Movie Review: Cold in July (2014)

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I think that tagline describes life pretty damn well. Really, that’s all I can say. I don’t have anything clever to put here.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s… “Cold in July”.

Texas, 1989. Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) kills a person who has broken into his home. Soon after that he finds out that the intruder’s ex-con father (Sam Shepard) is out for revenge. And after that, Dane finds himself getting pulled into the seedy underworld of Texas, filled with lies and violence. And fro that we get a dark, suspenseful, twisty, and unpredictable plot that I was completely invested in. The plot here is a slow burn, and requires a bit of patience from it’s viewers. It’s not a long movie, but it’s not exactly fast-paced either. It’s like I said, a slowly burning movie that is very rewarding, giving us some good twists and turns throughout. And I thought it all was pretty great.

The characters in this movie are complex and interesting. Michael C. Hall does a really good job in his role as this very protective father getting dragged into this dark world. Sam Shepard is great as the father of the intruder that Dane kills, perfectly portraying this menacing and interesting man. Next we have Don Johnson as a sort of private investigator that Dane gets to know in the movie. And he was great in the role. His character was interesting and the performance was pretty great overall, definitely a bit different from Johnson’s typical roles. We also have Nick Damici as a police lieutenant, and he was really good in the role. I’d say that all performances in the movie were good. Sure, the kid playing Michael C. Hall’s son wasn’t really that great, but his role was so small that I can’t complain too much.

The score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace and holy shit, he did a great job! The music that he composed for the movie is based heavily around the synth and it all sound fucking fantastic. As I watched the movie I constantly found myself saying “Wow, this song is great!”. And I think it all fit the dark and seedy tone of the movie. There were also a few licensed tracks spread throughout and they all worked pretty well in the movie.

This movie was directed by Jim Mickle and I do think he did a really good job. The scenes are tightly constructed and the shots looks great. I mean, the movie looks dirty, like it should… but it’s dirty in a kind of beautiful way. It has the seedy dirtyness one should expect from this plot, while still looking gorgeous. This is especially apparent in the final act, where we get the dirty and violent thriller stuff while also having some gorgeous use of colors. Speaking of the violent stuff, there isn’t too much of it in the movie. The violence only comes in short bursts at a few points in the movie, which kind of gives it more of an impact. Fun fact: This is based on a novel. I had nowhere to really go with that, I just thought it could be fun to mention.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% psoitive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

“Cold in July” is a really good movie that rewards patient viewers. It has a really good plot, interesting characters, great acting, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Cold in July” is a 9,59/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Cold in July” is now completed.

“Cold in July”… sorry, that is not possible unless we’re in Antarctica.

 

Movie Review: Midnight Special (2016)

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Big budgeted action movies are great and all, but sometimes we need to take it down a notch and give some attention to the smaller guys. You know, the movies with small(er) budgets. And that’s what we’re doing today.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Midnight Special”.

Roy (Michael Shannon) is on the run together with his friend (Joel Edgerton) and his son (Jaeden Lieberher) from the government and also a cult. Why? Because Roy’s son apparently has superpowers. And from this basic idea we get a surprisingly deep, emotional, and tense plot that has a decent amount of layers to it. It’s not just a suspense thriller/road movie, but also an intriguing mystery surrounding this boy and his powers. And the ending (no spoilers), I thought it was a solid ending for the movie. I mention this because there are people who don’t really like how this movie concludes, and that’s fine… I’m just saying that I thought it worked. I thought the entire plot worked very well, it was great.

The characters in this movie are all really interesting. Michael Shannon is great in the main role as the father who just wants to do anything to find his super-son’s purpose, whatever that may be. Joel Edgerton plays his best friend in the movie, and he gives a really good performance too. Jaeden Lieberher who plays the superpowered kid, Alton, is actually really good in the movie. I am usually someone who is a bit against child actors, but I do have to admit that this kid was genuinely good. We also got Adam Driver as one of the government agents and he was really good in the movie. I’d say that most if not all actors did a really good job.

The score for the movie was composed by David Wingo and it was pretty fuckin’ good. It is a beautifully haunting score that perfectly manages to create a lot of emotion that perfectly fits the movie. Seriously, it’s some awesome stuff.

This movie was directed by Jeff Nichols who also made the movie “Mud”, which I really liked. And here he did a great job with the direction. The movie is magnificently shot, it looks beautiful. What I also enjoyed about it is how well the CGI in the movie blended with everything else. None of it felt out of place or looked bad, it all worked very well in the movie. There’s also a good amount of suspense in the movie, which I really liked.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 84% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“Midnight Special” is a pretty different movie. It’s more of a slow burn than most modern sci-fi movies, but that’s also kind of why I like it. But also because it has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. I WILL FIND HIM! My final score for “Midnight Special” is a 9,87/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Midnight Special” is now completed.

This apparently bombed at the box office. Shame on you, world.

 

Movie Review: Black Hawk Down (2001)

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*Ron Perlman voice activated*. War… war never changes.

Ladies and gentlemen, we got a… “Black Hawk Down”.

In 1993, a band of American troopers were sent in Mogadishu, Somalia to try to take down a local warlord who is the cause of a civil war. However when one of their Black Hawk choppers crash in the city they have to fight for survival against essentially everyone in the city… or at least a lot of heavily-armed Somalis. And while the story doesn’t have a lot of cultural empathy, it’s still one hell of a ride. What we have here is a really intense war story and how it affects different people in this situation. And it was all very riveting. There is rarely a calm moment in this movie, so when there finally is a bit of calm you never really take it for granted. But I have to say that it was really interesting, intriguing and pretty well handled.

The characters in this movie are nothing to write home about. They are all bland and never really develop at any time. And I know that you might be sitting there like “Come on, they’re in a war, there is no time for character development”. Three words: “Saving Private Ryan”, a war movie that is just as intense but takes the time to develop it’s characters and keep them interesting. The only reason you care for the characters in this movie is because the movie makes you root for them but introducing them in the beginning and making sure you don’t completely hate them. The only one I actually still really cared about was Josh Hartnett’s characters, but that’s really only because he gets the most space out of everyone. That and his performance is pretty great. That is something positive I can say: while the characters are bland and such, the acting is still fucking phenomenal, great work by everyone in the movie.

The score for the movie was composed by the ever so masterful Hans Zimmer. It is tense, emotional, big and badass. I would really say that it perfectly fit a war movie of this size and scope while also working very well musically overall. I also like the good mix of licensed tracks in the movie because they all worked really well in my opinion.

“Black Hawk Down” was directed by Ridley Scott who I am a huge fan of and once again, he delivered. First off, the movie is masterfully shot and directed and never really has any of that terrible shaky-cam bullshit. And the action scenes are very well handled too. They are both masterfully crafted and plentiful, so anyone in need of realistic war-action, look no further. I will just say that at one point there was so much intensity going on that I thought I was gonna get a heart attack from this damn movie. Thankfully the movie felt like quieting down for a bit around that time so I could catch my breath.

This movie was well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating and a “Fresh” ceritifcation. On Metacritic it has a score of 74/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10. The movie also won 2 Oscars in the categories of Best film editing and Best sound. It was also nominated for an additional 2 Oscars in the categories of Best director and Best cinematography. 

“Black Hawk Down” is a really intense war movie with an engaging plot, bland & uninteresting characters, great acting, great music,  great directing and excellent action. Time for my final score. AAAAAAHHHHH. My final score for “Black Hawk Down” is a 9,38/10. I would say that it’s worth buying.
Worth buying

My review of “Black Hawk Down” is now completed.

Only the dead have seen the end of war. 

Movie Review: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

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You alread know I love westerns, I have said it more times than one would like to hear about it. But those that you know I love (A.K.A. the ones I have reviewed/mentioned) are mainly your typical romanticized westerns, rather than a more serious and dramatic look at those times. So I am curious to see what I would think of a more serious and dramatic western. Where am I going with this? I am reviewing one of those today.

Ladies and gents… “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (What a mouthful).

This is one of those plots that has a climax that is impossible to spoil. Why? Because it is in hte fucking title! Sorry, didn’t wanna be mean, let’s just talk about the plot. Ever since he was a child, Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) has idolized the outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt). So when he joins his game at the age of 19, he of course finds it great. But over the years he starts to become more and more bitter about Jesse and eventually kind of resents him. Which of course leads to the event in the title of the movie, the murder of Jesse James as carried out by Robert Ford. And even basically knowing how it was gonna end, I was still riveted by the story. As the nerd that I am, I knew a lot about this with the whole Ford killing James and Ford’s eventual fate, but I was still stunned how well it was presented in this movie. What I liked about the story is how it never favored anyone and made them look like the good guy or the bad guy, everyone was in a more neutral space. The plot also hit me very hard with how emotional it could get and by how shocking it could be at times. And while I won’t compare it to “American History X”, it still had the effect on me as when I first watched that movie. And I love that feeling, when a movie manages to hit you very hard in every way possible.

The characters are all very entertaining to watch, but they also feel like they could be real people. Brad Pitt is fantastic as Jesse James, giving one of the best (in my opinion) performances of his career. Casey Affleck was also pretty fucking great in the movie. But I have also never seen him give a bad performance. We also got a fantastic supporting cast, all who give great performances, let me round ’em up. Sam Shepard, Mary-Lousie Parker, Sam Rockwell, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Schneider, this is a great cast and it was used perfectly. Everybody gets time to shine and I love it.

The score for the movie was done by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis and it might be one of the best ones I have ever heard. It manages to create a sense of dramatic tension while also being very emotional. It really manages to fit into every category perfectly. It is really the definition of a perfect score that not only fits the movie it’s used in, but also turns out to be overall fantastic.

I don’t wanna disappoint you, so I’ll talk about the shootouts since this technically is a western movie. They aren’t really the types of shootouts you usually see in westerns, these are smaller and a little more quiet. But they fit very well into it all since this isn’t a big, action-packed western, but more of a drama about characters set in western times. So the movie doesn’t really need shootouts, but the (small) ones in the movie are good and fit well enough.

This movie was written and directed by Andrew Dominik and I think he succeeded in both aspects. The writing is some of the most tight and well-written I have ever experienced in a movie. And the directing is pretty fantastic. The camera movements are fantastic and you see that Dominik has a lot of skill as a director despite only having directed one movie prior to this. I also love the cinematography by Roger Deakins, it looks fantastic (as usual), I especially love the shots they have in the big and open landscapes, they are incredibly beautiful.

This movie has been well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 76% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 68/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10. The movie was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actor (Affleck) and Best Cinematography. 

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is not only a mouthful of a title, but it is also a pretty amazing movie. It has a terrific & emotional story, fantastic characters & performances, fantastic music, great direction, great writing and fantastic cinematography. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is a 9,90/10. It definitely deserves the one and only “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is now reviewed.

The Assassination of What a Mouthful by Markus.

Movie Review: Out of the Furnace (2013)

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Don’t you just love it when a movie gets very mixed reviews and it makes you think “What will I think of it”? That have happened to me a good amount of times. Sure, it has decreased recently…but this movie has been nibbling my mind for a few months now. This movie has gotten both good and bad reviews all over the fucking place. But what did I think of it?

Men and women…”Out of the Furnace”!

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) does not have it easy. First he was in a traffic accident where he accidentally killed a child, sat in jail, his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Zaldana) left him and his younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) got involved in illegal bare knuckled fighting. The reason Rodney fights is to make money to pay back a debt to John Petty (Willem Dafoe). Also his father is sick and dying (actually he dies when Russell is in prison). So the only family he got when he gets out is his brother and his uncle Gerald “Red” Baze (Sam Shepard). Russell also works at a steel mill. When he finds out his little brother Rodney is taking part in these fights, he of course wants him out…and Rodney starts yelling and swearing at him. A little while later Rodney wants to start getting involved in even more illegal and dangerous fights that are supervised by the fucking psychopath Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). When Rodney then goes missing, Russell starts taking the investigation into his own hands. That was difficult since that is the main plot without spoilers…and writing it out without spoilers is more difficult than it seems (at least with this movie). The story in it’s basic state, is simple. But the way this movie is directed makes everything a whole lot more interesting, especially since it has a kind of slow start. But the story is good…but gets boring every now and then, which is not the best for your movie Mr. Scott Cooper. Otherwise, good story.

The characters are so flawed, you have no fucking idea how flawed they are. But it’s what makes them so great to watch. A lot of the characters I want to punch in the face at one point or the other. And the fact that a fictional character can get under your skin that much is just a proof of how great acting we got here. All characters here are incredibly well acted. For example: With Christian Bale’s character Russell you don’t see Batman or Patrick Bateman…you see this steel mill worker. Casey Affleck also gives the best performance I’ve ever seen from him (take into account that I have not seen “Gone, Baby, Gone”). But the best in this movie goes to Woody Harrelson as Harlan DeGroat…what a disgusting piece of shit he is. And that Harrelson can make me feel that way about a character he plays is just incredible. I mean, he just makes this drug addict pyschopath so believable and just the highlight of this movie…he really stole the show. I also have to give some credit to the fantastic chemistry between the Baze brothers (Bale and Affleck). They make it so believable that I just love it. It also feels great seeing Christian Bale relaxed and happy in a role as you see in a few of the scenes.

The music is one of the best parts of this movie. It relies heavily on the guitar…but not too much. The soundtrack is what gives this movie its edge and great feel of subtlety. It works out great to give the feeling it wants to give you. The soundtrack by Dickon Hinchliffe is just fucking excellent. I love it.

Fun fact: for the role, Christian Bale actually learned how to operate a furnace, so the work he does at the steel mill in this movie is legit and believable. Here is a thing, the imdb synopsis says “When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn’t follow through fast enough, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice.” But that don’t happen until a good 50 minutes into the movie. Just warning you. I can also mention that this movie looks beautiful. And, oh yeah! The final shot in this movie just seems weird and I don’t know why it’s there. Not saying what it is…you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. And one more thing (sorry). This movie is violent, so don’t watch it if you’re squeamish.

Like I previously mentioned, reception for this movie was very mixed. Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a 52% rating which is not the best sign. Metacritic however gave it a 63/100 which I find odd since they usually have lower scores than Rotten Tomatoes and everything else. While I couldn’t find any Roger Ebert thing about this (Mainly by the fact that he had passed away before this came out), I still found a good quote for this movie.

“While it may not make the most of its incredible cast, Out of the Furnace is still so packed with talent that it’s hard to turn away.”

It got an imdb ranking of 6,9/10.

Based on what I have said from my perspective of this movie you’re probably sitting there thinking “Markus, it really sounds like you really like this movie! You’ll probably give it a high score!”. Ehhh, I really want to…but I can’t. This movie had so much going for it, it really did. But it just falls short based on how boring it is at times and of how much more complex they have to make this simple story! This movie gets a 7,52/10 (that is fairly low in my book). What carries this movie mostly are its strong performances and amazing soundtrack. So I suggest you rent it, this movie is not a buy.

I have pulled this review Out of the Furnace (sorry for the pun).

See ya.