• Our most highly regarded president, next to George Washington gets yet another movie, fortunately this time he isn’t fighting off hordes of vampires. What we do get, is a pretty straight forward account of Lincoln’struggle to pass the 13th amendment through a divided house. Sounds tantalizing right? Sadly, the film is a sleep inducing two hours and thirty minutes of your life.

    Spielberg who has the role of producer and director of the movie , was once well known for his producing and directing of blockbuster caliber cinema. His ambitious decision to take on the task of a biopic of the renowned president, was met with mixed reactions.I suppose I was stupid in allowing myself to believe that because Steven Spielberg was attached to the film, it would somehow be a bit more interesting.

    Don’t get me wrong the movie is intelligent. It covers the very important and often nowadays overlooked topic of the abolition of slavery and racism in our country. Yes, I know it probably sounds professional to pretend to enjoy movies that are ‘deliberately’ slow and rigid in their telling but I refuse to compromise. The only thing that sets this film apart from being a cringe worthy BBC program is its permission to allow Lincoln to crack a few jokes now and then.

    I suppose Lincoln’s personal story and joke telling were one of the best aspects of the film. One particularly scene I’d like to  mention involves a portrait of George Washington in the John.  He was well known for his humor and this was explored successfully in the film. The comedic elements of the movie lightened the otherwise colorless tale. Yet, even the comedic aspect of the film grew stale, leading to an on screen character eventually declaring that he can’t take another one of Lincoln’s stories.

    Several parts of the movie I thought could have been handled a bit better; Lincoln’s family affairs and his imminent assassination. There were several scenes with Lincoln fighting with his wife about whether on not to allow their son to join the war but their only purpose seemed to be in cooking up a sense of empathy for Lincoln and his wife. Yes, Lincoln’s assassination happens off screen. Some may say this was done tastefully but I disagree. I think their was a missed opportunity to create some suspense and a more dramatic and climatic ending.

    The BAFTA award winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis creates a believable character and is dedicated to his portrayal of the president, much like he is with most of his roles. Sadly the script is boring and uninspired and leaves little room for the actor to show any real emotion. The plot unravels at a snails pace and concludes in a anticlimactic and flat manner.

    Do yourself the favor and limit yourself to just the trailer/preview. The story can be summed up in a couple words: My name is Lincoln and I want those gosh darn votes for my amendment. The best parts of the film arrive during debates on the floor of the house of representatives. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before though, in countless other movies without the old fashion, and at times difficult to follow style of speech. I suppose if you want to watch a history book unveil its self on the screen , you’ve gone to the right place.

    Review Score : 5/10

  • The Watchmen comic is regarded as one of  the finest stories in DC’s comics catalog. If you’ve never read the Watchmen comic, then the animated motion comic is definitely the next best way to experience the universe. The Watchmen plot revolves around the investigation of a masked vigilante’s death which unravels into a scheme much larger and sinister then anyone involved could have imagined.

    The setting of the story is an alternate universe in which, earth is on the brink of Nuclear war due to the departure of a super being named Dr. Manhattan. This threat is felt throughout the world and casts a dark shadow over the tone of the story. This tone is one of my favorite aspects of the series.  No one is safe; not even the people that you trust to protect you.

    One of the reasons the story is so good even to this day is the fact that the story can be relatable to modern times. The Watchmen contains more than just political overtones; The Watchmen story is a direct and unreserved warning of what could possibly become of the world; minus the blue guy of course. The message “Who Watches The Watchmen” is lain in graphitti upon the walls of the crime ridden streets of the world. A suitable message; which begs the question and general discussion; who holds those accountable, who are seemingly untouchable or believe they are?

    One of the most interesting points of the story was in the self exile of Dr. Manhattan. A man who sees the past, present, and future. His departure of earth sets in motion a series of meticulously crafted and planned events back on earth but that’s not the part that intrigued me.

    For a ‘man’ who can be or have anything he desires, he eventually grows bored with humanity and everything that comes with them: Things such as their violent nature or their incapacity to see logic when it is right in front of them. Dr. Manhattan is pleaded with to return to Earth but upon learning that the woman he loves has been with another man, there no longer is anything left to tie him down to earth. What I find remarkable is that even through this he sees that life is not meaningless. He saw a reason for humanity in the pain of the one he loved.

    The actual visuals of the motion comic are what you’ve come to expect from the comic. Dave Gibbons extraordinary and original work wasn’t altered dramatically. It’s obvious some slight recoloring and touch-ups on illustrations were done but nothing significant.  The series is accompanied by a great soundtrack. Two memorable pieces are the opening title music and the ominous composition for the scenes of the Tales of The Black Freighter(a masterful interwoven subplot).

    What really boggled me was how they would do the transition from panel to panel.They get away with it by actually showing characters completing their actions on the screen such as walking, interacting with objects, or other people. The animation is done in such away that you forget that its actually a comic. The only fault I can see would be in their avoidance of lip sync. This could have been done but their decision not to was a wise one in my opinion.

    I always wanted to read The Watchmen comic but sadly never got around to it. I watched Zack Snyder’s adaption of the critically acclaimed graphic novel and was subsequently driven to read the source material. The film, although it was pretty good, doesn’t compare. It was created and altered just enough so that it could please a large audience but while at the same time trying to retain the qualities that make the source material so good. It was stuck in between alienating fans and losing money for the studios or compromising for marketability.

    In no way am I saying that Zack Snyder’s interpretation was bad but it doesn’t have the depth that the full comic entails What makes the comic so good is that the universe is extremely believable and rich. All the material can’t be fit into a two hour plus film. Lawrence Gordon an eventual producer of the 2009 film once believed that The Watchmen Comic was unfilmable and would be better as  5 hour miniseries. That’s basically what your getting here +1 hour or so.

    If your not into comics this may not be for you but if you are a fan this is exactly where to go. You get a faithful reconstruction of the comic in animated form. This may not compete with a fully animated comic but the way this work was done it definitely leaves the impression that it could be possible. I’m anticipating eagerly if they will do something similar for the Before Watchmen series that is finally among us.

    Review Score : 9/10

  • On last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, Rick figured out a way to cope with the lost of his wife. Thankfully he didn’t completely lose himself because they are really going to need Rick at his best for the events to come. With the arrival of Michonne to the prison,the group has little time to celebrate on the fact that Carol has survived.  Michonne wasn’t exactly a bearer of good news but rather came to the prison carrying nothing but baby formula.

    This was the same formula that Glenn and Maggie were carrying before they were captured. After a discussion with Michonne, Rick finds out that Glenn and Maggie have been taken hostage. Unfortunately, Michonne doesn’t know that the person who shot her and captured Rick’s friends is Merle. The group is oblivious of what they are getting into with Merle, a guy still holding a personal vendetta against Rick. Rick and Carl decide on naming the baby before heading out. Carl names her Judith, after a teacher he had in 3rd grade.

    Back at Woodbury, the governor tasks Andrea to help Milton with his research. An elderly man on the verge of dying from cancer has volunteered himself for research. Milton’s research is to try and establish whether the unconscious mind of  a walker still retains memories. The test involves Milton asking the elderly man questions about his family and whether or not he recognizes their faces. When walkers turn they won’t be able to verbally communicate so Milton practices with raising his hand as a confirmation.

    The result of the experiment is disappointing for Milton. This comes as no surprise for Andrea because she has seen the transformation before. Yet, the results still affect her more than she thought they would. I believe perhaps on some level she wanted to believe that there was still hope for the living dead. The same hope she held for her sister she probably saw in Milton.

    Meanwhile, Merle interrogates Glenn to try and find the group’s camp. This proves more difficult than Merle has expected. Glenn has become quite hardened by the world, since the last time they met. Merle’s brutal physical interrogation won’t be enough. One thing he does find out is that Andrea was part of the group and he relays the fact to the governor. Annoyed by Glenn’s perseverance, he brings a walker into the room. Merle wants Glenn to relive the feeling of desperation that he  felt when he was left to die on the roof.

    Luckily, Glenn survives the encounter by managing to break the chair he was tied to and used it as a weapon against the walker. The governor decided to take matters in his own hands and interrogates  Maggie. When his attempts fail, he brings them together and threatens to shoot Glenn. This is the folding point for Maggie. She gives up the group’s camp.

    I feel nervous for what is to come for Andrea. When she finally opens herself up to someone, he happens to be the person that will betray her trust. The suspense is killing me for the infiltration of the governor’s town in next week’s mid-season finale. I have a feeling it won’t be a easy snatch and grab operation.

    Review Score: 8.7/10

  • I’m not a big fan of  the whole “based on a true story” idea in cinema for many reasons. Hollywood tends to dramatize events and sometimes lie altogether. Argo may be a little guilty of this and have some other small annoyances but didn’t bore me to death like most films in the genre. The movie follows Tony Mendez on his quest to extract 6 U.S diplomats from Iran during the Iran hostage situation in 1979.

    Argo uses some very interesting camera filtering techniques to create a very authentic vibe that gives the illusion that your witnessing the past.  The opening animation and narration was a bit unnecessary in my opinion and served little purpose. Most of that information was elaborated on during the following scenes and close ups on television sets.

    The film is based on a true story but it is apparent that certain elements of the plot were added for suspense. The big Hollywood film producer Lester Siegel(Alan Arkin) didn’t exist in real life and neither did many other aspects of the plot. There was also the fictional airport scene, in which their was a cat and mouse between the diplomats and the revolutionaries. These events were used to build suspense and heighten the sense of relief felt when they were home free. (Do I need a spoiler Alert for a true story?)

    The film has some flaws but is saved by some casting decisions. Bryan Cranston’s role as Mendez’s CIA supervisor was pleasant to watch. He offered humor and as expected can turn on the intensity if need be. There should have been more screen time for the diplomats. I thought that preparation for immigration at the airport was bit glossed over.

    Affleck not only directs the film; he is the bright spot. I’ve never understood the hate for Affleck’s acting.  I really enjoy his presence on screen. The bearded but ruggedly handsome Affleck, comes across as a genuine and caring man, who is devoted to the lives of the 6 diplomats trapped in Iran.

    The film is broken up by comedic relief during several scenes. This was one aspect of the film I didn’t really think belonged. It might seem silly to root for a darker film but for the sake of lightening a relatively grim situation, I suppose it was necessary.

    Ben Affleck is establishing himself as a true man of his craft. After watching his directorial work in ‘The Town’ it is becoming evident that this once overlooked actor may have more ability then he is given credit for.  With solid performances from Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin; Affleck has created an enjoyable film which also to happens to be informative. Whuddya know?

    Review Score: 7.5/10

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    Silver Linings Playbook tells a story of Pat Solitano; a bipolar patient, played by Bradley Cooper, who has just been released from a mental institution. After a tough breakup with his wife,  Pat must struggle  to find a way to reenter society. On his way to that he tries to win back the heart of his wife. He finds help on this journey from a troubled individual, by the name of Tiffany. Jennifer Lawrence plays the role of Tiffany, a widow who is coping with the lost of her husband. This movie also stars Robert Deniro, as the concerned father who tries to reconnect with his son. He uses his love of the Philadelphia Eagles and football to try and reconnect.

    David O. Russel, the director of ‘The Fighter’, has a sleeper hit on his hand. Russel has captured the essence of Philadelphia through the movie. Robert Deniro and Jacki Weaver, who play the mother and father, play some of the most authentic Philadelphian personalities that I have had the pleasure watching in a long time. Robert Deniro’s acting is superb and shows no signs of declining with age.

    Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence display to the world that they are ready for more rewarding roles than their box office hits. Seems like just yesterday, I was  watching Jennifer Lawrence in the movie-adaptation of ‘The Hunger Games’. It’s nice to see how Jennifer Lawrence has progressed for a young actress. Bradley Cooper is establishing himself as a multidimensional actor, coming from roles like ‘The Hangover’.

    I really enjoyed the way Cooper and Lawrence depict these troubled individuals. The emotions that they display during arguments and stressful times are very touching. The on screen chemistry caused by the clash of  these two personalities is a delight to watch.

    The unstable lives of these characters makes you feel surprisingly at home. You’ll find it hard not to smile or laugh at the dark humor that happens through Cooper and Lawrence. There’s never a dull moment in the movie. You can’t help but root for Pat, a man who has lost it all and is trying his hardest to come to terms with his illness.

    I highly recommend this movie. If it’s still available in your area go out and watch this movie. You won’t regret it. This heartwarming adventure of a man dealing with his bipolar condition will stick with you.

    Review: 10/10 (Heartfelt and Moving)

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    After delivering the bombshell of the identity of Bloody Face last episode; American Horror Story delivers another solid episode. My expectations were a bit high for this episode. As the title of the episode implies; this episode examines the origins of some the characters in the show.

    This week we see Bloody Face and Lana spending some quality time together. B.F reveals to Lana why he does what he does; his mother or lack thereof. This plot point is pretty predictable but it makes sense. Psychologically we all are shaped by our upbringing so if you were abandoned and never touched of course you would find yourself seeking some affection.

    His character not only needs affection but he needs that sense of touch. Which he was refused his whole life from the system he was forced into. So he takes the warmth and affection of people who he sees as potential mothers by force; hence the mask.

    I would have preferred to see Lana being cut to bits and pieces but somehow she convinced him otherwise. She is now forced into the role of mommy. I don’t see how things can get any worse for her character; as we see her character forced to do a certain maternal deed.

    I think I was disappointed in seeing Shelly(Chloe Sevigny) being written off but I see there wasn’t much else you can do with her character after her exit from the asylum the last episode. Fortunately a new character has arrived to take her place.

    I look forward to seeing if the alleged demon kid is actually telling the truth or if the writers of this show have another twist up their sleeve. An emotionless killer child would also please me as well though.

    Pros

    • Bloody Face’s temper problems
    • Sister Jude’s Determination to reveal Dr. Arden
    • Opening up for more storytelling in the present
    • Sister Mary grooming the young demon

    Cons

    • Sam Goodwin’s fate

    This episode didn’t offer any twist like last episode but still offered ample entertainment through character interactions and flashbacks to the past and present.

    Review Score: 8/10

  • In preparation for the Evil Dead remake, we take a look back at the original cult classic. A movie centered around a seemingly normal vacation to a a cabin in the woods, This film has been considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time and skyrocketed Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell to stardom.

    This film is one of the most gruesome and gory films I’ve ever seen. Yes,  in a industry overrun by movies such as Saw and Hostel, this movie still happens to make me cringe, even thirty years after its release. The down right lack of ability of the newcomer actors didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this film in the least.

    Most films in this genre nowadays take things much to serious and end up failing in being believable. Where this movie succeeds is in its ability not to take itself so seriously. Some of my favorite scenes in this film were the reactions of the characters to the demons in the cabin. Seemingly dreadful and gruesome scenes were for some reason unknown to me hilarious at times.

    Computer generated graphics only played a minor part in this film and it made for a much more authentic experience. One of the best aspects of this film comes from practical effects. Sure they might have been crude and low budget but Sam Raimi and the staff did a wonderful job. Every impaled and dismembered body part was done masterfully. The make up for the demons in the cabin was also some of the best I’ve ever seen.

    Sam Raimi suffered a life long chin injury filming the final scene of the film. The dedication to the cinematography truly shows in what is considered his finest work. The camera work was unique. Close ups on characters and filming from the demons perspective built up suspense.

    The Evil Dead delivered an innovative piece of cinema for its time, yet, I don’t believe Raimi could have known the sheer joy his title has caused me. I’ve felt out of the loop for this film for so long. After hearing of its dedicated following I knew I had to watch it. What a great decision that was! Now it is truly instilled in my mind as the greatest horror film of all time.

    Review: 9.5/10 (A Bloody Masterpiece)

     

  • This week’s episode of Homeland delved into the guilt felt by Dana about the hit and run that she took part of. In her time of turmoil, she turned to Mike for help.  Earlier on in the series, I had a small  dislike for Mike’s character. He has begun to grow on me now though.  He seems to genuinely care about the family and misses them. Hopefully there is a place for him in the family, sometime in the future. When I say that, I don’t  necessarily mean as a love interest with Dana’s mother. Fatherly figure seems more suitable for him, after all he has done for Jessica.

    Meanwhile, it seems that all the lies and deception in Sgt. Brody’s life is finally taking a toll on him . His life as a double agent has forced him to make hard decisions that leaves his daughter angry with him. When his wife Jessica confronts him about lying about Carrie being out of the CIA, it can only get worse. All this pressure is causing him to lose his will to continue. I feel sorry for the guy. His family is falling apart despite his best intentions.

    Because of these feeling, Brody ruins his meet up with Roya Hammad. If only it was that easy. If only he could walk away. But It isn’t that easy. The C.I.A needs him and without Brody as an asset, he’ll probably be spending some time in Guantanamo Bay(A thought he considers to be not all that bad if he can just stop all the lies). Still, the cogs turn and Carrie is still in play. After all, a threat is imminent. Carrie takes matters into her own and takes Brody off the radar. She convinces him that all his sins will be forgiven if he becomes this hero, who stops this attack on the U.S . Even the sins, against her she tells him will be forgiven.  All this eventually leads to them making sweet,sweet, love which is hilariously and masterfully cut into Saul and Quinn listening in.

    It’s hard to tell whether Carrie is getting too attached with Brody, or if she is just doing it for the job. Saul shows his disapproval and asks her about it but she shoves it off as just being part of the job. Time will only tell how genuine Carrie’s feeling are towards Brody. Meanwhile, Brody sets up another  meeting with Roya Hammmad. Roya drives Brody out to the middle of nowhere and in a change of events her and the man from the Gettysburg massacre drags him out to a grass field where a helicopter is in the wait. It takes Brody off the radar for good. But unfortunately, this time he isn’t off the radar in the safe hands of the C.I.A. He’s now off the radar, in the hands of Abu Nazir.

    I predict we will see in the next episodes of Homeland, whether Abu Nazir still has an effect on Brody. Will his memories of Issa, take him back to the other side? Only time will tell. I for one am looking forward to a conflicted Brody who can’t see right from wrong.

    Review Score: ★★★★½