Movie Review: Fruitvale Station (2013)

fruitvaleNow I understand why this film captured the hearts of the Sundance crowd and won the jury prize. I was prepared to be indifferent about it despite the great reviews, but oh boy it hit me deeply and I was in tears.

Plot: Follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day. Oscar’s life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area – and the entire nation – to its very core.

You know that feeling when you just walked out of the theatre but you wanted to collect yourself first but people keep walking past you? This was EXCELLENT in all levels. A very special film that was based on a youtube video about a young man that was arrested and eventually shot by a police officer on New Year’s eve. The movie follows Oscar Grant (played by the amazing Michael B. Jordan) as he goes about his final day and the people he met. The director surely made an unforgettable debut.

I can say that the performances are better than the movie itself. The cast was a-plus-mazing. Octavia Spencer gave me everything I ever wanted in life, while Melonie Diaz served! I wouldn’t be shocked if both of them won awards come the Oscars/SAG/Golden Globes season. Did I mention Michael B. Jordan’s terrific starmaking turn? He was absolutely amazing. Some of the scenes were superbly shot, and the script was just a dream. The ending provided us with the information we needed but that last scene with the girlfriend and the kid, was just, I can’t even.

Definitely one of the films you shouldn’t dare miss this year.

Movie Review: Only God Forgives (2013)

Only God ForgivesThis was quite the cinematic experience. And to think people walked out of the theatres because they couldn’t take whatever they were seeing, I have to say that this movie was pretty darn brilliant. I liked it.

Plot: Julian, who runs a Thai boxing club as a front organization for his family’s drug smuggling operation, is forced by his mother Jenna to find and kill the individual responsible for his brother’s recent death.

If you can look past the violence & the distasteful nature of this film, I’m sure you will consider it a masterpiece. Then again, it’s a slice of the pie, so you’re going to have to take it in no matter how disgusting and immoral you feel. THIS MOVIE IS CLEARLY NOT FOR EVERYBODY.

Purely falling under the style over substance category, it’s that type of film where you don’t care for the characters let alone for the thin story it tries to tell us. Disengaging yet I can’t say that’s a bad thing. I gotta say that I loved the location though, it was perfect. I want to go to Bangkok now! The lights and the hue of this film are just so stunning. Also the soundtrack, it was like I’m in a dream. I jumped a little in some scenes because I knew there was blood waiting to be shed, I had to cover my eyes, because I myself, couldn’t tolerate that much violence.

One more thing, Ryan Gosling’s eerie machismo creeped me out a little and Kristin Scott Thomas (this is the first time I’ve seen her in a film), oh boy have I become an instant fan. She played it perfectly! Vithaya Pansringarm, the Thai actor, was brooding and excellent. I admit, it was a little tough to watch but I’m glad that this film proved me wrong about the jeers it received at Cannes last May.

Movie Review: Stoker (2013)

Stoker_Movie-Poster-2013

I finally got around to watching Stoker, directed by Park Chan-wook and I must tell you, it was a really great cinematic experience for me. With the stunning imagery, aggressive dialogues and endless metaphors implied in this film I’m sure this is difficult to forget.

PLOT: After India’s father (Mia Wasikowska) dies, her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

The story was familiar (coming-of-age, incest, family relationships), yet it’s so strange that your thoughts run back and forth during the movie. The cinematography (yes, that word) and the color palette of this movie was superb. Nicole Kidman never fails to amaze me, especially when she takes on roles that make her deliver such great lines such as:“Personally speaking, I can’t wait to watch life tear you apart”. I mean who says that to her own daughter? So epic. And as for Mia Wasikowska, I think she’s pretty amazing. She carries so much class and effervescence even though she’s playing a disturbed, distant young lady who is infatuated with her uncle. Matthew Goode was just brilliant, I only saw him in a rom-com before. Jacki Weaver was also terrific. I couldn’t look at the violent scenes in this film, but the sound on my earphones was enough to keep me thrilled.

This is one of 2013’s best films I can assure you that. To sum it up: it was beautifully haunting and I loved it.

Movie Review: The Bling Ring (2013)

The Bling Ring

 

“I mean I don’t consider myself an A-list looking guy”

That line was ridiculously bad. I can’t believe I waited so long, and with great hopes for this awful movie. I took my Korean friend to see this so he could learn more on how to converse in English, now I’m thinking it’s a super fail.

Plot: Inspired by actual events, a group of fame-obsessed teenagers, Rebecca (the ringleader), Marc, Nicki, Sam and Chloe, known as the Bling Ring, use the Internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes. Victims included Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr.

I mean it’s a decent inside look to what really went down during those Hollywood burglaries but that was all there is to it. Was it actually supposed to have that impact on viewers? The one where you say “huh?” after you saw the movie. Sofia Coppola baffles me: maybe I’m not a fan of her film-making? I liked Somewhere though. Unlikable characters (but Emma Watson’s Nicolette Ramirez is hilarious, and I still love her), one-liners that will certainly make your eyes roll twice, and a terribly slow pacing is what you’re gonna get. I really can’t believe how shallow I am. Let me leave you with a much better line, these may not be exact to what Leslie Mann’s character said, but it’s somewhere along:

“We wind up being the average of the people we surround ourselves with” 

“I’m so embarrassed I’m not a real person yet”

Frances HaThis is becoming quite the movie review blog that I have wanted it not to be. But wait, I absolutely love movies and even though I watch a lot, there are few that stick out and just stays with me. This is one of those films: FRANCES HA.

Directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written by its star Greta Gerwig. It definitely seemed like a tribute to the 1960’s French New Wave Cinema, and oh, was filmed in black and white. It explores obsessive friendships, coming out of the nest, random trips to Paris, diminishing fortunes, dancing and most of all, stuff twenty-somethings go through. I was able to see it for free when I won passes from The Toronto Film Scene (thanks guys!) and I tagged my friend Cynthia along. We had the best time, just laughing at the theatre, waiting a long time and getting some good insight about the movie at the Q & A that preceded (Greta and Noah were in attendance).

Anyway, I’m just going to say it: this EASILY became my favorite film so far this 2013. It was just splendid (and I actually decided to use that word). It was a great portrait of someone who just hit rock bottom, but still manages to be super endearing and full of life. I have thought about so many things that happened to Frances in the movie and put myself into the same situation: whether I’m going to go nuts or just be like her, who’s ever so positive despite knowing deep in her heart that she’s bound for more unfortunate mishaps but then STILL TRIES. I don’t want to be a person who just stops caring and trying. So many of reflections of humanity and just a raw depiction of what it’s like to be 27 and not have your life figured out. One more thing: NEW YORK CITY! Geez I want to end up there so badly.

The title of my post was a line from the film in which Frances goes on a date with her best friend’s acquaintance, she just got a tax rebate and she insisted she paid for dinner but her credit card was declined. She then says those words and the theater burst into laughter, she runs to the closest ATM (which almost took forever). It was one of the movie’s best moments. Alright, so there you go, my review and my insight on this wonderful gem. I am going to post yet another blog about my thoughts on growing up and growing old, and why I want to take some more chances this year.

 

Movie Review: The Great Gatsby (2013)

The Great Gatsby

So I finally got the chance to see this much-awaited, stylized movie by Baz Luhrmann! I saw it on 3D too so I think I made the most of it!

Plot: An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Long Island-set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby’s nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.

My take: It didn’t take me a while to wrap my head around the story, since I haven’t read the book too. I loved how the “movie magic touch” worked in its favor because the 1920’s was such a gorgeous era, style-wise and attitude-wise. Made me wonder if I actually lived in that decade. The casting was perfect, Leonardo DiCaprio shines and says “old sport” about 200 times and I was perfectly fine with it. The other actors also did amazing. It was such a tragic film, and the narration kept me glued to my seat though I admit I dozed off a couple times. 9/10!

 

Movie Review: Spring Breakers (2013)

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Never have I had a thrilling, absolutely hilarious time at a theater other than when I watched this gem by Harmony Korine. That’s an understatement, folks. Here’s the low down.

Plot: Four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work.

My take:  “I got shorts. EVERY FUCKING COLOR”

I didn’t know what to expect from this movie other than the fact people kept saying it’s raunchy, wild, and an all-out neon explosion. They were right. I, for one, was really excited when it premiered at TIFF. I even have pictures of the four girls, with me. It was a delight. The movie, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved it. The whole “finding yourself” thing was brought up and made sense yet you know these girls won’t be able to do that since they’re on a crime spree. They have good intentions though: TO HAVE FUN! James Franco really outdid himself, he was hilariously brilliant. Selena Gomez, who I thought was gonna be wilder, really showed off some acting chops there. Vanessa Hudgens was class A, her role was terrific and how vulnerable it was, just plain amazing. The other 2 girls, Ashley Benson & Rachel Korine, I felt they were fillers. But they did what they had to do, and overall it was really a great, non-traditional, f***** amazing movie.