Series Review: A Christmas Carol (2019)

I guess we gotta cover something christmas-related since the holidays are upon us. And lucky for me, we just got a new christmas mini-series to talk about. Yay.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Christmas Carol”.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Guy Pearce) is an anti-social, greedy businessman who’s made his success on the misery of others for years. But one night right before christmas day, three spirits come to visit him to try to make him realize the fault of his ways. Everybody knows the setup for this story, question with each adaptation tends to instead come down to execution. And the execution in this series is not great. It’s a really dark, bleak, and edgy take on the classic story that is honestly stretched way too long. Sure, three episodes don’t sound like much. But when each episode is just under 60 minutes long and tries to then stretch a 110 page book out to that runtime, it just feels like it drags its ass. Plus, while the darker take sounds interesting on paper, it just doesn’t work, often taking me out of it. Even the supposedly heartwarming bits leave me feeling cold. The story’s just off for me.

The characters in this you know the basic dynamics of. But they also get given a somewhat darker edge to them that just makes things feel a little off at times. Guy Pearce of course plays the ultimate douchebag that is Ebenezer Scrooge. Anti-social, greedy, douchey… he’s just the worst. And Pearce is great in the role. You get Stephen Graham as Jacob Marley, and he’s of course great. Joe Alwyn does an admirable job as Bob Cratchit. Lenny Rush who plays Tiny Tim does a really good job. Andy Serkis as the ghost of christmas past rides the line between intimidating and hammy wonderfully. Really, all actors here brought their A-game, even if the material isn’t always up to snuff.

The score for the series was composed by Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran. It was okay. Nothing too memorable, nothing that ruined the series, but also didn’t improve it. It’s just kinda there. Moving on.

Based on the classic book by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” was brought to us by Steven Knight, with Nick Murphy serving as director. And while the show felt a bit lackluster in the story and character departments, it excels in the production parts. The sets are immaculate, the costumes neat, and the cinematography by Si Bell was gorgeous. You can tell that so much love and care was put into how the world was crafted.

This show hasn’t been too well received so far. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 60% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 39/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

Despite having some things strewn throughout, 2019’s “A Christmas Carol” is ultimately not a great adaptation. The story isn’t very good, the characters are meh, the performances are great, the music is meh, and the directing, cinematography, and sets are great. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “A Christmas Carol” is a 4,65/10. So despite some good stuff, I’d still recommend skipping it.

My review of “A Christmas Carol” is now completed.

If someone disagrees with me, they better use “humbug”.

Series Review: His Dark Materials – Season 1 (2019)

Adapting books is difficult. There’s a risk of alienating old fans if you fuck it up, and there’s a chance of alienating new ones if you just adapt word for word, with no regard for the viewing experience. We’ve covered some good ones, and some bad ones on the blog before… so let’s see where this falls into the spectrum

Ladies and gentlemen… “His Dark Materials” season 1.

Set in an alternate universe England, the story follows Lyra (Dafne Keen), a girl looking to find a way to get out of her boring scholastic existence and into some adventure. Well she soon finds her wish coming true when she gets dragged into a big, magical adventure through this mysterious, alternate world. I really enjoyed following the story here. It’s a fresh take on the familiar “child hero” fantasy formula. And unlike so many other such adaptations it manages to balance a generally family friendly approach with a lot of darker moments that dare to challenge younger viewers a bit. It reminds me of the “Harry Potter” movies a bit in that sense. There’s also enough interesting twists in the story to keep me on my toes. The pacing does feel like it slightly drags at times due to how dense with content each episode is, but generally it never full on breaks the show for me. It’s still a really engaging and entertaining story.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, and overall just interesting. Dafne Keen plays Lyra, our protagonist. She’s clever, crafty, adventurous, and just a really entertaining protagonist that I loved following throughout. And Keen is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Ruth Wilson, Kit Connor, Amir Wilson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ariyon Bakare, James Cosmo, and James McAvoy, among many others. And they all do very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Lorne Balfe, and it is absolutely fantastic. From the beyond catchy main theme, to many of the quieter pieces, to some of the bigger tracks, it is all fantastic. What I also like is that as we switch between a few different settings within the show, Balfe actually plays around a bit with his instrumentation, not only relying on the typical orchestral stuff. So yeah, this show has some great music.

Based on the beloved novels by Philip Pullman, “His Dark Materials” is a co-production between BBC and HBO, written by Jack Thorne, and directed by a bunch of cool people. And the craft here is seriously fantastic. The direction manages to capture the sweeping nature of the epic fantasy story it sets up, while still staying intimate with the characters, bringing us further into the world in a wonderful way. And this show is also proof why HBO should be allowed to help out with the financing of a show, because in terms of sets, effects, props, puppetry, and all such production values, this is one of the most well crafted and expensive-looking shows I have ever witnessed. It is stunning what they’ve made here.

This season/show has generally been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 67/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10.

It’s of course not flawless, but I still kinda loved season of “His Dark Materials”. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing, cinematography, and effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “His Dark Materials” is a 9,55/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “His Dark Materials” season 1 is now completed.

I’ve had a weird void in my life since the “Harry Potter movies ended. And this show has kinda filled it for the past two months.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 10)

Can you imagine that after this post, there’s only two more? It’s a little surreal. You get into the groove of doing a daily series like this, and then it’s about to end. But before that happens, we still have some shit to talk about. So let’s do it.

So what’s on the menu today? Well, I’m about to get to it, relax, you impatient person. Based on a 1997 novel by Neil Gaiman, “Stardust” is a 2007 fantasy adventure directed and co-written by Matthew Vaughn. It tells the tale of Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox), a young man infatuated with a woman living in the same town as him. One day he agrees to fetch a fallen star for her, in exchange for her hand in marriage. And this leads Tristan on a big, magical journey involving a conniving prince (Mark Strong), an evil witch (Michelle Pfeiffer), a pirate (Robert De Niro) and a woman who may or may not be a literal fucking star (Claire Danes). So what’s my holiday connection for this one then?

Well, compared to some of my previous ones, this is a bit more simple. No, there’s no scene involving christmas. And no, it’s not even the family squabbling between the three princes. No, it’s less contrived than that. Christmas is a holiday that’s supposed to bring joy to people, be it through presents, food, or good company. And “Stardust” is a very joyous movie, it’s a simple and fun swashbuckling adventure with a fantasy twist. And both of the times I’ve seen this movie, it has brought me great joy. It has put a gigantic dumb smile on my face. And since christmas should bring joy, then “Stardust” is clearly something one could easily slot into the holiday hangouts. Plus, that song from Take That playing during the end credits is fantastic.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Look, I loved doing the Month of Spooks. But god damn, have I missed being able to talk about other kinds of movies. So let’s talk about a children’s film.

Ladies and gentlemen… “How to Train Your Dragon”.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is the son of a great dragon-slaying viking (Gerard Butler), yet he himself is expected to reach his father’s legacy. And one day when he meets an injured dragon, he soon learns that these beasts might not just be bloodthirsty monsters. So now we have our children’s fantasy adventure story. And by Odin’s beard, this story is great. Yeah, sure, we’ve seen similar premises done before. But the care they put into how their storytelling is presented here is quite astonishing. The story here is told in a really mature way that doesn’t treat its audience like absolute idiots, like so many kid’s movies do. And by the end I was emotionally invested in the story, thanks to the clever and nuanced storytelling.

The characters in this are colorful, layered (for the most part), unique, and really interesting. First we have Hiccup, son of a great viking, but more of a scrawny wimp himself. He’s a smart young dude, relying on wits to get him through shit rather than actual force. And he has an interesting and fun arc in this movie that I really enjoyed following. And I think Jay Baruchel did a great job voicing the character. We then have Gerard Butler as his burly dad, and he’s great. You get America Ferrera as Astrid, a local girl that Hiccup may have a bit of a crush on, and she’s great in the role. You get Craig Ferguson as another viking/comic relief, and he’s great. And in other supporting roles you have people like Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, T.J. Miller, and more, and they all do a great job. Really, it’s a top notch cast.

The score for the movie was composed by John Powell, and it was absolutely wonderful. Big and epic, but also small and intimate. Epic and exciting, but also subtle and emotionally resonant. It manages to capture every emotion one would want in a movie like this.

Based on a novel by Cressida Cowell, “How to Train Your Dragon” was written by William Davies, Dean DeBlois, and Chris Sanders, with DeBlois and Sanders handling direction. And just like the story and characters before it, the craft on display here is marvelous. Everything in the direction is carefully considered, not a single frame is pure filler, everything exists either do develop a character or to add nuance to the story. Which leads us to the animation, which is absolutely spectacular. It’s highly detailed, and makes for some absolutely gorgeous images, especially during the action scenes, which are some of the best I’ve ever seen in an animated feature. The final set piece alone is one of the best I’ve seen in relatively recent movies. And with this being an animated kid’s film, there’s of course plenty of humor throughout… and it’s funny, I laugh. Slapstick, snappy comebacks, it’s all there, and it’s funny.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 99% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10 and is ranked #189 on the “top 250” list. It was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best animated feature and Best original score.

“How to Train Your Dragon” is one of the best animated films I’ve seen in recent years. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, fantastic directing/animation, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Aye*. My final score for “How to Train Your Dragon” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “How to Train Your Dragon” is now completed.

I can now see what all the fuss was about.

Series Review: The Strain – Season 1 (2014)

Hey, finally a tv show in the Month of Spooks.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Strain” season 1.

After a plane filled with dead people lands in New York, a mysterious viral outbreak begins, turning people into savage, vampiric creatures. And it’s up to Doctor Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) to find out what the hell is going on. So now we have our horror story. And it’s a good one. Sure, it does lean into some classic vampire tropes, but it also plays around with others to create something that feels fresh and unique in television. Admittedly the first few episodes are a bit on the slow side. They’re not bad, they carry a fair bit of intrigue, but they feel a bit like a drag at times. But when you get past them, and the plot truly gets going, it is an utterly compelling and quite entertaining vampire thriller.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Corey Stoll plays Ephraim Goodweather, a CDC scientist who has to investigate this mysterious viral outbreak. Eph (as he’s called by so many) has a lot of personal flaws and demons in his past, and seeing him have to deal with those in tandem with this intense outbreak makes him an interesting character. And Stoll is great in the roll. Yes, pun intended. Next we have David Bradly as Abraham Setrakian, a mysterious old man who seems to know a lot about what’s going on with this whole situation. We learn a lot about him as the show goes along, and I don’t wanna ruin it (’cause it’s good and should be experienced rather than told). And Bradley is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Mia Maestro, Kevin Durand, Miguel Gomez, Richard Sammel, Sean Astin, Jonathan Hyde, Ben Hyland, Ruta Gedmintas, Robin Atkin Downes, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the show/season was composed by Ramin Djawadi (oh sweet), and it’s pretty good (what do you mean “pretty”?). It’s not among Djawadi’s best work, but he still did a really solid job, giving us some decently tense pieces when needed, and some more emotional tracks in others. It’s pretty good.

Based on a series of novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, the show was created by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, with writing and directing by them and some other cool people. And the craft in this show is pretty spectacular. The direction creates a fair bit of tension, while still making us feel intimate with the characters. And fuck me sideways, the use of colored lighting in this show is fucking magnificent. Reds, greens, blues, yellows, it is stunning to look at. And the visual effects are pretty great too. Since it is a Del Toro production, there’s a lot of disgusting-looking practical creature effects, with some CG mixed in at times. And god damn, it is so cool to see that here, since it makes everything going on feel more real. It also kind of adds to the horror, as it doesn’t make the scary creatures look all shiny and fake. It’s some creepy stuff.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,3/10.

Season 1 of “The Strain” may drag a bit at the start, but it ultimately ends up being an effective and highly entertaining vampire thriller. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and great writing/directing/effects/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Strain” is an 8,67/10. So while flawed, I still think it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “The Strain” season 1 is now completed.

David Bradley’s a bit of a badass. Honestly never expected that.

Movie Review: It (2017)

And the Month of Spooks continues! And today we’ll be talking about a Stephen King adaptation. How fun.

Ladies and gentlemen… “It”.

Maine, 1989. A group of outcast kids have to come together during their summer holiday when an evil clown (Bill Skarsgård) starts haunting them and wreaking havoc. So I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, when this story focuses on the drama of the Losers Club (the kids we follow) and their personal issues, that shit is compelling, it is insanely well written and it had me engaged. There’s a lot of nuance to that stuff, and it really adds to it all. But when it focuses on the horror shit… meh. I’ll get into that in more detail later, but for now… this plot is a mostly positive mixed bag.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and overall really interesting. The kids feel real, I love their camaraderie, and they have great chemistry. Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, and Wyatt Oleff, they play the Losers Club, and they were all fantastic. And then we have Bill Skasgård as Pennywise. I really liked his performance, but I’m not sure if that’s for the reason the filmmakers wanted. They wanted him to be terrifying, and at times he does have a creepy gaze. But for the most part he’s just an absolute fucking ham, and I loved watching it, because I live for hammy shit. But seriously, that was a great, if a bit goofy, performance.

The score for the movie was composed by Benjamin Wallfisch, and god damn, it was great. It has many layers to it, and it helps build a strong emotional core that really manipulated me at points. Usually with horror movies, my expectations for the music are often kinda low, so I’m glad the Wallfisch proved my ass wrong by giving us some really stunning tunes. And some decently creepy ones. Good job.

Based on the beloved novel of the same name by Stephen King, “It” was directed by Andy Muschietti, and I think he did a great job. His control of the camera and flow a scene can’t be understated, it was truly some damn good stuff. Even built some decent creepiness to it at times. And the various effects in the movie, both practical and digital, were damn good. Buuuut then we get to the “scary shit”. Yeah, I wasn’t scared by it. And that’s not me being a douche about it, I would’ve loved (for lack of a better word) to have been scared by that stuff. But it never got to me. Like I said, there’s some decently creepy moments throughout, but when it tried to full on scare me, it never really worked. Partly due to the hamtastic Bill Skarsgård, and partly due to some of the audio cues added to certain scares. So the craft here is great… I just wasn’t scared.

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 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

While it fails at spooking me, I still think “It” is a damn good movie. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and really good directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Boo*. My final score for “It” is an 8,78/10. So while flawed, I’d say it’s still worth buying.

My review of “It” is now completed.

I am so mixed on this movie.

Movie Review: About a Boy (2002)

Having kids. Not everyone’s cup of tea. There, I said it. So many think everyone should have kids and that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. But that’s such a narrow view of stuff. Be open to other people’s life choices. And those who don’t wanna have kids, don’t look down at those who have kids. Let’s all be friends.

Ladies and gentlemen… “About a Boy”.

Will (Hugh Grant) is an immature, cynical bachelor that has chosen single mothers as his new dating targets, and he’s willing to put up any lie to get inside their pants. This however backfires when a 12-year old boy (Nicholas Hoult) starts seeing through his lie, and becomes a central part of Will’s life. And maybe these two will learn some stuff from each other. So now we have our rom-rom/coming-of-age story. And it honestly subverted a lot of expectations I had. With these two genres, one expects a lot of tropes, and we do get a few of them here, which end up being some of the weaker elements of the story. But with that said, there’s still enough nuance and subversion here to make it an intriguing and surprisingly engaging take on these two familiar genres, while still giving you some of the heartwarming bits you’d expect.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, colorful, and overall quite interesting. Hugh Grant plays Will, the cynical man-child at the center of this story. Never one to commit himself to a single person for long, he drifts around various women like a lying asshole. He isn’t the typical charming, Hugh Grant rom-com character, and it makes him quite an intriguing and refreshing character to watch as he evolves. And Grant is great in the role. Next we have a young Nicholas Hoult as Marcus, the little kid that Will begrudgingly “befriends”. He’s a bit weird, but he’s also clever, charming, and quite an endearing kid. And Hoult is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Toni Collette, Natalia Tena, Rachel Weisz, Victoria Smurfit, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by the musician known as Badly Drawn Boy, and it was good. They’re basically indie pop songs, which I’d assume is the genre that Badly Drawn Boy might be associated with usually. There are even a few instrumentals that could fit that description used throughout. And this music works alright within the story. The tunes themselves are pretty good, it’s just that when used within a movie context, it creates a bit of a bland vibe. So overall… pretty good.

Based on a novel by Nick Hornby, this movie was directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, and I think they did a good job with it. There’s certainly a warmth their direction brings that makes it feel nice to watch (if that makes any sense). What really surprised me though was the shot composition. So many romantic comedies out there have what I like to call a “start the camera” look, in which it just looks like they started the camera, with no real thought of giving the movie an interesting style or any fun camerawork. But here, there’s plenty of both, this is a really well shot movie. And since it’s a comedy, we should talk about the humor… it’s funny. Some light slapstick, some surprisingly dark jokes, some clever digs at things. I laughed throughout.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay.

While it still dips into cliches at times, “About a Boy” still subverts enough to impress. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, good music, great directing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “About a Boy” is an 8,97/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “About a Boy” is now completed.

Hughbert Grantchester is a lot better when he gets to do these slightly more offbeat characters.

Movie Review: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Whenever I find myself watching a critically acclaimed movie, I get a bit nervous. Because of the acclaim and the hype around it, I get scared that I might be the one asshole that doesn’t like it. I mean, everyone has opinions and we should respect that, sure. But I like liking things. And if I don’t like the thing that I hope to like, it’s both disappointing and disheartening. This movie was one of those hyped up movies… so what did I think? Well, let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen, might wanna call a medic, because… “There Will Be Blood”.

Set during the early 20th century, the story follows prospector Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he deals with trying to drill up oil, raise his son (Dillon Freasier), and try to handle his less than friendly relationship with a local preacher (Paul Dano). It’s a movie about family and legacy and greed and what this kind of rough life does to a man. And damn, this plot was electrifying. I mean, it’s a slow burn, but I was never bored throughout any of it. They weave a narrative that is complex and layered, but still very easy to comprehend. Great stuff.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, nuanced, and very interesting. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Daniel Plainview, the prospector with the oil and the son and the troubles, oh my. While he at first can seem like a very calm, polite, and reasonable man, we get to see throughout that there are some darker sides too him, especially after certain things happen to him. And Day-Lewis is absolutely amazing in the role. Paul Dano plays Eli, a preacher that Plainview strikes up a bit of a friendship with, even if it’s not always portrayed as the friendliest of friendships. Eli is also one of those who kind of sees himself in a somewhat high regard, as the emissary of god, which is quite an interesting contrast to Plainview. And Dano is great in the role. We also of course get supporting work from people like Dillon Freasier, Ciarán Hinds, David Willis, Kevin J. O’Connor, David Warshofsky, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jonny Greenwood, and it was really good. It takes a lot of cues from old school scores in the way it builds grandeur and emotion, which works incredibly well for the movie’s pretty unique tone. It also just sounds great, with plenty of strings leading the charge. Good stuff.

Based on a novel by Upton Sinclair, “There Will Be Blood” was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and I think he did a great job. The direction had a way of keeping me on edge the entire time, even when there wasn’t anything really suspenseful going on. Damn fine direction. And the cinematography by Robert Elswit is pretty damn good too.

This movie (as you probably got from the intro) has been incredibly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 93/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10 and is ranked #158 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 2 Oscars in the categories of Best Actor (Day-Lewis) and Best Cinematography. It also got an additional 6 nominations in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, and Best Sound Editing.

I am so glad to say that I agree with the hype for “There Will Be Blood”. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “There Will Be Blood” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “There Will Be Blood” is now completed.

All of a sudden I want a milkshake.

Movie Review: Leaving Las Vegas (1996)

I don’t have anything clever to say here. Sometimes a movie just breaks you. And that’s what happened to me here. So let’s just get into the review itself.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Leaving Las Vegas”.

After he loses everything due to his alcoholism, screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) moves to Las Vegas to try to drink himself to death. But those plans get a little halted when he meets and forms a bond with a prostitute named Sera (Elisabeth Shue). But don’t think that this is some happy redemption story, because it fucking isn’t. It’s a tragic and depressing character study about a very self-destructive man. And god damn, it is incredibly well handled. It deals with its subjects with a lot of subtlety and nuance, making it feel very grounded. There are moments throughout where it looks up for a bit, but for the most part it’s a heartbreaking story that honestly made me tear up at multiple times throughout. So while the story made me feel like shit, I still found it to be pretty fucking great.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, nuanced, and just overall feel fairly realistic. First up we have Nicolas Cage as Ben Sanderson, a screenwriter who gets the boot due to his devotion to the bottle. He is a surprisingly self-aware man, he knows that what he’s doing is bad for him, but he’s just kind of accepted it as his reality, fully embracing the self-destructiveness of his behavior. Not saying it justifies it all, but it makes him quite an interesting figure within the whole “characters who are alcoholics” spectrum. And Nicolas Cage is fantastic in the role. Yeah, you read that right. There is some of his quirky expressionism sprinkled in throughout, but for the most part this is a relatively subdued and almost haunting performance. Next we have Elisabeth Shue as Sera, the prostitute that Ben meets forms a bit of a bond with. She of course already has a bit of a tragic existence, involving the life she’s been leading. And seeing how it alters when she meets Ben makes her quite an interesting character too. And Elisabeth Shue is great in the role. She doesn’t always show it in big, loud scenes, but you can read every emotion she has to portray in her eyes. We also get supporting work from people like Julian Sands, Graham Beckel, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Mike Figgis and Anthony Marinelli, who I think did a brilliant job with it, weaving sad and tragic piano pieces with some chaotic jazz and haunting blues to create a vibe that suits the story of a man’s downfall, while also kind of fitting the Las Vegas environment. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout that work very well in their respective scenes.

Based on a novel by John O’Brien, this movie was written and directed by Mike Figgis, who I think did a brilliant job with it. He gives the movie a very unpredictable vibe that both made me feel relaxed and uneasy. Relaxed in the sense that it’s not too chaotic in camerawork, and uneasy because it doesn’t really pull punches with this tale of self-destruction. While there is some style to it all, Figgis still presents everything in an honest, exposed way that makes it feel real.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best actor (Cage). It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best actress (Shue), Best director, and Best adapted screenplay.

While it’s far from an easy watch, I still think “Leaving Las Vegas” is an absolutely fantastic film. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Leaving Las Vegas” is a 9,89/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Leaving Las Vegas” is now completed.

Usually Cage makes me laugh or at least feel entertained… but today he made me cry.

Movie Review: Mystic River (2003)

I had no real reason to review this movie. It was on tv last night, and that rewatch made me wanna talk about it. So no proper reason. I mean, I could tie it into Eastwood’s new movie “The Mule”, but… nah.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mystic River”.

After one of them suffers a horrific family tragedy, three childhood friends (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon) find their lives change in some dark, shattering ways. So now we have our crime-drama. And I loved the story here. It’s a slowly burning, somber, and contemplative drama, focusing more on showing what happens within people’s minds after they experience something horrific, rather than a typical murder mystery. This is what I meant with the somber and contemplative. Yes, you do have the murder investigation, but it’s really more of a character drama than a police procedural. And I find it all extremely engaging, gut-wrenching, and incredibly well done.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, damaged, and just overall really interesting. First up we have Sean Penn as Jimmy Markum, a former criminal turned legit businessman. He’s the man who suffered the family tragedy that kicks the plot into gear, and to see him try to deal with it, especially as a former criminal, is quite an interesting journey. And Penn is fantastic in the role. Next we have Tim Robbins as Dave Boyle, the second of the main trio. As a boy, something happened to him that changed his life forever. And recent events put some of those memories back into his mind, which really gives him some interesting character development. And Robbins is fantastic in the role. And then we have Kevin Bacon as Sean Devine, a cop and the third of the childhood friends. He’s the one investigating the death of Markum’s family member, while also kind of dealing with a personal thing in the background. He probably has the least interesting arc of all the characters, but I still find him to be quite interesting. And Bacon is great in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Kevin Chapman, Spencer Treat Clark, John Doman, Tom Guiry, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by… Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a good job with it. It’s emotional, it’s a little eerie, and it just works very well within the various scenes that it can be heard. Yeah, it’s good.

Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane (AKA my favorite author), this movie was directed by Clint Eastwood. And I think he did a fantastic job on that front, directing it with an emotional intimacy that brings us close to the characters, while still allowing for a sense of scale to capture every element of this sweeping tale of personal tragedy. He also brings a decent bit of suspense to it, especially at a certain point in the movie which had me fully locked to the screen.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10. The movie won two Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Penn) and best supporting actor (Robbins). It also got an additional four nominations in the categories of Best picture, best director, best supporting actress (Harden), and best adapted screenplay.

“Mystic River” is a fantastic crime-drama. It has a great plot, really good characters, fantastic performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mystic River” is a 9,89/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Mystic River” is now completed.

Tragedy hits us all in different ways. Hug your loved ones while you can.