Category: Movies


Gravity-8.5/10-An intense, beautiful, thoughtful and original film that features great performances from George Clooney, and most of all Sandra Bullock.

Enders Game-8/10- Pretty solid adaptation of the book, I really had a good time watching this one. 

Directed by Paul Greengrass

Starring Tom Hanks

Rated PG-13

Rating-9/10

           

There are so many movies that come out that proclaim that they are “Based on a True Story” in order to make money, yet don’t have a thread of truth to them. Captain Philips is a perfect example of a movie that takes a true story and actually stays true to it, resulting in one of the most powerful, must-see movies of the year.

Captain Philips follows the 2009 hijacking of the US Mersk Alabama cargo ship and the subsequent kidnapping of its Captain, Richard Philips. Captain Philips portrayed by Tom Hanks, who gives the performance of a lifetime, one of his best since Saving Private Ryan. Tom Hanks hasn’t been in anything of this quality in a long time and it is a pleasure to see him in an Oscar noteworthy film like this again. He plays Philips convincingly as an everyman who is thrown into a terrible situation, and has to do what he can to save his crew, and his own life. The film does an amazing job portraying the Somali pirates by focusing on why they are doing what they are doing, rather than depicting them as two-dimensional villains. Barkhad Abdi plays the head pirate, and gives a really memorable performance, which is simultaneously frightening and empathetic.  Another reason that makes this film so great is Paul Greengrass’s excellent job directing. He previously has directed the Bourne movies as well as the incredible United 93, and with Captain Phillips he directs quite possibly his best film.. Greengrass does an admirable job making the film look realistic, doing the story justice by presenting it as it might have happened. Much like with United 93, even though you know what is going to happen at the end, it is still all the more intense.  

Overall, Captain Phillips is a perfect example of a film that does a true story justice, and is one of the most intense and powerful films you will see all year and is one that I hope will be remembered come Oscar season.

Rating- 4/10 

I think this would all have played out a lot differently if Mark Ruffalo turned into the hulk. Nuff said. 

I know this is a little late, but this is a review for Argo that I wrote a while back

Argo

Directed by Ben Affleck

Written by Chris Terrio

Starring Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, and Bryan Cranston

Rated R

Rating- 4.5/5 stars

 

            As of recent, Ben Affleck has really proven himself as a director. He made an amazing turnaround from terribly acting in sub par movies like Pearl Harbor, to directing and brilliantly acting in excellent films such as Gone, Baby, Gone, The Town, and now my personal favorite, Argo.

Unlike most movies that claim that they are “based on a true story” and have no shred of truth to them, Argoactually tells a genuinely true story. It is a declassified story about a group of fugitives have escaped to the Canadian ambassador’s house from the US Embassy, which was taken by Iranian rebels for 444 days from 1979-1981. With a plan involving a fake movie, it is CIA extractor Tony Mendez’s (Ben Affleck) job to remove them from Iran to safety into the USA.

            There are many elements that work in this film. For one, the plot for this movie is incredibly innovative, containing humor, an interesting story, suspense, and great performances all in the same film. The first element where this movie really succeeds is in its humor. The humor is great, mostly coming from scene-stealing Alan Arkin and John Goodman supplying it in the Hollywood section of the film. One wouldn’t expect a movie of this subject matter to contain any humor, but it is needed giving the audience much needed breather room from the movie’s intense subject matter. The other element that this film really flourishes is suspense. When Tony has to go to Iran the suspense really kicks in. The suspense in this film really works radical groups are still an incredibly dangerous real world problem, and the fact that this happened and could happen again makes this movie going experience even more powerful. When the climax finally hits, it is one of the most intense, exciting experiences at the movies you will encounter for a while. My experience might have been worse than most people’s in this part because out of fear, my mom was practically strangling my arm, plus stopping it’s blood flow.

Overall, this is a true example of great Hollywood storytelling. Not only is the story incredibly interesting, in an incredible feat, the movie deftly balances humor, suspense, great performances and most of all, real world issues all in one movie. Unlike many Hollywood movies today, the performances are genuine, and all of the actors do a great job convincing you these were real people. It’s these kind of movies that really remind you why we love them so much.

 

Top Ten Movies of the Summer

1. Pacific Rim- This movie is straight up the most fun I had at the movies at this summer. It didn’t feature particularly good acting, or ingenious storytelling, but it didn’t need it at all. It is like Independence Day except with giant monsters fighting giant robots, and there is nothing wrong with that.

 2. World War Z- I know that this probably isn’t everybody’s pick for second place, but it was one of the only films that came out this summer that exceeded my expectations. It was a very fun, intense, and entertaining blockbuster zombie movie that I thoroughly enjoyed.

3. This is the End- This is by far the funniest movie I saw all summer. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and many more play incredibly funny versions of themselves in this incredibly raunchy apocalyptic comedy.

4. The Wolverine- Though the trailers didn’t make it look like anything special, this movie surprisingly really delivered. This is my favorite superhero movie of the summer, and taking the film to a Japanese setting made it all the more awesome.

5. Star Trek Into Darkness- The sequel to 2009’s Star Trek, slightly disappointed me, but was nevertheless a very good sequel. Though it missed some of the humor and energy of the first, it was a nonstop 2-hour thrill ride through space with a great performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, who is the man. I also lost my ipod touch when watching this movie, so that kind of sucked.

6. Fast and Furious 6-  It took what was awesome bout 2011’s Fast Five, did not take itself seriously, and had some truly incredible action sequences. Whether it is a battle on a free way involving a tank, or a scene where Vin Diesel literally drives out of a plane, this movie is ridiculous, and is all the better for it.

7. Iron Man 3- Iron Man 3 is for the most part a really good movie. It is much better than Iron Man 2, it featured the signature Robert Downey Jr. humor, and while there was some plot issues, for the most part it is pretty great. My main problem with the movie was how they handled the ending of the movie, but I’m still looking forward Avengers 2.

8. We’re the Millers- We’re the Millers is another really hilarious, raunchy summer comedy. Jason Sudeikis was really funny, plus there is Jennifer Aniston. As a stripper. Nuff said.

9. Elysium- While definitely not as good as director Neill Blomkamp’s previous film,  District 9, Elysium is still an exciting, innovative, and smart science fiction movie that dealt with real world problems. Personally, it was a little too short for me, and while it didn’t have as much power as District 9, it was a pretty good movie.

10. Man of Steel- Almost too action packed, this still made for a pretty solid superhero movie with a Dark Knight/Christopher Nolan feel to it.

 

Steven Spielberg Bio

Steven Spielberg Essay

Yoni Gottlieb

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If you go up to any random person in the steet and ask them, “Who is the best director of all time” or “Name your favorite directors,” 90% of the time, they will answer with a  certain name of a particularly unique director. This particular name just happens to be Steven Spielberg; one of the most inspirational, insightful, creative and groundbreaking directors of all time. There are various reasons for Spielberg’s world spanning fame; One of them being that he is one of the few directors who can  make films that are critically acclaimed and beloved by audiences as a plus; a rare feat not even accomplished by quintessential directors such as Scorsese. There are many reasons Spielberg is able to pull this off.

The first main reason for this rare feat is due to years and years of worshipping movies. For a lot of his childhood, Spielberg was born in Cincinatti, Ohio on December 18, 1946 to a Jewish family. When he was 5, his dad took him to see his first movie, which was the award winning “The Greatest Show on Earth”. This led him into his decade spanning interest for film, making his first film right after the movie, mocking the movies famous train crashing scene with his own mini train set and Super 8 camera. Getting into middle school, he created his first longish movie called “Escape to Nowhere” (1961) a 42 minute World War II action flick which he shot with his middle school friends and his sister. His first serious film though was called “Firelight”, a 400 dollar, 2 hour and 20 minute production that was both his first commercial success (making a 100 dollar profit) and was the first rudimentary version of “Close Encounters of a Third Kind”, one of his most famous films and what still remains a classic to this day. When Spielberg’s parents got divorced, he and his father moved to California, a true benefit to him due to his undying love of movies, but a very sad occurrence which is mirrored in many of his films including E.T. (there isn’t a father in E.T., symbolizing both the traumatizing divorce and his lack of connection to his dad). It’s this personal filmmaking which is a small part of why his films are so widely known; almost any human can relate to even just minor details in his films, which is not something you can see everyday.

Spielberg had an interesting method of how to get into the movie business. Instead of going to film schools, to which he was repeatedly rejected, he actually went on the tour of the Universal Studios, and instead of actually taking the tour, he escaped, even setting up a phone and a desk in an empty office, working as the staff without anyone knowing that he wasn’t  actually on the staff. It’s his crazy commitment to film which is another reason for his undying fame; while others will go 90%, Spielberg would go 150% and actually sneak into a movie studio office to just be able to work with movies. When the Universal executives figured out what he was doing, they also learned of his undeniable talent as a filmmaker as he went on to direct some of his first movies, such as the TV Movie “Duel “(1971), and then the acclaimed film, “Sugarland Express”. It was after “Sugarland Express” Hollywood execs. could tell he was ready to handle a big project. Now this “big project” just happened to be the horror classic “Jaws”. “Jaws” was a tremendous success in the summer of 1975, that it literally created the term for blockbuster, being the first one in film history making over 200 million dollars (which was a lot more back then, due to how much money was worth and reduced ticket prices). Spielberg ingeniously didn’t show the shark from jaws until over halfway through the movie, building and building up the suspense to a peak, being something pure genius that has been used in horror flicks ever since. Another important reason why audiences loved Jaws was its incredible score by John Williams, who has done the music for every single Spielberg film since except for a select one or two. In cooperating with John Williams, Spielberg has indirectly gave us some of the best/most famous movie themes, such as Indiana Jones, E.T., Schindlers List, Close Encounters, and of course, Jaws.  It is also through music that the Spielberg/Williams combo have created their enterprise of universal fame, as Williams incredible music and Spielbergs incredible movies dovetail perfectly. Spielberg went on to direct his passion project, “Close Encounters of a Third Kind” next, also becoming a hit. Then, sadly, Spielberg made a terrible movie that almost put his career to a hold…. This particular film was called “1942”, and it was a gigantic flop in the box office, almost permanently scarring Spielberg’s reputation. His next movie saved him for life though. The name of his next movie was “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”, and it is one of the best movies ever made, hands down. It made a fortune at the box office, had an incredible score, ingenius action sequences, a once in a life time plot, and an incredible performance by Harrison Ford, who singlehandedly creates one of the most revolutionary action heroes of all time (Indiana Jones).  This movie did so well, that even as an action film, it was nominated for prestigious awards such as Best Picture, Best Director among others at the Academy Awards, which is something never given to an action film. “Raiders” spawned three sequels, and is further proof of Spielberg’s ingenius filmmaking that both kids through adults can equally enjoy.

After the 1980’s, Spielberg entered a period of making both critically acclaimed favorites and summer blockbusters alike. Starting off in 1993, Spielberg directed both “Schindler’s List” and “Jurassic Park”. Schindlers List was a much more mature film, telling the story of Schindler, who saved over 1200 Jews from the concentration camps. This film was incredible, still known as one of the greatest holocaust films ever made, and revered as one of Spielbergs greatest creations, winning him Best Director and Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Jurassic Park, on the other hand, was a perfect example of his constant draw to the summer blockbuster, being about an island where they reconstructed dinosaurs from their DNA, except it goes very wrong, very quick. These two movies are perfect examples of Spielberg’s unattainable talent to making films of all sorts of variety. He shows perfectly in both of these movies that he can make a perfectly fun, well made summer blockbuster, and can also make an amazing, poignant drama in the same year. Spielberg went on to direct tons of other classic movies, such as “Saving Private Ryan”, “Catch Me If You Can”, and many others.

Overall, there are many reasons to why Spielberg is such an incredible director. You could say his  personal touch, his universal approach, or his amazing ability to just create the everlastingly entertaining movie that will stay with you forever, and each one can be right, because he is Steven Spielberg. For these reasons, he remains one of the greatest directors of all time.

To get into the movie business, instead of actually going through film school (as he was rejected repeatedly), Steven Spielberg had a different method… He would hop onto the tour for Universal Studios, and then wander off, eventually finding an empty office, where he set up a desk and a phone where he began to work as a part of the staff, without actually being apart of the staff. Lucky for him, he wasn’t kicked out; the Universal Executives actually liked how intensely committed he was to film, and from then on, he started making his first independent movies, such as Duel, and Sugarland Express. Sugarland Express is what ended up land him the position of directing the horror classic “Jaws”, which was his claim to fame.

Yonatan Gottlieb

PS. I will continue to post from now on sorry i took some breaks

3-1-12

Mission Imposssible: Ghost Protocol

Directed by Brad Bird

Starring Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner

93/100

In the flood of awful, Micheal Bay-esque action movies that have and sadly will keep flooding into theaters (Battleship, anyone), one or two action movies are released that are actually worth noticing. “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” is definitely one of these movies, serving to prove that Hollywood still has the capability to create entertaining, exciting, and. well made action flicks without them entirely consisting of explosions. Mission Impossible supersedes the average action flick for various reasons. First of all, it is directed by Brad Bird, the director who most notably helmed films like “The Incredibles”, “Ratatouille”, and “The Iron Giant”. This is his first live action movie, and as he has proved to us again and again how incredible of a director he is, doing a spot on job. Second of all, it is just such fun, classy, smart movie. It isn’t afraid to be ambitious, creating extensively creative and intense action sequences, which makes the movie a uniquely fun experience, something you don’t get to see a lot at the movies. Out of the actors, Tom Cruise and Paula Patton both give very fine performances, but I personally preferred Simon Pegg’s performance, along with Jeremy Renner, who previously gave excellent performances in The Town and The Hurt Locker, made a perfect addition to this movie. Finally, the writers of this film are ingenious in their decision in not to make it’s plot too complicated that it ends up being convoluted; instead, they make it smart and stylish enough so it is perfectly easy to understand and still really fun to watch. In conclusion, the newest installment in the Mission Impossible series is its best due to its pristine directing, incredible action, fine sense of humor, and it’s unique ambition.

Producer Frank Marshall appeared in Raiders of The Lost Ark in a small cameo role when the stuntman was unavailable to do the scene (he was sick). The scene where this occurs is when Indy is fighting the random buff Nazi guy on the rotating war plane. 

Source: “Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark” video, found on the dvd for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Directed By Joe Johnston

Written by Christopher Markus and Steven McFeely

Starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Dominic Cooper and Stanley Tucci

Rated PG-13

95/100

Out of the flood of superhero movies that have come to cinemas lately, there have been a select few that have really stood out. Since there have been so many of that have come out, the superhero movie formula has really worn out (for example: The Green Lantern). To make a superhero movie that really stands out, you have to do the same thing that you do with other movie genres, like rom coms or action movies; you have to be creative and add a few twists to the formula/story. Captain America has been apart of the select few superhero movies today to not only avoid common superhero movie formula, and also be incredibly entertaining and very well made.

Captain America: The First Avenger starts off by introducing the films villain, named ‘Red Skull’ (played by Hugo Weaving) finding what is called the cosmic cube, which is an unlimited source of power which powers his army (called HYDRA). It then introduces Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), who starts out as a scrawny, small, weak man who just wants to fight for his country, but his physical traits don’t allow him to. After applying for the army for the fifth time, a man named Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci, in a excellent performance) notices the human aspect in Rogers and drafts him. While in boot camp, you meet Colonel Philips (Tommy Lee Jones) and Officer Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Since Steve lacks behind physically, Dr. Erskine uses him to test his serum, which enhances Rogers to maximum human potential. Immediately after Steve comes out of the experiment, an inside man from HYDRA kills Dr. Erskine and takes off with his serum. Steve, now Captain America, chases him through the streets of Brooklyn and catches him right before he gets away. After this instance, instead of using his newfound potential to fight in the war, he is for propaganda on tour around the U.S. to promote the U.S. army. After he hears that his best friend, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) is a P.O.W to HYDRA, Captain America goes behind enemy lines to save his friend and other fellow prisoners, which begins his war on HYDRA and the Red Skull.

Captain America was an excellent movie for many reasons. First off, it is incredibly entertaining, its action sequences being very exciting, well shot, and very creative. Even if the stuff that was happening in the action sequences were crazy, they were filmed so you could actually tell what was going on, which made it more enjoyable. Next, one of my main concerns coming into this film was that Captain America wasn’t really that powerful of a superhero, and that all he had going for him was a shield and super strength. After seeing this movie, I was proved wrong as the action sequences made for an extremely effective use of his shield and super strength, making Captain America looking as cool as Iron Man or even Thor. Third, Joe Johnston, who has previously done other period flicks like ‘The Rocketeer’ and ‘Hidalgo’ did a fantastic job giving the movie the feel of the 1940’s in almost all aspects of the film, in the which I was particularly impressed by. Third, I thought the screenwriters did a great job diverting from superhero movie formula and going a different direction by having a character that knew what it was like to not have power, so when he was given the power, he didn’t waste it. I thought this was a very smart way to go about making a superhero movie, as it gave both the movie and the title character more depth than the average superhero movie.

One of the film’s top notch cast give off an array of excellent performances throughout the movie. My personal favorite performance is the performance given by Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers. Evans makes his character extremely likable, believable and relatable, giving off one of the best performances in a superhero film since Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man (Evans’s performance doesn’t beat Robert Downey Jr’s performance, but it comes pretty close). Tommy Lee Jones gives a great performance, and comes off as a gruff, tough, good guy, which is a role that he is familiar with. The last performance, which I particularly thought was excellent, was Stanley Tucci’s performance as Dr. Erskine. Even though he doesn’t have such a believable German accent, Gucci does a great job for the short amount of time he was on screen. The only performance that I only thought was above average was Hugo Weaving’s performance as Red Skull. He does a good job as Red Skull, but I expected Hugo Weaving to make him come off as much scarier and vicious of a bad guy then he really was in the movie. In the end, it didn’t really affect the movie that much at all, and I came out of the movie theater not really caring that much that Hugo Weaving could have given a better performance, as there were so many good performances in this film that it really didn’t matter.

In conclusion, Captain America is one of my favorite movies of the summer because it is an extremely entertaining movie filled which top notch performances, breathtaking action, a fast paced story, and great filmmaking.