Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Movie Name: Robocop
Year of Release: 2014
Director: José Padilha
Stars: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Jennifer Ehle, Jay Baruchel, Aimee Garcia, Douglas Urbanski, John Paul Ruttan, Patrick Garrow, K.C. Collins
Genre: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

27 years after the original "Robocop", Brazilian director José Padilha makes his english language feature debut with a remake, that updates the visual effects, but maintains some of the spirit that defined the original film. The story focuses on detective Alex Murphy, a family man who is on the verge of unmasking some corruption within the Detroit police department. In parallel with his investigations, the film also focuses on Omnicorp, a large corporation (with a charismatic chairman by the name of Raymond Sellars), that is trying desperately to get robots as part of every day life in America, but see themselves unable to due to legislation. Due to a failed murder attempt, Alex Murphy finds himself as part of a new program that Omnicorp has: a machine-human hybrid, a robot-cop, that patrols and battles crime without ambivalence.
Director José Padilha has made a name for himself with the successful films "Tropa de Elite" ("Elite Squad"), and he brings a degree of intensity combined with a documentary tone, to the new version of "Robocop". The narrative of the film is somewhat similar to the original, though it lacks the rawness and visceral impact that Paul Verhoeven's film had, though it does aim for and creates a sense of political satire with the insertion of Samuel L. Jackson's character. The film ends up feeling almost too sanitized when compared to the extreme violence that dominated the original feature - it also tries to incorporate a sense of family dynamics into a story that doesn't allow for that to be successfully flushed out. "Robocop" features a fantastic cast, particularly Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Jackie Earle Haley and the always underrated Jennifer Ehle, who lift the story beyond the trivial. A medium effort still worth checking out.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Best films of 2013

2013 was an uneven year for films. On one hand there was an absurd amount of sequels, all of which with varying qualitative results. Interestingly enough though, the independent production was very strong, allowing for really great titles to reach wider audiences. It was also a great year for established authors to return to the screens with interesting and daring features. The year presented us with very good films from the likes of Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh and Guillermo Del Toro. Below is the list of my ten favorite and best films from 2013.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Shea Whigham, Christine Ebersole, P.J. Byrne, Ethan Suplee, Henry Zebrowski, Jake Hoffman, Stephanie Kurtzuba

Director: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Kai Chen, Brian Cox

La Vie D'Adele
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Stars: Adele Exarchopoulos, Lea Seydoux, Salim Kechiouche, Aurelien Recoing, Catherine Salee, Benjamin Siksou, Mona Walravens, Alma Jodorowsky

Director: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Ray McKinnon, Paul Sparks, Joe Don Baker, Bonnie Sturdivant, Johnny Cheek

Director: Danny Boyle
Stars: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Danny Sapani, Matt Cross, Mark Poltimore, Wahab Sheikh, Tuppence Middleton

Short Term 12
Director: Destin Cretton
Stars: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr, Kaitlyn Dever, Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Keith Stanfield, Frantz Turner, Melora Walters, Alex Calloway

12 Years a Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Lupita Nyong'o, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Batt, Scoot McNairy, Adepero Oduye, J.D. Evermore, Alfre Woodard, Garret Dillahunt, Rob Steinberg, Taran Killam

Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Inside Llewyn Davis
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Ethan Phillips, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, Robin Bartlett, Max Casella, Stark Sands, F. Murray Abraham, Garrett Hedlund, Alex Karpovsky

Blue Jasmine
Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg, Alden Ehrenreich, Max Casella, Tammy Blanchard, Annie McNamara

Special highlights also go to the following films: Guillermo Del Toro's inventive and visually stunning "Pacific Rim", Wong Kar Wai's "The Grandmaster", James Ponsoldt's "The Spectacular Now", Shane Black's surprisingly solid "Iron Man 3" and Sarah Polley's "Stories we Tell".