Film Review: To Rome with Love

To Rome With Love directed and written by Woody Allen (Medusa Film, Gravier Productions, Perdido Productions, R, 112 minutes) Starring Woody Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig, and Ellen Page. The Woody Allen Equivalent I haven’t seen New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day for that matter, but to me, To Rome with Love feels like the Woody Allen equivalent. Much like his recent work, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris, it seems as if Woody Allen has settled on Europe for his semi-retirement years, making movies for whatever city he happens to inhabit at any given time. Unlike the critically acclaimed Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris, To Tome with Love… Read More →

Film Review: A Good Year

A Good Year directed by Ridley Scott , written by Marc Klein (screenplay) and Peter Mayle (novel) (Fox 2000 Pictures and Scott Free Productions, PG-13, 117 minutes) Starring Russell Crowe, Abbie Cornish and Albert Finney. Gastro-Romanticism One would normally think a reunion between director Ridley Scott and actor Russell Crowe would result in another action film, like Gladiator. However, the duo paired up not for an action flick, but for a French-country inspired gastro-romantic film A Good Year. Being purely honest, while I enjoyed it, it was predictable. Adapted from Peter Mayle’s book of the same name, the movie opens with a young Max Skinner (Freddie Highmore) sitting at his Uncle Henry (Albert Finney)’s French wine estate. In a moment of naked foreshadowing, Uncle Henry remarks that wine is “incapable of lying.” We then get… Read More →

Film Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild directed by Benh Zeitlin, written by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin (Journeyman Pictures, Cinereach, Court 13 Pictures, and Fox Searchlight Pictures, PG-13, 93 minutes) Starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry. Tunnel Vision Sometimes, pain provides tunnel vision. Nothing else matters, whatever the circumstances. Like a burrowing mole, a sufferer wants nothing more than solitude. When trauma occurs, how do you face it? Do you ignore it? Do you subconsciously let it dictate your life, leading you to avoid facing pain face-on? Exceedingly metaphorical, Beasts of the Southern Wild provides a wildly stylistic account of suffering. Hushpuppy and Wink Beasts of the Southern Wild portrays a fantastical story of a daughter, Hushpuppy (impressively played by then… Read More →

Film Review: Django Unchained

Django Unchained directed and written by Quentin Tarantino (The Weinstein Company, Columbia Pictures, and Brown 26 Productions, R, 165 minutes) Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. Revisionist History Don’t we all have the desire to rewrite history? To take back something said? Something done? Something that hurt others? What steps would you tack to right the wrongs either personally or globally? With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino certainly enjoys using the medium of film to fulfill these grand retribution schemes, but I contend that his stylistic tendencies will keep this film from winning Best Picture. Bounty Hunting The film’s eponymous character, Django (Jamie Foxx,) is a bounty hunter. He earned his freedom working with… Read More →

Film Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal (Annapurna Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Alliance Films, R, 157 minutes) Starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, and Chris Pratt. The Plateau Have you ever experienced that plateau? The moment after a long-awaited goal is accomplished. You feel relief. Excitement. Even joy as you look back on the hard work it took for you to achieve this step in life. Sometimes during these moments, the next step seems ever the more daunting. Sometimes, an accomplishment equals disappointment because it means there’s no more work, no more opportunity within the specific sphere of focus. Interestingly, Zero Dark Thirty uses the manhunt of Osama bin Laden to represent themes of dedication… Read More →

Film Review: Bernie

Bernie written and directed by Richard Linklater (Castle Rock Entertainment, Collins House Productions, Deep Freeze Productions, PG-13, 104 min) Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey. Justice and Utility If an action resulted in the happiness of an entire community, you would support it, right? Stated as an ethical position, this idea is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism suggests the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. If someone commits a crime, they have negatively affected others. Thus, the greatest good is to punish them for the benefit of others. But what if everyone likes the person who did the wrong? Should justice be distributed by order of how much we like the defendant? Most often, people don’t need… Read More →

Film Review: Les Misérables

Les Misérables written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, directed by Tom Hooper (Working Title Films, Cameron Mackintosh Ltd., PG-13, 157 minutes) Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. The Airing of Grievances Before I go into the general plot summary and the merits of this particular musical, I need to air my grievances Seinfeld style. I love music, but I don’t like musicals. Music is very genuine, raw, and emotion-filled by its very nature. To me (I realize most don’t feel this way), it feels very disingenuous and hollow-hearted when someone randomly bursts into song whilst talking the rest of the time. Musicals usually create a new kind of world where reality doesn’t permeate, where song is the standard,… Read More →

Film Review: Total Recall

Total Recall written by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback, directed by Len Wiseman (Total Recall, Original Film, and Rekall Productions, R, 118 minutes) Starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bokeem Woodbine and Bryan Cranston. Before and After In this film, unlike its predecessor, Earth is uninhabitable except for two areas: The United Federation of Britain and the Colony (Australia). Workers from the Colony travel to the Federation to provide cheap labor. Douglas Quaid’s (Colin Farrell) job is to tighten screws on robots that could probably do it themselves. They travel there through “the fall”, which is more or less a big giant tunnel through the middle of the earth. The trip includes a full-on gravity reversal. I’ve always felt that we live in an age where no new stories are being told in cinema…. Read More →

Film Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook written and directed by David O. Russel (The Weinstein Company and Mirage Enterprises, R, 122 minutes) Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro. Making Light of the Dark There’s nothing more difficult than creating comedy out of mental disorders, failed marriages, and gambling. These themes are dark; they force the viewer into introspective spaces. The narrative can’t make light of such scenarios because too many people have dealt with the deep pain associated with these occurrences. But Silver Linings Playbook gives it a shot, and it is mostly successful. To Starting Over—or Staying the Same Silver Linings Playbook follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) as he seeks to pick up the pieces of his broken life…. Read More →

Film Review: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Jiro Dreams of Sushi directed by David Gelb (Preferred Content and Sundial Pictures, PG, 81 minutes) Starring Jiro Ono and Yoshikazu Ono. Talent or Hard Work? What makes a successful person? It seems as if “born with it” is a common perception. We see unmatched athleticism in sports, celeritous musicianship, or a brilliant thesis, and we praise the talent behind such work. But do people rise to the highest levels of their profession on talent alone? I’m not convinced. As the great Seattle poet, Macklemore, proclaims in “Ten Thousand Hours”: “You see I study art / The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint / The greats were great cause they paint a lot”. As Macklemore implies, success… Read More →