and winners, the last best picture winner I approved of was A Beautiful Mind - that was an incredible film. That is until I saw Birdman, knowing nothing about who directed, wrote or produced this film I went into it for it's excellent cast line up - after all, there's very few movies Michael Keaton stars in that I dislike.

Speaking of Keaton, before deciding to watch this movie I actually started to think this was a biography on his life. Substitute Birdman for Batman, which happened to be his best work in my humble opinion, and looking into his filmography it comes to little surprise that he's taken on some awful roles in the last decade or two. I'm not sure if he's ever considered being in a Broadway play, but he definitely appears to be a bit washed up as an actor, as he gets older, just like his character: Riggan Thomson. Many big name celebrities are like that, they work up to one big break then fall back. For instance, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Terminator movies, and Sylvester Stallone and the Rocky franchise. They all want to return to stardom so bad that they take on any random role that seems profitable, in the end they tend to fail to upkeep what once was.

This movie also Zach Galifianakis who should really stick with comedies, his serious dramatic roles simply don't work in anything. The gorgeous Emma Stone, whose last big hit was Zombieland. And speaking of washed up actors, let's look at Edward Norton, this guy was great in Fight Club, but his role in this movie just made me want to punch him in the face. It's incredible how he can portray enough negativity on an otherwise great film.

This film, at it's attempt to be artsy, won't attract everyone, especially casual movie goers who are only interested in Blockbuster films. It almost didn't attract me but I'm not your ordinary movie fan.

** Won four Oscars for 2014: Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography

Rating: 8/10

Note: I feel I could talk more about this movie but without spoiling it for those who haven't watched it I've decided to further any discussion to the comments below, leave a comment and I'll love to discuss this movie with you guys one-on-one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959)

Director: Robert Stevenson
Starring: Sean Connery, Janet Munro, Albert Sharpe

The Movie:
A frisky old storyteller named Darby O'Gill is desperately seeking the proverbial pot of gold. There's just one tiny thing standing in his way: a 21-inch leprechaun named King Brian. In order to get the gold, Darby must match his wits against the shrewd little trickster - which proves no small task, indeed!

Happy St Patrick's Day, ye followers! If you know me, or think you do, it should come to no surprise that I just love Disney movies and "Darby O'Gill" is no exception. This movie was one of the first DVDs I ever added to my collection, I've probably seen it every other year around this time since. It never gets old, and proves to me every time I watch it that Disney actually made some quality non-animated movies back in the day.

This movie stars the young pre-Bond Sean Connery, as Michael MacBride who comes to replace Albert Sharpe's Darby O'Gill in a poor village of Ireland when he almost instantly falls in love with Darby's daughter Katie, the beautiful Janet Munro. The only problem is, she subtly finds out Michael is there to evict her and her father from the only place they've called home. It's up to Michael to prove to Katie that his intentions are honorable, and that he really does love her, but not before standing up to the village drunk-stronghold Pony Sugrue (Kieron Moore).

The little people as they are undoubtedly referred to in this film are considered make believe, only seen by those who had a bit too much to drink. As a matter of fact, when Darby tricks King Brian into staying, the only person who could actually see him was Darby himself. He is granted three wishes, to which he decides to think hard about as to not be tricked into losing them again.

The scenery is beautiful, the actors skillful and wholeheartedly into their work, and the music is catchy and delightful. Don't be put off by the date this was made, this movie is definitely not one you'll want to miss.

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Join the Revolution

Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Picking up where Catching Fire left off, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014) takes place in District 13, the once forgotten district containing refugees of fallen districts before it. Once Katiness (Jennifer Lawrence) awakens from her coma she is told her former homestead that was District 12 was destroyed by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) following the rebellion she reluctantly lead.

Under the leadership of District 13 President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, uses the courage she's shown during the games to become the symbol of the rebellion for the remaining districts of Panem, with one caveat: To rescue Peeta and the other Hunger Games victors currently held against their will at the Capitol.
Now to be honest, I'm an avid movie watcher and haven't read a page of the books these movies are adapted from. The first movie was entertaining enough for me to actually go see in theaters, but much like the Twilight movies, the excitement stops there. Surely Catching Fire was better than I expected, but there was a bit of a drop that gave me the impression that I didn't need to see any further sequels of this franchise on the big screen. It became obvious once Lionsgate announced they were splitting this last installment into two parts, that this franchise has become a cash cow for them. Mockingjay is nothing special, an excessively long melodrama that refused to follow the premise of the former two movies, which was to intrigue and entertain from one scene to another.
See the expression on her face? Even she's uncertain about this film.

Slow to arrive at a possible climax-inducing cliffhanger, the director seemed to miss the potential for a meatier action sequence. There were, however, some good scenes of the rebels fighting for their freedom but they were more of a exposition than anything else.

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman 1967-2014
Unfortunate fault to this film chapter's downfall, was it's subtle cash grab strategy of being split into two movies. Obviously this shouldn't come to surprise anyone, the first half is supposed to recreate our main character to become a heroine against the ruthless ruler of Panem. There wasn't much to see here, although it was refreshing to see the story shift from the arena type games to a more realistic battle of the empire. It's lack of action seemed to bore more than entertain, which doesn't make much sense for a movie, which was created to entertain. We can only hope the second half of this chapter in The Hunger Games novel will offer a lot more gripping action and drama, but still will be nothing I'm going to bother seeing on day one.

Rating: 6/10
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014) on IMDb