Movie Reviews

Reviews of movies.

Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 | 0 comments

Only Lovers Left Alive is the vampire movie you’ve always wanted. You didn’t even know you wanted it, but you did. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are ancient, gorgeous, and shockingly human. Let’s get this out of the way: this isn’t a Hollywood vampire movie. There is no violence, very little blood, and all of the sex is off-screen. The vampires aren’t showy. They don’t run around doing vampire things like flying and jumping off buildings. It’s all about the characters and how they interact. In the way of many independent films, there’s no driving plot and the movie is very much about the aesthetics as it meanders through their unlives. Personally, I love that, and I love this movie. Adam suffers from ennui, like many old vampires. The world has gone on without him and he doesn’t like that much. He surrounds himself with old things, and shuns the world at large. He’s tired of the world of “zombies,” humans who can’t appreciate what they have. When it looks like he might be considering ending his life, his vampire wife Eve comes to his rescue, sharing with him all the things that he loves and revitalizing his will to live. It really is a beautiful story of long-time love. The vampires in this world have some cool powers. Eve has the ability to tell you the creation date of any object she touches. Adam is a tinkerer that has unlocked Nikola Tesla’s electric theories. There are hints that vampires in this world share telepathic links. There’s also something about the gloves that I didn’t quite understand, but was a cool touch. There’s a lot of intellectual humor that’s fun and thoughtful, with nods to many great scientists and thinkers. Jokes about who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays and who gave Schubert his music abound. Their long lives are filled with art, learning, and love. My favorite thing about this movie? Tilda Swinton. Her portrayal of a vampire is somehow both glamorous and shabby. Oh, and blood popsicles. Only Lovers Left Alive is romantic, and beautiful, and joyfully recommended. See the trailer...

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Review of Chef

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 | 0 comments

Chef didn’t get a lot of hype, and I can’t figure out why. It’s the kind of movie that leaves you feeling good afterward, as if sometimes everything works out just how it should. Let me be clear: the plot is eminently predictable, and there are no explosions or twist ending. Chef is very simply a heart-warming movie about a man trying to figure out what to do with his life after a mistake threatens his chosen career. There are some spoilers ahead, but as I hinted to earlier, it isn’t anything you would haven’t figured out way before it happens. Jon Favreau plays Carl Casper, the eponymous chef. He’s a bit of a Luddite, and gets caught up in a Twitter battle without really understanding the ramifications. After a rather public meltdown in response to a bad review, Carl’s career is in trouble. No one wants to hire him. He also has his fair share of family trouble: his son is desperate for his attention, but Carl keeps him at a distance. His ex-wife eventually asks him to come along to Miami, where they met, to take care of their son while she’s working in the area. She also talks him into taking on a food truck, something she’s been pushing him to do for years. Basically, it’s your textbook mid-life crisis. I told you, there’s nothing surprising here plot-wise. I know what you’re thinking now: this doesn’t sound like a movie you need to see, but trust me, it really is. There are a few things that make this movie absolutely stellar. Let me run them down for you. First, the Cuban flare. Once Carl is in Miami, the mood of the movie changes entirely. There’s a Latin soundtrack that underscores every moment. It is a beautiful homage to a culture that has given us so much in this country, but is largely ignored when it comes to mass market entertainment. Second, the acting is first rate. I don’t just mean that the big name actors do their jobs when delivering lines, which everyone expects, but there’s also an emphasis on the quiet moments where characters really come alive. There are scenes where our trio of buddies (because this is in part a buddy movie) are just riding around in the food truck that sing with life. Third, it’s a wonderful example of storytelling. Favreau knows how to tell a satisfying story. He presents a problem, shows the character overcoming that problem, and then gives the audience a fulfilling ending. Just like the best meals are sometimes the simplest, the same can be said for the best stories. Sometimes what I really need is a character that grows and finds himself in the cluttered confusion of our world. This movie delivers that. Yes, I saw the ending coming a mile away, but somehow it still touched me, more than any other movie in recent memory. There’s also a bit of a lesson for every creative person out there. Carl follows his heart, and finds exactly what he was looking for in his career and his life. Don’t compromise and don’t give up on your dreams. I leave you with the trailer, and a hearty recommendation that you see this movie. -C Photos from...

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Review of Amelie

Posted by on Jan 21, 2012 | 0 comments

So, instead of doing the last of my edits tonight, I watched Amélie with Ryan. I’m not sure if we’re the last two people on earth to see this movie, but I’m left wondering what took us so long. Actually, it’s kind of a funny story so I’ll relate it here real quick. Back in, geez I think 2002 or so, we started a Netflix account and had our movies delivered to us in those little red envelopes. I’m not sure why we had such a hard time with the whole experience, but we sometimes had movies that we just never watched and were too excited about other movies coming out and had to return unwatched. Amélie was one of those we had for some time, but never saw. I was recently perusing a thread about the best movies ever and I saw it mentioned a few times. I’d always been bummed that we didn’t get a chance to watch it, so I took a chance and ordered it. Once again, the movie sat around my house for weeks, ignored. I think we were both skeptical because we usually don’t like French movies. A little too quirky and strange for us, I think. Anyway, enough about that, let’s talk about the movie. It’s phenomenal, in every way I can think of. Amélie is a young woman who’s had a pretty unremarkable life until she finds a young boy’s keepsake box from the 1950’s in her apartment. She sets off to find the man the box belonged to, and in the process she discovers that she enjoys helping others from behind the scenes. Overall, the movie is an adventure, because you never really know what’s going to happen next. While she’s helping these folks out, she of course learns about herself, and that’s really the thrust of the story. The movie plays with some complex themes about individuality and just leaves you feeling good. The acting is all exceptional, and Amélie is beyond charming. Nice sets and music all the way through. There’s also a really cute love story between Amélie and a man she sees at a photobooth. Five very enthusiastic stars for this one and a recommendation that everyone should see it if they haven’t. Photo found at...

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Review of Easy A

Posted by on Aug 4, 2011 | 7 comments

I’ve had a Movie Review category on this blog for a long time, but I’ve never used it. There’s no real reason why. I just never got around to feeling strongly enough about a movie to bang out some words. What cinematic masterpiece has broken this trend? Easy A. Go ahead and get the giggles out now. It’s okay. Seriously. I’ll wait. Done? Okay, down to business then. Why I was pretty sure I was going to not like this movie: It’s an unapologetic teen movie. Anybody who knows me even slightly knows that I’m not a fan of most things teen. The overwrought angst just really gets to me. I freely admit that it is character appropriate and the writers are doing their jobs when it angers me. Don’t care. Hate it. I’m not a fan of comedies, in general. There’s something just not at all funny to me about trying to be funny. Some comedies work for me, sure, but as a general rule my DVD collection is dominated by drama and tragedy, not comedy. Why I loved this movie: It was smart, funny, and oh so clever. Seriously. I wouldn’t lie to you about this. It’s a modern day retelling of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (which I hated), and there’s so much about it that I just adored. Olive is a beautifully written and acted character. She might skew a little old for the role–her dialog at times seemed much too mature– but that worked for me. I’ve loved Emma Stone since Zombieland so that didn’t hurt at all. For me, I didn’t think the target audience was necessarily teen, especially with repeated references to 80’s teen movies. The story arc ends with a very sweet bit that you can see coming a mile away, but is still cute and made me “Awwww.” There’s a poignant moment when she confesses that made me tear up. It had all the right emotional notes. In summary: Watch it. Well worth the hour and half of your life. Fair warning: The language and storyline gets a little raunchy. If you are easily offended, you should probably skip...

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