Grand Piano (2013) - by Eugenio Mira 

Grand Piano is a film that tends to deny its own strengths, thus depriving itself from being a truly ingenious, clever, and memorable thriller. The premise alone sells the tale quite well, though in execution, slow tendencies drag down the greater parts of the whole piece. Director Eugenio Mira had a great handle on the high concept at hand, especially visually, and in capturing 2/3 of Damien Chazelle’s clever script, but outside of that, he has issues getting to the juicy core of it all. The build up is unbearably slow and doesn’t leave a good impression, and outside of Elijah Wood and especially John Cusak, the performances range from stale to embarrassing. The saving grace of the film, other than the music and well-crafted dialogue from Chazelle, comes from Grand Piano’s overall beautiful look from Cinematographer Unax Mendia. Mendia’s clever eye makes this thriller exciting and an overall gorgeous piece worth admiring alone for his craft, from the second act and onwards. The good manages to balance with the bad for Grand Piano, making it a serviceable thriller with B movie tendencies. If you can look past its unfortunate missteps as a film, when you see it at its best, you’ll be glad you’ve seen it at all.
The concept is simple: Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is one of the world’s greatest pianists, despite having a meltdown on stage some years ago. In making his return, someone named Clem (John Cusak) has a gun focused on him and his wife Emma (Kerry Bishe.) Clem will shoot the two of them is Tom does not play all of the correct notes on tonight’s playbill, thus instilling a stake-raising, somewhat absurd and yet intense scenario that plays out mostly in real time. Screenwriter Damien Chazelle, whose film “Whiplash” excited audiences at Sundance this year, took this clever concept and wrote it well. The dialogue between Tom and Clem creates a fascinating rift between two smart, highly emotional people at hectic odds with one another. The action between the two cleverly replaces standard action film intensity with classical music orchestration and performance. Looking back on the film’s finest moments, it really does have something special under its sleeves, and delivers well upon it about 2/3rds of the time.
Where Grand Piano loses me is at a very poorly timed place, which is in its opening moments. The set up to this whole event takes about 22 minutes, including a pretty yet unnecessary opening credits sequence, and plot/character exposition that could’ve been better delivered in a shorter amount of time. Considering the rest of the film’s fast and furious pace and energy, the first act of the film feels like a complete wash without purpose. It feels quite sloppy overall, and doesn’t hold up as well as the rest of the film. The film starts out ringing toward the melodramatic in a campy sense. The thriller aspects at hand are lightly touched upon, though feel weak through bad foreshadowing, forced exposition delivery, and the meeting of key characters, even if they’re stiff or annoying for the most part.
It doesn’t help that the performances outside of the leads don’t really impress. A friendly couple to Tom and Emma, played by Tamsin Egerton and Allen Leech, feel like they’re playing a goofy odd-couple straight out of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.” Their inclusion in the story adds tension, but otherwise, their presence is more annoying than entertaining. The excellent Bill Preston himself, Alex Winter, makes an appearance as a security guard who assists Clem on the ground floor. Winter isn’t exactly menacing, but he tries his best with intense dialogue and action, so it’s merely a partial treat seeing him in the film. Kerry Bishe, god love her, doesn’t do much in this movie other than provide a loving presence for Elijah Wood’s sweaty, nervous Tom. She does just fine, but her character is basically a device. Save for her and Don McManus as a friendly conductor, everyone and everything other than the dilemma between Wood and Cusak (both of whom pull off anxiety and intensity with a lovely dynamic between them) feels like a distraction from what Grand Piano is best with.
I feel like I’ve maybe been harping on Grand Piano a bit much here. There are parts that just don’t work for me, sure, but as mentioned before, they’re only at certain points and can easily be shrugged off as cheesy if you’ve got the patience. My last point I want to touch upon is how absolutely well made the movie is, especially once things start going with the piano, sniper, etc. Unax Mendia’s camera is lively and crafty, practically zooming around the main location that is a concert hall. The usage of reflections, specific framing, and movement that takes the storytelling into its own hands with ease, the visual style is practically the star of the movie here. There’s a new visual trick and surprise at each cut, which helps set the mood concerning the tone of music being performed, as well as the high stakes situation going on in the background. Suddenly, the performers aren’t so crappy under this excited lens and tonal shift, and the film begins to shine under a new, very unique limelight, full of genuine excitement and surprising craft. 
By its end, after the fun and games, the film scrapes by with its plot actually feeling somewhat unearned, and unfinished. There is some character resolution in a very small, unspoken way, but Grand Piano sneaks away with my enjoyment by developing a very good thriller concept and making it as exciting as it deserves. The best moments can easily be boiled down to the film’s middle hour, driven by beautiful cinematography, intense music, and strong thriller writing. That alone impresses in a way that most mainstream cinema has failed to on standard occasion. It’s not an amazing film, but a fun experiment that feels fitting on something like Netflix’s Instant Streaming catalog. It should make a lovely home for itself there, where it’s absolutely worth checking out once, and enjoying once. Grand Piano seems to love what it sets out to do. In terms of working with a thriller concept and trappings, when it is in the prime of its work, it works the best and actually is quite good. In looking past the goofier, borderline mediocre aspects of cinematic bookending, and just having an open mind in general, Grand Piano offers up quite a good time.
Grand Piano is now available on Video on Demand… also it’s streaming on a site like Putlocker or something, if you’re a scumbag like me. Yay movies.

Grand Piano (2013) - by Eugenio Mira 

Grand Piano is a film that tends to deny its own strengths, thus depriving itself from being a truly ingenious, clever, and memorable thriller. The premise alone sells the tale quite well, though in execution, slow tendencies drag down the greater parts of the whole piece. Director Eugenio Mira had a great handle on the high concept at hand, especially visually, and in capturing 2/3 of Damien Chazelle’s clever script, but outside of that, he has issues getting to the juicy core of it all. The build up is unbearably slow and doesn’t leave a good impression, and outside of Elijah Wood and especially John Cusak, the performances range from stale to embarrassing. The saving grace of the film, other than the music and well-crafted dialogue from Chazelle, comes from Grand Piano’s overall beautiful look from Cinematographer Unax Mendia. Mendia’s clever eye makes this thriller exciting and an overall gorgeous piece worth admiring alone for his craft, from the second act and onwards. The good manages to balance with the bad for Grand Piano, making it a serviceable thriller with B movie tendencies. If you can look past its unfortunate missteps as a film, when you see it at its best, you’ll be glad you’ve seen it at all.

The concept is simple: Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is one of the world’s greatest pianists, despite having a meltdown on stage some years ago. In making his return, someone named Clem (John Cusak) has a gun focused on him and his wife Emma (Kerry Bishe.) Clem will shoot the two of them is Tom does not play all of the correct notes on tonight’s playbill, thus instilling a stake-raising, somewhat absurd and yet intense scenario that plays out mostly in real time. Screenwriter Damien Chazelle, whose film “Whiplash” excited audiences at Sundance this year, took this clever concept and wrote it well. The dialogue between Tom and Clem creates a fascinating rift between two smart, highly emotional people at hectic odds with one another. The action between the two cleverly replaces standard action film intensity with classical music orchestration and performance. Looking back on the film’s finest moments, it really does have something special under its sleeves, and delivers well upon it about 2/3rds of the time.

Where Grand Piano loses me is at a very poorly timed place, which is in its opening moments. The set up to this whole event takes about 22 minutes, including a pretty yet unnecessary opening credits sequence, and plot/character exposition that could’ve been better delivered in a shorter amount of time. Considering the rest of the film’s fast and furious pace and energy, the first act of the film feels like a complete wash without purpose. It feels quite sloppy overall, and doesn’t hold up as well as the rest of the film. The film starts out ringing toward the melodramatic in a campy sense. The thriller aspects at hand are lightly touched upon, though feel weak through bad foreshadowing, forced exposition delivery, and the meeting of key characters, even if they’re stiff or annoying for the most part.

It doesn’t help that the performances outside of the leads don’t really impress. A friendly couple to Tom and Emma, played by Tamsin Egerton and Allen Leech, feel like they’re playing a goofy odd-couple straight out of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.” Their inclusion in the story adds tension, but otherwise, their presence is more annoying than entertaining. The excellent Bill Preston himself, Alex Winter, makes an appearance as a security guard who assists Clem on the ground floor. Winter isn’t exactly menacing, but he tries his best with intense dialogue and action, so it’s merely a partial treat seeing him in the film. Kerry Bishe, god love her, doesn’t do much in this movie other than provide a loving presence for Elijah Wood’s sweaty, nervous Tom. She does just fine, but her character is basically a device. Save for her and Don McManus as a friendly conductor, everyone and everything other than the dilemma between Wood and Cusak (both of whom pull off anxiety and intensity with a lovely dynamic between them) feels like a distraction from what Grand Piano is best with.

I feel like I’ve maybe been harping on Grand Piano a bit much here. There are parts that just don’t work for me, sure, but as mentioned before, they’re only at certain points and can easily be shrugged off as cheesy if you’ve got the patience. My last point I want to touch upon is how absolutely well made the movie is, especially once things start going with the piano, sniper, etc. Unax Mendia’s camera is lively and crafty, practically zooming around the main location that is a concert hall. The usage of reflections, specific framing, and movement that takes the storytelling into its own hands with ease, the visual style is practically the star of the movie here. There’s a new visual trick and surprise at each cut, which helps set the mood concerning the tone of music being performed, as well as the high stakes situation going on in the background. Suddenly, the performers aren’t so crappy under this excited lens and tonal shift, and the film begins to shine under a new, very unique limelight, full of genuine excitement and surprising craft. 

By its end, after the fun and games, the film scrapes by with its plot actually feeling somewhat unearned, and unfinished. There is some character resolution in a very small, unspoken way, but Grand Piano sneaks away with my enjoyment by developing a very good thriller concept and making it as exciting as it deserves. The best moments can easily be boiled down to the film’s middle hour, driven by beautiful cinematography, intense music, and strong thriller writing. That alone impresses in a way that most mainstream cinema has failed to on standard occasion. It’s not an amazing film, but a fun experiment that feels fitting on something like Netflix’s Instant Streaming catalog. It should make a lovely home for itself there, where it’s absolutely worth checking out once, and enjoying once. Grand Piano seems to love what it sets out to do. In terms of working with a thriller concept and trappings, when it is in the prime of its work, it works the best and actually is quite good. In looking past the goofier, borderline mediocre aspects of cinematic bookending, and just having an open mind in general, Grand Piano offers up quite a good time.

Grand Piano is now available on Video on Demand… also it’s streaming on a site like Putlocker or something, if you’re a scumbag like me. Yay movies.


The Lego Movie (2014) - by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

The Lego Movie is a behemoth of a success in almost every field. Its craft is executed so cleverly and brilliantly, utilizing the likes of stop motion animation for a bright, exciting, and visually stunning aesthetic. It reminded me of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, being chock-full of jokes by the second, both loud and subtle, and rarely letting its energy waiver. Where The Lego Movie stands out is in how well it paces itself. It follows a common hero’s journey to an absolute T, though its unique style and personality make you forget in-between the standard plot and character development checkpoints. The humor is so fast, furious, and consistent that even when you reach these points of familiar story beats, it’s made delightful by a brilliant joke or visual gag. It’s an expertly made film that surprises merely on the basis of how well everything it tries works.
I’ll avoid spoilers, but the story takes a turn that I considered, but couldn’t see actually coming by a long shot. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the geniuses they are, made it work. I’ll just say that Will Ferrell is the MVP here in my heart. Without going further on the topic, I’ll branch out to the point that their script essentially does the impossible. The family movie humor that works for all ages doesn’t have tone blending issues, but is actually just purely hilarious for all audiences. This is thanks not only to the animation’s on point, swift nature, but also to the strong cast. Where do I begin with this cast? Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman (executing some damn good, lively jokes), Charlie Day, Allison Brie, Nick Offerman, Will Arnett, and so many more (surprises) just slay with the script’s slick humor and well fleshed out personalities that vary in dimensional development. The pop culture references don’t feel forced, but like a complete treat with clever trappings. Some of the characters have simple arcs and goals, but they serve from the side with ease and perfection, never distracting or dragging things down.
The film almost feels like a rare case where all aspects on deck happen to work to the best of their abilities. The Lego Movie is ridiculously funny and beautifully well done. Plus, there are some incredibly important messages at its core that exchange heavy-handedness for a very tender streak. The humorous, borderline dystopian society aspects aside, the movie doesn’t really account for strong commentary on big issues. Instead, there’s something more emotionally grounded at play. Topics about creativity, individuality, and finding what makes you special are touched upon. Of course, this sounds like standard family-based animated feature film thematic play, but never before have I seen it so well done as it is in this movie. I was completely moved at points. The filmmakers don’t hold back on what the main message is, but also don’t drown the humor in it. It’s just expert writing and directing that works and builds a product that is entertaining, unique, and almost important for all. Phil Lord and Chris Miller took an ingenious idea and took it to places that not only surprise, but completely pay off despite, or thanks to the high concept at hand. There’s so much on this movie’s plate that I can’t even really articulate how far things go without out-right freaking out about how good it all is (not to over hype, sorry.) The Lego Movie is a success, and a movie that should delight anyone open to its energetic pacing and personality, which proves to be more than meets the eye.

The Lego Movie (2014) - by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

The Lego Movie is a behemoth of a success in almost every field. Its craft is executed so cleverly and brilliantly, utilizing the likes of stop motion animation for a bright, exciting, and visually stunning aesthetic. It reminded me of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, being chock-full of jokes by the second, both loud and subtle, and rarely letting its energy waiver. Where The Lego Movie stands out is in how well it paces itself. It follows a common hero’s journey to an absolute T, though its unique style and personality make you forget in-between the standard plot and character development checkpoints. The humor is so fast, furious, and consistent that even when you reach these points of familiar story beats, it’s made delightful by a brilliant joke or visual gag. It’s an expertly made film that surprises merely on the basis of how well everything it tries works.

I’ll avoid spoilers, but the story takes a turn that I considered, but couldn’t see actually coming by a long shot. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the geniuses they are, made it work. I’ll just say that Will Ferrell is the MVP here in my heart. Without going further on the topic, I’ll branch out to the point that their script essentially does the impossible. The family movie humor that works for all ages doesn’t have tone blending issues, but is actually just purely hilarious for all audiences. This is thanks not only to the animation’s on point, swift nature, but also to the strong cast. Where do I begin with this cast? Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman (executing some damn good, lively jokes), Charlie Day, Allison Brie, Nick Offerman, Will Arnett, and so many more (surprises) just slay with the script’s slick humor and well fleshed out personalities that vary in dimensional development. The pop culture references don’t feel forced, but like a complete treat with clever trappings. Some of the characters have simple arcs and goals, but they serve from the side with ease and perfection, never distracting or dragging things down.

The film almost feels like a rare case where all aspects on deck happen to work to the best of their abilities. The Lego Movie is ridiculously funny and beautifully well done. Plus, there are some incredibly important messages at its core that exchange heavy-handedness for a very tender streak. The humorous, borderline dystopian society aspects aside, the movie doesn’t really account for strong commentary on big issues. Instead, there’s something more emotionally grounded at play. Topics about creativity, individuality, and finding what makes you special are touched upon. Of course, this sounds like standard family-based animated feature film thematic play, but never before have I seen it so well done as it is in this movie. I was completely moved at points. The filmmakers don’t hold back on what the main message is, but also don’t drown the humor in it. It’s just expert writing and directing that works and builds a product that is entertaining, unique, and almost important for all. Phil Lord and Chris Miller took an ingenious idea and took it to places that not only surprise, but completely pay off despite, or thanks to the high concept at hand. There’s so much on this movie’s plate that I can’t even really articulate how far things go without out-right freaking out about how good it all is (not to over hype, sorry.) The Lego Movie is a success, and a movie that should delight anyone open to its energetic pacing and personality, which proves to be more than meets the eye.


The Grand Budapest Hotel (2013) - by Wes Anderson

I love Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Flat out, I think it’s a great film that is beautifully crafted, delightful, and incredibly thoughtful for its sort. The unique world that Anderson has created here is immense and dense, and completely lovable. From Robert Yeoman’s expert cinematography to the ridiculous and intricate production design Adam Stockhausen, Wes Anderson basically pulled out all of the Wes Anderson stops and made a thick film with his most considerably intriguing context and content. His script is full of laughs and surprises, so much so that even devotees for the director’s work won’t see some of this coming. That said, it’s still very much a film with an aware style, but a style that is becoming more expertly honed in with each film. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is another Wes Anderson world and tale, and with some unique tricks up its sleeves, it should hopefully shock and delight audiences of all kinds. 
When people say that Wes Anderson is a director of objects and not humans, I agree and disagree. While I find subtext and great worth in the way he directs his characters and their varied personalities; we’ll talk about that later. I agree with this statement in the sense that Anderson’s touch on every single prop, location, costume, and world design detail is completely present and apparent, and deserves to be lauded. The color palette, strange but special use of animation and miniatures, and visual craft are an art form that he’s specialized in with great ease and admiration. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” serves as a vehicle of remembering appreciation of Anderson’s style, as it is fired upon on all cylinders here, without actually feeling like a parody of itself. It just is the way Anderson makes films, and it wears it proudly, which is slowly becoming an added layer of why I so heavily admire him as a director. He sticks to his guns and develops in many other ways, which if it works for him, it works for me (us.) There’s no doubt that if you love Wes Anderson for his aesthetic (and it’s obvious in that most to all fans are), this film will reassure your love for his love of the big and little things. 
Simply stated, the entire cast and crew at hand here should be lauded. Every performance and moment can be attributed to performers at the top of their game, having an absolute blast in a Wes Anderson play-set turned universe. There are too many standouts amongst a huge crowd, evening it out fairly, so I’ll plainly keep it with everyone being delightful… but especially Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori. Their chemistry and development together and alone are played for laughs, but also elusive and subtle character arcs that play toward more dramatic extremes. Never is it heavy handed, but instead endearing and thought provoking, without distracting from the whole, mulit-detailed picture. Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, and so many more also shine in their individual roles, making every second, line, moment, and sequence a special clashing of personalities. I also found a deep appreciation in the portrayals of a certain character by both Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson. There’s an endearing aspect to their performances, working as the heart of the tale(s) at hand. Though they merely serve as vessels for a larger, grander narrative at hand, the way they service the delivery of such stories is beautiful in a way. 
What fascinates me the most, other than how purely hilarious the film can be, is an underlying darkness and inevitability underneath the shenanigans. This is where the role of Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson’s character comes into play. They portray a writer at two different ages, and it is this writer and author that is told, and therefore tells the tale of what happens at the Grand Budapest Hotel. Wrapped in a storytelling world that’s even more so about storytelling, the film underlines thoughts of decay, death, a darkness in war and all it affects, etc. I won’t call it a cynical film, but it had the trappings of it, similar to a Coen Brothers’ flick. The “quirk” and dead-pan nature people complain about in Anderson’s films serve as as severe masks for some of his deepest drama, despite and in compliance with the humor surrounding it. For it, it’s beautiful and one of Wes’ more thought-provoking pieces, which is amazing considering how entertaining it is on a base level.
Anderson’s attention to detail, sense of humor, and overall style takes his tale into a manic, surprisingly bloody affair and tornado of excitement, character dynamics, and violence. It’s more of what Wes Anderson is known and loved for, and it’s by far, in many respects, some of the best material he’s produced yet. I look forward to the day when he works on a film set in a more modern time and/or setting, but with Anderson just getting better and better at what he does best, I’m not complaining. Be advised, because as per usual, if the work of Wes Anderson is not your cup of tea, I can’t guarantee that “The Grand Budapest Hotel” will change your mind, though it does introduce new territory, as well as reintroduce in an interesting fashion some specific devices and ideas. It’s one of Anderson’s more adventurous and humorous pieces, but in many ways, it’s exactly what you can expect from him. To me, that’s a great thing, and I absolutely cannot wait to see it again and let it wash over me once more. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2013) - by Wes Anderson

I love Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Flat out, I think it’s a great film that is beautifully crafted, delightful, and incredibly thoughtful for its sort. The unique world that Anderson has created here is immense and dense, and completely lovable. From Robert Yeoman’s expert cinematography to the ridiculous and intricate production design Adam Stockhausen, Wes Anderson basically pulled out all of the Wes Anderson stops and made a thick film with his most considerably intriguing context and content. His script is full of laughs and surprises, so much so that even devotees for the director’s work won’t see some of this coming. That said, it’s still very much a film with an aware style, but a style that is becoming more expertly honed in with each film. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is another Wes Anderson world and tale, and with some unique tricks up its sleeves, it should hopefully shock and delight audiences of all kinds. 

When people say that Wes Anderson is a director of objects and not humans, I agree and disagree. While I find subtext and great worth in the way he directs his characters and their varied personalities; we’ll talk about that later. I agree with this statement in the sense that Anderson’s touch on every single prop, location, costume, and world design detail is completely present and apparent, and deserves to be lauded. The color palette, strange but special use of animation and miniatures, and visual craft are an art form that he’s specialized in with great ease and admiration. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” serves as a vehicle of remembering appreciation of Anderson’s style, as it is fired upon on all cylinders here, without actually feeling like a parody of itself. It just is the way Anderson makes films, and it wears it proudly, which is slowly becoming an added layer of why I so heavily admire him as a director. He sticks to his guns and develops in many other ways, which if it works for him, it works for me (us.) There’s no doubt that if you love Wes Anderson for his aesthetic (and it’s obvious in that most to all fans are), this film will reassure your love for his love of the big and little things. 

Simply stated, the entire cast and crew at hand here should be lauded. Every performance and moment can be attributed to performers at the top of their game, having an absolute blast in a Wes Anderson play-set turned universe. There are too many standouts amongst a huge crowd, evening it out fairly, so I’ll plainly keep it with everyone being delightful… but especially Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori. Their chemistry and development together and alone are played for laughs, but also elusive and subtle character arcs that play toward more dramatic extremes. Never is it heavy handed, but instead endearing and thought provoking, without distracting from the whole, mulit-detailed picture. Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, and so many more also shine in their individual roles, making every second, line, moment, and sequence a special clashing of personalities. I also found a deep appreciation in the portrayals of a certain character by both Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson. There’s an endearing aspect to their performances, working as the heart of the tale(s) at hand. Though they merely serve as vessels for a larger, grander narrative at hand, the way they service the delivery of such stories is beautiful in a way. 

What fascinates me the most, other than how purely hilarious the film can be, is an underlying darkness and inevitability underneath the shenanigans. This is where the role of Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson’s character comes into play. They portray a writer at two different ages, and it is this writer and author that is told, and therefore tells the tale of what happens at the Grand Budapest Hotel. Wrapped in a storytelling world that’s even more so about storytelling, the film underlines thoughts of decay, death, a darkness in war and all it affects, etc. I won’t call it a cynical film, but it had the trappings of it, similar to a Coen Brothers’ flick. The “quirk” and dead-pan nature people complain about in Anderson’s films serve as as severe masks for some of his deepest drama, despite and in compliance with the humor surrounding it. For it, it’s beautiful and one of Wes’ more thought-provoking pieces, which is amazing considering how entertaining it is on a base level.

Anderson’s attention to detail, sense of humor, and overall style takes his tale into a manic, surprisingly bloody affair and tornado of excitement, character dynamics, and violence. It’s more of what Wes Anderson is known and loved for, and it’s by far, in many respects, some of the best material he’s produced yet. I look forward to the day when he works on a film set in a more modern time and/or setting, but with Anderson just getting better and better at what he does best, I’m not complaining. Be advised, because as per usual, if the work of Wes Anderson is not your cup of tea, I can’t guarantee that “The Grand Budapest Hotel” will change your mind, though it does introduce new territory, as well as reintroduce in an interesting fashion some specific devices and ideas. It’s one of Anderson’s more adventurous and humorous pieces, but in many ways, it’s exactly what you can expect from him. To me, that’s a great thing, and I absolutely cannot wait to see it again and let it wash over me once more. 

thelawnwrangler:


Gimme The Loot (2012) - by Adam Leon

A clever, neat little naturalistic film with tons of laughs and a sweet streak. The world painted here is fascinating and shines completely on its own thanks to awesome performances, captured by a simple yet focused lens from Adam Leon’s direction. I could’ve absolutely gotten into even more of this world and these characters- give me another hour with these guys and it could’ve been an even better film! For what it is though, as a short, thoughtful and observational romp, it won my heart easily, and can gladly woo yours as well if you give it a chance. 
"Gimme The Loot" is now streaming on Netflix Instant. Check it out!

thelawnwrangler:

Gimme The Loot (2012) - by Adam Leon

A clever, neat little naturalistic film with tons of laughs and a sweet streak. The world painted here is fascinating and shines completely on its own thanks to awesome performances, captured by a simple yet focused lens from Adam Leon’s direction. I could’ve absolutely gotten into even more of this world and these characters- give me another hour with these guys and it could’ve been an even better film! For what it is though, as a short, thoughtful and observational romp, it won my heart easily, and can gladly woo yours as well if you give it a chance. 

"Gimme The Loot" is now streaming on Netflix Instant. Check it out!

thelawnwrangler:

Glad I got to catch this in theaters. Sweet, clever flick.

Frozen - It’s funny and sweet! Exceeded my expectations as a musical and ended up being something incredibly endearing and fun. That’s the most I could really say about it, honestly. 

thelawnwrangler:

Glad I got to catch this in theaters. Sweet, clever flick.

Frozen - It’s funny and sweet! Exceeded my expectations as a musical and ended up being something incredibly endearing and fun. That’s the most I could really say about it, honestly. 


Prisoners (2013) - by Denis Villenueve

First off, it shames me that Paul Dano is the only person on that poster without an award acknowledgement. What’s wrong with us as people? For shame.
Anyway, this is a WEIRD film. It takes its sweet time with not much substance, really filling the void with fairly good thriller filmmaking. Roger Deakins’ photography is phenomenal as always, especially in a key scene near the end of the film, though it runs a bit long with only a few actually contextual scenes that push the film along peppered throughout. The acting is good, from Jackman’s violent aggression to Jake Gyllenhaal’s frustration, and everyone else involved doing a great job in their own small ways. Though the performances are good, again, the film takes its time and seems to be trying to trick its audience a little too hard. Sure, it’s tense and occasionally exciting, but can feel tiresome up until something actually happens and actually earns the audience’s captivation. Not to say the film doesn’t work for what it’s worth- it’s just that the whole piece doesn’t live up to what its best moments do. That said, it’s still an interesting thriller with shocking moments that do tend to surprise and intrigue, and if you stick it out through the end (in possibly paying more attention than I was doing), perhaps you’ll be rewarded, or at least acknowledge some of the better parts of what you just saw, of which there can be quite a few. 
Not bad! Just shades of great mixed with filler.

Prisoners (2013) - by Denis Villenueve

First off, it shames me that Paul Dano is the only person on that poster without an award acknowledgement. What’s wrong with us as people? For shame.

Anyway, this is a WEIRD film. It takes its sweet time with not much substance, really filling the void with fairly good thriller filmmaking. Roger Deakins’ photography is phenomenal as always, especially in a key scene near the end of the film, though it runs a bit long with only a few actually contextual scenes that push the film along peppered throughout. The acting is good, from Jackman’s violent aggression to Jake Gyllenhaal’s frustration, and everyone else involved doing a great job in their own small ways. Though the performances are good, again, the film takes its time and seems to be trying to trick its audience a little too hard. Sure, it’s tense and occasionally exciting, but can feel tiresome up until something actually happens and actually earns the audience’s captivation. Not to say the film doesn’t work for what it’s worth- it’s just that the whole piece doesn’t live up to what its best moments do. That said, it’s still an interesting thriller with shocking moments that do tend to surprise and intrigue, and if you stick it out through the end (in possibly paying more attention than I was doing), perhaps you’ll be rewarded, or at least acknowledge some of the better parts of what you just saw, of which there can be quite a few. 

Not bad! Just shades of great mixed with filler.

Enough Said (2013) - by Nicole Holofcener

A simple little film driven by its fantastic performance and relatable script. I was continuously fascinated at each moment, even though it’s just people talking. Hell, I like that stuff, but Enough Said made human relationships and foley something special. I’m a big fan of Duplass brothers flicks, and this reminded me a lot of Cyrus in a good way. It’s good to know we can get the same amount of brutal truth in performance and humanity from something scripted. It really is an honest and tender film. Also, glad to see Jessica St. Clair in a small role as an annoying massage client - Womp it Up.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) - by John Lee Hancock

A sweet film that takes a little time to get to something unique, but when the film wears its heart on its sleeve, it really shines. Great performances from everyone, especially Paul Giamatti, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, and Emma Thompson, though great job to BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman. It’s an interesting tale about storytellers and how dear their backgrounds are to their work. The flashbacks early on feel hokey, but later become a really interesting device that pay off quite well. Sometimes the film is quite obvious, but it still manages to work make good with what it has. Good to watch with family.


A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012) - by Crispian Mills and Chris Hopewell 

A stylish, clever, weirdly sweet, and satisfyingly creepy study in paranoia and fear that’s got the dark, absurdist moxie of a Primus or Ween video. As well, it’s quite funny, through filmmaking gags a la Edgar Wright (kind of obvious comparison, but apt), and Simon Pegg’s fantastic leading man abilities. Funny on his own physically, in delivery, and overall in helming a film. The film has many hats it wants to wear all at once, and while all don’t fit perfectly snug by the end, I couldn’t help but applaud its effort and end result. It still ends up being quite hilarious, full of creepy moments, impressive and clever visuals, solid writing, a tonally excited soundtrack, and a heart at its core that makes the film’s points intriguing, thoughtful, and sincere, as much as they are purely entertaining. Though seemingly complicated, A Fantastic Fear of Everything pulls through being quite simple, but in being understandable, it stands strong on not going too far and fumbling all of its efforts. It’s an admirable little flick with big ambition, and for that, I praise it!

A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012) - by Crispian Mills and Chris Hopewell 

A stylish, clever, weirdly sweet, and satisfyingly creepy study in paranoia and fear that’s got the dark, absurdist moxie of a Primus or Ween video. As well, it’s quite funny, through filmmaking gags a la Edgar Wright (kind of obvious comparison, but apt), and Simon Pegg’s fantastic leading man abilities. Funny on his own physically, in delivery, and overall in helming a film. The film has many hats it wants to wear all at once, and while all don’t fit perfectly snug by the end, I couldn’t help but applaud its effort and end result. It still ends up being quite hilarious, full of creepy moments, impressive and clever visuals, solid writing, a tonally excited soundtrack, and a heart at its core that makes the film’s points intriguing, thoughtful, and sincere, as much as they are purely entertaining. Though seemingly complicated, A Fantastic Fear of Everything pulls through being quite simple, but in being understandable, it stands strong on not going too far and fumbling all of its efforts. It’s an admirable little flick with big ambition, and for that, I praise it!

Rocky’s Top… 15 Movies of the 2013! (PART 3: #4-1)

We’ve reached our end game. Let the bloodshed begin. 

For those who need to catch up, here are parts 1 and 2.

Good? Good. Here are my 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st favorite films of 2013.

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Rocky’s Top… 15 Movies of the 2013! (PART 2: #9-5)

PART 2 IS HERE. And it’s not the end of the list. I’m working on the last part still, so… you know, stuff happens. Here are numbers 9-5. I hope you enjoy and maybe agree! Or don’t! The fun of opinions on films!

Here we go.

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