Movie Review: Danny Collins (2015)

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It’s interesting how there are so many ways musicians can become. Will they become the typical coked out and washed up piece of shit we see in a lot of cases or will they actually have a great career and never succumb to the drugs, alcohol, sex and other stupid bullshit? It’s always interesting to see that, at least in my opinion.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Danny Collins”.

In this movie we follow aging rock star Danny Collins (Al pacino, also roll credits). On his birthday, his manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) gives him a 40 year old letter from John Lennon that had suddenly popped up. So now Danny sets out to change his life thanks to the letter. And while it is interesting to see, I had one problem with the plot. And by that I don’t mean I had a problem with the plot itself, but I was taken out of it because of it being a little too predictable. I could figure out pretty well what was gonna happen next which is a little sad because I never like that to happen. Fortunately I still enjoyed it thanks to good execution and good writing.

While this movie lacks is original and unpredictable plot, it made up for in characters. They are all consistently well-written and entertaining as hell. I gotta say, this is the best performance Pacino has given us in recent years. I don’t think he has been this great since “Insomnia” in 2002. He is also the most charming I have ever seen him. Christopher Plummer is also great as his manager. Annette Bening plays his love interest in the movie and I think she did a great job. I also think she didn’t feel forced like almost every love interest does. Bobby Cannavale played Pacino’s son in the movie and he was great too. Everybody was great, even the annoying little kid who actually kind of had a reason to be annoying.

The soundtrack to this movie is one of the best I’ve heard in a while. Let’s start with the original tracks… there are two of them. One is supposed to be the main character’s “big hit” song that he plays at every concert, the song that he never gets away from. The second one is a song he writes over the course of the movie and that tracks is beautiful and awesome. The rest of the soundtrack are licensed tracks, but in a good way. What do I mean by that? It’s fucking John Lennon, how could it not be good? That’s right, they paid a lot of money for John Lennon songs and they used them perfectly.

Let’s see here, this movie was directed by… Dan Fogelman. And before this he had directed… nothing. Yeah, that’s the truth, this guy had not directed anything prior to this movie and yet he did it perfectly. The shots look great and everything is very well-done. Also, I don’t think I mentioned that this movie is really funny… because it is. The jokes in it are really good and I think Pacino delivered them perfectly.

This movie has been pretty-well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritification. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Danny Collins” is a pretty good movie. It has a good (but predictable) story, great characters/performances, an awesome soundtrack, really good directing and great writing. Time for my final score. *Pacino Growl*. My final score for “Danny Collins” is a 9,12/10. I think it’s worth buying.
Worth buying

“Danny Collins” is now reviewed.

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Movie Review: Whiplash (2014)

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Here is a little fun fact for you, I am actually a musician. Yeah, didn’t see that one coming, did ya? I play the trombone. For how long you may ask? Well this fall I will have played for 10 years (Damn, dude!). I enjoy playing and it is something that I have always enjoyed despite a few ups and downs here and there. And even though there have been times I have felt I didn’t enjoy it too much, I have never had it as tough as the main character of this movie.

What I am saying is that this is my review of “Whiplash”.

Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is a young man with a dream. This dream is to become the next big jazz drummer. So he enrolls in this certain music school. And when he gets a shot to be in a sort of high-end orchestra in that school he meets conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who is the scariest motherfucker ever. And from that point on we see not only how Andrew evolves as a drummer and person but we also get to see some psychological warfare between him and Fletcher. And this butting of heads creates one of the most intense storylines I have seen and not one firearm is shot. You see how Fletcher really does his best to bring Andrew down to the ground with both verbal and physical abuse. You see how Andrew dealing with the orchestral/Fletcher problems and you also get a small look into the fact on how the world looks at musicians compared to athletes. And I loved absolutely every second of the story of this movie. It is dramatic, it is intense and it is powerful. I was interested every second of screentime. The story of “Whiplash” is fantastic.

All the characters have good arcs, writing and acting. Miles Teller I never expected much from in anything really, but I was kind of turned around when I saw him in this movie. He really got some great acting chops. So I am curious to see how he takes on the role of Mr. Fantastic in the upcoming “Fantastic Four” movie. But by far, the highlight of the movie was the performance of J.K. Simmons. Let me put it like this. There is good acting, there is great acting and then there is J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”. When he was on screen I didn’t see J. Jonah Jameson or Assistant Chief Will Pope, this was a new guy who I swear is the most intimidating character in a movie since Derk Vinyard in “American History X”. Simmons was absolutely fantastic as this vulgar, loud and frightening character. I do overall think the characters and the acting in this movie are absolutely great.

The score by Tim Simonec is great. It is jazzy, it is cool and it fits fantastically in this movie. Of course there were a few tracks that were simply covers (like Don Ellis’ song “Whiplash”). But the covers that were in the movie were absolutely fantastic and the original tracks were great as well. This is a soundtrack I love listening to and will probably buy.

This movie is beautifully shot. Sure, it isn’t as innovative as “Birdman” but it still looks great. The use of darkness and lighting in this movie is really great and the camera work is really, really good. Something that was interesting to find out about this movie is that even though they are playing to backing tracks in the movie, Miles Teller is apparently one hell of a drummer and has been playing since age 15. I also want to mention that the last 10 – 20 minutes of this movie are absolutely phenomenal and is probably one of the best finales I have seen in any movie ever.

This movie has gotten some pretty great reception. On Rotten Tomatoes this movie has a 95% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic this movie got a score of 88/100. And on imdb.com this movie has an 8,6/10 and is ranked #38 on the “Top 250” list. “Whiplash” also won 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), Best Film Editing and Best sound mixing. The movie was also nominated for another 2 Oscars in the categories of Best motion picture of the year and Best adapted screenplay. 

“Whiplash” is an absolutely fantastic movie with a great story, fantastic performances, great music, great directing and one of the best finales ever! Time for my final score. JEFF! GET THE FOLDER! Great! Get the fuck out of my sight before I demolish you! My final score for “Whiplash” is a 9,85/10. This is a fantastic movie that definitely is worthy of the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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Review of “Whiplash” is now done.

I don’t wanna start playing drums, I might end up with Fletcher!