Movie Review: Almost Famous (2000)

Music. One of the most powerful things in the world. A medium that transcends language. You may not understand what that foreign person is saying, but you will connect thanks to the recognizable riff of “Smoke on the Water”, or the vocal melody of “Stairway to Heaven”. Music, connecting people better than words can.

Ladies and gents… “Almost Famous”.

The year is 1973. High school student William Miller (Patrick Fugit) has been given the opportunity of a lifetime: To follow up-and-coming band Stillwater on tour and write an article on them for Rolling Stone Magazine. So yeah, that’s about it. We follow William and the journey he goes on with this band. From meeting them, to seeing them play, to the various other highs and lows of a 70s rock band being on tour. And I found myself fully engrossed in the plot of this movie. When it wants to be fun and breezy, it’s fun and breezy. And when it wanted to tug at my heartstrings, it did. It rides the balance between fun and dramatic perfectly, creating a journey that I loved following from the start to finish.

The characters in this are all entertaining, layered, interesting, and feel like real people. Patrick Fugit plays William, the young man who’s been given this opportunity. He’s naive, but not dumb. He holds these guys in high regard, and you can see the joy in his eyes as he hangs out with the band. But you also see him get some good development throughout. And Fugit is great in the role. It’s also refreshing to see him play such a happy character after having seen him be so stressed and damaged in “Outcast”. Next up we have Billy Crudup as Russell, the lead guitarist of the band. He’s the member we get to know the best and that gets the most amount of development. He is a bit mysterious, but as he spends time with William he starts to open a bit more and really develops as a character. And Crudup is great in the role. Then we have Kate Hudson (who I mistook for Drew Barrymore at first, oops) as “Penny Lane”, a mysterious girl that William runs into early on that follows along on the journey. She’s a pretty secretive girl, but she also becomes one of William’s closest friends during this journey. She’s a very fun and interesting character. And Hudson is great in the role. I’m not gonna go in-depth with any more characters as most don’t get the same kind of development as the main three, and also because I don’t want this post to get too long. But we do get some supporting work from people like Jason Lee, Frances McDormand, Noah Taylor, Fairuza Balk, Anna Paquin, Philip Seymour Hoffman (R.I.P), Terry Chen, and more. All doing really well in their respective roles.

While not a lot can be found on it online, there was music in this composed by Nancy Wilson (one half of rock duo Heart), and the little I found out about it was really good. There has been one piece officially released from it that is fantastic, and she also co-wrote some songs for the band in the movie (with some additional help from Cameron Crow and Peter Frampton). And there were of course A LOT of 70s rock tracks used throughout to capture that era and story, and it worked brilliantly. Then again, I am a bit biased due to my love for that era of music. Still, the soundtrack for this movie worked perfectly for it.

The movie was written and directed by Cameron Crowe and he did a fantastic job. His directing is tight and intimate, getting us close to the characters and their situations, making us feel like were really part of it. But it’s not the “look at me and how personal I can get”, Crowe’s direction doesn’t call attention to itself. There’s also a lot of humor in this movie and I found it to be really funny, I laughed out loud several times. But the humor never feels out of place or like it overtakes the drama, it fits into the movie incredibly well.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 90/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best original screenplay. It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best supporting actress (Hudson), Best supporting actress (McDormand), and Best film editing.

“Almost Famous” is a fun, inspiring, and engaging little dramedy. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, great directing, and funny humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Almost Famous” is a 9,89/10. Which means it gets a the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
 

My review of “Almost Famous” is now completed.

Hold me closer, tiny dancer…

Movie Review: American Made (2017)

Don’t do drugs, kids. Also, don’t sell drugs. Or be near drugs. Basically just… to hell with drugs.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gents… “American Made”.

The story follows Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), an American pilot who gets hired by the CIA to run guns for them, which eventually also leads him running cocaine for the Medellín cartel. And we follow his insane life as he tries to balance these jobs while also trying to not get arrested. And it’s actually a really interesting plot with some flaw to it. It’s interesting seeing the ins and outs of Barry’s job, the routes he takes as well as how he just runs his operations. It’s overall a really fun and well-paced plot that is really enjoyable. My flaw with the plot is that it does slow down at a point in the movie. Not in the “let’s take some time to develop the characters a lot” (though there’s a little bit of that in there), but more just starts dragging a bit. It’s not too draggy, and it doesn’t go for too long, but it’s definitely worth pointing out as it is quite noticeable.

The characters in this are enjoyable. Some get a bit more development than others, but none of them feel out of place or anything like that. Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal, the pilot who gets dragged into all this crazy shit. He’s a charismatic, funny, and cool guy who not only happens to be a damn good pilot, but also a pretty good family man. And Tom Cruise is really firing on all cylinders here, this is probably the best performance I’ve seen from him since “Tropic Thunder”. Domhnall Gleeson plays Schafer, the CIA agent that recruits Seal for this dangerous mission. He has some charm, and he does share some good chemistry with Cruise throughout. And Gleeson is really good in the role. Then we have Sarah Wright as Barry’s wife Lucy. She’s a somewhat more reasonable person than Barry and does have outbursts when the strange stuff starts seeping into their home life. And Wright is great in the role. Then we have Alejandro Edda, Fredy Yate Escobar, and Mauricio Mejía as the founders of the Medellín cartel (Jorge Ochoa, Carlos Ledher, Pablo Escobar). And I’m lumping them into the same slot because this is my review and I can do whatever I want. But they are all great in their roles… charming yet intimidating. And throughout the movie you get some really solid supporting performances from people like Jesse Plemons, Jayma Mays, Caleb Landry Jones, E. Roger Mitchell, and more. Yeah, this is a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Christophe Beck and it was really good. It was tense, fun, energized, and had a healthy dose of guitar in it to give it a cool sound that worked really well for the movie. Then there were a whole bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, some from the era, and even one or two from around 2012. But they all fit incredibly well with the era the film was set in while also helping to give the movie it’s fun mood. So yeah, this has great music.

This movie was directed by Doug Liman and he did a great job. He gives this movie and interesting style by keeping it mostly handheld and also throwing in a lot of crash-zooms, which is very reminiscent of a documentary. And that makes this movie even more interesting since it now has a somewhat unique style. Liman (together with the production crew) also gives it a very retro vibe, which really helps sell the late 70s/early 80s era. There are also some really tense scenes here, which I didn’t really expect. The movie is also funny. Not “BWAHAHAHAHAHA!” funny, but it still got consistent chuckles/laughter out of me.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

“American Made” isn’t perfect, but it’s a highly enjoyable crime movie. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, I thought it had some slight flaws, including some pacing issues at one point, and some characters not always being the most interesting. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “American Made” is an 8,98/10. While flawed, it’s definitely worth buying!

My review of “American Made” is now completed.

Tumm Croos.

Movie Review: The Nice Guys (2016)

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In a world filled with crime and scary stuff, cops have their hands full. And that’s basically why there are private investigators, so the cops don’t have to take care of all the bullshit out there… at least I think it is like that. If not, then I don’t know what the fuck their purpose is.

Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to… “The Nice Guys”.

Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe), two somewhat different people. One is a somewhat dim-witted private investigator, the other is an enforcer. These two people have to team up to try to investiagte the disappearance of a girl and the death of a porn actress. The cases may seem unrelated, but our “heroes” soon find out that they might actually be related in some strange way. And from that premise we get a surprisingly layered and intriguing mystery set in Los Angeles in 1977. And as you may suspect from my choice of words, I loved the plot of this movie. It’s just such a fun and interesting and odd mystery that we get to see these guys go through in this movie, it’s really something we never see in film these days. But we got to now… and it was great!

The characters in this movie are all unique, interesting, and so damn entertaining. Ryan Gosling is terrific in this movie as this dim-witted and often drunk private investigator. Ruseel Crowe is also really great as the enforcer guy who seems to have a little bit more brain behind his skull. But what makes this even better is the chemistry between these guys. These guys play off each other very well and they really make some magic together. We also have young actress Angourie Rice as Holly, the fdaughter of Gosling’s character. And to tell you the truth, she was fucking amazing. Usually having someone as young as her in a movie can turn out really bad, but she was awesome. Her performance was really good and her character actually helped get shit done in the movie. She was really a standout in the cast. And the cast also has some more great actors in it, such as Keith David and Kim Basinger. There’s also a really badass character that doesn’t show up until late in the movie, but let it be known that he is awesome!

The score for the movie was composed by John Ottman and David Buckley. And it is perfect. Okay, it’s not something that I would jsut listen to at pure random, but it’s perfect in the sense that it perfectly fits the movie. The music really harkens back to the stuff you could hear in 70s crime movies/shows… and that’s perfect because this is a crime movie set in the 70s. It fit the movie perfectly and is overall very well composed. We also get a lot of great 70s tunes played in various scenes. We get everything from KISS, to America, to Earth, Wind  & Fire. Yeah, this movie got some great music.

This movie was written and directed by Shane Black, and like his directorial debut (which he also wrote), “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, he has created a movie with great directing and pitch-perfect writing. The shots look great and Black’s directing really helps sell the 1970s setting. And the writing… oh my fucking god, it is some of the funniest stuff that I’ve experienced in some time! Really, this movie made me laugh pretty damn hard. Maybe that’s just because I have a dark sense of humor, because there is some dark stuff in the movie that really got me laughing pretty hard. But that is also kind of like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, Shane Black’s dark buddy-comedy from 2005. What I’m trying to say is that this movie is fuckin’ hilarious. I can also say that this movie has some action scenes and they are all fun and exciting. Really, Black did a great job here.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“The Nice Guys” is the type of movie that doesn’t really get made these days. It feels so different to the majority of Hollywood stuff we get these days. It has a great plot, great characters, great acting (and chemistry between the actors), great music, great directing, and some really hilarious writing. Time for my final score. *Boogie woogie*. My final score for “The Nice Guys” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “The Nice Guys” is now completed.

A movie written by Shane Black that isn’t set during Christmas? Holy shit!