Anime Movie Review: A Silent Voice

Details: Also known as Koe no Katachi or The Shape of Voice. Originally released in 2016. About two hours long. More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/28851/Koe_no_Katachi

A Silent Voice is a masterful movie that tells a relatively original story that works on multiple levels.

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Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War *NO SPOILERS*

Details: Directed by Anthony RussoJoe Russo. Stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo. About two and a half hours long. The imdb site is https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4154756/

I’ve watched every single movie in the Marvel cinematic universe since the first Iron Man movie. In that context, I really enjoyed Avengers: Infinity War. I think that if you have not kept up to date or watched a substantial number of the Marvel superhero movies, then you may still enjoy the film, but not as much as someone who has. No spoilers ahead and no discussion of the plot.

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Movie Review: Coco

Details: Released in 2017. About an hour and forty-five minutes long. Stars Anthony GonzalezGael García BernalBenjamin Bratt.

I found the vast majority of Coco to be exceedingly predictable and yet, by the end of the movie, I could not help but shed a few tears. Coco is a great, emotional movie that belongs up there with the other great Pixar movies. Whatever secret ingredient it is that makes a Pixar movie great, Coco has it.

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Movie Review: Baby Driver

Details: Released in 2017. A little under two hours long. Stars Ansel ElgortJon BernthalJon Hamm. Written and directed by Edgar Wright.

Up until a few weeks ago, I had never even heard of this movie. Which is surprising given just how many big names are in the cast. The title sounds like the name of an Adam Sandler comedy. Anyways, when the film was released, a wave of reviews came out and this movie is seemingly one of the best reviewed films of the year. Without knowing much about what this film was about, I decided to give this film a watch and found a highly stylized film that I greatly enjoyed.

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Movie Review: The Silence of the Lambs

Details: Released in 1991. About two hours long. Stars Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney.

The Silence of the Lambs is another one of those movies which I’ve seen piecemeal many times, but never in its entirety in one sit-through. I decided to change that today and I will join the consensus in saying that this is one of the greatest movies of its genre ever made.

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Movie Review: Logan

Details: Released in 2017. About two hours and twenty minutes long. Stars Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen. Directed by James Mangold. Rated R.

No spoilers in this review and for any of my reviews unless specifically stated otherwise. I usually have a small tagline or summary blurb that doesn’t really go into anything beyond the act one of the movie, but that’s it.

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Movie Review: The Other Guys

Details: Released in 2010. Stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg. About an hour and fifty minutes long. Rated PG-13.

Up until a few weeks ago, I had never seen The Other Guys. What a fool I’ve been. The Other Guys is one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a long time.

The Other Guys is a Will Ferrell styled comedy about two lame police officers who want to be successful police officers. If you’ve seen other Will Ferrell comedies, then you should know what you’re in for. If not, then expect stupid, toilet humor and lots of celebrity appearances.

This film is largely a parody of police genre shows, but even further, it’s just a setting for Ferrell and friends to launch off into hilarious bits and sketches. There are so many funny scenes in this that were exactly the kind of humor I enjoy. I think there is a valid argument that this is the funniest Ferrell comedy in his career.

Everyone in this movie does a great job. The straight men do their parts well and the funny guys are hilarious when they’re supposed to be. Even the guest stars (like Derek Jeter) are great. Wahlberg and Ferrell were especially good. They make a great team and play off each other well.

The only issue I can think of for the film is that many people might simply hate Ferrell’s style of humor. It’s dumb, childish humor. I love it, but I can foresee other people not feeling the same way.

Overall, a great comedy that I thoroughly recommend. Additionally, it got a PG-13 rating so younger people can watch it, too. I can confirm that there’s nothing that racy in the film, just stupid funny humor.

Score: 8/10

Movie Review: Lion

Details: Released in 2016. About two hours long. Stars Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara.

This is the last movie that was nominated for an Academy Award this year that I had yet to see. I hadn’t heard much about it, but the trailer looked promising.

Lion is a movie based on a true story. It’s about a boy in India who got lost by wandering onto a train and not being able to find his way home. He ends up stuck on the train for days and becomes a homeless child in Calcutta. After weeks spent on the street, he gets picked up and sent to an orphanage, where he is then adopted by an Australian couple. Decades later, the boy is now a man and tries to use Google Earth to find his original home and his birth family.

There was actually a segment on 60 Minutes (a journalistic program on CBS) on this very story. I did a little more research after watching the film and was amazed by how truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. There were points in the film where I felt the director took creative license in order to create drama. To my surprise, a lot of those plot points actually happened. It’s an amazing and tearful story that I recommend taking a look at.

As for the film, bring Kleenex. I choked back tears a number of times in this film. It’s a touching story made that much more emotional by the fact that it was based on true story. The film generally goes along chronologically starting from the boy’s childhood and through his adulthood and decision to find his birth family. There are welcome time skips along the way to see how his life has developed as well as flashbacks to prior points in his childhood. It’s a film where the majority of the film is spent building up to that ending reveal and the discovery of what happened to his family and what he finds at the end of his journey. I’m not going to ruin the ending here and I suggest you don’t either. Just watch it first before looking it up online.

The film is definitely reminiscent of Slumdog Millionaire in some respects, and not just because Dev Patel is in it. There is this feeling of East meets West, with a dash of contemporary popular culture thrown in. Where in Slumdog Millionaire, the modern factor that adds color and makes the story relatable was the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire television show, Lion has Google Earth as the primary tool that is used to find his home.

The actors also do a great job. Dev Patel is great, but Nicole Kidman is fantastic. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Kidman in a role that really moved me. As good as Kidman was, it was the Indian children in the movie which had the most authentic roles. Seeing child actors always bothers me in that it is well-known that child talent is often taken advantage of in show business. I can only hope that the kids here were properly taken care of and compensated for their work.

Overall, I loved this film and think it is very likely to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The subject matter and story are moving and relevant, while not being polarizing. The performances were great. The only reason that I can see this being clearly snubbed is because the film feels familiar (so as not to be “new”) in that it does as good a job as Slumdog Millionaire in portraying India in a contemporary, gritty, yet respectful way. This is a good movie, possibly the best of 2016. Go watch it.

Score: 8.4/10

Movie Review: Fences

Details: Released in 2016. Stars Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, and Stephen Henderson. About two hours and twenty minutes long.

Fences is a movie directed by and starring Denzel Washington. It’s based off a fairly famous play which I read through in college. The role that Denzel plays was also famously played by him in the play and by the talented James Earl Jones. There’s one especially memorable monologue that sticks out and I enjoy it every time I hear it.

Here’s the premise: Denzel Washington plays the head of a working class family in 1950’s America. We watch as him and his family try to get through life. This is a family drama.

Before watching this movie you need to know that it was based on a play and stays true to those roots. This is a good thing. Most scenes take place at one place: their house. There are seven primary characters, all in some way members of the family. That’s it. Despite the lack of locations and actors, this movie is still a resounding success.

You also need to keep in mind the history of a film like this. The play this film was based on is so well-known that it is likely part of the syllabus of most theater courses in the United States. It’s material that many with interests in the theater go back to periodically. So when you look at these characters and these lines, realize that there is a long history of people approaching and portraying these characters.

I imagine that when you are the first to play a character, a lot of time and effort is spent deciding how the character should be portrayed. With characters like these, these monoliths who’ve been played by so many and whose lines are known by so many, the approach, I imagine, is different. You want to stay true to the material and the performances that came before yet you want to make it your own. I imagine this to be a difficult line to straddle.

Denzel Washington gets a free pass in the acting department I think because he was already well-known for playing the exact same part in the theater production. If you do an internet search of his theater performances in Fences, you’ll find many results. You may even be surprised at the different approach he took toward some of the scenes. Denzel is great. Viola Davis is also amazing and after watching this film, I think there is no question she deserves the nod, if not the win, for the Academy Award for best actress in a supporting role. Everyone was very good, though Denzel and Viola stand out.

Overall, a great adaptation that retains and furthers the emotion and intensity of the play. The thing about plays is that the only people who can watch a play are those who can fit into the theater. Film allows more people to enjoy a story in it’s intended medium. While I don’t think it is the clear winner of best picture of the year, it is definitely a contender and deserves the win if it were to receive it.

Score: 8/10

Movie Review: Heat

Details: Released in 1995. Almost three hours long. Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Val Kilmer. Directed by Michael Mann.

I was looking for some movies to watch and I realized that there were a lot of classics which for some reason, I’ve never seen. Movies that could be considered mandatory watching for true movie fans. Heat is one of those movies.

I’ll try to avoid spoilers and keep discussion of anything related to the narrative to a minimum. The premise is this: Robert De Niro plays a career criminal who commit heists with his crew. Al Pacino plays a cop who specializes in bringing down criminals like De Niro’s character. The two clash in a game of cat and mouse as Pacino tries to catch De Niro.

The heart of this story is crime story. This is a heist movie and it’s easy to see how many other works of fiction took inspiration from this film.

There are so many great scenes in this movie. So many scenes which are undoubtedly a part of cinema history. Almost every line uttered by De Niro and Pacino is memorable. Seeing these two legends share scenes together is sight to behold.

While I will keep as much of this review spoiler free, two scenes need to be mentioned: the shootout and the scene where Pacino and De Niro talk. I’ve watched behind the scenes footage and interviews with the actors in regards to the shootout scene. They all trained to operate real guns and I’ve even read somewhere that the armed forces used footage from this film to show trainees the ideal way to reload a weapon. The action in this movie, and specifically the shootout scene, were amazing in their direction and their editing. The sound of the guns along with just how much chaos spills out make this one of the most memorable action scenes in film history. When anyone talks about this film, this scene is almost always mentioned.

The other scene that is almost always mentioned is the talk between Pacino and De Niro. Having two of these Hollywood legends in the same movie and not letting them share at least one scene would have been criminal. Luckily, Mann let the two have that scene and it was amazing. I won’t say anything about what happens there, but the tension, the emotion, just ooze from the actors and even though it’s just dialogue, you aren’t really sure what’s going to happen.

Overall, a great crime film that is required watching for any cinemaphile. Heat is a classic which I would recommend to almost anyone. Except children. This is a very adult film with some graphic violence and adult subject matter. Don’t let kids watch this.

Score: 8.2/10