Posts Tagged ‘ryan gosling’

h1

La La Land (2016)

August 24, 2017

Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Director: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Bottom Line: It seems that La La Land is a pretty polarizing film. It cruised through this year’s Academy Awards so dominantly, with six wins, that it was accidentally awarded Best Picture before the production team corrected the error – with the whole cast and crew already on stage giving an acceptance speech – and gave Best Picture to Moonlight in the most bizarre Oscar moment I’ve ever seen. And then there’s a number of people that absolutely hated it. The number of one star ratings on IMDB are alarming and this was my own family’s thoughts:

Wife (30 minutes into movie): I’m going to take a nap.
Mom: I think I’m going to go home.
Aunt: I’m ready to go.
Me: What just happened?

I can’t say that La La Land had me in its grip at that moment, but I’m not one to give up on a movie because other people aren’t enjoying it. I think a lot of the common criticisms of this film are pretty fair, but I also found plenty to like. I seem to be in the very small minority of people that agree that it is tremendously overrated, but still actually enjoyed it.

But let’s be real: La La Land isn’t even the best musical of 2016. Disney’s Moana had better songwriting, better vocal performances, and – gasp! – a more engaging story. La La Land was great in a lot of the technical departments like costume design, editing, cinematography, set design, etc., but when focusing on the music and songs, Moana wasn’t just better, it was substantially better. The songs in La La Land aren’t nearly as catchy or memorable. I was expecting to be blown away by “City of Stars,” La La Land‘s Oscar-winning song and… well, it’s criminal that Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t win for Moana‘s “How Far I’ll Go.” I honestly can’t think of a great musical where at least one song wasn’t stuck in my head for days and La La Land simply doesn’t have a single song like that. They are all rather forgettable.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are pretty great in this movie… when they aren’t singing. When they are singing they are merely okay. I can’t say whether or not Stone is deserving of her Best Actress win because I still haven’t seen any of the other nominees, but I thought she was pretty adorable in this role.

While I was pretty disappointed with the musical aspects of this movie, I thought the script did a good job of tackling themes of love and sacrifice and how pursuing your passion can be all encompassing, even to the detriment of your relationships. It’s sad and charming and it did resonate with me emotionally.

I can’t give La La Land a glowing recommendation. It’s obvious that it is not for everyone. The rest of my audience couldn’t make it through the first thirty minutes and I think they are pretty good representation of the casual film watcher. As a film buff myself, and a fan of musicals, I was disappointed considering all the praise and awards heaped upon this movie – it’s just not that good. I much prefer director Damien Chazelle’s last film Whiplash.

Replay Value: Can’t imagine I’ll ever watch this again.
Sequel Potential: None?
Oscar Potential: 6 Oscar wins: Directing, Cinematography, Original Song, Score, Production Design, and Best Actress for Emma Stone; plus another 8 nominations!

Grade: 5.5/10 (Watchable/Recommended)

h1

Split (2017), Kubo & The Two Strings (2016), The Nice Guys (2016), The Infiltrator (2016), The Witch (2016)

February 1, 2017

The list of movies I’ve seen and haven’t reviewed is starting to pile up, so I’m just gonna post some quick ones to wipe my slate clean.

Split (2017) – This was a different movie experience for me. While I was waiting in line at the concession stand one of the guys working there said something to another customer that he thought was innocent but it totally spoiled Split for me and it completely changed how I viewed the film. Rather than going in with no expectations other than that M. Knight Shyamalan was almost certainly going to throw us his trademark curveball, I went in with a good idea what that “twist” was going to be and I honestly can’t imagine how much it would have changed my experience if I didn’t have an idea where the story was headed the whole time. Still, even with that massive spoiler, I found Split to be very entertaining. James McAvoy does phenomenal work as Kevin, the antagonist that suffers from multiple personalities and kidnaps three young girls. The film is tense and scary, but still manages to provide laughs despite the incredibly dark subject matter. Along with The Visit in 2015, it seems as though Shyamalan has finally righted the ship after putting out a string of films that are among the worst of the past decade. Split was very enjoyable, despite the annoying spoiler, and I’d recommend it to anyone that enjoys suspense thrillers.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

The Nice Guys (2016) – This was one of the most surprising and entertaining 2016 films I’ve seen. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling star as scummy P.I. types in the 1970s that team up together to track down a missing girl related to a murder surrounding a porn film. The two actors have great chemistry together and Gosling, in particular, is fantastic playing against type as a bumbling idiot and provides a number of laughs. The real star of the film is Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s 13 year old daughter and she can’t help but immerse herself in the case and shows a maturity level far beyond her age – she’s the heart and soul of a film where the two leads are morally challenged. With few notable credits to her name before this movie, it’s safe to say Angourie will be getting a lot of calls now and the next step is playing Betty Brant in this year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. To date, The Nice Guys rates as the best comedy of 2016 and one of my favorite films of the year.

7.5/10 (Highly Enjoyable/Must See)

Kubo and The Two Strings (2016) – This was an entertaining and funny animated adventure that finds a young boy on a mystical journey while trying to avoid his mother’s evil family. The animation is gorgeous and there are memorable characters, but Kubo doesn’t quite reach special levels of awesome. Still, a fun film that is definitely recommended for families.

6/10 (Recommended)

The Infiltrator (2016) – Bryan Cranston crushes another role, this time as a U.S. Customs officer that goes undercover to infiltrate Pablo Escobar’s drug empire. It was fun seeing Cranston play it straight and then get grimy when he went undercover. Cranston has had a couple of low profile roles the last few years, but did some great work in the movies, even getting nominated for his work in Trumbo. While that might have been the better role, The Infiltrator was a lot more fun to watch.

6.5/10 (Recommended/Highly Enjoyable)

The Witch (2016) – This horror movie from early 2016 got a lot of favorable reviews, but I struggled through it. The pacing was a really slow burn and the pay off wasn’t satisfying enough to justify it. I thought it was kind of confusing and not all that scary, but I didn’t hate it either – there was definitely some solid suspense going on. Anya Taylor-Joy was fun to watch in the lead role and she seems to be carving out a genre niche. Plus, the idea of Black Phillip was pretty cool. Still, I wouldn’t recommend this movie unless you’re a horror fan, and even then, prepare for a slow, not incredibly interesting or particularly scary movie.

4.5/10 (Forgettable/Watchable)

h1

The Big Short (2015)

August 26, 2016

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt
Director: Adam McKay (The Other Guys, Step Brothers, Anchorman)

Bottom Line: Director Adam McKay somehow manages to make a movie about the mortgage and housing collapse of the mid-2000s funny and entertaining despite the fact that I largely had no idea what was going on. I get that the banks were loaning money to people that had basically no income or credit, but I didn’t really understand how the key players in the movie realized this and knew how to capitalize on it. While having Margot Robbie sitting in a bubble bath explaining things was a nice touch, I was, admittedly, still pretty lost. Obviously, The Big Short has a stellar cast and it’s cool to see Steve Carrell in a more serious role. Christian Bale, as always, is spectacular. The Big Short is an enjoyable movie even if you don’t really understand banking or the housing market, but I imagine those that read and enjoyed the Michael Lewis book this film was adapted from will really love this movie.

Replay Value: I think I would better understand things a second time around.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: Nominated for Best Picture, Film Editing, Director, Christian Bale’s performance, and won the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay.

Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)

h1

Schizophrenia

November 18, 2013

My posts have always been so organized. I think I’ve come to realize that organization is one of the reasons I struggle to update my blog on a regular basis. Rather than just come in here and talk about recent stuff or what I’m feeling, I feel compelled to write out a complete movie review and well, quite frequently, it just doesn’t get done. So here’s to a new strategy.

This past week I watched The Heat starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. My biggest takeaways from the film were that a) Sandra Bullock was really fucking good in Gravity and b) Melissa McCarthy is extremely funny but this might as well be a continuation of her character in Bridesmaids as a police officer. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Bullock’s work and this is more of the same, which is why her performance in Gravity is so special; it’s completely unlike anything she’s ever done–or, in other words: good. The Heat is funny though, thanks to McCarthy carrying the film, but she’s obviously being typecast (as many rising comedic actors are) and one has to wonder how long before fans start tiring of her schtick. Overall, The Heat was funny and enjoyable, and ranks amongst 2013’s funniest films in a year of mostly unremarkable comedies. 6/10

I also had a long overdue viewing of Derek Cianfrance’s (Blue Valentine) The Place Beyond The Pines starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes. One of the more highly acclaimed films prior to awards season, I actually found Pines to be quite disappointing. Mostly it just didn’t live up to the hype built from one of my friends constantly praising it and urging me to watch it. It’s a three part story that stretches over a roughly 17 year time period and certainly has the running time of an epic, clocking in at nearly two and a half hours. Naturally, it’s quite boring at times and the pacing makes it difficult to watch. Ryan Gosling is great, as usual, and Bradley Cooper appears to be turning into a pretty respectable actor. I wasn’t a huge fan of the story though. I couldn’t help but feel it was a bit contrived, especially the third act when everything ties together in a way that isn’t all that believable. Pines isn’t a bad film, but it’s an overly ambitious one, with a story that doesn’t quite deserve its epic running time. Definitely not the must see film people are claiming it to be. 5.5/10

I revisited Man Of Steel last night and I have to say my opinion of the film has dropped somewhat. I initially gave it a 7/10, which is a must see on my scale, and I can’t say it’s that strong of a film. That’s what’s difficult about reviewing films. I can’t imagine that people that criticize movies for a living can really get a full grasp on a film after one viewing. For me, Man Of Steel was a bit overwrought. The aspects I liked in my earlier review remain the same, but some parts of the film are increasingly tedious upon a second viewing. The Smallville battle is still epic. I mean seriously awesome. But the next part of the climax is a big WTF. I’m talking about when Zod is creating Krypton on earth and Superman is battling some ship over the Indian Ocean. I mean, what the hell is really going on here? For some reason, I remembered the finale being incredibly epic, but really there’s the Smallville battle and the final battle with Zod and a huge gap in between that just sucks. Also, now that Superman vs Batman has been announced for a 2015 release, you have to think watching this movie that the filmmakers really had no idea what they were going to do next. After seeing Superman go toe-to-toe with Zod and other Kryptonians–and all the property destruction those fights caused–it’s difficult to imagine a human–even one as resourceful as Batman–being a formidable opponent for Superman. The writers seriously have their work cut out for them.