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film reel image

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Purge 2013 * 1/2 Stars

The PurgeDirector: James DeMonaco
Year: 2013
Rated R
Rating: * 1/2 Stars (Click the rating link to see Cole's on site rating)
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder

Written by Cole Pollyea

Considering that it is compiled by a series of hopeful themes concerning humanity, concepts of futuristic violence, and Ethan Hawke, you'd think that my "two words to describe this movie" (the movie being The Purge) would be something other than laughably bad. However, thanks to the totally inept way in which the director and screenplay writers brought this movie to life, those two self-explanatory words, yet again, don't stand corrected. Translation: it was a total botch-job. With every predictable plot turn this thing took, the ninety minutes in which its encased in grew even longer. As the movie progressed, and more characters were introduced, I seriously considered the fact that it may be a really dark comedy. However, when the closing credits rolled around, I realized the job of making The Purge was simply put in the wrong peoples' hands, and was just presented at the wrong time (I think most Americans are smarter than what this movie makes us out to be at this stage in the game, though I could be wrong).

Annually, there is one night devoted to a nationwide "Purge", meaning all crime is legal, because apparently this launched the United States almost totally out of all poverty, job issues, and crime in the near future. For Hawke's family, there should be no trouble making it through the night considering that his wealth is a result of him creating the ultimate safety home system for this particular reason. However, when the odds are put against his family, and their lives are questioned, what measures will they go to to survive?

The truth is, I really did the movie justice with that plot description. It's so predictable that it's not thrilling at all, and the fact that the movie
 even takes its own plot seriously made me go numb. What's disappointing about The Purge is the opportunity that it beheld. As opposed to exercising a well done story to a satisfactory extent, it comes off as a big tease. Whether I say that it's silly or a misfire, bad or awful, self realizing or oblivious, it doesn't really matter. The quality of the movie is dependant upon how closely the viewer examines it as a cinematic exercise. My advice is this: if you are looking to enjoy it, don't pull out your magnifying glass because you'll realize that you just wasted an hour and a half.

Written by Cole Pollyea

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 2013 * * * 1/2 Stars

The Secret Life of Walter MittyDirector: Ben Stiller
Year: 2013
Rated PG
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars (Click on the rating link to see Cole's on-site review)
Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott

Written by Cole Pollyea

I’ve endured years of watching Ben Stiller on the big screen. I’ve chuckled at his decent romantic comedies, I’ve enjoyed his voice work in animated films, and I’ve winced at the ones that needed work, but The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is his first movie that blew me out of my seat. To people who haven’t seen this motion picture, it is, understandably, nearly impossible to fathom the beauty of what inhabits the silver screen. Stiller made a movie that is utterly genuine. As an audience member, I haven’t been moved by the honesty of people and their actions as greatly as I was here since I saw Silver Linings Playbook

In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter is a humbled Life Magazine worker that faces a generational difficulty when a young hotshot comes in, takes control, and transforms the company into an online program. This results in the f
iring of many devoted, “old-fashioned” employees. Walter’s job, for the last print issue of Life, is to find a missing negative (photo) that would prevail as the cover photo. He embarks upon a journey, a real one, that allows him to break free of his obsessive daydreams (to which he has fallen subject to over the course of his life). 

Along with a simple, yet intricate screenplay and astounding visuals, Ben Stiller is what makes this film so candid. His character is so believable because it feels like he’s effortlessly playing himself on screen. In short, he comes off as a veteran actor here, capable of encasing any role and making it as personable as possible. As a director, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is, for the most part, a job well done. Though 
there is a sense of unsteadiness in the mood of the film as it progresses, and it feels like he hasn’t quite identified what makes his style of shooting his own. In a 114 minute vehicle, there is a large amount of visionary techniques that aren’t exercised to their fullest potential.

Moreover, despite this, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty clocks in as the third best movie of the year for me. Taking in all of what it has to offer: mesmerizing cinematography, an incredible story of self-discovery and real-world e
ncounters, exceptional performances, and an overall highly thought-provoking film, it’s fair to say that this exquisite, brilliant piece of art is the strongest chapter in Stiller’s book thus far.

Written by Cole Pollyea

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Top Ten Movie Picks for 2013

1. Elysium-The best film of the year, the best sci-fi film of the year, and the best action extravaganza of the year. Matt Damon shines and with this August release and 2009's District 9, director Neil Blomkamp creates beautiful, bad ass worlds in his endeavors. 

Star Trek: Into Darkness
2. Star Trek: Into Darkness-This is a sequel that doesn't feel like a sequel. It's its own movie. Exhilarating entertainment awaits at breakneck speed. The Enterprise never looked so shiny.

Captain Phillips

3. Captain Phillips (tie)-Director Paul Greengrass knows what it takes to make the most accurate, matter-of-fact film possible. Tom Hanks gives his usual, reliable performance in the lead role (Captain Phillips of course). He's a man who thinks of other people first and himself last. In truth, the first thirty minutes are brilliant in every way possible. With so much tension, your heart might just jump out of your chest.

3.Lone Survivor (tie)-Director Peter Berg directs a modern day war film that brims with gut-wrenching battle scenes coupled with brotherhood amongst ravished, hard up soldiers. Mark Wahlberg, appearing in three less inferior products in 2013, redeems himself here as the titled character, real life Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell.

4. About Time-A time travel movie in which almost everyone in it is likable and important. Sad toward the end but a feel good triumph for most of the way through. The time continuum elements aren't perfect. However, I'll give things a pass this time. From the makers of Love Actually but a better film overall than that disjointed romcom.

5. Snitch-As a film about drug dealing and a father's pursuit of freeing his son from prison, Snitch makes you believe that Dwayne Johnson can in fact, act. This vehicle has tension that ratchets with each searing minute. Watch for a final concluding car chase. It's good stuff!

Out of the Furnace6. Out of the Furnace-A movie that pretty much cements Christian Bale as possibly the best actor on the planet. This is a tightened crime drama about brotherhood and the yearning to make the best out of small town life. It's dreary, it's grubby, but it's rewarding. Out of the Furnace is "out of" this world good!

man of steel
7. Man of Steel-The first half alone puts this thing on the list. Man of Steel is a hard nosed, military-like re-imagining of a long running franchise. With a big cast and some big brawny ideas, this Superman is super indeed!

8. Prisoners-Jake Gyllenhaal as a disciplined detective, is perfectly cast in this intricate, dark crime drama involving missing children. With a long running time, plenty of rain soaked sequences, and a haunting ending, Prisoners as one of the year's best, will undoubtedly set you free.

9. The Counselor-Vintage Ridley Scott fashioning a slow burn of a thriller that for some reason, got a huge ribbing from critics across the country. I liked it for its weird sophistication, its metaphoric explanations among the characters, and its violence in the form of delectable art. As your movie attorney, I suggest you check it out right away. Oh and watch for Michael Fassbender in the lead. He's got heavy, heavy screen presence.

10. The Wolf of Wall Street (tie)-Bloated, messy, vial, disgusting. I loved it. Martin Scorsese tries out the concept of gross humor for a change. And with his cohort Leonardo DiCaprio (criminal stockbroker Jordan Belfort) on board, expect an emotional wreck of a performance. Scorsese brings all of his cinematic tools to the woodshed. Get prepared to be taken behind it.

10. World War Z (tie)-Brad Pitt takes on hoards of zombies in this exciting, intense flick that only bogs down in between the action scenes (the attack on human flesh in an airplane is a doozy). From the word "go," the harrowing events are set in motion. The final sequence involving a stare down between Pitt's Gerry Lane and an undead tooth grinder is a rollicking highlight. As a poster child for summer movie escapism, World War Z is entertaining to a "T."

Honorable Mention:  Don JonBroken City, 42, and You're Next. These are all solid films that didn't quite make the cut.

And the worst...

1. Movie 43-Every single star in the world participated in this "turkey" with dressing. They knew it was going to be bad when they signed up. Watching it, I felt that there was a sick joke being played on the audience. Awful.

2. Olympus Has Fallen-The ultimate Die Hard ripoff with Gerard Butler actually thinking he's Bruce Willis. Watching the action scenes in "Olympus," you'd swear you were looking at a video game. A lot of paper thin villains bite the proverbial dust.

3. Admission-The most misguided, icky film of the year. Paul Rudd had to have been held at gunpoint to star in this disaster. The dialogue coming out of his mouth will make you cringe at an alarming rate.

4. Gangster Squad-Loud, mean spirited action, limp acting, and no script. This 1940's crime caper was released in the month of January. Makes sense.

5. Scary Movie 5-The first one was funny but it's time to put this franchise to bed. You know things are bad when Jasmine Guy, who's the ultimate actress recluse, shows up toward the last half. And spoofing the Paranormal Activity movies is about as tired as the concept of hibernation.

Written by Jesse Burleson