Movie Review: Eastern Promises (2007)

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In Soviet Russia, movies direct you.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Eastern Promises”.

After a Russian teenager in London dies while giving birth, a midwife named Anna (Naomi Watts) finds a journal in the young girl’s bag that helps give her clues to everything leading up to this. And this makes Anna run into a Russian mob family who might’ve had something to do with it. So we get to see Anna trying to find out exactly what happened while we also follow a man named Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) who’s kind of the driver/fixer for this mob family as he tries to do his job for them while also forming a little bit of a connection with Anna. And I won’t really say anything else about the plot itself because that would kind of be going into spoilers. I can however say that I found the plot infinitely interesting and captivating. The events that unfold before the viewer’s eyes are all perfectly handled and helps to tell a dramatic and surprisingly psychological plot. I’m not saying it’s trying to mindfuck you, but it definitely uses a bit more brain than most crime stories. Never did I find myself bored during this movie, my eyes were pretty much glued to the screen the entire time.

The characters in this movie… it’s difficult to call any of them 100% good guys, even Anna who is pretty much the main character has some shades of grey to her. But even though none of them are really perfect/good, I can at least understand where they’re coming from, I fully understand their motivations and thoughts throughout. Naomi Watts is great as Anna, really nothing else I can say about it… she’s great. However, I can definitely speak more about Viggo Mortensen as Nikolai. He is absolutely fantastic in this movie. It’s also kind of a daring performance for him since he is an American playing a Russian. But I honestly had no problem with it because of a few reasons. One of the reasons is that he perfectly nailed the accent, second was that he actually spoke a bit of Russian in the movie and third is because his performance did everything right as well. I was especially impressed after what he did/went through in a scene that’s late in the movie (no spoilers). Vincent Cassel plays a man who works together with Nikolai and he was great as well. Then we also have Armin Mueller-Stahl as the boss of the mob family and he was absolutely terrific in his role as too. Everybody in the movie did a great job, really.

The score for the movie was composed by none other than Howard Shore who everybody knows from the “Lord of the Rings” movies. And once again, he fucking nailed it with the music for the movie. And while the score for “Eastern Promises” isn’t as huge and extravagant as in “Lord of the Rings”, it’s still a great piece of music that has been created perfectly for the movie it’s used in. It’s very low-key, but it’s still great.

This movie was directed by David Cronenberg who also made the excellent “A History of Violence” (Sidenote: Also starring Viggo Mortensen). And he did a terrific job with the directing of this movie. It’s very smooth, it has a lot of long(ish) takes that let’s you see everything that happens and even notice details that are in the background. The movie is also very violent, so any person who hates violence in movies or can’t watch a lot of blood on screen might wanna stay away. I will warn you already, this movie is Rated R but borders heavily on NC-17. And while that doesn’t ruin any part of the movie for me, I am just saying it as a warning for people who might not be able to take that stuff.

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 82/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Actor (Mortensen). 

“Eastern Promises” is a fascinating crime-drama with a fantastic plot, interesting characters, great acting, a great soundtrack and great directing. Time for my final score. *Кашель*. My final score for “Eastern Promises” is a 9,89/10. It most definitely gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “Eastern Promises” is now completed.

In Soviet Russia, movie review you.

Movie Review: Birdman (2014)

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Superhero movies! You either love them or you hate them, that’s how it is. Fine you can be indifferent about them too, but that isn’t important. So last year I heard about this new superhero movie that when it came out got some of the best reviews of any superhero movie ever. So I was of course pumped! Now this superher-what? This isn’t a superhero movie? Really? Well, fuck you, Jeff!

So this isn’t a superhero movie apparently… fuck it, this is my review of “Birdman”.

“Birdman” is about washed up actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton). In the early 90’s he played superhero “Birdman” (Roll Credits). But now he got no major relevance. So to kind of get back some of that former glory he is setting up a stage play. But that isn’t as easy as it may seem. For one it is on Broadway, A.K.A it is a big production. Next up he has to deal with a few family issues, mainly his daughter Sam (Emma Stone). He also has to deal with a last minute replacement actor named Mike (Edward Norton) who is really “method”. We also get to kind of see Riggan’s descent into madness throughout. And it turns out the story of “Birdman” is fucking amazing. I have never been invested in a story this weird and amazing since I first saw “Fight Club”. Seeing Riggan and everybody try to deal with setting up the play is interesting and then to see the often kind of surrealistic descent into madness from Riggan just adds to the already multi-layered and amazing story.

The characters in this movie are all incredibly interesting with some terrific writing and great development. It is also noticeable that they all have their own problems to deal with. It was also great to see a movie with so many great performances. Michael Keaton gives the best performance of his entire career. I have always liked the guy, bur he has never really been THIS good. Emma Stone was also great. Hell, even Zach Galifianakis was really good in this movie. And I am aware you know I will gush over Edward Norton since he is my favorite actor so let’s just get it over with. Edward Norton was fucking amazing in this movie. Now he is always great, but he hasn’t given a performance this good since I don’t know, “The Illusionist” maybe. But I do think all the acting in the movie was great and all characters were well-rounded and well-written.

The score was done by Antonio Sanchez and the funny thing about the score is that it is made from percussion only… but I didn’t mind. The score was truly great and really worked to give the feel of all the situations and emotions of the characters. There is also a thing about the score that integrates itself into the movie in a really fun way that I am not going to spoil, but when you see it you will know it and really enjoy it. Overall I found the score to be great.

This movie looks amazing. Not only because they found people who could line up the shots perfectly but also because it all looks like a continuous shot. That’s right, the entirety of “Birdman” looks like one long never-ending shot. Of course there are cuts in it, but it is cheated and edited so well that it isn’t easy finding them all. It is also kind of ironic that this is about a guy who used to play an iconic superhero, even bigger irony is that the last movie that said character was in came out 1992 (according to characters in the movie). Why is this ironic? Well because Michael Keaton used to play Batman back in the day and that the last movie he played Batman in was “Batman Returns” which came out in 1992. See the irony? Good. To keep on the same trail of superheroes, this movie gives a lot of great statements on superhero movies, stage plays, actors, critics and everything within the entertainment business you could think of. And that type of self aware commentary is something I love seeing in movies. Of course I love myself a good superhero movie, but the way this movie comments on them is genius. Believe me, this movie doesn’t rip the superhero movies a new one, but it sheds a good amount of light and gives great commentary on it. There is also a scene featuring some great commentary in the movie where the character of Riggan just explodes on a critic and it is glorious! Of course I might sound a tiny bit like a hypocrit saying that because I might be viewed on as a critic and I completely understand that, but I’m not a critic… but that’s for another time! *Nudge nudge, wink wink*.

This movie like I said in the beginning got some great reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and is certified “Fresh”. On Metacritic it has a score of 88/100. And on imdb.com it has an 8,1/10 and is ranked #202 on the “Top 250” list. Also, as of this review the movie has been nominated for 9 Oscars (Holy shit) in the categories of Best motion picture of the year, Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone), Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best cinematography, Best sound mixing and Best sound editing.

“Birdman” is an achievment in film-making with it’s original filming/editing style. It also got some truly great performances, a great score, a great original story and some great commentary on the entertainment industry. Time for my final score. JEFF! Where’s the fucking envelope!? Thank you! My final score for “Birdman” is a 9,86/10. This is a fantastic movie that of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Birdman” is now reviewed.

Why the extra title? Why not simply choose one? Either you go “Birdman” or you go “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”. Simple as that.