Monday, January 16, 2012


Directed by: Baltasar Kormakur
Written by: Aaron Guzikowski

To protect his brother in law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.

Mark Wahlberg is the man. He is always awesome in everything he is in, but I don’t always think his movies are great, including this one. Contraband was just an average film with average directing. 

Contraband was about an ex-smuggler brought back into the business when his wife’s brother owes a drug lord some money. The first portion of the film was him planning out the details of a heist. What really bothered me about this sequence was that he was discussing the heist in public open spaces around a ton of people. It did not feel like they were taking any precautions going into this and they make Mark Wahlberg’s character seem a lot smarter than an amateur move like this. Of course all of his friends in the film were idiots and the fact that he ever associated with these people seems extremely unlikely. I know its just nitpicking but it really stood out in my mind.

The drug lord, played by Giovanni Ribisi, was way over the top. I really liked Ribisi in Avatar. I thought he played the perfect smug docuhebag. But his past two roles, The Rum Diary and now Contraband, have felt over the top and almost feels forced on his part. I’d like to see him play another role where he dials down the crazy a little. 

Ben Foster has come into his own as an actor. I knew he would be a star ever since his role in Alpha Dog, which is an underrated film. Well now Foster has gotten some supporting roles on his resume and I would not be surprised if he takes the number one spot real soon, as he hits this role right on the head, playing a friend of Mark Wahlberg’s character.

The reason I am not using any of the characters names is because this film was very forgettable. Wahlberg was great in this film but nothing else stood out. To go along with mediocrity of this film, was the directing. It almost felt like a B film at times. Almost no tripod was used and when it was, the pans were jerky. A lot of shots went in and out of focus and the camera was moving around constantly. I guess I am just not a fan of this style. Luckily the script saved some of the directing with good dialogue and a nice twist thrown into the mix as well. This is still one that you can wait for HBO or Netflix to pick up.

Rating: 6//10

Friday, January 13, 2012


Directed by: Roman Polanski
Written by: Yasmina Reza & Roman Polanski

Two pairs of parents hold a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a fight, though as their time together progresses, increasingly childish behavior throws the evening into chaos.

Carnage may have been on the short side, running around 80 minutes, but it did stop the film from packing a powerful punch. A film full of passive aggressive behavior, violence, squabbling, crudeness, hissy fits, crying, chaos, and enough wit to make it all hilarious. To watch four of the world’s best actors lash at each other’s throats in the most civilized way they can was really something to watch.

The entire film takes place in a Brooklyn, NY apartment where two couples are discussing a way to resolve a fight between their two sons. They start off being very civilized and try to be as friendly as possibly while insulting each other passive aggressive cheap shots. Things start getting out of control, especially when the scotch gets taken out, and chaos ensues. What starts with couple vs. couple turns into man vs. women and then even husband vs. wife. It’s a train wreck, you can’t look away and you can’t help but to think that the adults discussing the aftermath of their sons schoolyard fisticuffs seems tame compared to a case of boys just being boys.

The acting in this film was great as well. Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet and John C. Reilly all played their characters perfectly. Three of the four already have little trophies for their acting and John C. Reilly shows that he deserves to have one as well. His character brought the greatest laughs. I always thought that John C. Reilly was a very underrated actor. I hate that he has been in garbage like Step Brothers because I think it is a waste of his talent. 

Everybody really was fantastic in this film. The film had a little bit of everything in it. I also have a soft spot for films that run in real time. I always think it is a talent to pull off a good film in real time. Go enjoy the chaos that is Carnage.

Rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Artist

The Artist
Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius
Written by: Michel Hazanavicius

Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.

I took a a silent film class this past semester and after a semesters worth of silent films none of them can compare to Michel Hazanavicius’s film The Artist. To be honest I really thought I was going to dislike The Artist since I was not a fan of the silent films of the 1920s. But this film that took place in the 1920’s had something that those films did not have. Production value. Wow, what a difference it makes when there are good special effects or something as simple as camera movement. I came out of the theater enjoying the film very much. 

The Artist is about George Valentine (Jean Dujardin), a silent actor, who does not adjust well to the talkies and Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), an upcoming dancer/actress, who fall for one another. Besides the film being a classic love story, it is also about the love of cinema. It was a homage to silent film, giving you trademark lightening sequences and classic silent comedy, but with a twist of modern production. I also thought there were small undertones that talking cinema is better than silent cinema, even though The Artist is a silent film in itself. 

Michel Hazanavicius should now be at the top of the international filmmakers list. He made a bold move making a silent film during an era were CGI reigns supreme. He made a relatively boring medium, very exciting. The shots he created were beautiful and the camera movements were well executed. He pulled off what seemed to be the impossible.

Jean Durjardin is another international star that may become a big hit in the states. He is typically a comic actor in France but gave a great middle ground between humor and drama in The Artist. He gave a extremely strong performance and is surely going to get a Oscar nomination. His co-star Berenice Bejo was also a wonder to watch as well. You were able to tell she had a fun time making the film and wasn’t too hard on the eyes either. 

The Artist was really something special. I would have never thought a silent film would command my attention like The Artist did. If you are lucky enough to have it come to a theater near you, take advantage and give it a viewing.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Dangerous Method

A Dangerous Method
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Written by: Christopher Hampton

A look at how the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud gives birth to psychoanalysis.

David Cronenberg completely changes gears to bring us A Dangerous Method, a film that explores the beginnings of psychoanalysis through the eyes of Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). The film begins with a powerful opening when Carl Jung’s patient, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly), comes into his hospital screaming and laughing hysterically. It completely grabbed my attention but after that slowly started to lose my grasp.

Keira Knightly gave her best performance to date. I don’t understand why she does not get casted more as she is a beautiful young talent. She gives us a role where she plays manic on the verge of psychotic. Keira was the bright spot of this film. Her character has the best narrative arc and she made her character grow throughout the film.

As splendid as Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen are and were in this film, there scenes together were rather boring. A flaw of the screenwriter, Christopher Hampton. He was also responsible for the script of the stage version of the film and it is rather obvious, as the film has a very theatrical feeling to it. The entire film was full of scenes where the dialogue wasn’t leading the narrative anywhere or developing the plot, and like I said before, was boring. 

Another flaw to the film was the structure as the story would jump forward in time two or three years. It made the film seem very unconnected. Their was no smooth transition from the past to the future. 

I always thought that a film with Freud in it would be a good idea, but A Dangerous Method did not live up to its potential. I would expect a Freud film to probe my mind a little more. The film is enjoyable and worth seeing for the spectacular performance from Keira Knightly.

Rating: 6.5/10