Silence (2016)

It’s 17th Century Japan and Christians are not liked. If you even closely identify yourself as a Christian or appear to be one who practices that religion, consider yourself dead. Among those who have been killed, many of them are priests who traveled from Portugal to Japan. Their goal: to spread the word of Christ while trying to help out the Japanese citizens who were secretly following the faith. Stuck over there is Father Ferraira (Liam Neeson), a mentor to the priests who are in Portugal. He is also someone who is highly respected in Catholicism. Two priests in Portugal decide they need to go to Japan to rescue Father Ferraira and bring him back home. Father Garupe and Father Rodriguez (Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) take the trip to Japan to attempt to carry out this mission. However, as soon as they arrive they quickly discover that they are not welcome and must lay low while trying to find Father Ferraira.

For a film that Martin Scorsese has been pushing to make for nearly three decades now, all I have to say is that it’s about time. For whatever reason this movie was not being picked up by anybody and after so much time of trying, he was finally able to make it work and has created one of the more emotional films he has made in a long time. Silence will quickly become one of the better religious epics that we will see. Scorsese is someone who is very religious, so it’s understood as to why he wanted to make this movie so badly. Religion is one of his passions something that he holds very dear. Silence is a movie that is nearly three hours long, and even though it is slow-moving, it really seems to go by quickly. That is because it is so interesting and intriguing.

I believe it goes without being said that Andrew Garfield is slowly, but surely becoming one of the major names of Hollywood acting. Let’s try and forget his role as Spider-Man and focus on good roles he has done. Like 99 Homes. Garfield has truly risen to the top of his form in Silence and there could be a chance that he becomes Scorsese’s next Leo. That might be too high of praise, but the guy was definitely was unbelievable in this and I really hope there is some consideration for an Oscar nomination. I think you could almost say the same thing about Adam Driver. Although he is just starting to really expand on his acting career now that HBO’s, Girls is coming to an end, he really shines in the movies he is in. I really believe we are going to be seeing much more work from him and that is something I’m happy about.

Silence to me is easily one of the best films of the year and I hope it gets the recognition that it deserves. What else can you really expect from Scorsese? The man has been my favorite director ever since I discovered that good movies existed. It is a really dark, but powerful film that is a must-see for all movie lovers. In addition to the outstanding acting and exhilarating storyline, Silence is a movie that will never be forgotten and may be Scorsese’s best film since The Departed. The great thing about his movies is that you pretty much know what you’re getting and that is a great film. What intrigued me the most about Silence is that it will affect people in many different ways. While it may cause some controversy, I think it will actually be something that people understand no matter what religion they are. It is not the type of religious flick that caters to one audience, and that is what the most interesting thing about it is.

Overall, Silence delivers on everything that it wanted to present. This is the most passionate and emotionally powerful film that we have seen from Scorsese since The Last Temptation of Christ. This is a film I cannot praise enough and despite how long the move is, it is absolutely one that you need to see.

Grade: A

The Girl On The Train (2016)

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) rides on the train all day long to New York City and back. Rachel has a lot of time on her hands and she likes to spend all of her time pretty much just drinking herself to the point where she blacks out. While on the train she loves to stare at a couple, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott (Luke Evans), outside the train window. Things start to get crazy when Rachel see’s Megan one day with another man who isn’t her husband. To make matters worse, Megan goes missing and it looks like Rachel may be the main suspect. Why is that? Well, because Rachel’s ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife live two doors down from Megan and Scott. Rachel constantly shows up drunk all the time and is extremely forgetful, so it’s easy for everybody to kind of point the finger.

When first hearing about this movie it seemed like it was going to be really cool and be an exciting thriller. Sadly, The Girl On The Train tries everything in its power to live up to the hype that 2014’s Gone Girl had. The problem with this movie is that it tried too hard to be the thriller that it was made out to be. The Girl On The Train was pretty much a disaster in my opinion. I thought the story just got way too goofy and it never really went anywhere. For most of the movie we are just seeing Rachel feel sorry for herself and make herself out to be an awful, drunken person. This movie just seemed way too desperate to actually be a solid film. For a majority of the film you pretty much just feel bored and check your watch, which is never a good thing.

The cast is actually really solid. I’ve always been a fan of the work that Emily Blunt does, but the problem here is that she should have not done this movie. Blunt was on-screen for pretty much 95 percent of the movie, but her character just became boring and nothing more. And she’s not the only one that’s the problem here. Actors like Luke Evans were even pretty bad in this. I think that’s another reason why this movie could not be saved. When hearing a movie has a solid cast I usually get very excited, like I was when I found out who was in this. The problem is that nobody could work well together and the chemistry was just not there with any of them. This is one that Blunt is going to have to put behind her career wise and move on to better things.

The whole entire time you’re watching this film and just waiting to see when something exciting is going to happen, but that moment never comes. Once you figure out the “crazy” twist that occurs, you kind of look around and say that was stupid. I thought for a while maybe if the film finished strongly then it could be a solid movie, but sadly this did not happen and we’re left with pretty much another crappy movie. Everything about this is way too dull. For a movie that comes off as such a strong thriller, there has to be some either suspenseful moments or moments that are super tense. The Girl On The Train provides none of that. This movie had a ton of promise, but fell very short of being anything that could even be memorable. This the problem when a movie tries to somewhat play copycat off a classic, like Gone Girl.

Overall, The Girl On The Train is not just a disaster from start to finish, but more importantly a waste of your time. Movies like this are one’s to avoid, and even with a solid cast this movie could not be saved. It has poor writing, directing and a storyline that never knows how to come together. This is easily one you can skip.

Grade: D

Fargo (1996)

A car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is in a place where he is extremely desperate for money. What does he do? Hire two thug criminals by the names of Carl and Gaear (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife for ransom and then collect the money from his extremely wealthy father-in-law, Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell). Paying the thugs a small portion and keeping the rest in order to satisfy his debts. Everything seems to be going according to plan until deaths start occurring from this. This is when pregnant police officer, Marge (Frances McDormand) shows up and is trying to figure out exactly what is going on.

After flipping through channels I noticed that this was on and decided to write a review about it. Fargo is the type of movie that has an enormous following from people. It’s essentially a cult classic from the 90’s. Fargo is not only funny, but it is all around a nearly perfect movie. Even though the movie is as gruesome as it is, the Coen brothers keep you laughing throughout the entire film. You would think this movie would be a comedy, but it’s actually a crime-thriller that works both ways. Fargo is the type of movie where as soon as you turn it on, it’s nearly impossible to not get sucked in and be stuck watching it. A good thing about that though is that it not only means it’s a great movie, but the film is also relatively short, so it’s an easy watch.

The Coen brothers have a great way of displaying the Minnesota world for us, and they do it by adding humor that not only works, but excels with how dark this movie actually is. This is without-a-doubt the best work I have personally seen from the Coen’s and it was deserving of every award it has won. The writing, the scenery, and not to mention the acting is just nothing short of pure excellence. Frances McDormand has given the role of her lifetime in Fargo and she was without-a-doubt deserving of the Oscar she won. The character development that the Coen bros. give us as well as the climax just fall into a perfect balance that exceeds any type of expectation one would have. Fargo just somehow gets better every time you watch it. This black comedy is like no other and will probably go down as one of my favorite films of all time.

Joel and Ethan Coen have this mentality with movies where they like to throw everything out there and hope that things start to stick together. Fargo is a movie where this not only worked for them, but worked wonders for them as directors. It seems like from this point forward their careers really started taking off and they’ve made movies that are memorable just like this one. Another thing that makes Fargo so exciting and enjoyable is that it has scenes that are so tense and suspenseful. I promise you are going to laugh throughout the entire film, but you will also be on the edge of your seat while watching this. What the Coen bros. crafted here is a beautiful piece of dialogue with acting and writing that will instantly make you fall in love with it. Now it is understood why we have seen great films from them after the release of Fargo.

Overall, Fargo is the masterpiece that is arguably one of the best films of all time. It’s strange, suspenseful, humorous, and incredibly dark at times, but it all comes together and works incredibly well. With outstanding writing, directing, acting, and dialogue, Fargo is a movie that has to be on the list of movies to see.

Grade: A

La La Land (2016)

Mia (Emma Stone) is working at a coffee shop in Warner Bros. Studios and is feeling like she is a failed actress. She constantly goes to different auditions and never receives a call back. All she is hoping for is that one big break so she can land a major role. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who’s only dream is to one day own his own jazz club. However, jazz music seems to be becoming less and less popular, so he is kind of out of luck with this one. Sebastian spends his time playing household tunes at a local restraint where he works for tips. While playing at a restraint, he catches the eyes of Mia and the two suddenly fall for one another. While Sebastian and Mia both have huge hopes and dreams, the longer they stay together, the more they begin to fade in different directions.

Usually when I find out I am going to see a movie that is a musical I get somewhat worried because they are either hit or miss. Luckily La La Land works in every way and is pretty much a perfect movie. It is the kind of movie that is not only fun and entertaining, but as soon as the singing and dancing stops and the people start talking it is just as entertaining and exciting. La La Land is just a very happy movie, and it’s as simple as that. It is the type of movie that does not come around all that often and there is no doubt in my mind that this will be a serious contender for best picture, if it not already has the award wrapped up.

There’s a lot more to La La Land then it just being your happy musical movie. This film shows you all of the great things the world has to offer you and also the hard realities that people sometimes have to face. After watching this movie you have a lot of hope with your future life endeavors. It’s movies like this that leave a special place in your heart because it makes you feel like you can do anything you want with your life and things will work out. Director, Damien Chazelle definitely loves his jazz music and we understood that when he made Whiplash, but he takes it to a whole different level here. And what you see from Stone and Gosling is pure magic. The chemistry these two actors have together is something that I can’t wait to see again. The way their characters intervened with each other and developed with one another is something that I love when watching a movie.

As mentioned above, there is no way this movie does not get loads of Oscar nominations because it’s already killing it with Golden Globe nominations. I would not be surprised if this wins everything that it is nominated for. This is the first movie of 2016 that I have seen where I can say it was perfect. Not to mention the scoring of this film is unbelievable. The choreography, cinematography and directing are just as superb as the acting. If you are a fan of film then you will love this movie. If you are a fan of film and not musicals, you will still love this movie. Everything that Chazelle did with La La Land all fell perfectly in place and works wonders for the audience. After much time and thought about this movie, I will be incredibly shocked if it does not win Best Picture.

Overall, La La Land is the type of movie that is a must see. It delivers on everything you would want to see form a movie. With great directing, superb acting, excellent writing, and exciting songs, La La Land works in every single way and is the perfect movie of 2016. Chazelle is at the top of his form with this one.

Grade: A

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Former scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones). Galen and his wife are just trying to raise their daughter and have her grow up in a peaceful environment. That is until everything spirals out of control and the evil Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) takes him away from his family. After many years have passed, Galen is now the Empire’s lead engineer for the most dangerous weapon the galaxy has to offer, the Death Star. Knowing her father is the only one who knows how to destroy the Death Star, Jyn joins forces with Diego (Cassian Andor) and a Droid by the name of K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) to fight against the resistance and give “Hope” to the Empire.

When people ask me about Star Wars films and if is necessary to watch the others before watching a new one; I always respond with yes. Only for the obvious reason of being able to fully understand the story and follow along as it goes. After seeing Rogue One, I can gladly tell you to not worry about seeing other Star Wars films before this one. Even though this movie is essentially a prequel to A New Hope, it still acts as a standalone movie, which is one of the major reasons why this film succeeded in every way. Starting a franchise with now eight films may seem incredibly intimidating to someone who isn’t a movie nerd, like me, but I strongly believe that after seeing Rogue One you will happily look forward to watching A New Hope.

Rogue One is the new standalone film of the Star Wars franchise that we have not been used to seeing. Gareth Edwards gave us a film that often became dark and depressing, but still provided us with enough action to leave the theater more than impressed. The casting was great and I especially liked how much of Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO droid reminds us of C3PO with the humor. It would have been nice to see more of Mendelsohn as a character because he is just incredible in everything he is in, but we have to take what we’re given here. Jones really impressed me with her lead character because I wasn’t all that sure this was the right role for her considering others where she’s been the lead or somewhat of a lead character. Gladly she pulled this off and was fun to watch. I was all for Riz Ahmed being casted in this movie after seeing his performance in The Night Of, but he is not very memorable because his scenes are limited in Rogue One.

From the beginning of the movie they let us know that this was going to separate itself from the “Star Wars Movies” to the “Star Wars Stories.” Rogue One leaves you with a mark of its own and even though it is not the “fan pleaser” that The Force Awakens was it still should be more than satisfying to any Star Wars fan. This film is one that even if the other Star Wars movies do not exist, you could leave saying that was a really good movie. And that’s exactly what I love about this movie. The fact that we can put this movie by itself and it is becoming just as much of a success as other Star Wars films is something that is making me very excited for what is happening with this Star Wars franchise. Seeing what’s in store for the next “Star Wars Story” movie is something that I really look forward to and if it’s anything like Rogue One, it will be an awesome flick.

Overall, Rogue One is intriguing, exciting and at often times dark, but still delivers on what you would want to see from a Star Wars film even though its stands by itself. Rogue One is filled with well-written and well-acted characters that leave you with probably the most memorable Star Wars film to date.

Grade: A

All Good Things (2010)

Not quite The Jinx, but still could have been better.

Heir to his father’s real-estate dynasty, David Marks (Ryan Gosling) meets a young girl named Katie (Kirsten Dunst). Katie see’s David for who he really is in life, and not just for the money that he comes from. After David and Katie marry, they plan on starting a great life together and having a family. Soon enough their marriage begins to become worse and worse and slowly fall apart. After Katie disappears, eyebrows raise when people think that David could be behind this. Now people are starting to realize that there may really be something wrong with David.

All Good Things came out a few years before The Jinx, so I figured since I loved that so much I had to give this a look. I’m kind of sorry that I did because there is absolutely no comparison between the two whatsoever. This film is not only boring throughout, but they wait to get into all the detailed stuff of what Durst did at the end. All Good Things is a movie that really disappoints and it is clear as to why director, Andrew Jarecki felt that he needed a second shot to get this story right. What really attracts me to this is that the story is so interesting and you don want to know that this story is told and that justice is served. All I would change with this movie is the pace it is told at. As mentioned above, Jarecki waited far too long to really get to how dangerous and messed up Durst really was.

The acting in this movie is something I would like to talk about as well. I really did not think that Ryan Gosling was the right person for this role. At first I maybe thought that it was going to work out, but as they got to the scenes where Durst was aging, it showed that it just did not work. Not to say that Gosling is not a good actor, but nonetheless, I feel as if there were far better options for this film. Dunst was somebody who I can’t really get a grip on with this movie. Her character was really weird and I could not fully figure out how the character was meant to be played so it is a little hard for me to give an opinion in her. And then on top of those two, Jarecki decides to throw Nick Offerman in there and that really just throws me off because he is only Ron Swanson in my eyes. The entire film just had a really odd cast and it’s really hard to try to convince yourself that they go well together.

All Good Things must come to an end, and that is how you really feel about this movie. Not that it is an awful movie, but it is just one that you say, okay let me see what else is on. If this is a story that you are interested in then it is worth checking out. After seeing The Jinx I knew that I had to eventually watch this movie, but I did not quite expect it to be as disappointing as it was. What you really want to see out of this movie is the direction that it is aiming to go, and there is no way of really telling where it is going to go if you are not familiar with the story. I feel as if Jarecki wasn’t quite sure how he wanted to tell the story of the Durst family with this movie. He got it right the second time with The Jinx, but definitely not in this movie. All Good Things is just a movie that tells an interesting story, but goes absolutely nowhere and leaves you thinking how things could have possibly jumped from one thing to the other.

Overall, All Good Things doesn’t tell the story of Robert Durst like we want it to, but at the end of the day there is still enough energy from this movie for it to be tolerable. And I said, not quite The Jinx, but we will deal with it.

Grade: C

Blair Witch (2016)

Twenty years after Heather Donahue went missing in the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland, new video footage surfaced of her death. Her brother and his friends decide that they want to go do a little exploring in the woods to find out where this video was found, and also if there is a chance that Heather could still be alive. Not only are they interested in seeing if Heather is still alive, but they also would like to find out if this Blair Witch stuff is a bunch of hocus pocus or if the witch is real and does haunt those woods. After spending a few nights in the Burkittsville woods, they all eventually find out what it was they were really looking for.

The original Blair Witch Project is without-a-doubt one of the all-time classics of the horror genre and there is no way that is going to change. That is why when you hear they are doing some sort of remake with this movie you think that it will be a total disaster given the fact that this is just how these things work. Sadly, if you predicted this movie to be a disaster, then you are absolutely right. The Blair Witch Project introduced the found-footage idea for a movie and it really excelled at doing that. Unfortunately this is now becoming a very common thing with horror movies and after having the feeling that this has to go, Blair Witch really reassured me. Not to say that it has not worked in the past with horror movies, but enough is enough. This was one of the major issues I had with this film, but another one that I can’t wrap my mind around is why they decided to make this movie. The answer is simply to make money. People need to start understanding that you can still make a lot of money even if the movie is good.

Blair Witch seemed like it did not try hard at all to be a good film and it definitely showed. After the original film having such success, you would think that in order to make this movie it would have to be as good or almost as good. As predicted, it falls short of even coming close to the original. And also, horror movies can still be bad and have enough frights in it to really scare you, but that is another problem about this movie. It just is simply not all that scary. I think the entire film was predictable from beginning to end, especially the scares. You could see everything coming from a mile away and it really put a damper on the film. After a good while of knowing this movie was going to be made, I was really excited to see it. This is just one that you really should skip and never watch. It is one of those remakes that makes you wish the first film was nonexistent.

The major problem with this movie is that it was just completely unnecessary to make. I understand that these studios want to make money and all, but you’ve got to be kidding me with this one. This was nothing, but a poor excuse of a movie. Now I want to talk about the similarities between both films. Everything about this movie makes you feel like you are rewatching the original film, but the reboot is just terrible. They went for the exact same thing because they felt they needed this movie to be a crowd pleaser, which it was far from. You just feel like nothing is different with this movie and they never try anything new. How much longer are we really going to be able to put up with these crappy, horror remakes and reboots? It is the same song and dance with all of these movies and Blair Witch is another perfect example of why these kinds of movies never work well.

Overall, Blair Witch was only made with one intention in mind, which is try to make as much money as the studio can and not care if this is a terrible movie. That is all you see and get from this movie. Nothing about it is different or even scary for that matter. If you have already seen this film then you understand, but for those that haven’t, this is one you should absolutely skip.

Grade: D