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…

Series Review: Preacher – Season 2 (2017)

Last year a little show called “Preacher” premiered on AMC. Critically speaking it did well, with audiences it did well, so of course a second season would get made. And now it has finally finished, which means that I can finally review it. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Preacher” season 2!

After the explosive end of season 1, we find Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) on the road to try to find god… I’m not being metaphorical, they’re seriously trying to find the individual known as god. All while they’re trying to survive being chased by the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), who wants to kill Jesse. So now we have our plot for the season. And I’d say that it is quite good. It’s not flawless, but it’s strengths definitely outweigh it’s flaws. For the most part you have this weird, fun, and sometimes blasphemous adventure with plenty of fun mythology to it. And at times you get some pretty solid character drama. And it’s filled with a whole bunch of good twists and turns. Now, my only gripe with the plot here is that there are some mild pacing issues in maybe two episodes near the middle. But they’re not that bad… noticeable, but not deal-breaking. So overall I’d say that the plot is really good.

The characters in this are fun, colorful, and just incredibly interesting. But it’s not just the characters being the same throughout, you see them develop more and more over the season while still remaining true to what we were introduced to in season 1. Dominic Cooper returns as Jesse Custer, the troubled preacher with a special ability. Seeing him trying to find god while also dealing with his other demons is quite fascinating, and Cooper is great in the role. Ruth Negga returns as Tulip, Jesse’s girlfriend and partner in crime. She’s as badass as ever while still showing a relatable vulnerability, and Negga is great in the role. Joseph Gilgun is back as Cassidy, the Irish vampire… yeah, he’s as awesome as he was in season 1, still my favorite character in the show. He’s incredibly fun, but he’s also given some good dramatic depth this season which was fun to see. And Gilgun is of course awesome in the role. Graham McTavish returns to play the Saint of Killers, AKA the cowboy we saw every now and then in season 1. Though this time he has an arguably bigger role, and he’s honestly quite awesome. He’s a terrifying villain, an unstoppable badass who will kill Jesse Custer no matter what, and any scenes with him were quite tense. But he was also given some solid dramatic moments too, fleshing out his character a bit more. And McTavish is fantastic in the role. Ian Colletti returns as Eugene/Arseface, and he’s still great in the role. As for new people, there are a whole bunch, including Noah Taylor as… you know what, I’m not gonna spoil it if you haven’t seen it already, because it has to be seen to be believed. That said, he’s great in the role. Then in more supporting roles we have Pip Torrens, Julie Ann Emery, Ronald Guttman, Malcolm Barrett, and Amy Hill. There are more people in the show, but I’m not gonna write up every name that appears in this season. But with that said, every actor did very well in this season.

Like in the first season, the score was composed by Dave Porter, and once again he did a great job. The score is tense, dramatic, and just overall fits the show quite well and elevates a couple of moments throughout. There’s also plenty of licensed music throughout, not only being overall ear-pleasing, but also fitting the scenes they were used in very well.

The show was created by Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg and is based on a series of comics by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (R.I.P). And the show was written/directed by Rogen/Goldberg and a whole bunch of other people. And they all did very well in those departments. The show is directed with plenty of style and energy, making sure to keep most shots interesting. It’s also a visually appealing show. And the action scenes too are quite entertaining. Sure, a couple feel a little bit clunky, but most of them are quite solid… intense, fun, and badass. This show also has plenty of humor in it… admittedly quite dark humor, but humor nonetheless. And I laughed quite a lot throughout the show, both in small chuckles and in loud, gut-busting laughter. I also feel like I have to mention that if you have a problem with copious amounts of blood/gore, then this might not be for you because fucking hell, this is gory. But if you can stomach blood and gore then you might have some fun with it.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

“Preacher” season 2 is a fucking blast. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and great humor. My only issue with it was that an episode or two had some mild pacing issues, but it’s not horrible for me. Time for my final score. *Amen*. My final score for “Preacher” season 2 is a 9,52/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Preacher” season 2 is now completed.

By the way, my friends from the We Have a Hulk podcast interviewed Graham McTavish (The Saint of Killers) a handful of weeks back, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Movie Review: Predestination (2014)

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Time. A very abstract concept that we are obsessed with. “How long is the movie?”, “What time is my doctor’s appointment?”, “What took you so fucking long?”. Pretty interesting stuff, especially when we start involving it in fiction and start messing with the ficitonal timelines.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Predestination”.

The story follows a temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) as he travels back in time to try to catch a very dangerous and elusive criminal. And without getting into spoilers, this is one of the most mind-bending and surprisingly compelling sci-fi plots that I have ever experienced. Really, the twists and turns throughout the movie really caught me off guard and truly fucked with my mind. Compelling, investing, clever, and thought-provoking… Yeah, I thought it was pretty great.

I was pretty quickly invested in the characters and I was endlessly interested/fascinated by them. Ethan Hawke is great as the main character, and I’ll just leave it at that. Sarah Snook was terrific as this person that Ethan Hawke meets in the movie, her character is also the most compelling one in the movie. Yeah, not much else to say here. NEXT!

The score for the movie was composed by Peter Spierig and it was really good. It was tense, dramatic, surprisingly emotional, and just overall fit the movie very well. Really can’t say much else here. It was a good score for the movie. Moving on!

This movie was directed by two brothers, Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig (Hey, Mr. Composer-man!). And the directing on display in this movie is really solid. For one, they really take their time with scenes and really let things simmer. There’s also a lot of suspense in their direction, making a lot of scenes really great, especially the parts when certain mindfucky things get revealed. Fun fact: The movie is apparently also based on a short story by Robert A. Heinlein, titled “All You Zombies”.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 69/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Predestination” is one of the most surprisingly awesome movies that I have ever seen. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Travels in time to fetch envelope*. My final score for “Predestination” is a 9,80/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Predestination” is now completed.

Do you guys realize how difficult it is writing about a movie like this without ruining anything?

 

Series Review: Peaky Blinders – Season 2 (2014)

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As you probably know, I did recently review the first season of this show about three weeks back. And if so you probably also remember that I really fucking enjoyed it. So now I guess it’s time to review the second season.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the second season of… “Peaky Blinders”.

1921, two years after the end of season one we once again follow gang leader Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) as he’s trying to keep the gang running. But since some time has passed he feels like he wants to expand his reach a bit. And for that to happen he has to strike a deal with another gangster named Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy). But Tommy will still face trouble with local mob boss Daryl Sabini (Noah Taylor). He also has to face the return of Major Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) who now has even more of a grudge against Tommy. And with all of these things, there is definitely a noticeable raise in stakes for the season together with a huge increase in dramatic tension… and I absolutely loved it so much. There is so much more happening in the episodes yet nothing feels forced or unnecessary, every little bit of story here fits perfectly into the bigger picture. There are even a few twists and turns at times in the season and they work really well too. As you might tell, I really loved the plot/story of this season.

The characters are once again great, with the ones returning from season one getting some really good character development. CIllian Murphy is once again great as Thomas Shelby, Paul Anderson knocked it out of the park again as Arthur, Helen McCrory is amazing as Polly, Sam Neill is still great as Campbell even if his accent still is on-and-off. Then we have one new addition I just have to talk about, Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons… holy shit, he is so great in the role. He not only gives a great overall performance, but he is also so entertaining and funny which really added something to this season. I also like how he was almost as profane as me. Every actor was great, every character was great, all of that was great.

Once again there was no original score composed for the show. Instead the creators opted for a mix of a lot of contemporary rock/pop/metal songs that could kind of work in some weird way… and they were right about that. And while it’s still weird to hear songs like “Out of the Black” by Royal Blood or “Do I wanna know” by Arctic Monkeys in a gangster show set in 1920’s Birmingham, it still does work in some weird fuckin’ way. I do think the soundtrack was really good. And just like in season one, Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” serves as the show’s main theme and it’s still great to hear even if it is in cover/remix form from time to time.

The cinematography for season two is really good, just like in season one. Sure, the directing is for the most part pretty standard, but the cinematography itself is great. And the writing is really solid too, with tons of interesting little quirks and terrific lines. What I also found interesting is how this season upped the ante in terms of… most things. It’s more violent, it shows more nudity, it has even more cursing… things that might divide some audiences. For me… it kind of made sense.

Seeing as this is a British show, it hasn’t got too muich attention on my regular sites. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8,8/10 and is ranked #86 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

The second season of “Peaky Blinders” takes everything that was good/great about the first season and somehow makes it even better. The plot is better, the characters are more developed, the soundtrack features new & interesting songs, the cinematography is great and of course Tom Hardy is really fucking entertaining. Time for my final score. FOCKIN’ ‘ELL! My final score for “Peaky Blinders” season two is a 9,91/10. IT most certainly gets the one and only “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of the second season of “Peaky Blinders” is now completed.

Wait… so I have to wait until October until season 3? God damn it!