2013 Loose-ends Review Blitz

2013 is a long way behind us and there are many movies that I didn’t give their due for one reason or another. It’s like having a sneeze that just can’t get out so I have to hold some pepper up to my nose. Just get it out so I feel better.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll be as brief as I can and give a numerical value and a finalizing word on it. Slap it on the bare bottom and let it go into the wild. Let’s do this!

Don JonDon Jon- 9/10

As you may recall from my Best of 2013 List, “Don Jon” held my #2 spot just being “Into Darkness.” This hit a reality that many think of but is rarely explored in cinema. It’s about reality versus fantasy, about the meaning of relationships, and about sex versus love. It’s a poignant film with taboo material that will make your cringe at times but for the right reasons. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s confident directing hand only adds to the experience.

Must watch.

Dallas Buyers Club- 9/10 dallas buyers club

I have never been so happy when I saw both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto grab their Golden Globes last Sunday night. But I’ll be even more happy if they grab the rightly deserved Academy Awards next month. They are nominated and favorites so far. “Dallas Buyers Club” begins with the most despicable character you can imagine; McConaughey’s Ron Woodroof is a gay-hating racist who only cares about himself. When he gets AIDS he flees to Mexico for help and finds not a cure but a way to feel better. He turns this into a business/club for the AIDS community in Dallas. What comes out of it is an examination of the politics and lobbying used to benefit the money-mongering pharmaceutical companies. I’ll stop there. Just…

Watch it!

Gravity- 6/10

Everyone and their mother is salivating over this and for good reason. Alfonso Cuaron’s vision of a survival in a zero gravity setting miles above the earth is done perfectly. I wouldn’t dare to take that away from him. But the story left much to be desired, for me at least. I understand that it is simple and a beautiful allegory of depression and recovery. But it was also too on the nose with it. To me, it was set piece after set piece without much in between the two. It felt like an IMAX documentary rather than a narrative film. I only saw it in 2D on a smaller theater screen, and I’ve heard to “fully experience” it you have to go full IMAX with 3D. So maybe that’s why I wasn’t gushing over it like others.

See it in 3D IMAX, I suppose.

Captain_Phillips_PosterCaptain Phillips- 8/10

I’m surprised at myself for not writing up one of “Captain Phillips.” The tension that Paul Greengrass gets in this simple story of survival and desperation is amazing. Unlike “Gravity” it is about man versus man. Barkhad Abdi, who has a true Cinderella story, delivers the performance of a veteran actor and is comparable to Hanks’ its caliber and intrigue. The resolution acts as another climax where emotion for Phillips overflows.

Eventually watch!

12 Years a Slave- 7/10

There’s no denying the horror and inhumanity that came out of the slavery era of the United States, especially after watching “12 Years A Slave.” Another story of survival that is brilliantly carried out by Chiwetel Ejiofor and artistically touched by director Steve McQueen. It acts as a horror more than a historical drama with Michael Fassbender the monster to fear and despise. It truly rips your heart right of your chest and makes you look at it.

For acquired viewers.

Frozen- 7/10

What do you expect from a Disney Princess flick? A beautiful protagonist. A cute animal. A sidekick. A handsome man for the princess to fall for. Beautiful and catchy music. Cute acts and characters. Yep. That’s what you’ll get from “Frozen.” But that’s all you’ll get too. Trusted and true Disney fare.

For kids and most adults.

The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug- 5/10 hobbit

Ugh… I have to talk about “The Hobbit.” Okay, if I must. Not only did I not like the first installation of Jackson’s prequel to one of the most successful and well-told fantasies of our time, but I had a terrible watching the second one. I don’t understand how anyone can find satisfaction in this very gooey middle of Bilbo’s story. Nothing really happened. The boon which was stated at the beginning of “Smaug” never came to realization. I took the chance of watching it in 3D HFR. Bad choice. Okay. I’m done.

If you must, but not in 3D HFR.

All Is Lost- 7/10

Very simple and yet again a survival story. Robert Redford plays a nameless older gentleman who finds his boat punctured by adrift cargo. All done in action with few words, Redford takes all the right steps to better his situation but finds fate relentless in its punishment. One of the film’s detriments is not giving us a reason to care for the man other than the direction of the camera which makes us fill we are with him yet helpless like he is. In any case, it was a very different cinematic experience.

Exciting, but at the same time… not?

American Hustle- 7/10

I got lost in a lot of the logistics of the cons. Shame on me. But I enjoyed the powerful cast’s performances and how the characters related and bounced off of each other. Loosely based on a true story of proving corruption in American politicians, David O. Russell is continuing his streak in creating zany characters and surrounding them in an enjoyable plot and world.

Hilarious, must see eventually.

The Wolf of Wall Street- 6/10

Okay. Hear me out. I loved Scorese’s directing. The story. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill were amazing and comically outstanding. But… sooo much could have been cut and still had a great movie. Especially all the drugs and sex and immoral actions that polluted every scene. I felt like they were there just for shock’s sake and had no merit in the overall story. I’d be sad to see DiCaprio win for this performance. He had many other better ones.

Stay away unless you want to feel dirty.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues- 6/10 anchorman-2-posters-ron-burgundy-will-ferrell-us

They tried to make a sequel to the Mona Lisa and failed. Rehashed jokes that were a third as funny as the originals. The last third of the movie was a weird mess. It was nice to see the funny characters back but it would have been more nice if they were funny again.

Watch the First. It’s better.

Saving Mr. Banks- 7/10

When I saw the trailers for “Saving Mr. Banks” I couldn’t help comparing it last year’s “Hitchcock.” A behind-the-scenes look at a monumental film with a couple legendary actors playing iconic people. And that’s why I got. Like “Hitchcock” “Banks” had a central theme that the movie was based around and revisited. Many say it put Disney in his proper light, I must have missed that. Emma Thompson was the intolerable, relentless and unapologetic P.L. Travers who captured the essence perfectly. I think I would have appreciated the comparison to the story behind the book of “Mary Poppins” if I were more familiar with the plot points of “Mary Poppins” the movie. So, it’s not in any way a “bad” movie, just directed at a particular audience that I wasn’t in.

For the right audience, it’s perfect.

NebraksaNebraska- 7/10

Bruce Dern plays a delusional and out-of-touch father who “won” a million dollars and has to travel to Nebraska to claim it. It’s an interesting premise to be sure. But the execution wasn’t to its full potential. At most times I felt it was more in the vain of an undergrad student film. It didn’t play on the sap which would be easy to do which I appreciated. But it played on unneeded dark humor that I found more depressing than funny. Bruce Dern’s character was pathetic which made me empathetic yet many in the theater were laughing at his misfortune. I wonder what Alexander Payne was intending.

Only if you’re curious.

Her- 10/10

It’s a shame that I didn’t see this movie before making my Top 10 of 2013. I’m waiting to see it again to write a full and respectable review, so be watching for that.

Must see ASAP!

There you have it! Now, how wrong am I? Just kidding. Write your feeling below.

Thanks!

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Top 10 Movies of 2013

Last year was an amazing year for movies. I was in love with all the movies that made my Top 10 list so much so that I own ALL of them. Now, this year, although I’ve seen many many movies, I don’t feel the same way as last year. I feel like it was more of year of mediocrity than real imaginative storytelling. In any case, here are my Top 10 for 2013.

10. Captain Phillips Captain_Phillips_Poster

The tension kept getting tighter and tighter with each scene. Paul Greengrass brings this true story to the big screen by focusing on Tom Hank’s Phillips’ honorable leadership. The final scene of the film truly sold the trauma Phillips went through which shed not only my tears but all around me. Speculation of the actual facts be damned.

9. Blue Jasmine

Based loosely on “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Blue Jasmine” follows a recent divorcee, Jasmine, as she attempts to recollect her life in San Francisco with her boisterous, imperfect sister. Cate Blanchett pulls off her best character work that is both heart-wrenching and  darkly hilarious. A solid supporting cast of Alec Baldwin, Louie C.K. and Sally Hawkins brings this broken fairytale down to earth. Woody Allen handles this drama with his own prowess and style that gave me a good breath of fresh air in the midst of all the blockbusters.

warm bodies8. Warm Bodies

Who knew that a “Zom-Com” can only be hilarious but have an actual message to it!? Based roughly on “Romeo and Juliet,” “Warm Bodies” perfectly captures the mind inside of the overly-done horror icon. Sure, it’s a dumb premise: girl falls in love with zombie. But it’s not that simple. “50/50” director, Jonathan Levine, takes this love story and makes it work in every way.

7. Dallas Buyers Club

Mark my words. If Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are not at least nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, it will be a crime against cinema. Their performances are so real-to-life, entertaining, and intriguing that they sold the movie by themselves. A story of AIDS, social prejudices and corrupt pharmaceutical companies, “Dallas Buyers Club” is not an easy watch but an essential one for any movie buff.

6. Thor: the Dark World Thor-The-Dark-World-Poster-003

Maybe it was because my expectations were on the ground when I walked into the theater, but “Thor 2” blew me away. Sure, it had needless cheese in its over-bloated and self-important plot, but it was everything I want in a superhero flick. The mixture of the romance, action, comedy and charismatic characters created one of the most entertaining experiences I’ve had this year.

5. Fruitvale Station

Ever left the theater just emotionally exhausted? “Fruitvale Station” did that for me. Michael B. Jordan plays a struggling father who is just trying to do right for his daughter and girlfriend. Taking place on New Years Eve, Jordan’s Oscar Grant is only a snapshot into his life. We, as an audience know the impending ending which only gave every one of Jordan’s actions the emotional weight.

4. Pacific Rim

I’ve watched this movie about… four times since its theatrical release. Stylized to the core and brimming of cool, Del Toro’s epic tale of man/machine versus monster left me smiling in every scene. The plot was simple enough to follow and the tech was far-fetched, but that’s what it was. It was pure fantasy. An awesome world where I would love to revisit again and again.

The Way Way Back3. The Way Way Back

If you have been an awkward kid, you will attach yourself to this movie. A coming of age story about how teens are more adult than adults and how adults can and will be more childish than their kids. Duncan (Liam James), a teenage introvert, finds himself in the solace of a water park and mentor Owen (Sam Rockwell). Full of laughs, drama and impressionable moments, it holds its own with “The Breakfast Club” and “The Sandlot.”

2. Don Jon

Has pornography addiction ever been done in cinema? Wait. Has it ever been done as truthfully as this one? Starring and directed by the confident hand of Joseph Gordan-Levitt, “Don Jon” illustrates the difference between fantasy, whether it is romantic-comedies or pornography, and actual, real to life relationships. It’s message is so poignant that it can help anyone that is struggling and come to realization of the subject of the movie. Uncomfortable at times, but useful at the end of the day.

1. Star Trek: Into DarknessStar Trek

Okay. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of hate for this. There has been a ton of backlash about 2009’s Star Trek sequel. In my opinion, it had some of the most sophisticated storytelling, character moments and remarkable CGI that has held my top spot of my list since I have seen it. And that’s all I’m going to say because I’m sure I’ll get even more backlash than the actual movie.

Well that’s it. And here’s the other movies that I’ve seen in three separate categories.

Good, but not good enough:

The Place Beyond the Pines, American Hustle, Iron Man 3, Saving Mr. Banks, The Wolf of Wall Street, All Is Lost, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Elysium, Monsters University, Frozen, Carrie, Mud, Prisoners, The World’s End, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Man of Steel, Ender’s Game, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Kick-Ass 2.

Lower tier:

Upstream Color, The Wolverine, Much Ado About Nothing, Stoker, Now You See Me, Rush, After Earth, This Is The End, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The Great Gatsby, Oz: The Great and Powerful, World War Z

The very worst:

Only God Forgives, The Lone Ranger, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Bling Ring.

And that’s it. I still haven’t seen all the movies that I would want, but these are the ones that I have.

Here’s to a little better 2014!