The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

In 1971, Stanford University professor, Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) felt that it would be beneficial to the world for him to conduct his own little experiment. He conducted a very controversial psychological experiment which consisted of a group of college kids being chosen to work for two weeks and make fifty dollars a day. The students were chosen to be either prisoners or guards. Zimbardo turned the Psychology department floor into a fake prison. Zimbardo wanted to find out how these kids would actually react to something like this and how they would handle situations. What he soon realizes is that it gets way too out of hand with the guards and that they may be taking this a little too serious.

The Stanford Prison Experiment is a film that I have wanted to see for quite a while now and I am glad I did. The experience wasn’t that great, but I made it work anyway. Anyone who has taken a psychology course definitely knows what this experiment actually was and what took place. This movie takes an extremely authentic view at how crazy this experiment actually was. Did the experiment work? One could easily argue that it did and this film does a great job of showing how brutal this actually was and how all of the guards took this way too hard and really started to harm the prisoners. This is movie can be quite disturbing at scenes and all you want to do is beat the hell out of these guards.

The acting is pretty solid throughout the film. Everyone knows Billy Crudup from Almost Famous, but with this role he takes on something that seemed rather difficult to do. I thought he was easily the strongest actor that we see in this movie. That isn’t to say that everyone else was bad because that is absolutely not the case. I loved seeing guards such as Michael Angerano who is from Sky High. It is always funny seeing these kid actors grow up and take on roles like this. I will say that he was the second strongest actor that we see in this movie because he easily gave the biggest believable performance. Some of them I was a little iffy about, but he just convinced me in every way possible that he was taking that way too serious.

The Stanford Prison Experiment is definitely not a film that is for everybody because it is definitely hard to watch after the first half hour or so. If you are up to see people abused and bullied throughout an entire film, then be my guest and watch this, but also know that it is a very solid film. Not great, but it is definitely something that is well worth checking out. You could easily tell that this movie did not have a very large budget and it did not need one. It was perfect for what they needed and director, Kyle Patrick Alvarez did incredibly well for his third directed film and I would love to see more from him. If you can watch disturbing film and be fine during it, then I highly recommend checking this one out.

Overall, The Stanford Prison Experiment is incredibly disturbing, but still compelling at the same time. If you did not know much about the actually experiment, this movie does a terrific job of informing you just how brutal it actually was.

Grade= B+

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

High school senior, Greg (Thomas Mann) is the type of person who can’t really figure out what it is he wants from life or what to do in life. He mostly keeps to himself and does not want people to really know him all that well. He only really has one friend, Earl (Ronald Cyler II). He doesn’t even consider Earl to be a real friend. He thinks of Earl as an acquaintance because they make crappy foreign films together. One day Greg becomes informed by his mother that a classmate, Rachel (Olivia Cooke) has cancer and Greg’s mother wants him to start spending some time with her. Greg, against his will, agrees to do this for his mother. They never form a friendship in the beginning and that is because Greg is the most awkward human being ever. After some time passes, the two of them form a real friendship and Greg is not ready to accept that Rachel may actually be on the verge of death at anytime.

I have to admit that I really did not have all that much interest in seeing this film. I figured it was going to be another one of those movies that is completely ridiculous, predictable and even one that is way too big for its bridges. Thankfully, I was wrong about this one. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl does a lot to actually keep you interested and entertained throughout the entire film. For a movie with such an odd, but slightly interesting premise, this does a lot to keep you involved and it gives you plenty of enjoyment. Yes, the movie is definitely focused around a girl who is guaranteed death, but there was really nothing depressing about it. It wasn’t one of those movies that made you just feel bad about what was going on. They even added some humor in the mix.

I really liked the acting in this movie too. Thomas Mann has been someone I watched out for ever since Project X was released. Sure, I know what you are thinking. Why the hell would an insanely ridiculous movie like that be the one I choose to remember him by? That is exactly why I remembered him! Obviously this movie is way different from something like that, but he showed he can really act. I really enjoyed the performance he put on in this. The same goes for Olivia Cooke as well. I only know her from the television series, Bates Motel and I really like her in that, which made me believe that she was going to be good in this and I was absolutely right. Mann and Cooke are the one’s who deserve the spotlight for this film.

The best thing about this movie was that it wasn’t all about depressing thoughts of a young girl dying, but the lessons that life can teach you. Greg was struggling with his young adult life and getting ready to take the next chapter into college. This is something that a lot of people struggle with and I think that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl really touched on that well. There are plenty of movies that are like this that can often get on your nerves, but with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, you don’t feel that way at all. It tells a really good story about forming a friendship and the struggles one must face as a young adult preparing for adulthood. This is a film that I definitely recommend checking out sometime.

Overall, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is an interesting, entertaining and enjoyable small film that a lot of people will find interesting. While it is definitely not a masterpiece, it still does all that it can do please you and it works!

Grade= B

Welcome To Me (2015)

Here’s a new movie that was just recently released that I got a chance to see. I can’t wait until I hit the lottery. Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig), has borderline personality disorder. Alice hits the lottery and decides that she wants to spend it on what she always wanted in life: her own talk show on television. In this talk show, Alice will have no one else on the show besides herself and she will just talk about her life and her feelings. A lot of people think she is crazy for wanting to do this. Alice will pay whatever price the network wants for her to have 100 episodes. The whole entire show is completely ridiculous and everyone a the network understand that except for Rich (James Marsden). The network is failing and they need a lot of money and since Alice can pay for it, Rich will take whatever he can get. Problems start to arise when the show starts getting insane and she starts to forget about the people who mattered to her the most.

Welcome To Me is a nice, little indie film that actually surprised me and was a pretty decent film. This was a really brave move for Kristen Wiig. Taking on the role of someone who is mentally ill is really a tough task and she really pulled this one-off. Wiig turned the role of Alice into a funny, dark and often frightening character. That just shows the good acting from Wiig. That’s the whole thing about this movie. The acting is so good and the rest is kind of just whatever. The movie itself is just okay and I think it could have done a few things differently to make this a lot better than it was. I was really excited to see this movie and I left more disappointed than satisfied.

The acting we see in Welcome To Me is fine. I really like how there is some big time actors in this movie. We see some small appearances from Tim Robbin, who is one of my favorite actors of all time and we also see people like, Joan Cusack and Wes Bentley. To be truly honest, the acting is what really saved this movie because the premise is very goofy and extremely ridiculous. The movie itself was not all that great and the acting is definitely not to blame for it. Everyone we see in this movie are their usual selves, meaning that they were fine and delivered nice performances. So we can definitely say the acting wasn’t the problem with this movie because I think most importantly, Wiig gave an outstanding performance and nailed this role.

The reason this movie was not all that great is because it just could not put the missing puzzle pieces together. What I mean by that is the fact that nothing really came together by the end with what are some great actors. Welcome To Me left me very disappointed throughout most of the film. I think that it started off really well and then just kind of got completely messy and boring in the second half of the movie. If you are a person who likes to just sit down and watch a nice, little movie then this is one for you. Other than that, this is no more than an okay movie with some really good acting to try to hold it together. I do think this is one that you should check out, not only because of all its hype, but it can be somewhat enjoyable to watch at times.

Overall, Welcome To Me may not have all the pieces of the puzzle together and the only reason it was as good as it was is strictly because of the actors. Nothing more than an okay movie!

Grade= C (Okay)