Movie Review: Where Eagles Dare (1968)

Time to jump in the wayback-machine and review a “classic”. I only put quotations there to throw people off as to what my opinion could be, you’re gonna have to read it to find out what I think about it, you lazy bastards.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Where Eagles Dare”.

Set during the second world war, we follow a squad of British (and one American) soldiers as they make an attempt to infiltrate a nazi-filled castle and save an American general. So now we have our rescue operation. And is the plot any good? Yeah, I’d say so. What I like about it is that as they early during the movie get behind enemy lines, which helps give the movie an extra layer of suspense, since they have no real allies where they are, it’s all on their shoulders. There are also a few clever little twists and turns throughout, giving the plot a little extra unpredictability, which is something I really enjoyed. So yeah, the plot here is really good.

The characters here aren’t necessarily the deepest, but the few that we do have as our main leads I found to be quite entertaining. Richard Burton (R.I.P) plays Smith, a British army major with a few tricks up his sleeve. As we go through the movie we learn that he’s a tricky bastard who always seem to be one step ahead of everyone else. And Burton is great in the role. Then we have Clint Eastwood as Schaffer, an American lieutenant that has been assigned to Smith’s rescue squad. He’s basically an Eastwoodian stoic badass… which I have no problem with, as it creates an interesting contrast with the conniving Smith. And Eastwood is really good in the role. Then we have Mary Ure (R.I.P) as… Mary. She’s a British agent that the guys team up with during their mission. And she’s both intelligent and a badass. And Ure is really godo in the role. As for the other characters, they’re not really worth talking about, because they don’t quite have the same focus as the three I just talked about. But I can at least say that the supporting cast, containing people like Michael Hordern, Robert Beatty, Neil McCarthy, and Brook Williams, is great. ’tis a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Ron Goodwin and it’s pretty fucking great. It’s quite big and loud, opting for a more exciting a triumphant sound with no real subtlety in it. And it makes for some real ear candy as it helps add a lot of excitement throughout the movie.

This movie was directed by Brian G. Hutton (R.I.P) and I think he did a really good job here. I mentioned that the plot has a good amount of tension to it, but a lot of tension in this movie comes from Hutton’s direction, which really helps sell the frantic situation that our heroes have found themselves in. He also handled the action scenes very well, they’re really exciting.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

“Where Eagles Dare” is an exciting and very well crafted war movie. IT has a really good plot, okay characters, really good performances, great music, and really good direction. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Where Eagles Dare” is a 9,62/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Where Eagles Dare” is now completed.

Attacking a nazi castle? Is this Wolfenstein?

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Movie Review: The Brothers Grimm (2005)

Before we get into the review itself, I want to apologize for my absence for almost two weeks. First I was busy, and then I got really sick. But now I’m back! Woo!

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Brothers Grimm”.

Jake (Heath Ledger, R.I.P) and Will (Matt Damon) are a pair of brothers who travel from town to town, defeating demons for the people. And by defeating demons I mean that they set up a fake demon based on local folklore, “defeat it”, and then get paid by the people of those towns. But these dirty rotten scoundrels are about to come face to face with something they never thought they’d run into… a forest filled with actual magical creatures. So now we have our dark fairy tail. And is this plot any good? There’s a lot of good ideas here, but in the end it’s a fucking mess. At times it’s a comedy, at times it’s a horror movie, at times it’s a whimsical fantasy, at times a family drama. It creates an inconsistent and messy blend that doesn’t work.

The characters in this I can see the potential of, but we only ever skim the surface of them. Heath Ledger (May he rest in peace) plays Jake, one of the two titular brothers. He has a love of fairy tales, and often shows signs of believing in them (at least more than his brother). He’s also a little bit of an idiot and a coward. He’s probably the closest we have here to a compelling character. Though that could also be because Heath Ledger is really good in the role. Matt Damon plays Will, the second Grimm brother. He’s more or less the leader of the two, and can be a bit of a jerk at times. And his character is… meh. Damon’s good though. Then we have Peter Stormare as an Italian soldier that the brothers travel with through the movie. He’s a bit of an idiot and chews all the scenery. And yes, Stormare is glorious in the role. Then we have Lena Headey as Angelika, a young hunter that the brothers run into during their quest and eventually join forces with. She’s a no-nonsense badass with a mysterious past, and while that sounds interesting, it’s only surface-level. But Headey is really good in the role. And we get some okay supporting turns from people like Jonathan Pryce, Mackenzie Crook, Monica Bellucci, Richard Ridings, and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Dario Marianelli, and I think he did a good job with it. His score is bombastic, emotional, quirky, and even has a bit of a fairy tale feel to it. It somehow elevates the movie above it’s mediocrity. It’s almost too good for whatever the hell is on screen at any given time.

This movie was directed by Terry Gilliam and I have mixed feelings. On one hand, his direction really helps sell the fairy tale style and even builds a lot of atmosphere. But it is devoid of any real tension, despite being part horror flick. And the CGI in this movie, good fucking god… it’s awful. I can usually excuse a little bit of bad CGI, but when you have so many awesome practical sets/costumes/props, the bad CG gets quite distracting, especially when it’s as prominent as it is here.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 38% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 51/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,9/10.

While “The Brothers Grimm” has some good things going for it, I’d say it’s a bit too messy to recommend. It has a very messy plot, meh characters, good performances, good music, okay directing, and awful effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Brothers Grimm” is a 4,98/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Brothers Grimm” is now completed.

Feels good to be back.

Movie Review: What Maisie Knew (2013)

It’s really hard to know what’s actually going on within the mind of a child at any given time. It would be interesting to be able to just get a good look inside the noggin of a child and see what is happening in there… especially during strange/traumatic events. Not saying they should be exploited like that, just that it would be interesting to see how their mind might process these things.

Ladies and gentlemen… “What Maisie Knew”.

We follow Maisie (Onata Aprile), a six-year-old girl. Her parents (Julianne Moore & Steve Coogan) are going through an out-drawn and bitter custody battle over Maisie. So we basically follow Maisie journey through this custody battle, and we see how it affects her and her life. What I found interesting about it never leaves Maisie’s perspective. It’s less about the custody battle itself, and more about how Maisie looks at it and tries to sort of cope with all the weird changes that happen in her life. The perspective of the young child is fairly unique in these kinds of stories, and it gives the movie a very interesting and unique feel. It’s a plot that can be quite heavy, but it also doesn’t shy away from showing some of the happier moments in Maisie’s life. It’s good.

What I like about the characters here is that none of them are painted as an antagonist or a perfectly good person, but rather as flawed and fairly realistic human beings. First up we have Onata Aprile as Maisie, the titular girl who’s going through all of this. The best way I can describe her character is that she’s a child. She’s naive, but not stupid. She’s filled with joy, but she’s not happy all the time. She feels very realistic in terms of the situation. And Aprile is really good in the role. Then we have Julianne Moore as Maisie’s mom, Susanna. She’s a hot-headed and somewhat self-destructive musician. She loves her daughter, due to her being a bit hot-headed and egotistical, it creates a bit of a rift between her and the people around her, and it makes her quite a tragic character. And Moore is great in the role. Then we have Steve Coogan as Beale, Maisie’s dad. He’s an art dealer who is away quite a lot and very rarely finds time for his daughter. But he’s not a total ass about it, like some movies would portray him. And Coogan is really good in the role. Then we have Alexander Skarsgård as Lincoln, a man that Maisie’s mom more or less starts dating in the movie. He’s a pretty quiet man with a good heart, and is the closest to a full on “good guy” we have here. And it’s interesting to see his relationship with Maisie grow throughout the movie. And Skarsgård is great in the role. The final one we’re talking about is Joanna Vanderham as Margo, Maisie’s nanny and pseudo-bonus-mom. Kind of like with Lincoln, she is kind of the closest we have to a good person, as she cares more about Maisie rather than her own wants and needs. And Vanderham is really good in the role. Overall it’s a very well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Urata, and it was really good. It’s a relaxing and emotional piece that is clearly trying to capture the childlike innocence of Maisie and her perspective on the entire situation. And it really captures that feeling perfectly, creating a beautiful score that helps bring a lot of extra emotion to the movie.

Based on a very old novel by Henry James, this movie was directed by Scott McGehee & David Siegel, and I think they did a really good job with it. Just like with the plot and music, their direction here is from Maisie’s perspective, aiming to show us what this entire situation looks and feels like from her point of view. The camera work never really strays from Maisie, always keeping it within close proximity of her to sort of keep us close to her. She’s the important one, not the other people. And that perspective is captured very well. And the cinematography by Giles Nuttgens is pretty damn good too.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“What Maisie Knew” is a heartfelt look into a child’s life during a strange time. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “What Maisie Knew” is a 9,67/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “What Maisie Knew” is now completed.

I feel quite lucky that I’ve never had to deal with anything like this.

Movie Review: Annihilation (2018)

As much as I like big, action-packed, sci-fi movies, I do admit that I could take less of it in exchange for sci-fi flicks on the brainier side. Luckily for me, it seems like Alex Garland will be the one to provide those types of movies. So let’s talk about his latest.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Annihilation”.

After he husband seemingly goes missing, a biologist (Natalie Portman) signs on to a mission to explore this strange zone where everything has mutated. And as the biologist and her team goes into this zone, they soon experience a journey that is as scary as it is fascinating. So now we have our sci-fi plot. But it’s not just a “go and look at weird mutations” type story, as it’s a deep and layered exploration of a lot of mature themes. It’s difficult to talk about this plot without accidentally spoiling it, so I’m gonna stop explaining the plot here. But let’s just say that I found it all to be quite riveting. The only flaw I have is that it starts out quite slow. But it doesn’t really take anything away from the plot, at least not in the grand scheme of things, especially since it gets going soon enough. Sure, the entire thing is fairly slow-paced, but aside from the start, I don’t mind this slower pace. So overall I think this is a great plot.

The characters in this I will not go too in-depth with, as their development is best left experienced. But I do think most of them get really good development, whether it’s through what we see, or through a piece of dialog. In the core team we have Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny. And they all deliver really good performances. We also get Oscar Isaac in a supporting role as Natalie Portman’s husband, and Isaac is of course damn good in the role. Everyone’s good. ’tis a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow, and they did a really good job with it. The score here is very dreamlike, adding to the strange and uneasy feeling of the environment that the team are exploring. It also helps in building tension and emotion throughout. There’s also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well within their scenes.

Based on a novel by Jeff VanderMeer, this movie was written and directed by Alex Garland (as mentioned in the beginning of the post). And while I can’t compare how accurately Garland captures VanderMeer’s novel, due to not having read said novel, I can give my thoughts on Garland’s overall direction. And it’s really good. Like with the music, Garland gives the movie a very dreamlike feeling throughout, which helps give it a very unique mood that we almost never see in movies. It really helps this strange place feel even more realized and interesting. There’s also a lot of tension in Garland’s direction, both in normal walking scenes, and in scenes where things do happen. Rob Hardy’s cinematography is also really good, this place looks fantastic. And for any sensitive viewers out there, “Annihilation” has some really gruesome imagery in it. The only reason why I’m mentioning this is because I can stomach blood/gore in movies, but the shit you see in this movie somehow got to me. So there’s your warning.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Annihilation” isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a slow and brainy science fiction movie, then I highly recommend it. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Annihilation” is a 9,62/10. Even though the start is a little slow, it still gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Annihilation” is now completed.

To quote Winnie the Pooh: Think, think, think…

Series Review: Sneaky Pete – Season 2 (2018)

In early 2017 we saw the premiere of “Sneaky Pete”, a new Amazon series. I watched it, and I gave it a very positive review. So now season 2 has been out for a few days and I’ve watched it all. So let’s talk about it and see if it’s any good.

Ladies and gents… “Sneaky Pete”.

When we last saw Marius (Giovanni Ribisi), he found himself in a bit of a pickle. Two intimidating enforcers (Desmond Harrington & Joseph Lyle Taylor) thinking he was another man asked where “his” mother was. Why would they care about someone’s mother? Because she had gotten hold of eleven million dollars that their boss wanted. So we follow Marius as he tries to find this woman and her supposed eleven million. But we also follow the family that he’s snuck his way into as their lives start spiraling out of control as well. So now we have our plot. And while I think the first season had a somewhat more engaging plot, I still think that this season has a really interesting, suspenseful, and fun plot. It has a lot of twists and turns, and they all work quite well for the plot, keeping it all fun, fresh, and fairly unpredictable.

The characters in this are all quite colorful, unique, and interesting. Giovanni Ribisi is back as Marius/Pete, the con man posing as his former cellmate to get in with the cellmate’s estranged family. He’s an incredibly clever, quick-thinking, man who always tries to be one step ahead of everyone. In season 1 he was more of a no-good shyster who was only out for himself, but here in season 2 we see that he’s evolved a bit, like he actually cares for this family. He’s quite an engaging character, and he has a really solid arc this season. And Ribisi is great in the role. Marin Ireland plays Julia, the “cousin” of our main character. She works in a bail bonds office, and has (much due to Marius) gotten herself into some shit. And it’s interesting to see her go through that stuff and see what she does about it. Ireland is damn good in the role. Then we have Margo Martindale as Audrey, the “grandmother” of our main character, and the matriarch of the Bernhardt family. She’s tough, but she’s also a nice old grandmother. And she has one of the most interesting character arcs this season. And Martindale is of course fantastic in the role. Then we have Peter Gerety, Libe Barer, and Shane McRae as three more members of the family. They’ve all great characters with good arcs, but I’m lumping them together because I don’t wanna make this part too long. But I can at least say that they’re all great in the role. We also get a lot more of Ethan Embry as the real Pete this season, and he’s a fun and interesting character to follow. And yeah, Embry is really good in the role. Then you get supporting performances from people like Jacob Pitts, Jay O. Sanders, Justine Cotsonas, Alison Wright, Jennifer Ferrin, Jospeh Lyle Taylor, Desmond Harrington, Jasmine Carmichael, Jane Adams, and many more. And they’re all great.

The score for the show was composed by Nathan Barr, and I think he did a good job. His score isn’t the most standout thing ever, but it gets the job done. It helps create tension, it adds a little extra emotion, and it’s just overall well composed. There are also a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout the season, and thye work very well within their respective scenes. And I just wanna add that the show’s theme song, “Harder Out Here” by The Bight Light Social Hour, is such an awesome song.

The show was created by David Shore & Bryan Cranston, but Graham Yost stands as the showrunner. And it was written/directed by a whole bunch of different people. And this is a very well directed show. The direction here is fast-paced and fun, but never to the point of losing and seriousness/tension, because when a scene has to be serious and suspenseful, it fucking nails it. And at times it also has some fun humor in it. It’s not a comedy, but it does implement humor at various points throughout, and it works quite well.

This season/show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

While I still prefer the first season, season 2 of “Sneaky Pete” is still a great season of crime television. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Sneaky Pete” is a 9,75/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Sneaky Pete” season 2 is now completed.

Trust in me…

Great Music #26: International Women’s Day Edition

Hello there, my friends! Welcome back to “Great Music”, the series where I talk about songs I like. The series that has been dead since… *Checks blog*… July 2017, holy shit. Well, now we’re back. And this is a special one. Because I am writing this on the International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate half the world’s population, a day to celebrate those amazing females in our lives and all over the world. And I decided to do that by doing a post about some great songs by female musicians. Now, this isn’t a top ten or something like that, it’s just a selection of various songs sung/performed by women. No rankings… just good music. So let’s have a listen at these awesome women and their songs.

Song number 1: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – I Love Rock n Roll.

You know how I said these weren’t ranked? Well, I sort of lied. And by that I mean that this is my favorite song picked out for this list. I won’t rank all the songs… just putting my favorite of them all first. Now that we’ve gotten that disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk about this song. Originally recorded by The Arrows in 1975, this song was popularized by Joan Jett in 1982. Not long after Jett’s previous band, The Runaways, split up, she went and formed her own band (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts). They went on to become quite successful, properly starting this good run in 1982 with their awesome cover of “I Love Rock n Roll”. I don’t think I need to explain this choice, as anyone that’s heard the song would understand why it’s so good. But I’ll just say that it’s a cover that surpasses the original thanks to the badass attitude of Joan Jett. It’s an awesome song.

Song number 2: Alannah Myles – Black Velvet.

Next up is “Black Velvet”, a song from the eponymous debut album of Canadian singer Alannah Myles. What we have here is a song that is heavily steeped in blues-rock, but with just a tinge of pop, giving it a really cool sound that is complemented by Myles’ stunning vocals. It’s one of the coolest songs I’ve ever heard and it’s one I highly recommend.

Song number 3: Fleetwood Mac – Dreams.

Now, while Fleetwood Mac is made up of 60% male members, there’s no denying that it’s female members, Stevie Nicks & Christine McVie, contribute a ton to the band. And “Dreams” is a very big showcase for that. Written and sung by Nicks, this song is one of two songs from Fleetwood Mac’s amazing “Rumours” album that is about the breakup of Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham (the other one being “Go Your Own Way”). And this is a fantastic song with some of the most beautiful vocals I’ve ever heard.

Song number 4: Samantha Fish – Blood in the Water.

Followers of mine with a good memory might remember that this isn’t the first time that Samantha Fish (and this song) has appeared on this blog. She also appeared on my favorite albums of 2017 list (TWICE!). And this is the song that I used as sample for the list. She has a good amount of great songs, but this is one that has just stuck with me. Plus, it’s one of the few I know that I could find a good, not live, youtube vid for. But yeah, this is a great song. Fish is a blues singer with some really great and surprisingly diverse tracks in her discography. Taking some inspiration from country and even a little bit of folk music in this song, she creates a really cool sound with some interesting lyrics. Highly recommend this song and the rest of her discography.

Song number 5: First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar.

Here comes a band that comes from the same country as me. First Aid Kit is a Swedish folk/country/rock/pop/something band that I love. They have such a unique and awesome sound that has made them insanely popular. From their stunning harmonies, to the solo vocals, to the instrumentals, their music is just fantastic. And “The Lion’s Roar” is one of their best.

Song Number 6: Garbage – The World is Not Enough.

This band is Garbage. You may now reluctantly laugh. Jokes aside, this song is great, and I honestly can’t think of any artist being able to do it as well as they did. Led by Shirley Manson, Garbage is an alternative/rock band form the 90s that I have mixed feelings about (some good songs, some less than stellar ones). But I can safely say that “The World Is Not Enough”, the title track from one of Brosnan’s “Bond” movies, is one of their best. From the pseudo-electronica instrumentals, to Manson’s vocals, this is an absolutely stunning song and one of my favorite “Bond” themes.

Song number 7: Sandi Thom – I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker.

This really takes me back. I first heard it on the radio around 2006, and it has just sort of stuck with me since then. This is a song with some social commentary in it’s lyrics, but none of it is overbearing. And even if you don’t care about the lyrics themselves, you can still appreciate Thom’s fantastic vocals, combined with the mainly acoustic instrumentals. Recently she’s taken a slightly more blues-y approach (which I love), but I think this pop/folk tune is the one she will be most known for, and I am completely okay with that. Because this is a beautiful song.

Song number 8: Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again.

Can’t forget the classics. Very well known for it’s use in “Doctor Strangelove”, this song by English singer Vera Lynn is one of the most well known songs of the 20th century (and probably of all time). Taking a very optimistic approach, this song warmed the hearts of many during some tough times during the last century. And who wouldn’t get happy after listening to this song. It’s one of those that I can’t help but smile at when I hear it… and I’d assume that you readers might be the same.

Song number 9: Pink – Fuckin’ Perfect.

I’ve kept my swearing under control pretty well so far during this post. So I’m jsut gonna take this opportunity to say fucking-fuckity-fuck. Now, “Fuckin’ Perfect” is one of my favorite songs. I’m a fan of Pink in general, she’s one of my favorite artists of all time, and this song might be her best. The song is about a woman who goes through a tough and kind of horrible life, only to come out on the other side a much stronger person. It is inspiring, and it features some gorgeous vocals from Pink, and some of the best instrumentals on any of her songs. And to any potential prudes out there… there is a version of the song with no F-bombs in it, but I don’t think it’s as powerful as this version. This song is fucking perfect.

Song number 10: Amy Winehouse – Back to Black.

A song about sadness and going back to one’s old ways, from a musician who was taken from us way too soon? Oh my. That’s right, the tenth song on this list is Amy Winehouse’s (R.I.P) “Back to Black”. A haunting yet still catchy tune with some great lyrics, Winehouse’s stunning voice, and one of the catchiest piano hooks I’ve ever heard. This song is tragic, especially when you look at what happened to Winehouse later in her career. An amazing song from an amazing artist.

Song number 11: Adele – Skyfall.

Could any list of great female artists really be complete without Adele? And it’s another “Bond” theme? It was between this and “Rolling in the Deep” for me. But I went with this because I’m a sucker for these kinds of ballads. I haven’t seen “Skyfall” yet, but this song is one of the main reasons why I actually might check it out soon.

Song number 12: Annie Lennox – Into the West.

Another movie song? Yes, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. And Annie Lennox is amazing, so shut up. Also, “Lord of the Rings”. This is the song used at the end of “Return of the King”, the culmination of that trilogy of films. The epic finale to the masterful trilogy. It’s my favorite of the series. And this song is a fitting end theme for it all. Emotional, sweeping, beautiful… it’s simply amazing. Lennox’s vocals here fucking amazing. Yes, “Sweet Dreams” is also great, but this is a better showcase of Lennox, in my opinion. I almost get teary-eyed when I listen to this song.

And that’s the end of my list. Of course there are many many many more awesome female artists out there, but I don’t have the time to make a list featuring a million songs here. So if you have any further suggestions, leave them in the comments. Some of your favorite female artists/bands/songs, leave them in the comments.
Have a good one.

Movie Review: Carlito’s Way (1993)

Today’s lesson (which is a repeat of an older lesson): Crime. Don’t commit crimes. Committing crimes is bad. This has been your lesson/PSA for the day.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Carlito’s Way”.

After serving five years in prison, Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) is attempting to sort of reboot his life, escape his old criminal ways and become a good citizen. But that is quite hard when he feels pressure from various people around him. So now we have our crime-drama. And I was quite engrossed by the plot here. On one hand, it subverted my expectations. When it started out, I thought it would go one way, but then it took some turns that I really didn’t expect. And it’s overall a tense and dramatic plot that I found myself quite invested in throughout the entire runtime. It’s more of a character-driven drama rather than a typical gangster-story (though there are elements of that too at times), and I found it to be a damn fine plot.

The characters in this are quite interesting. Sure, a decent amount of them don’t get the most amount of depth, but I found them all working well enough within the movie. Al Pacino plays Carlito Brigante, the man in the title who has some trouble leading a legitimate life. At first he just seems like a smug and charismatic gangster who might go back to his old ways ASAP, but those layers quickly get peeled back and we see that he really means to go legit, to be a good man. And he gets some interesting development throughout. And Pacino is great in the role. Then we have Sean Penn as David, Carlito’s sleazy lawyer. And when I say sleazy I mean that he’s a somewhat dorky, coked out, jerk. And it’s interesting to see him and his interactions with Carlito. And Penn is really good in the role. Then we have Penelope Ann Miller as Gail, an old flame of Carlito, and his love interest for the movie. She’s a highly driven dancer who is a bit split when it comes to Carlito. She is also an important part of Carlito’s arc. And Miller is really good in the role. We also get some really solid supporting turns from people like James Rebhorn, Luis Guzmán, John Leguizamo, Viggo Mortensen, John Ortiz, and more. ’tis a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Patrick Doyle, and it was really good. What we have here is an emotional, tense, and just overall well composed. It’s a score that fits the movie very well, and often helps elevate a lot of scenes throughout. Not saying that the scenes were bad in general, just that the music added something extra to them. There were also a couple licensed tracks used throughout, and they worked well within their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Brian De Palma, and he of course did a great job (what else did you expect?). His directing here is tight and intimate while also making it feel a bit bigger than it is. However, compared to “Scarface”, the other De Palma/Pacino crime movie, it’s quite subdued in it’s approach. There is certainly a little bit of action in this, but it’s not quite as extreme as in “Scarface”. Yeah, it’s violent, but it isn’t quite as insane as the stuff in “Scarface”, relying more on pure tension rather than the coked out insanity of that other movie. Speaking of which, De Palma manages to bring out a lot of tension throughout this movie, making you actually kind of fear for Carlito and what might happen.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10.

“Carlito’s Way” is a great crime drama. It has a great plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Carlito’s Way” is a 9,82/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Carlito’s Way” is now completed.

Oye como va mi ritmo
Bueno pa’ gozar, mulata

Academy Awards 2018: Best Music Nominees

Hello there, ladies, gentlemen, and space aliens. The Oscars are not far away (as of writing it’s less than 24 hours to it), so to celebrate that I have teamed up with a bunch of other bloggers to talk about the various categories, and give our thoughts and predictions on them. When it was time for me to choose, I chose the music categories (which had been lumped into one), because of my undying love of music and occasional analysis of it. I also chose it because I haven’t seen all the movies yet, so this is one I can do from the comfort of my own room (thank you, spotify!). So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Best Original Score
The first category we’ll go through is best original score, the category celebrating the works of the composers who work so hard to help us get immersed. So here are the nominees.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – John Williams.

First up we have the one and only John Williams and his music for the latest entry in the “Star Wars” franchise. And this really has everything that you’d expect from “Star Wars” music at this point. Big brass, tense strings, catchy melodies. And whereas the score for “Force Awakens” was damn good, it doesn’t really hold a candle to “The Last Jedi” (not comparing the movies, just the music). There are throwbacks to the previous movies in the series throughout this score, but none of it feels like forced (HA!) pandering, but rather fun inclusions to make it all feel a bit more connected. But as great as the music here is, I don’t think it has a chance in this Oscar race. Would I be made if it won? No. But we’ve heard these stylings before, and I feel like it doesn’t have the same chance at the gold due to that.

The Shape of Water – Alexandre Desplat.

Our second entry is the score for “The Shape of Water”, the latest weirdness from Guillermo Del Toro. As of writing this, I have not seen the movie, so I can’t comment on how well the music works within the movie. But I can comment on it as it’s own entity, and I can safely say that this score is fantastic. It takes a couple cues from old school John Williams, and even a bit from Wes Anderson’s movies (which is funny considering Anderson has worked with Desplat before). But it does a lot of unique things to give it a really odd, yet beautiful sound that works for this kind of odd love story. I’d say this has a very good chance of getting the Oscar.

Phantom Thread – Jonny Greenwood.

Here we have the score for “Phantom Thread”, the latest movie from Paul Thomas Anderson, and the final movie of actor Daniel Day Lewis. This score relies heavily on piano and various string instruments (violin being the most prominent). It creates an emotionally charged sound that evokes a lot of dramas from the 70s (I notive a little bit of “Godfather” in there). This score has a pretty good chance of taking the Oscar, though I’m not 100% sure if I want it to. I’m a little split on it.

Dunkirk – Hans Zimmer.

So here we have a score from one of my favorite composers, for a movie by one of my favorite directors. Yet I have somehow not seen “Dunkirk” as of writing. But what we have here is an intense and very unique score that makes use of not only your typical orchestral sounds, but also a ticking clock and a few other sounds that I can’t identify that easily. But I must say that this sounds fantastic, and it makes me tense up a bit, without the visuals of the movie. Zimmer catches the horrors of war incredibly well with his music, creating a haunting but also beautiful sound that drills itself into my bones and makes me feel like I’m in this horrible situation. So I’d say Zimmer has a good chance at getting the statue.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Carter Burwell.

Hey, finally a movie I’ve actually seen! But yes, the final score nominated for an Oscar is Carter Burwell’s score for Martin McDonagh’s masterful “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”. At times sounding like a western, at times sounding like an emotional drama, Burwell’s score perfectly captures the tumultuous journey of Mildred as she tries to get justice for what happened to her daughter. The music follows her arc perfectly, from the badass and cool, to the intimate and emotional. But as much as I love the music of “Three Billboards”, I doubt that it will take the Oscar. Would I be happy if it did? Hell yeah. But nothing about it really says “I can and will grab that Oscar” like some of the other contenders did.

Biggest chance of winning: The Shape of Water.
My pick: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

So those were the original scores. Now moving on to the second half.

Best Original Song
Time for the category that celebrates specific tunes made for the movies we watch. It’s an interesting category that I don’t fully understand the point of, but I won’t say no to a bit of music. So let’s go.

Mystery of Love – Sufjan Stevens – Call Me By Your Name.

First song on the list is “Mystery of Love”, a song from “Call Me By Your Name”, a movie about sexual discovery rather than identity theft (missed an opportunity there, yo). Written and performed by Sufjan Stevens, it almost feels like something that you’d hear from José González, but with a slightly bigger lean towards the pop side of it all. And I must admit that this song is pretty damn good. As the title suggests, it talks about how weird and mysterious the concept of love actually is. It has an interesting and unique sound that I like listening to. Do I think it has a shot at the Oscar? Hard to say, really. Would I be okay with it winning? Sure. I’m just unsure how the Academy would vote on it. Some songs/movies are easier to pin the chances of than others, and this one’s a bit challenging to pin down.

Mighty River – Mary J. Blige – Mudbound.

Here we have a song from a movie I’ve actually seen. “Mighty River” is part gospel, and part radio ballad. And it strikes a good balance between the two to make a song that is pleasing for the ears while still having an interesting and somewhat unique sound, at least for the current music industry. It also evokes those big, emotional songs you could hear in various movies from back in the day. Like “My Heart Will Go On” or that Faith Hill song from “Pearl Harbor”. So I’d be perfectly fine with “Mighty River” winning… shit, I’d say it’s chances are good.

This Is Me – Keala Settle – The Greatest Showman.

So here we have a pop song from a musical about P.T. Barnum, a man who wasn’t a very good person… but they still decided to make a colorful musical about him and his circus. False depiction of a historical figure aside, how is this song? Pretty good. It’s a very radio-friendly pop song that still manages to elevate that with the help of some solid crescendos and a slightly more old school approach. Do I want this to win? Not really. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but I don’t think it does anything that makes it worthy of that prize. It’s a little bit too… generic, in my opinion.

Stand Up For Something – Andra Day feat. Common – Marshall.

Here we have a song from the Thurgood Marshall biopic “Marshall”. This is a pop song with a good amount of soul thrown into it to create a sound that I really enjoyed listening to. Plus, the lyrics about standing up for a cause are somewhat inspiring, especially when delivered by Andra Day’s gorgeous voice. There’s also a short bit where Common raps, and it’s really good. Do I think this song has a chance? Maybe. It definitely has a foot in the door, but it’s hard to say how much that will help in terms of actually winning. Let’s say the chances are pretty good.

Remember Me – Benjamin Bratt/Kristen Anderson-Lopez/Robert Lopez – Coco.

The final song on the list is “Remember Me (Ernesto De La Cruz)”, a mostly upbeat and energetic song from Pixar’s latest film, “Coco”. The lyrics are good, the the instrumentals are good, it’s very personal to the writers… and it’s sung by the great Benjamin Bratt. Yeah, this is great. I haven’t seen “Coco”, but this song has made me want to check it out even more. The chances for this to win are pretty good, and I wouldn’t be mad if it did. ’tis a good song.

Biggest chance of winning: Mighty River.
My pick: Mighty River.

So those were the original song nominations.

And those were all of the music nominations from the Oscars, and my thoughts on them. But now I wanna hear from you guys, which score/song do you think should/will win? Please leave any and all answers in the comments, I really wanna hear from you guys.

The people I collaborated with on this:

Plain, Simple Tom.

Through the Silver Screen.

Angus McGregor Movies.

QuickFire Reviews.

Fivethreeninety.

Perks of being Nath.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: The Hollow Point (2016)

Guns. Terrifying devices of death. In movies, tv, and video games I guess they’re fine, but in real life they’re some of the scariest things ever… at least they seem like it. I’d prefer to keep my distance.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Hollow Point”.

Wallace (Patrick Wilson) is the newly appointed Sheriff of a small US border town. After a drug cartel deal goes horribly wrong, he has to investigate what happened. And as his investigation moves forward, he runs into all kinds of danger. So now we have our crime drama. And I was admittedly into the plot early on. I sat there thinking “Okay, this could be fun”, and it was kind of fun in a gritty crime drama kind of way, but soon it turned into a messy, overly serious, generically written, and boring plot about death and morality. It showed good promise at first, but soon it failed me.

The characters in this are kind of bland and uninteresting, even if the script would like to think that they’re deep and complex. Patrick Wilson plays Wallace, the newly appointed Sheriff of this small border town. He’s kind of a jerk, but there is a bit of heart somewhere behind there. And the only reason why I even remotely cared about him is because Patrick Wilson is a great actor, and he gave a really good performance here. Ian McShane plays Leland, an old, morally bankrupt cop that Wallace kind of works with throughout the movie. And you know what you get when it’s Ian McShane playing an asshole. The character isn’t as interesting as some of his other, similar roles, but at least McShane’s performance is damn good. Then we have Lynn Collins as Marla, a good friend of Wallace. She cares about her closest ones, and occasionally can show a tough side to her, but she’s not that interesting a character. And Collins is… fine in the role. Then we get some decent supporting performances from people like Jim Belushi and John Leguizamo. Characters, not that great. Acting, good.

The score for the movie was composed by Juan Navazo, and it was a mixed bag. There were a few tracks here that I thought actually sounded pretty good and somehow made their scenes/moments a bit more interesting. But then there are tracks here that think they are really cool, but don’t really work within the movie. There were a few licensed tracks used throughout a well, and they worked… fine.

This movie was directed by Gonzalo López-Gallego, and I think he did an okay-ish job here. It’s decently shot, and his direction never feels fully bad. The action scenes in this too, while not very complex or even great, are decently enjoyable. One problem I do have in terms of this more technical stuff is that there’s some weird editing in places throughout, making cuts that gave it a weird flow and such.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 31% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 41/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,4/10.

Despite a (mostly) talented cast, “The Hollow Point” isn’t a particularly good movie. The plot is messy and boring and generic, the characters are uninteresting, the music is a mixed bag, and there’s some weird editing here. But the performances are solid, and the direction is okay. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Hollow Point” is a 5,12/10. So despite a few good things, I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “The Hollow Point” is now completed.

Meh.