Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace, a movie with a title that makes about as much sense as the story, seems to be trying to make some sort of social commentary on soldiers who return from war and receive no help finding jobs, but that part of the movie is so skeletal all that’s left is a plodding drama with no clear direction. Fortunately Cooper and crew somehow drummed up an excellent cast capable of saving the below average quality of the script and making the film watchable. The finished product is something that starts out great, and gradually gets worse the longer it goes, culminating in a climax that’s arguably the most boring part of the film. People were saying this was Oscar-worthy?
Set in some bizarre part of the country where every stranger wants to beat you up and females are an endangered species, Russell Baze (Christian Bale, at long last speaking clearly again) works at a ‘mill,’ some kind of metalwork factory. Russell is at a low point in his life when his dad becomes deathly ill and his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck, whose older brother Ben is about to get his voice as gravelly as Bale did) is about to leave to go fight for the army. Russell’s relationship with Lena (Zoe Saldana) is the only good thing he has, but even that is taken away when a tragedy occurs unexpectedly, and Russell ends up in jail for about eight years.
The best thing about the first Hunger Games, besides Jennifer Lawrence, is it gave fans a well-portioned feast that sated their ravenous stomachs and stopped the twitching in their page-turning fingers (well, let’s be real, probably less than a quarter of the audience actually read the books). Catching Fire is arguably more succulent than its predecessor in almost every way possible, as it expands its menu to offer fans a broader array of delicacies than the original.
However, the portion sizes are smaller this time around. While the first Hunger Games ensured every scene, character, and conversation were perfectly represented, Catching Fire is forced to sometimes gloss over the good stuff to get to even more good stuff, since there’s almost too much to go around within the film’s heavy 146-minute run. It isn’t a problem as much as it is a strong point on paper, but the finished product may not linger with the audience as long as the first.
Kimberly Peirce’s 2013 remake of Carrie White’s widely known horror story works adequately as a standalone movie, but more or less exactly copies the prom dress worn by its predecessors. It plays as both a supernatural horror and a coming-of-age high school film, and is a modest success at both. Disturbing more than scaring, with a dark crescendo into the iconic climax at the prom that will still petrify even those who know exactly what will happen, Carrie (the film) doesn’t deserve to be picked on – but it doesn’t deserve to win prom queen, either.
Based on Stephen King’s very first published novel, the story is heavily known, and nothing much has changed with the remake. Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) is that girl who sits in the back of the room and never talks and everyone torments (though was it just me or was there only a few bullies and mostly people sticking up for her this time?). Her mother Margaret (Julianne Moore) does not help. She’s a crazy church lady taken too far, and suspects her daughter of being sinful and also maybe a witch on the side. She forcibly locks Carrie (or as she freakishly calls her, “little girl”) in a closet for hours to make her pray for sins Carrie usually didn’t intentionally commit.
No problem here Houston
It’s rare that a movie can command your attention, emotion, and respect as much as Gravity does. Planet Earth, stunningly shot in expansive detail, serves as a beautiful omnipresence almost always looming in the background throughout the film. It doubles both as an impossible goal for lost in space Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) to reach, and a constant reminder that the film does not take place in a realm of possibilities as we know them. Gravity abandons us and its small number of characters in a world far from our own, forcing the characters (and through immersive and absorbing emotional extension, the audience) to survive.
The film’s weightless physics makes every sequence look like a piece of flowing cinematic choreography, intricately imagined and executed by director Alfonso Cuarón. The camera breaks as little as possible, instead bobbing through space with graceful fluidity for up to twenty uninterrupted minutes. Cuarón’s camera movement alone makes the film stand out visually, but even greater are the film’s special effects. As 3D shares (and arguably quality) rapidly decline in the US, Gravity breaks the trend by producing something that cannot be properly experienced without it. Images from the film lingered in my mind days after seeing it. Gravity is a visual masterpiece without any stretch of the imagination.
What a dime
You know exactly what you’re in for as soon Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directing debut Don Jon snaps onto the screen, flashing his impressive writing, acting, and aforementioned directing credits interspersed between vaguely pornographic clips. His character (Jon “Don Jon” Martello Jr. himself) begins the opening dialogue in a blunt urban accent you think will annoy you but you get used to and begin to like within seconds, introducing us to his simple world: he only cares about a few things, like his car, apartment, family, body, oh, and also his porn addiction. Without missing a beat the movie marches on.
Gordon-Levitt’s frank and brutal writing and directing take us through his character’s life one snapshot at a time. In the morning he cleans his apartment with possible compulsive tendencies; he experiences severe road rage on the way to church; he asks for forgiveness for his sins for the week (all of which involve sexual acts) with a dopey grin on his face; next he’s at the gym working out in front of the mirror and praying; finally he’s at his parents’ house, where his father (Tony Danza of all people) won’t look away from the game and his mom (Glenne Headly) dreams of the day Don tells her he found “the one.” At night we hear the ding of his computer being turned on and, well, you know what happens.
Let me out
As the movie poster points out, Prisoners’ entire cast (except for poor Paul Dano at the bottom) has been considered for some sort of acting award at some point in their individual careers. And it shows in fantastic performances across the board, especially from leading men Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. Each character seems to be striving toward some goal that contributes to the film’s arch theme – whatever that theme may be. Somewhere in this maze of a story, the film’s meaning slipped into the grim, intellectual hole it dug for itself. The entire time it holds your attention hostage, if only because you’re trying to figure out what exactly you’re watching.
The film’s simple premise (two daughters from a small Pennsylvanian town are kidnapped, Jackman searches for them Neeson-style) quickly complicates itself beyond a high stakes goose chase. After the daughters were last seen playing on a stranger’s RV on their way home to retrieve their safety whistle, highly religious father Keller Dover (Jackman) recruits the help of Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) to find them. Loki tracks the RV and arrests Alex Jones (Dano), a bespectacled man with an IQ of a 10 year old who can not directly be proven guilty, despite obviously being a sleazeball.
Best Movie Ever
Hey everyone. I am pleased to introduce my blog’s first ever guest blogger, my little cousin Becca, or as she would prefer you call her, Queen Bee. Bee has dedicated a large chunk of her teenage years to worshipping worldwide boy band One Direction, and would like to share a few thoughts about the woes of being a fangirl and their movie This Is Us, which she has seen and closely studied three times.
One Direction: This Is Us hit cinemas in America on August 29 and made an estimated 18 million dollars through Labor Day. The movie had Directioners like me rushing to see it all around the world. Some were even lucky enough to attend the premiere in either London or New York City, where the boys and whoever they invited could come. The movie shows fans the personal and performing lives of Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik, since starting on the X-Factor to becoming the world’s biggest boy band.
Welcome to the Blumhouse
My pre-viewing expectations for Insidious: Chapter 2 were pretty abysmal. My fears first and foremost stemmed from it being a horror sequel from studio Blumhouse Productions, known for milking a franchise for every possible cent, which, while being a brilliant marketing strategy, sometimes sacrifices quality in favor of quantity. But Insidious: Chapter 2 excels not only by being genuinely frightening, but in areas horror movies aren’t particularly known for being fantastic in, such as scripting, storytelling, and perhaps most foreign to the genre, acting (yay Patrick Wilson!). I say this a lot, but this time I absolutely mean it: Chapter 2 is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long time.
The plot refreshingly continues right where the first one left off without any bizarre location, genre, or cast changes in between. When was the last time that happened? In light of the recent supernatural events in the first Insidious (you actually need to be familiar with the events of the first to fully enjoy the second, which is crazy) the Lambert family relocates while the father Josh (Wilson) is accused of murdering a fallen main character from the original.