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The Revenant (2015)
The Revenant (2015)
2015 | Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Typical Oscar Fodder
There are two types of film critic when it comes to the Academy Awards. Those who enjoy the glamour that the Oscars bring every spring and those who despise what the awards mean for film. I’m in the latter camp, I find them out of touch with what movie-watching audiences enjoy and feel an overhaul is necessary to reflect that.

That’s not to say the Oscars reward bad films of course. Not at all. I do feel however that they, on the whole, reward technical brilliance, rather than the deeper aspects of movie-making and forget to include mass-market crowd-pleasers for fear of cheapening the ceremony.

The film everyone is talking about this year is The Revenant. With an incredible 12 nominations, it’s the one to watch in 2016. But is it actually any good?

With Birdman director Alejandro G. Iñárritu at the helm, it promises more of the exceptional performances and technical perfection he brought to that film, and that’s exactly what you get.

Leonardo DiCaprio, nominated for yet another Academy Award, stars as Hugh Glass, a hunter left for dead by his supposed comrades after a vicious bear attack leaves him gravely injured. He is supported by man-of-the-moment Tom Hardy, nominated for a Best Supporting Actor award, and British rising star Will Poulter (The Maze Runner).

DiCaprio’s Glass is a commanding presence throughout The Revenant as he tracks down those who betrayed him. With little English dialogue, it’s impressive that he is able to convey such emotion, but he does so perfectly. He’s certainly worthy of his Oscar nod, but whether or not he will be fifth time lucky remains to be seen.

Elsewhere, the cinematography that Iñárritu uses is nothing short of breath-taking. Beautiful lingering shots of snow-capped mountains, icy waterfalls and baron forests all make for a documentary-level of awe and it’s here where the film succeeds the most.

Unfortunately, the rest of The Revenant falls a little flat. The story is incredibly pedestrian considering the film’s 156 minute running time and whilst the cast are all excellent, the material is a little staid ranging from the ordinary, to the bizarre. One scene in particular had me remembering The Empire Strikes Back of all films.

The intriguing plot that Iñárritu brought to Birdman is nowhere to be seen here and as the film reaches its mightily predictable conclusion, it runs out of steam. There’s only so much landscape, however beautiful, that you can throw at an audience.

Overall, The Revenant is a technical masterpiece, flanked by impressive performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Poulter in particular, but the story just isn’t there. It may have a dozen award nominations to its name, but in this case, it’s nothing more than style over substance.
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Chris Sawin (196 KP) rated Catfish (2010) in Movies

Jun 22, 2019 (Updated Jun 23, 2019)  
Catfish (2010)
Catfish (2010)
2010 | Documentary
Nev Schulman is a photographer of dance that catches the eye of an 8 year old girl named Abby when one of his pictures is published nationally. She sends Nev a painting of his published picture, which begins a rather incredible friendship. Nev eventually gets the chance to talk to Abby's mom, Angela, and her older sister, Megan. Megan and Nev really start to hit it off and a relationship begins to form. That is until many of the things Megan has been telling Nev begin drifting further and further from the truth. Nev decides to fly to Michigan and get the answers he so desperately desires.

If somebody made me choose a favorite film genre, psychological thriller would quite possibly be my answer. Films that include incredible twist endings (Oldboy) or have elaborate storylines that make you think (Inception) are definitely some of the best times to be had when it comes to an entertaining movie experience. Catfish was marketed as a film that was not only a thriller, but also contained "a shattering conclusion" that was compared to Alfred Hitchcock. In the end, it didn't really have either of those things.

Catfish had this vibe the entire film like it was leading towards something dark near its conclusion. As Nev makes his way to Michigan, you get more and more anxious as he nears his destination. Even the music gets really unsettling. Is Megan's family going to be a bunch of chainsaw wielding cannibals or have Angela and Vince been keeping a kidnapped girl named Megan chained in their basement for weeks to lead young, single guys out there for them to torture as some sort of twisted way to get off? No, it's nothing like that. Catfish never really became thrilling or even came near diving into dark territory.

What Catfish winds up being is an interesting character study presented as a documentary. The film's heart resides in who Megan really is and how the entire experience affects Nev. Once the pieces of the puzzle are put together and everything falls into place, Catfish turns out to be a very raw, emotional, and heartfelt film. What's intriguing is the film revolves around Facebook and with The Social Network hitting theaters in about two weeks, it seems like a bit of a bold move.

What is arguably the best scene in the film is when it's actually explained why Catfish was chosen as the title in the final minutes. It is a pretty incredible explanation and fits the film perfectly.

Catfish isn't necessarily a bad film, in fact, it's pretty powerful once it really gets going. It probably isn't what you're expecting though. While Catfish is laugh out loud at certain points in the film, at its core, it's a documented love story that mostly resides on the internet. Maybe it just comes from personal experience, the way the film was presented, or the on-screen presence of the characters in the film, but Catfish felt genuine which isn't something that can be said about many films that have come out in 2010.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
2016 | Comedy
Great Movie About Absolutely Nothing
Everybody Wants Some!! follows the lives of a group of college baseball players at a junior college in their days leading up to preseason training.

Acting: 10
This movie is largely a character piece and it wouldn’t work nearly as well without such great acting performances. There are no weak links here as each performance is memorable in its own way. The acting was so efficient, there were a handful of moments where it almost felt like you were watching a documentary as opposed to a fictional movie.

Beginning: 10

Characters: 10
No two players are alike in the movie, each of them bringing something different to the table. As the movie progresses from one act to the next, it is pure entertainment watching them react to different scenarios so differently. My favorite character on the team was Finnegan (Glen Powell). Charismatic and ever-changing, I love how he adapts to new situations and always had a go-with-the-flow attitude. Jay Niles cracked me up as well for his ridiculous intensity that you have to see to understand.

Cinematography/Visuals: 10
You know a movie really gets to you visually when you find yourself saying, “Man, it would’ve been cool to live during that time period.” Everybody Wants Some!! captures the cool, fun feel of the 70’s on all fronts from one scene to the next. While the film doesn’t leave the town where it takes place, you’re entertained with a number of different setpieces that change the dynamic of the movie in their own way.

Conflict: 5
Definitely the weakest part of the movie. Nothing terrible really happens to the characters at the end of the day leaving no room for any kind of worry. It is amazing that the movie still works so well with so little conflict to keep you engaged.

Entertainment Value: 10

Memorability: 10
This movie reminded me of my college days and I’m probably not alone in this. It makes you remember younger days and having zero responsibility. It’s also a movie that doesn’t leave its replay value. Definitely a movie I could watch repeatedly.

Pace: 10
The movie proceeds in definable acts based around parties and it works in a loose structure kind of way. You never really know where the story is going until you get near the end and you realize it’s going absolutely nowhere. But that’s ok because the road to nowhere in this case is extremely fun and memorable.

Plot: 5

Resolution: 10
The movie ends just as chill as it started, very fitting for its overall lackadaisical tone. A little bit of perspective ties things on with a nice little bow before the movie bows out gracefully. Beyond satisfying.

Overall: 90
Everybody Wants Some!! is the perfect Exhibit A case of sometimes less is just more. The film is light-hearted, yet you’ll be having such a good time you’ll probably forget nothing substantial is actually happening. It’s a wonderful film that will give you something new each time you watch it.
The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek
The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek
Rhett McLaughlin, Link Neal | 2019 | Mystery, Thriller
10.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Likable characters (1 more)
Great storyline
The overuse of 'said' (0 more)
If your best friend was sent away to a reform school, what would you do? You'd either let them do their 'time,' or you would come up with a plan to help them escape, and with a pinch of the supernatural, this is what 'The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek' is all about.

When you read this novel by two of the most well-known YouTube personalities (Rhett and Link of Good Mythical Morning), be sure you have plenty of time to spare because this is a book you won't want to put down. The novel follows three best friends of a small town in North Carolina in the early 1990's, when one of them gets sent to a infamous reform school for an accident, they start to uncover mysterious deaths that have taken place there, and begin to fear that their friend is going to be a victim of one.

In 'The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek,' the main characters, Rex, Leif and Alicia, make their debut at a pig roasting to raise funds for a church, whose copper organ pipes had been stolen days before. It's here we learn that the three are making a film called PolterDog, which leads to Alicia getting sent away after a near-deadly accident with the owner and headmaster of the local Whitewood Reform School.

Soon after, Rex and Leif run into an escapee from the school (Ben), who tells them that their friend's life is in danger while she's at Whitewood. While the three come up with a plan to rescue Alicia, a woman who's visiting the town of Bleak Creek, who is trying to film a documentary about kidney stones, becomes a valuable part of their rescue mission.

Not only do we get to see from Rex and Leif's point of view, but we also get to see from inside the Whitewood Reform School from Alicia's view. This view point is much needed to help readers experience the abuse that goes on inside the school (and to realize that Ben was telling the truth) and also to help readers root for the main characters' success in their rescue mission. Even though the majority of the story is the main characters getting everything together for this mission, the writing was done so well that all of it makes sense leading up to the end.

To not give too much away about this book, I have to cut my review short of it. The writing is really good, with the pace continuously keeping the reader going and wanting more.This story also encompasses everything that makes a great novel: best friends trying to save another, small town mysteries, well-placed humor and murder. I found all of the characters likable, and the situations they found themselves in made complete sense in the story. This will be one that readers can pick up more than once and enjoy it each time they read it. As a horror book, this story is high on my scale with scenarios happening that I couldn't see coming.

Movie Metropolis (270 KP) rated Deepwater Horizon (2016) in Movies

Jun 10, 2019 (Updated Jun 10, 2019)  
Deepwater Horizon (2016)
Deepwater Horizon (2016)
2016 | Action, Drama
Disaster with feeling
“Based on true events”. I can’t think of anything more disconcerting when I sit down to watch a film. When it comes to blockbusters inspired by real-life situations, the outcome can be a poignant movie that captures the heart and emotion of the episode – a la American Sniper.

Unfortunately, films in this genre can also be a disaster from start to finish with a story barely related to its real-life counterpart. You can forgive me then for going into Deepwater Horizon with an air of scepticism, but was it justified?

Thankfully, director Peter Berg (Hancock, Battleship) strikes the right balance between pleasing the movie-going masses and respecting the events that took the lives of eleven people aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Based on the events that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, the story chronicles the courage of those who worked on the Deepwater Horizon and the extreme moments of bravery and survival in the face of what would become one of the biggest man-made disasters in world history.

Mark Wahlberg takes the helm of this intriguing action thriller as Mike Williams, an electrician working on the rig during the explosion. A supporting cast that includes Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich and The Maze Runner’s Dylan O’Brien bolster Wahlberg’s natural charisma and each of the aforementioned actors give first-rate performances.

The acting from all sides is superb. Mark Wahlberg in particular excels, being one of his best roles to date. His work has been decidedly dodgy over the last few years but his performance here shows just how good he is with the right material.

Nevertheless, at its core, Deepwater Horizon is a simple disaster movie, and carries the genre’s traits to a tee; there’s the obligatory hero (Mark Wahlberg), the boss/politician who doesn’t believe anything is wrong (John Malkovich), the bombastic score (courtesy of Steve Jablonsky) and the damsel in distress (Gina Rodriguez). What it does differently however is focus more on the human elements of the plot – something helped by the fact the scriptwriters had factual events to pick from.

The special effects are astounding, aided greatly by Peter Berg’s often hectic camerawork. There’s very little shaky-cam but the claustrophobic nature of the rig itself is beautifully utilised in low angled shots and sweeping exterior sequences. The scenes showing the rig on fire are so intense you can virtually feel the heat radiating from them.

It almost feels like a documentary, and a very good one at that. The audience is given references throughout the film of Deepwater Horizon’s many functions and the scale of the behemoth is apparent throughout.

Overall, to say Deepwater Horizon is a cracking disaster film feels like a slight disservice to the eleven people who died aboard it in 2010. Having Peter Berg direct was a risky move when looking at his back-catalogue but after a viewing, it’s hard to think of anyone else better suited.

This is a disaster movie with feeling and it’s one of the best films of the year.
Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
2018 | Biography, Drama, History
A tale of two queens
I’ve never really considered myself a massive fan of period dramas, so I tend to approach them with more caution than I would a different genre. After being pleasantly surprised by Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, I suddenly became more excited about Mary Queen of Scots. Whilst I believe the former is a much stronger film, I still had a good time with this one.

The performances given by both Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are just stunning. Between them, they carry the entire film and transport you to another time and place. They’re captivating and powerful, particularly Ronan as Mary. I loved her character and felt invested in her. Despite knowing how it was all going to end I still rooted for her throughout, and wanted her to succeed. Her character is driven, passionate and tenacious, traits that Ronan truly brings to life on screen.

Aesthetically, Mary Queen of Scots is a wonderful film that is picturesque even during the darker scenes. Both leading ladies pull off the roles and the costumes effortlessly. I’ve never been so impressed by hairstyling in particular, so I would love this film to win the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling this year. The styles were so intricate and beautiful, bringing out the personalities of those who wore them.

It is also refreshing to know the film was directed by a woman, considering the narrative focuses on two of history’s most powerful and intriguing queens. This was actually Josie Rourke’s directorial debut, and what a fantastic one it was. I loved the way she portrayed all the ugliness of life in this era, just as much as the regalness. There is one scene where Mary is shown on her period, and this really struck me. I liked how it was normalised, no one made a big deal out of it, it was just a part of her life like every other woman. I’m glad Rourke chose to include this.

As many people have pointed out, this film is certainly not historically accurate so if you’re the kind of person who needs that you’d leave feeling disappointed. For me, I saw it as an interesting case study of both women that’s a work of fiction. That’s alright in my books and I don’t have a problem with artistic licence. It was an entertaining period piece that was beautiful to look at. Sometimes that’s enough. Nobody was trying to suggest this was a documentary, it’s a film.

Overall Mary Queen of Scots is entertaining and very well acted, but the narrative does feel a little too slow and drawn out in places. It’s definitely not the strongest period piece I’ve seen, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad film. It is worth seeing on the big screen due to the beautiful Scottish scenery and the intense conflict between Protestant and Catholic. It’s bold, dramatic and worth losing yourself in, even if you’d only do it once.

Emma @ The Movies (1356 KP) rated On the Basis of Sex (2018) in Movies

Jun 22, 2019 (Updated Sep 25, 2019)  
On the Basis of Sex (2018)
On the Basis of Sex (2018)
2018 | Biography, Drama
What a great way to start this film. Ginsburg walking through the crowd of men all set to the Harvard fight song "Ten Thousand Men Of Harvard", it sums up the message of the film so well and makes you realise just how much of a challenge she was up against.

With such a wide career to work with I was pleased to see that for the most part the film concentrated on that main case. The preamble up to that point was interesting and seemed to be well chosen, I did initially find it slightly confusing initially as I think I blinked slightly too long and missed the point where it showed the year change.

I liked the changing dynamic of Ruth and Martin, it showed an amazingly supportive relationship, when he couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel she was there for him and when she thought she was failing he was her rock. The emotion between the two showed throughout and was a welcome addition to the film and there's one moment that's just so amazing where Ruth looks up at Martin and I wondered for one second if Jones and Hammer were actually in love.

Hearing her listing the reasons she'd been rejected from jobs was mind-boggling and had it been me I'd definitely have ended up in jail after bitchslapping at least one of the interviewers. I think the film handles the sexism quite well, although I'm sure it wasn't quite as "easy" as it appeared. The "unintentional" sexism in the characters was interesting to see and added an extra layer into the story.

I could probably wade around in this film for ages nit-picking about things, it's a perfectly adequate production with nothing massively wrong with it... apart from Martin wearing a short sleeve shirt with his suit, that's still annoying me along with the question: why is she referred to as Ruth Ginsburg all the way through apart from once? I feel like we were being kept out of the loop on some in-joke/secret. I came out feeling let down though, partly because I don't think it was quite what I was expecting and partly because of the ending.

You know you're going to get a showstopper of a speech from Ginsburg but it actually was the showstopper from which we switch to a worded cut screen and voiceovers. This was completely at odds with the rest of the film and it robs us of the gratification of seeing the characters get their win. It almost felt like it was aware that it needed to do something to link it to the modern side of the story but didn't know how.

What you should do

It's not a bad watch, but I wouldn't worry about seeing it at the cinema. I'm going to seek out the RBG documentary next and it might be something to watch that covers a wider history.

Movie thing you wish you could take home

Some of those RBG logic and reasoning skills would be absolutely amazing.