Hail, Caesar! Review

Hail, Caesar! is a story about a movie studio fixer, played by Josh Brolin, in Hollywood in the 1950s, the job he does in order to keep the movie stars in line and anything else that needs to happen so that the movies can be completed and the studio can be successful.

Josh Brolin is great as the fixer, never resting, always on the lookout to repair or prevent any trouble that might come the studio’s way. He proves to be a very calm figure for the most part, but when he needs to up the intensity, he does it with ease. It’s a cultured performance and one that will go unnoticed, even though it warrants more respect. George Clooney is outstanding as the big movie star. He carries that star quality, as Clooney does, but also adds the comedic elements extremely well. Alden Ehrenreich is surprisingly the one that steals the show at times as he has the funniest moments in the movie.

Despite the big acting names that appear in the movie, the real stars of the film are the Coen brothers. They instil that peculiar style that they always have in their movies, making sure that there is more to it, than what simply meets the eye. They grasp the opportunity that the 50s setting allows, making fun of so many situations that played big part at that time in Hollywood and probably nowadays as well.

The movie is visually stunning, with excellent cinematography by Roger Deakins. However, one of my favourite aspects of the movie was the music score, by Carter Burwell. It’s absolutely fascinating, especially in a movie like Hail, Caesar! which has so much room for different kinds of music, from an epic theme on the Roman empire and Jesus, soviets and communism, sailor dancing, to film-noir, simply put, everything.

A satire about Hollywood in the 50s, created from the unique minds of the Coen Brothers.

8/10

Obi Wan standalone film in the works

Ever since Disney took over the star wars universe, fans have been screaming for all sorts of standalone Star Wars movies to be made. One at the top of the list that seemed to be overlooked despite the big interest, was an Obi Wan movie starring Ewan McGregor. Well it looks like Disney have been listening and they’ve already agreed to it with the Scottish actor.

Disney have shown clear signs of intend and have been quoted as saying “We are happy to be bringing on Ewan McGregor to the Disney family and we hope that we can please the fans with another epic Star Wars film”.

The news come as a bit of a surprise to fans and McGregor himself, who was open to the possibility since the beginning. He checked on his Twitter and Instagram page to let his followers know the news and his enthusiasm in this new exciting project.ewan on star warsWe are looking forward to seeing Master Kenobi on the big screen once again. Until then, may the force be with you.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Batman v Superman, tells the story of a Batman and Superman collision…or does it? The title can be considered misleading, but from what I gathered, it is simply not that literal and it was used for marketing purposes. In the end it’s a movie about a world where the existence of superman and batman is not a secret and their presence on earth, is far from acceptable by everyone.

Ben Affleck is great as Batman and a very intriguing Bruce Wayne. He carries himself very well in the film and makes us feel his anger and understand his state of mind, without needing the stupid explanation scenes that I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about the lack of. They let us fill in the gaps ourselves and Affleck does superbly well in exploring that part of Batman. Henry Cavill is again a beast of a man, but he also gives a strong performance, from within the limitations of the role of Superman and Clark Kent. We can sense his feelings, understand his thinking, through his power and suit.

The visuals in this movie, are fantastic, as one would expect from a Zack Snyder direction. Nevertheless, he has upped his game, a notch further. The movie is beautiful to take in and continues with that darker kind of superheroes theme which I appreciate a lot more. Most of the action sequences are spot on, and keep the viewer at the edge of their seat. Snyder uses all the tools at his disposal but he doesn’t overdo it, with shaky cam and unbearable effects as he did in Man of Steal. All the effects are a lot subtler and much more expertly utilised. Combine that with a marvellous music score from Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer (that wonder woman theme is gold), it’s simply stunning to watch at times.

The main story, is most of the time well thought, and impressively well carried out. There are some new ideas that come into the premise of the movie, that aren’t rehashed from previous Superman films and what was also interesting, was the ways that he was challenged in this movie. After all there’s not that much a human can do to hurt him. However, there are a lot of moments when I found myself laughing in the cinema, at the ridiculousness of events that unfolded or actions of characters that occurred. And don’t get me started on the fact that they listened to the moaning of fans about the death count. For every fight scene, there is a news report, saying there weren’t many people around, or the event are occurring outside of the city.

In the end the film misses out on quality, due to the weaknesses in the script and the silly, nonsensical scenes, of which there are more than few. Yet it’s a fresh idea and incredibly pleasing experience.

7.5/10

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.

8/10

House of Cards Season 4 Review

If you haven’t watched up to season 3 and don’t want to know anything about the story right before the beginning of season 4, then do not proceed. However, there are no spoilers regarding season 4.

Season 4 picks up, where season 3 left us, with president Frank Underwood fighting for the democratic nomination against Heather Dunbar. At this point his wife, Claire, has left the White house, after having a big falling out between them and disagreeing on her involvement and her wish of being more than just the first lady.

Many thought season 3, was a low point in the series, as it didn’t focus on the nomination for 2016 and not much happened. It has to be said there is a lot more going on in season 4 and whilst we get the same level of character development as we did in season 3, where it was a major aspect, we also get major story development and the two are very well balanced.

It’s good to see Frank having to juggle both the presidency and his campaign and also having to fight on so many fronts, trying to avoid getting blindsided. He has made so many enemies with his actions, it’s hard to keep his head above the water, especially with his wife abandoning his side. The show dealt with the marital problems very cleverly and gave it the gravity it deserved, considering the two of them have been partners for so long, and have been achieving everything together.

One of the most fascinating aspects of House of Cards, is the inclusion of the viewer. Every time a new season begins I eagerly await for Frank to break the 4th wall and give me a peace of his mind. It took a bit of time for that to happen, but it was worth the wait. It also seems that every year, they remove some small characteristics and choose to add new ones. This year they showed us the preparation and integrated it with the actual event, going back and forth between the two, whether that was a speech or a meeting and it was fascinating. It’s the little details that make it one of the best TV shows around and I am glad they are keeping it fresh and keep bringing new ideas into it.

The performances in House of Cards, are superb. Even new characters that are introduced, are portrayed by more than capable actors, who seem to up their game and try to match the man in the lead, Kevin Spacey. It’s so great to get some more taste of Spacey. He is so good as Frank and aided of course by some of the most incredible writing, he is a constant shining light in the show, even when the story doesn’t evolve as intensely as we’d like.

Coming on to the writing, it has to be said, that it continues to amaze me, how exceptional the dialogue in the show is. There is never a drop in quality, always aiming for the top shelf. Nevertheless, there were some points in the narrative, where things happened with the sole purpose to move the story along, in the way that suited the show and allowed them to push it in the direction they intended. It very rarely happens, but those couple of times do no resonate well with the rest of the plot and feel a bit forced.

The connections with  real life events continue and are very well put in the show, as always, and the parallels are very nicely introduced, just as they were last season with the introduction of the president of Russia, Viktor Petrov. The links aren’t only political, there is focus on some social issues, with Frank and Claire and their issues being the trigger.

Finally, I just want to stress that Beau Willimon has been immense, being the creator of the show and I hope that him leaving as showrunner will not have a negative impact on the quality of the show next season, especially at such a crucial time in the story of Frank Underwood.

Spectacular season with amazing performances, new schemes and new obstacles.

8.5/10

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.

7.5/10

 

 

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.

7.5/10