montera_iulian

IMDb member since December 2009
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Reviews

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
(2011)

I'm sorry Jack, but I just didn't cared for you this time. Savvy?
The main story strangely revolves around the duel between Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Blackbeard (Ian McShane) building anticipation for the final stage of their on-going battle. Captain Barbossa, now a one legged man, is sent in the name of King George of England to find the two silver cups which are to be found on Ponce De Leon's ship. On the other hand, Blackbeard wants to reach the Fountain of Youth where he dreams to gain the years of another person or simply put: more life. Surprise or not, there is a ritual and for that ritual he needs the two silver cups and a tear from a mermaid. Yes, there are mermaids in the movie. They also deadly and frustrated I guess. However, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) gets thrown in this by meeting the one who impersonated him and told the people that he was the real Jack Sparrow, a tricky double. That double is a "she" played by the wonderful and gracious Penelope Cruz. Let's not go that far though. She plays Angelica, daughter of Blackbeard. We all get the point after this reveal. Jack Sparrow is condemned to help Blackbeard reach his destination. We also find that Blackbeard's main reason to gain more life is an actual prophecy that fortells his death brought in two weeks by the "one legged man". The "one legged man" is actually the man he cut his legs off few months before and stole his ship. From this point over the story runs not only predictable (not that it didn't ran before) but also monotone. Along their journey to the Fountain of Youth we get a glimpse of Jack's old friend Gibbs (Kevin McNally), Phillip (Sam Claflin) a young Christian believer, Syrena (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) which is a lovely mermaid and Scrum (Stephen Graham), one of Blackbeard's "servants". We get through many fuzzy moments and pretty much boring. There is a big loss of excitement since there's nothing really new that can be said or shown in this franchise and definitely we really lost interest in the story since it's the beginning of a new one and it isn't even half the level of "The Curse of the Black Pearl's". We get an washed-up piece of entertainment filled with religious tomato-sauce and atheist pastry. You get the point of that. We get a couple of angry mermaids, we get a love story, we get few clicheic moments and more than anything we get a "shocking" ending to this new beginning. Nothing impressive, just the expected. The final act, the final confrontation it's exciting in terms of action but lacks in terms of storytelling and delivery. We also get the Spaniards (another group chasing the two silver cups) being actually smarter than all but ruined it at the end of the movie by doing one of the most stupid things I ever saw on screen. If you ever get what was that stupid thing I'd probably consider sending you 10 bucks. With all that we get that this movie has barely anything to do with Jack Sparrow. He's like a pawn or let's not exaggerate and say that he's more of a Mad-Man on a chess table played by Kings. He didn't really achieved anything in this movie and we didn't get any conclusion about his character's past, present or future...

Overall a boring fiasco well-executed that proves that this movie isn't necessarily a bad one but more an irrelevant, unnecessary, predictable, monotone, obvious and lifeless piece of filmmaking. But was it well executed? As far as I remember, I witnessed the most choreographed battle scenes I ever saw in cinema. Seriously, I understand they all need choreography but at least make them feel spontaneous and natural not forced and looking like they were practiced over and over again and the only thing Depp had in mind was to not mess it up. Not to mention because of this choreography, some battle scenes are actually hilarious and unfunny. I heard some "mehs" in the theater... Besides that, the 3D was far from being great. A lot of inconsistency and bad contrast, bad depth of field, bad blurred images and so on... It could have been much better.

The positive thing about On Stranger Tides is mainly Johnny Depp. Even though he isn't as funny or ridiculous as he was, even though this movie was not centered around him he still did the best he could do with the material he had. Johnny Depp is still Jack Sparrow and he'll forever be Jack Sparrow. I must say something that might enrage some fans out there: with all it's charismatic behavior, Jack Sparrow did not stole the show. No he didn't! Ian McShane as Blackbeard stole the show. His delivery cranked everybody up and he was a fascinating character to watch. He had potential to become a real nemesis of Sparrow's but who knows? Maybe he'll return the way the writers could always find a new curse or a new magical land that does the impossible. All the other roles were played accurately, even Penelope Cruz was enjoyable even if her moments on the screen were short and most of them lacked in sense and good development of her character. I think at times I found the acting too good for this boring story, I found the beautiful shots too much for this pointless flick and definitely found the music too epic for this epicless movie.

As a fan of this franchise I declare myself disappointed, not in Jack, not in Blackbeard or Barbossa and not in a new beginning but in execution, bad writing, bad structure and especially in the people responsible for the production of this movie for making a big U-Turn from the first trilogy to this second one. I'm sorry Jack, but I just didn't cared for you this time. Savvy?

The Hangover Part II
(2011)

I can dig remakes, I can dig retakes, I can dig sequels, I can dig prequels but I can't dig easy copies... ARGH!
I'm not really getting Todd Phillips's intention besides getting more money. I can also dig a whole different ways to make money. I can dig remakes, I can dig retakes, I can dig sequels, I can dig prequels but I can't dig easy copies of movies you made before. Todd just did that. The ingredients to this comedy are the same.

Instead of Las Vegas you get Bangkok, instead of a bachelor party we get a... bachelor party, instead of missing Stu you get missing Teddy, instead of a lion you get a monkey, instead of a missing teeth we get a face Mike Tyson tattoo, instead of Mr. Chow confusion we get another Teddy and so on. A recycled story based on the same content as the first movie. It's the same structure and that bothers me a lot. A movie about a hangover has various options of approaching. There isn't really much to say about where the story goes and how's the journey since it's the same. Besides these problems I have another big one with Ed Helms. he just overreacted the whole movie and felt really unnatural at times. Bradley Cooper as Phil feels like he's going through straight hell acting bored like realizing he's doing the same things he did in the first movie. The real stealer of the show however is again, Zach Galifianakis. His delivery is hilarious. His jokes are straight, funny and he is involved in all the comedic situations. Short reminder: Paul Giamatti's short cameo is amazing. Simply amazing.

Overall the movie is funny, it's entertaining and it delivers a lot of laughs. Problem is you get all these jokes with a little bit of bitterness. I wish I could stop my rant and simply state things that I liked in the movie. I loved some of the landscape shots, I loved some of the locations, the decors used, the overall atmosphere... The songs used were did not have a constant good usage. It didn't matched some scenes like they did in the first movie. It is a very good directed comedy but pity that it's not at least half original. The worst part or the good part is that Todd already thought about a third movie. It's a good idea if he'll change the story and introduce new elements to it but it is an atrocious idea if it will be the same as the first two but in Paris this time...

With that said, The Hangover Part II is not really Part II but The Hangover in Bangkok. It lacks big time in originality but Zach and the funny and ridiculous moments keep you entertained and at times forget the issues the movie has.

Fast Five
(2011)

Fast Five deals with troubles of identity and becomes pointless but highly entertaining...
When I first saw the first movie of this series, I said to myself "Yes, Julian, good entertainment like never before". After all these years, Fast Five is promoted as being the last one, the grand finale, the ultimate conclusion to the story of our horse-power rider heroes. Fast Five detach itself from the racing plague and transforms into another heist movie which bring nothing new except a few really entertaining chase scenes. So where to begin? The story starts with the planned break-out of Dominic (Vin Diesel) who was convicted for 25 years in jail. It starts with a ridiculous stunt but I got over it fastly. The group then ends up in Brasil and gets into trouble while trying to steal 3 cars from a moving train. The chase itself, the whole operation is entertaining but impossible, deadly and the last but not the least, hilarious in real life. You get the feeling you're watching scenes from 2012. However, Dom, Brian (Paul Walker), Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Vince (Matt Schulze) deal with real issues after they find out they stole an important cip which was hidden in one of the cars owned by an even more important person in Rio. The most feared and powerful drug dealer, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Nothing impressive wait? Oh wait. The "FBI dudes" from the States sent one of the best teams in Rio to catch them. This elite task is ran by Luke Hobbs (Dwyane Johnson) which is pretty much the old-school, hand-by-hand tough guy. The movie moves pretty fast. We get to find out that Mia is pregnant so of course, Dom and Briand head out for the most clicheic "last job" ever. They get to reunite with all their friends from the previous movies, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Ludacris) and Han Lue (Sung Kang). They give green lights for a plan to steal Reyes's drug money. We get the usual guy who wants to get out but once he finds out the kind of money involved he gets back in, we get to see few actual races, some nice beautiful women, big men acting all like a bunch of wrestlers and showing their muscles and we'll even get the bad guy joining the good guys. We're also given, I think, the biggest death toll in this series.

As far as their plans, there's no real in-depth look. We're just given small pieces and the rest we must figure for ourselves even some matches don't fit this whole pretentious job. With all the cons we still are entertained and the last part of the movie, the final confrontation actually pays it off even if it gets a little bit cheesy with the sentimental nonsense. As for the acting part, I had one big problem with Dwyane Johnson's delivery. His lines always felt forced like he was reading the script or something. I love The Rock but I still think as an actor... he's still at the beginning.

The technical part of the movie is quite impressive. Tough chase scenes, crazy stunts and good fight sequences. I had a problem with some effects like the train wagon explosion. Far from being realistic enough. I also had problems with the lightning and with the continuous and repeating use of wide-city shots between certain scenes. It's the easiest way to make a transition between scenes. It's a cinematographer weakness, especially in a movie like this which has the possibility of looking much much better. The music was pretty good, intense and fitted the atmosphere.

Overall, Fast Five was a disappointment as far as a Fast & Furious movie. Fast Five was a disappointment as far as an overall heist movie because of the overused clicheic pieces of story. Fast Five was a disappointment as far as the ridiculous action scenes in it. Despite all that, despite the negative view I have on it I must admit I was entertained. It was a good time. Now, Fast Five deals with troubles of identity. It feels like the last one but it leaves room for another one. And since we already know they'll make another one I have some questions? Why the misleading marketing? Why the misleading point of the movie? Why did they had to make it pointless?

The Lincoln Lawyer
(2011)

Matthew McConaughey single-handedly carries with decency one of the best B movies of the last years
Directed by Brad Furman, The Lincoln Lawyer is a surprisingly good courthouse drama supported by a strong cast and a decent story. It depicts the process of a charismatic lawyer Mickey Haller (Matthew McConaughey) who gets inside a case which doesn't revolve only around his defender. He's an iconic lawyer in Los Angeles dealing with various criminals and who holds connection within the city's underworld. He finds himself in a big trouble once he takes charge in defending Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a Beverly-Hills hot-shot who's accused of rape and attempted murder. The story becomes predictable in time but at the same time it departs itself from other identical formulas by not using clichés and stereotypes. Therefore the movie's quality is raised to good entertainment thanks to the diversity of the plot structure. The characters feel real, we support our main protagonist and we get more than just an idea of who Haller really is thanks to the shown flashbacks, the mistakes he did, the people he helped, the marriage he had with his ex-wife who was a prosecutor Maggie McPherson (Marisa Tomei) and even his own driver. All these details add up a lot to the building of his persona. This film avoids with decency the crap surrounding the film industry and it honestly is one of the best B movies I have seen in the last couple of years. I'm saying B movie because it still has it's little flaws in direction, the story even though it was good it could have been approached in a different way and the ending could have been a lot more satisfying.

However, I will add that the cast did a great job. Marisa Tomei was beautiful to watch like always even though she had little time on screen, Michael Pena, William H. Macy and Josh Lucas all did a decent job and even Ryan Phillippe who I personally dislike as an actor I found him to be not annoying at all. The most impressive thing to me was by far Matthew's work. He really showed that he has the talent to do a lot more on the screen and he should really focus on doing more movies at least like this one if not better simply because him walking around and goofing and approaching ladies on screen in a foolish way it's really old news to pretty much everyone. Thumbs up, as the bloggers or youtubers say to Matthew McConaughey because he made me care about his next movie.

As far as the direction, like I said, there are few flaws and things that I didn't liked. The contrast, the editing at times was a little bit messed up but I really enjoyed some of the songs used because they matched the specific scenes but other than that everything could have been much better. In the end, I think everyone should have a good time watching this movie, it will not give you any headaches, you will not see Matther taking his shirt off (well, he takes it half-off in one shot but it's dark in the room so that doesn't count ladies) and overall you won't feel you're watching a movie you have seen before even if you actually did.

Just Go with It
(2011)

A good formula of comedy and romance, enjoyable with decent amount of salt and pepper that will leave you smile at the end of the show
I might be a bit biased about this because I have a personal sympathy for Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler but I found this movie entertaining, simple and relaxing. These are all characteristics that most romcoms these days lack in. They all try too much to be either funny, either too romantic, either too complex and suffer from the storytelling point of view but this film, while it's a typical romcom it still delivers more than expected. But let's go into slicing this bread entirely and as objectively as I can.

Danny (Adam Sandler) is a successful plastic surgeon which after a disappointing start within his first marriage, he starts using his ex-wedding ring to get regular chicks in his bed. His methods work till he meets this gorgeous young blond named Palmer (Brooklyn Decker). In order to convince her he has real interest in their future he needs to play the ex-husband/present-dad card by asking his personal assistant Katherine (Jennifer Aniston) to pretend to be his ex-wife. Things go really crazy and messed up when kids are involved and the "little" trip to Hawaii is the cherry on top of the cake. It turns out clicheic and Danny falls for Katherine but I never lost my patience. I really enjoyed the delivery. The dialogue wasn't bad, the acting was pretty much what this movie needed, a pleasant appearance from the lovely Nicole Kidman, it has funny moments and not funny in a retarded way, no nonsense and no stupid development of both characters and story and last but not least, it has a solid "feel-good" atmosphere. This film is getting too much heat in my opinion and so many feel they need to bash this because "oh, another clicheic romcom"... Well, I was entertained and I think this was the purpose of the makers. Great time at the cinema and definitely not a waste of money or time.

The production design, the technical execution was more than OK. It kind of reminded me of Forgetting Sarah Marshall as far as captions, contrast and chosen music. This is one of the best movies made by Aniston in the last years, probably since "Marley & Me" which a really good weekend movie. Adam Sandler is back in doing more of his good stuff and God, could I ask one thing? How does these women look so damn well at their age?...

Overall, the film's title pretty much suggest what the audience should do with the movie: "Just Go with It". It's a good formula of comedy and romance, enjoyable with decent amount of salt and pepper that will leave you smile at the end of the show.

Battle Los Angeles
(2011)

It's like playing Call of Duty on Low Details...
As soon as I saw the trailer for this film I became so excited. I thought this could be a really good mash-up between District 9 and Black Hawk Down. Well, my anticipation grew and my deception is simply huge. I don't even know what to think about this mess. What was the purpose of this movie? What did I just saw? Why the hell almost every time a movie like this comes out the trailer makes me loose my patience and become crazy about the project and after I see it I immediately start to loose my nerves. It's annoying and disturbing to see such a degraded projection of a war movie. At least that's what people say this movie is... I personally consider it to be part of the "big-boom-bullsh*t" genre.

The story sets off more than clicheic. Soldiers at the end of their careers meeting rookies, marine buddies drinking bear, sudden events get to be a threat for the world, soldiers are sent to evacuate civilians, they find out more, get scared, write some words for their wives, think about their families, get scared again, meet the war ground, get scared more, see the aliens, do the "oh my god" and run forward, they get panicked but find strength to fight the aliens and so on till eventually they will fulfill their duties and the mankind would win the war... An ongoing course of "what would be like IF"... Well, the movie definitely assured the audience with it's boredom and constant stupid explosions (I'll get right back to that) to forget about the characters, to forget what the task really is, you just sit and wonder yourself when it will end... The movie doesn't deliver ANY of the feelings that should be delivered. It's flat and ridiculous. The acting is not even questionable and I really expected some tension from Eckhart and I did received it somehow but I guess he already did the best since the script sucked so bad. The dialogue is awful. Few, few, few worthy lines and phrases... I'm simply amazed (in the wrong way of course)...

Speaking of stupid explosions... A lot of people said... "Well, what did you expect? It's a war movie!"... Now I will delicately give my answer to all the "pro war activists": "No! It's not just a war movie. And if it's just a war movie then why they show me aliens shooting at nothing? They filled this movie with action sequences which make no sense (aleatory shooting, ridiculous escapes from impossible situations and further). They show a bunch of aliens shooting at something though nothing is really there because the streets are god damn empty. They show marines attacking chaotic like they're a bunch of Call of Duty players... Damn even those guys got more tactics than we witnessed in this movie. So... It's not just a war. A war movie is Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan or Apocalypse Now... not Battle: Los Angeles." And what is with the design of those aliens anyway?... It looks average at best considering they look like a bunch of tin-head shrimps.

The look of this film also is unacceptable. Terrible shot. Can't see a clear thing. The hand-cam usage is poor and really irritating. No cinematography, no clean cuts, no good mixing between different shots and even the sound lacks in effects. The visual effects are also a big disappointment. It all looks like it was made back in 2003. The whole production department made this movie worthless. It's definitely one of the biggest disappointments in the last years.

With all this hate I must appreciate the few good things about it that made me not leave the theater. Mostly some of the action in the film. Yes, there were plenty of stupid explosions and situations but in some parts the movie really delivered some good action. I also enjoyed the concept but I was obviously stunned by the poorness of the execution. It lacks in innovation and gains a lot of attributes in "superficialism". Hopefully they won't make a sequel to this. It will add more awfulness to this awful material.

In the end I want to say that I do love mindless action movies but this is definitely not the case and don't even consider wasting your money in the theater. A rental? Maybe... Better yet, just download it if you can to satisfy your 2 minutes madness then delete it. (Yeah, I said it)

London Boulevard
(2010)

Wow, what a letdown...
I don't know what's with Colin and why he picks all these terrible movies but I'm getting frustrated as hell... He does one decent film and after that he completely chooses the most boring and crappy script ever.

London Boulevard starts boring as hell. In the first five minutes I said "this is another bad movie with great cast" and yes it is. Besides Farrell you have the lovely Keira Knightley and the young Ophelia Lovibond (a name probably unknown for many but a face pretty recognizable) and the two British actors Ray Winstone, David Thewlis and Stephen Graham. With all that, the movie departs itself completely from reality and enters into a world of boredom and mindless savageness. I would have been more interested in a film where Colin bangs all these hot actresses attached to this messy project than to see a "whatever" type of movie.

The story mainly is about this guy Mitchell (Colin Farrell) who just out of prison gets hired by this beautiful actress Charlotte (Keira Knightley) to protect her from the paparazzi and other interferences in her life. Now, the director got it all wrong with these journalism thing. Since when 5-6 publications put the same picture of the same actress on their magazines? You could have thought about other methods to show how popular this Charlotte was but don't do such amateurish mistakes like this because it really takes away the realism. There's no such thing as 2 big tabloids having the same picture on the front page because that would be BAD BUSINESS you dumbass. Back to the topic, this guy Mitchell, even with a proper job, he still gets in parallel problems. Why? Honestly, there is no logical reason. I mean god damn... you got a nice job man, get over it. But no, he has this friend who died in ugly circ*mstances, being killed by two bastards. He goes on a personal vendetta, a pointless revenge to say the truth. With all that he goes on a criminal journey for a "big shot" jumping out in a clicheic form out of a black Rolls Royce Phantom. Laughing my ass off. ON TOP OF THAT, Mitchell and Charlotte, of course, end up together. So you got a "love story", a "revenge story", a "crime story" and a "family story" considering Mitchell's relationship with his sister (forgot to talk about that). But the film doesn't offer nothing satisfying for neither these issues. All hail the paparazzi though, at least they know what they were after because obviously the director didn't. I was surprised at times that had some funny moments which are specific for any British film. You need to have that English humor impregnated in the story otherwise the film will loose it's brit approval stamp. I enjoyed those moments but other than that there's nothing interesting left.

The acting was barely mediocre. Keira was not in her good days, Farrel did his old bored to hell character and the rest were simply "usual". Nothing to talk about so I'll go directly to the execution. First of all, the music is terrible in the movie. It has nothing to do with what's on the screen and I think it was chosen just because it sounded cool. Well, it didn't. It's one of the worst choices for a film I heard. The music was too quick for the film's slow pacing. It's like a wrong contrast between brown and purple. The camera work was average. The editing was average. Everything was under my expectations.

I honestly don't know why this movie was made. It's pointless, it has tons of bad lines, awful dialogue, mediocre acting, average execution, messy storyline... Wow, what a letdown...

Rango
(2011)

It seems like studios found again a great chance of covering the defunct storytelling with mesmerizing visuals and impressive editing.
Every film product must satisfy it's audience. Since we're talking about an animated film, the goals are harder to obtain simply because you must project a rich and attractive story filled with funny moments and a detailed animated world. We've seen animated movies made for a smaller audience like, for example, The Illusionist from last year, which addresses adults and not underaged idealists. Rango is a movie for all ages because probably everyone will have a good time watching it. But having a good time watching a movie describes how good the movie really is?... Is Rango that good? The western adventures of the simple and clumsy lizard Rango (Johnny Depp) borrows elements from Leone's classic westerns, refurnishes the set-ups, creates a comfortable world for the viewer and starts to convert the old-fashioned western story. While it may be remarkably smart written, the story is dragged around the biggest clichés in animated films. We all understand Rango is a perfect reason to pay homage to one of the greatest eras in film history, however, was it necessary to offer a predictable and pointless story? The lonely guy (or lizard in this case) with no friends and no actual talents whatsoever, integrates in a community (Dirt Town) threatened by an oppressive ruler (The Mayor) and becomes the local hero by luck and chance while defeating a local villain. After a short period of popularity he loses all the credibility and affection by getting engaged in a duel with the big villain (in our case, the town's mayor) which unveils his true face and forces him leave his people with his tail behind his legs. But somehow, in the middle of nowhere he finds hope and courage with the help of some unusual force and decides to go back to his people and free them from the oppressor because that's (obviously) the right thing to do. Wait... I'm hearing some of you interrupting me "Will he get the girl Julian?"... Of course he'll get the girl mate... We all know the story, and we're already bored by it thanks to the tens and tens of movies using the same narrative ingredients. The story structure in Rango is not only common but is also deceivable, clichéd and pointless since it adds no gram of originality.

Despite the beautiful look of the film and impressive execution nothing makes me care about our hero. Where's the emotion?... Where's the emotional core? Rango has emotional moments but not because we care about our main character but because we somehow pledge to the loneliness and hopeless described at some point in the movie. Was that really necessary for Rango?... I will say that it wasn't. The funny moments in the film are barely even there, few laughs in the theater but mostly there were just smiles and voices around me debating something but not the actual movie. Most of these funny moments don't even come from our main protagonist but from our secondary characters. We also have that classic group of characters that create a bridge from one point of the story to the other. The four singing owls represent the narrator's voice but they are useless since they are neither funny nor entertaining. They just come, sing and leave without making a strong point. You will forget about them as soon as their scenes end.

As if the gasps in the storytelling's design were not enough, Rango confronts with... politics. An animated film satirizing the world's current issues like our main economical problems and our hunger for resources. Rango depicts the selfishness and creates a pretty dark and actually marxist character in the town's mayor. I was thinking that, okay, it's a understandable thing for adults but is it good for a kid to watch this and being told that if the people don't obey the rules they must be eliminated?... I don't know, maybe I'm a little bit off-topic but I think such delicate issues like that should not be addressed directly to kids.

Going to the voice casting, there were good choices but I can summarize Johnny Depp's vocal impersonation as being close to an animated Jack Sparrow: same tonality, same laugh, same mumbling... It looks like he really has a hard time getting over that character. I felt the entire movie I witnessed an animated green and skinny Jack Sparrow. But enough is enough.

Let's take a moment and applaud the incredible technical execution of this movie. The picture looked so clean and perfectly drawn, the colors were alive and powerful, the contrasts and the sound mixing and editing was really really impressive. The fight scenes looked like the epic grand-scale battle scenes from movies like Avatar or Star Wars... The cinematography was gorgeous and I must say I was impressed with some of the techniques used in the film. There is a shot of Rango dreaming and that crossover from reality to dreams and back to reality was simply amazing. It's a jaw-dropping visual world. Even the score was good. Good choice of music and not a single waste of wrong tones or anything like that. Everything fitted the movie wonderfully. Rango really blew out the water other animations and is a real step forward into animated drawings and design. It's like a concept car or a new burger. It's fresh.

The Sunset Limited
(2011)

Like Kubrick's 2001, this is a movie about content and... containers.
What a powerful and emerging film that depicts the two opposing sides of this universe. I was really surprised by the quality of this "little" film. This isn't a movie about two people talking in a room about random stuff. This isn't a film about two life-travelers that engage in an ongoing argument about the human condition. This is a film about the quality of life. Not the meaning of it but the quality. The details in it's design. The true valor's clockwork.

The duality of belief, as a general term, is analyzed completely in this great approach of the Cormac McCarthy novel in which the two main protagonists, "named" simply Black (Samuel L. Jackson) and White (Tommy Lee Jones) are debating over a serious and dangerous issue. "White tried to jump in front of a train and Black came and saved his ass. He carries him in his apartment and tries to put some sense into this White dude." Right? Not really. "The movie also promotes religion and is an ongoing boredom that I completely despise." RIght? Not really again. This has a greater meaning than just that. We live in a world filled with pathetic lies, corny truths, raised flags over white buildings and big letters over or on the dark ones. We live in a world where prostitution is legalized even in the cultural state of the society. We live in a world where rejection, where pain, where slavery and failure are common attraction to the atrocious tourists. We are hoping to free the world from the hands of the manipulators and selfish dictators, we organize revolutions, we fight for freedom but in the end we all get trapped in the same positions as we were before. This is what this movie is about. It's about the ongoing fight carried to win our faith back. Faith, science, culture, logic, mathematics, metaphors, feelings, achievements... They are all the same. They are contents, ingredients and thoughts that the humankind must have in order to survive the greatest threat of them all. The threat which is not the monetary system, the threat which is not the harsh reality, the threat which is not the solely figurative place of the man in the world, but the threat that is represented in the lack of faith in ourselves. We are our own guides because we rule this world. This is why this movie has captured my attention completely. It's not a masterpiece, it's not a grand scale picture, it's not a studio banking option, it's not even part of the best films in the last years but... at the same time... it's simply great. I loved it because it really balances amazingly well the truth revealed along the film with the denouement. They are identical as both form and content.

I also liked the little details like the black coffee, the text erased at the bottom of the Bible, the absence of TV and radio, the lockers on the door and not to mention the biggest detail of them all... the room. Just think about the room vs. everything else. Order vs. Chaos. Even in a messy world we could find order...

Going further to the execution, the story is well structured, the dialogues are haunting, the clichés are gone because even if you find them they tend to leap by the end of the film, the acting is impeccable and the technical aspect of the movie was a comfortable surprise. It's exactly what the film needed. I can't talk too much about this film because I don't want to enter into the details... I just hope people could see what a good movie this really is. I'm pretty sure few movies captured my attention as this one did. Like Kubrick's 2001, this is a movie about content and... containers.

No Strings Attached
(2011)

"Love and Other Drugs", all "Spread" around.
Ivan Reitman, the director known for his long collaboration with Bill Murray, gave me enough reasons to worry about this flick only by the look of the trailer. No Strings Attached looked just like another cheap and average romantic comedy full of glam scenes and clichés. Is it the case here? Yes, it probably is. But something changed my judgment on this movie right after I left the theater. I said to myself: "wait a minute, this movie ain't that bad so I need to write about it as soon as I could". Well, here I am.

The film starts horrifying and amateurish. Nothing connects me with the characters, nothing impresses me, the jokes are so lame that even a true "blond" won't laugh at them, the pacing is incredibly boring and the clichés are falling like the "bieber-tears". I was obviously panicked. However, there was a point were things started to get better. The movie started to awake itself from the coma. Everything started to make sense again. I was breathing because the air was fresh. The film actually started to get entertaining. Well, thank god because that's what I was expecting from this. I expected a simple combo between "Love and Other Drugs" and Kutcher's other "playboy" film "Spread". This mixture is the perfect description this movie could have: "Love and Other Drugs, All Spread Around".

Basically the film is more than simple. Two friends, Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) become sex-buddies. Of course you know the twist here... C'mon guys... they fall in love. But that doesn't ruin anything because this is a great dating movie. There are a lot of goofy situations because you have Kutcher's same character, there are a lot of romantic moments which may seem to be similar or even identical to any other one thousand romantic moments which you all seen in other movies but that won't bother you because the execution is not wrong this time. So, you have the formula, you got the execution, what's next? The acting... While Kutcher does what he knows to do best, goofing around and run after girls, talk to the phone or eat a stake, Natalie Portman is too good for a movie like this. She gives a great performance even though it was not necessarily required. The emotions, the different emotional states, the delivery is better than I expected. That made me feel good and acknowledge that at least I could find interest in a character.

The technical execution is not something to be worry about so I won't talk about it since it's nothing special but I will admit though that the chosen songs were pretty good and they fitted the movie's identity. Excepting the first 20 minutes were everything was a complete chaos, a utterly mess, No Strings Attached starts horrifying but ends up more than satisfying. It's definitely a date film that I recommend. It's funny, cheesy, sweet to look at and strangely enough, innocent. Just don't hate on it.

Love & Other Drugs
(2010)

This movie is a great stamp of failure put on every Anne-disbeliever's forehead.
I might be the only serious guy around here who actually enjoyed this flick. Love and Other Drugs directed by Edward Zwick, the guy behind movies like Blood Diamond, captured my attention mainly because of the chosen actors for the leading roles and in an ultimate desperate moment, because of the great reaction from the critics concerning the actual portrayals of the two leading actors.

Of course this movie it's a love story, not like Love Story though but reminded me in a way of that movie simply because our female protagonist here, Maggie Murdock, portrayed by the talented Anne Hathaway suffers from a terrible disease which we all know as parkinson syndrome or parkinsonism. Besides that, Jake Gyllenhaal as Jamie Randall, is the same guy raised in a educated family and by chance also rich. Despite all the goodies that surrounded him, he grew up as being the rebel of the family: dropping out of school, living a life without engagements and being the playboy of the town (whichever town he lived, visited, went through or in... it doesn't really matter). Till this point, the characters are pretty much similar with Jennifer and Oliver from Love Story. The difference though is that the chemistry, the love story itself, the emotions revealed in the film are nowhere near that level. However, this doesn't mean the movie is bad. Not. At. All.

The relationship between Maggie and Jamie is developing pretty well and realistic till some point. You are attracted to these characters, you care for them even if one appears to be a total douche and bastard while the others looks to be just another random silly slut. Two sex-buddies that once you're introduced to their deeper emotional states you find out a lot more nicer things about them. The clichés are here, especially considering the ending, but the movie must be taken for what it is, which is a movie that promotes unity in a relationship whatever the cost. It's like a big slap to all the douches that once they find themselves surrounded by problems and engaged in certain unwanted activities they quit and ran to the local cheap whor*. It's a good film to watch with your girlfriend/boyfriend because it's not that sad thanks to some really funny characters like Jamie's rich brother Josh played by Josh Gad (I don't know why I always think of God when saying that name)... It's a really impressive romantic drama filled with just enough comedy to keep you entertained enough to want more from this.

The two protagonists, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, give great performances, Anne especially because of her interesting role. I don't understand people who claimed Anne can't act. She did an amazing job before. Just because she started in more romantic comedies than serious movies that doesn't mean she can't act. This movie is a great stamp of failure put on every Anne-disbeliever's forehead. The acting itself, accompanied by a good structured story, a very good choice of music and a good technical execution made this movie one of the best romantic and -if I could say- dramatic comedies in 2010. I love the fact that this is a real mature movie even if it has it's childish clichés but the analysis itself of the characters and the issues emerged within their relationship are mature enough to entertain every adolescent out there.

Blue Valentine
(2010)

Blue Valentine is by far, the best dramatic and romantic experience put on screen in 2010
Without taking sides, Blue Valentine deals with extreme situations and draws parallel lines between his two main extreme opponents. The relationship between Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) evolves beautifully by covering touching issues and contrasts within the life of two once-lovers. It doesn't get too melodramatic, it doesn't get cheesy nor predictable and it juggles with the emotional core of the movie. Dean is a low-educated guy, who is ruled only by his intuitions and views the world in just one dimension. Although he is not trusty in adapting to the society and to the family's needs he has a great heart and acknowledges the great responsibility he must have inside a family. Cindy is an immature, confused and I could say pitiful person but her reason and judgment save her in a lot of harsh situations although her life seems to be conducted not by her wishes but by her personal mistakes and even fantasies. Blue Valentine it's a great in-depth analysis of the ups and downs in a family built on lies, at least from one individual if not both.

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams gave life to their characters and although their judgment is one dimensioned they are three dimensional characters. They have a great chemistry between them and they manage to combine romance with anger and frustrations, self control with delusional behavior, optimism with pessimism and love with hate. A moving mixture of on-going real life problems. One of the best actors of their generation and Gosling proves once again why he needs to step out under the rock that has a "underrated" mark on it.

The camera work was fantastic. Great balance, contrasts, colors and close-ups. I really enjoyed watching this movie even more thanks to the way it was shot. The sound was also clear and the songs used, especially those choir moments were incredible. Blue Valentine is by far, the best dramatic and romantic experience put on screen in 2010. It promotes unity but at the same time it admits the influence of materialism or selfishness in many situations. Sometimes, women spend all their time wandering in the wilderness looking for their prince but decide to stop and marry the guy who has a bigger paycheck while men always dream about having harems and be classy playboys and end up being more romantic than anyone and fall in love for the girl next door. I guess life tricks us all, but in the end who has the luck to trick it back?

The King's Speech
(2010)

The King's Speech combines well-balanced elements of comedy, tension, romance, history and drama and provides the best movie in 2010
What an extraordinary piece of filmmaking. Tom Hooper took the interesting story of King George VI of Britain (Colin Firth) struggle for regaining trust in his own voice. Knowledgeable of King George's stammer, his wife, Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) appealed to some local and relatively unknown speech therapist by the name of Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). As a short history brief I could add that the Duke of York by the real name of Albert Frederick Arthur George became King of Britain not after the death of his father (King George V) but because of his brother's (King Eduard VIII) discharge or abdication of the duties as king and emperor. The story itself is well proportioned, the narrative linear structure is intelligently mannered and the dialogue is just captivating. I loved the pacing in this movie because it doesn't get slow or dull nor quickly and forgettable. It's a perfect achievement in terms of filmmaking and it's definitely one of the best pictures of 2010 if not the best. As the movie tag is saying, it takes leadership to confront a nation's fear and It takes friendship to conquer your own. King George has to regain not only confidence in his own voice and personality but also has to regain a lost friendship. A friendship he didn't had since his childhood days. He finds that special friend in his speech therapist who is a brilliant psychologist and a great human being. Although the story may sound for some people to be another royal-drama this is obviously not the case. The King's Speech combines well-balanced elements of comedy, tension, romance, history and drama. It succeeds by not focusing too much on just one character but let all of them be more than just screen-puppets. Be relevant pupper-masters that could steal the audience in any scene. Great craft, intensely intelligent and gallantly mannered, King's Speech is one of the finest products of comedic-biopic ever made.

Of course, for a movie to be brilliant you need brilliant acting besides brilliant screenplay and dialogue. And I admit, sometimes the screenplay, the story, could build a character more than his acting but this movie is one of the exceptions. Colin Firth does an outstanding job portraying the hardly King George VI. He looses himself completely into the king's personality. He somehow manages to both interact and disagree with his own character. His mannerism, his tonality, his impeccable eloquence and elegance is by far the outstanding piece of acting this year and Colin Firth deserves his Academy Award after his first nomination last year for "A Single Man". The secondary roles however are not to be forgotten. Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue are both dueling with his majesty in terms of acting and they greatly succeed. A great complementary casting in these two wonderful and talented actors. Geoffrey Rush is more of a comedian than a serious therapist and manages to make the audience enjoy his character while Helena Bonham Carter represents the aristocratic fanciness in that period of time.

The entire staff should get recognition for the beautiful and imposing cinematography. It's a perfect combination between two contradicting feelings within King's personality: claustrophobia and liberation. The anti-thesis in this movie is perfectly shown thanks to the beautiful shots and even the chosen contrasts. The decors are also part of this sublime description of our main character by combining complexity with simplicity. Elegance with rustiness. Although all these technical details are pretty good and help to create a worm and comfortable atmosphere, the most incredible thing to me is the music I'm hearing while watching the film. Alexandre Desplay is guilty for providing the best original score this year. I'm sorry for The Social Network or Inception but this is pure music. This piece of astonishing and captivating music is on another level for me as a solid cinefile that I like to believe I am. I had goose bumps just listening the melody in the first 2-3 minutes for the movie and I was already amazed and dazzled.

What more can I possibly say?... The King's Speech is, if not the best, then definitely one of the best movie released in 2010 and one of the best comedic-biopics ever. I still judge this movie as being more a drama/comedy type of movie than being strict and choose just one genre which would be drama.

Let Me In
(2010)

Let Me In is one of the few takes on European films that does not turn out to be a washed-up material
Matt Reeves take on the norwegian movie "Let the Right One In" it's more than decent but it doesn't hold the same powerful deliverance of the original. The story has also changes within the complexity of the characters and the approach of the relationship between Owen and Abby. Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a young and lonely boy that is always bullied at school and he is searching for both encouragement and a friend. He finds one in this odd girl named Abby (Chloe Moretz) who is very different than than other human beings. Owen notices the differences in Abby's adaptation to his world so he starts to sense something strange going on about her. He also witnesses different conflicts between Abby and her "father" which is portrayed by Richard Jenkins. A friendship relationship starts to evolve between Abby and Owen and things get prettier when she finds out about Owen's problems in school. The problem with the story is that, though the changes are pretty small, I didn't felt the same approach for characters as I felt when I watched "Let the Right One In". I didn't find the same chemistry between these characters. I'm not saying the movie's message is not strong or that the story isn't beautiful but I'm just suggesting that it's not better than the original. Another positive thing is the way Reeves manages a great directing by containing a scrupulous mysterious atmosphere.

The disappointment was in Chloe's casting as Abby. I didn't found her as mysterious and attractive character as Lina Leandersson (Eli). Though her evolution is tense she didn't balanced both her sides, emotional and brutal. She is interested in things but things are not that interested in her. Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen is more than okay. He plays very well the curious and confused young boy. His take on the role is dramatic enough to keep you interested in his path.

The technical details in this movie are gorgeous and the presentation matches the original's. Great cinematography, great editing but I felt awkward by the overused yellow tint of the image. It created a too warm feeling and a not as dark image as the original did. What I felt it was sloppy was Abby's capture inside the tunnel. I felt they could have managed to pull some better effects to look more convincing. The original was far more creepier with a smaller budget. The music is simple, the small piano claps drawing the emotional core of the movie while the strong base lines and fast brass and drums claps add a visceral dark and creepy feeling to the audience.

Overall, Let Me In is one of the few takes on European films that does not turn out to be a washed-up material. It has a solid directing, a beautiful narrative story, a great development of the characters, a good technical execution but it somehow lacks in sending a solid message and it doesn't deal with the same amount of mystery as the original even though it's more tense and suspenseful. Not darker, not creepier but tenser, Let Me In is one of the best vampire American movies and that, thanks to the wonderful achievement of Let the Right One In and the grateful execution of Matt Reeves.

The Fighter
(2010)

Hollywood had a true story of someone that did not BECAME SOMEONE but ACHIEVED SOMETHING
This biopic is not only a film about boxing but also an in-depth description of a suburban family. As the title says, the story is developed around Micky Ward's (Mark Wahlberg) professional career as a welterweight boxer and the personal issues that he had to face during his chase for success. I would like to mention though another fighter because I had the feeling that I witnessed two fighters struggling for their personal merit and that is Micky's brother, the former welterweight boxer, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale).

Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward, a boxer who lives in his brother's shadow. He struggles to find his mental and physic balance to achieve great things professionally but has a hard time "thanks" to his family. Although he is ambitions and strong, he has a weakness for his family. He is close to his brother, Dicky, he listens to his mother Alice, which is also manager and he loves Charlene, a girl he met up in a bar. Being emotionally too much involved he has a hard time dealing with everyone. Alice, played extraordinary by Melissa Leo, is a garrulous mother, egocentric and irascible person, jealous and actually possessive. Amy Adams plays Charlene, a more educated and reasonable girl who devotes herself and spends all her energy trying to make Micky get on his track and regain his confidence after a couple of losses. Jack McGee plays Micky's father, George Ward, a more calmer and thoughtful person than anyone under Ward's roof.

The pinnacle of this movie however is Christian Bale's impersonation of Dicky Eklund. Dicky is a guy who lives in the past, building his whole life on one fight he had 14 years ago with Sugar Ray Leonard. He becomes a social mess by diving into the world of drugs and creating conflicts from mediocre situations. Because he is his brother's personal hero his positive influence and his training methods become easily affected by his negativity and his lousy character. Bale's performance is a colossal achievement this year and definitely deserves an academy award because not only he adapted his accent and behavior but he also managed to adapt his physical portrayal, his physical gestures. He is solely unrecognizable as Bale but only as Dicky. Not only these characters seem to have nothing in common so fights obviously would break but you have to see these other figures which are Micky's siblings, all sisters. They all act like a bunch of sheep or oompa-loompas trolling around the house making things more crazy than they already are. These character problems are part of the suburban environment they all grew up. Without a proper education and a social solid structure they will manage to reveal at some point more of the worst than the best. Now, I said in the beginning that I saw Dicky as being a fighter also. That is correct because thanks to Dicky's good will and ambition we see him fight his condition and return from jail (because that's where he ends up some time in the story) to help his brother become one thing he never was: a champion.

Technically the movie has its ups and downs. I didn't really enjoy that much the fighting scenes. I think they could have presented them in a different way. Other than that, it is pretty well edited, good cinematography involved but I kinda felt the lack of music. There is melody and there are songs chosen as backgrounds for training or for a certain fight but other than that it's a pretty technical flat film. I think the director and the crew concentrated more on the story and the acting than on the technical details and that served out to be a very good thing to do.

I don't have to say nothing at the end but to thank Dicky's struggle, to thank Charlene for her affection and advices she gave and to ultimately thank Micky's ambition and heart because now Hollywood had a true story of someone that did not BECAME SOMEONE but ACHIEVED SOMETHING. After all, you could become someone but are you guaranteed you'll achieve something?

127 Hours
(2010)

A strong film that paints the road to survival filled with hope and deception
Danny Boyle deserves all the credit in the world for this directorial achievement. Personally, I think he did an outstanding thing taking on a subject which is hard to put on screen for one hour and half and keep you interested in the character and keep things entertaining: the true story of Aron Ralston, a mountain climber who had to resort to one of the most desperate measures in order to fade death.

A profound survival story that doesn't get too melodramatic nor boring or predictable. It challenges the viewer by putting him through the same experience as Aron's thanks to the amazing study of his character and his survival process. 127 Hours entertains by mixing up humor with drama and tense situations. A great journey through Aron's personal experience that goes from his first moments of clarity and then sanity, disappointment and hope, through his hallucinations and premonitions, through his both states of denial and acceptance of the upcoming result and ultimately, through his impressive ambition and desire to live and not accept death as a denouement. James Franco is responsible for caring this movie and make it entertaining thanks to his moving performance. He manages so well to balance his emotional state and "play" with his own sanity. His presence on the screen kept the audience in the back of their seats. Speaking of being in the back of the seat, I heard a lot of talk about the "cutting arm" sequence which made people fainted or whatever. I expected it to be some gore stuff but it turned out to be more than just OK. It was nothing that harsh to watch... I don't know. Maybe for some really sensitive guys the scene might be a problem but for me it was really nothing that outrageous.

Combining the nonconformism in editing with great photography, beautiful landscapes and amazing cinematography 127 Hours stands-out as a striking visually piece of filmmaking. The scenes were cut and put together in an intelligent manor and that majorly helped the movie's pacing. The soundtrack is also one of the best I've heard in a long time. A.R. Rahman is responsible for this beautiful mixture of tribal techno music and uplifting pure melody. The most impressive piece of music I consider it to be within the last couple of minutes right before his "salvation" and Dido's vocal performance in the film was destined to make the public to engage emotionally in the movie.

127 Hours is another big step in Danny Boyle's career. A strong film that paints the road to survival filled with hope and deception. Carried by a strong performance, by a solid narrative structure and dazzling technical detail, 127 Hours needs to be in anyone's top 10 of 2010.

Conviction
(2010)

A clear message to human's potential when ambition is higher than the dream itself
Conviction is based on the true story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) who puts herself through a law school in order to represent her brother, Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell), who has been wrongfully accused of first degree murder. Of course you already know or at least have an idea about the result of this story but the momentum build-up is interesting enough too keep you focused. While it doesn't rely on a tense atmosphere and thrilling "detective" experience, it manages to impress thanks to the beautifully and detailed characterization of the process which Betty Anne had to go through. There's a clear stamp on what ultimate will and unstoppable ambition could make a man achieve: the ultimate act of (brotherly) love. The story is compelling and feels powerful because you know it's true but it lacks in objectivity and at times it draws too much attention on the flaws and mistakes in the legal system or the lack of interest of the "system" that it almost becomes a manipulative story. Other than that, I don't have many troubles with the story. It's rudimentary but it will definitely convict you to watch it till the end thanks to the both lead impressive performances.

This film heads the lights on the academy award winner Hilary Swank. She deserves some praising and recognition for her deep portrayal of this ridiculously optimistic character and her way of expressing feelings and thoughts through gestures. She's a true fighter that won't give up for anything and won't accept failure in any form. Another impressive performance is Kenny's unstable personality screen adaptation by Rockwell. A very talented actor who made himself known thanks to his roles in "The Assassination of Jesse James" and the science-fiction drama "Moon". He is definitely one of the actors to be watched on this next decade. The problem that irritated me is that while Kenny aged... Betty Anne looked the same for more than 16 years which to me was a little bit awkward. I mean, if you use makeup on Kenny, use it Betty Anne also... don't they age the same?... Just askin'.

Technically the movie was so and so. It tried to combine emotionally engaging shots and great cinematography with "flat" filming, thing that I disliked. There are some contrasts though that I found deeply moving like the empty court-room at the end and the press waiting outside the "liberty" doors. It was a great contrast that pictured the whole movie as what it is. A clear message to human's potential when ambition is higher than the dream itself. Besides that, the music used was too simple and inconsistent to really assimilate it with the picture.

Overall, Conviction is a good movie most people will enjoy thanks to it's true story and powerful performances. It's far from being a stand-out but it's definitely one of the most overlooked pieces of filmmaking this year.

True Grit
(2010)

Remake or not, Coen's True Grit is one of the finest westerns of our generation.
Coen brothers are "guilty" of adding another great film to their collection. Based on the novel by Charles Portis and on the John Wayne movie from 1969, True Grit defines the exception of a "remake" to be better than the original. It's a great achievement in filmmaking, especially in times when westerns are no longer what once used to be. Coens developed a great story and found the right ingredients to capture the public's attention. The story (for those who did not read the book nor watched the first movie) is about a young 14 years old girl named Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) which engages in a journey to catch her father's murderer. Being educated at that period of time, she found the necessary resources to approach the right men. In order to catch the criminal, she hires Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a tough U.S. marshal and LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) which was a texan ranger. Within this journey, the relationship between these characters, especially between Mattie and Rooster evolve. I found friendship and honesty to be very well portrayed in the movie. It was really well written from this point of view. While it is somehow dark, the funny parts were enough to make me smile and enjoy even more the film. Judging the emotional state of the movie it's emotional core it's not only a narrative under layer but it's more than that because it touches you without "raping" the tears out your eyes. I loved the approach and the execution of the movie. It was really a breath of fresh air.

The acting was top notch. Jeff Bridges as the U.S. marshal did not only a great job but proved once again that he is a chameleon in terms of acting. This role was perfect for him, he managed to swing from kindness to badassness (if you allow me use this term). He balanced his performance and developed a great chemistry between him and the other leads. Should I mention his perfect accent?... No. I'll let you guys do that. Speaking of other characters, Hailee Steinfeld as the young Mattie does a terrific job. She has no fear on the camera, she delivers every emotional state of hers and each line with professionalism, probably the female breakthrough performance of the year. Let's not forget Matt Damon, one of the most underrated actors of his generation as LeBoeuf. He was mostly the fun part of the movie always delivering a good line when Cogburn seemed to be the rigid one. The only disappointing thing was Josh Brolin's character. He had only 3-4 minutes on the screen and I'm still looking forward to a great movie carried by Brolin's leading role. I feel that he could have been a more interesting character. It had no life and after the movie ends you kinda even forget you've seen him at all.

True Grit is also greatly shot. The cinematography really impressed me. Those large gray and yellow tinted landscape shots and those upfront close-face shots made me forget that this movie was filmed in 2009-2010. The lenses used were perfect and the decors and locations were chosen wisely. The music was the only thing that could have been managed differently. It was good but it's usage was rarely which made the movie a little bit shallow and slow-paced at times. Though there was intensity, the lack of musical notes in the background may make some shots to not feel so important while in fact they are.

Overall, True Grit is possibly the best movie this year. Possibly because with all it's beauty, it's engaging and intense characters, it's great acting and technical execution it kinda feels "old". Old because of the subject approached which might feel for some people to be boring or pointless. The movie however exceeds the expectations thanks to it's directing and Oscar-worthy performances. Remake or not, Coen's True Grit is one of the finest westerns of our generation but I'm waiting on that original Coen brothers movie that will send shivers through my body. I want to feel "moved" not only pleased or glad while walking out of the theater.

Never Let Me Go
(2010)

Everything looks like reading a dramatic news in the local newspaper. You will read it, think about it few seconds then move to next page.
Never Let Me Go it's one of those adaptations that uses great technical execution in order to cover it's flaws in story's narration. The story revolves around this love and friendship triangle between Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) formed while spending their childhood inside an English boarding school, that would keep the children away from their freedom in order to make them unaware of the true living outside the "fence". That way, by living in a proper environment, they were being prepared for the worst to come. They will never could have gotten the chance to live fully and experience life at it's fullest because they were raised as donors. After 18, in just a few years they were already "programmed" to donate their vital organs which would also bring them "closer" to death. Inside this school, the love triangle flourished and continued through years to come till the moment they would face the truth. While Tommy represents the marginalized, Kathy was the girl that always had true strong feelings for Tommy, always understood him in his own weirdness and always appreciated him and cared for him. However, Ruth, had find a way to "catch" Tommy into her net and formed for a very long time a couple. Things get a little bit complicated when they are being transferred from their school to "The Cottages", a place like a small village where all donors would have to wait for their time. Kathy had the chance to apply for being a carer and provide support for some of the donors. In time, all three of them somehow find out about a way of postpone with even a few years their moment of donation. The condition was that a boy and a girl would form a couple and really love each other. That way they would receive more time to spend together before their eventual deaths. The result? Well, the story obviously deals with strong issues, feelings and drama but the movie doesn't deliver much of that.

The characters were also pretty poor written because you seem to not really care for anyone because there's no chemistry there... It's all blank and pointless. The acting looked much much better in the trailer, it looked more emotional and intense but it is definitely not the case. Keira Knightley (Ruth), thanks to the poor writing doesn't have too much to work with, Andrew Garfield as Tommy is a pretty much a silent character and I can't feel anything for him because there's a big lack of delivery. I'm not saying the performance was poor but it definitely was average. The real problem comes from Mulligan's portrayal of Kathy. Mulligan did a good job, definitely the best in the movie. You may ask, "well Julian then what's the problem?" and I will gladly answer you. It's boring. The acting itself isn't boring because it's pretty good, but the character is the same character Carey Mulligan usually plays. She picks roles that are too similar and what's wrong with that is that even if she gives a very good performance the audience will feel awkward and even deceived since they already saw that in at least 2 or 3 movies before. She is very talented in dealing with powerful emotions and she does a great job showing the fight within her and her inside pain but once you repeat that too many times in a small period of time people will get bored.

Besides the narrative slow evolution of the story, the poor written characters and the lack of versatility in casting the actors, there are good things that need to be pointed out. The technical execution of this movie was great. The cinematography was very good, the predominant brown color used in the movie fitted the atmosphere (in the small amount that it was) and the contrast was perfect. It reminded me of Atonement or An Education. The soundtrack was also good but it became pointless at times.

While the movie deals with love and selfishness, with spiritual and sexual evolution, with life and death, it fails in deliver all these elements. Everything looks like reading a dramatic news in the local newspaper. You will read it, think about it few seconds then move to next page. The same is with this movie. It looks good but it could have been much more than what it is.

Black Swan
(2010)

"In order to exist, beauty needs an evil possession" and Aronofsky offered us plenty of both.
This is not just a drama but also a horror. This is not just a horror but also a film noir. This is also an erotic monument to perfection. It's a clash of desire and obsession. This is easily one of the best movies in the last couple of years.

Living inside her own beautiful but terrifying world, this young ballerina named Nina (Natalie Portman), tries to find perfection by portraying the duplicitous swan queen in the play "Swan Lake". Perfection though, cannot be achieved only by sacrificing your body so she takes it one step further by letting herself go and choosing to sacrifice her mind also. Guided through her evolution as a professional dancer by her artistic director Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), she finds herself pushed over the limits and she jumps from her fragile and innocent look to a lusty and provocative shadow of herself. Problems occur when both her faces have to face Lily (Mila Kunis), another ballerina who finds herself in a violent competition for Nina's role in "Swan Lake". The powerful display of these two sides of the same coin is taking proportions when other factors like the authoritarian methods of Nina's mother to support her daughter through her career are revealed. "Black Swan", however, it's not just about some ballerina trying to find perfection by sacrifice but it's about the innocence and the lust, the confusion and the clarity, the strange and the usual, the chaos and the order, the manifest and the acceptance. Darren Aronofsky chose to explicitly explore an intriguing, erotic and passionate story that might both shock and please you at the same time. You will find yourself lost at one moment but all the answers given close to the end will reveal the harsh truth about the artistic behavior and sacrifice.

Few days ago I stated that Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole" is a strong contender for the leading role at the Academy Awards but I must admit I might have rushed a little bit. Natalie Portman's dazzling and haunting performance as Nina is one of the best "back-to-back" portrayals I've seen in a long time. Her technique and bold approach of her characters is really inspiring. Every tear and every smile, every moment of relax and panic, each line she delivers makes you encourage her but also doubt her. Her mesmerizing portrayal is the result of not only high acting skills but also of a visionary direction. Mila Kunis as Lily delivers more than I expected. She's natural, honest and brutal, exactly what her character needed to look like. To complete this amazing cast you add some bohemian charm by taking Vincent Cassel to be the artsy director, Thomas Leroy.

The execution of this art-film is hauntingly perfect. Each scene, each close-take and each moment means or reveals something important for the denouement of this movie. The sound was terrifying. The "horroresque" show put on film by Darren is really scary at times and might change your perception of the surroundings in this movie. One little sound might change your mind about what's really happening or what the character is going through. Speaking of the sound, you must recognize the beautiful music added. The play is beautifully revealed at the end of the movie, backed by a gorgeous cinematography and you will not understand what hit you.

"Black Swan" is possibly Aronofsky's new masterpiece. I said new because I think "Requiem for a Dream" is one of the rare things in cinema also. "In order to exist, beauty needs an evil possession" and Aronofsky offered us plenty of both. We should thank such directors for being so passionate about their projects, we should thanks such actors like Natalie Portman that devote themselves entirely to the characters, we should take the whole team put together by Aronofsky in order to create such a tremendous work. This is definitely not a movie for everyone, like any another film crafted by the hands of Darren, but this is what we, cinephiles call, a uniquely cinematic experience. If it's not perfect than it's close to perfection.

The Tourist
(2010)

Having a flat and boring script that should have went down the toilet, The Tourist is a complete borefest.
The Tourist? Maybe The Borefest! This movie is nowhere near being disappointing it just suck from start to finish. First of all, the story is full of clichés and bad lines. The characters could not make something remarkable thanks to the bad development. The dialogue in this film is not just poor but lame and forced. The pacing is also something that enrages the viewer. It really gets dull and boring. Too many scenes having nothing important to show but only pretty faces and long (could I say) stare-downs. At least Knight & Day had some decent action scenes to keep you interested in what was going on the screen. On the other hand, The Tourist tries to, somehow, give a twist at the end of this more than clicheic spy-film. However, the audience could predict the twist from the first 10 minutes of the movie. Isn't that marvelous? Speaking of pretty faces... What the hell was in Angelina's mind? This is one of her worst portrayals I've seen. To get what I'm saying I will "characterize" her performance by saying that half the movie she is continuously flirting either with the camera either with Depp and the other half she is posing for a magazine like Vogue. I mean, really? Not to mention Depp is in his mediocre days... I will admit that the characters were already bad written but still, they could have managed them a little bit better, some sort of passion and involvement were obviously not present in the making of this film.

This movie however looks pretty good on film, too many close-face shots but overall it is really nice to see Venice like that. The problem though is with the music. Not only the movie looks boring but the music does not fit the atmosphere. It's either to tense for a scene which has no suspense whatsoever, or it tries to be too emotional for a scene which fails in being sentimental.

Backed up by bad acting and a flat and boring script that should have went down the toilet, The Tourist is a complete borefest. This is like a MTV-Movie and I feel sorry for Depp wasting his time with this complete nonsense.

Unstoppable
(2010)

The main problem with this is that if you've seen Tony Scott's movies before you definitely seen this one already
Unstoppable is about a veteran engineer (Frank/Denzel Washington) and a young conductor (Will/Chris Pine) who race against time to prevent a railroad catastrophe. They have to stop a moving train at full speed that carries a cargo full of chemical products, so they engage in a pursuit to catch the train from the back and accelerate in the opposite direction in order for the train to slow down. This is a story based on real facts so we already know the process and the result of this brave act. On the other hand, the movie impresses by it's suspense. It really managed to create an intense atmosphere through this fast railroad journey. There aren't really many things that you could say about the storyline but you do have a sense of cheesiness and dullness at one points. The whole presentation and process of this story is drawn too fast and it just puts you there in the middle of all things. It doesn't shock you, nor it really impresses you emotionally. You just look at it, want to see how they did it, but in the end you don't care anymore about anything. The movie is too simple, too straight-forward, too vague for you to really care for something at the end of it, and this I think makes the movie to not be as good as it could have been.

It's ridiculous to see Denzel portraying the same character in less than two years, it's not it's a bad thing but I'm kinda bored by his style. He needs to change things, to approach different kind of movies. Chris Pine on the other hand did a decent job, as much as the script let him, and I'm looking forward to see him caring a movie as the leading role. Visually this movie has Tony Scott's fingerprint all over it, and if you saw Man on Fire, Pelham or Deja Vu, then you know what I'm talking about. Shaky cams, fast editing, blurry images, high contrast and so on. What I was a little bit disappointed in was the score which sounded at times like a copy of The Dark Knight score by Hans Zimmer...

Other than that, the movie looks good, it's a decent intense portrayal of this little dangerous adventure but I can't see this as more than just a DVD rental... The main problem with this is that if you've seen Tony Scott's movies before you definitely seen this one already.

Tron
(2010)

Visually stunning, Tron: Legacy doesn't offer enough reasons to care about neither the story nor the characters
This is a very ambiguous movie if you're trying to contemplate about it too much. It may appear to be a groundbreaking science fiction but it also may look like another pale blockbuster saved only by the visual effects. I'm not one of those Tron fanboys and I will not criticize the movie just for fun but I need to say that this film lacks in substance. You don't need to see the first movie to really connect the stories because there's an intro and many references through the movie about what was/is going on in this cybernetic game world. The story however it's pretty simple, straight forward (maybe too straight forward) and what enraged me the most was the lack of emotionality. It doesn't deal with emotions like it should have dealt. It's a flat storyline that gathers few crippled characters painted on a dark canvas. There's no real interest for the characters if you're not a fan of the universe. You will not care for neither of them, either they are on the good side or on the bad side, you will already know the result of this and you'll only look for the action sequences. Some say, that's enough for a movie like this to be considered good but I dare to raise the question: "since when the visuals overshadow the narrative structure to make it a good movie?". Since "creation" of cinema, the storyline is the most important thing connected to a movie. There are no "ifs" or "maybes", the story structure is the most important aspect of a movie and Tron fails significantly. It looks like a washed up palette of bright colors and at some times, it tries too hard to be that "large scale" type of movie so it gets silly and exaggerated in it's execution.

The characters, besides of not creating enough interest for the audience and energy within the movie itself, are also not brought to life by the portrayals. At one point I felt more attached to "Tron" (the character) than to "Sam Flynn" for example. The best performance is really brought to screen by Michael Sheen's "Castor". Sheen gave another short but impressive performance while Jeff Bridges was simply "on point". I didn't liked Garett Hedlund as "Sam Flynn". I just didn't get his take on his role. It was so bland and boring I didn't even bothered with his character that much. Of course Tron must have some sort of "feminine beauty" to sell, so choosing Olivia Wilde was a pretty decent thing to do. I enjoyed every moment she was on screen. She put the D in the 3D at points (If I could say that).

Moving to the technical execution of the movie, we have to acknowledge that "Tron: Legacy" will probably remain in history as a groundbreaking visionary film. It's superb contrast, it's clean image, it's dazzling visual effects and it's futuristic design should remain in history as probably the best to date. It's definitely a winner in visual effects category in any possible award show. Many like to compare this to Avatar but what they don't get is that what made Avatar incredible was the technology used in the 3D animation. The design and the color contrast, the details in that beautiful world created by James Cameron are the main important aspects of its "visual iconic" status. On the other hand Tron really impresses by simply the visual effects and how they really work with the audience. The design was not as complex as it was in Avatar, it was more flat and clean but at the same time it has the uniqueness needed to send shivers through your body and really make you feel that "digital" world. The atmosphere is also fantastic mainly because of Daft Punk's work. The music is really innovative and extraordinary. I don't know about an academy award nomination since it might be too futuristic for the critics but if you ask me, Daft Punk deserves a nomination. The score is brilliant and I can't think of something else that could fit this immersive world created.

"Tron: Legacy" it's a real experience when it comes to atmosphere and visual display but it has a lot of gasps and it really doesn't work as a story. It has a poor narrative execution and the characters are not that interesting to really care about one of them. Sympathy towards this movie is plenty though, and I really do think it will be a timeless movie but only because of how visual bold it was. I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to have a good time at the cinema, I recommend it to anyone who's in love with dazzling 3D experiences and I think I could actually recommend it to anyone since it is a must-see movie.

Rabbit Hole
(2010)

It's simple but stunning, it's usual but complex, carried by three overwhelming performances. This is without a doubt one of the best movies released this year.
A subject like this requires attention and scrupulousness and it definitely had plenty of both. Based on the book "Rabbit Hole" written by David-Lindsay Abaire, the movie is riveting as far as execution and concept. It's very well organized, it's narrative structure is impressive and it definitely catches you emotionally. The story is about a family, husband (Aaron Eckhart) and wife (Nicole Kidman), that have to deal with the emotional consequences of losing their 4 years old child. In order to free themselves they have to accept the past and move on and also to regain their trust in themselves and recommit to their marriage. The movie is getting real honest approaching the human's allowance to forgiveness when the confrontation between the "broken" family and the one responsible for that finally has place. It might appear to be a simple story but it's not thanks to the patience and passion the director, John Cameron Mitchell, invested in it. Dazzling visually and very inspiring, this movie succeeds to entertain, amaze and replenish it's audience with hope in totality.

Carried not only by it's execution but also by it's memorable Oscar-worthy performances, Rabbit Hole finds himself to be one of the best movies of 2010. Nicole Kidman as the simple Becca, offers one of her best performances in a long time. It's a simply astounding, honest and passionate performance of this weakened but reasonable and powerful woman that must be rewarded by the Academy with at least a nomination if not the award itself. Aaron Eckart does not get over-shadowed by Kidman's performance and proves once again that by portraying Becca's husband, Howie, his acting capabilities exceed our expectations. There are also notable performances by Dianne Wiest as Becca's mother and Miles Teller as the one responsible for the suffered loss.

Visually the movie finds it's own identity in the beautiful palette of colors. The cinematography it's the most you could ask for this kind of movie. There's no need for any other requirements. The most beautiful thing though it's the soundtrack which as simple as it might be... it fits the atmosphere and the story perfectly. Those violin and guitar chords, the little piano rolling in the background create a unique peaceful mood.

What I do want at the end of my review is to recommend this movie to anyone because it's simple but stunning, it's usual but complex, carried by three overwhelming performances. This is without a doubt one of the best movies released this year.

Devil
(2010)

There are many things wrong with this movie but somehow it still manages to keep you interested in it...
Although there are many things wrong with this movie it does in a way keeps itself interesting for the audience. "Devil" wants to be a product of fear and it succeeds at one point with it's suspense but towards the end it gets lazy, predictable and boring. The first thing you notice wrong is the story from the first 5 minutes of the movie. You got cops who don't apply the usual methods in those situations not to mention you got a body falling from 35th floor over a truck and nobody from that specific building notices. It's ridiculous and unrealistic but let's say that was "the devil's work". You would think the headache will stop and you could move on but you're meeting these characters which are developed in the most superficial way I have seen in a long time. These characters are also unlikeable, you actually despise anyone at one point so you don't even care about their outcome. Problems persist when you find yourself betting on who's next to die and you have like 200% chances of wining. The story it's not only silly but it's bad executed the only good parts being revealed at the end where you're kind of reminded of the ending of Saw, so the twist ain't impressive since you've already seen it executed in an almost perfect manor. Devil is a weak attempt at being horrifying and "claustrophobic" to the audience. In fact, if I think about it, it's a "claustrophobic movie" since it mixes bad dialogue, bad twist, bad situations, religion, elevators, bad cops, bad managers and staff, bad firemen and so on.

The acting is terrible in my humble order. Not one character I liked, not one character I've seen to be actually involved in this movie, no passion, no honesty, everything is cheesy and dull. It just makes me wanna become an actor and show these guys how things work. The only good stuff was at the end, but even then, the edited voice was the coolest part and the eyes of the devil but not the acting itself. On another hand, if you give it a thought, the devil acts only in the dark so most of the times you cannot even see what's happening. It's like: lights off, bumping and screaming and mourning, lights are on, dead body. Yeah, that's so terrifying I just literally sh*tted while laughing so hard.

The execution of the movie though was pretty much impressive and there you could see John Dowdle's work, probably backed up by Shyamalan's ideas . I liked the sound, the score, the editing of the movie but I found cinematography to be above average. It really showed at times like a low-budget horror flick, which it is, but you have so many others that still find a way to be visually stunning.

I don't know what to say about this movie, there are Shyamalan fans who will probably liked it, but as a personal favor I would tell you "don't bother with it". You got nothing to loose, there's no intelligent twists, there are no scary moments, the characters are complete douches and unlikeable, the premise is stupid but to balance things I would add that it has it's moments of suspense and it makes you wanting to know not "what the end is" but if the end is "the one you expect" to be. At least it keeps you interested to one point...

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