Thursday, October 31, 2013

Great Expectations: November 2013

Marvel and Disney may have done a great job with The Avengers franchise, as a whole, but there are very few sequel-meriting movie characters that I have come to despise as much as Thor. It could be Chris Hemsworth's portrayal of the character. It could be the fact that he doesn't fit in with the other Avengers. It could even be because of those long, flowing locks, featured in the picture above. Regardless, I don't like him, and I don't really expect my opinion of him to be changed by the upcoming Thor: The Dark World. The movie would be way more interesting if it centered on Loki or Heimdall or whoever it is that Mr. Echo is playing! I mostly just want us to all take a moment to realize that Marvel is not quite perfect, and, even though I will be watching Thor: The Dark World, I highly doubt it will live up to the previous three Disney-made Marvel films (Captain America, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3), each of which were absolutely amazing. Here are the films that I am actually looking forward to in November:

Last Vegas
(November 1)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
(November 22)
Delivery Man
(November 22)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Don Jon


Joseph Gordon Levitt has quickly become one of my favorite actors, and, from seeing him interviewed and watching him on hitRECord, I'm pretty sure he may be one of the nicest guys in show biz. I remember watching him on the red carpet, at the Oscars this year, and he was so star struck, because he got to meet Dustin Hoffman. This guy has been in the business since he was a kid, and he still has a great appreciation for great artistry of all kinds. With all that being said, my expectations were kind of high (and extremely hopeful), as JGL made his directorial debut. I don't know why, but I like to think that I have some sort of connection with JGL, and his success or failure is more personal to me than that of many other actors or directors (I'm sure he feels the same way about me!). There are just some actors, athletes, musicians, etc... that I like to think of as my friends. Examples: Jimmy Fallon, Steve Carrell, Aaron Sorkin, Brad Paisley, AWOLNATION, and on and on and on. Honestly, the topic of Don Jon didn't matter to me. I just wanted to see what Joseph Gordon Levitt could do, because we're such great friends and all...

Well... Don Jon is not a family film. That's for sure! In the beginning, I couldn't tell if the film was meant to be dramatic or if the entire thing was just making fun of addictions, specifically those of a sexual nature. However, as the film went on, a heart was found underneath all of that talk of pornography and chick flicks. Unfortunately, I didn't really care for the storyline, as it just left me unsatisfied throughout. There weren't really any negatives that I could point out, but it just lacked any sort of WOW moment that you want in a film. Maybe JGL just went a little bit overboard with the artistic presentation, missing an opportunity to tell a reflective, dramatic story. Also, the ending fizzled into a boring mess, which was quite disappointing.

Although Jon wasn't a typical JGL character, there was no doubt that the character was written by him for him. Was it a flawless performance?... No. But, I did enjoy the character. The best part of the film, in my opinion, was the family dynamic, which I didn't really expect to play such a huge role in the life of JGL's arrogant character. Without that family aspect, I don't know that I would have enjoyed the film at all.

Julianne Moore's Esther was probably the most awkward character of the year... Not the worst, but definitely awkward... At first, I didn't understand why she mattered, and, then, she started to connect with me, and, then, I was just baffled. Her character may have been intentionally awkward, but I think she could have been used in a better way throughout. Another character that was misused was Jon's sister, Monica, played by Brie Larson. There was no doubt that she was going to have a big moment, at some point in the film. Unfortunately, that moment came and went awkwardly and unnecessarily.

Jon's parents, played perfectly by Glenne Headly and Tony Danza, made the film at least ten times better, all by themselves. The hilarity was absolutely great, and I just wanted them to be in every single scene of the film. I haven't seen Headly in much, but she gave one heck of a performance in Don Jon.

Typically, I'm not overly critical of particular aspects of films, because I'm not really educated enough to pick them apart, from a technical manner. However, I found myself really analyzing every aspect of Joseph Gordon Levitt's directorial debut. Maybe it's because I consider myself a fan of his... Maybe it's because I have an appreciation for what he does as an actor and with hitRECord... Regardless, I guess I just expect a lot of him. So, here are some generic criticisms: (1) Some of the jokes fell a bit flat (not all of them). (2) The ending was quite dull, after the loud, crazy tone of the rest of the film. (3) Much of the character development was unclear. Luckily for JGL, I still love him and hope that he keeps it up. He has a long career ahead of him, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to see most of his work to this point. Don Jon may not be a classic, but it could be a classic's predecessor. I give Don Jon 2.87 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 6, 2013



During my freshman year of college, I took two astronomy classes, to satisfy my general science requirements in my degree plan. Most people just settle for a simple biology class, but I chose astronomy! A bit of an odd choice, you might say, considering that I am a business major. However, I have a strange, unexplainable fascination with space... not the Hollywood version of space, made possible by Star Trek, Alien, and Star Wars, but rather the simplistic version that you find in the backyard in your small, unlit town of 2,000 people, in southern Mississippi. It's about the real, awe-inspiring images and views that display the simple elegance of God's vast and beautiful creation. Few things are more elegant, and the university offered me the ability to learn about my fascination, while gaining useful credit hours. In fact, when I was young, it was my dream to become the "President of NASA" (or whatever its equivalent title may be). I remember telling people my dream, and they would immediately direct their discussion to my "obvious" desire to become an astronaut and go to outer space. I would entertain these comments with an "Are you crazy?" or a good ole "Heck No!". There is no way that I would EVER allow my own being to be shot into the sky at hundreds of miles per hour. That is insane! And, after watching the many nerve-racking trailers for Gravity, I was pretty certain that this film would solidify my lack of desire to be shot into space. Additionally, I thought it might decrease my desire to be shot into the movie theater, as it just looked boring. Then... the reviews! The only 2013 film that I have heard more praise about is Before Midnight, which I have yet to see. Honestly, I couldn't believe how well-received Gravity had been. Most films that rely heavily on a visual impression fail to succeed with some audiences, which is why I couldn't wrap my head around the 98% on the Tomatometer. So, in order to increase my understanding, I decided I should go watch Gravity.

Sometimes simplistic drama is better than the most complex film ever made, and Gravity utilizes that simplicity better than any film I've ever seen. Usually, I tend to hate films with very little dialogue and films with too big of an emphasis on visual effects, but that was not the case with Gravity. Scientifically, I don't know how likely all of the events in the film are to happen. I mean, I highly doubt this story has a chance of ever becoming true. I don't know if I've ever seen a film that involved so much good luck and bad luck, all within minutes of one another. Because of the extremities of the good and bad, I was on the edge of my seat, hoping for the best and expecting the worst. I apologize for my brevity in plot explanation, but I don't really know how to go about analyzing the storyline, without giving too much away to those of you who have yet to see the film. I will say that if you want something deep and confusing, go watch Prometheus or something. Gravity is perfectly simple enough to keep you entirely intrigued, while allowing you to appreciate the amazing visuals.

As expected, Gravity was a total Clooney-Bullock show, and both of them did a great job. Clooney's Matt Kowalski was basically real-life Clooney... but in space. On the other hand, Bullock's Ryan Stone was an amazing character who gave a perfect reflection of on-earth problems... but in space. I never expected the self-reflective moments that Stone brought on, as they were really special to watch. If Bullock truly earned an Oscar with her performance in The Blind Side, she deserves three for her performance in Gravity.

If I can tell you one thing, after watching Gravity, it's that I made a good decision to never, EVER pursue going to space. Don't get me wrong... it's great! But, I don't want debris flying at me at zero-gravity. That's insane! Nevertheless, because of my sheer fascination with space, Gravity's visuals were some of the most impressive that I have ever seen. I don't think I've been as impressed with a 3D experience since Avatar "blessed" us with such amazing technology. What made Gravity a bit more impressive than Avatar was director Alfonso Cuaron's ability to create such an amazing world, without actually creating a new world. Rarely do we see 3D movies that are grounded in reality. There was nothing in Gravity that felt unreal, aside from the fact that it was all happening at one time, and I think that's what impressed me the most. If you will go into the theater and allow yourself to truly experience Gravity for all that it is, I promise that your heart will begin to race, just as mine did. I give Gravity 3.76 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Great Expectations: October 2013

Historically (for me, at least), October has been one of the slower movie months of the year, trailing only January and September, which are terrifyingly slow. Luckily for us, that is not the case in 2013 (for me, at least, again). Not only is there an intriguing horror remake coming to the big screen, in Carrie, but there isn't a Paranormal Activity film coming out! Thank God! Actually, the number of horror movies surrounding the Halloween season is pretty slim for 2013, meaning that Carrie has an opportunity to really steal the show. Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick Ass, Hugo) is one of the most talented young stars in the business, so I can't wait to see what she is able to do with this classic character. Most importantly, however, October means that AMC's Fearfest is on its way! No horror is better than classic Jason, Freddy, and Michael Meyers, and we get 18 days of them this month. Be sure to check them out, starting October 14 on AMC.

Here is a look at some of the other films that I'm looking forward to this month:

(October 4)
Kill Your Darlings
(October 16)
The Fifth Estate
(October 18)