Tag Archives: James Franco

Months in Review: films of March & April (part 1)

In a year that has so far given us so many things to talk, argue and worry about, there was one thing everyone in Chicago seemed to agree on: Winter needed to end. So, here we are, after a reluctantly cold and snowy April, finally enjoying the first gush of summer breeze moments before the Groundhog was forced to quit its less than admirable job.

When it comes to the movies, both March and April were fruitful, having caught up with 20 new films in total, 10 on each month. Out of those 20 only 4 received a 4 out of 5 rating or higher, of which Isle of Dogs, Call Me by Your Name and Florida Project will be considered as candidates to the Blog of Big Ideas’ Top 250 Essential Films.

Continue reading Months in Review: films of March & April (part 1)

Top 10 favorite male performances of the last 5 years

It has been over two weeks without a post from yours truly and I figured I needed to close the year in proper blogging fashion. Being that I will NOT be posting a best films of 2013 list before the end of the solar year, I thought I would gather my thoughts to share my favorite acting performances of the last five years.First, I will give you my favorite 10 male performances in alphabetical order followed, in a couple of days, by my 10 favorite female roles of the half-decade from 2009 to 2013 (warning: blind spots in 2013 abound!)As usual, I expect discerning tastes, and I would love to hear some recommendations as to whom should have made my list. Continue reading Top 10 favorite male performances of the last 5 years

Months in review: October & November films

In the last two months I’ve seen 26 films, but only a handful of which I would consider watching again. It was a particularly poor couple of months in terms of quality and quantity that I will hopefully begin to fix with the swarm of great films that have come out to theaters or that will be coming before the year is out. I can’t remember the last time I was as excited as I am today with the group of films that are hitting theaters within the next few weeks.

For now, here is a recap of the 26 films I managed to watch between October & November (in the order in which they were seen), while a great deal of my time was devoted to countless hours of catching up with Breaking Bad (finally got to the last season).

RUSH

Continue reading Months in review: October & November films

Mega Film Recap: July, August & September

Sunshine

In the last three months I have maintained my quota of watching 10-12 films per month, but my blogging has suffered terribly. My commitment in the short term is to get back to posting more often. The attempt to do so begins with this massive recap of films I have seen recently. In addition, I already have finished two other postings that I plan to publish in the coming days. One is a full review of Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious, my 6th review in my marathon of the director (which needs to pick up). The other is a special look at the largely overlooked Netflix original show “Orange is the New Black” which will kick-off Television reviews in this blog.

Without further ado, here is a compendium of short reviews of all the films watched this past summer (in no particular order):

Continue reading Mega Film Recap: July, August & September

The Best Films of 2011 (updated)

It comes 10 months into 2012 but, for the first time, I am confident enough to make my own list of the “best” films of 2011.

Imagine how important it was for me to wait until now to publish this list, that the film that eventually ends up at the top is one that I only managed to watch 3 weeks ago. Without it, this list would have been a crime against my own taste.

Instead of giving you a top 10 or a top 20, I simply give you a run-down of all of the films that received, at the very least, a 4/5 (very good) in my rating system. The result is that there are 17 films out of the almost 100 films from 2011 that I managed to watch, 11 of which received a 4/5, five films received a 4.5/5 and only one received the very rare 5/5.

Despite still missing some highly praised films released the previous solar year (it is impossible to cover them all), I now give you my favorite films of 2011 (and why they are) when we are already in October 2012:

Continue reading The Best Films of 2011 (updated)

1-minute reviews: Drive, Conan: The Barbarian, The Verdict, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Senna

Even though I’ve slacked a little with my IMDB TOP 250 challenge, I’ve certainly continued to watch films that range from the brand new releases to some old favorites.

Here are my brief reviews of the latest films I have had the pleasure to watch:

Drive (2011): this is one of the most interesting movies I have seen in a while. So many different aspects that are worth analyzing. French director Nicolas Refn moves to Hollywood and delivers, together with Ryan Gosling, a thrilling visual experience with a lot of heart. It is also a tribute to cinema, often feeling like an art-house experiment that evokes the pace and the feel of the great “Taxi Driver”. In many ways, it is a modern revision of the Scorsese film featuring a incredibly handsome hero that is not much of a hero, but one who we cannot resist nonetheless.

Its pace might be frustrating and the story might not be the most creative we have seen this year, but it is certainly a thrilling experience unlike most.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (very good)

The Verdict (1982): this is the story of an unremarkable-divorced-old-lawyer scrapping for work in New York City. A man that drinks and stumbles around town aimlessly who one day happens to come across a case that has the potential to change his life. The film is, above all, the stage to a very powerful performance by the unforgettable Paul Newman who, for the first time in his career, looked tired and vulnerable. The film starts out slow, presenting a man on the verge of total collapse, with an eroded moral sense and a lack of self-respect. As Paul Newman starts to regain control, although never completely, we start to understand the fragility of this man and how much he needs this case to salvage whatever is left of his broken spirit.

The film is touching at times mostly due to a finely tuned script that was made to fit a virtuoso performance by one of the ultimate greats under the watchful eye of a director’s director: Sidney Lumet.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (very good)

Senna (2011): little could have gone wrong with this documentary if enough care was given in telling the amazing story of Ayrton Senna Da Silva. The late Brazilian F1 driver was as fascinating in film as he was in life. He was handsome, outgoing, friendly and extremely talented. He was a risk-taker, an emotional and passionate person who loved life to the point of risking it often. The documentary focuses on his career, often zooming into his expressive eyes, talking about his incredible talent and love for the sport. The film is effective in that it makes us fall in love with Senna as a person even when we know little besides his F1 carreer. For fans of the sport (myself included), it was an opportunity to relive a tragic moment that most of us would rather forget. Senna is a tragic love story about a man that was capable of rallying an entire country and an entire sport around him.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (very good)

Conan: The Barbarian (2011 remake): It is time for Hollywood to understand that there are certain films that do not need a remake. Conan was made famous a few decades back because of a young and muscular rising star born in Austria who would eventually become so universal he can be referred to as simply “Arnold”. Now the year is 2011 and yet another buff attractive actor comes to the fore and accepts a role that catapulted another similar story to fame.

One must understand that its predecessor did not make Arnold more famous due to its quality. Far from it. In fact, it probably had more to do with the distasteful and continuous violence that combined with half-dressed women and men, some of whom were amazingly gorgeous, catapulted that film to fame. The remake played around with the story and took itself a bit too seriously. It was overwrought, cliche, tacky and excessively lengthy. The action sequences were entertaining at first, but the systematic staging of the battles fueled by the purest of desire for revenge quickly got tiresome.

I was inclined to walk out after seeing the manner in which Conan was born, but the film picked up just enough to make me want to finish watching.

Rating: 2 out of 5 (bad)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011 remake): Unlike the previous film, no one could have convinced me a couple of years ago to have given an endorsement for the making of another remake of the famous Planet of the Apes saga. It is not the most interesting of stories out there, failing to generate anything remarkable the last time it was remade with Mark Whalberg in the lead. However, the franchise revitalized itself with a strong cast, a smart director and, above all, a very respectable script. One of the film’s most successful aspects is that it chooses to focus on the touching yet thrilling story of Cesar, the lead ape, whose fluid humanoid behavior proved to be excitingly unpredictable. The film as a whole possesses a good pace, rarely stopping to let the viewer catch a breath. For its thrills, the depth of the script and the sleekness of the story, the 2011 remake of the classic might just end up being the best remake of the year.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (very good)

Niels