Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks (2013, Dir. John Lee Hancock)

Saving Mr. Banks Movie Review

While a film about the acquisition of rights and the subsequent adaption of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins by Disney may seem and sound like an absolute treat, Saving Mr. Banks isn’t at all. Instead, it is cliché-ridden, predictable, and completely dull.

This film follows Travers (Emma Thompson) as she attempts to maintain her serious vision of the magical nanny in the film adaption of her novel. Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has a conflicting vision involving musical numbers, animated dancing penguins, and Dick Van Dyke. Travers has immediate say over everything through a loophole, so they have to find a way to compromise. Quote-unquote HILARITY ensues.

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SAIFF 2013: Good Morning Karachi (2011, Dir. Sabiha Sumar)

Good Morning Karachi (2011) Movie Review

What is the first thought to enter a typical American’s mind when Pakistan is mentioned in any sort of context? The Middle East problems of our contemporary world are constantly in the headlines and we seem to push all of those countries in the same group of ‘dangerous.’

In Sabiha Sumar’s film Good Morning Karachi, that mindset of Pakistan is thrown out the door, instead presenting urban Karachi in all of its glamour and distress. In the streets, there are protests against the government and the country’s problems. In the upper-class towns, there are giant parties and fashion shows.

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Movie Review: Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013, Dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)

Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) Movie Review

A problem I have with some coming-of-age films is that they feel far too rushed. In many movies of this genre, the audience does not have enough time to connect with the main character. Instead, they merely are shown that she or he is at an uncomfortable point in their life. We do not see the character’s life before or after, just at that awkward stage, and how it is dealt with.

Blue is the Warmest Color does not have this problem. It delivers three segments, each roughly an hour long, allowing the audience to understand how the main character, Adèle, has changed psychologically and emotionally. To make a film this length was an incredibly risky move by director Abdellatif Kechiche which brought wonderful results. It is an unbelievably intimate film, as Adèle becomes increasingly more nude (figuratively and literally) to the audience, who feel as though they really understand her perspective.

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Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World (2013, Dir. Alan Taylor)

Thor 2

Contrary to common opinion, I found Thor (2011) to be the best entry of the first generation of the Avengers Assemble franchise. None were particularly good, so that may not be too wild of a statement, but Thor did not take itself too seriously. The others did the opposite, seeming to believe that their content needed to be as gritty and dark as possible. Thor was different. It acknowledges its premise is silly, that it is essentially about an unkillable guy with a massive hammer who hits people with said hammer. This made it quite a bit more entertaining than it might have been otherwise.

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Movie Review: Gravity (2013, Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

Gravity Movie Review 2013

Alfonso Cuarón directs Gravity, which follows Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), a space engineer and an astronaut respectively, who attempt to survive in the most impossible environment possible – space.

Many critics have lauded the film for its technical prowess, all for good reason. Cuarón’s direction is top notch, utilizing some of the greatest and most ambitious CGI ever seen. The director of photography, Emmanuel Lubezki, makes these shots possible, and I believe he will win the Oscar this upcoming year for this film. The first shot of the film is about 17 minutes long, and it is smoooooooooth. The camera changes from an extreme long shot to an extreme close up to a subjective shot to a rolling shot, all within the same take. Is this directorial masturbation like some recent films with great style have been (we’re looking at you, Stoker)? No, this is Cuarón and Lubezki understanding how to use the camera to enhance the film, as opposed to using it for their own indulgence.

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Movie Review: Before Midnight (2013, Dir. Richard Linklater)

Before Midnight 2013, Richard Linklater

In 1995’s Before Sunrise, an American man riding across Europe by train comes across a French woman in Vienna, with whom he spends the day with before returning to America. In 2004’s Before Sunset, nine years have passed in the lives of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), and they meet again in Paris where Jesse is concluding a book tour for his novel based on the events of the first film.

The newest entry in the lowest grossing trilogy of all time, Before Midnight explores what nine years of living with each other would do. They loved each other in their brief encounters, seeming to be foils for one another, but how would they last in the long-run? The answer is up to debate.

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KICKSTART THIS: He Took His Skin Off For Me

He Took His Skin Off For Me Kickstarter

He Took His Skin Off For Me is a short film which will be directed by Ben Aston. It seems to be exactly how it sounds: a story about a man who removes his skin for his girlfriend. The Kickstarter page explains to us that its a sort of a screwed up fairy/morality tale. “Think Margaret Atwood meets David Cronenberg,” the page tells us.

After drawing comparisons to David Cronenberg, who is one of my favorite contemporary directors, this project appeals to me quite a bit. Plus, the effects are all practical, under the supervision of Colin Arthur, who worked on the original Clash of the Titans, The Never Ending Story, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. In a world filled to the brink with CGI ‘magic,’ it is incredibly nice to hear that people still like good o’ fashion practical. It should look pretty great! Right now they have met the goal, but they need a bit more (2.5 thousand, at the time of this article’s writing) to get the extra day of filming they need.

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Movie Review: Crystal Fairy (2013, Dir. Sebastián Silva)

Crystal Fairy 2013 Review

Crystal Fairy is something of an enigma for me. Although the direction was perfect, it seemed to be conflicted about what it wanted to be.

I narrowed it down to one of two things: a character study of a true asshole, Jamie (Michael Cera) or, as phrased by someone coming out of my screening, “an awkward existential comedy-drama.” By awkward, I did not take him to mean negatively, just that the characters themselves are kind of awkward.

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Movie Review: Only God Forgives (2013, Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn)

Only God Forgives

I am not going to lie, or pretend I was unbiased. I came into Only God Forgives knowing I was going to like it. Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Bronson, the Pusher Trilogy) is my favorite current director, Ryan Gosling (Baby Goose) is one of my favorite working actors, and the cinematographer worked on Barry Lyndon, my favorite Kubrick film. I had known from the moment I first heard of the project I was going to like it. The question that remained was the extent of my liking of it.

Many have found problems understanding what the film is about. By ‘about’, I do not mean the plot. The plot is easy to discern. I am not talking about what the film is, but rather, its purpose. Only God Forgives is about a man who attempts to be let go from his mother’s grasp on him, seeks forgiveness for his sins, and the god who has to choose whether or not to forgive him. Yeah, it’s pretty heavy.

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Movie Review: The Conjuring (2013, Dir. James Wan)

The Conjuring

Going into this flick, I was not sure what to expect. James Wan’s films have been very hit-or-miss for me. In my opinion, he has made one great film (Saw), a terrible film (Dead Silence), and a film which was good for its first two thirds and fell apart in the third (Insidious). Now that I’ve seen The Conjuring, I can add another great film to the list.

The Conjuring follows a family who moves into a farmhouse which is haunted. They bring in paranormal investigators to help them get rid of the horrid spirits. Sound like a typical horror flick? Maybe it is, plot-wise. When it comes to horror, it does not really matter as long as it does not fall into typical tropes, which this one does not.

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