Tag Archives: Elias Koteas

Let Me In (2010) Review

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Let Me In

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen
Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby
Richard Jenkins as Thomas
Cara Buono as Owen’s mother
Elias Koteas as a detective
Director: Matt Reeves

Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) leads a lonely life and is bullied by his peers at school. He happily befriends Abby (Chloe Grace-Moretz), his new helpful neighbour, without being aware that she is hiding a secret from him.

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Let Me In was a movie I was interested in watching for quite a while. I deliberately held off watching it till after I watched the original, Let the Right One In, which turned out to be quite a great movie. The remake sounds like a bad idea at first, even with it being led by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz and being directed by Matt Reeves. Not all American remakes are bad, but most of the time they don’t turn out the best, especially when it comes to remakes of foreign horror movies. Surprisingly, Let Me In is a pretty decent remake, and I liked it quite a bit, however it definitely could’ve afforded to take more risks.

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Usually American remakes of foreign movies simplify the plot, and water things down. The good news is that for the most part, Let Me In doesn’t do that. It’s pretty much the same plot just done again. That’s also the bad news however, it really doesn’t do a whole lot new outside of adjusting it to an American setting. The small changes that were added to the plot really didn’t serve the story much, including an opening which flashforwards to the middle of the film. There’s also a forced police investigation throughout the movie, and it just didn’t find it to add that much to the movie all that well. The main problem from the original with the bullies being over the top evil is also a problem here too. With all that being said, the rest of the movie is good, removing the original from it all. The pacing is good across its roughly 2 hour runtime, the story is engaging, and I enjoyed watching it quite a bit.

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The acting is great, and one of the highlights of the film. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz are in the main roles, and I’d go so far as to say that it’s on the level of the two leads from Let the Right One In at the very least. Their relationship and connection just felt genuine and real, and they shared great chemistry. Moretz is particularly fantastic in the role of the vampire girl, conveying so much emotion, it ranks among her best performances. The supporting performances are also good, mainly from Richard Jenkins and Elias Koteas.

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Matt Reeves’s direction is really great as to be expected, he was definitely the right person to handle this remake. It’s an absolutely gorgeous looking film, and I might actually slightly prefer the cinematography in this just a bit more over the original. Reeves gave Let Me In very atmospheric, on a technical level for the most part, it’s great. There are some faults especially when it comes to the use of CGI. Minor spoilers here, but without going into too much depth, there’s an attack in both versions that happens under a bridge by Eli/Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz), and it was done effectively in the original and wasn’t too silly. However, in Let Me In they added some CGI to her during scenes like this, and it just made it really goofy and over the top. There were some sequences that were done in a more over the top way in general, some of it is fine, but other times it doesn’t work so well. Let Me In is noticeably more bloody and violent than the original, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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Let Me In could’ve been a lot worse, but there was definitely room for improvement. At the very least it could’ve benefited from trying something different. With that said it is still a pretty good movie, directed greatly by Matt Reeves, and acted wonderfully by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace-Moretz. It is worth watching for sure, just make sure not to watch it right after watching the original or anything.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) Review

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Time: 166 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains offensive language & sexual references
Cast:
Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button (adult)
Cate Blanchett as Daisy Fuller (adult)
Taraji P. Henson as Queenie
Julia Ormond as Caroline Fuller (adult)
Jason Flemyng as Thomas Button
Elias Koteas as Monsieur Gateau
Tilda Swinton as Elizabeth Abbott
Mahershala Ali as Tizzy Weathers
Jared Harris as Captain Mike Clark
Director: David Fincher

Born under unusual circumstances, Benjamin Button springs into being as an elderly man in a New Orleans nursing home and ages in reverse. Twelve years after his birth, he meets Daisy, a child who flickers in and out of his life as she grows up to be a dancer. Though he has all sorts of unusual adventures over the course of his life, it is his relationship, and the hope that they will come together at the right time, that drives Benjamin forward.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was the last of David Fincher’s films I had yet to see. People usually don’t talk so positively about it when it compares to the rest of his filmography, it’s known as one of his ‘weaker’ movies, and it did seem like the only one of his movies that seemed just a little awards baity. I put off my viewing of this partially because I heard some mixed things from other people about it. I was actually surprised by how much I liked the movie, I actually think it’s rather great.

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Most of David Fincher’s films are regarded as being rather ‘cold’ (and I can kind of see why), but The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is definitely his most emotional film. It’s pretty much just following this man in his extraordinary (and fictional) life. Some have called it an awards bait movie, and some moments felt like that at certain points. However with the memorably and lively characters, warmth and genuine emotion, I got quite invested in the movie. It’s a long movie at around 2 hours and 45 minutes long. While I did still like the movie throughout, it probably didn’t need to be that long. It does start off a little rocky, quite slow. But as it progresses, it really picks up, and by the time the first act was finished I was into it.

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The cast all work together. The titular character of Benjamin Button is played by Brad Pitt, and he’s great here, he believably portrays him in every stage of his life and his development is played very well. He’s the centre of the movie through and through, and Pitt plays him wonderfully. Cate Blanchett is also great as the adult version of Benjamin’s childhood friend, the two of them share some believable on-screen chemistry. The supporting cast with the likes of Tarji P. Henson, Tilda Swinton, and others are also great in their respective roles, and do their parts to stand out quite a bit.

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David Fincher’s direction is fantastic as usual. Once again it’s a movie that you don’t expect him to really take on, but he goes all in on with this movie, and on a technical level it’s great. It’s a great looking movie, the cinematography from Claudio Miranda is really good. Fincher usually applies CGI to enhance the look of scenes, mainly in the background (and done in such a way that you don’t even notice it). While that’s probably the case here, here he also uses it for the aging effects on Brad Pitt’s Benjamin Button, and over a decade later it still generally holds up. The score by Alexandre Desplat is also quite beautiful and fit the tone of the movie.

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David Fincher has made better movies for sure, but The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is not to be overlooked, I’d actually consider it to be great. The cast are top notch, Fincher’s direction is outstanding as to be expected from him, and the story itself is quite emotional and beautiful. It may be one of his ‘weaker’ movies (it’s definitely not among his best), but it’s still worth watching for sure, and nowadays I don’t think people give it enough credit.

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.