donderdag 14 december 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 129: Deepwater Horizon

Director: Peter Berg
Genre: Action/ Drama/ Thriller
Runtime: 107 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich, Dylan O’Brien, Kate Hudson

Description: A dramatization of the disaster back in April 2010, when the offshore drilling rig called the Deepwater Horizon created a giant explosion, which created the worst oil spill in American history.

Review: In April of 2010, the biggest oil spill in American history took place in the Gulf of Mexico. Because of a massive leak, oil seeped into the water for almost three months. This oil disaster also had some explosions and heavy fires. This is perfect material for Hollywood. And normally these kind of stories turn into sappy films about heroic people who are praised. That’s at least what I was expecting. But “Deepwater Horizon” is a lot better than I expected it to be and it’s not a sentimental disaster film at all.
Director Peter Berg used the book “Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours” as his inspiration. It’s basic facts and not a bunch of heroic characters and sentiment. The characters in this film are based on actual people that survived this disaster. And Berg doesn’t try to make anything look better or more beautiful than it is. The central character is technician Mike Williams, who leaves a wife and daughter at home and travel to the platform for three weeks. Williams is accompanied by Andrea Fleytas, a tough young lady working in a men’s world. On board of the Deepwater Horizon, that functions as an explorer to find new oil sources, the team leader is determined to get everything check on safety. The big shots don’t think this is necessary and feel like everything is safe enough, they need to drill. Off course, things go wrong.
Hectic and chaos, not very surprising in a disaster movie. Berg didn’t take the time to be all technical about the cause of the disaster, thank goodness. And the connection between Wahlberg’s character and his wife at home is not turning into a tear jerking and is kept to a minimal. It’s just enough to know that something is terribly wrong and that Williams is a family man.
Berg excels in great shots of impressive explosions and the immense sea of fire. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s a surprising film, because I expected just another over-sentimental disaster film. I was wrong, and I love that actually! “Deepwater Horizon” is a surprisingly great film.

Rating: 4,5/ 5

maandag 11 december 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 128: The Purge: Election Year

Director: James DeMonaco
Genre: Thriller/ Horror/ Action
Runtime: 109 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Elizabeth Mitchell, Frank Grillo, Mykelti Williamson

Description: Former Police Sergeant Barnes (Frank Grillo) becomes head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.

Review: After a two year break, the Purge returns. It’s a yearly event, where any crime can be committed without any consequences. This time it has a political touch. The elite and corrupt government wants to stop all the people who are against the Purge. Starting with Senator Charlie Roan, running for president and wanting to end the Purge.
“The Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy” were original and had a low budget, but did pretty well. They weren’t masterpieces and felt like B-movies because of the cheap dialogues and jump scares. Director James DeMonaco managed to improve some points in this sequel.
The movie takes its time to introduce some of the characters. Like Joe, the owner of a small local store. Laney, the pacifist. Charlie Roan, the idealistic presidential candidate. And Leo Barnes, her personal bodyguard. The characters cross each other’s paths, no unnecessary plot twist or cheap dialogues (okay, maybe some).
“The Purge: Election Year” looks better then the other two, but there is still room to scare more. The film has two tones: it sometimes feels satirical, but it also provides social comments. Those tones don’t work together well, they clash.
“The Purge: Election Year” is very watchable.

Rating: 3/ 5

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 127: A Monster Calls

Director: J.A. Bayona
Genre: Drama/ Fantasy
Runtime: 108 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell

Description: A boy (Lewis MacDougall) seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother's (Felicity Jones) terminal illness.

Review: Your own fantasy to escape reality and all the misery in your life. To make life more bearable, kids are even more capable then adults to let their free spirit speak. Many films and books have these themes and it often happens in a very subtle way. Look at modern fairytales “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz”. it’s often the adults that disturb the dream. In “A Monster Calls” there is something different happening. A bullied boy tries to cope with his mother’s illness and thanks to her, he can escape reality for a while.
Almost every night it happens: the 13 year old Conor O’Malley wakes up in sweat, after having that some scary nightmare. In this dream he sees the church across his house collapse and his mother disappears in the hole that appears. Conor can’t save his mom. In real life, his mother is battling an aggressive form of cancer.
In school Conor’s life isn’t any better, because he is the center of attention for the bullies. The only thing that keeps him going is his art, he makes the most amazing drawings. One night, at seven minutes past twelve, Conor sees the tree across his house come to life and turn into a nameless monster. He shall tell Connor three stories, but the fourth story has to be Connor’s. It’s an adaptation of the children’s book by Patrick ness. Director J.A. Bayona doesn’t sugarcoat things, just because it targets a younger audience. Conor’s life is pretty miserable at the moment. It’s not only a very sick mother and the bullying. Conor also has to deal with a grandmother he can’t get along with and a father that is hardly every around and started a new family in the US. That tree coming to life is just as scary as the harsh reality Conor has to deal with very day.
Because of this, “A Monster Calls” is a drama, with fantasy elements. The visuals are subtle and sober, but it looks stunning. The young lead, playing Conor, has a tough task. He basically has to carry this film. And he did a pretty good job. The fact that Conor feels alone in this battle is well portrayed.
“A Monster Calls’ shows how strong the power of imagination can be and how it can help you in the most awful situations. It’s a beautiful film.

Rating: 4/ 5

zondag 10 december 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 126: Why Him?

Director: John Hamburg
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 111 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally, Keegan-Michael Key, Cedric the Entertainer

Description: A holiday gathering threatens to go off the rails when Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) realizes that his daughter's (Zoey Deutch) Silicon Valley millionaire boyfriend (Jame Franco) is about to pop the question.

Review: Ned and Barb are being invited to spend the holidays with their daughter Stephanie. Once they arrive, they meet her new boyfriend Laird, who isn’t exactly the ideal son in law.
“Why Him?” is a pretty funny comedy, directed by John Hamburg. A father meeting his daughter’s new boyfriend isn’t a new concept, but the cast makes it better then you would expect. I think James Franco is very funny, but his personal assistant (played by Keegan-Michael Key) steals the show in his scenes.
“Why Him?” doesn’t work all the time. Bryan Cranston doesn’t really shine and some of the jokes are a bit distasteful. It’s a comedy that will entertain you while having a lazy day on the couch. Funny yet missing the mark sometimes.

Rating: 3/ 5

donderdag 30 november 2017

Top 5 Thursday: Movies I Watched For My Challenge (November 2017)

I saw a lot of newer film and with that some really great ones too. Here are my favorites for my challenge for the month of November.

5. Mother!
I love Darren Aronofsky’s movie, even if he always makes me feel miserable. If I have to describe “Mother!”, I really can’t. You have to experience it yourself. What I do know, it’s that it’s pretty disturbing, fucked up actually. Not for everyone, but I really loved it.

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Skeptical at first, another Spider-Man movie. Did we really need that? It appears to be yes! Tom Holland is a breath of fresh air, the Peter Parker that we needed. I love his enthusiasm.

3. The Beguiled
Let’s hear it for the girls! Sofia Coppola directs and she got her signature all over this movie. She is back! And all the actresses are amazing. A very strong story, well performed by all the actors. Also Colin Farrell holds up great between all those fabulous women.

2. Thor: Ragnarok
The first two movies are not the best un the MCU, but still enjoyable. Director Taika Waititi turned it all around and gave us “Thor: Ragnarok”, one of the best movies in the MCU! More colorful, in every way of the word. What a great spectacle and so unexpectedly funny!

1. Lion
A heartfelt and touching story about a young boy getting lost from home. Years later it still haunts him and he starts a search for his biological family. Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman are rock solid in “Lion” and I think this is one of the best films of the year.

They Almost Made the Top 5: Little Evil, Toni Erdmann, Murder On the Orient Express, Lady MacBeth, The Founder

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 125: Mother!

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Genre: Drama/ Horror/ Thriller
Runtime: 121 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson, Kristen Wiig

Description: A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

Review: “Mother!” starts pretty conventional: a couple lives a calm and peaceful life in a beautiful house. Their life changes when they provide shelter for two stranger. The husband (the characters don’t have names) feels okay about it, it’s his idea. But the wife feels uncomfortable and thinks it’s strange to simply invite strangers into their house. She does everything to make their house a home, when she sees intruders destroy it. But he loves the adoration he gets from them.
Director Darren Aronofsky builds up to ultimate chaos, with two trumps: leading lady Jennifer Lawrence and the house it’s set in. Aside from some shots of the house from afar, the camera stays indoors and is only a few feet away from Lawrence. Wandering through the halls, rooms and stairs her character’s feeling of being lost and helpless grows.
Aronofsky always gets the best from his actors and Jennifer Lawrence is no exception. It’s one of her strongest roles. The fact that she is the only character that responds to the situation the way we all probably should, you get the impression that there is more going on than we eventually led to believe. This is definitely not a movie for everyone, especially when we go towards the climax of the film. It’s pretty fucked up actually. But you have enough to talk about after seeing “Mother!”.
“Mother!” is original, unconventional, a bit disturbing and very well done.

Rating: 4,5/ 5

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 124: The Founder

Director: John Lee Hancock
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 110 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Laura Dern, Patrick Wilson

Description: The story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a salesman who turned two brothers' (Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch) innovative fast food eatery, McDonald's, into the biggest restaurant business in the world, with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.

Review: For over sixty years we’ve been enjoying McDonald’s food now. In that time, the franchise has grown to be THE fast food restaurant. Everywhere in the world the food tasts the same. McDonald’s was a pioneer in developing techniques and strategies to deliver the costumer a burger, fries and milkshake within 30 seconds. This all started in the late ‘40s.
We meet Ray Kroc (played phenomenally by Michael Keaton) who is trying to sell his revolutionary milkshake machine to restaurants, but doesn’t seem to succeed. Even though Kroc is a smooth talker, no one seems to buy it. It comes as a surprise when the owner of a burger restaurant in California wants to buy several from him. Out of curiousity , Kroc visits the restaurant and meets brothers Dick and Mac McDonald. They have developed a method to produce hamburgers fast and they taste amazing. Kroc manages to convince the brothers to work with him, to open more McDonald’s restaurants in America. But the brothers want to call the shots.
John Lee Hancock created a very strong origins story. When you think, from the title alone, that Ray Kroc is the founder of McDonald’s, you’re wrong. At first, the deal is friendly and Kroc listens to the brothers. But eventually Kroc walks away with the success, the money AND the name McDonald’s. A name the actual McDonald brothers weren’t allowed to use anymore. Kroc smelled money and success and became greedy and ruthless.
Michael Keaton really got his comeback since he starred in “Birdman”. Again he shows us what a fabulous actor he is. He steals the show in “The Founder”, he makes it a good movie. At first you sympathize with Kroc, you wish him fortune. But eventually you feel some aversion towards him.
The film might not be very surprising plot wise, but the way to success is told very well. But especially Keaton’s performance is a reason to watch “The Founder”.

Rating: 4/ 5