Category: Drama


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.

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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.

 

L.A. Confidential

Directed by Curtis Hanson

Rated R, Released 1997

Starring Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce and Kim Basinger

97/100

It is really kind of sad that Titanic won Best Picture in the 1997 Oscars for many reasons. First off, it makes one of the most serious events to happen in the 20th century into a melodramatic love story that contains a bunch of characters (at least for me) that you don’t really care for, and a love story that you cannot really care for either. The biggest reason why it is sad that Titanic won Best Picture is the other movies that it beat out. The nominees started out with As Good As It Gets and The Full Monty, both which weren’t going to win anyway, but then there was Good Will Hunting, which is an outstanding movie (you can see this by the fact it is in my top 20 favorites, and the fact that it has a 97 percent on Rottentomatoes) and most of all, L.A. Confidential.

L.A. Confidential focuses around 3 cops. First, Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) who is the kind of cop who yearns for the spotlight, then Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) who strives to be ahead, and finally Wendell ‘Bud’ White, a violent cop who will break the rules to serve out justice. After a shootout at a 24 hour diner, they each investigate together, using their own unique ways to find who actually is the bad guy.

This film is excellent in so many ways. First off, Almost every performance is memorable in this film. The most memorable performance in fact comes from Guy Pearce. When watching him, you have trouble believing that he is only an actor, as he perfectly captures the man striving to get ahead. Russell Crowe also gives one of his stronger performances of his career, as this is a role that fits him perfectly and his talent is put to its full extent, which is in fact pretty high. Finally, Kevin Spacey does a great job as usual, but it isn’t his career best for a few reasons. First, it isn’t as strong as a character compared to some other roles that he has played or won awards for, such as his career best performance in American Beauty or his outstanding role as Verbil Kint in The Usual Suspects. This is due to the fact that the character that he portrays isn’t a conflicted one, and is more of a showoff, which doesn’t leave off as much leverage for a strong performance than his other roles. In conclusion, he does a great job with his material he proves that he remains one of Hollywood’s greatest actors. Kim Basinger, on the other hand, gives off her best performance (granted i haven’t seen her in many other movies) and fluently gives personality and power to her character. She fully deserves the oscar given to her for her performance in this movie.

Another excellent part of this movie is its script. The script is filled with strong dialogue and clever wording throughout the entirety of the film. Another great part about this script is its story, which is of more thanks to the book that this film is based off, yet it is thanks to this script that this film had such a naturally flowing story line. I also thought that this screenplay was very clever in the way because instead of having a normal flowing plot line like other movies, which tend to focus on one main character and other minor characters, this movie focuses on three different main characters, and intertwines their stories throughout the film. This type of plot could be compared to the movies of Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds, Pulp Fiction) except for the fact that it is all one story and all of the main characters know each other from the beginning of the movie. The format for a traditional Tarantino movie would include a few different stories of people who start out not knowing each other, and then a series of events that end up intertwining each story together. Overall, this movie has an excellent screenplay which definitely deserved the Oscar given to it and the transition from book to movie is basically flawless, making off for a great movie that stays true to its book.

In conclusion, this is an excellent movie that both captures the dark essence of crime in LA, and makes for an engrossing murder mystery filled with great performances, direction and sharp dialogue.

Yoni Gottlieb

1-24-11