10 Cloverfield Lane Review

10 Cloverfield Lane, tells the story of a young woman, portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is taken to an underground shelter without her knowledge, after being in a car accident. She doesn’t know what exactly has happened and is trying to figure everything out while the whole situation is completely unknown to her.

One of the best aspects of the movie, is that it creates palpable characters that react in believable ways to a very irregular situation. There is not a single moment in the movie that the viewer feels that the actions of the character are outside the realm of possibility, no moment that occurs just for the purposes of moving the narrative forward. Director Dan Trachtenberg makes sure of that and despite this being his first feature movie, makes sure that his actors hit the nail on the head with their performances.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives one of her best performances to date as she manages to create a very tangible character and considering there are a lot of tough scenes, she does all the right things, playing with the correct emotions and actions. Then there is the small matter of John Goodman, who is absolutely marvellous in the movie. He works so expertly with a strong sense of mysticism and a character that is seemingly interchanging mental state.

Dan Trachtenberg does an absolute fantastic job at the helm of the movie. Bearing in mind this is his directorial debut, there is no getting around the great way he directs the movie. He uses the story’s strongest points to create a very intense setting and using great sound mixing he chooses his moments well, to take a relatively quiet movie into a loud and frantic world, that surprises the viewer. The third act is breathtaking and represents exactly that facet of the film. It’s so quick in changing what preceded it, after it’s over you don’t know what hit you.

A very good, suspenseful thriller, stunningly captured on film.


Trumbo Review

Trumbo tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter in Hollywood during the 40s through to the 70s. Known for his distinguished work in widely known and awarded movies and also the trouble he found himself into, due to his political beliefs.

Bryan Cranston is simply magic, as the central figure in the movie. He expertly portrays Trumbo, with the necessary charisma and attitude, attributing him the genius he deserves but also his mistakes and imperfections. The rest of the cast do a solid job, in keeping up with Cranston and filling in the cracks, but it’s not about them in any way, he is rightfully the focal point of the story.

It’s hard to depict people that existed, more so when they are famous actors that have been and are considered film icons, with classic movies that we still watch to this day. The movie does a good job in portraying those characters with the outmost accuracy possible and gives them the sort of gravitas they would hold at that point in the movie industry and society in general.

The script should have been amazing considering, it’s a movie about the legendary scriptwriter Dalton Trumbo, but it’s actually one of the not so strong aspects of the movie. The dialogue isn’t as sharp as it should be and at times the words that come out seem to be out of place. It does however, pay tribute to a man that was so important to the industry not only with his work but also with his actions and on that note, it doesn’t claim a flawless character, rather the opposite.

Trumbo showcases the work of an incredible man and the weaknesses of society and human nature, as seen in so many movies these past few months.




Steve Jobs Review

Steve jobs is by no means a biography. It tells the evolution of Jobs as a person and less so as a computing innovator. It goes through only a few hours of his life at three different product launches that he was major part of, trying to paint a portrait of the man himself.

Michael Fassbender is captivating as the leading actor, with an excellent performance that provides great insight of the personality and way of thinking of Jobs. A tough task considering the very complicated and multi-dimensional person that he was. The cast is comprised of very good actors that give equally good performances, but Fassbender is the standout one, delivering that extra layer to his character that grounds the movie and allows the audience to get a better grasp.

Despite all the talk of great acting, that’s not where the real star of the film lies. The star of the movie is Aaron Sorkin. A man praised for his writing and considered by many to be one of the best scriptwriters around. That is no coincidence, he shows again with Steve Jobs why he is so widely respected with absorbing dialogue that overshadows the cracks and weaknesses of the overall story. The way the story of the movie unfolds, doesn’t allow much room for development of the characters through the narrative. It’s the smart and gripping dialogue that manages to provide the necessary evolution for Jobs, as we see him evolve before our eyes, through the way he carries himself with the people closer to him.

Danny Boyle directs the movie, with a clear idea of what he wanted to depict. The focus isn’t on making Steve Jobs look like a saint or a genius of his time. The magic of this film is showing the flaws and mistakes of the main character, no matter how successful he was, however without completely bypassing the great accomplishments that accompanied those.

Fascinating story with great dialogue that manages to take away the surrounding world.


Spotlight Review

The film tells the story of a group of investigative journalists that operate in a team called “Spotlight”, for newspaper Boston Globe and the work they do to uncover a disturbing scandal in the city of Boston, which led to shedding light on similar situations all over the world.

The ensemble cast is fantastic, each and every one of them, from Michael Keaton to Rachel McAdams, everyone delivers a great performance that truly captures their characters. Everybody had clearly researched the actual person they were portraying and it really shows. Mark Ruffalo was the most absorbing one by far, it’s crystal clear that he spent hours with the real Mike Rezendes and tried to embody him, echoing the way he talked and moved.

The script is brilliant and allows the movie to unravel before the viewer’s eyes stripped of any great over dramatization of events just so that we could scream Oscar at the end of the movie or to create enthralling suspense. It doesn’t try to manipulate the viewer with over the top scenes, overkill fear, or emotional music, even though the music is absolutely gripping by Howard Shore. The main target is to tell the truth.

Tom McCarthy nails it with the direction of the film, he doesn’t try to make the movie to attract a big audience but rather chooses to focus on telling the story (I don’t know how close to the actual facts) with a sense of realism and believability. Any suspense is created from the development of the narrative and the information brought to the audiences’ attention through the characters.

Exceptional storytelling that doesn’t rely on facades to engage the onlooker, but rather on laying the disturbing facts in front of our eyes.


Creed Review

Creed tells the story of Adonis Johnson, son of legendary boxer, old rival and friend of Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed. This time not written by Stallone, instead Ryan Coogler takes over the reign as writer/director.

Michael B. Jordan is in the lead of the movie, playing the troubled Adonis who has his mind set on becoming a professional boxer. Jordan not only bulked up physically to take on the role, he also gives a great performance that along with the fantastic writing, allows the viewer to really delve into Adonis’ mind set. Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as Rocky Balboa and even though he doesn’t get involved in the ring, he has other things on his mind and different kind of fights to tackle. Sly delivers one of his best performances ever, in the role that made him in the 70’s he comes to knock it out of the park some 39 years after the first Rocky came out. He knows Rocky inside out and the character has developed so much in front of our eyes, it’s an absolute joy to watch him once again.

Ryan Coogler has a new vision for the series. He brings in a new leading character to the scene and also some fresh ideas to a worn out genre. The directing is superb throughout the whole movie but it’s in the boxing scenes that it really excels. Boxing is as good as it’s ever been and probably more believable and more suspenseful. There is an extraordinarily shot boxing match which is done in a single take without cuts and is simply stunning.

The writing for the movie is perfect. The development of the main characters walks a fine line between clichés and originality and although many of the themes we have already seen before, they are very well carried out. The dialogue, especially between Adonis and Rocky is great and when it got emotional, I couldn’t help it but feel the lump in the throat myself.

Lastly Ludwig Goransson has written some of the best music of the year, in film. I would go as far as say it’s a masterpiece of a music score. It’s mindboggling to me, as to why it wasn’t at least nominated for an Oscar, and I know it reuses some of the old music but it’s ridiculous nominating Star Wars which has even more reused tracks, instead of this.

A rollercoaster of emotions for any fan and a great addition to the series, which can only be compared to the original Rocky in terms of quality.


The Big Short Review

The Big Short tells the true story of a few people that in the mid-2000s realise the existence of the housing bubble, predict its downfall and then decide to short it (bet against in the non-technical explanation given in the film).

The cast includes Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt and even though Bale is nominated for an Oscar for his superb performance, it is Carell who carries the movie at times, with his angry and righteous persona. Ryan Gosling provides the narration of the story, although his character is part of it, he is used as the linchpin between the movie and the audience, explaining the banking-terms and the jargon.

The film tries to make the seemingly boring theme of Banking that most people have no interest in, appealing to the viewer through jokes, celebrity cameos and its self-consciousness to its boring nature. Most of the jokes work and at times the comedy goes as far as masking the drama behind it. Moreover some of the characters in the movie break the 4th wall, turning to the camera and telling us what they are thinking, inaccuracies in the film compared to what actually happened, making it absorbing and enjoyable to watch, considering I have no interest in banking what so ever.

Adam McKay chooses to follow a sort-of documentary approach at certain times, with close-ups that follow the characters in an unconventional way, out of focus shots and not totally steady camera work. It is weird to watch at first, but as the film progresses and I got used to it and expected it, I started to appreciate it a bit.

The writing is exceptional, it really is an example of how any subject, no matter how tedious or uninteresting it may seem, can be turned into a very good, compelling and Oscar-nominated movie, when there is a great story to tell.


The Hateful Eight Review

The movie tells the story of a Bounty Hunter that is trying to get his prisoner to Red Rock to be hanged. However he meets obstacles along the way, those being a blizzard and some complicated and mysterious characters.

The Hateful Eight doesn’t have a complicated or extravagant plot like other work from the genius director and it’s probably one of his weakest in terms of the non-linear storytelling (e.g. flashbacks). Nevertheless it’s probably the best in the aspect that is Tarantino’s greatest attribute, and that is being able to develop a story through fascinating dialogue.

The movie has a great cast who might not be the biggest stars of today, but as Tarantino says, some of them are the “Tarantino Superstars”. They are capable of saying his dialogue, understand the material he writes and sell the jokes even though they are not officially jokes. It’s all about casting people that get his work.

Robert Richardson is rightly nominated for his work. The cinematography is excellent, the mesmerizing scenery is captured as such and every shot is stunning to look at. The cabin which plays such a big part in the movie could even be considered a character along with the blizzard. Every aspect of the production design is right on the money, giving the setting the authenticity it deserves.

The music score composed by Ennio Morricone is exactly what you would expect from the legendary composer, who returns to the western genre after decades. He delivers some gripping and chilling music, more reminiscent of his work in The Thing rather than the westerns he composed music for (there are actually a few tracks from John Carpenter’s The Thing). Definitely deserved the Oscar nod and maybe a bit more, we will see.

The Hateful Eight might not be Quentin Tarantino’s best work, but it is the most ambitious in terms of subtext and real world parallels.


The Revenant Review

The Revenant is about the frontiersman Hugh Glass, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, who is on an expedition with a hunting party, hunting for pelts in the wilderness and get attacked by Native Americans.

There are two equally exceptional yet very different performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. For DiCaprio this is different from what we are used to seeing him in, a bit more brutal and more “dirty”. As for Tom Hardy well, he carried out his role to perfection, closing in on animal levels, he is balancing his character on a fine line, between human and savage animal both with his body language but especially with his mumbling.

Iñárritu for the second year running gives us the movie with the best cinematography of the year. So many times during the film I asked the question “How did they manage to shoot that?” it’s so exquisitely shot that you are left wondering how it was achieved. Emmanuel Lubezki is the man responsible for that aspect of the film, and he really needs to be commended for the amazing job he has done. He is probably going to win the Oscar for a third year in a row.

Alejandro González Iñárritu has masterfully crafted an epic adventure and his genius is so clear to be seen by anyone that experiences this movie. As he says “When you see the film, you will see the scale of it. And you will say, Wow.” It’s so carefully directed, the attention to detail is absolutely staggering.

However, there are some moments, which don’t seem to fit the essence of the movie, trying to achieve a surreal effect, and also at times they seem to dwell a bit longer on scenes than maybe should, taking the running time to 2h 36min. Even though it’s great seeing more of Hugh Glass and his quest, if it was bit shorter, the viewer wouldn’t be able to relax, making it an even more breath-taking and gripping spectacle.

It’s not a movie, it’s an experience. If we count it as a movie released in 2015, this is the best of the lot.


Sherlock: The Abominable Bride Review

Sherlock and Watson find themselves in Victorian era in this holiday special as they try to solve an old mystery. It’s funny and flashy but is it as good as the 9 episodes of brilliant television that preceded it.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman pick up where they left off, as Sherlock and Watson respectively, with that great chemistry that we’ve become accustomed to and the back and forth banter. It’s also good to see the whole cast involved in one way or the other, reprising their roles in a different era.

The episode does well in tying in with the rest of the show and along with keeping the character interaction the same that’s probably its greatest achievement. The continuous references to people not being happy with Watson’s representation in his tales is as good as any of the multiple on-going jokes that are the closest thing to the Sherlock we are used. The gothic setting is fresh and exciting and there are some genuine jump scares, but the investigation at times comes close to being ScoobyDoo-like instead of Sherlock Holmes.

The mystery at hand isn’t really as mentally and physically tormenting as originally presented in the start of the episode in Watson’s narration, no matter how hard they tried to portray it as such. It doesn’t achieve that feeling of awesomeness that a fan of the show would expect, it’s only in the last 20-30 minutes that the flow returns to its best.

It was great to see our favourite high-functioning sociopath back in action in a different era whilst stills holding links to the overall story and not being just a standalone, unrelated episode. Nonetheless it doesn’t live up to high expectations.


Concussion Review

The movie follows a pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, portrayed by Will Smith, who investigates the deaths of former professional football players, trying to find the cause of death and any connection that it might have to suffering repeated concussions.

Will Smith reminds everyone why he is considered one of the best in the business, he does exceptionally well, without having a particularly good script. Everything good in the movie involves him, giving a great performance full of charisma. Albert Brooks gives this movie another breathing line, however only for a limited amount of time. Lastly Alec Baldwin does a solid job, but as usual he is cast in yet another generic role.

Peter Landesman decides halfway through, to stray away from telling the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu and focuses on the bigger picture. That could have been a good thing, however in this case it ends up hurting the development of the main character, which by the end of the film feels unfinished, and with Will Smith being the great actor that he is, that was a very bad call.

It’s not something that we haven’t seen before, one man, disliked by his peers, takes on “the world”, we’ve experienced that many times. That being the case, the film doesn’t do enough to get us invested in the people that it introduces. It doesn’t spend the time that would allow the viewer to believe they are real human beings and not actors, enable us to empathise with them and feel their pain and terror. In what is supposed to be dramatic movie, that is its biggest downfall.