Movie Review: Cronos (1993)

More spooky content coming your way. And this one kind of fits within a Month of Spooks tradition. For multiple years now, I’ve covered a movie from this director. And this is the only one of his movie’s I had not seen yet. So yeah, this is exciting for me.

Damas y caballeros… “Cronos”.

The story follows Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi), an antique dealer who one day comes across a strange device. And when he activates this device, it does something to him, something that starts turning him into something… not very human. So to put it bluntly, this is a different take on vampire mythology. And I found it to be quite enjoyable. Like with most other movies by this director, “Cronos” focuses more on the heart and humanity of the situation, leaning in towards the emotional spectrum of it all. And I found myself quite engaged by that. The only parts that didn’t fully click for me is the central antagonist, who is an old, sickly man (Claudio Brook) seeking eternal life. I don’t mind that cliché being used in a story, as I think it has some merit. But the way it’s used here feels a little undercooked. If a little more time had been spent with the antagonist, allowing us to get to know him more, then maybe I had been a little kinder to that aspect of the narrative. Or hell, maybe it could’ve been dropped to focus more on the antique dealer’s transformation and personal plight. But you know what? As it stands, I do still enjoy the narrative and its very charming narrative, as it does have cool ideas and plenty of heart.

The characters in this I find decently interesting and entertaining. Federico Luppi plays Jesús Gris, the antique dealer who goes through this strange vampiric transformation. He’s a kind, warmhearted man who lives mainly to take care of his wife and his granddaughter. And that’s where a lot of his personal conflict lies, between the rising bloodlust of his transformation and simply wanting to care for those he loves. And it’s quite the interesting character arc, with Federico Luppi giving a fantastic performance. Claudio Brook as the old man seeking the eternal life gives a solid performance, though as previously stated, I wish there maybe was a little more to him as a character. And then there’s Ron fucking Perlman as Angel, the old man’s nephew, a tough guy/charismatic dick. And he makes up for some of the old man’s shortcomings purely by the virtue of Ron Perlman being fucking awesome. And in supporting roles we see people like Margarita Isabel, Tamara Shanath, and Daniel Giménez Cacho, who all give really solid performances.

The score for the film was composed by Javier Álvarez, and I think he did a good job. It’s pretty unique for a horror score, going for a weirdly charming and quaint vibe that I guess is to catch the vibe of the quiet life our protagonist lived before the device. And I do think this unique soundscape works to the film’s advantage.

“Cronos” is the feature film debut of one Guillermo del Toro. And talk about starting your career with a bang. Even in this first feature, while not perfect in its construction, del Toro’s style shines through brilliantly. The tone and style we enjoy in his later movies is very much here, just on a smaller, slightly less refined scale. And that I think largely helps the movie stand out a lot. He knows how to bring us close to the characters, to feel intimate with their situation. And when you mix that with Guillermo Navarro’s beautiful cinematography, you get some of the most impressive craft I’ve seen for such a small, low budget feature debut.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6.7/10.

While not my favorite of del Toro’s movies, “Cronos” is still a highly entertaining and impressive little movie. It has a good story, pretty good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing/cinematography. *Ahem*. My final score for “Cronos” is an 8.32/10. So while flawed, Is till think it’s worth buying.

My review of “Cronos” is now completed.

So now I’ve seen all of del Toro’s films. Whoa.

Movie Review: Mulan (1998)

Confession time: I have never actually watched this movie before. I know dishonor on me, dishonor on my cow, blah blah blah. But I then thought that since Disney recently released their live action remake, I might actually give this animated version a go (finally). So let’s get down to business.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mulan”.

Fearing that her father might die if he goes to war, young Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) steals his gear and pretends to be a man so she can take his place in the army. We all know the basic setup at this point, even if you haven’t seen this movie. And the way it’s handled here I quite enjoyed. It’s not without fault however. There are parts of the story that I feel they glossed over a bit, kinda rushing through some aspects in an effort to get to the “good stuff”. That’s not to say that the story here is bad, it’s still a fun family adventure without a good message at its core. I just wish it maybe slowed down a little more to let certain moments simmer more. But as it stands, the story and the way it’s told is still quite entertaining.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, fun, and surprisingly nuanced at times. First up is Mulan, title character and very relatable person. While the people around her want her to be a fancy girly-girl to honor her family, even though she’s not like that at all. And to see her development in the movie from somewhat clumsy and insecure to someone a bit more tough and confident, that’s engaging. And Ming-Na Wen does an excellent job voicing Mulan. Next we have Mushu, a guardian dragon who sets out to help Mulan become a hero… even if he’s only doing it for his own gain. He’s mostly there to bring laughs, but I think the filmmakers found a good balance in that and making him a valuable part of certain emotional developments. And while it might seem slightly jarring to put Eddie Murphy in a role like that at first, I must say that he was great in the role. Then you also get supporting work from people like B.D. Wong, James Hong, Harvey Fierstein, Soon-Tek Oh, Miguel Ferrer, Pat Morita, Frank Welker, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music of this film is quite good. The main score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and it’s an absolute treat for the ears, creating a lot of emotion through the various tracks, giving us a some great background ambiance. Then you have the songs (’cause you know, Disney) that were done by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel. While I don’t think that all of them are among the upper echelon of Disney musical songs, they still generally work pretty well for the movie. The peak of the tracks is of course “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (sung by Donny Osmond), a most excellent montage song. So yeah, overall this movie has good music.

Based on a Chinese folk legend, “Mulan” was directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook (with writing credits given to a shitload of people, good grief). And I must say that the craft on display here is absolutely superb. The art style for example takes inspiration from traditional Chinese artwork, and blending it with traditional Disney animation to create an absolutely stunning look for this movie that feels wholly its own. The animation is especially breathtaking in motion, where it shows great fluency that is a treat for the eyes.

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 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.6/10.

While its storytelling isn’t the best, due to its fast pace, “Mulan” is still another winning movie within the Disney catalogue. It has a good story, good characters, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mulan” is an 8,77/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Mulan” is now completed.

Sometimes you just a need a film that can make you smile. This one did that for me.

Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 3 (1998 – 1999)

Yes, that’s right, still rewatching and reviewing all seasons of this show… mom and I just forget to keep watching every now and then, which is why it’s been so long between the previous “Buffy” review and this one. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 3.

After disappearing during the summer post season 2, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) returns once again to her loved ones in Sunnydale, all of them of course a bit peeved that she bolted without much of a word. And as we follow Buffy trying to get back in to the swing of slayer things AND earn back the trust of those she loves, a new slayer named Faith (Eliza Dushku) arrives in town and ends up stirring some stuff up. All the while the city’s affable mayor (Harry Groener) plots sinister things in the shadows. As with the previous seasons, the episodes here are a mix of one-off monster plots, main story, and whatever else the writers came up with. And the blend of these elements feels stronger than ever. Yes, there are moments and episodes that are somewhat weaker than others, as with any 20+ episode series, but compared to the first two seasons, there’s fewer of those dud moments in my opinion. The storyline here is more ambitious, the schlock a bit more fun, the consequences of characters’ actions a bit more impactful. It’s just overall the strongest in terms of storytelling (so far).

The characters are just as well written, nuanced, flawed, colorful, and interesting as they’ve always been, with their various dynamics being tested at every turn to great effect, creating engaging drama and character development. The returning main cast of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anthony Head, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, Seth Green, and Kristine Sutherland are all terrific and all get moments to shine. Newcomer Eliza Dushku kills it as Faith, this new slayer in town who is a bit of a wild card, helping create some wonderful tension in the show. Harry Groener is wonderful as the town’s mayor/season’s main antagonist, playing him as this super friendly and clean (both literally and metaphorically) guy who also happens to be involved in some shady shit. And all other actors that appear this season are all great too.

As with season 2, the score for season 3 was composed by Christophe Beck, who in his previous outing already gave us a huge step up in the show’s background music. And yet the crazy motherfucker stepped it up even further this time around. The instrumentation is crisper and more playful, giving us a lot of interesting melodies and a unique soundscape that is perfectly fitting for this show. There’s also a bunch of licensed tracks used throughout, and they all work well in their respective scenes.

Season 3 of “Buffy” was written and directed by a whole bunch of talented people, all doing (for the most part) great work in their departments. Effects (for the most part) are improved, pacing holds up way better, and the cinematography generally is quite pleasing. The crew knew how to keep things exciting, intimate, or suspenseful in any given scene, showing how they’ve evolved since that rocky first season.

This show/season has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a user score of 7.6/10. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.2/10.

Season 3 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is another step up for the show, giving us another stellar set of episodes. The story is great, the characters are great, the performances are fantastic, the music’s great, and the directing/cinematography is great. Time for my final score. *Bleh, I am vampire*. My final score for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 3 is a 9.94/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” season 3 is now completed.

Just kidding, by the way, I’m not actually a vampire… too much of a recluse to be bitten.

Series Review: Doom Patrol – Season 2 (2020)

Last year I watched (and reviewed, nudge nudge wink wink) the first season of this show. I absolutely loved it. So now that I finally finished season 2, the question becomes “Is the show able to follow up on such a strong first outing?”. Well, today we’re gonna find that out.

Ladies and gents… “Doom Patrol” season 2!

We once again follow the dysfunctional adoptive “family” of mad scientist Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton), now recently having added Caulder’s real, estranged daughter Dorothy (Abigail Shapiro) to their mix. All the while they deal with their own personal demons in the chaotic and often destructive ways we’ve come to know from them. As with the first season, the sophomore outing of “Doom Patrol” isn’t afraid of exploring the stranger sides of the DC Universe, giving us some of the strangest and most insane characters from the comics. And while this helps create some absurd hilarity throughout, the writers still take the time to really take us into the characters’ heads and dramas, creating a strong emotional bond that keeps the viewer invested in everything going on, even when things get absolutely fucking bonkers. It’s a damn good mix of strange, hilarious weirdness, and genuinely emotional drama.

The characters in this are flawed, extremely nuanced, colorful, fun, engaging, and overall just insanely interesting. I won’t go into detail with each character as that would take all month, but let it be known that they all have really fascinating arcs this season that add upon developments from the first season quite well. I can at least say that the returning core cast, including people like Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, Joivan Wade, Timothy Dalton, Matthew Zuk, and Riley Shanahan all give excellent performances in their respective roles. And newcomer Abigail Shapiro (in her first on screen role no less) holds her own excellently against these more established performers, playing the inexperienced and naive Dorothy beautifully. And some of the supporting and guest actors are great too. It’s just an overall great cast.

As with season 1, the music for season 2 was done mainly by Kevin Kiner, with some assistance by Clint Mansell. And good god damn, the score here is excellent. It’s mostly based around synths, but it helps create a sound that is a little weird and otherworldly, perfectly befitting of this show’s overall tone, fitting both the insane and emotional sides of the narrative. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used throughout, and they work quite well in their respective scenes.

The episodes of “Doom Patrol” season 2 were written and directed by a whole bunch of people, and the craft on display here is superb. The shot composition is great, the pacing is great, the cinematography is beautiful, everything just together perfectly. Even the special effects have had a bit of a step up in quality, from being very hit and miss in the first season to all looking pretty damn good here. And as implied earlier, this show has a fair bit of comedy to it. And I felt like it all landed, creating many loud, belly laughs.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating. On Metacritic it has no score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.0/10.

Season 2 of “Doom Patrol” is another excellent batch of insane, emotionally resonant stories. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, great directing/cinematography, and hilarious comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Doom Patrol” season 2 is a 9,94/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Doom Patrol” season 2 is now completed.

Long live weirdness.

Movie Review: The Wedding Photographer (2009)

I enjoy a bit of photography. I may not own an actual camera (though I’d really like to), but if I see potential in a spot or situation then I whip out my phone and snap a pic. Even during the Summer, this Swede takes some pictures. Wow, that was a clumsy tie-in to this series of mine… fuck it, it works.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Wedding Photographer” (Original title: Bröllopsfotografen).

After the place he works at shuts down, Robin (Björn A. Ling) decides to take this new opportunity to move to Stockholm and pursue his dream of becoming a wedding photographer. And as he starts acquiring work and nestling himself in with some of the finer folks of the city, his life starts changing quite a bit. What at the start just seems like a romantic comedy with a poor goofball in a rich man’s world spin soon turns into more of a satire of class divide and how people might change if they try to look good for the allegedly “fine” people out there. And I found myself very entertained by the narrative. Sure, it’s not the most original premise, I could probably even think of a few films with similar setups, but as per usual it’s the execution that matters. And the execution of the story here is fun and entertaining, with a few decent nuances on occasion. The pacing does drag a little in a few parts, but for the most part I found myself just having a good time with the story here.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, and overall just entertaining. Björn A. Lind (credited here as Björn Starrin) plays Robin, a likable and somewhat ambitious young man hailing from the boonies in the northwest of Sweden. He has a bit of an interesting arc here that I found surprisingly engaging. And Lind is really good in the role. Next we have Kjell Bergqvist as Jonny Björk, a former comedian trying to make it as a more serious actor. He’s the one helping Robin get his foot in the door, and their bond is one of the best parts of the movie. And Bergqvist is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Tuva Novotny, Johannes Brost, Lotta Tejle, Johan Östling, Anastasios Soulis, and many more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the film was composed by Jimmy Lagnefors, and it was okay. A bit charming, a bit dramatic, a bit eclectic. It works for the most part within the various scenes, even if it feels a little weird or eclectic at times.

“The Wedding Photographer” was written, edited, and directed by Ulf Malmros, and I think he did a really good job with it. He has a good way of keeping energy up in scenes without making anything feel rushed, creating a vibe that made me really feel part of the experience. I also have to mention the cinematography by Mats Olofsson, because it’s great. A lot of fun long takes, some clever camera movements, it just adds another layer of quality to the storytelling and overall enjoyment.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 48% audience score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5.9/10.

While I think some of the humor will get lost in translation, I highly enjoyed “The Wedding Photographer”. It has a fun plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Wedding Photographer” is an 8,44/10. So I’d argue that it can be worth buying.

My review of “The Wedding Photographer” is now completed.

Say cheese.

Movie Review: We Can Be Heroes! (2002)

Time for the Summer of the Swedes to keep going. So what’s on the menu today? A children’s film? Oh fuck.

Ladies and gentlemen… “We Can Be Heroes!” (Original title: Bäst i Sverige!).

Marcello (Ariel Petsonk) doesn’t have it easy. He’s bullied by some boys in schools, and his parents (Michael Nyqvist, Anna Pettersson) try to dictate where his life is supposed to go. But when he befriends the new girl in his class (Zamand Hägg), his life starts changing in a few ways. If some of these elements sound familiar, that’s because you’ve seen other movies. But just because this film borrows cliches from other ones doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, I’d argue the story here is pretty good, with writing that takes the cliches and uses them in charming and enjoyable ways. There’s a lot of times when our main character has really vivid dreams, both in the middle of the day and during the night, which serve to not only develop him as a character, but also further the plot and also entertain. And it helps make the storytelling here feel fresh and fun. There are one or two moments in the story that maybe don’t fit too much, since they push the suspension of disbelief a bit too much, but overall I really liked the story here.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and at times surprisingly nuanced. Sure, they all might seem like walking cliches at first. But as the story moves on, we see most of them get some decent development that makes them endearing and likable. And the cast, which features people like Ariel Petsonk, Zamand Hägg, Michael Nyqvist, Anna Pettersson, Ralph Carlsson, Pontus Stenshäll, and more, all do pretty well in their respective roles.

The music in this movie is based heavily in a lot of pop tunes, which I guess is used to help add to the overall fun tone of the movie. I’m not saying all of them 100% fit all of the time, but I also don’t think any of the tracks ruin the mood at all. The songs work fine.

“We Can Be Heroes!” was directed and edited by Ulf Malmros, and I think he did a damn good job. The way he shoots a scene is energetic and fast-paced, while still allowing for some of the more quiet scenes to nicely simmer. And man, the editing is really good too. Malmros knows when to make perfect cuts and how to nicely transition between reality and Marcello’s dreams. The craft here is really good. And since this is a comedy (despite imdb not acknowledging it), how is the humor? Fucking funny. It’s charming, it’s silly, it’s cute, it’s even a little brash at times… and most of it made me laugh.

On Rotten Tomatoes it exists with no rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,8/10.

“We Can Be Heroes!” had a bit of an uphill battle with me, being both from my own home country and a children’s film. But god damn, it managed to win me over. It’s a charming little comedy about finding yourself. It has a good plot, really good characters, really good performances, pretty good music, great directing/editing, and funny comedy. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “We Can Be Heroes!” is an 8,89/10. So I’d definitely say it’s worth buying.

My review of “We Can be Heroes!” is now completed.

Things are starting to look up.

Lock-down Godzilla

Hey there, friends. Today’s post is a little different. In some ways, one could probably consider it a part of my Great Music series, but I that I wouldn’t do that in this case. As you all know, the world’s in a bit of a shitty spot right now with a certain virus-related thingamabob going on. I’m not trying to make light of it, I just don’t wanna say its name too much, as you already know what it is. Anyhow, it’s not just us regular folks who are in lockdown. Famous artists are stuck too, which means they can’t really be out touring and playing gigs… but that’s not stopping some from entertaining the masses.

Recently a video was posted to youtube by one of my favorite bands. That band of course being Blue Öyster Cult. And in it, we have the current band members Buck Dharma, Eric Bloom, Danny Miranda, Richie Castellano, and Jules Radino sitting in their respective homes, giving us a fresh rendition of their 1977 classic “Godzilla”. Not only do I like this because I adore the band in general, but I also like it because the guys clearly still got it. Really, it’s just a fun little video that I’ve been enjoying recently. And I thought I’d share it with you guys, because I enjoy sharing things that I like with my friends.

Have a good one and enjoy!

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: Blaze (2018)

Biopics are fascinating. They give us a glimpse into a real life individual’s personal life, while also trying to provide a couple hours of entertainment. And striking the right balance between fact and compelling drama can be tough. But some people manage it.

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 gentlemen… “Blaze”.

The story follows the life and times of Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey), a raggedy man with a talent for music. From his humble beginnings, and through the highs and lows, including his marriage to Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat), we get a good glimpse into Foley’s life. And I think that the plot here is really good. There are elements that we recognize from other biopics, but the way they’re used throughout “Blaze” feels fresh, due to the gentle and nuanced writing. It creates a fascinating tale that can be as heartbreaking as it is warmly nostalgic. The deliberately slow pace might prove a bit frustrating for some, but I thought it worked very well for the story here.

The characters here are flawed, nuanced, charming, and overall feel very real. Ben Dickey plays the titular musician. A likable man with a lot of tragic flaws. Seeing his journey as a character here is really fascinating, and I really grew to care about him. And Dickey is great in the role. Alia Shawkat plays Sybil Rosen, a woman and aspiring actress/writer that Blaze has a committed relationship with. The journey she has here, which really are the ups and downs of being with Blaze, is really interesting, and makes her an interesting and sympathetic character. And Shawkat is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Charlie Sexton, Josh Hamilton, Wyatt Russell, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As this is a biopic about a musician, it should be expected that one would hear a lot of songs from said artist throughout. You’d be correct in that assumption, you do hear a lot of Foley’s music here… and I love it. Not only because the music is incredibly well written, but also because the way it’s implemented in the storytelling is absolutely wonderful. So yeah, the music here is great.

Based on “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley” (bit of a mouthful) by Sybil Rosen, this movie was written by Ethan Hawke & Sybil Rosen, with Hawke also handling directing. And the craft here is wonderful. It has a warmness to it, and a willingness to just sit down and really get to know these characters, not always feeling the need to get to the next “big event”. Like I said in the story bit, the pacing is deliberately slow, and the direction embraces that and turns it into some truly compelling stuff. And the cinematography by Steve Cosens helps kind of give it all a nostalgic storybook feeling that really adds to the experience.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“Blaze” is a wonderful movie about a very interesting man. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Blaze” is a 9,77/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Blaze” is now completed.

That was a nice experience.

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…