Saturday, February 18, 2012


Movie Name: Chronicle
Year of Release: 2012
Director: Josh Trank
Stars: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Bo Petersen, Anna Wood, Rudi Malcolm
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Josh Trank's feature directorial debut, follows the lives of three high schoolers who upon finding some unknown device in the woods, become possessed of super powers. What appears to be a blessing at first for all three of them, slowly erodes their lives, until Andrew, the most introverted of the three, becomes increasingly more violent and a series of violent events occur.
Josh Trank uses the "homemade" video style, much like Matt Reeve's "Cloverfield", to create a sense of discovery and closeness to the lives of the young men of the film. His seemingly different teenagers, are confronted with abilities that allow them to live the lives they always wanted. Little by little they become more confident, until their power corrupts one of them. The film focuses on the dynamics of the group, showcasing the difficult life of Andrew, the social awkward one, for whom the power allows for an opportunity to defend himself. The downward spiral of Andrew, the corruption of his character and the family dysfunction that he has experienced, sets him on a path of destruction, that the film illustrates very realistically. The film, though scarce in terms of budget, manages to make very good use of the visual effects, creating an engaging and dynamic story (though populated with the traditional cliches ever seen in all high school films). A very good first effort!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Best films of 2011

2011 was a film dominated by big spectacle, but few remarkable films. That being said, there were great works from fantastic directors. 3D continued to pave the way for higher ticket prices, but not necessarily for better film experiences. Here is a list of what I found truly amazing during the year of 2011.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Joely Richardson, Robin Wright, Yorick Van Wageningen, Geraldine James, Goran Visnjic, Donald Sumpter

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Emily Mortimer, Ray Winstone, Jude Law, Christopher Lee

La Piel que Habito/The Skin I Live In
Director: Pedro Almodovar
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Jan Cornet, Robert Alamo, Eduard Fernandez

Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Spike Jonze, Chris Pratt, Stephen Bishop, Brent Jennings

Director: Mike Mills
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller

X-Men: First Class
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Kathy Burke, Toby Jones, John Hurt, Stephen Graham, Christian McKay

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Michael Nyqvist, Lea Seydoux

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks

Special mentions should go for the following films. "Shame" from Steve McQueen, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" from Stephen Daldry, "Rango" from Gore Verbinski, "Young Adult" from Jason Reitman, "We Need to Talk About Kevin" from Lynne Ramsay and "Contagion" from Steven Soderbergh.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Movie Name: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Year of Release: 2011
Director: Stephen Daldry
Stars: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Max Von Sydow, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, Zoe Caldwell, John Goodman
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

Stephen Daldry's new film after "The Reader" is a new literary adaptation, this time from Jonathan Safran Foer's book of the same name. The film follows the story of Oskar Schell, a young boy whose life is changed dramatically after his dad dies in the attacks of September 11th. Oskar finds a key in his father's belongings, and believes that the key is part of one of their intricate discovery games. He sets out to find where that key belongs, in the hopes of making the memory of his father persist more in his life. Through his quest he touches the life of many people in New York who were all affected by those attacks.
Stephen Daldry is a very intelligent director. In his previous efforts, from "Billy Elliot", through "The Hours" and "The Reader", he is a director who has always been able to allow actors to create real characters, not just types or uni dimensional compositions. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" deals with a very painful and still recent event, who affected the lives of so many people in the US and in the world in general. Focusing the aftermath of those events on the lives of a small family, allows to realize how the pain of one is actually something shared by so many. How someones quest sometimes leads people to unexpectedly help others. This is a film about the redemptive power of relationships, between parents, between disparaging people united by a common thread of finding peace. The film has great performances from Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock and Max Von Sydow, and features a stunning cinematography from Chris Menges. A very good film not to be missed.