Pusher (1996)

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Screenplay By: Jens Dahl & Nicolas Winding Refn

Cinematography By: Morten Søborg

Starring: Kim Bodnia & Mads Mikkelsen

Runtime: 110 minutes

Refn’s first feature film is no disappointment. This movie is intense, really really intense. You know shit has to go sour and then it does and boy is it rough. It’s like being in a nightmare you can’t wake up from.

Refn keeps amazing me. This isn’t like his later films, he’s clearly got more money to play with now but in Pusher he understands his limitations and uses them to his advantage. It’s an extremely impressive film. It also proves Refn has always been obsessed with the mob and mob mentality. And Refn’s mob isn’t Scorsese’s New York mafia, but low level grimy mobs, hidden mobs. The LA mob in Drive, The Bangkok mob in Only God Forgives, but it all started in Pusher with the grungy Copenhagen mob of Denmark.

Watch this movie cause it’s really fucking good. Also it’s cool to see a young Mads Mikkelsen who is exceptional as Tonny.

God Bless America

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Directed By – George Miller

Screenplay By – George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nick Lathouris

Cinematography By – John Seale

Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron & Nicholas Hoult

120 min.

Wait! Wait! Wait! Did I see Fury Road for a third time in theaters? I couldn’t, I wouldn’t, and I totally did! Oh boy did I!

I’m telling you, this movie is so rich in so many different aspects that it took me three time to feel like I actually was able to register everything that was going on. This might be the most well executed movie in cinema’s hundred and fifteen years. It really is a masterpiece and I think it will be sticking around for decades to come.

God Bless America

Tomorrowland (2015)

Directed By – Brad Bird

Screenplay By – Damon Lindelof & Brad Bird

Cinematography By Claudio Miranda

Starring Britt Robertson, George Clooney & Raffey Cassidy

130 min.

Sometime movies get so into what they want to say that they forget why they are being made in the first place. This movie is called Tomorrowland, take us to freaking Tomorrowland dammit!

The message of Tomorrowland is that the future can be bright but we have to make it that way. The future is not all dark and dreary but wonderful and full of hope as long as we are optimistic and work towards a better tomorrow. But the movie is called Tomorrowland and they show us an awesome futuristic city, so takes us to this city. Don’t just tell us that we control global warming, but inspire us by showing us what it would be like to live in a better tomorrow.

Bird has Tomorrowland be a gimmick in the movie rather than a place that inspires. And while his intentions are good, ultimately he does a disservice to himself by withholding the brilliance of a realized Tomorrowland from his viewers.

Ultimately, Tomorrowland is too focused on trying to be didactic and less about trying to inspire and thus Tomorrowland is a failure.

God Bless America

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Directed By – George Miller

Screenplay By – George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nick Lathouris

Cinematography By – John Seale

Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron & Nicholas Hoult

120 min.

FUCK YES! Fuck you Hollywood, this is how you make a blockbuster!

George Miller has made the best big budget hollywood film since The Dark Knight, and I firmly believe that. It has little CGI with most stunts being actually performed. It looks fucking awesome. It sounds fucking awesome. It is action packed with, awesome action sequences (probably the best choreographed action sequences of all time). And the acting is perfect (except for Zoe Kravitz who is also the only one who looks like she doesn’t belong in this Mad Max world).

Each visual element and sound element is so thoroughly thought that I can’t really think of a better action movie than this one. Yeah yeah yeah it doesn’t have a ton of character development but who gives a fuck when you have cars exploding, gigantic sand storms, and a villain a fucking crazy as Immortan Joe.

This movie is mind-blowing in the best way possible!

God Bless America

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Directed By – Joss Whedon

Screenplay By – Joss Whedon

Cinematography By – Ben Davis

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner & James Spader

141 min.

How do you top The Avengers? Joss Whedon doesn’t know that answer either as he merely doubles down on the formula that worked the first time around for Age of Ultron. A baddie who’s looking to destroy the world with an army of minions all of whom never give us even the slightest of scares that they will be able to stop any of our Avengers, makes for a lackluster second half to what could have been something really special.

I think what Whedon missed was that the strongest part of the plot is when Ultron’s focus is to destroy the Avengers. Instead that focus quickly disappears and Ultron refocuses on what do you think? Destroying the world, surprise surprise.

Also what Whedon forgot is that there is an extreme gratification for the audience when the good guys (The Avengers in this case) defeat the bad guys (Ultron in this case). Why I suggest that he forgot this is that he has Ultron clone himself over and over again until he has an Ultron army. Now while this might be useful to serve your “Let’s destroy the world because the humans are actually the evil ones” plot, it also becomes a law of diminishing returns as we watch The Avengers rip through Ultron after Ultron with no effort. So when the “real” or “ultimate” Ultron is actually conquered it’s a big whoopty-fucking-doo.

Is Age of Ultron immaculately crafted in terms of its action sequences and making it feel like all of it’s main characters get the screen time they deserve? Yes. Do all of the special effects and is the sheer amount of time it must of taken to coordinate everything mind blowing? Sure is. But is Age of Ultron just a shinier less original version of the first? Most definitely.

God Bless America

Wild Card (2015)

Directed By – Simon West

Screenplay By – William Goldman

Cinematography By – Shelly Johnson

Starring Jason Statham

92 min.

Another movie where Jason Statham is unexplainably amazing at killing people? Sure, why not.

Wild Card also benefits from a short runtime, which is always welcome, not giving itself long enough to get boring or repetitive. I was totally fine with this movie and think if you’re really itching for a movie that blends action with gambling then by all means Wild Card will deliver.

We also get a solid performance from Michael Angarano and a perfectly casted cameo from Stanley Tucci. [Man I love that guy.]

God Bless America

Godzilla (2014)

Directed By – Gareth Edwards

Screenplay By – Max Borenstein

Cinematography By – Seamus McGarvey

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson

123 min.

Godzilla (2014) suffers from a case of BORING. The problem stems from the direction of Gareth Edwards.

Let’s take a minute to look at Edwards’ previous film “Monsters” which is exquisitely executed and is a dramatic film set in a world where alien monsters roam free. It’s limited budget actually helped the film as per the classic cinema maxim “less is more”. To those at Warner Bros. Edwards seemed like the perfect fit to be handed the King of The Monsters.

BUT, when it comes to a known property like Godzilla we expect to SEE a lot. MORE is MORE and precisely why Edwards got this movie is because he is excellent at “less is more”. So when I want and actually expect MORE and I get LESS, I also get bored! Case closed.

P.S. Don’t kill your best actor in the first act unless the remainder of the film is monster battles (that actually include GODZILLA), which this film is not!

God Bless America

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Directed By – Mamoru Oshii

Screenplay By – Kazunori Itô

Cinematography By – Hisao Shirai

83 min.

As an anime Blade Runner-esque movie Ghost in the Shell starts off fierce with a hot naked cyborg cop kicking ass. However, the pace slows down after the first few sequences and ultimately made me wish I was watching the real Blade Runner. Both films deal with the question of what it means to be human and what it means to have consciousness. I seem to prefer Ridley Scott’s version of handling those questions than Oshii’s animation adaptation.

I do see myself enjoying this movie more with multiple viewings, much like Blade Runner. I think what might have thrown me off is how fast the movie starts and then how slow it finishes up, but I do recognize that Ghost in the Shell is doing some very interesting stuff.

Worth a watch for a specific audience. If you’re a huge fan of Blade Runner, check this out.

God Bless America

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Directed By – Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Screenplay By – Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely

Cinematography By – Trent Opaloch

Starring Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson & Robert Redford

136 min.

I fucking hate Marvel because of how big a sucker I am for them. But actually Winter Soldier is a fantastic movie and anyone who doesn’t like this movie doesn’t like fun.

Really what I’ve come to terms with is, what other kind of movies is Marvel, a comic book company, going to make besides comic book movies? Exactly. That’s why I am no longer going to hold a grudge against the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I do hate how they have changed Hollywood. The studios suck. They now all want to be Marvel, but Marvel is a comic book company. They manufacture superheroes. Which is fine, because that is what they do. But the studios have an obligation to their audience to give them new and original content and until the audiences start demanding this we will continue to get regurgitated crap because the studios feel they have to compete against Marvel’s stage 2, 3, 4…

Think long and hard about when the last time you saw an adventure movie that had original characters. Not based off of a comic book or a book, but truly original to the big screen. It is depressing how unoriginal our movies have become and I’m sick of it.

Now going back to Marvel and The Winter Soldier, Marvel doesn’t have this obligation to make new content, to create new characters, because this is their first big stand in movies.

The Winter Soldier is a badass film and one of the better Marvel movies to date. I am excited for the Marvel Cinematic Universe but studios need to realize that they are m-o-v-i-e studios that are only limited by imagination and their courage to support new content. The only reason there are movies like Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones to make sequels and reboots out of is because someone at a large studio green lit these original stories. Marvel also needs to encourage studios to produce new content because if the only movies that come out of Hollywood are sequels, reboots, and superheroes than the rush to go see Marvel’s products will decrease as the viewing public will eventually turn on this unoriginal unimaginative bullshit.

God Bless America