L: "Moonrise Kingdom" 2012

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

My Rating: 

  A few weeks ago me and Katrina were wondering through the streets of Vilnius, not really knowing where we're going, when we happened across a miniature cinema closed for the summer. 
   While Katrina was busy taking pictures of the graffiti on the walls of the cinema, I was trying to decipher a sign on the door which was obviously in Lithuanian. I remember clearly telling saying: "The first word has to do something with months or the moon and the second word is something related to kings." Pause. Yes, I am a complete idiot because it was Katrina who then realized what movie the sign was talking about. Katrina. Not me. Katrina, whose mother-tongue isn't Lithuanian. 
   Anyway, the sign was actually the program for the Contemporary Art Center summer cinema. (That, oh by the way, showed movies outside.) So yeah, to cut the (very) long story short - it was going to show "Moonrise Kingdom" that night and obviously we decided to go. And the cinema? Wonderful! If you're ever in Vilnius during the summer, be sure to check it out.

   So I've seen most of Wes Anderson's movies and some I liked better than others but "Moonrise Kingdom" has to be one of my favorites. Now why is that?
   Not only are the cinematography and the soundtrack charming, the whole story is so thought-through, warm and fulfilling. It can make an adult feel like a child and a child feel like an adult. (Which is how the characters in the movie feel.) Not to mention the cast, which is phenomenal and happens to include some of my very favorite actors. 
   But to me, what makes this movie so special, is how it takes real and important problems and portrays them with such childlike innocence (even for a Wes Anderson movie) that you can't help but feel rainbows and butterflies in your stomach. This movie is like a bouquet of sunflowers or a Van Gogh painting. It's like a piece of white chocolate or your childhood in a bottle. It really is special. 
   So if you ever are feeling a bit blue, watch this movie - it will surely yellow (read: cheer) you up.


L: "Man of Steel" 2013

Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe
Genre: Superhero movie, cmon

My Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

   I'm not that familiar with DC superheroes (apart from the obvious) but I do consider myself a comic fan so not watching Man of Steel didn't really seem acceptable. Having said that I bought the ticket in advance and an hour before seeing the movie I was trying to come up with ways to get out of it. So yeah, I guess you could say I wasn't pissing my pants in excitement about the new Superman movie.  

   Did I mention I hate Zack Snyder? Yeah, I will never forgive him for Watchmen. Oh, and 300 didn't exactly rock my socks off either.  


   Man of Steel is the origin story of the very well known and lov- well, known, superhero which, to be fair, I wasn't really familiar with. Clark Kent is still kind-of boring, but it is a bit more fun if you think of him as an alien which he actually is.  

   Now the interesting thing is that the movie is 70% talking and 30% CGI and I remember sitting in cinema halfway through the film thinking "Oh my god, nothing really happens. There is nothing. actually. happening. They're just talking." And for some reason I wasn't that bored. At first.  

   So I realized that the thing that keeps this movie from being a well, I'll just be frank, a good movie is the fact that it's very poorly paced. I would say it's just bad screenwriting but some of the dialogue isn't half-bad. It's just that when you've got a 100 minutes of talking and talking and talking and some more talking and then over half an hour of CGI explosions and battles and "Oh no wait, he didn't die!" more battles and "Oh no wait, she didn't die!" and more battles, you're kind-of bored out of your mind.  

   And it's not like Superman is that interesting. Though to be fair, he was the only good thing about the movie. (Nice job!)   

   Oh and of course we couldn't have a good superhero movie if we didn't have a very forced romance in it. Or could we, I don't know? I guess no one's ever tried... Lois Lane sucks. TEAM Faora-Ul.  

   So in conclusion I would imagine that this movie will be enjoyed by die-hard idiot fan-boys or people who need a movie to watch while doing the dishes or ironing laundry. 'Cause it really is a bit of a bore.


K: "Now You See Me" 2013

“Now you see me” is a story which follows four street-magicians on their way to becoming the biggest magic-sensation in the world. It’s full of will-definitely-leave-you-in-awe magic tricks and the cast consists of mainly A-list actors - such as Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, etc. The plot is simple - four magicians, who call themselves the Four Horsemen, rob a bank during one of their shows. This alerts FBI and Interpol, which leads to a 115 minute long intense hunt.
      Now the thing is, I really really really loved it. I’ve seen it four times now and I still can’t get enough. It’s vivid and unique and the visuals in this movie are amazing, reminding me of BBC’s new Sherlock series. The idea is great and overall it’s a fun and enjoyable movie. But as I talked to people with critical minds (perhaps... Laura? What?! No! Why would you think that?), I soon understood that there is, I must admit, something wrong with this movie. And after thinking about it for quite some time now, I finally know what it is.
      Character development. Or the lack of it. There are these four awesome main characters, about who we know so little of. And then there’s the FBI, again, about who we know nothing about. AND then there’s Morgan fucking Freeman’s character, who seems so promising, but once again.. AND THEN there’s this Millionaire, played by Michael Caine, who doesn’t fit with the scenario but kinda just is there. They’re all just thrown in together without any meaning behind the characters. This is the biggest problem with “Now you see me” and why it’s crossed out of the promising Oscar nominees list. Fast-paced tempo of the movie and insanely awesome plot alone doesn’t make a movie great. But still, I loved it.
      Mainly because of the cast. They all seemed so natural together and the on-screen chemistry was obvious. You should go see it because of Morgan Freeman’s voice only, the way he explains the magic tricks with his husky, velvet voice... Yeah, anyway, uh, the cast, yeah. Great. I’m a bit afraid that Jesse Eisenberg will be typecasted from now on as the nervous awkward smartass he’s been playing for quite some time now, though he nailed the part with absolute perfection. Melanie Laurent is as always, pleasing to the eye, but her character really has no point and is rather disturbing, with her forced on romance. Oh, and the younger Franco-brother Dave... Let’s just say that there’s a reason I’ve seen it four times and probably will see again. I have a serious weak-spot for Franco-brothers. Dave does a great job as the fourth horseman - the kid trying to be adult. Ruffalo seems angrier than Hulk, seriously. Whenever he’s on the screen he yells, argues or gives commands while yelling or arguing. Still likeable and great. Oh, and I almost forgot - WOODY HARRELSON - amazing as always. One of the most interesting characters in this movie, wish there was more to that horseman. His lines are the funniest.
      “Now you see me” is awesome because of its constant twists and turns. It’s like there’s no protagonist or antagonist, you can’t tell who you’re rooting for. The biggest twist is the ending, which you will either hate or love. It’s fun, fast and awesome, go see it without high hopes - you’ll never be disappointed when doing so!


L: "Hummingbird" ("Crazy Joe", "Redemption") 2013

Directed by: Steven Knight
Starring: Jason Statham
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

My Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆

   Jason Statham's latest movie has him walking aroung kicking ass and driving fast cars so naturally I kind of expected nothing. And by "expecting nothing" I actually mean that I don't think I ever even saw the whole trailer. The poster played it's part though. (Great poster!)
   So "Redemption"... Or no, was it "Hummingbird"? Wait, "Crazy Joe"?! Which one is it? Oh right, it's all of them. What? Okay then. Sorry about that. I'll stick with "Hummingbird".
   So "Hummingbird" is your regular kind of entertainment movie with an action-packed plot and lots of violence and sexual tension. Except that it isn't. There is something different about this movie that turned a boring action movie into an engaging and surprisingly good movie. But what was it?

  In today's cinema blockbusters and movies that have been made to make money, rarely take risks whereas artsy movies go crazy with risks and take them for all the wrong reasons. ("Now, if we were to make an ART movie we would have to shock everyone and do something different and how about we just make a movie where all the people walk on their hands and talk backwards and call the movie "Bacon". Now that would be art... Yeah, let's do it!") Sorry about that, I really don't know what that just was.
  So this little rant brings me to "Hummingbird". What I respect most about this movie that it never tries to leave  the "entertainment zone" yet it takes risks and every time a cliché is approaching they take take the cliché and mix it up. Just a little. To surprise you. And in my case it worked. I was so surprised about the movie that I probably missed a lot of flaws and am over-rating this by a lot. Who knows? I know most don't, because the audience and the critics are so confused by this movie you can hardly see a recurring rating.
   So my point is, that this movie isn't an art movie, it isn't an instant classic, it isn't an Oscar-movie, it's just good-quality entertainment with a little bit of an artsy approach and lots of violence. Refreshing is what I would call it. So there you go.


L: "The Great Gatsby" 2013

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio
Genre: Drama, Romance

My Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

   "The Great Gatsby" is one of my favorite books so obviously I was terrified of seeing this film and hating it. It having been made by Baz Luhrmann didn't really calm me down either. (Yes, I loathed "Moulin Rouge".) What I didn't expect though, was that I actually, at times, loved this film. Okay, maybe "loved" is an overkill... Liked? Yes, let's go with that. So instead of writing a legitimate analysis of the movie, I will tell you why I liked and hated the movie and why I am in no place to say anything smart about this film. 

Reasons I liked "The Great Gatsby":

Carey Mulligan is a living Daisy Buchanan. Perfectly cast.
◈ Leonardo was surprisingly a Great Gatsby (see what I did there?) because he somehow managed to make me feel exactly like I felt whilst reading the book. This was actually pretty incredible because I obviously knew everything that was going to happen but he made me forget that and make me feel nervous, disturbed and anxious. Kudos!
◈ The old man in the library. Spot on.
◈ The soundtrack.
◈ Actually, except for Tobey Maguire, the whole casting was very good. Too bad they had to have Baz Luhrmann direct them.

Reasons I hated "The Great Gatsby":

◈ Tobey Maguire. No, he still can't act.
◈ Everyone looked like they had massive amount of plastic surgery before starting filming.
◈ 3 frickin' D.
◈ The soundtrack.
◈ Tom Buchanan's lover and her friend. Could you be more annoying? And while we're at it - their secret apartment was hideous. And pink. Really pink.
◈ There is a line with glitter and Baz Luhrmann crossed it.
◈ The soundtrack.
◈ Everything good about the film was because the story is so phenomenally good and everything bad about the film was because of Baz Luhrmann, even though he managed to get an excellent casting director.
◈ So Baz Luhrmann.

   So there you have it, I am a Great fan of Gatsby (ha, this never gets old!) and this movie made me hate it, made me fall in love with the story and characters again and surprisingly made me surprised. Sorry for the peculiar "review".


L: "The Place Beyond the Pines" 2013

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan
Genre: Drama, Crime, Thriller, Romance

My Rating: 

   How I can hate one movie from a director and then see his next film and love it puzzles me. I'm talking of course about Derek Cianfrance's "Blue Valentine" and "The Place Beyond the Pines". The oddest thing is though that they aren't all that different. (Though this film didn't have MicHellOnEarth Williams in it. Thank God for that. ) So why is it that I loved this and hated "Blue Valentine"?

   Well, let me start off by naming the similarities. Well aside from the obvious Ryan Gosling starring as a main character in both movies, Cianfrance has only directed two full length movies but already you can see how he tends to divide the movies into little pieces. The difference however being that in this case it worked very well and in "Blue Valentine's" case it didn't. "Blue Valentine" tells the story of a couple falling in love and the collapse of their marriage years later and in that movie the storyline switches between those two different times. This movie though has three parts to it and they move in a chronological order. They're all very different but the transition is always very smooth, very believable and most of all logical. You can barely notice how the previous storyline has ended perfectly and the new one doesn't seem new at all. 

   I feel as if it isn't fair of me two compare this so much to the other movie, but you've got to understand. Very rarely do I come across a situations where I'm amazed at one movie and incredibly frustrated by another from the same director.  And it's even more bizarre that in this case those two are his only movies. 

   Now I don't like Ryan Gosling but unlike MicHellOnEarth Williams, I can't deny that he is a good actor. Good might not even cut it and in this movie he did it again. No surprise there. Bradley Cooper was also very good. Maybe even better. But the person who shocked me most, was Eva Mendes. I mean, I seriously have never liked her. I didn't even know she could act, but she managed to never piss me off. Not once. So that was pretty amazing. Also don't-know-if-I-can-call-him-a-newcomer-anymore Dane DeHaan was amazing as always. So all in all, a very solid cast. No complaint there.

   And then of course there is the cinematographer. What is it with the movies of 2013? I can't remember the last time I saw a movie with very bad cinematography. And this movie was no exception. I read somewhere that Andrij Parekh who shot "Blue Valentine" and was supposed to shoot this dropped out because of a dream he had where he died on set and well... I'm sorry but I'm so glad he had that dream, because Sean Bobbitt, the guy who replaced him did an absolutely phenomenal job. It took me 15 minutes to choose the stills for this review and I still couldn't manage to pick out two. So a gold star to Sean Bobbitt!

   And well the length... Yes, I mean the movie was indeed pretty long. But seeing as you basically get 3 movies in 1, I don't see why you would complain. So if you're not busy and your mind isn't filled with clutter, I don't see why you shouldn't go see this movie.

EDIT: I can now, after seeing this movie 3 times, say that this belongs in my top 10. Go see it. Now.
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