Category Archives: History

Zodiac (2007) Review

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Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith
Mark Ruffalo as David Toschi
Robert Downey, Jr. as Paul Avery
Anthony Edwards as SFPD Inspector William Armstrong
Brian Cox as Melvin Belli
Elias Koteas as Sgt. Jack Mulanax
Donal Logue as Captain Ken Narlow
John Carroll Lynch as Arthur Leigh Allen
Dermot Mulroney as Captain Marty Lee
Director: David Fincher

Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cartoonist who works for the San Francisco Chronicle. His quirky ways irritate Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.), a reporter whose drinking gets in the way of doing his job. The two become friends thanks to a shared interest: the Zodiac killer. Graysmith steadily becomes obsessed with the case, as Avery’s life spirals into drunken oblivion. Graysmith’s amateur sleuthing puts him onto the path of David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), a police inspector who has thus far failed to catch his man; Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting expert; Linda del Buono, a convict who knew one of the Zodiac’s victims; and others. Graysmith’s job, his wife and his children all become unimportant next to the one thing that really matters: catching the Zodiac.

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By 2007, David Fincher was already a well received director with film like Se7en and Fight Club. When it comes to his films, Zodiac is one of his most underrated and it also might just be his best. Fantastically well-paced, greatly and efficiently written and brilliantly acted by its cast, Zodiac is a captivating and fantastic movie that is finally receiving the love and acclaim that it deserves over a decade after its release.

Zodiac also takes place throughout the 60s and 70s and many moments jump to different moments (like weeks, months and years later), it really spans over quite a large amount of time. The mystery itself is fascinating. It’s not just the mystery that’s interesting though, it’s also the people investigating and obsessing over it, particularly Gyllenhaal, Downey and Ruffalo’s characters. Fincher really does a great job at making you as obsessed with finding the identity of the Zodiac Killer as our protagonists here. The movie really gets better and better the more it progresses. The part where two characters near the end seem to piece together what may have happened is really satisfying. The movie isn’t quite like Fincher’s other serial killer movie, Se7en, it’s certainly not as dark and grotesque. However, all the events that you see really happened, which you could argue could make this film more disturbing. Also, unlike Se7en or Fincher’s other serial killer movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’s never clear who the actual killer is. There is a theory and a strong implication by the end of the movie but that’s it. This movie is Fincher’s longest to date, around 2 hours and 40 minutes, this is possibly why Zodiac isn’t as popular as some of his other films like Se7en. There is a lot to take in and you have to really be into a mood to sit down for over 150 minutes to watch an investigation of a serial killer, for me it really did it for me.

The whole cast of Zodiac do well in their roles. Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo are particularly great in the movie with Gyllenhaal as a cartoonist, Downey as a reporter and Ruffalo as a cop. All of them are obsessed with finding the Zodiac killer, and they convey their real life characters convincingly. Gyllenhaal’s performance here is particularly overlooked, he really carries with him this silent obsession that he shows with such subtlety that was effective. We are really seeing the movie from his eyes and we becomes as obsessed with the case of the Zodiac Killer as Jake’s character Robert Graysmith. Downey was also great here, with his character going through some more blatant changes as the case of the Zodiac progresses. Ruffalo also proves himself once again as being yet another one of the best underappreciated talents working today. They all give some of the best performances of their career. All the supporting cast were quite good but if there’s one who stands out, it’s John Caroll Lynch as a primary suspect in the Zodiac case. He is so unnerving in all his scenes and is very memorable, even within his small screentime.

David Fincher’s movies always look great and Zodiac in no exception, his direction of this film is immaculate and full of detail. Most of this film is focussed on the investigation of the murders and the mystery by our 3 main characters and Fincher really did a great job at showcasing it. The cinematography by Harris Savides was also great. The intense scenes (most of them consisting of the Zodiac killings being shown) are handled very well. A certain basement scene also stands out at being very creepy, Fincher handled the tension and the unsettledness perfectly. David Fincher also uses CGI effectively to enhance the scenes to make it look better. I wouldn’t know that he was using it just from watching the movie, it’s been released for over a decade long and nothing indicated that CGI was being used. The music from David Shire was also quite effective.

Zodiac in an underrated and fantastic film that I think everyone should see at least once. It is a long movie, full of detail and it’s a lot to take in, so it’s not an easy movie to just watch, you have to really be in the mood to watch it. However, having seen it a few times now, I can’t help but love it every time. Fincher’s attention to detail is absolutely incredible. On top of that, the performances (particularly from Gyllenhaal, Downey and Ruffalo) were great. It’s probably Fincher’s best put together movie in all honesty and having seen almost all of his films, it might just be his best movie yet, which is really saying a lot. Zodiac is one of my favourite films and it gets better the more I watch it.

Darkest Hour (2017) Review

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Coarse language
Cast
Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill
Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill
Ben Mendelsohn as George VI
Lily James as Elizabeth Layton
Ronald Pickup as Neville Chamberlain
Stephen Dillane as Viscount Halifax
Director: Joe Wright

A thrilling and inspiring true story begins at the precipice of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King (Ben Mendelsohn), and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.

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Darkest Hour was a movie that I’ve been getting a little interested in. It’s a movie about Winston Churchill starring Gary Oldman and directed by Joe Wright, so of course I was somewhat curious about it. Darkest Hour is a pretty good movie overall, with some great performances, solid direction and a decently well done story. I wouldn’t say that it’s a great movie as a whole but it’s still worth watching.

I was interested enough in what was going on throughout the majority of the movie, it does drag at some points and I’d be lying if I said that I was completely riveted from start to finish but I was interested enough. Keep in mind that this isn’t a full on Churchill biopic, it covers him taking on the responsibilities of Prime Minister of Britain after being brought in to replace Chamberlain, and includes him dealing with the Dunkirk event while being faced with adversity within his own government. In terms of accuracy I can’t comment on it. However, there is a very out of place scene that involved Churchill on a train that I’m sure didn’t take place at all. I could tell what this scene is meant to show and why it was here in the first place, but the way it was done just felt so ridiculous and I couldn’t take it seriously at all. Aside from that rather distracting moment, it’s a rather solid movie overall.

Gary Oldman is great as Winston Churchill, you can’t really tell that it’s Oldman throughout the performance. Yes of course the makeup of course changes his physical appearance a lot but everything from his voice and the way he acted was very transformative as well, it’s not just Gary Oldman in heavy makeup trying to act as Winston Churchill. I will admit, at many points I couldn’t really tell what he was saying because of how much he mumbled but I guess maybe that’s just the way that Churchill talked. Otherwise this is a very good performance. The supporting cast was also solid and deserve some praise as well. We have Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife, Lily James as Churchill’s secretary and Ronald Pickup and Stephen Dillane as Neville Chamberlain and Viscount Halifax respectively and they all do a great job.

Joe Wright did quite well in directing this. The cinematography, set designs, costumes and the score by Dario Marianelli all work together quite well. The makeup and fat suit on Gary Oldman also worked quite well in transforming him into Winston Churchill and it never felt like it was overkill, it was just right.

Darkest Hour is a pretty solid movie with Joe Wright returning to form (at least in comparison to his last film Pan) and with the performances being the highlight, especially Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour is also a pretty good accompany piece to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and watching both of them will probably increase your enjoyment of both of them. I’m not quite sure how most audiences will find the overall movie but I will say that it is worth watching for Gary Oldman’s performance at the very least.

The Post (2017) Review

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Meryl Streep as Kay Graham
Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee
Sarah Paulson as Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Bradlee
Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian
Tracy Letts as Fritz Beebe
Bradley Whitford as Arthur Parsons
Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara
Matthew Rhys as Daniel Ellsberg
Director: Steven Spielberg

Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) is the first female publisher of a major American newspaper — The Washington Post. With help from editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), Graham races to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spans three decades and four U.S. presidents. Together, they must overcome their differences as they risk their careers — and very freedom — to help bring long-buried truths to light.

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There is an undeniable amount of talent and potential involved when it came The Post. With it being about The Pentagon Papers, with a cast which features actors such as Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and being directed Steven Spielberg, it showed some signs of it being really something. However, I wasn’t as excited about it as I wanted to be leading up to its release. The Post is by no means a bad or even average movie, it’s decent enough and has some good aspects to it. However it is missing some aspects that would’ve otherwise made for a consistently riveting movie.

It takes quite a while for the movie to pick up. Focussing a movie about The Washington Post on The Pentagon Papers definitely has some potential, the problem is that it’s a bit of a wait before The Washington Post even get The Pentagon Papers. There are multiple things going on during the movie, not just The Pentagon Papers. One of the aspects is Meryl Streep’s character of Katharine Graham and her running of The Washington Post. I should be interested because it’s an important part of the movie and she is the primary protagonist but I just wasn’t that invested. I was a little more interested in The Pentagon Papers aspect. It does pick up a bit as it goes along, especially after the halfway point and it gets better from there. One problem for me is that I never felt that concerned or worried for what was happening, you don’t feel like you’re necessarily with these people as the events are going on. Of course we know the end results but there are plenty of movies based on real life where you are really wrapped up and riveted in what’s going on. The Post on the other hand just seemed to be showing events, for as hard as the decisions that Katharine Graham has to make, you don’t really feel the weight of the decisions, even if you know why these decisions are difficult for her. The Post isn’t that long at just under 2 hours long and while it can drag at points, the length wasn’t a problem. A lot of people have already called The Post and Oscar Bait movie and I can say that there are some moments where it definitely feels like it, especially with it being directed by Steven Spielberg. It’s also meant to be topical for today and while it is relevant for today, only time will tell whether it will stand the test of time with movies like All the Presidents Men.

The Post has a pretty talented cast with Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood and more. They all give commendable performances in this movie but it’s really only Tom Hanks who stood out to me. Honestly the characters aren’t that well fleshed out, so I really wasn’t that invested in them. Meryl Streep is fine, but she’s not even close to being one of the best performances in the film, I can’t tell whether its her acting or the writing she was given but for such a talented actress I was pretty underwhelmed by the performance. There are also some actors that are underused, like Michael Stuhlbarg and Sarah Paulson to a degree.

Steven Spielberg directs this movie competently enough, it’s well pieced together and edited very well. It also does well at setting itself in the 1960s. Really in terms of direction I’ve got no problems with it, it’s at the level that it needs to be, it doesn’t overshadow the plot or actors and is at a pretty high level.

The Post has some good moments, some interesting aspects, pretty good performances and commendable direction from Steven Spielberg but it seems to be lacking some things. It takes for the second half for the movie to pick up and it really didn’t consistently have my interest, though it still had my attention. If The Post interests you, I do recommend checking it out. Everyone else who isn’t interested I still recommend checking it out, but you don’t need to rush out and see it, it’s not one of Steven Spielberg’s better movies.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Adult themes
Cast
Domhnall Gleeson as A. A. Milne
Margot Robbie as Daphne de Sélincourt
Kelly Macdonald as Olive
Will Tilston as Young Christopher Robin
Alex Lawther as Christopher Robin Milne
Director: Simon Curtis

After leaving London for the English countryside, writer A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) starts to spin fanciful yarns about his son’s growing collection of stuffed animals. These stories form the basis for “Winnie-the-Pooh” and “The House at Pooh Corner,” published respectively in 1926 and 1928. Milne and his family soon become swept up in the instant success of the books, while the enchanting tales bring hope and comfort to the rest of postwar England.

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I was partially curious about Goodbye Christopher Robin, mostly because of Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie’s involvement. Otherwise I didn’t really know what to expect, it was film about the making of Winnie the Pooh and I guess that could have some potential, but I wasn’t really sure. It was better than I thought it would be, with the story and performances being quite solid, it’s not great but it is good.

The story was generally good, its not one of the greatest biopics out there but its a very solid one. I do like how it doesn’t shy away from some of the things that happened, with how the success of the Winnie the Pooh stories had a negative impact on the real Christopher Robin. This movie surprisingly had some effective emotional moments that I honestly didn’t expect. I don’t know how accurate the overall film is to real life, though I did look up some things and there were a couple inaccuracies I found at the end. I thought it might’ve been done to lighten up the end a little because it would be hard for them to end the story in the movie like how it did in real life (I won’t say what happened, just watch the movie and then do some looking into the story on your own and you might know what I’m referring to). But that’s all I can really say from my position. I was consistently invested in the movie, there weren’t any particularly glaring flaws, it’s just overall a decent biopic. Aside from that, not too much to mention.

Acting is pretty great from everyone. Domhnall Gleeson gives a solid performance as A.A. Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh books. Margot Robbie plays Milne’s wife, who in the story isn’t very likable to say the least, but Robbie does her best to humanise her character as much as possible and she did a good job as well. The real life Christopher Robin Milne is played by 2 actors, Will Tilston for the younger version and Alex Lawther for the grown up version. Both are great but it’s Tilston who gets the more focus and screentime and he is so great here, this movie is kind of riding on him, so if Tilston failed, this movie would probably fail. Fortunately he was really good. There is great chemistry between Tilston and Gleeson and that is so important for the movie. Kelly Macdonald is also good as Christopher’s nanny, and you can definitely seem the bond between the two as most of the time it’s her who’s taking care of him. Again, they have great chemistry.

This is the first film I’ve seen by director Simon Curtis and he did a pretty solid job overall. There’s isn’t that much to say about it honestly, it’s adequately directed like most decent biopics and nothing particularly bad or amazing about it.

I liked Goodbye Christopher Robin more than I thought I would. I was reasonably interested in the story and it was surprisingly quite effective on an emotional level. I wouldn’t say that its like one of the year’s best films but it is definitely worth giving taking a look for the performances at the very least.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Depicts graphic & realistic war scenes.
Cast
Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss
Vince Vaughn as Sergeant Howell
Sam Worthington as Captain Jack Glover
Luke Bracey as Smitty Ryker
Hugo Weaving as Tom Doss
Ryan Corr as Lieutenant Manville
Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte
Director: Mel Gibson

The true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), the conscientious objector who, at the Battle of Okinawa, won the Medal of Honor for his incredible bravery and regard for his fellow soldiers. We see his upbringing and how this shaped his views, especially his religious view and anti-killing stance. We see Doss’s trials and tribulations after enlisting in the US Army and trying to become a medic. Finally, we see the hell on Earth that was Hacksaw Ridge.

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Hacksaw Ridge had sparked my curiosity and I first heard of it when it was gaining Oscar buzz and fortunately I managed to watch it before the 2017 Oscars. Overall it was a pretty good movie with its story, the performances (particularly from Andrew Garfield) and Mel Gibson’s direction. There are some cliché elements and it does get a little too over the top at times in certain aspects, but overall I think it’s a pretty solid movie.

The first act focussed on the protagonist Desmond Doss and him when he’s training to be a soldier and refuses to use a gun. The second half is the event at Hacksaw Ridge. Now at times this film does seem cliché in the way they decided to portray events and characters. For example, Vince Vaughn’s character is pretty much like R. Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket, without a whole lot of development (I know a lot of drill sergeants are like this but here it just comes across as being cartoony). Also the Japanese in this movie are represented as just generic enemy soldiers, nothing much more than that, it doesn’t necessarily make the movie worse but it’s just worth noting. I guess this movie was more about Desmond and his part in the war rather than about both sides on the war so it doesn’t bother me too much. It’s just a little noticeable. I myself am not sure how accurate this movie is to real events, so I can’t comment on that aspect. However aside from my issues with that I’d say that Hacksaw Ridge is pretty good overall. It is a long movie at 139 minutes but consistently it had my attention.

Andrew Garfield is great in his role here, this is one of his best performances. It’s easy to like and care about him, but it’s most importantly easy to understand why he makes the decisions that he does, and Garfield’s acting definitely helped with that. Teresa Palmer plays a nurse who Doss starts a relationship with, they were great together. The supporting cast is also good. Vince Vaughn is good, as I said earlier, his character is pretty one note but Vaughn does act his role well. Sam Worthington, also great in this movie, I think with this and Everest, I can say that Sam Worthington really works best in supporting roles. The supporting performance that steals the show however is Hugo Weaving, as Desmond’s father, it’s a really powerful performance and a stand out performance in a bunch of great performances.

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Mel Gibson is directing this movie and as you can probably guess, Hacksaw Ridge is very violent, I mean of course its because it’s a war movie but also because Mel Gibson is directing. All the battle scenes are viscious and brutal, it does ocassionally feel like it’s a little too violent, like a little too over the top. But overall the direction is great. It does really feel like it’s absolute chaos and really places you in the war. The soundtrack by Rupert Gregson-Williams was great.

Overall, I think Hacksaw Ridge is pretty good. The acting was great, the direction by Gibson was solid and I was invested in this story from start to finish. Not everything is perfect, there is definitely some issues I had in the way Gibson decided to tell the story. But for the most part, this movie does get a lot of things right.

Dunkirk (2017) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Fionn Whitehead as Tommy
Tom Glynn-Carney as Peter
Jack Lowden as Collins
Harry Styles as Alex
Aneurin Barnard as Gibson
James D’Arcy as Colonel Winnant
Barry Keoghan as George
Kenneth Branagh as Commander Bolton
Cillian Murphy as Shivering Soldier
Mark Rylance as Mr Dawson
Tom Hardy as Farrier
Director: Christopher Nolan

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.

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Dunkirk is directed by Christopher Nolan, that was enough to get me on board for this movie. I’ve loved nearly every film from him, he always brings his A game to the table to deliver great movies. The concept of him take on a war movie was intriguing, and on top of that he had a great cast with actors like Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy involved. So I was definitely excited to see Dunkirk and unsurprisingly, Nolan did not disappoint. Dunkirk is a very different war movie from most, very intense and captivating and is also one of the best examples of excellent visual storytelling. One of the best films of the year for sure.

This movie is unique compared to other war movies, it is really something special. Dunkirk feels incredibly realistic, more so than most ‘realistic war movies’. Whereas most war movies focus on both the characters and the war, Dunkirk solely focusses on the war. The movie doesn’t ever have a moment when someone gives their life story like most war movies (because in war, that wouldn’t happen). One of the best parts of the movie was the visual storytelling. Nolan uses exposition sparingly, only when necessary. The rest is just pure visual storytelling at its best. If there is one criticism I might have is that there isn’t really a whole lot of character depth or development, it really wasn’t that big of a problem for me. However, I do think it could’ve been possible to give the characters a little more depth then they ended up displaying in the movie. It’s just a minor flaw though. Dunkirk has three perspectives, one on land with Fionn Whitehead over a week, one on boat with Mark Rylance over a day, and one in the air with Tom Hardy over an hour. The transitions are a little jarring sometimes like, when its night-time in the land segment and then it suddenly cuts to daytime in the plane section. This movie is short for a Nolan movie at 1 hour 46 minutes and I think it was a good running time, its not too short and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

This movie has a large and talented cast with Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and others and they were great in their roles. As I said earlier, this movie doesn’t have a lot of character development or exposition, the actors just needed to act well in their roles and they really did that. An example is Tom Hardy, most of the time his face is covered by a mask and he’s just acting with his eyes and he is one of the stand out performances in the film. And yes, even Harry Styles is pretty good in his role.

Christopher Nolan directed this movie, and as usual he brings his A-game, it is what makes this movie work so incredibly well. The cinematography by Hoyte van Hotyema is top notch, you completely feel like you’re with these people during these events. This film feels very realistic, the war sequences never feels overblown or over the top, there’s no self indulgent bloody violence for the sake of violence. Hans Zimmer’s score raises the tension, definitely plays a big part in making the film work. Honestly all things considered, this one of Christopher Nolan’s best directed films yet.

Dunkirk is yet another excellent film from Christopher Nolan. Along with the acting and story, the direction and visual storytelling is absolutely fantastic. It’s also an important movie, and watching these events of Dunkirk occur is really compelling. I can’t say how this movie would rank against Nolan’s other movies, but it is probably one of his best, which is saying a lot. Dunkirk is truly one of the best films of the year.

Hidden Figures (2016) Review

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Goble Johnson
Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan
Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson
Kevin Costner as Al Harrison
Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell
Jim Parsons as Paul Stafford
Glen Powell as John Glenn
Mahershala Ali as Jim Johnson
Aldis Hodge as Levi Jackson
Director: Theodore Melfi

The incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

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Hidden Figures seemed interesting when I first heard of it. It had a large and very talented cast, an interesting premise and story, and yes, it got many nominations for awards. So, I was curious enough to check it out. However, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Hidden Figures is full of great performances, solid direction and also a very compelling story. Hidden Figures is really worth seeing, a pleasantly surprising movie.

The story in Hidden Figures was quite good. It’s easy to follow what’s going on throughout the movie, there was no confusion and I never felt bored throughout the movie. The leads were likeable (which was also helped by the lead actresses, which I’ll get into later), and so I was interested to watch what was going on. The stories were interesting for me, it was interesting seeing how big of a role these women had in historical events. Each of their stories was very interesting and it’s easy to be invested in their stories. As for how the bigotry is handled, it’s subtle, at no point does it seem over the top or forced for dramatic effect. This movie wasn’t put in black and white, the way people acted and the decisions made were more complex than most movies which portray this time period. It feels genuine and so its easy to believe what the characters are feeling when they encounter obstacles, almost experiencing what they are feeling. It was an easy movie to watch overall, not complicated but at the same time very enjoyable and interesting enough.

Hidden Figures has a very talented cast all around and they were all great here. The three main leads, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae were all fantastic, they were all very likable and believable in their roles. As I said, all of their stories are interesting to watch and these talented actresses really did carry their storylines well. If there is a main character between the three of them, I’d say that it’s Henson, she was personally a stand out to me. Other very talented actors like Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali and others were great in supporting roles.

The direction by Theodore Melfi was pretty good overall, this is the first film of his I’ve seen. The costume design, music, production design, soundtrack, everything fitted the time period well. So on top of the writing, story and acting, the direction made it a lot easier to be invested in this story. However it wasn’t really the highlight of the film, the story and acting were more the focus. Still solid direction nonetheless.

Hidden Figures is quite a good movie, the acting was great, direction was solid and the overall story was investing and riveting. It was interesting learning about all these events and how significant these people are. It definitely deserves the praise its been getting. Check out this movie when you get a chance. It’s not one that you need to immediately see, but I do think it’s worth a viewing.

Silence (2016) Review

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silence

Time: 161 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and Cruelty
Cast
Andrew Garfield as Sebastião Rodrigues
Adam Driver as Francisco Garupe
Liam Neeson as Father Cristóvão Ferreira
Tadanobu Asano as The Interpreter
Ciarán Hinds as Father Alessandro Valignano
Issey Ogata as Inoue Masashige
Shinya Tsukamoto as Mokichi
Yoshi Oida as Ichizo
Yōsuke Kubozuka as Kichijiro
Director: Martin Scorsese

Silence tells the story of two Christian missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson) at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden.

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Silence was one of my most anticipated films of 2016. Every time Martin Scorsese makes a film, I’m in, no matter what the premise. This film was actually a passion project of Scorsese’s, he wanted to make this movie for over 20 years. So I was definitely interested in what he had in store for us. Scorsese didn’t disappoint with Silence. This is a brutal, harsh and real movie about faith and the conflict that can be caused from it. With the complex story, flawless direction as well as the brutal performances, this is a fantastic movie.

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What I love about this movie is how complex it is. It doesn’t try to pick sides (Christianity or Budhism) or paint everything in black and white, it just allows the story to play out and its fascinating to see these people. The theme of faith is throughout the movie and it is fascinating, with the different ways characters see faith, to the way that their views change. This is particularly shown in the conversations. The screenplay is near perfect This movie is long, at around 2 hours 40 minutes. Now even though I felt the long length throughout the movie, I was completely invested in the story, my attention never wavering. The last 5-10 minutes however, I do think could’ve been better, the film could’ve been wrapped up a little faster. That’s probably my only problem with the movie however.

(L-R) Adam Driver as Father Garupe and Andrew Garfield as Father Sebastião Rodrigues the film SILENCE by Paramount Pictures, SharpSword Films, and AI Films

The performances in this film are amazing. Both Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver are great as these missionaries. Garfield particularly stands out, this is the best performance I’ve seen from him (though I haven’t seen Hacksaw Ridge yet). His character changes a lot in the movie, as seen in both the way he acts as well as the things he says and believes. His views on faith are one of the most interesting aspects to watch as it changes after he witnesses and experiences certain events. Liam Neeson is not in this movie a huge amount but he is great, very complex and interesting. The other supporting cast shouldn’t be overlooked. Yosuke Kubozuka is great as a bit of an ambigious character who pops up frequently throughout the movie (that’s all I’ll say). Also great is Issey Ogata as one of the Inquisitors that’s trying to remove Christianity from Japan. Like many of the characters, he is ambigious, he’s not portrayed as a one dimensional bad guy, he’s a lot more interesting.

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Martin Scorsese’s direction for Silence unsurprisingly is flawless. The cinematography was immaculate, every shot is framed perfectly, the way the camera moves always fits the moment. The locations also are beautiful and perfect, it feels like it’s right out of that time period and locations. This film in the technical department is perfect.

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Silence is hands down one of the best films of 2016. Unfortunately, this movie has been overlooked by many people. I will say that this movie is one that’s really only worth watching once, not because of the length, but because of the emotionally draining story. As long as you know what you’re getting into, I suggest watching this movie, it is well worth your time. The fantastic story, performances and direction are so well crafted that I guarantee that this movie will be looked back upon as possibly one of Scorsese’s best films, which is saying a lot.

Spotlight (2015) Review

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Spotlight

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language and Content that may Disturb
Cast
Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes
Michael Keaton as Walter “Robby” Robinson
Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer
Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron
John Slattery as Ben Bradlee Jr.
Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll
Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian
Director: Tom McCarthy

In 2001, editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll (Brian D’Arcy James) and Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

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Spotlight had my interest ever since I saw the huge and talented cast involved but the story behind it also interested me, and it sounded like a story that should be told. The large amount of Oscar nominations also increased my interest in seeing this film. With the great performances and most importantly the fantastic script, Spotlight really is a must see movie and is one of the best movies of 2015.

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First off let’s get it right out of the way, the script by Tom McCarthy is excellent. The dialogue, the way the story moved, the plot points, everything fell nicely into place in telling this very fascinating story. The pacing is also set at just the right speed and the entire movie is so captivating the entire runtime, despite its lurid subject matter. Another thing is that everything felt so real, at some point this movie started feeling less like a movie and more like a well put together documentary. There isn’t really anything noticeably wrong with the movie, but if I had to be a little nit-picky, I would say that the beginning of the movie, like the first 5-10 minutes was a little slow. This beginning segment didn’t bother me a lot but I did feel like it could’ve been paced a little faster and it does take a little while before the plot starts happening. Aside from that aspect, everything fell nicely into place. I can’t say for certain how accurate this entire movie was to the events that took place, but the way it was done made it definitely seem credible.

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The cast in this movie is big and talented with Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber and many others being a part of this movie. All of them do excellent work and get to shine. I said earlier how this movie felt so real and at some point felt like a documentary, this also applies to the performances. There aren’t any moments where the actors gave ‘an Oscar moment’. Instead they are all thankfully subdued and feel much more like real people, they really felt like journalists trying to find the truth.

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery play Boston Globe journalists in the film, Spotlight.

There isn’t much to say about the actual direction of the scenes as it’s mostly the script and the performances that are the highlights of Spotlight but I will say that the film and scenes are very well directed by Tom McCarthy. The soundtrack by Howard Shore was also good and fit the rest of the movie perfectly.

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Spotlight is one of the best movies of 2015 and in my opinion it is actually a pretty important movie. From Tom McCarthy’s great direction, to its grounded performances from its huge and wonderfully talented cast as well as its realistic and fantastically written screenplay, Spotlight is a great movie that succeeds on just about every level. Definitely check it out when you have a chance, I know that it’s not an easy movie to watch given its subject matter, but even so, I still think that it’s really worth seeing.

JFK (1991)

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JFK

Time: 189 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison
Kevin Bacon as Willie O’Keefe
Tommy Lee Jones as Clay Shaw
Joe Pesci as David Ferrie
Laurie Metcalf as Susie Cox
Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald
Michael Rooker as Bill Broussard
Jay O. Sanders as Lou Ivon
Sissy Spacek as Liz Garrison
Director: Oliver Stone

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) investigates the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22 1963 in Dallas, Texas. After looking deep enough, he suspects that there may be more to the story than the public is being told.

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The assassination of John F. Kennedy is one of the biggest events in history and one of the most debated topics, especially when it came to conspiracy theories. I honestly didn’t know that much about the assassination before watching this film but after watching this movie it made me want to learn more about it. One of the things that makes JFK even better is the fact that these ‘characters’ are actually real people investigating what happened. The film isn’t just a documentary about possible scenarios of the president’s assassination; it follows Jim Garrison’s investigation. Whatever your thoughts on what happened with the assassination of John F. Kennedy are, this film is still worth a watch.

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It was fascinating watching these real life people investigate the mystery as they try to piece everything together. If there is one thing you should know about JFK before watching it, it’s that it gets more interesting over time. It first builds up the events before the investigation and during those moments, viewers may feel a bit bored, however it is well worth the wait. This movie is also long – at about 3 hours and 10 minutes. The film also has a lot of details; there may be too much information to process at once; so viewers should keep that in mind before viewing it. People will definitely remember some facts more than others. My favourite part of the movie is the final act; it summarises every theory and discovery Garrison has found over the course of his investigation. I won’t spoil any of the scenes that happen in this movie because if you are like me – someone who didn’t know that much about the assassination, you will find all the scenes to be a great surprise.

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The acting is top notch from everyone. The cast ranges from Kevin Costner to Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman. All the actors in this movie are playing real life people and they definitely manage to feel like them. It may be easy to miss the acting while paying attention to the investigation but it still is really good and they should be applauded for their performances.

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One of the most distinctive and defining things about this movie is the cinematography and the editing. When people make predictions or discover something that happened, it flashes back to the past and is cut in such a way that makes it feel like a documentary. Also, the film sometimes blends archive footage with new scenes with a 60s older look. A good example of great use of it again, is at the end. In the end, the film blends the real life moments recorded on camera in the 60s (such as Kennedy’s assassination) with the possible unseen (filmed for the movie). The soundtrack by John Williams is also great, as all his compositions usually are.

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This movie should be seen, even just for learning about Jim Garrison’s search for the truth. I won’t mention what the scenario of the assassination is true; those are left up to the viewer. JFK can really get people talking about what they thought really happened, and can give people a different perspective on certain events in history. As someone who isn’t usually that interested or into conspiracy theories, I loved this movie and I recommend it to everyone. It is one of Oliver Stone’s best films.