Month: October 2016

The Girl On the Train Review 

The Girl On the Train on the surface looks like a well done, empowering, female led thriller. However it succumbs to the awful misogynistic ideal that men essentially control women. Having said this, it really puts a damper on the outcome of the film in its entirety. 
The moment this film began I was immediately turned off by the black screen giving me the name of the woman we would get to know. This black screen then appeared 10 more times after that, giving us names and dates in order to assemble the narrative together. Thrillers have to be perfectly crafted, they have to be able to peel back layers and show the audience rather than tell the audience what is happening or what has happened. It has to be the perfect mixture of suspense and mystery in order for the pieces to fit perfectly together and unravel the truth. This film was disjointed and I did not care for a single character in this film. 
It is hard to sit through a film in this genre and not care about the protagonist because 

A) they appear normal but are mentally unstable B) they are dragged into a situation they want nothing to do with or 

C) they are usually narrating their own problematic story. 

(Yes, this is a reference to Gone Girl) 
The protagonist is always intriguing because of these tropes and Emily Blunt’s character of Rachel carried these out horribly. I found no interest in her whatsoever, the dialogue was bland, I didn’t find her gawking at people in their houses effective at all. The entire filmed seemed forced and a thriller should always have a flow to it. A thriller should always have an eerie atmosphere, but maybe I have seen too many of Fincher’s films to actually appreciate other thrillers. 
It annoyed me that the film was based on three relationships that all revolved around pregnancy. Showing that women must get pregnant and have children and if women are not capable they turn into these monsters, even worse this had a man who turned his woman into a monster. That women are defined by motherhood or being a whore. There is no in between apparently in this film. This was not empowering. This was women hating each other, this was women being stereotyped, this is not a step forward at all. I have never been this angry at a film in its execution and storyline in my life. 
Emily Blunt was amazing as usual but the rest of the movie did not do her performance justice. It was just a mess. I almost started clapping when I saw Allison Janney, Laura Prepon and Lisa Kudrow because they actually saved me, to be quite honest. 
All I can really say is that this is the complete opposite version of Gone Girl. This film tried so hard to be unique and compete with the same feminist narrative, that it failed. They even attempted to bookend the film the same way Fincher did for Gone Girl. I am disappointed and angry. This a poor mans version of Gone Girl. The entire time I sat there and said I could have been watching Gone Girl for the fiftieth time instead. 


The Accountant Review

Gavin O’Connor delivers a fresh and tight action thriller with a vulnerable and sensitive storyline that is original and unique. The Accountant is a film strongly rooted in familial dysfunction and childhood trauma that was executed quite bluntly. Autism is a very difficult subject to put on screen because of the representation and O’Connor did so tastefully, you could tell that they cared about telling Christian Wolff’s story and they didn’t tread lightly either. It is a very decent action thriller. O’Connor used very similar tropes but somehow added some originality to it and in this case underlining the typical action film with a mental illness.

The film itself may seem dry and bleak but we are fully immersed in Christian Wolff’s world. Ben Affleck is fantastic in this role and he captivates you within the first minute of meeting him. He carried the tone of Wolff extremely well throughout and didn’t falter once. He was calm, vulnerable and sarcastic yet powerful causing audiences to assess Wolff and piece him together. It is one of the most interesting characters Ben has portrayed and it was perfect for him. There was so much depth to his character and it’s because O’Connor expertly integrated flashbacks that linked his backstory. The children in the film all did a wonderful job with their characters and it did pull on your heartstrings, some moments were difficult to watch.

The film was executed in a way that the audience would be piecing together Wolff’s mind rather than wasting their time on the plot which was being spelled out by the FBI agents. It was a unique balance and I think that is what made it so interesting. The beginning dragged on a bit, I have to admit it could have been cut down but when the action sequences came up I was giddy. The techniques used were very different, the combat with martial arts allowed a different dimension to what action films could be like. O’Connor does a great job with filming the choreography as neatly as he could. Every single move was beautifully captured. I wanted more. I did, I wanted more fight scenes because of how amazing they were. They played off the subtle movements and they made an impact.

Ben Affleck was the driving force of this film and he lead a pretty damn powerful cast. He had a playful chemistry with Anna Kendrick, which I loved. J. K Simmons is always on point, Jon Bernthal was really good as well. Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow had small parts but they are obviously great. However, the secondary character that truly shined was Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Agent Medina. She, herself had her own backstory but her determination was great to see and it was wonderful to see a woman with that kind of power.

All in all, it is a great action thriller, filled with great action sequences, dry sarcasm and a couple of sweet plot twists. This is probably one of my favourite characters Ben Affleck has ever done and I’m very happy he took this on. Gavin O’Connor has so many wonderful ideas and I’m very excited to see what he does in the future.

Deepwater Horizon

The more I watch Peter Berg’s filmography the more I fall in love with every single moment he captures on screen. Berg truly has am intricate vision when it comes to reinventing general narratives. Deepwater Horizon is filled with such rich visuals that it almost overwhelms you. Berg knows how to show the audience rather than tell them what is happening and I really appreciated that. Many people have absolutely no clue what happens out there on the oil rigs. Berg manages to breakdown each piece of the structure in order for audiences to understand the grave nature of this particular event.

Deepwater Horizon is one of the most impactful and action -packed films that I have ever watched. It kept me at the edge of my seat and it opened my mind to new ideas, Berg opened my senses and his images resonated deep within me. It is evident that Berg has met his match with having Mark Wahlberg by his side because of how passionate they are about every project they work on together. Like Lone Survivor, there is that underlying sense of community, that sense of faith in humanity. Berg is easily becoming one of my favourite directors because of how wonderful a storyteller he is, he creates this rugged atmosphere that is rough around the edges but has a heartfelt centre. Deepwater Horizon is an excellent addition to his filmography and I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us in the near future with Patriots Day.

Sully Biopic Review

There have been many films released this year that have been adapted by personal stories and events that have happened recently. These biopics have taken over most narratives in the past year and I must say they have been strenuous to endure because of they way the narrative was executed. Clint Eastwood returns behind the camera to deliver a tale of a Pilot who landed his plane in the Hudson. I’m sure we all heard about that particular event that happened and considered Captain Sullenberger a hero. The film itself captures the heroic nature of a human being making a rash decision in order to protect others aboard his ship.

The film begins with the plane crash itself, however it crashes and burns into a building, we later find out that Captain Sully played by (America’s National Treasure) Tom Hanks, was in fact dreaming about the plane crashing. This parallels his ongoing anxiety as he is presented with the repercussions of taking matters into his own hands and avoiding protocol when “crash landing” the plane itself. The aftermath of the plane “crash” deals with the moral values that society overlooks and dubs as human error. Sully made a rational decision, he needed to save 155 passengers and he did it in the safest was possible. However,  the media and the ARCS do not agree with how he executed this landing. Sully then is under investigation claiming that one of his engines remained on idle as they were swarmed with birds up in the air. They managed to tear down the heroic claims because it was against their own rules of regulation, this parallels society and symbolizes that even if we as humans are making morally rational decisions we can still be plagued by those who do not agree with our actions or with our values. This film proves that higher powers are able to strike down anything that could go against any system that is put in place, even if they are in the wrong, they will still attempt to find a way and tear you down.

What I found the most interesting about the use of repetition of the “crash” in this film is how firstly it paralleled the PTSD anxiety Sully had from after the landing but the second use of the “crash” was after he got slammed with the claim against him. This was effective because of the amount of times Sully was set back because of the media, claiming that it was a “crash” landing, meanwhile he safely landed the plane on the Hudson. He constantly reminds everyone that it was a landing and not a crash, so the dream that he has over and over again overcomes him as he begins to think to himself that it’s almost as if he crashed the plane and he questions the system himself. Was there even a point in landing it in the Hudson if he was going to get this backlash afterwards anyway? How did saving people become a result of human error? These thoughts provoke the idea that humanity can be robotic and simulated, that their human values shouldn’t affect their decisions when there are rules and regulations in place that should be followed.

Tom Hanks does a pretty solid job with creating this struggle within him, he is one of the best actors of our generation. Sadly, this film could not match Hanks and his talents because Clint Eastwood has forgotten how to make a decent biopic. The problem with Sully is that there was not enough material to create a film around it. It is probably the most anticlimactic film about a plane “crash” that I have ever seen. We all knew the outcome because it was a biopic but that did not help one bit. The heroic thematics can only be entertaining for so long but there is no way it can hold a two hour film together with the exact same action sequence used over and over again. The use of flashbacks were completely disjointed and they were used at the wrong time. How does one cut back in the middle of a “crash” (the rising action) to a meeting (a filler scene that did not progress the plot) and then back to the “crash”? You lose your audience, you lose the anticipation, you lose the humanistic relation to the hero by splicing the most important scene in the film. It wasn’t great filming or a great decision at all, the main reason many including myself went to go see this was to see how he landed the plane on the Hudson and it was failed in execution and in emotional conduct. Eastwood chose the wrong side of the story, the aftermath was very uninteresting compared to what had happened on the plane and the story itself was uninteresting because all he did was land the plane on the Hudson. There was no “crash” and I keep using quotations on crash because he did not crash the plane, yet the entire movie was centered on how it was a crash landing when it wasn’t, Sully continuously states that it wasn’t.

I’ve seen many other films that have been more exhilarating that have been inside aircrafts like Fight Plan and United 93 that have been filmed for it’s entirety on a plane. There are better ways to execute a narrative on a plane and Sully didn’t even manage to do that. For Eastwood to decide to splice the landing was irresponsible storytelling because when he returned to the landing, I did not care for a single person on that plane. So there was the human error in itself. I found this to be very tedious and unimportant, this film is forgettable and even golden boy Tom Hanks’ performance was forgettable (I know, shocking). Sure, this film plays off of the “Not all heroes wear capes” trope but it doesn’t do anything new, it’s repetitive. How many times can one sit through a Clint Eastwood and attempt to find something good to say about it? If it wasn’t for Tom Hanks and his starpower, this film would have not been as popular as it was. I’m extremely disappointed that the human values were tossed to the side as it neared the end and as for that ending, which completely undervalue the heroic thematics embedded in Sully from the beginning of the film. The last line went to Aaron Eckhart’s character Jeff Skiles who was Sully’s co-pilot. The last line of this film was not something that concluded  the heroic journey we went on with Sully, “I would have done it in July.” was the last line. How do you end a film by making a mockery out of the whole experience? People could have died. So, again the topic of human error and the emptiness of the characters put on screen can also be an additional factor of moral values versus the higher power of judgement towards humanity.

The Magnificent Seven

The Western as a genre has always had difficulty transcending generations. People claim that the genre is tiresome and is outdated as it is impossible to compete with action adventure films in the new age of technology. Why waste time with guns and horses when you have machine guns and cars? Well, once in awhile there are Westerns that reinvent the genre, that make audiences remember how fun and exhilarating Westerns can be.

Fuqua collaborates with Denzel Washington for the third time, after Training Day and The Equalizer. Denzel Washington leads an all star cast, starting with the charming gambler Josh Faraday played by Chris Pratt, the sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux played by Ethan Hawke, the knife-wielding assassin Billy Rocks played by Byung – hun Lee, the Mexican outlaw Vasquez played by Manuel Garcia – Rulfo, Comanche the Red Warrior played by Martin Sensmeir and the tracker himself Jack Horne played by Vincent D’Onofrio to round out the Seven. All of them fit in perfectly, they all had their own baggage and their own reason for joining Chisolm for this battle.

It’s always difficult to capture the same essence as the original film when remaking an iconic film such as this one but Fuqua really did a fantastic job with modernizing the Western and coining some originality to the genre itself. Fuqua creates his own Western, as he takes the scenic landscapes and creates with witty, action packed encounters from town to town. From the second, Denzel Washington walked into his first Saloon, I knew we were in for a wicked ride. Fuqua used the same tropes as any other Western but he had an eye for different shots and used this opportunity to play around with new angles. As we were introduced to Denzel, Chris Pratt was right behind him and it was great to see them share a screen together with two very different characterizations of a gunslinger. They all worked together so well and as each of the Seven were introduced their banter with one another carried to the next scene and progressed the story forward.

Each of them stepped in quite seamlessly and showed their own talents, I personally loved watching the character of Billy Rocks because he was so complex yet we still didn’t delve deeper into his past in order to understand why he was with Goodnight Robicheaux, I wanted so much more from him and I wish we got it! The film was filled with witty one – liners and old time Western lingo that created a nostalgic comfort for those familiar with the genre.

The Magnificent Seven brought together a wonderful cast of actors who reinvented the characters that were already put in place. The difficulty in taking on these iconic roles like Denzel Washington did for Yul Brynner and Chris Pratt did for Steve McQueen. This remake allows the old time fans and new audiences to appreciate the Western in different ways. In all honesty the film did drag on a bit towards the end, I think it was more of the anticipation of the final battle that made me anxious to see how they would choreograph it and I must say they did a great job that filled the ending with many surprises. It’s a fun film, that will keep you laughing and it will keep you intrigued until the very end. Another nice touch was how Fuqua chose to execute the end credits and it was exactly like the original by having the original Magnificent Seven theme music playing as they showed the cast.

The Magnificent Seven directed by Antoine Fuqua is fresh, unique and he managed to modernize the Western in a new decade. There is always that one Western the comes along every so often that people will remember as the Western of that decade and The Magnificent Seven is definitely one of them.