Tag Archives: Jessica Chastain

Crimson Peak (2015) Review

Crimson-Peak

Crimson Peak

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, horror, sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing
Jessica Chastain as Lucille Sharpe
Tom Hiddleston as Thomas Sharpe
Charlie Hunnam as Dr. Alan McMichael
Jim Beaver as Carter Cushing
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Edith (Mia Wasikowska) ignores her father’s warning and marries Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). When she arrives at the Sharpe mansion, she learns about her husband’s secrets and realises that the place is teeming with ghosts.

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Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak got quite a mixed reception upon its release, mostly because of expectations. I was one of group of people who really liked it, and I liked it even more when I watched it again. On a writing, acting and especially directing level, I thought it was great and I was invested throughout.

Crimson Peak

First of all, Crimson Peak is not really a horror movie, horror is really the secondary genre for this movie. Don’t look at the trailers because they are misleading, and don’t really accurately represent the movie. It’s also not a straight up ghost story, there are plenty of grotesque ghosts but they serve more as a backdrop to the real plot, in a similar way as another ghost story from Guillermo del Toro named The Devil’s Backbone. Whereas that movie was a drama mystery containing horror elements, Crimson Peak is a gothic and period piece romance film that has horror elements. The story is a gothic fairy tale, and a masterfully crafted Victorian era murder story. The atmosphere is great, and there are some well placed twists. The movie is somewhat over the top and cheesy at times, but it’s intended to be that way. It is unapologetically soap opera and embraces that at points. At the same time, it is very dark and haunting, with a good amount of tension and suspense throughout. It’s not for everyone, you get the feeling that it was really made for a niche audience. I’d say that within the first 30 minutes, you’ll be able to figure out if this movie is your thing or not.

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The acting is all great, but there are mainly 3 performances who stand out the most. Mia Wasikowska plays her lead character with such humanity. Tom Hiddleston is effectively charming yet conflicted, and fits his role well. However, Jessica Chastain was the actor that stood out the most for me in the cast. As her character she’s unnerving, campy, evil and unhinged, and she played her role fantastically. Other actors in the supporting cast including Charlie Hunnam also play their parts well in their screentime.

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Guillermo del Toro’s direction is great as to be expected, especially on a visual level. The cinematography adds another layer to the whole picture, with its well staged shots and gorgeous aesthetics (especially the use of red). The lighting is perfect while the use of colours is fabulous, while the camera movements, angles and transitions are smoothly carried out. It really makes you feel like you’re in a different world. The set and costume designs are also incredibly detailed, the main haunted house is particularly fantastic. There’s also some creepy imagery that’s quite memorable when its present. The ghosts provide the most scares, particularly wit the jump scares. While people don’t really like jump scares, it did add some horror atmosphere and does spice up things for the audience from the slow and deliberate story. The moments of violence also stand out and punctuates the otherwise gothic fantasy feeling of the movie. The poetic score from Fernando Velazquez also fits the movie perfectly.

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Crimson Peak is great, it’s dark, visually gorgeous, and well put together and acted. Again, it’s not for everyone. But if you are interested in watching it, go in expecting a gothic romance with horror elements, not a full on horror movie. I might be in the minority of this, but I think it’s in the stronger half of Guillermo del Toro’s filmography, and by far his most underrated film.

Interstellar (2014) Review

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Interstellar

Time: 169 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Matthew McConaughey as Joseph Cooper
Anne Hathaway as Amelia Brand
Jessica Chastain as Murphy Cooper
John Lithgow as Donald
Michael Caine as Professor Brand
Director: Christopher Nolan

In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.

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I can clearly remember watching Interstellar in the cinemas for the first time back in late 2014, it really was one of the best cinema experiences I’ve ever had. It was truly an incredible visual experience, Christopher Nolan had a great handle on it, and it also had a great story. It has only gotten better and better the more I’ve watched it, Christopher Nolan and his talented cast and crew created something truly incredible here.

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For some, the early portions of the film might be a little slow, it’s about half an hour before Matthew McConaughey even goes into space. Having watched it a number of times though, at this point I liked that section. When I was watching the movie for the first time, there was a lot to take in and I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on, and I had to think about a lot about what it all meant. With that said, having seen it a few times now, I’ve grasped a pretty good amount of what this movie is. This is a long watch, just under 2 hours and 50 minutes in length, making Interstellar Christopher Nolan’s longest movie to date, so you have to be ready going into it (at the same time it’s also best going in not knowing too much about the plot). Of course having seen it at least 4 times now, I’m pretty familiar with the plot and what happened. Now it is a science fiction movie and has a lot of great effects, but at its core it’s an emotional story, and I was invested in that on top of loving all the sci-fi stuff. In fact this is Nolan’s most emotionally charged film to date. I guess some of the dialogue can be more than a little heavy handed when it comes to the themes and the philosophical portions, and those parts admittedly come across as a little clunky. There’s even a moment when Anne Hathaway flat out says the main theme of the movie like halfway through, and while I get it’s important to make that main idea clear, maybe Nolan could’ve pulled back from some of that a little. However if you’re invested in this story, that won’t matter at all. The only other aspect I have issues with is one part of the ending, I’m not necessarily sure about the handling of this one part. Outside of that, I don’t have too many problems with the movie.

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Christopher Nolan once again assembles a great cast, and they all perform very well. Matthew McConaughey is great in the lead role, in one of his best performances. Ultimately his performance is what anchors the film and is central to the movie through and through. There are a couple of moments in this movie that got to me emotionally, and 95% of it is because of McConaughey’s performance. The major supporting actors with Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine are great in their parts, and brought their A game. There’s also Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Timothee Chalamet and Wes Bentley who are good. Foy especially stands out as McConaughey’s daughter, and their scenes together earlier in the movie are great, especially as their relationship is one of the main driving forces of the movie. There’s also a robot called TARS voiced by Bill Irwin, who was a good addition to the movie. An appearance from a certain actor later on in the movie was also quite surprising and good (not saying who this actor is just for those few people who haven’t seen Interstellar in the years it has been released). I know some people have mixed feelings about his subplot, but I mostly liked it.

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This is Christopher Nolan, of course he’s going to direct this movie extremely well, even knowing that however, the level of filmmaking here is outstanding. This is Nolan’s largest scaled film to date, and you really feel it. The cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema is outstanding, and the visual effects are nothing short of fantastic, from the planets that the main characters go to, to space, all of it just looks stunning. The locations shown in the movie are great, and Nolan really makes the places feel believable and plausible. Hans Zimmer’s score is euphoric and really takes this movie to a completely higher level. One of Zimmer’s best scores to date, and that’s saying a lot.

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Interstellar is firmly on the list of the best science fiction films, especially in recent years. Whether or not this is his best film, this may well be Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film to date, from the scale, the cast, the direction, to the overall story. If you somehow haven’t seen it yet, definitely watch it when you can.

It Chapter Two (2019) Review

Time: 169 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, offensive language & cruelty
Cast:
James McAvoy as Bill Denbrough
Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh
Jay Ryan as Ben Hanscom
Bill Hader as Richie Tozier
Isaiah Mustafa as Mike Hanlon
James Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrak
Andy Bean as Stanley Uris
Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Director: Andy Muschietti

Defeated by members of the Losers’ Club, the evil clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) returns 27 years later to terrorize the town of Derry, Maine, once again. Now adults, the childhood friends have long since gone their separate ways. But when people start disappearing, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls the others home for one final stand. Damaged by scars from the past, the united Losers must conquer their deepest fears to destroy the shape-shifting Pennywise — now more powerful than ever.

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It Chapter Two was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. The first It was quite good, and from what I can tell adapted part of Stephen King’s classic novel to the big screen rather faithfully. However, that movie only told half of the story, whether it still worked depended on the second half. With the same team returning, and the likes of James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as part of the older cast, I was looking forward to it. It’s ambitious, very well directed, the cast was great, and a satisfying conclusion to the It story.

I’d advise people who are seeing It Chapter Two to watch the first movie somewhat recently beforehand, it’s best going into the movie with Chapter One fresh in your mind. As for people who haven’t seen the first movie at all, Chapter Two is not a movie you can just go into without seeing the first, you’ll be completely lost. There is a long period in the first half that’s necessary to the story and characters but I’m not sure it works as well as it should’ve. It’s mainly consisting of the main characters going back to places they’ve been to as children and remembering certain things. There’s a purpose for doing this with all the characters, however the problem is that for the most part all the scenes follow the same structure: the adult character goes to that familiar place, have a flashback which usually ends in an encounter with Pennywise, and then in present day coming across Pennywise themselves. These scenes are necessary for the plot, it’s just that it felt a little too repetitive. I heard something along the lines that there’d be a version which put the two movies together, placing the scenes in chronological order and that should be interesting. Despite all the things about what I just said and some of the scenes meandering a bit, I was really invested with the movie and the characters, even more so than the first movie. This movie is really ambitious to cover it all in one movie, and most of it works. All the build up in the first two acts really pays off, as the third act is fantastic, won’t go into depth with that here. There are some changes from the books, some of it was shot and removed, others didn’t make it to being filmed. For example, there are subplots like with Beverly’s husband and Bill’s wife that were in the book but not in the movie, I haven’t read the book but I think that it was a good call not to feature them in the movie. Last thing to note, as people have no doubt seen and sometimes complained about, this movie is almost 3 hours long. Considering that the book is 1000 pages long, it’s not really too surprising that it’s this long. If you’re invested in the story, that won’t be a problem for you because it wasn’t a problem for me. Looking back on everything, I’m not sure what exactly I’d cut from the movie, there’s a lot here that’s necessary for the story, even if some of it could’ve been handled differently. Besides, I’d much rather a lengthy movie that takes its time with its story, then a 2 hour 20 minute (studio mandated) version that feels really cut down. Some people have asked whether splitting it into 2 parts was necessary, and looking at everything I’d definitely say yes.

The cast is all around great, with James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone and Andy Bean playing the older versions of the Loser’s Club from the first movie. They actually seemed like older versions of the younger cast (James Ransone particularly seems like an older Jack Dylan Grazer), and when it comes to casting adult versions of child actors, this is one of the best examples I’ve seen in movies. I generally liked what they did with the characters. I also liked what they did with Mike’s (Isaiah Mustafa) character, from what I can tell he really didn’t get to do much in the book, here they gave him more to work with, with him being the only one who stayed in Derry and really the one out of the group who knows the most about Pennywise and what they might need to do in order to kill him. Ever since the movie started being shown, there has been particular praise going towards Bill Hader, and for very good reason. He not only delivers a lot of the funniest moments of the movie, he also delivers some of the more emotional scenes of the movie. I admit I’m not familiar with much of his work (no I haven’t seen Barry yet) but after seeing him here, I really want to check them out. You also see the younger cast appear often in flashbacks, and as usual they are very good in their roles. You don’t see as much of Pennywise, or at least compared to the amount in the first movie, but Bill Skarsgård is great in his scenes. Unfortunately yet again they do tend to overuse the amount of CGI on him, even though there are parts that are absolutely necessary to use those effects, Skarsgård is more effective and scary when he’s just acting on his own without all that. Nonetheless, him and director Andy Muschietti has completely redefined Pennywise and they’ve done a great job at bringing him to the big screen. There are also a couple of cameos worth keeping your eye peeled for.

Andi Muschietti returned to direct, and he’s done a really good job yet again. It really looks great, the town of Derry even in the 2010s still really feels uneasy. If you didn’t find the first movie scary, you probably won’t be scared by the second. I don’t go into horror movies judging them by their scare factors, because usually I’m not scared by horror movies. With that said, there are some scares here that are quite predictable and done like plenty of other horror movies have done, for example the classic ‘character looks at a room when they think there’s danger and see nothing, and when they turn around there’s something scary right up in their (and the audience’s) face’ is present multiple times. I do appreciate how graphic and disturbing Muschietti is willing to take this, he really does not hold back in the darker and twisted aspects. The CGI for the most part is good but some of the larger effects are a little too cartoonish and silly at times. Benjamin Wallfisch also returns to provide the score for the sequel and it’s once again effective and elevates the movie even further.

Looking at the reactions, it seems that that It Chapter Two won’t work for everyone perfectly. Despite some of the messiness and some of the issues I have, I do like Chapter Two more than Chapter One. Although I haven’t read the book, I know about it, and I saw the miniseries, which really didn’t work. With these two movies it’s an achievement in itself that they managed to pull this off, and them being as good as they are is. Considering the amount of content that Stephen King packed into that one book (and some of the weirdness that was understandably cut from it in the movies), I think this is probably as good as an adaptation of the book as we’ll probably get. If you weren’t a fan of the first movie, I’m not sure that you’ll like the second. If you like the first movie at all however, I do think it’s at least worth checking out Chapter Two, otherwise you’ve really only seen one half of the story.

Dark Phoenix (2019) Review

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language & content that may disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Phoenix
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe/Storm
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler
Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver
Jessica Chastain as Vuk
Director: Simon Kinberg

This is the story of one of the X-Men’s most beloved characters, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), as she evolves into the iconic DARK PHOENIX. During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, Jean spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet. The film is the most intense and emotional X-Men movie ever made. It is the culmination of 20 years of X-Men movies, as the family of mutants that we’ve come to know and love must face their most devastating enemy yet — one of their own.

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Dark Phoenix has received an immense amount of scrutiny leading up to its release. It’s the last movie in the X-Men universe (done by Fox) before they move to Disney, the X-Men series for a lot of people was at an end already and at this point wasn’t particularly loved (especially after Apocalypse), and they’d be making yet another take on the Dark Phoenix comic storyline (after the previously hated take in The Last Stand), so I think a lot of people just wanted the movie done with. Not helping was the reshoots that were being done, which just generally doesn’t inspire confidence (even if it happens a lot of the time with movies). It felt like a lot of people were really going into it expecting to not like it (and unsurprisingly ended up hating it). There are definitely a lot of problems with the movie, however I get the feeling that I’m going to be one of the people who likes the movie more than most. It’s messy for sure but there are enough things in the movie that I really liked that I’m fine enough with what we got.

I would talk about the treatment of adaptation of the Dark Phoenix storyline, however I never read the storyline (I generally don’t read comics), nor am I very familiar with it, so I’m going to treat the movie as its own thing. It is like another attempt at redoing The Last Stand, which also had its attempt at the storyline (it’s worth noting that Simon Kinberg wrote both). Personally, I felt that it worked a little better than how The Last Stand did it, even though there are some similarities with certain aspects of the plot. It’s a much more personal storyline than you’d initially expect it to be. Despite some of the large scale things that happen, it seemed to have taken some notes from Logan in trying to be a quiet goodbye, and personally I liked that idea much more than a full on large scale finale. It’s also one of the bleakest movies in the series, for some it could make the movie rather dull and depressing but it wasn’t for me. I think I just have a thing for dark, bleak and more grounded comic book movies, so I guess that part worked for me. In a way, yes, much of the movie feels inconsequential, for the stakes being high it doesn’t matter too much, though maybe it’s because we know that this is the last movie in the series and that we are getting a reboot soon. Anyways, I personally liked the more personal take on the story.

Generally I was fine with the writing, however there are some lines of dialogue that really stand out as being cliched, out of place, or even flat out bad, however not enough to take away from the overall experience of the movie. The movie is 2 hours and after watching it, it occurred to me that they really condensed things down. Everything in this movie is centred around Jean Grey, there’s no subplots or anything. On one hand it definitely would’ve benefited from at least being 20 minutes longer, and the short runtime really does mean that only a few characters get some development or have their arcs (some of them unfortunately feel a little rushed), while the others are regulated to just showing off their powers at best. Then again, considering how The Last Stand had the Dark Phoenix storyline running as almost a subplot alongside the whole Mutant ‘cure’ plotline, it’s nice to actually see it being the focus of the entire movie. There are some inconsistencies regarding the plot and storyline, and I’m not talking like how many cast members should timeline-wise appear a lot older than they do (by this movie you should come to expect this from the series, this isn’t anything new). Without spoiling what I’m talking about, I’ll just say that by the end of the movie I’m a little confused as to what timeline this movie is in (at this point there must be like 4 timelines now). Now much has been said about the reshoots for the movie. Personally, if I didn’t hear beforehand about them, I wouldn’t have noticed it while watching. It’s apparently mainly the third act, changing the climax from space to a more grounded location. The change was done to avoid similarities to a recent comic book movie (probably Captain Marvel) and I’m actually fine with the change. As I said I liked the more grounded take for the movie, so it only felt appropriate that it’s set at a more grounded location instead of going completely left field and going to space. I should mention that there is no end credits scene, so no need to stay for it.

The cast for the most part do very well in their roles. The main cast members who get to shine the most are Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult. Turner is really the lead of the movie, with the whole movie surrounding her. She plays both Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix side of her very well, threatening, vulnerable, and all around was a real screen presence. McAvoy and Fassbender always kill it in their respective roles as Professor X and Magneto and get to have a lot of great moments in this movie. And Nicholas Hoult also manages to deliver a really good performance here, even though he’s already generally good as Beast. Even if not all of the characters were handled well, they at least got to really show off in their action scenes, Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) were decent enough in Apocalypse action wise, but here they really go full force in the last act particularly. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver and Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique really got shafted the most, they acted okay enough with what they had. The villains of the movie were pretty standard alien characters, and we really don’t get enough of them or learn about them. You can just tell that originally they were going to be Skrulls but then no doubt some script changes and reshoots altered their identities. Jessica Chastain is the central villain of the bunch, she acted fine enough in her role but was incredibly forgettable, it felt like you could’ve swapped her out for any other actress and she would’ve been exactly the same.

I know a lot of people were worried about Simon Kinberg making his directorial debut here, he’s produced and been a writer on a number of the X-Men movies but never actually directed a film until now. Despite some problems with the script, I don’t have many problems with his direction, actually it was much better than expected. The visual effects are great, way better than those in Apocalypse. While Apocalypse had these big sequences of massive things happening, oddly a lot of it looked really fake, especially considering the movies that came before it. Dark Phoenix’s visuals look really good though, especially with the phoenix effects. While the action scenes throughout are good (and are honestly amongst the best action scenes of the series), the last act particularly shines with the action. Hans Zimmer composes the score and it’s no surprise that it’s amazing, he really does something special with the score and elevates the movie immensely.

Dark Phoenix is really not going to work for a lot of people, and there are many problems with it. If you just generally don’t like the X-Men movies, I highly doubt Dark Phoenix will be any different for you, and if you are going in expecting it to suck, you’re probably not going to like it. It isn’t quite the sendoff that the X-Men deserved, but there are also some strong parts to it, particularly the cast, visuals, music, and the dark and grounded take on the story. Thinking about it more, I’m not entirely opposed to what we got. And no, it’s not even close to being the worst X-Men movie, it’s better than The Last Stand, it’s better than Apocalypse, and it’s definitely way better than Origins Wolverine. If you’re a fan of most of the X-Men movies, you might at least get something out of Dark Phoenix.

Molly’s Game (2017) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Contains violence, drug use & offensive language
Cast
Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom
Idris Elba as Charlie Jaffey
Kevin Costner as Larry Bloom
Michael Cera as Player X
Brian d’Arcy James as Brad
Chris O’Dowd as Douglas Downey
J. C. MacKenzie as Harrison Wellstone
Bill Camp as Harlan Eustice
Graham Greene as Judge Foxman
Jeremy Strong as Dean Keith
Director: Aaron Sorkin

The true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons. Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknown to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), who learned there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe.

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I was pretty interested in Molly’s Game. Not only does it have a cast with Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Michael Cera and Kevin Costner and based on a true story, but also Aaron Sorkin along with writing the script would be making his directional debut with this film. Aaron Sorkin has written The Social Network, Steve Jobs, A Few Good Men, Moneyball and much more, so naturally I was excited to see how he would do. For a directional debut, Aaron Sorkin did a pretty great job. Molly’s Game is a very good movie with the script and the performances being the highlights.

Aaron Sorkin is a fantastic writer, so the fact that Molly’s Game is very well written shouldn’t come as such a big surprise. The dialogue is fantastic as to be expected. This really is a movie that requires you to fully focus on it because of how much information is shown, mostly through narration. There are some bits where it can be a bit complicated and I wasn’t fully grasping absolutely everything. However, even if you get lost at points, you can usually have a general understanding of what’s going on because the movie does pretty well at explaining most things. I was interested and riveted in this story from start to finish. In terms of flaws, the movie jumps between different time periods and while you can tell within the first 10 seconds which time period it is, it nonetheless feels very jarring when it does change. Also tis movie is long, its 2 hours and 20 minutes long and you can really feel the length. It doesn’t necessarily drag but you really do feel its length. With that said, off the top of my head I can’t think of any particular scene that I would remove but there would probably be some scenes that aren’t as relevant or important as others.

Jessica Chastain is typically great, she’s one of the best actresses working today and always brings her A game to ever movie she’s in. She’s playing a real life person who you are really rooting for. Very interesting character (real life person), which is compliment by an excellent performance by Chastain. Idris Elba is also really good as Molly’s lawyer. There are especially a couple scenes in the third act where he really gets to shine. Michael Cera is surprisingly really good, playing the character of Player X, who may or may not be based on Tobey Maguire (it definitely is). It’s a small role and he’s not in the movie too much but Cera does well to make an impression. On another note, when you are watching Molly’s Game, just picture Tobey Maguire in Michael Cera’s role, it makes things a lot more interesting and revealing. Kevin Costner also is good as Molly’s father, the two have a difficult and complicated relationship and Costner did very well in his role.

Aaron Sorkin did very well at directing Molly’s Game for a directional debut. The movie stylised and fast paced at times and it all fitted well together. There is a lot of narration, which often can feel like an easy way of dumping exposition but on top of the writing being excellent, Sorkin integrated it into the film very well. You can kind of tell that Sorkin’s writing in Molly’s Game is better than his direction, but that’s to be expected given that this is the first movie that he directed. Besides, for a first movie he did very well.

Molly’s Game is a really good movie, quite interesting and entertaining for the majority of the runtime. The performances were great (with Chastain, Elba and Cera being the highlights) and Aaron Sorkin was fantastic at both writing and directing here. I’m looking forward to seeing Aaron Sorkin direct more films because he showed that he can direct a solid movie, and I can only see him getting better and better at directing the more movies he makes.

The Tree of Life (2011) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Brad Pitt as Mr. O’Brien
Sean Penn as Jack O’Brien
Hunter McCracken as young Jack
Jessica Chastain as Mrs. O’Brien
Tye Sheridan as Steve
Kari Matchett as Jack’s ex
Joanna Going as Jack’s wife
Director: Terrence Malick

In this highly philosophical film by acclaimed director Terrence Malick, young Jack (Hunter McCracken) is one of three brothers growing up as part of the O’Brien family in small-town Texas. Jack has a contentious relationship with his father (Brad Pitt), but gets along well with his beautiful mother (Jessica Chastain). As an adult, Jack (Sean Penn) struggles with his past and tries to make sense of his childhood, while also grappling with bigger existential issues.

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Tree of Life was a movie I was curious about. I wanted to see a couple of Terrence Malick movies before seeing his latest film (Song to Song), so that I could get used to his style beforehand, so I decided to start with one of his most well known movies, Tree of Life. I expected to see an unconventional, arty film which is visually beautiful, and I really wouldn’t know how to feel about it afterwards and indeed that’s the movie I ended up with. I was left polarised and confused by the end of the movie but yet I think I like the movie. It’s very difficult to describe my experience with the movie.

Tree of Life is not an easy movie to describe, I think the best way to describe all this is to tell how I felt during the movie. This movie is unconventional to say the least. The first 10 minutes focusses on Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn, during this I didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t really tell what was going on. 20 minutes in, there is a 10 minute segment which pretty much featured the universe being created (there’s no better way of describing it). It focusses on random aspects, stars, meteors, nature, animals, plants, even dinosaurs at one point. I was intrigued by what I saw but didn’t know what to really think. The rest of the movie for the most part focussed on the family (Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Tye Sheridan) as time goes by. At that point, I started to oddly enough like this movie and I was interested in seeing everything progress. After the family segment, I’m not really sure what to think of the movie, I don’t even know what the ending was supposed to mean and represent. I don’t really know what this movie is about (apart from life). The movie does have a lot of monologues throughout the movie, though I didn’t find myself picking up on what they were meaning. I can see how other people would be bored of the movie, it is very slow paced. I only really started being fully engaged after 30 minutes into the movie. But yet there is something about it that I liked, I haven’t yet figured out what it is.

This movie has a lot of talented actors with Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan. They are all pretty good, with Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain being the stand outs as the parents of the family. Even when they aren’t saying anything, it’s easy to see how they feel in certain situations just through their expressions and reactions. Sean Penn doesn’t really get to do much, most of his limited screentime is him just walking around while Terrence Malick follows him around with a camera. With that said, this happens with every actor, a lot of the movie at times just follows the actors/characters around with them having no dialogue and not doing anything that important. I’m guessing that this is what happens with every actor in Terrence Malick movies.

One thing that all people who see this movie will say is that Tree of Life looks absolutely beautiful. Every shot is framed well and looks magnificent. Even the 10 minute ‘creation segment’ was beautiful. I couldn’t tell always what the shots of certain aspects were supposed to represent, but they looked beautiful at the very least. And plus, a lot of the time Malick manages to make the audience feel emotions through his imagery. The only thing directionwise that’s off was a scene with dinosaurs, the CGI looked incredibly fake, embarrassingly bad, and it kinda takes you out of the movie. The soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat was great and really added to the movie.

Tree of Life is not an easily accessible movie. There are a lot of people who really don’t like this movie and find it to be pretentious and boring and I don’t really blame them for thinking this. Tree of Life is different, it’s slow, it’s unconventional. But if you are willing to give it a shot, I recommend watching it. Just know what you are going in for. I myself am not sure about what I had watched but I liked it at a point, it’s difficult to describe why. I get the feeling that Malick’s films are meant to make people feel emotions rather than it be technically good like most movies, not conventionally anyway. I know this review hasn’t been very descriptive of the movie, but honestly that goes to show how unusual of a movie this is.

The Martian (2015) Review

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The Martian

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Mark Watney
Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis
Kristen Wiig as Annie Montrose
Jeff Daniels as Theodore “Teddy” Sanders
Michael Peña as Major Rick Martinez
Kate Mara as Beth Johanssen
Sean Bean as Mitch Henderson
Sebastian Stan as Dr. Chris Beck
Aksel Hennie as Dr. Alex Vogel
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor
Director: Ridley Scott

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

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I was interested in The Martian ever since I heard about it, mostly because of the cast, director and the praise about the book which I haven’t read. When it comes to director Ridley Scott, even though I liked Prometheus, most of his recent work hasn’t been that good (The Counsellor). The Martian is a return to form for him and it’s one of the best films of 2015. The Martian has excellent special effects, an interesting story and great acting from Matt Damon and the rest of the cast. After everything I’ve seen here, I want to check out the book.

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The film jumps between Mark Watney, the people on earth and Watney’s old crew who are now on a different mission. All of these stories I thought were well done but the most interesting and overall best one out of all of them is of course is the one involving Mark. One thing I liked about this movie is that it could’ve just been dark, gloomy and depressing but it’s actually kind of a funny movie. It also helps that Mark is quite a likable character, and we are on board with him as he tries to survive all of this. Also the fact that he is a competent character helped, which separated this movie from a lot of the other stranded survivor movies. I also don’t know if this film is scientifically accurate in the things that Mark does to stay alive but the film does make it all feel real, which is one of the highest praises I can give to a science fiction movie.

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Matt Damon is fantastic in this movie. In this sort of movie you need a lead actor who can hold so much of the story on his own and Damon does that and much more. Also like I said before, his character is very likable and it works to the film’s advantage as we are with him pretty much through the entire film. The supporting cast which consists of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean and others add quite a lot to this movie. Every actor gets their chance to shine but it’s really Matt Damon’s show here.

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The special effects are excellent, The Martian overall is a beautiful looking movie. A lot of the environments on Mars looked so real. I might even go so far as to say that it was actually worth watching this movie in 3D, which is such a rare thing for me to do. The 3D really captured what it would be like to be on Mars, and of course it’s mainly to the credit of the movie but the 3D should really be mentioned as well.

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The Martian is definitely worth watching and is a return to form for Ridley Scott. I haven’t read the book that it was based on but after this movie, now I really want to. Matt Damon, the rest of the cast and Ridley Scott have made a really great Sci-Fi movie that I want to revisit. The Martian is definitely one of the best movies of the year and is definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.