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: Out of Sight (1998)

Hey. Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately. Had a bad case of the lazy. But now I’m back. And hopefully we’ll get some consistency in post frequency from it. Anyway, first review of the year, here we go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Out of Sight”.

After he escapes from prison, career criminal Jack Foley (George Clooney) has to go on the run and try to avoid a U.S. Marshal (Jennifer Lopez) that he shares a connection with. So now we have our crime-caper plot. And it’s a good one. It doesn’t rely that much on shocking twists and turns for its narrative, instead just relying on a fast pace and a sort of sex appeal that gives it a unique vibe that I can’t say I’ve seen much of in crime-capers. But yeah, the plot here is just generally fun, fast, and quite entertaining.

The characters in this are colorful, interesting, and overall quite entertaining. George Clooney plays Jack Foley, the crook at the center of this story. I’d say he’s like a less cool-headed version of Danny Ocean, but you can definitely recognize some elements of that character in this one. Though Foley does stand out as his own entity and I find him to be quite an entertaining protagonist. And Clooney is great in the role. Next we have Jennifer Lopez as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens… no, wait… sorry, wrong Elmore Leonard franchise… U.S. Marhsal Karen Sisco, that’s her name. She’s a tough, sexy, and capable woman who is on the hunt for our main protagonist. She’s pretty fun and has an enjoyable dynamic with Foley. And Lopez is really good in the role. We also get supporting turns from people like Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener, Dennis Farina, Luis Guzmán, Albert Brooks, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by David Holmes, and it’s awesome. It’s funky, it’s jazzy, and it captures the sort of sly sex appeal that the plot is going for, which adds to the overall fun factor of the entire thing. My favorite aspect of it is how many slick basslines there are throughout, I love the inclusion of them. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this movie has great music.

Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard (hence the joke from earlier), this movie was written by Scott Frank, and directed by Steven Soderbergh. And as a fan of “Justified” (another Elmore Leonard adaptation), the writings and overall style of this movie appeals to me. It has a similar kind of energy and snappiness to “Justified”, and that just makes it incredibly watchable for me. But even discounting my love for the aforementioned tv show, the movie just has this sort of infectious energy that I find quite fun. And even through the fun, it manages to have a decent bit of suspense throughout, giving it a bit of a welcome edge.

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 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10. The movie was nominated for two Oscars in the categories of Best adapted screenplay, and Best film editing.

“Out of Sight” really surprised me, it’s one hell of an enjoyable movie. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Out of Sight” is a 9,65/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Out of Sight” is now completed.

Despite having seen multiple Elmore Leonard adaptations, I haven’t read any of his books. Might need to fix that soon.

 

Movie Review: Shattered Glass (2003)

Fake news. A topic often brought up in our current environment, especially by a certain cheeto-colored individual. Sometimes what is referred to as “fake news” is just a certain asshole not agreeing with the truth. Other times the call is warranted.

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… “Shattered Glass”.

Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) is a young man who’s made quite a name for himself by writing very successful articles for various magazines, with his main base being the New Republic. But his life will soon get unraveled, when some other journalists start looking into one of Glass’ articles, finding clues to it potentially being fabricated. So now we have our fake news drama. And I was completely riveted by it. The plot here keeps a fairly brisk pace, but never do the degree where it skims over important details, which makes it both a dramatic, in-depth look at this situation and a generally enjoyable watch.

The characters in this are layered, interesting, and fairly realistic. First up we have Hayden Christensen as Stephen Glass, the man at the center of this story. He’s smart, charming, and excellent at bullshitting people in conversation. But when the pressure starts coming down on him, you start seeing the cracks in the glass. And Hayden Christensen is REALLY GOOD in the role. The reason why I emphasized that was because he’s caught so much shit for his acting in the “Star Wars” prequels, that I have to really be clear that he can be a really good actor. Next up we have Peter Sarsgaard as Chuck Lane, one of Glass’ co-workers. He is one of those that kind of partakes in unraveling some of the clashing aspects of Glass’ articles, and he’s just really interesting. And Sarsgaard is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Chloë Sevigny, Steve Zahn, Hank Azaria, Rosario Dawson, Cas Anvar, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Mychael Danna, and it was good. I wouldn’t call it that much of a standout, but it worked well enough within the movie, focusing more in smaller piano pieces than anything else, which I think just fits the various scenes well enough.

This movie was written and directed by Billy Ray, and I think he did a great job with it. What I like about his style here is that it often feels less like some small personal drama, as it often feels a bit more like a political thriller in execution. And that helps keep the movie feel a bit more exciting, it adds a bit of tension to it, which is nice as it makes it stand out a bit. But when it needs to slow down and focus more on the character drama, then Billy Ray’s direction delivers beautifully on that too.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

“Shatterd Glass” is a fascinating and engaging look into a very interesting situation/person. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Shattered Glass” is a 9,78/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Shattered Glass”.

Need a movie relevant to today’s society? Here you go.

Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

It has come to this. From James Franco trying to use science to help people, to apes and humans having to reluctantly cooperate to survive… to a war. The end of an era.

Ladies and gentlemen… “War for the Planet of the Apes”.

When the ape colony faces a horrible tragedy, Caesar (Andy Serkis) has to go on the hunt for the army that caused this tragedy to get revenge. So now we have our ape-drama. That’s right, you heard me… ape drama. It’s not so much a straight-forward war movie as it is Caesar’s personal conflict, both against a physical threat and his own inner darkness. And this plot is tense, epic, intriguing, and emotional. Really, it’s pretty fantastic.

The characters here are all interesting as all hell, especially those we’ve gotten to know over several movies. Andy Serkis of course returns as Caesar, our portagonape. And you can tell that he’s in a much darker place here than in the previous movies. He’s struggling with his inner darkness, showing that he’s incredibly conflicted about his path of revenge. And that makes him insanely compelling. And Serkis is fucking fantastic in the role. Karin Konoval returns as Maurice, Caesar’s right hand orangutan. And Maurice is still a great character, the voice of reason. And Konoval is great in the role. Terry Notary returns as Rocket, another of Caesar’s closest pals. And he’s still a badass. And Notary is great in the role. Alright, new people time! First up, Woody Harrelson as The Colonel, a Colonel who’s a bit of a dick and is also the leader of the army that Caesar goes after. And while he at first can seem like a generic evil Colonel type character, you soon learn that he (and the other humans) are just desperate to survive. They don’t wanna be dicks, but they kind of have to so they don’t get wiped out. And Harrelson is great in the role. Then we have Amiah Miller as a little girl that Caesar and crew runs into during their journey. She can’t speak, but she is still quite interesting. And Miller is pretty damn good in the role. Then we have Steve Zahn as Bad Ape, a strange ape that Caesar and crew run into. He is meant to be a sort of conic relief character, which could go to shit very easily in such a dark and serious movie. But they manage to find the right balance of humor and emotion with him to make him fit in very well. And Zahn is great. Really, all the performances here are quite solid.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Giacchino and it was pretty damn fantastic. You do get tracks that are the big badass bombastic battle brass ones, but you also get a good amount of tracks that are a bit more quiet for the moments that need something more intimate and emotional. And it all comes together to make a beautiful package that enhances the movie in every way.

The movie was directed by Matt Reeves, the man behind “Dawn of the Planet of the Planet of the Apes”. And once again, he knocked it out of the god damn park. His directing here is big and sweeping, but also tight and personal, never losing sight of the characters among some of the bigger moments. And while this isn’t a straight-up action movie, there are still a couple of action scenes in this movie. And they are big, badass, and intense. The movie is also quite brutal for a PG-13… just thought I’d mention that. And I don’t think I really have to talk about the visual effects, because you already know that they are absolutely incredible. These apes look real. I have trouble believing that this was done with computers, the amount of detail in the fur and movements combined with external effects looks so incredibly real… but this is CGI, and it’s some of the best CGI I’ve ever seen.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 82/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” is a fantastic movie, and solidifies this as one of the best trilogies ever. It has a fantastic plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and amazing directing/cinematography/visual effects. Time for my final score. *APES!*. My final score for “War for the Planet of the Apes” is a 9,88/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “War for the Planet of the Apes” is now completed.

Apes. Together. Strong.

Movie Review: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

1366x768 - Dallas_Buyers_Club

HIV is a scary disease. People get it, it evolves into AIDS and then they die… well that is how it used to be. Now you can get treatment, maybe not to cure it (because that shit is impossible) but at least make sure you get a whole lot of years that you wouldn’t have gotten without the treatment. But the fact that the disease still exists and at large is still scary as all hell. But as long as you stay away from used needles, having unprotected sex with people who have the disease and make sure the doctors get GOOD blood for you if needed then you should be fine!

Buyers… “Dallas Buyers Club”.

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a womanizing, drug loving, homophobic cowboy-esque man. But one day he finds out he has full-blown HIV/AIDS and only has 30 days to live. So of course he tries to do everything to stay alive with different kinds of medication… some not approved by the FDA. What also happens is that he together with his new friend Rayon (Jared Leto) he starts a “Buyers Club” where people pay for a membership for all the AIDS medication they need. And with that we got ourselves an interesting and somewhat heartbreaking story. Seeing this dickhead (Yes, that is what I am calling him) start helping people he’d never associate himself normally was really interesting. It was also really interesting seeing him fight the system and get this unauthorized medication to people who need it. I really enjoyed the story.

The characters all feel like real people in this movie. Yes, I know they are based on real people, but that is not the point. What I mean is that they are shown in such a way that even if they never existed from the start, they still would have felt very real in this movie. Let’s get the obvious out of the way, Matthew McConaughey was fantastic in this movie. I barely recognized him in the movie… except his very recognizable voice. And Jared Leto… holy shit! He was fantastic in this movie. Now of course I already knew he had some acting chops with movies like “Fight Club” and “Requiem for a Dream”, but none of those performances reach up to the level of this one. It was fantastic! Overall, every single character and performance in this movie was great.

The strange thing about the music for the movie is that there were no original tracks by any composer. It had a lot of tracks by some different bands/musicians, including Jared Leto’s band 30 Second to Mars. Not to complain, the tracks were all great and were used to great effect in their respective scenes. I just kind of miss having any composer to credit. But I still enjoyed the soundtrack.

While the direction and shot composition of the movie was good I feel like it could have been a bit more steady and les hand-held. I know I just threw that at you, but that is something I had to get out. The movie would have been slightly improved if it had a more steady camera. That is all I wanted to say here… NEXT!

This movie was very well-received when it came out in late 2013. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 93% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic the movie has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,0/10. “Dallas Buyers Club” also won 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Actor (McConaughey), Best Supporting Actor (Leto) and Best makeup and hairstyling. It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Picture, Best editing and Best Original Screenplay. 

“Dallas Buyers Club” is a movie with a great story, terrific performances, great writing, good direction and good music. However it could use a slightly steadier direction/camera. Now it’s time for my final score. JEFF! ENVELOPE! What? The FDA does not approve? Get it here anyway! Thank you, asshole! My final score for “Dallas Buyers Club” is a 9,59/10. It does get the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
49920178

“Dallas Buyers Club” is now reviewed.

Maybe I should start my own buyers club, but instead of medication it would be… I don’t fucking know!