maxgreenblatt

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Reviews

Begin Again
(2013)

great film, great music
"Begin Again" is the story of how an ex-music producer, who is down on his luck, and a singer/songwriter, who is about to give up on her aspirations, meet and produce an album together. The film begins with Gretta (the singer/songwriter's) performance at a local bar. She is hesitant to play, and doesn't receive much of a crowd reaction. Then, we quickly jump back to earlier that day. Dan, the ex-music producer, wakes up, and we soon learn he is an alcoholic. We see he has an awkward relationship with his daughter, and he gets fired from the music label he founded. Dan obviously has major problems in his life. At the end of the day, after a day of drinking he goes to a bar. Not really paying attention to the music, he becomes mesmerized with Gretta's song. This is the beginning of their relationship. He envisions the same song she sings, but with a full band of accompaniments. After her performance, Dan approaches her, and asks her to sign with his record label. She tells him she'll consider. We then learn that Gretta was in New York City with her boyfriend, Dave. Dave was just about to make it big, and tours the states. Gretta becomes lonely, and learns that Dave had an affair with someone involved with Dave's record label. Gretta leaves Dave, and is about to buy plane tickets back home when her good friend convinces her to come to open mic night at a bar. Then we fast forward to Dan getting a call from Gretta telling him she is interested. The rest of the film is about them recording her new album, and Dan getting his life and family back together. Time is greatly manipulated. The exposition takes place with Gretta performing at the bar. Then we rewind to that morning, and see Dan's day. Then we go back about a few weeks or so and witness Gretta and Dave moving in to the city and growing apart, until he cheats on her. Then the next few weeks are sped up. Time is rewound and condensed in this movie. This film was written and directed by John Carney. Carney also wrote and directed, "Once," another musically involved movie. Mark Ruffalo plays Dan and Keira Knightley portrays Gretta. Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine plays Dave, Gretta's boyfriend. Keira Knightley and Adam Levine actually perform the songs they play in the film. A major theme present in this movie is family, friendship and togetherness. Dan manages to become a part in his daughter's life, and eventually get back together with his wife. The family was able to stick together, despite awkwardness, a falling out, and cheating. Gretta leaves her boyfriend, Dave, after he cheats on her. When she starts working with Dan he becomes a close friend. At certain points during the latter part of the film, it almost appears as though she loved him, and he loved her. As far as we could tell though, Gretta and Dan do not end up together. Another theme in this movie is perseverance. Dan loses his job, but still earns to find the next popular star. Gretta is reluctant to make an album with Dan, but his willingness and determination in her, and her music proved to her that she should persevere and record the album. This movie is pretty believable. On the Scale of Verisimilitude it would be placed slightly to the photo-realism side of the middle. The only scene in that is fantastical, is the when Dan watches Gretta play at open-mic night for the first time. He visualizes other instruments playing with her. This scene is very interesting and entertaining. The genre of this movie is Sentimentalism. It is about a family sticking together after going through tough times. The most important element of drama in this movie is its plot. The story of this movie is original and keeps the audience entertained. The secondary element of drama in the movie is its characters. Dan is a multi-dimensional man, who changes his life around and becomes a happier person. Gretta is an interesting and talented musician who independently writes great music. Dan begins as a slacker, alcoholic, and lazy man, who simply cannot seem to maintain anything of sustenance in his life. His encounters with Gretta, and spending more time with his daughter change him. He becomes helpful, fun and romantic. He also sheds his addiction to alcohol and gets his job back at his record label. The major dramatic question of "Begin Again" is what happens next? We see that the album Dan and Gretta produced has been released. We know that Dan and his wife seem to have gotten back together. We know the Dan got his job back. The album is also making tremendous sales. However, we know very little about what Gretta plans to do. It seems unlikely that she'll end up with Dave, but she might go back home. Dan's ex-marriage and his daughter's relationship with him, and Gretta coping with Dave's absence. This film satisfies the dual purpose of art. It both entertains and instructs. It arouses emotions like happiness and joy when the music is playing. It also asks questions, and provokes thought. We question the different character's motivations for doing things from time to time. This movie is fabulous. Its characters have clever and witty dialogue. They seem like real people. They use profanity and speak their minds. Dan treats his daughter like an adult and speaks to her like such. He progressively becomes a better parent and uses better language towards her, and the rest of the characters in the film. Dan's idea to record the album in the streets of New York is ingenious. Keira Knightley is an amazing singer, and an extremely convincing Gretta. This entire movie is entertaining and exciting. This film offers an incredible look into the music industry. This is one of the best movies so far of 2014.

Boyhood
(2014)

You have to see this movie
Boyhood is about a family, particularly the son Mason, and their journey throughout his boyhood. This film took 13 years to film, as they used the same actors all the way through. The story ventures from Mason's 5-18 years. We see his mother's struggles raising him and his sister, Samantha, as a single mother. She marries a few times, all of them ending horribly. The other important character in this piece is his father. We see him occasionally giving advice to his kids, and taking them out. This movie's genre is sentimentalism. It is about a family sticking together through bad situations. They also must do this with limited help from their real father. However they do stick together, and Mason is able to succeed. For him and his mother, his success is going to college. A secondary genre of this film is psychological realism. It takes a personal look at Mason, and his reactions to life around him. The most important dramatic element of the movie is actually character. The entire film is an in-depth look at Mason. It is about the different people, mostly family members, in his boyhood, and how they have impacted him. The next most important dramatic element in the movie is plot. The plot of this movie is a chronological look at Mason's growing up, and how he adapts to his environment. The plot also follows the main family unit around, throughout two marriages, and moving around the state of Texas. Mason is the protagonist of the film. His character traits and persona change greatly throughout the movie, as he actually ages 13 years during the filming. He begins as a wild, energetic child. As his character matures, he becomes thoughtful, friendly, nice, thoughtful and creative. Mason is multi-dimensional. As he ages he changes as a person, and we do not know how he will act. Another important character is the father. He is seen originally as unable to get through to his children and speak to them well. He doesn't know how to properly communicate with his children, but later in the film, he becomes better at being their father. He is a fun character. He cares a great deal about his children, and also their mother. The father is multi-dimensional, as we do not know what his next step will be. This film is written and directed by Richard Linklater. The lead role, Mason, is played by Ellar Coltrane. His sister, Samantha is portrayed by Lorelei Linklater, Richard Linklater's daughter. The mother is acted by Patricia Arquette, and the dad by Ethan Hawke. Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke often team up together (The before sunrise trilogy and others), and often make great films together. The Major Dramatic Question of the movie is "What happens next?" The movie leaves off at Mason's first day at college. We are left wondering how he will do in college. We hope he will continue photographing. The primary conflict of this piece is physical. It is all of Mason's troubles growing up. The conflict also pertains to his family having major issues.

The soundtrack of this movie is very important. It features popular music from the year corresponding to each part of the movie. The songs help place the audience in the correct time period. The editing in this movie is quick. When the film skips one or more years into the future, it is immediate. There is no title card telling the audience about it. We just move to a different time. There is some basic cinematography in the movie. However one particularly well-shot scene is when Mason and some of his friends are rolling around the neighborhood on a skateboard and bikes. The camera is a dolly shot, as it wheels around in front of them. Most shots in this film are middle shots, as they are not from afar, and there aren't many, if any, close ups.

The language in this movie is diverse. At first the language is simplistic as Mason and his family communicate in a basic manner, so he can understand and speak himself. When he matures, and gets older he uses profanity, and it is more explicit. During the movie there is various uses of colloquialisms and slang. The convention of time is greatly manipulated, as 13 years are fit into a time slot of less than three hours. Therefore time is condensed. There are edited jumps, that take us years into the future in less than a second during this movie. During this film the audience will be sucked in because the film is so realistic. It really is convincing. On a scale of verisimilitude, it is approximately halfway between the center and the photo realism side. It's believability is marvelous, and exactly what makes this movie original and fabulous. The movie is about a family sticking together. We see how the main family unit (Mason, Samantha, and their mom) handles abusive step-fathers. We see how they all react to the abuse differently. Also, it explores the bond between a father and son. This incredible film is a must-see. Although it is two hours and 45 minutes, not a single moment was worth editing out. Every moment of this movie is important and brilliant. The characters and dialogue are real and interesting. Everyone should see this emotional and fantastic movie. It fulfills the dual purpose of art, entertaining and instructing. It provokes plenty of emotion, whether that be fear or sadness for Mason and his main family unit while one of the step-dads abuse them, or pride, when Mason first arrives at college, this is an emotional film. It also instructs. We ask plenty of moral and motive questions about the father, Mason, the mother, and plenty of others throughout the entirety of the movie.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(2014)

Fun summer movie, would recommend
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is about hyper intelligent apes who have been genetically altered by humans. In the beginning of the film that causes no problems for anyone. In fact, the remaining humans are unaware of these super apes. Humans have almost completely died out from a deadly outbreak of a virus; which was made in a lab by scientists. Time is then manipulated, as ten years fly by within minutes. We are quickly taken into the near future. The remaining humans in San Francisco are nearly out of power, and are in desperate need to find a new source. When the humans explore for a power source, and stumble into the apes, they kill one. The apes, led by Caesar, are furious. They set specific boundaries that cannot be crossed by the humans. An early conflict arises when the humans need to cross, as they think they have found a new energy source. It is a dam on the apes territory. This dam could potentially power the remaining human's civilization. Written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver and adapted from the original novel, "La Planète des Singes" by Pierre Boulle, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a sequel to Rise of the Planets of the Apes. It is the 2nd film in the prequel series to the original movie Planet of the Apes. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is Directed by Matt Reeves. Jason Clarke as Malcolm, and Gary Oldman as Dreyfus star in this movie, as leaders of the human survivors. Keri Russell also stars in the movie. She plays Ellie, a human survivor and Malcolm's love interest. Andy Serkis voices Caesar, the leader of the apes. The Major Dramatic Question of the movie is "What will happen next?" This movie ends with a major cliffhanger, and the audience is left questioning to themselves about the future of this movie franchise; what will happen of Malcolm, how will the war between the two species go, are there more human survivors? A major psychological theme that recurs in this movie is greed. Koba, Caesar's 2nd in command, has an undying hatred of humans, lasting at least ten years after humans nearly died out. Caesar tolerates humans and their needs during this movie. Koba cannot stand how Caesar trusts humans and requests he rethink his policies towards humans. Caesar does not consider turning on the humans. Koba then attempts to kill Caesar and frames the humans. He then gains trust from most of the apes, who think their beloved leader, Caesar is dead, to attack the humans. Koba was willing to kill his leader for more power and to become the new leader. His greed proves to Caesar later in the film, that not all apes are great beings. This movie questions character motives. It asks why people, or the genetically modified apes in this case, act the way that they do. This makes the film a Psychological Realism. It's theme's and character development are the primary Elements of Drama involved in the movie, making it a Character/Thought Emphasis Genre. The characters Koba and Caesar have vastly different perspectives of the humans, and how to engage with them. One of the main elements of the movie is how they fight each other to get their way. A hugely important theme in this film is leadership. Leadership is relevant both in the human world, with Dreyfus and Malcolm, and in the ape world, with Caesar and Koba. Each leader has different approaches and works to influence their people. Caesar is a multi-dimensional character. In the exposition of this feature, he is a strong leader and wants nothing to do with the humans. When the humans need his help, and diplomatically request access to the dam he hesitantly allows them into the apes land. By the resolution of the movie, he realizes how many humans can be great people like Malcolm, Ellie or Will Rodman (from Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and ends up helping Malcolm, by warning him of the inevitable war. The major conflict in this movie is a physical one. It is the war between ape and human. This movie is much closer to the Fantasy side of the Scale of Verisimilitude. Even though parts of this movie is believable, the majority of the film is not possible and is a work of Fantastical Science Fiction. This movie is a fun summer flick. The CGI makes the apes look very real, helping the audience get really sucked into this fantasy film. The apes language use is slow, menacing and concise. They're deep voices are startling and add to character of the apes, particularly Caesar. The action scenes are exciting to watch. Both the depiction of how the humans live in their post- apocalyptic world, and how the apes live, in their forest tree houses is interesting. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes satisfies the Dual Purpose of Art. It entertains, arousing plenty of emotions. It thrills, excites, and terrorizes, with the thought of a interspecies war. It also instructs, stimulating the thoughts of the audience. It questions what will happen next, and how will the war proceed. This movie was a worthwhile watch, and an exciting, engaging film.

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