5 ideas about a movie: Suburbicon

Movie reviews

Hello!

Once a sure awards contender, now a rotten tomato, Suburbicon has landed in theatres. Let’s see what it has to offer.

IMDb summary: A home invasion rattles a quiet family town.

  1. Suburbicon was directed by George Clooney (this was his 6th directorial outing but the first time that he did not star in a film he directed) from a script by the Coen brothers (Hail, Caesar!, Bridge of Spies, Unbroken), George Clooney himself, and Grant Heslov (actor-turned-producer/writer). Just looking at the list of talent involved behind the camera, this movie should have been great. And while it was surprising in the fact that it was not what I expected thematically, it was also not what I expected quality-wise.
  2. Suburbicon appeared to have two separate storylines that had little to do with one another, except maybe were there to be contrasted. The film opened with the event of an African American family moving into an idyllic white neighborhood. The racist undertones of the community’s reaction to their new neighbors quickly evolved into a racist attack and a riot – things that we should have left in the 1960s but which feel very contemporary. Another, supposedly main storyline, involved Matt Damon’s character. That plotline came a bit out of nowhere – we didn’t even meet Damon’s character in the set-up. The idealized facade of his family was never believable – the secrets that were supposed to be hidden could very easily be predicted. Suburbicon wasn’t subtle, let’s just say that. The parent-child dynamics and the husband cheating with his wife’s twin sister were both interesting concepts to explore but that didn’t really happen.
  3. The whole writing of the film started off quite simplistic and, while it did get more complex and compelling as the narrative unraveled, it never really reached the level of quality that was desirable. The two storylines never connected in the movie itself, they could only be brought together by the viewer. I interpreted the decision to have these two family plotlines side by side as an attempt to make a statement on race and society. The perfect facade of a white family hid deep perversion underneath, while the loving African American family was seen as unacceptable. The truth and appearances didn’t add up and I took the film’s message to be a slight warning for today’s society. I didn’t anticipate any of that to be in the movie from its trailer – that’s what I meant when I said that Suburbicon was thematically unexpected.
  4. Visually, Suburbicon looked quite nice and neat. In general, I find the 1960s setting aesthetically pleasing, so it was cool to see it realized quite well in this picture. The opening sequence in a style of a fairytale book was also good. The slow pace was a bit of a drag. Suburbicon also felt like a weird mashup of an old-school crime drama and a modern thriller. Some of its scenes of violence were very conservatively left out of frame – filmed as a shadow or only focusing on the characters’ feet, while some other violent scenes were extremely graphic – like the scenes one would expect to see in an R-rated modern thriller.
  5. Suburbicon had a great cast that deserved better material to work with. Matt Damon (The Martian, Jason Bourne, The Great Wall, soon Downsizing – now his only film for the awards season) and Julianne Moore (Kingsman 2, Mockingjay) were both really good, but a standout to me was Oscar Isaac (Star Wars, X-Men, The Promise) – I loved his spunky and charismatic insurance investigator character. The child lead of the film – Noah Jupe – was also quite good. I swear the child actors, in general, have never been as good as they are now.

In short, Suburbicon was a mediocre film that was not thrilling enough to be a crime thriller or funny/ironical enough to be a black comedy or stylized enough to be seen as an art metaphor.

Rate: 2.9/5

Trailer: Suburbicon trailer

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Movie review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Movie reviews

Hello!

The summer movie season is already in full swing. Let’s see what it has to offer in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales also known as Salazar’s Revenge.

IMDb Summary: Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I have always been a fan of this franchise despite its flaws. The third’s film is my favorite (and I’m definitely in the minority) and its third act – one of my most rewatched action sequences. Also, the role of Jack Sparrow is the only kooky role that I still like Johnny Depp in.

Writing:

Pirates 5’s screenplay was written by Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can, Indiana Jones 4, next project – the live action Lion King) with some input on the story by Terry Rossio (who had a hand in creating these characters in the first place). In general, I have mixed feelings about the quality of writing for this film and wish it was better because it could have been (like the writing for so many blockbusters these days – come on, Hollywood, just hire some amazing TV writers!).

To begin with, I thought that the set-up for the narrative was too reliant on coincidences, while the twists and turns in the plot – just way too convenient. The film was also going all over the place with the multiple plotlines that were just thrown together. It was nice to see all the old characters and the new one were good too but I just wish they all would have fit into the narrative more organically. Another problem with the reveals in the story is that they came out of nowhere. They were surprising, for sure, but not in a good way. Not in a way ‘I didn’t see it coming but I can retrace the steps of the reveal now’ but more like ‘Oh, so you have come up with this like a year ago and not when you released the previous movies in the series’.

Having critiqued the script, I would now like to mention a few neat writing moments which really impressed me. First, I loved seeing the young Jack Sparrow. In addition to the de-aging technology being really impressive, it was really nice to see Sparrow as an efficient and clever sailor and not just drunk and babbling, even if lovable, idiot. The explanation of how he got the iconic costume and the name was also much appreciated. I also liked the fact that the story of The Turners was continued through their son. The new female lead was also a well-enough written character – I liked that she was a person of science who was confronted by the irrational legends and myths. The feminism aspect could have been handled better, though. The writing for the villain – Salazar – was also quite good. He is no Davy Jones, but then again, Jones had 2 movies worth of development while Salazar had only half of that. Jones might also get even more (further on that in the After-Credits section). Lastly, I also enjoyed the attempt at expanding the mythology of this world.

Directing

The Norvegian directing duo – Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg – best known for their Kon-Tiki film (about an expedition on a raft across the Pacific Ocean) helmed Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and did a good job. Having previous experience with water-centric films definitely helped them because the movie did look gorgeous. The locations themselves and the way they were realized on screen were just spectacular. The action wasn’t bad either – it was definitely entertaining and exciting, just not as impressive as it used to be before. This might be because I have seen too many Pirates of the Carribean movies or just action films in general. One particular action sequence – the first one centered on the robbing of the bank – really reminded me of the 3rd act heist in Fast Five but only done with horses instead of the fast cars. The visuals of the map in the final act (the island that’s the perfect image of the sky) were really cool-looking too.

No Pirates of the Carribean review cannot not mention the soundtrack of the film. It was really nice to hear the iconic theme music as well as the rest of the soundtrack, which, this time around was not done by Hans Zimmer but by his long-time collaborator/student Geoff Zanelli.

Acting

Johnny Depp (Transcendence, Alice, Black Mass) was fine in the movie. He was doing the same thing he always does, but I have already said, this is the only role of his that I can stomach his eccentrics in. Please, God, don’t let him screw up Grindewald in the Fantastic Beasts sequel.

The two new leads this movie introduced were both YA alumni – Brenton Thwaites (of The Giver) and Kaya Scodelario (of The Maze Runner). They were better replacements to Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley than the romantic couple from the previous film – On Stranger Tides – played by Sam Claflin and Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey. I hope that Thwaites’s and Scodelario’s careers can get a boost from this movie but I don’t think we will see more of them in these roles. Maybe in a supporting part in a sequel but I don’t see them getting a solo/duo spin-off (more on that in Post-Credits section).

The villain of the picture – Salazar – was played by Javier Bardem – Hollywood’s go-to Spanish actor for villainous roles (No Country For Old Men, Skyfall). Well, one can’t argue that Bardem is really good at playing these types of characters and he was truly menacing as Salazar – the hunter of pirates. His next project is Aronofsky’s Mother!. 

Geoffrey Rush was also, once again, back in the role of Barbosa. While I felt that his character was kinda tacked on, it was nice to see a different side of him. His demise, however, was mostly wasted and should have been built-up more (both story-wise and emotionally).

David Wenham also appears in a film, playing a secondary villain and a high-ranking officer in the British Navy. He is basically just a replacement for the character that Tom Hollander played (and in a much better way) in the original trilogy.

Post-Credits

If you sit through the 10 minutes of the credits, full of digital artists’ names, you will be treated to a potential teaser for a Will Turner spin-off. I really liked the character in the original trilogy and Orlando Bloom does not seem to be doing much, so a Will Turner or a Turner family-centered spin-off might actually be quite good or could at least happen. Maybe Keira Knightley could also be in it and actually get a few speaking lines (she just cameos and says nothing in Dead Men Tell No Tales). Thwaites’s Henry Turner and his new girlfriend, played by Scodelario, might also have a place in that picture.

In short, if you are a fan of the franchise, you will probably be able to overlook the problems with the movie (like you did many times) and will enjoy it for what it is. For all the regular movie goers – Pirates 5 is a good enough time at the movies but not a required viewing.

Rate: 3.3/5

Trailer: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales trailer

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The Liebster Award x3

Uncategorized

Hello!

Welcome to quite an unusual post. It’s not a movie review or preview but it’s a tag/chain post that unites fans of movie blogs and movie bloggers/reviewers – The Liebster Award. The basic idea of this project/concept is that bloggers nominate other bloggers and ask them 11 questions. Nominated people have to answer those 11 questions, nominate 11 people and ask them 11 questions of their own. To my mind, these ‘awards’ not only allow the movie bloggers to show their appreciation for their fellow reviewers but also help to build a community, right here on wordpress.com. The fact that the readers also get to find out something more about the blogger is also pretty nice.

So, to begin with, I would like to thank Jason from Jason’s Movie Blog for nominating me. I highly suggest that you check out his blog and give him some love (in a form of likes and comments!).

Jason’s Q and My A’s

  1. Favorite Movie of All Time? I, honestly, have no idea what my favorite movie is as I watch too many of them. However, if I really had to pick one, it would probably be Jurrasic Park.
  2. Favorite Movie Scene? Another hard question. I do really enjoy the opening scene and the pub scene from Inglorious Basterds. The Coin Toss scene from No Country For Old Men is also pretty neat. Since I also like movie musicals (ultimate guilty pleasure genre), The Dancing Queen performance/scene from Mamma Mia! is also one of my favorites.
  3. Last Movie you saw in theaters? Everybody Wants Some!! – coming-of-age sports drama/comedy set in the 80s.
  4. If you had the chance to meet one actor or actress in real life….who would it be? Emma Watson.
  5. What was your favorite movie of 2015? When I did my list of favorite movies, I put Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the first place. However, looking back, I would probably pick Mad Max: Fury Road.
  6. Star Wars or Star Trek? I’ve never seen the original Star Trek films, only the J.J.Abrams remakes and really loved them. However, Star Wars is…well…Star Wars. It’s not only a movie franchise but a cultural phenomenon, so, Star Wars!
  7. When did you start blogging? A little over 2 years ago.
  8. Why do you blog? I started blogging about movies because I didn’t have any friends who shared my passion for cinema, so I didn’t have anyone to discuss films with. So, I started posting my ideas online and got into a conversation with other cinephiles from all over the world. I also write because I want to be a published author one day and blogging is a great starting point for that.
  9. If you could visit a movie’s world in real life, what movie’s world would you choose? Without a doubt, it would be Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings a.k.a. New Zealand.
  10. What do you collect? Physical copy of movies or digital downloads? I mostly stream all the movies I watch at home, so I don’t really collect anything. Although, if I had to pick, I would buy physical Blu-rays.
  11. What movie are you looking forward to seeing? I can’t wait to see Suicide Squad because I still have faith in DCEU. That film also comes out around my birthday, so I definitely know, how I will be celebrating!

UPDATE: I would also like to thank Demi97 from Bookstraveller for nominating me a second time. Check out her blog and subscribe!

Demi’s Q and my A’s

  1. What is your favorite animal and why? I think my favorite animal is some sort of a sea creature, either a whale, a dolphin or a shark, probably because I also enjoy spending time in the water (I’m a swimmer).
  2. What is your favorite book and why? I read a lot of books and I also study English literature, but my favorite book(s) will always be the Harry Potter series, just because I grew up with them and have re-read them multiple times – more than any other book or series.
  3. What is your favorite movie and why? Jason’s question #1 – Jurrasic Park. Because it left the biggest impression on me as a kid and because I still enjoy watching it a decade later.
  4. What is the most recent happy event in your life? Probably my trip around Isle of Skye & Glencoe in Scotland.
  5. Pepsi or Coca-Cola? Coca-Cola. 
  6. Do you like to travel? Love it (who doesn’t?) I wish I could travel much more!
  7. How many languages can you speak? 3: Lithuanian (native speaker), English (fluent speaker), Russian (mediocre/terrible speaker). I’m also learning Italian.
  8. What is one aspect of yourself that you occasionally get complimented on? That I’m very level-headed.
  9. What is your dream job? Screenwriter or producer.
  10. What would you recommend me to watch or read next? I’m currently reading all the books by Toni Morrison. If you haven’t read any of her books, I suggest you start with Beloved or Song of Solomon. To watch – Civil War is my favorite movie of this year so far.
  11. Do you think Donald Trump should become the president of the United States? Absolutely not. I’m afraid of what will happen to the world, not just to the US if he becomes the President.

11 random facts:  

  1. I was born in Lithuania, but a month after my 18th birthday, I moved to UK (Scotland, precisely) to study Anthropology and English literature.
  2. I started learning English language when I was 4.
  3. I enjoy movie musicals.
  4. I collect postcards.
  5. And posters.
  6. I love Youtubers! Currently binging on GMM.
  7. I have been swimming competitively for 12 years.
  8. I was always a good student and a giant nerd.
  9. I enjoy dreaming way too much.
  10. I have social anxiety and feel much better when talking to people online rather than in person.
  11. I wanted to be a journalist up until I had to apply to university’s and then changed my plans and dreams completely.

UPDATE NO.2: As it happens, one of the people that I nominated – Macabreadore – nominated me back again (thank you!), so I am adding a 3rd set of answers!

  1. What is your least favorite movie and why? I don’t like to dislike movies – I always try to find something positive about all features. However, the film that I strongly disliked as a child because it scared me too much was Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! I cannot watch it to this day.
  2. In your opinion, which of your blog posts are you most proud of? I’m quite proud of my Civil War review, just because it is probably my longest post ever. I’m also really happy with my piece on volunteering at a sports event – that post got a lot of views, which I did  not expect. My very personal review of Cinderella is also, in my opinion, one of the best post that I’ve written.
  3. What’s your favorite movie quote of all time? ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn’ from Gone With The Wind.
  4. What film do you think has the most beautiful cinematography? Gravity, Birdman or The Revenant. All by Emmanuel Lubezki.
  5. If you had to watch one movie every day for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Jurrasic Park.
  6. Which horror movie scared you the most? I don’t watch a lot of horror movies, so I don’t have many to choose from. As a child, Burton’s Mars Attacks! and Planet of the Apes scared me a lot. Couldn’t sleep for a few days. As a pre-teen, I remember watching the first Paranormal Activity and feeling scared quite enough as well.
  7. Why did you decide to start a blog? Because I didn’t have anyone to talk to about movies and because I wanted to (still want to) become a writer and blogging seemed like a great way to start.
  8. What’s your least favorite color? Yellow.
  9. What was your favorite film from last year? Mad Max: Fury Road!
  10. What’s the cheesiest movie you’ve ever seen? (be honest!) Well, since I unapologetically like movie musicals, I have seen a lot of cheesy movies. Any musical Cinderella remake is probably the cheesiest, though.
  11. What’s your favorite type of dinosaur? Brontosaurus. I fell in love with them after watching The Land Before Time.

11 bloggers that I nominate are:

  1. Opalflame
  2. Joel Watches Movies
  3. Musing Site
  4. KayleyIsLame
  5. KeithLovesMovies
  6. James Hayward Productions
  7. Movies and Music Surgery 
  8. Nikis Reviews
  9. Diary of an Angry Film Nerd
  10. Macabreadore
  11. Life’s little bits and bobs

…and my 11 questions to you:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. First cinema experience?
  3. Favorite genre?
  4. Favorite franchise?
  5. Remakes/reboots – for or against?
  6. Favorite movie soundtrack?
  7. Guilty pleasure movie?
  8. A film that you have seen more than 3 times?
  9. Favorite director?
  10. Favorite foreign language (non-English) film?
  11. Favorite movie from the year you were born?

I hope that at least a few of you will participate in this challenge/tag. If you didn’t get nominated by me, feel free to still answer the questions and post them on your blog!

Have a great day!

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5 ideas about a movie Hail, Caesar! + The Coen Brothers

Movie reviews

Hello!

Since the BvS hysteria has died down and the next superhero craze hasn’t started yet, let’s review a movie that I’m 3 months late to review – Hail, Caesar! by The Coen brothers. In my defense, UK was probably the last place that this movie was released in. However,  I do acknowledge the fact that, although I saw this movie probably 2  months ago, I couldn’t find time to discuss it. Well, better late than never, so without further ado, let’s talk about The Coen brothers themselves and their newest creation – Hail, Caesar!

The Coen Brothers

I would argue that The Coen brothers deserve to be called the modern auteurs of contemporary filmmaking for they distinct style and accomplishments in cinematic storytelling. They are able to take the core archetypes – the premises for either tragic or comedic stories – and make something spectacular and unique out of it. To give a few examples of this, I will briefly discuss their most well-known comedy The Big Lebowski, their most famous tragedy No Country For Old Men and their wonderful combination of these two polar opposites – Fargo.

The Big Lebowski: the kooky and quirky comedy that gave a start to a whole new religion. One of the weirdest films that I have ever watched, yet it still very clear and extremely funny. The story is kinda ridiculous (happens by accident and is a misunderstanding) but the film somehow makes sense in the end.

No Country For Old Men: a slow and suspenseful masterpiece, filmed in wide shots. Aurally haunting because of the lack of score. A great character study in a cohesive style of The Coens but, at the same time, very extraordinary and different.

Fargo: another example of the great usage of the wide and long shots. The film has a lot of  old school ‘fade to black’ transitions and uses the music really well. The mise-en-scene is full of white ‘any-space-whatevers’, as described by Deleuze. And, of course, all the ‘yah’ lines in that Minnesota dialect are iconic. Fargo is probably my favorite film by The Coen brothers.

Other films that The Coen brothers either fully made or only partially contributed to that I have seen are: Inside Llewyn Davis –  very personal story of a musician. This movie introduced me to Oscar Isaac for the very first time. The Coens also worked on Bridge of Spies’s and Unbroken’s scripts. Both of these films are very enjoyable.

Although, I have seen quite a few films made by The Coen duo, but I want to watch a lot more, especially Raising Arizona, Burn After ReadingA Serious Man, Miller’s Crossing, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and True Grit.

Now, let me tell you 5 things about Hail, Caesar!

IMDb summary: A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio’s stars in line.

  1. To begin with Hail, Caesar! was The Coen brothers’ love letter to old Hollywood. While watching this film, I was taken back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and got a chance to directly witness the behind-the-scenes inner workings of the movie business. Other films about the creation of motion pictures, which you might want to check out if you are interested, are the old school Singin’ in the Rain and the newer ones like Trumbo, Hugo and even Argo.
  2. The actual story of Hail, Caesar! was quite hectic and overwhelming. Some scenes seemed to come out of nowhere, but I guess that just showed how unpredictable the movie business was/is. I really liked the 24h time frame of the plot as well as the fact that we got to see all the aspect of filmmaking: the pre-production, the principal photography and the post-production. The constant narration also did not irritate me. However, a few of the jokes seemed to be quite painfully awkward, at least to me.
  3. Hail, Caesar! explored themes like the manipulation of people, the power of the public image and the importance of movies. It also looked at the business vs. creativity dichotomy of the film industry. The picture also had a lot of religious undertones and Christian imagery. Overall, the picture was a great synthesis of the traditional and the modern.
  4. Hail, Caesar! tied itself to reality/history with that communist screenwriters plot-line, which I did not enjoy that much. It just seemed like the easiest route to go to for the movie that is set during the Cold War. I wish that the end-game of the film would have been different, because I have seen enough movies (from all genres) that have already explored the East vs. West divide of the 20th century and did that in a more compelling way.
  5. Hail, Caesar! had a huge an accomplished cast, but, sadly, this film seemed like a paycheck gig for the majority of the actors. I feel awful for saying this, because this is The Coen brothers’ movie after all. Josh Brolin (Everest, Sicario, Marvel), a long-time collaborator of The Coens, led the cast and did a nice job. George Clooney (Tomorrowland), another favorite of The Coens, seemed to be playing himself (at least that version of him that the media has created). The relative newcomer Alden Ehrenreich played quite a stereotypical character, but he managed to subvert that stereotype. Ralph Fiennes (Spectre), Jonah Hill (Jump Street films), Scarlett Johansson (Marvel, Chef), Fargo’s Frances McDormand as well as Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer) also had minor but very theatrical roles.  Lastly, Channing Tatum (Jump Street, Magic Mike and Step Up films) rounded up the cast. His musical number reminded me a lot of Frank Sinatra’s and Gene Kelly’s performance in 1945’s Anchors Aweigh.

In short, Hail, Caesar! was not the best The Coen brothers’ film, but it was still enjoyable and pleasant. A solid B picture.

Rate: 3.9/5

Trailer: Hail, Caesar! trailer

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