Snowpiercer

So it was probably a Tuesday. I was so behind on some work that the only ultimatum was to pull an all-nighter. Fast forward to about 4:00 a.m. I had finished everything I had due the next morning, but I had to be up by 6:30 anyway so I didn’t feel like going to sleep. I decided to browse Netflix for something to occupy myself when I found “Snowpiercer.” The 2013 South Korean Science Fiction film was only recently released in the states. It was written and directed by Bong Joon-ho; the same guy who did “The Host” which was the highest grossing Korean film. It starred Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, & Ed Harris. It’s a movie that grabs your attention right away, but an hour into it I fell asleep on my keyboard. I’ve been crazy busy, but I finally finished it this morning. Overall I really liked it. It’s a pretty intense movie and I wouldn’t get to attached to many of the characters. It’s like an entire season of Game of Thrones wrapped up into two hours. For a movie that’s almost entirely action driven, there’s a lot of underlying themes throughout the movie that make you think long after the movie’s over. It currently has a 7 on IMDb and a 95%  on rotten tomatoes. If you get a chance, check this movie out if you like intense action sci-fi movie. I think this is my first suggestion that’s currently on Netflix. So check it out before they take it off! 

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Nightcrawler

There’s a lot of things I like about going to college on a small campus. Because there’s usually nothing to do here we tend to watch a lot of movies. Since I’m a huge movie buff I love this. There’s nothing better than taking over a dorm to share one of your favorite obscure movies. I didn’t realize however, how much I missed going to the movies until I went home over fall break. I had forgotten what it was like to have the option to see any new movie you wanted. Luckily I happened to be hanging with one of my fellow indie loving friends and we decided to see “Nightcrawler.” If you’re not familiar with the film, “Nightcrawler” follows Jake Gyllenhaal’s character as he discovers how to be a successful news stringer. I just want to say I really liked this movie. Everything about it just works. Gyllenhaal gives an amazing performance. Part of the reason his acting blew me away might be because that very morning I came downstairs to find “Prince of Persia” (2010) playing in my living room. I knew he was the better than that role, but to see him in something like this really caught me off guard. You really can’t tell at first, but there is something off about his character Louis Bloom. He’s engaging and social with a lot of determination right from the beginning, but there’s something you don’t like about him. I don’t want to give anything away, but Bloom is not a moral protagonist; and the entire time he makes you uncomfortable. This is the directorial début for Dan Gilroy who wrote the screenplay as well. The film also stars Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed, and Rene Ruso.

The Indie Horror Film

Horror movies have an interesting place in the indie world. A horror film fits neatly into its own category, but some have way bigger budgets than others, and that can’t be overlooked. Nowadays most horror movies typically have smaller budgets even when their backed by major distributers. They’re just not that expensive to make. They tend to focus more on the jump scares and gore and less on the story and acting. This means they don’t need to spend a lot of money on the script or quality actors. This wasn’t always the case though. In the early 1930s monster movies were all the rage & studios were dumping a lot of money into this booming genre. It was a different type of horror movie though. These movie had a message and defined character archetypes. Audiences eventually got tired with the often campy movie monsters and the genre seemed to die down after the early 40’s. It was revived however in 1968 with “The Night of the Living Dead.” Although mellow by today’s standards, this low budget zombie flick reinvented the horror film and inspired many decades of horror franchises. They were usually relatively low in cost to produce, but it wasn’t until 1999s “The Blair Witch Project” that people realized just how low budget a horror movie can be and still be watched by the general audience. Not a particularly good or scary movie, “The Blair Witch Project” is remembered for making the found footage film popular. That annoying shaky camera thing you see all the time wasn’t always a thing until filmmakers realized how much cheaper it is to make a movie that way. Now we’re even starting to see it cross over into other genres with films like “Into the Storm” (2014) and “Earth to Echo” (2014).

A Most Wanted Man

I noticed that for the last few movies I reviewed I gave really good reviews. Just so you don’t think I like every indie movie today I will be reviewing a movie that I didn’t like. It was a Friday night and we had planned on seeing “Edge of Tomorrow” at the AMC in the mall (which was actually a great movie when I saw it later). When one of my friends, after voicing his outward hatred for Tom Cruise, informed us that he was going see a different movie by himself. Not wanting to leave him alone we said we would join him in whatever he wanted to see. So we hopped in his cramped two-door and drove over to the Drexel, our local Independent theater. And that’s how I saw “A Most Wanted Man”.
I was the only other one who knew of the movie and I had wanted to see it anyway. I was excited that we got to see an indie movie for a change, even if it meant that the new Tom Cruise movie would have to wait.
Don’t get me wrong this was a good movie. It currently has a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and if you like methodical spy thrillers you should definitely check this one out. It reminded me of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011) and “The Debt” (2010) in that it creates tension slowly with a lot on long drawn out scenes. For me at least, it just took too long to get into the heart of the plot. The entire time it kept building towards something big and I felt that the ending didn’t give us enough.
It starred Philip Seymour Hoffman; his first movie to come out after his death. As always, he gave an amazing performance. He completely stole every scene he was in. Rachel McAdams also starred in the film and gave a surprisingly good performance as well. The film also had Willem Dafoe and Grigoriy Dobrygin and Robin Wright.
Again, this was a good movie my standards, I just didn’t care for it that much. But if you like slow building spy thrillers I definitely think you should check this one out. Currently the only way you can watch this movie is if you buy the DVD or watch it on Amazon, but it seems like a movie that would end up Netflix instant streaming so keep an eye out.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Today I will be reviewing this year’s highly rated The Grand Budapest Hotel. This is the most recent film by writer director Wes Anderson. If you know anything about Wes Anderson films you know that they are very clever unique and surreal; and the GBH is no exception. It stays right in line with Andersons previous works. It even has a lot of the same little bits that his other films have. For instance, there’s the long shots of characters running, shots of characters reading, POV shots from cars, Bill Murray, a Wilson brother, and for some reason an animal has to die in every movie starting since the Royal Tenenbaums (2001). I would argue however, that all of his films have slowly been enhancing his style and he has finally perfected it, or at least gotten the closest, with the Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Film follows Zero, a lobby boy working at the Grand Budapest Hotel, and his adventures with M. Gustave the hotel’s concierge. It’s set in the early 1940’s, on the cusp of WWII. The entire time you’re watching this film you’re trying to figure out what genre it is. At times it’s hilarious, and the characters act like they would if they were in a comedy. Other parts make you think it’s a love story, as we follow Zero and his love Agatha. At the same time there’s a lot of intense and very sad scenes and the movie kind of ends on a sad note, leaving the audience with a bit of an empty and melancholy feeling. Because it was birthday on Saturday I got to choose the movie and I picked this one. My friend said it best, “if you can get past the scarring parts, it was a really good movie.”

As a warning I should mention that even though this film got an AIII on the Catholic news service movie list it might not be appropriate for all ages with one or two questionable scenes thrown in the middle. However it is still a great movie and if you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, or want to start being one, I suggest you check this one out. It stars Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, and Saoirse Ronan. It also features Jude Law, F Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Murray.

Mud (2012)

Today I will be reviewing 2012’s indie drama “Mud”. Directed by up-and-comer Jeff Nichols, the movie follows Mud, a wanted fugitive played by Matthew McConaughey, and the relationship he forms with two boys who find him hiding on an island. When we first meet Mud we don’t know what to think of him. He’s very mysterious and vague and seems to have a good grasp on things, but at the same time he’s living in a boat that’s stuck in a tree. He seems to contradict himself like this throughout the movie. He enlists the help of the two boys Ellis and Neckbone, to help him fix his boat and reunite with his lost love. Throughout the movie you’re constantly trying to figure out if Mud truly cares for the boys or if he’s just using them to escape.

Who would have thought that the guy who starred in “How to lose a guy in 10 days” could give such a magnetic performance, but he created this character that’s so unique you don’t know if you should love him or hate him. The two boys, played by Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland, also gave really good performances; especially considering the fact that this was virtually their first movie. I enjoyed this film and would definitely recommend it, even if seemed to drag on some times. The fact that it doesn’t have many comedic breathers makes it seem longer as well. The film also stars Michael Shannon and Reese Witherspoon. You can find this movie on Netflix instant streaming or on Google Play.

Safety Not Guaranteed

I hate whenever anyone asks me what my favorite movie is. For me it’s an impossible question to answer. I think one of the best ways to get to know someone is by finding out what films they like, but for me at least, there’s no one movie that I can place above the rest. Still, the question is asked and so there’s a few movies that I throw out in a rotation. One of them is Safety Not Guaranteed. Even if I can’t claim this is the best movie ever, it IS still one of my favorite movies. Released in 2012, the film follow Darius, a depressed intern working at a magazine company played by the very talented Aubrey Plaza. She and two other reporters( Jake Johnson from New Girl and Karan Soni from the IBM commercials) set off to answer a peculiar news ad in hopes of getting a good story. The ad reads “Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety Not Guaranteed.” This was an actual ad someone took out as a joke and it inspired the movie. This is a clever, touching movie that was well received when it came out, even if it wasn’t seen by many people. Up until last week you could find it on Netflix but unfortunately it’s been removed. If you get the chance stream it from Amazon or Google Play because it’s definitely worth watching. It also stars Mark Duplass and a great soundtrack featuring Guster and the Arctic Monkeys. This was also the directorial debut for Colin Trevorrow. If you haven’t heard of him you will soon. He is directing the next Jurassic Park installment Jurassic World, which hits theaters June 12th 2015.