Category: Movie Reviews

The Matrix Resurrections

When I saw the first The Matrix in 1999, I was a freshman in high school. A movie that went on to win numerous awards including four Oscars. It was recognized as the dawn of a new Renaissance in visual storytelling and effects while also showing that those eye-candy movies can also have just as much heart and emotion; a symbiotic relationship between the characters and the audience. I’m able to recognize and appreciate all that now, but back then when it first came out, that simple line delivered so dryly yet humorously by Keanu Reeves, (“I know Kung Fu.”) is all it took back then to hook me in.

Twenty-two years later, The Matrix has changed. Neo has… reverted? I guess you could say. But one thing is certain, the original writers and directors of The Matrix trilogy have not lost a step in immersing you back into the world they created and it felt like being reunited with old friends and family members… and we all know that feeling of being separated from friends and family a little too well these days.

Some minor spoilers ahead.

Parasite

Once in a while a foreign film comes along that gets massive American appeal, praise, and Oscar buzz. Before “Parasite,” no foreign film has done that for me since “El Laberinto del Fauno” (Pan’s Labyrinth) in 2006. That movie went on to be nominated for six Oscars and win three…

I’m just saying.

“Parasite” starts off as a fascinating and poignant look at two very different families in South Korea and how they are brought together by circumstance, luck, and deception. One family is  devastatingly poor, the other is exceedingly wealthy. The story is about how both these families end up working in tandem with presumed common goals only to end up entangled in lies from both sides. (more…)

A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood

Fred Rogers, most commonly known simply as Mr. Rogers, was a PBS television host whose program was created for young kids with the simple and pure but oftentimes complex notion of understanding and coping with feelings. As a child of the 1980s, I watched Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. My brother being a child of the 1990s also watched his show; a program that came (and remained) true from its humble beginnings throughout its 31 season tenure between 1968 and 2001. “A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood” is a biopic of Fred Rogers that takes place in the late 90s and is just as much about Fred as it is about Lloyd Vogel, a cynical journalist for Esquire Magazine, on assignment to write a puff piece about a hero.

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The Lighthouse


Robert Eggers is at it again with a very ambiguous and dark story. This time, about two lighthouse workers forced to cope with the confined space and each other. Willem Dafoe plays Thomas Wake, an experienced sailor-turned lighthouse keeper who is extremely protective to the point of obsessed with the light. Robert Pattinson plays Ephraim Winslow, a former timber worker new to the job, the climate, the isolation, basically everything that comes with the job of being a lighthouse keeper.

Both characters have a very mysterious past that I’m still unclear as to what to make of it. I’m all for leaving certain part of stories or characters open to interpretation, but “The Lighthouse” felt more like an unclear time lapse over which character can act the craziest or have the craziest hallucinations and the audience is asked to figure out why without much context.

The overall cinematography of the film was lacking. The black and white film, while I understand was meant to make the characters appear morally grey, also had certain shot compositions unnecessarily tight-even the outdoor shots. Certain shots were also out of focus, and I’m certain it wasn’t to add to the intrigue because there was nothing in those elements that helped the story. If it were meant to, the cinematographer failed to guide the audience in that direction. The whole “Don’t tell me, show me” mantra of filmmaking was left with much to be desired.

The acting overall was few and far between. With not much dialogue the first 15 minutes of the film, when Pattinson’s character did start speaking, I couldn’t tell if he was supposed to be Irish, British, or turn-of-the-century American. Needless to say, he doesn’t even hold a candle to Willem Dafoe.

Though Dafoe’s performance was much more impressive, I struggled to figure out how much of what was coming out of his mouth was truly how his character was, from delusions of his own, or just intentionally trying to make Pattinson’s character crazy.

There was plenty of allegory and metaphor to this film that unless you’re up to date with your British folklore and Greek mythology, you’re going to miss a lot of it.

While “The Lighthouse” is ambitious, I believe the director is still inexperienced in telling the kind of story the audience is expecting (or at least hoping) to see.

Joker

It was just over ten years ago that I (and the rest of the world) were wowed over Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the character of the Joker immortalized forever by Heath Ledger. The punctuation of that performance sealed in the acting pantheon with Ledger winning a posthumous Oscar. Since then the character of the Joker has been portrayed on both television and film since, by Cameron Monaghan and Jared Leto respectively, with varying results and levels of acceptance & dismissal by critics and fanboys alike. But this is the first time that a movie has been done with a singular comic book villain serving as the darkest of antiheroes in a standalone origin story.

The true origin of the character known to all as the Joker (more…)

Toy Story 4

MV5BMTYzMDM4NzkxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzM1Mzg2NzM@._V1_24 years after Pixar’s inaugural film and introduction into our lives, the “Toy Story” franchise has come to its conclusion with “Toy Story 4.” All of our favorites from the original film are back with a few new amazing characters. We pick up essentially shortly after we left “Toy Story 3,” when Andy gave his toys to a little girl named Bonnie. Like Andy, Bonnie is a very imaginative little girl who loves and takes good care of all of her toys.

The story starts with Bonnie being nervous about her Kindergarten orientation. (more…)

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Now that I’ve had my wedding and am officially on summer vacation, I can focus on more important things. Things like nerding out the way I used to. Catch up on some reading, playing video games, lounge by the pool; you know, “summer vacation stuff.” But I would be remiss if I didn’t start out my summer by watching and reviewing a movie combining my two favorite childhood (and adulthood) properties.

So light the bat signal and warm up your sashimi pizza because it’s gonna be a good one. (more…)

My Updated List of Top Twenty Movies That Have Impacted My Life (October 2018)

Back in March of 2013, I wrote a post about my top 10 movies that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I recently came across that 2013 post again and realized that it was in need of a serious update. And that’s natural, right? God knows how many movies I’ve seen in the last five and a half years alone. I decided to take a deep look into my subconscious and come to a clear and consensus agreement with myself over which films have been life-altering for me and try to explain to you the reasons why in the most concise way possible. These are the types of movies that I will always watch if I catch it on TV as I’m channel surfing or will randomly pop it into my Blu-Ray player on a lazy, rainy, Sunday afternoon.

As always, feel free to comment, question, or ridicule my choices. I make no apologies. So let’s get this show on the road. (more…)

Isle of Dogs

There’s something to be said about a Wes Anderson feature film. For one thing, not only does Anderson direct, he also writes and produces all of his films. He has received six Oscar nominations in his career as of the date of this post and has not won one yet. These nominations have come in those three categories respectively: original screenplay, directing, and production. His last feature, “Grand Budapest Hotel” earned him the holy trinity of Oscar nominations. Well, I think it’s high time for him to win one and the film with which he should win (at least one) Oscar is “Isle of Dogs.”

Let me say right off the bat that I predict “Isle of Dogs” will be nominated for Best Picture. Not just best animated feature, (of which a nomination is all but certain) but also Best Picture. No animated film in the history of the Oscars has ever won Best Picture and the last animated film to be even considered for such an accolade was “Toy Story 3” back in 2011. It lost to “The King’s Speech” but still managed to take home best animated feature.

So what is it about “Isle of Dogs” that makes it so magnificent? It’s a monumental achievement in stop-motion animation and puppeteering. Four years of production, 27 animators and ten assistants were needed to bring this story to life. I can only imagine the monumental difficulty that goes into making inanimate objects not only express emotions such as anger, sadness, excitement, or humor; but to be able to express it in a convincing and raw way that made me feel for these characters throughout the entire story.

The story of “Isle of Dogs” is a simple one. Set twenty years in the future, every species of dog is infected with a severe case of canine flu in the fictional city of Megasaki, Japan and are exiled to a garbage island outside the city limits. One little boy steals a plane and flies there in the hopes of finding his dog. The boy is unable to communicate directly with the dogs and vice versa.

Speaking of communication, let me also mention how phenomenal the voice-acting was. If you’re familiar with Wes Anderson movies, you’ll recognize immediately the voices of Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and F. Murray Abraham to name a few of regulars that always manage to get happily sucked into the worlds that Wes Anderson creates, but also performances by Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johannson, narration by Courtney B. Vance, and newcomer Koyu Rankin are equally incredible. I really appreciated a hilarious back-and-forth between the dogs constantly discussing rumors that one of them had just heard. There’s something very… human about that.

The direction and visual storytelling is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. A good portion of the movie is actually in Japanese with nearly no subtitles. Everything is explained to you by interpreter appropriate to the scene or through visual cues given to the audience. The contrast of the two different worlds in which the story takes place; a fictional Japanese city and a floating landfill shows throughout with spectacular effects of lighting and set design.

“Isle of Dogs” is definitely a top 3 movie that I’ve seen this year and I hope that my predictions are correct in that Wes Anderson will finally get at least one much-deserved Oscar for his work. “Isle of Dogs” in my mind is a masterpiece.

A Quiet Place

“A Quiet Place” is a story about a family living in silence to protect themselves from monsters that hunt by sound. The movie stars and is directed by John Krasinski. That’s right, Jim from “The Office” directed and starred in a horror movie. Let that sink in for a second…

There is a multi-layered sense of cleverness in this movie. How do you make a thriller in 2018 where 98% of your movie is silent? With Krasinski’s direction along with the super clever screenplay by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and, oh yeah, John Krasinski (according to IMDB,) that’s how.

The movie starts right in the silence, and ambiguously stated simply as “Day 89.” There is no real explanation or back-story about how or why the monsters arrived there, why they won’t leave, and what (if anything) anyone has done to try to get rid of them. You’re just thrown right into the thick of survival with this family.

Part of the reason why this family has been able to adapt to a life of silence better than the other few survivors we see is because one of the children is completely deaf and communicates in ASL. It’s clearly established early on through visual storytelling and ASL communicated within the family that sound has deadly consequences.

The characters in “A Quiet Place” were predominantly simple to follow in their motivations and easy to root and worry for. There isn’t much character development in this movie and there isn’t any particular actor that “steals” any scene, but what makes up for it is the marvel you feel as seeing how this family has been able to live and survive the way that they do despite the tragedies that befall them. They paint squeaky floorboards in different colors so they know which ones to avoid and use different colored patio lights strung around their yard to communicate safety or danger.

There’s also something to be said about experiencing this movie in a crowded theater. Because it is a silent film, and because of the white-knuckle grip it has on you the whole time, you want to stay silent also. You feel as an audience member that if you make a sound, you jeopardize that family’s safety. And that was  an amazing thing to realize and experience in real time.

I want to go back and see “A Quiet Place” again because I know that there are story details that I missed and I would like once again to awe at the fact that Jim from “The Office” made an amazing and thrilling movie. But it’s more than that. “A Quiet Place” is the best thriller I’ve seen since “The Sixth Sense.”