Limitless

All posts in Film Reviews 2011




limitless

Title: Limitless
Year: 2011
Director: Neil Burger
Lead: Bradely Cooper
Rated: Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language.

 A man acquires super brain power with the use of a mystery drug.

 I went to see Limitless with two of my friends the other night, and I can say that I was the least excited of the three of us to see the movie. I can now say, however, that after the credits rolled, I was probably the most impressed. I expected to see a cookie cutter Hollywood thriller, but what I got was an extremely stylized, “Fight Clubesque” suspense, action film. The film started at the end (or so we thought). I’m always fascinated with this, and the use of this method was very successful. The writing for this movie was great. The story was brilliant, I did however, think to myself during the movie that there were some really unbelievable scenes, but then I was able to justify it by reminding myself that THIS WHOLE MOVIE IS FAR OUT! The style that Burger used to tell the story was really quite crazy, lots of nauseating fish-eye shots and these really blinding, never ending dolly shots that seemed like they traveled the entire distance of Manhattan. His style did seem to step on the story a little bit, but ultimately, it was simply awesome, and like I said, it reminded me a lot of Fight Club. Limitless should definitely not be passed up if you have the chance to see it. Its a pretty wholesome movie. 7.5 out of 10




Kings Speech

Title: The Kings Speech
Year: 2010
Director: Tom Hooper
Lead: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush
Rated: Rated R for some language.

 King George VI must become the man his country needs.

Let me start by saying that this film should not be rated R, and every person from age 10-100 should see this movie. Its so historically relevant that I’m surprised the story was not told like this sooner. Everybody will get something out of seeing this film, and I call it a “film” out of utmost respect. This film is perfect. I say that without any level of exaggeration. It is everything I look for in a movie. It has not only a beginning, a middle, and an end, but it has a flawless level of storytelling to get from point “a” to “b”. It has actors that play their parts as if they are the characters themselves. It has a vision that hardly any films have, it is absolutely beautiful to look at, and it is by far, my favorite for best picture. Lets start with cinematography, because that is what hooked me from the opening frame. It is pure brilliance, the framing is impeccable, each character and object is lined up so perfectly that you could watch this movie with no sound and be entertained. The opening speech is filmed so well that its near indescribable. Colin Firth steps up to the microphone to deliver the closing speech at the British Expo, nervously studies his enormous crowd, pauses for an irregular amount of time, begins to speak, stammers, again, and again, the crowd begins losing faith, the movie begins. Its shot so well, close up of the mic, of his mouth, shots of the radio room, of the crowd, its foggy, its tense. Later on in the film we are treated with offset framing of characters with great backgrounds. I could go on, but you get the idea, its perfect. The acting is so fantastic, I have never seen Helena Bonham Carter play a character as soft and loving as she is in this movie. The writing is also great, just the perfect balance of humor and seriousness. This is where the R rating comes from, which bums me out so much. The scene that takes this movie from PG to R is the minute or so where Colin Firth’s character repeatedly blurts out every swear word in the English language while trying to break his stammer. He is prompted to do this by his speech therapist who asks if he stammers when he swears. It becomes humorously apparent to us as the viewers that he indeed, does not stammer when he swears. The “F” word is said roughly 11 times in an extremely short amount of time. If not for that vital piece of story, this movie would be PG. In closing, Tom Hooper has created a perfect movie, all things were done perfectly right. The Academy Award nominations definitely reflect his accomplishment. The Kings Speech was nominated for a remarkable 12 Academy Awards including Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actor in Geoffrey Rush, Best Supporting Actress in Helena Bonham Carter, Best Actor in Colin Firth, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director in Tom Hooper, and Best Picture, along with some nominations in technical aspects. 10 out of 10




127-Hours-Movie

Title: 127 Hours
Year: 2010
Director: Danny Boyle
Lead: James Franco
Rated: Rated R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images.

 What lengths would a man go to stay alive?

 If you don’t know the story, Its about a man named Aron Ralston who was hiking one day by himself in the canyons of Canyon Land National Park. While navigating a rather narrow canyon he loosened a heavy boulder that pinned his arm against the canyon wall. He went 127 Hours with minimal water and hardly no food before he effectively cut off his own arm with a dull pocket knife. Danny Boyle really does this story right. This movie is good, it tells Aron’s harrowing story quite well, and James Franco plays his part quite well which is very necessary when he’s almost the only actor on the screen. Mr. Boyle had an incredible vision when he shot this film. Every shot is well planned, including one of my favorites, when he dollies the camera from Franco stuck, all the way out into the sky, miles above the canyon. Brilliant. The script in this movie is pretty excellent, there are words when there need to be and none when silence is key and James Franco giving his video camera logs are so great, its where he really convinces us that he is truly stuck and quite panicked. My only problem was how the movie looked a little too “film school”. It was almost over thought, Boyle was trying so hard it seemed like, he was successful at creating a great movie but it seemed like he felt he had to play it up a bit with lots of close ups and weird angles. So lets talk about the arm cutting scene, because it is kind of key. When Franco starts hallucinating and seeing his future kid, it gets great, without any words we know that he is doing this for life that he could have if he got out. He starts cutting, and I have to say, I WANTED to watch, it was triumphant, it was courageous, hell, it was manly. I do have to send out a thank you to Danny Boyle for not keeping the camera on the arm when he broke the bones, instead you gave me an excellent idea of shaking the camera on cue with the snapping sound. Brilliant #2. 127 Hours is a champions story. Its great. 127 Hours is nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Actor in James Franco and Best Picture. 8 out of 10




Black-Swan-Poster-black-swan-17491159-545-800

Title: Black Swan
Year: 2010
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Lead: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis
Rated: RatedR for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use.

A ballet dancer becomes so enthralled with the lead part in Swan Lake that it becomes her reality.

This movie is so unsettling. Its so well put together and thought out and paced that it makes you feel so wrong. Darren definitely had an idea of what he was doing when he made this film, there is nothing out of place, every scene has a point and no shot is wasted. I do have to say that this movie does take some patience and is not for everyone. There are certain aspects that some people just won’t understand and won’t appreciate. The one thing that I very much disliked is the use of a tripod. I cant fully appreciate a movie if the director thinks he’s too good for one. I understand the want for a movie that is shot with a hand-held camera, it literally and figuratively shakes the audience. Its literally unsettling, I get that, but lets put some stability to the camera. There are times where youdon’t need to shake the camera. It made me a bit motion sick in parts, I’m not exaggerating. Sickness aside, Black Swan is an excellent movie that hits every point just right. Darren Aronofskygoes out of his way to create a flawless mood of darkness in his movie. One thing that really stood out to me was the lack of color;I’m thinking hard and I cant point out very many scenes where there was a vivid color other than black, grey, or white. Anyways, NataliePortman was absolutely excellent along with Mila Kunis. The two of them together was great, they had a certain odd chemistry when they are on screen together. Almost like they are the same person… Anyway, Black Swan has been nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Actress in Natalie Portman, Best Director in DarrenAronofsky, and Best Picture. 8 1/2 out of 10




True Grit

Title: True Grit
Year: 2010
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Lead: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld
Rated: Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images.

 A U.S. Marshall heps a young girl catch the man who killed her father.

As we all know, True Grit has been done before; in fact, its been done twice before, once in print and another on film. We also know that Jeff Bridges was stepping into the hallowed role of Rooster Cogburn, previously played by “The Duke”, John Wayne. Needless to say, the Coen’s took on some difficult tasks with the production of this film. In my opinion, they succeeded at creating a very great western that is relevant in this day and age, and can easily stand alone for judgment against the original film. The Coen brothers bring a certain darkness to the film that is not present in the original, Jeff Bridges brings a certain grit, if you will, to his role that John Wayne didn’t really have (I’m certainly not saying that JW didn’t have grit, he just played the role differently), and Hailee Steinfeld is more rough than Kim Darby was in the role of Mattie Ross. Not only does True Grit have powerful performances, but it is a visual dream. The Coen brothers are very famous for the striking, memorable cinematography that they employ in their movies. True Grit is no different. What I really liked was their use of back lighting. I can think of a couple of scenes, specifically the scene where Jeff Bridges fires the shot into the mine, and when Hailee Steinfeld falls down the pit. Both scenes bring a literal and figurative darkness to the movie; an aspect that is all but absent from the original film. In Henry Hathaway’s film everything seems to be cleaned up and somewhat comically cheerful. John Wayne is very clean, almost made up; so is La Boeuf’s character. All of this cleanliness is gone in the Coen brothers film. The gravity of the situation is definitely felt; this is a movie about a girl searching to avenge the death of her father, and the audience knows it.

 So on to the true review. This movie is excellent, the performances are strong, and the writing is great. Rooster Cogburn’s character is very well developed, and we definitely can understand his punchy thought making process and tough demeanor. Mattie Ross’s character is also more believable, I can remember the 69′ version of the film where Mattie Ross smiles a whole bunch. I can remember that never making sense to me; this girl had just lost her father and wanted to avenge his death, she shouldn’t be happy. Hailee Steinfeld does not smile a lot in this movie, shes more rough and tumble, and she isn’t cute, which makes me move on to casting; its perfect. Mattie Ross is cast at the perfect age, in the book she is 14 years old, Hailee Steinfeld is 14 years old. Kim Darby who originally played Mattie Ross was about 20 years old when she played the role. Finally, this film is visually and audibly pleasing. There are many great pictures to look at and some great sound to back it up. This film feels like a true western, and like I previously stated, its relevant in this day and age. We live in a time where westerns are certainly not the norm, and for somebody to make a great western today is a wonderful accomplishment, it also adds a little bit of difference to a box office that is unnecessarily flooded by 3D, romantic comedies and vampires. Westerns are what made America, and the Coen’s bring that inventive feeling back with their wonderful interpretation of a great book. I definitely recommend this movie, definitely check it out on the big screen. 9 out of 10