Friday, July 26, 2013

Movie Review: Before Midnight

WOW. I usually can't stand films that focus just on dialogues and nothing more, but Before Midnight - well, all three Before films to be exact - had that right mixture of charismatic characters, engaging story, and an expertly written script that even a simple movie about two people in love talking can become the most beautiful of films. Yes, it's painful, at times brutal, but it impressively gave an honest exploration of the characters' relationship. The sharpness of their confrontation in a hotel room, in particular, was probably one of the most powerful scenes I've seen in cinema for a while and the ending was just sublime. There was just a brutal realism to the whole film. Somehow, the movie even articulated all the anxieties I have about life, love and the world general in a more profound way that I could not have achieved in my lifetime. I laughed. I cried. I got frustrated. Before Midnight was a quiet masterpiece. 9.5

Monday, July 22, 2013

Movie Review: Turbo

Um, yeah, that's three animated films in one month: Monsters University, Despicable Me and then this! Animation overload? Haha. Was Turbo the best animated film I've seen this year? Not at all, but this was still a pretty delightful flick. Visually, I thought it was awesome. Colorful, vibrant and highly detailed. The animation was immersing, the character design was brilliant and even the soundtrack was a nice surprise. The whole thing was fairly generic as the premise was just another underdog story - it actually felt more like a lovechild of A Bug's Life and Cars - but the execution was good and it was pretty heart warming. Turbo, to me, was vastly entertaining and while not perfect, that's actually all I needed. 7.5

Thursday, July 18, 2013

DAM NATION: July 2013 Playlist

Wow. We're half way done with the year! That was fast no? Anyway, here's another set of 15 songs that I (personally) fancy, that are already doing good on it's own and maybe some new singles from different artists that will probably - or maybe not - be hits in the next coming weeks in whatever format.

So, yeah! Enjoy!

1. Same Love Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (ft. Mary Miranda)
2. I'm Out Ciara (ft. Nicki Minaj)
3. Burn Ellie Goulding
4. Take Back The Night Justin Timberlake
5. What About Love Austin Mahone
6. Brave Sara Bareilles
7. Made In The USA Demi Lovato
8. Cups (When You're Gone) [Pop Version] Anna Kendrick
9. Holy Grail JAY Z (ft. Justin Timberlake)
10. Right Now Rihanna (ft. David Guetta)
11. Body Party Ciara
12. The Heart of Dixie Danielle Bradbery
13. Wake Me Up Avicii
14. Safe and Sound Capital Cities
15. Acapella Karmin

Password: In 10.11.12 compilation, what's the 15th song?
(case sensitive or just copy the song title)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Movie Review: The Lone Ranger

While not exactly a terrible film, The Lone Ranger was exceedingly boring that it had me in a stupefied coma for the most part. Granted, this was a well made production with an outstanding cinematography and some pretty decent action sequences, everything else felt cluttered and overblown. This should have been a fun ride, but somehow, the film decided to acquire some serious mood swings in terms of tone from action to the abrupt shift to dumb slapstick humor and that really bothered me. The performances weren't all that great too. Armie Hammer came off as too vanilla with not enough gravitas to pull off the lead role, and Johnny Depp was just silly and wretched. Oh, and the film was unforgivably long and that story telling to the kid was extremely pointless! The Lone Ranger was quite a letdown. Lifeless and dull. 4.5

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Movie Review: Stoker

Stoker was nothing short of riveting. Yes, it was very much a slow burner and it was a bit uneasy to watch mostly on it's strikingly dark and disturbing undertones, but the movie was also equally absorbing. The direction was brilliant as everything felt seamless but never subtle, the camera work was meticulously crafted, the scoring was beautiful, and there's a stunning imagery that filled the landscape of the film. I was hoping for a more tailored script, but the sublime acting performances of both Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska somehow elevated that into something more layered. Stoker was a stylishly made film with a fairly standard psychological thriller story backed with commanding performances. Pleasantly surprised. 8.5

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Glee News: Glee's Cory Monteith Found Dead

Tragic news. Glee Star, Cory Monteith, who played Finn was found dead at a hotel in Canada.
(CNN) - Cory Monteith, who played heart throb Finn Hudson in the Fox hit "Glee," was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room Saturday, Vancouver police said. He was 31.
Police said the cause of death was not immediately apparent, but they ruled out foul play.
Monteith spent time in rehab early this year, checking into a drug addiction treatment facility in April.
He had been frank about his struggles with substance abuse, telling Parade magazine in 2011 that he began using drugs at 13, and by 19 went into rehab after his mother and friends intervened.
Monteith had been on the musical comedy show since it began in 2009.
In 2011, he won a Teen Choice award for top actor in a comedy. The show's cast won a Screen Actors Guild award for an ensemble in a comedy the prior year.
A couple of months ago, he voluntarily checked into a rehab for his substance abuse, which he was battling since he was young. Despite his problems, it seemed like Cory always tried to remain professional on the show and was always well liked. This is unfortunate particularly because I think he was really trying to break free of this addiction.

I know. I know. I stopped blogging about Glee since Season 3, but this was VERY shocking. Cory, to me, was a fantastic actor and has always been an important character on the show. I will always remember his first scenes from the first season of Glee. Sad.

Rest in Peace, Cory Monteith.

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

It's awfully rare when there's so much smashing of metals (and monsters) to actually find a real good story to go along with it, but Pacific Rim did just that to great effect. No, I wouldn't say that I was blown away by it's creativity or originality just because some of the plot elements felt vastly familiar, but there was a brilliant story to be told here. The narration was good, the pacing was decent, and the imagery was fantastic. The fight sequences were also brilliantly choreographed and the epic clash between the Jaegers and Kaiju - especially the one in Hong Kong - had a stunning stylistic flair to it. I found myself a little distracted by the wooden performances of some actors, but that's nothing but a minor issue. As a visual experience, Pacific Rim was quite a marvel, but the film's success actually went beyond the plethora of action. 8.5

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Movie Review: Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. It was short on narrative with no strong plot and purposely one dimensional characters, but this film was seriously high on mood that was dark, repulsive and depressing. I thought the film was elegantly staged with a visual style that was slightly repetitive but warranted, the scoring was eclectic as if going through a psycho's playlist - especially the use of Britney Spears' songs, which gave exceptional contrast to a particular sequence - and the performances were strangely compelling. James Franco was fantastic and I felt like Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson completely obliterated their sweet personas with their morally corrupt characters. The film was a beautiful mess, to say the least. That said, your like or dislike for Spring Breakers may very well depend on how well you respond to the glamorized sexual and criminal content of the film.  8

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 was a pretty solid sequel with a chock-full of fun visuals with a ton of great one liners and a writing that pulled even the slightest chuckle from me. The storyline could've been better as I somehow felt like it did meander on some of the more unnecessary subplots, but I liked that it maintained the same level of appeal the original had. Visually, the film was stunning. The colors were vibrant, I found the animation to be crisp and it had a certain vivid visual style. The character details were impeccable, the voice acting performances were wonderful and the humor was spot on. True, the minions took up the majority of the film's laughs, but each character had their moments. Despicable Me 2 wasn't the best animated film ever made and it never tried to be, but it was still absolutely delightful. So, just loosen up, look for a laugh, and you'll probably enjoy this as much as I did. 8

Movie Review: The Bling Ring

In a summer full of unnecessary sequels, glitzy visuals and mind-numbing special effects, The Bling Ring was actually quite refreshing, albeit depressing to see. The story was quite solid and entertaining, the acting was excellent, especially Emma Watson who was a total hoot, the direction was perfectly subtle and the social commentary was relevant and upfront, but not preachy. It wasn't perfect by any means - I felt that parts of it were a little sluggish as some scenes seemed a little long for artistic flavor - but there was a feeling of satisfaction after watching the film. The Bling Ring did lack a bit of depth as it came off a little shallow, but I somehow felt that that was the point. 7.5

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Movie Review: White House Down

White House Down wasn't as intense as Olympus Has Fallen, which was arguably a good action movie for tough guys, but this one actually worked best as an action popcorn flick. The special effects were moderately used, the action sequences were well choreographed, the acting was generally good, the chemistry between Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum was remarkable and the film was evenly paced. It lacked some serious punch and it was overly sentimental and cheesy in parts, but it had enough emotion and more witty quips and humor break up to compensate for that. To be honest, I do prefer this over Olympus Has Fallen by a very slight margin as this just confirmed that movies don't have to be too serious or intellectual to be enjoyed. White House Down just had the perfect mix of everything. 7.5

Monday, July 1, 2013

Movie Review: Four Sisters and a Wedding

Please don't let the horribly cheesy title keep you away from watching this film, because while Four Sisters and a Wedding was a little problematic in parts, this was another solid outing from Star Cinema. The story wasn't out of the ordinary and everything felt like it was molded with their usual formula, but there was something refreshing and sharp about the film's undemanding humor and the drama that came with it. The performances and comedic timing of the cast were just about right, especially Bea Alonzo, and the direction was excellent as it managed to control things carefully given all the subplots - it could have easily been an incoherent mess! The abrupt shift from comedy to drama especially towards the end was a bit jarring though, but that last act was too powerful that my emotions went beyond crying as I just sat there in disbelief and was affected in a way that NEVER existed before. Four Sister and a Wedding wasn't perfect by any means, but for what it's worth, the movie was able to send a grown man out of the theater and pretend that he never shed a tear. Haha. 8
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