Posts Tagged ‘clint eastwood’

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Movie Reviews: American Sniper, Boyhood, How To Train Your Dragon 2

February 4, 2015

AMERICAN SNIPER

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller
Director: Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Unforgiven)

Bottom Line: I’ve heard that this story is quite embellished by Hollywood, but since I’m unfamiliar with Chris Kyle’s story, I can only judge the movie as a movie – and I liked it quite alright. Bradley Cooper gives another stellar and nuanced performance and, along with his awesome voice acting in last year’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, has cemented himself as one of the industry’s top leading men. Clint Eastwood’s direction is as crisp and tense as it has ever been, even if this might not be his greatest film. I also found it interesting how underdeveloped Chris’ family is in the movie – perhaps a fitting scenario for active military during wartime. Overall, I enjoyed American Sniper, but it’s not the first movie I would think of for Best Picture and is probably a tad overrated in general.

Replay Value: I’m somewhat interested in reading Chris Kyle’s book and if that happens, I almost certainly will watch the movie again. Even so, it’s probably worth another watch.
Sequel Potential: It would be highly disrespectful, but Hollywood has done worse things.
Oscar Potential: Nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture and Best Actor, plus Editing, Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay, and Sound Editing.
Nudity: Can’t remember – I don’t think so.

Grade: 6.5/10 (Strongly Recommended)

BOYHOOD

Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
Director: Richard Linklater (School Of Rock, Waking Life, Dazed And Confused)

Bottom Line: Highly praised by critics and blasted by many as being overly boring and too long, Boyhood falls somewhere in the middle. It’s hard not to appreciate director Richard Linklater’s ambitious decision to film his story over 12 years in real time and it’s interesting to watch the kids grow up on screen. The script tackled themes of broken homes, divorce, moving around a lot, alcoholism, peer pressure, bullying, teen angst, young love – and heartbreak – experimentation, and moving on (to college or elsewhere) – and the affect all of that has on growing up – quite well. Even if it doesn’t reflect one’s own childhood exactly, I can’t imagine not being able to relate to Mason’s story in a lot of ways. However, while Mason’s transition from a naive youngster to angst-filled and too-cool-for-school teen may reflect many of today’s youth, that doesn’t make it particularly interesting. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette give pretty good performances here, but at the end of the day, Boyhood is a merely good, not great film.

Replay Value: Definitely a weakness. Even the people that loved it probably weren’t lining up to see it again.
Sequel Potential: Unlikely, but… Richard Linklater has a history of putting out unlikely sequels with his Before Sunrise franchise.
Oscar Potential: Nominated for 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Linklater, acting noms for Arquette and Hawke, plus Editing. This is probably the favorite for Best Picture even though it’s far from my favorite 2014 film – particularly because I think the script is not all that awesome – but I do think Linklater has a good chance at Best Director and editing a 12 year epic seems like a good way to get a statue also.
Nudity: None.

Grade: 6.5/10 (Strongly Recommended)

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (2014)

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Kit Harrington
Director: Dean Deblois (How To Train Your Dragon, Lilo & Stitch)

Bottom Line: A mostly boring sequel to a pretty good original film that is overshadowed by a solid, feel-good ending that will leave most watchers thinking it was better than it really was.

Replay Value: Since I never watched the original again, it’s pretty unlikely I’ll ever see this again — until I have kids (and then I better damn well get used to it!).
Sequel Potential: #3 is due out in 2017 or 2018 and it sounds like this franchise could go deep.
Oscar Potential: Somehow got nominated for Best Animated Feature while The Lego Movie did not. What?
Nudity: None.

Grade: 5/10 (Watchable)

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Movie Reviews (7/18/2009)

August 5, 2009

Changeling (2008)

Angelina Jolie in an Oscar-nominated role in a film directed by Clint Eastwood? Sign me up. Based on a true story, the film is set in 1920s Los Angeles, a time when the LAPD is known for being corrupt, violent, and generally scumbaggish. Jolie plays Christine Collins, whose son disappears one day while she’s off running errands or something. After a few weeks, the police department finds a boy claiming to be Walter Collins and Christine takes him in despite realizing the boy is not her son. The film focuses on Christine’s battle with the police force and she eventually winds up in an LAPD-controlled insane asylum for her continued claims that her son is still missing. I’m surprised this film didn’t get more award attention… Jolie definitely deserved her nomination and Clint Eastwood has proven himself as one of the best filmmakers over the past decade. Grade: 7 out of 10 (Must See)

Gran Torino (2008)

Another Clint Eastwood film, this time the director stars as a recently widowed man stuck in his old fashioned racist ways as he takes a look around at his mostly ethnic neighbors. It’s a rare movie that can take racist slurs like “zipperhead” and “slopes” and turn them into terms of endearment, but by the end of the film, one forgets the negative connotations that come with such phrases. There’s no doubt about it, even at 80+ years old, Eastwood is still a bad ass. The two Asian teenagers also gave solid performances. I can imagine some people would be disappointed with the ending, but I thought it was pretty realistic given the circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it’s good enough that I’d add it to my collection. Grade: 7.5 out of 10 (Must See/Excellent)

Transformers 2: Rise Of The Fallen (2009)

I’m in the vast minority on this one, but I hated this movie. I expected the first film to be a disaster, but I wound up enjoying it for what it was: a solid, mindless action flick. The sequel starts off dope enough, with some good action sequences, but the last half of the film is filled with all sorts of unwanted plot development. I honestly didn’t even understand what was going on most of the time… or worse, I didn’t care. I just want to see robots fighting. I don’t want to see Indiana Jones Jr. searching for the lost relic, or whatever the hell they were looking for. I hated the movie so much, I ended up leaving in the middle of the finale because I had somewhere else to be. Shia LeBeouf is the new Vin Diesel: the star of a bunch of overhyped, shitty action movies. Grade: 3 out of 10 (Painful)

The Hangover (2009)

I wish someone would’ve dragged me to this movie on opening day. I had no intentions of ever seeing it. The previews looked kind of stupid to me, but I couldn’t ignore the tremendous word of mouth, from critics and audiences alike, it was getting. I was hearing ridiculous praise like “it’s the funniest movie of all-time,” so I had to go see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, I was late enough on seeing it that some of the best gags were already spoiled for me. Despite that, I definitely liked this comedy and while it might be a tad overhyped, the film is consistently funny and has enough repeat value that I’ll probably buy it when it comes out. There’s also a chance that it will grow on me like most comedies tend to do. With the exception of the groom-to-be, the cast was pretty damn funny and Zach Galifianakis as Alan was especially hilarious. This movie has a collective 8.2 out of 10 rating on www.imdb.com, good enough for the #171st highest rated movie of all-time. That’s a pretty generous ranking, but this movie was pretty dope. Oh, and a sequel is already in development. Can’t really see where they are going to go from here, but if it’s the same general team, sign me up. Grade: 7 out of 10 (Must See)

Rudy (1993)

Ironically, Rudy, one of the most praised sports films of all-time, doesn’t crack the top 250 all-time list on www.imdb.com. So essentially, the general populace says that The Hangover is the superior film. I can’t say I really agree with that (although, it’s not really fair to compare a movie that’s 2 months old to something that came out over 15 years ago). The story in Rudy is truly phenomenal and inspiring. Anyone lacking confidence in achieving their goals should watch this movie to remind themselves what is possible when someone truly chases their dreams. Sean Astin has been trying to establish a name for himself outside of this role ever since this movie came out. He does an excellent job in the film and really makes his character’s persistence shine through. Grade: 7.5 out of 10 (Must See)