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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Léa Seydoux

It’s Only the End of the World (2016)

Families rule. Or so I’m told.

After being away for so very, very long, Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) finally returns home to, hopefully, let his whole family what he’s been up to, what his future plans are, and oh yeah, that he’s probably going to die pretty soon. Of course, though, that one last piece of knowledge seems like it’s going to be a lot harder to get out – not because it’s so tragic and heart-breaking, making it all the more difficult to actually tell loved ones about, but because his whole family is so loud, so tense, and so wild, that he can’t even get a word in edgewise. For instance, there’s his older brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) and wife Catherine (Marion Cotillard) who, for some reason, can’t think of anything to say to him; Catherine is almost too nice and sincere, whereas Antoine is just constantly angry, over just about everything. Then, there’s Louis younger-sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux), who he still holds a very close relationship with all of these years later, despite the obvious separation. And then last, but certainly not least, there’s Marianne (Natahlie Baye), who still loves Louis no matter what, but also seems to have her hands a bit full with, well, stuff.

Crazy momma.

It’s odd how It’s Only the End of the World seemed to come and go, without anyone really making a big stink about it. Considering that writer/director Xavier Dolan has become film’s sort of “It Boy” who makes smart, understated, and incredibly pretentious dramedies about difficulty challenging people, it’s weird to see this movie not just get a mixed reception, but barely even hit theaters in the States. It played Cannes, got a weird reception, and that was about it.

But did it really deserve that? Not really.

Granted, It’s Only the End of the World is a bit of a step down from what Dolan has done in the past few years since he showed up, but it’s also another sign that, despite his age, the man’s ambitions are endless. Even with something as small and as freakishly intimate as It’s Only the End of the World, it’s hard to tell just where Dolan’s limits are reached; he seems to go above and beyond the source material’s obvious stagey-ness, and in doing so, shows that he’s adept to other styles, and not just his own. Of course, the movie’s very talky, loud, and almost abrasive, but that’s sort of the point and it fits well with what Dolan does best: Allow for his fragile, complicated characters be themselves.

And in It’s Only the End of the World‘s case, that’s actually fine. There’s no denying the fact that the characters here are all loud-mouths and a little nuts, but there’s also no denying that there’s at least some fun in watching it all play-out. Dolan’s a smart director/writer who knows when it’s best to call down his own little directorial tricks and sort of just let the cast do what they do best, and here, with this small, yet solid ensemble, he does just the ticket. Everyone here is good, with perhaps Cotillard’s more subtle, somewhat subdued performance being the best apart from all of the craziness, getting the chance to play the material up, have some fun, but also uncover a bit of a darker, more emotional side to it all, too.

Still, for some reason, angst-ridden adult.

But the issue with all of this also comes down to character-development, which honestly, can’t be found here.

Sure, this may have a little something to do with the subject-material itself not quite having everything that’s needed for a feature full-length, but it also does come down to Dolan himself, who seems like he cares too much about the performances, and less about what’s going on beyond them. In his past few movies, despite all featuring great performances, Dolan hasn’t forgotten to at least give us some small crumb of character, in whoever he chooses; the performances themselves may be big, loud and bombastic, but at the same time, there’s something going on underneath it all to work.

In It’s Only the End of the World, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of that there and it ends up hurting the movie. See, it’s one thing to have a bunch of loud, angry characters yelling all of the time and constantly fighting, but it’s also another thing to see all of that, and have no idea why any of it is happening. Dolan runs into the issue of just setting his dysfunctional characters down in the same room together, let them spar, and expect us to forget about everything else that matters; no matter how entertaining these verbal-battles get, there still seems to be something missing, like a rhyme or reason why.

And honestly, we never get that.

Just small, subtle hints about why these characters are all so pissed-off and yelling, but never anything else. And that’s an issue. It’s an issue when your whole movie revolves around a bunch of people for an-hour-and-a-half, but it’s also an issue for your movie when you decide to shoot each and everyone of these characters in extreme close-ups. Once again, there’s no denying the artistry of Dolan, but yeah, sometimes one needs to cool themselves down a bit.

Consensus: Smart, engaging performances can’t make up for the fact that It’s Only the End of the World is a little too repetitive and thinly-written to become the masterclass in storytelling that Dolan’s previous films were.

6 / 10

And oh yeah, the sort of mismatched, married-couple. So French!

Photos Courtesy of: IndieWire

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The Lobster (2016)

Crustacean, or everlasting love? Trust me, not as easy as you’d think.

After being dumped by his wife, David (Colin Farrell) has to find a mate in 45 days, or else he’ll be turned into an animal of his choosing. And to help him find the best possible mate, he gets taken to a fancy resort of sorts where he meets and hangs around with fellow other single people, all looking for that special someone before they too, turn into animals and roam their Earth as they so please. While there’s a few people David sets his sights on, eventually, he turns to the neurotic, but awfully fun woman (Rachel Weisz) who doesn’t really have a name, and no other discernible features, other than that she’s near-sighted, just as he is. The two eventually fall for one another and start to sense something real and passionate between one another, but there’s a bit of a problem. See, because they exist in this world where they have to prove their love to the rest of the world, they constantly have to battle with the conglomerates around them, that can either range from evil, controlling hotel managers, to evil, controlling rebellion leaders.

Take your pick, ladies.

Take your pick, ladies.

Though I saw it nearly three weeks ago, I can’t seem to get the Lobster out of my head. It’s the same feeling I had with co-writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos’ last movie (Dogtooth), but for different reasons. With that movie, I couldn’t get out of my head the fact that I was so disturbed and surprised by it, that even a thought of its twists and turns, just absolutely shook me to my core. The more and more that I begin to think about that movie, the more I’m quite confused about whether I liked it (which I think I did), or I loved it for its brash boldness (which I think it was).

With the Lobster, I have the same thoughts running through my head, where I don’t know if I love the movie (which I come very close to doing), or if I just think it’s a tad better and more focused than Dogtooth (I don’t know).

If anything though, it should be noted that the Lobster is unlike any other movie you’ll see this year, for better, as well as possibly for worse, depending on who you are. The Lobster is a very odd hybrid of a movie that’s a combination of sci-fi, comedy, drama, romance, action, and murder, all of which come into play throughout the movie in some very effective doses and it’s hard not to get interested by each and every step that Lanthimos takes with it. On the surface, the Lobster likes to poke jokes at this world, the people in it and how it would never, ever happen, but at the same time, Lanthimos himself takes it quite seriously to where we actually get a feeling for the world we’re thrown into and constantly learn more and more things about it as it goes along.

There’s an small bit of detail concerning why there are so many animals walking around in shots in the movie and once it’s revealed to us why this is the case (in an incredibly subtle way, mind you), it not only takes on a whole new life as something tragic, but downright tearful. Lanthimos makes to show his characters for being the absolute worst that they can be when it comes to obtaining love and/or using it as a way to live another day as a human, but at his very core, he’s still a human being that also wants to appreciate these people for what they are, and the fact that they all have hearts, feelings and emotions, just like you or I. Even the whole angle of how everyone seems to fall in love with one another through superficial ways is, yes, played-up for laughs, but sooner than later, starts to get far more serious and telling, as people actually start to react to love in different, sometimes horrifying ways.

Of course, Lanthimos plays mostly all of this dark material up for laughs and you know what? I laughed.

I hated myself for it, but there’s something just so darkly sinister about all of this material, that it’s almost a joke how far and willing Lanthimos is to let this material get as pitch black as it can be, while still maintaining some sort of humor in the process. Sure, everything and everyone here is so screwed-up and disturbing, but hey, sometimes that can be a little fun; Lanthimos, like I said before, takes this material seriously, but also enjoys trying to poke holes in it, as if he was so in love with his creation, that he also wanted to destroy it so he didn’t seem like too much of a pretentious crap.

Basically how anyone eats on a first date.

Basically how anyone eats on a first date.

And I got to give it to Lanthimos for assembling a solid cast here, all of whom probably read this script and had no idea what the hell to expect, but we’re still so interested that they probably thought, “Hey, it’s an experience, right?” Colin Farrell is hilarious to look at as David, the chubby, pathetic protagonist we come to know, love and sympathize with, even when it seems like he enjoys doing terrible things; John C. Reilly shows up as a very sad man with a lisp who has barely any chance of finding his true love, but because he’s John C. Reilly, it’s hard not to hope and wish for the best; Ben Whishaw plays an overly aggressive man with a limp who will do anything to find true love and I do mean anything; Olivia Colman plays the seemingly fake hotel manager who orders so many people to fall in love, that you wonder if she actually is herself; Léa Seydoux plays a leader of the rebellious group who stays in the woods called “the Loners” and is as steely and as mysterious as they come; and yes, there’s Rachel Weisz, stealing the show as Short Sighted Woman (and no, I’m not making that up).

Weisz is great in just about anything, but here, she really delivers. For one, she’s playing a character that we’re never too sure about, but makes it appear as if she does have some semblance of humanity, that once her and David do start to connect and come together, in awfully hilarious ways, it is, believe it or not, quite romantic. The two do have chemistry and even though they’re placed in some obviously awkward situations, they both make it work and have us believe that true love in this world does exist, even if it all seems to make everyone go mad and do terribly evil things to one another.

But hey, maybe that’s how Lanthimos pictures love as: It makes people go insane and act out in ways that they’d never have done so before.

Still though, despite all of my clear love and adoration for this flick, there’s a part of me that wants to be angry at Lanthimos for not allowing for the Lobster to go any further than it could have.

In the last-act, the movie becomes very plot-heavy and starts to feel as if it’s really building up to something big, but then, well, sort of ends. Lanthimos does this quite a couple of times throughout, where it feels like he’s going somewhere with a certain idea, or plot-thread, but then, all of a sudden, backs away from it; I don’t know if he’s doing that on purpose to toy with us, or if he just gets bored easily, but its noticeable and can get a tad annoying. However, the way the movie end, while interesting, definitely leaves a lot up in the air and really, I don’t know if it needed to be. The movie was never really about a mystery – it was more about whether or not true love could exist in this world where it seems all so calculated and made-up from the very beginning.

Whether or not Lanthimos knew or thought that, is totally up in the air.

Consensus: For what it’s worth, the Lobster is unlike anything you’ll see all year, with a heartbreaking and hilarious script that doesn’t always deliver like it should, but in the off-chance that it does, it’s extremely effective.

8.5 / 10

It's like True Dective season 2, except holy cow, so much better.

It’s like True Detective season 2, except holy cow, so much better.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Saint Laurent (2015)

Fashion’s cool and all, but partying is probably better.

Yves Saint Laurent (Gaspard Ulliel) has become synonymous with the fashion world. However, he also had his fair share of personal and professional issues that kept him away from being a person people would want to be around and appreciate. Through many years of his life, we see as Yves goes through all sorts of love-partners, as well as co-workers, most of whom either despise, or adore him. Either way, people know that Yves has a certain style that the people want and because of this, everybody is willing to stick with all of his odd, almost preposterous idiosyncrasies. All of this is chronicled at the time during his life from 1967 to 1976, when everybody was at his beck and call, yet, so little people actually loved or cared for him and were more concerned with milking the cash cow for as long as they could. Yves knew this, however, and it’s one of the main reasons why he would continue to break away from the rest of society for so long throughout his life.

Strike a pose!

Strike a pose!

I’m all for a biopic not standing by conventional route we tend to see with a biopic, or a story about a certain famous person in which there achievements are told through something as deep and meaningful as a Wikipedia entry. However, Saint Laurent is the kind of pretentious piece of film making that makes me wish more movies did follow a structure of some sorts, wherein we understood and learned more about the biopic subjects, and not just follow its own rhythm and pattern. After all, there is something to be said for a movie that does what it wants, when it wants, and plays by its own rules, when its subject did the same exact thing in real life, but really, there could have been so much more done here had some rules been followed.

Actually, scratch that. A lot of rules.

See, what director Bertrand Bonello does here is that he focuses on one time in the life of Yves Saint Laurent that may have been the most successful, as well as exciting, but he doesn’t really show how or why. Instead, the movie just more or less shows us that Laurent tended to be a bit of a perfectionist, something of a drama queen, and a generally closed-off human being who didn’t really treat those who loved him or worked with him, to the best of his ability. In fact, there’s one key scene in which an employee of Laurent’s tells him that she needs to get an abortion and doesn’t have the money for it. Laurent gives her the money and tells her that she’ll always have a place to work, except that, moments later, he’s seen at a dinner table talking about how he wants that employee fired.

If anything, this scene not only tells you everything you need to know about Laurent, but is perhaps the only bit of insight the movie ever actually gives us. Other than that, we just get a bunch of scenes where Laurent slowly pans around, looks at fancy clothes, touches his chin, engage in promiscuous sex, do drugs, drink, dance, party, and most of all, be an a-hole to everyone around him. That’s pretty much all we get to see about Laurent here and while it’s nice to see a biopic that doesn’t necessarily set out to glamorize its subject, it would have also been nice to see more about him that made this movie worth watching in the first place.

And then, of course, there’s the pace.

I'd party with her. Not him.

I’d party with her. Not him.

Saint Laurent meanders so much, for so long, that by the time the two-and-a-half-hour run-time had hit its limit, I got up out of my seat, took a walk, took a shower, and then, continued on with my watching. Rather than getting started on another movie/show right off the bat as soon as it ended, instead, I had to do something else more productive with my time, as well as get past the fact that I wasted so much time with a movie that seemed to go hardly anywhere from the very start. And while there’s no issue with a movie taking its time, when it turns out to be very clear that the movie has no set destination in mind, after awhile, all of the waddling around can get to be a bit of a pain.

None of this is particularly any of the cast’s problems, either. Basically, they’re trying their absolute hardest to make sense of what’s going on and just how exactly they can make things better. Gaspard Ulliel looks great as Laurent, but doesn’t really get a chance to dive deep into the inner-soul of what made Laurent such a tragic, rather misunderstood figure. We see him do a lot of crying and whining, but that’s not enough to really have us see him for all that he was when it came to not just being a fashion-designer, but also a human being.

In fact, it’s those around him who are probably the most humanized and understood. Jérémie Renier’s Pierre Bergé constantly wants to be there for Laurent no matter how hard times between the two get, but also can’t seem to help himself from sponging off of the goods, too; Louis Garrel’s Jacques de Bascher may seem like he’s just there for the sex with Laurent, but really wants something loving and caring, too; and Léa Seydoux’s Loulou de la Falaise may not go all that deeper than just being “the party girl”, but hey, it was nice to see her around. Wish there was more for each of these talented actors to do, but for what it’s worth, it was nice to see them at least try in a movie that didn’t seem to care for them, or anything else.

It just wanted to be cool and stylish, sort of like its subject.

Consensus: Saint Laurent may daringly play by its own rules, it still doesn’t offer enough glimpses of heart, humanity, or even insight into its subject, but instead, just shows him as a guy who did some stuff and that’s about it.

2 / 10

Just chillin'.

Just chillin’.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Spectre (2015)

Hey, at least it’s not another remake of Home Alone.

After the events of Skyfall left him depressed and battered, 007 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) is now back on the hunt, except this go-around, it’s on his own time. Because while things back at MI6 headquarters may not be going as swimmingly as he’d like, Bond is still going to make sure that he gets his job done, so that he can feel a whole lot better about himself. Or something. This time around, Bond, is going after a shadowy criminal organization who may, or may not, have had something to do with the death of M, and/or also may be connected to some of his past adversaries. But in order to follow the bread-crumbs, Bond will have to go through and meet all sorts of colorful characters. One, is Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) a psychologist he comes to have a relationship with, whereas another is a jacked-up, bulking henchman (Dave Bautista), who wants nothing more to do than just beat the hell out of Bond. There’s also Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), a man believed to be dead but for some reason, is actually alive and hunting Bond because, well, he’s evil and he can do that sort of thing.

Do you really need that gun to be menacing?

Do you really need that gun to be scary?

The Bond franchise has been around for such a long time that it’s no wonder that, every once and awhile, we get a crummy movie. While they don’t come every year and are, in ways, considered to be “events”, Bond movies can sometimes range from being “awesomely rad”, to just being “fine”. Though most people want to put Bond up on a peddle-stool that refrains from it ever being compared to any other thriller released, ever (because it’s Bond, dammit!), the fact remains: Bond movies, too, can also be mediocre.

Which is exactly what Spectre is.

But for the longest time, it isn’t. In fact, it’s actually a pretty solid Bond flick that reminds me of some of the best parts of Skyfall, which makes sense because Sam Mendes is thankfully back for another go-around. The best element that Mendes brings to these Bond movies is that he not only allows for the stories to be more dramatic and emotional, but also puts an over-emphasis on the “gritty” aspect of these movies that separates them from the rest of the pack. While there’s plenty of gorgeous-looking women, cars, martinis, dudes, guns, locations, and buildings, there’s still an inherent darkness to it all that makes it seem less like a glamorized version of being a high-class, smart and talented spy, but also more humane.

Sure, the glitz and the glamour is what Bond fans come to expect with these movies, but Mendes and the rest of the crew he’s with do nice jobs of keeping the stakes relatively high, while also building more complex relationships between these characters. This is also to say that the story, while a tad confusing at certain times, also stays compelling. While we’re never sure of where the story is going to end-up, we’re still glued to the screen enough that it doesn’t matter how much exposition they’re throwing at us – we’re just trying to see how and where all the cards fall. We know that there’s bad people involved with doing bad things, and that’s pretty much all there is to it which, given the complexity of most of the Bond story-lines, is fine.

But then, the movie gets a bit ahead of itself.

For one, Spectre is nearly two-and-a-half hours and after a long while, totally begins to feel like that. One of the main reasons for this is that the story takes a nosedive into being “slightly confusing”, to just plain and simply, “huh?”. Though it’s never made fully clear just where the story is going, and effectively so, too, the movie then decides that it wants to totally and completely throw the audience in the dark by giving us a villain in the form of Christoph Waltz who, literally, shows up outta nowhere, starts going on and on about Bond’s past troubles, and decides that he wants to do bad things to Bond because, well, it’s a Bond movie and there needs to be some sort of threat posed to Bond.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with a Bond villain being as bad and as distasteful as he can be, but there has to be a reason. To just simply have some evil, cackling baddie show-up and start throat-punching every one in sight because the box for “bad villain dude” needed to be checked-off, isn’t a good enough reason – in fact, it’s what every Michael Bay movie has ever done. You could even make the argument that, even while Javier Bardem’s villain in Skyfall didn’t have much of a rhyme or reason for being around, he still at least served a greater-purpose in pushing Bond to his deepest and darkest limitations; in a way, he was baiting-and-switching him, which not only allowed for us to see Bond in a different light, but also give us a glimmer of hope that, hey, maybe the bad guy, for once, has a point.

That said, despite Waltz being a talented scene-chewer, he doesn’t have much to do with this villain and instead, is left to just rant and rave about Bond, all the bad things he’ll do to him, and other stuff that, quite frankly, I don’t care enough about. His only purpose here is to be some sort of obstacle for Bond to hurdle over, which seems kind of unnecessary, because Dave Batista’s henchman character definitely filled that requirement perfectly. He’s big, scary, menacing and totally bad-ass, and does this all without barely even speaking a word!

She's cold, mysterious and sexy. Never seen a Bond girl be that, ever!

She’s cold, mysterious and sexy. Never seen a Bond girl be that, ever!

He’s Bond’s rival because of his brawn, not his brawn, which in Spectre‘s case, would have probably been a better road to go down.

And because the movie is so fixated on what Waltz’s baddie is up to and concocting, the rest of the ensemble and story sort of gets thrown-off to the side and feels more like filler. Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw, and new-blood to the franchise, Andrew Scott (Moriarty!), all seem like they’re here because it’s a Bond movie, and well, Bond needs to have his adversaries on the side, just in case he needs a cool gadget or two. Same goes for Léa Seydoux who, despite being a charming, fiery-presence on-screen, also seems like she’s around because Bond needs a hot lady to bang and randomly, fall head-over-heels for. I won’t really go into too much detail about Monica Bellucci here, other than to say for a 51-year-old, the gal still looks great.

Now, why wasn’t she the Bond girl?

And for his fourth go as Bond, Daniel Craig still does a fine job at portraying both sides of this character. There is, of course, his exterior (the stiff upper-lip, the charm, the nice way with words, etc.), as well as his interior (the fact that he’s been through so much violence, disturbance and loss, that it’s beginning to take its toll on him). Even though Craig himself has been coy about whether or not this will be his final time donning the Bond penguin suit (personally, I think he’s got one more in him, but that’s just me), it still remains to be said that he’s still got some juice left in his system to be going through the motions, but at the same time, be able to show that there’s more to this character we deserve to know and understand.

Hopefully, we’ll get that.

Sooner than later, maybe.

Consensus: At nearly two-and-a-half hours, Spectre is overlong and jumbled, but still provides plenty of fun, exciting and tense, spy-oriented action that still makes it worth a watch.

7 / 10

Ain't nobody can rock the turtleneck quite like Bond.

Ain’t nobody can rock the turtleneck quite like Bond. Except Jason Statham, of course.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

This type of nonsense would never occur at a Motel 6! That’s for certain!

In 1968, a writer (Jude Law), staying at a beaten-up, run-down hotel called “the Grand Budapest Hotel” meets millionaire Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who apparently has a lot to do with the history of this hotel – the same type of history not many people actually know the exact story to. Together, the two decide to meet-up, have dinner and allow for Moustafa to tell his story and why he is the way he is nowadays. The story goes a little something like this: Back in 1932, young Zero (Tony Revolori) was hired as a Lobby Boy at the hotel, where he eventually became concierge Gustave H.’s (Ralph Fiennes) second-hand-in-command. Gustave, for lack of a better term, is Zero’s role-model and he’s a pretty darn good one at that: Not only does he treat his guests with love, affection and respect, but he even gives them a little “something” more in private. And apparently, he treats one guest of his, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), so well, that he’s apparently the owner of one of her prized-possessions, the same prized possession that her bratty son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) won’t let him have. But you can’t tell Gustave “no”, when he knows what is rightfully his, so therefore, he takes it, which leads onto all sorts of other crazy, wacky and sometimes deadly, hijinx.

So yeah, for the past week, I’ve been kicking ass and taking names with all of these Wes Anderson movies, and if there is one thing that I myself (as well as most of you) have learned about, is that I really do love his movies. I mean, yeah, I knew Wes Anderson has always been a favorite of mine, but what really surprised me with this past week is that not only have I been watching and taking note of how his style changes over time (or in some cases, doesn’t), but also, how he’s grown as a film maker and decided to get a whole lot more ambitious.

Did the elevator really have to be THAT red? You know what, never mind!

Okay, but on a serious note: Did the elevator really have to be THAT red? You know what, never mind!

And I don’t mean “ambitious” in the form that his movies are a whole lot bigger or more ensemble-driven, but more that they tackle on so many different-threads of meaning, rather than just being all about family-issues amongst a group of dysfunctional, troubled-characters. Don’t get me wrong, I usually love those said “family-issues”, but even I know when it’s time to move on, start trying something new and most of all, stretching yourself as a writer, director and overall creator.

Thankfully, not just for me, or you, or even Wes Anderson, but for all of us: Wes has finally shown us that he’s ready to take a swan-dive out of his comfort-zone and shock us with something that he’s almost never done before.

Key word being “almost”. More on that later, though.

First things first, I feel as if I am going to talk about any notable, positive aspect of this movie, it’s going to be the overall-style. Now, I think we’ve all known Anderson to be a bit of an eye-catcher with the way he has his flicks so colorful and bright, that you almost practically go blind because of them; but this, he truly has out-done himself. Since most of where this story takes place is made-up inside that creative little noggin of his, Anderson is practically given free-reign to just ran rampant with his imagination, where every set looks as if it was taken-out of an historic, field-trip brochure, dibbled and dabbled with some pretty colors, and thrown right behind everything that happens here. In some cases, that would usually take away from a film and be just another case of a director getting too “artsy fartsy”, but due to how crazy and rumpus most of this story is, it actually helps blend these characters in to their surroundings, as well as make this world we are watching seem like a believable one, even if they are so clearly made-up.

Which is why this is probably Anderson’s most exciting movie to-date. Of course though, Anderson’s other movies like Rushmore and even Bottle Rocket had an hectic-feel to them, but they were done so in a type of small, contained and dramatic-way – here, the movie is all about the vast, never ending canvas surrounding each and every one of these characters, and just how far it can be stretched-out for. So while those other movies of Anderson’s may have had a sense of adventure where a character would want to get out of the house, only to go running around in the streets, here, you have a bunch of characters who not only want to get out of their household, or wherever the hell they may be staying at, and get out there in the world where anything is possible. They could either go running, jogging, skiing, sight-seeing, train-riding, bicycle-hopping, parachuting, and etc. Anywhere they want to go, by any mode of transportation whatsoever, they are able to and it gives us this idea that we are not only inside the mind of Anderson and all of his play-things, but we are also stuck inside of his world, where joy and happiness is all around.

Though, there definitely are some dark elements to this story that do show up, in some awkward ways as well, the story never feels like it is too heavy on one aspect that could bring the whole movie crashing down. Instead, Anderson whisks, speeds through and jumps by everything, giving us the feeling that this is a ride that’s never going to end, nor do we want to end; we’re just too busy and pleased to be enjoying the scenery, as well as all of the fine, and nifty characters that happen to go along with it.

And with this ensemble, you couldn’t ask for anybody better! Ralph Fiennes isn’t just an interesting choice for the character of Gustave, but he’s also an interesting choice to play the lead in a Wes Anderson movie. We all know and love Fiennes for being able to class it up in anywhere he shows his charmingly handsome face, but the verdict is still out there on the guy as to whether or not he can actually be, well, “funny”. Sure, the dude was downright hilarious in In Bruges, but being that he had a dynamite-script to work with and was one out of three other main-characters, did the dude have much of a choice? Not really, but that’s besides the point!

What is the point, is that I was a little weary of Fiennes in a Wes Anderson movie, where most of the time, comedy and drama go side-by-side and would need all of the best talents to make that mixture look and feel cohesive. Thankfully, Fiennes not only proves that he’s able to make any kind of silly-dialogue the least bit “respectable”, but that he’s also able to switch his comedy-timing on and off, giving us a character we not only love and adore every time he’s up on the screen, but wish we saw more of. Because, without giving too much away, there are brief snippets of time where we don’t get to always be in the company of Gustave, and when those passages in time happen, they do take away from the movie.

No Luke?!?! Fine! I guess this chump'll do!

No Luke?!?! Fine! I guess this chump’ll do!

It isn’t that nobody else in this movie is capable enough of handling the screen all to themselves, but it’s so clear, early on, that Anderson clearly beholds this character as much as we do, and we can’t help but follow suit and wish to see him all of the time. Most of that’s because of Anderson’s witty and snappy dialogue that’s given to Fiennes to work with, but most of that is also because Fiennes is such a charismatic-presence that the fact of him actually making me, or anybody laugh, is enough to make you want to see a biopic made about him, and him alone.

But, like I was saying before, the rest of the ensemble is fine, it’s just that Fiennes was clearly meant to be the star of the show and plays it as such. Newcomer Tony Revolori feels like a perfect-fit for Anderson’s deadpan, sometimes outrageous brand of humor that’s practically winking at itself. What’s also worth praising a hell of a whole lot about Revolori is how he more than holds his own when he’s stacked-up against certain presences that aren’t just Fiennes (although the two make for a wonderful duo that they are another reason why it sucks whenever Gustave isn’t around). All of these other familiar faces that pop-up like Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson, and Saoirse Ronan, and even Jeff fuckin’ Goldblum are all great, but surprisingly, Revolori doesn’t get over-shadowed and keeps the heart and soul of the story clearly alongside with him, as it was intended to be. And yes, even though that heart may not be the most richest, most powerfully emotional we’ve ever seen Anderson bring to the screen before, it’s still the same kind of heart that has go along with Anderson on any ride he takes us, all because we know that, at the end, it’s all going to be totally worth it.

That, and also, that we’ll have something new to recommend to our white friends.

Consensus: The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely Wes Anderson’s most ambitious work to-date, meaning that we get plenty of laughs, jumps, thrills, some chills, heart and enough familiar, talented-faces working with some wacky, but fun material from one of our finest writers/directors working today.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

All in the 'stache, ladies. All in the 'stache.

All in the ‘stache, ladies. All in the ‘stache.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)

Oh. So that’s how “it’s done”.

15-year-old Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is like any normal female in high-school. She wants to do well in school so that she has a better future; she wants to be sexually-active so that she can have something to brag about; she wants to meet guys and go out with them; and hell, she just wants to like guys in general. However, after finding herself unfulfilled in various attempts at finding the right guy that she likes both in the bed, and out. So, that’s when she decides to change things up on and start swinging the same side, especially since she falls head-over-heels with an openly-lesbian college student named Emma (Léa Seydoux). Together, the two share a lesbian love that is like your normal romance between two humans, except that Adèle wants to keep it hidden away from some people, like her parents, just so that she won’t be judged. But all social-issues aside, nothing else matters when you’re in love, which also means, the harder the blows are going to start coming at you.

If you’ve heard anything about this flick in the past year or so, more than likely, you’ve heard some weird and crazy things. For starters, the movie is rated NC-17, which in and of itself is already made for some controversy, due to the numerous graphic, all-up-in-your-grill sex scenes that involve plenty of female-on-female action. Secondly, director Abdellatif Kechiche has been publicly feuding with his two leading ladies, all because, as they say, they felt uncomfortable by the way he was filming those said sex scenes. My personal opinions aside, what you sign up for, is what you get, ladies. However, that’s just me and I’m insensitive. Whatever.

Anyway, there has been plenty of other controversy surrounding this movie that have to do with final-cuts, people being sued and eventually making amends. But at the end of the day, when all of the controversy is left being discussed and highlighted, we still have a beautiful movie about a two people falling in love. Yes, they are in fact two WOMEN that fall in love here, but that’s not what matters the most. The fact that these two are both females who live in France and can’t really share their love with the whole world around them, is just a crutch used for the bigger issue at hand: Love itself.

Her and I share the same face in that same type of situation. The only difference is that it's usually my dog waking me up caused I missed the alarm for the fifth time.

Her and I share the same face in that same type of situation. The only difference is that it’s usually my dog waking me up caused I missed the alarm for the fifth time.

Oh, why yes, yes, yes. There have been plenty of romantic-dramas in the past couple of years, and while none of them have really knocked my boots off, none of them have really been bad either. They’ve just been so “meh”, all because I like to think I know what love and relationships feel like. Most movies don’t really seem to nail that utter feel down the way that I imagine it my mind. And then this movie comes around, and totally changes the landscape.

What I like so much about Kechiche’s direction is that this, for lack of a better term, not-stylized in any way, shape or form. Basically, what you see is what you’re going to get; which, for worse, usually means a lot of shaky-cam, uncomfortable close-ups and scenes that seem to end and begin out of nowhere. That said, I think for a story like this, you don’t really need an inspired hand to show it, you just need to tell it with all of the compelling emotions, feelings and thoughts that breathe inside of it, and then I think you’re pretty good. So say what you will about his directing when it comes to the overlong sex scenes, the guy had a vision that was as simple and normal as they come, yet, they do wonders for the movie as it just lets the story give us what it wants to give, and then some.

Everything from beginning-to-end, from the first moment Adèle notices Emma, to the last time they ever lock eyes thinking the same thing, there’s a genuine feel to it. Not for a single moment, except for a couple of times at the end, did I ever feel like I was watching a phony romance, with two stock-characters who would never meet in a million years, or if they did, actually go so far as to start loving one another. Nope, that is not the case here. Instead, what we do have is a story of two people who feel perfect for each other in many ways, making the other happy, pleased and hopeful for what may come next in their lives; but at the same time, also notice that they aren’t, as human-beings, perfect. Like most human-beings, they tend to screw-up, make mistakes and do something that they awfully regret later on in life, but the fact that these two are in love, are together for some time and share so much together, so much more than just fluids and sexual-positions, there’s an heightened-level of emotion added to it.

Most of the time, I found myself and my past relationships in this one, but then again, that might just be me. For instance, the scene where Adèle hosts a house party that Emma throws for all of her artsy-fartsy, pretentious a-holes that she calls friends, is pitch perfect. You can tell that Adèle is this type of shy girl that’s only talkative and up-beat in her own personal-quarters, but anywhere else that’s outside of her comfort zone, she might as well be mute or not even exist. Hence why this whole scene is so painfully heartbreaking, yet, brutally realistic to watch, because as the night continues on and she begins to get more and more comfortable with these people, you can still tell that there’s a barrier she holds between her and these people; a barrier which contains the whole “her”, the same “her” that only Emma, and Emma alone knows. When you see her try her damn near hardest to connect and impress these fools, you can’t help but look away, but also realize at the same time: That might have been you at one point in your life, in love or not. And if not, then don’t worry, it’ll be coming to you very soon.

There’s plenty of moments like that in the whole movie, which makes sense why it doesn’t matter a lick that this is a romance-drama concerning two women. See, while the movie does bring up a few points about same-sex couples, who deserves to know about them and who doesn’t, the movie doesn’t go as far or as detailed with that angle because it’s superfluous to the real message this movie is trying to drive on home: Love is a beautiful aspect to have in life, yet, it is also a painful, terrible one as well. Everything about this movie will either make you laugh, cry, get nostalgic or have you call up that old ex of yours that deserves another try, and sometimes, it’s even all at the same time!

Just take my word for it and know that this movie will be staying with you for quite awhile, even when it is overlong at 3-hours. Even then.

Perhaps the strongest asset this movie has in its arsenal is the cast, but most importantly, the 19-year-old gal who plays our sexually-confused woman for the next three hours, Adèle Exarchopoulos. If you have never heard of, or even seen Exarchopoulos in anything ever before, no need to fear, because it doesn’t seem like many others have either. And that’s not a gripe against her at all, because I feel like, especially after this movie hits the States big time, her name is going to be popping up a whole lot more and more, as it totally should.

What’s so stunning about Exarchopoulos in this role is how she’s able to convey any sense of emotion she has dug into her character, just through a simple movement of her eyes or body. She’s got those expressive eyes that tell you one hundred things, at one time, while her body-motions let you know exactly how she is feeling in a certain environment, whether she’s comfortable with her surroundings or not. She doesn’t even have to say anything, and you already know what she’s feeling at any given moment in time, altogether, making this character one compelling lady to watch, especially since this is her movie, and she gets to show every side of her. Exarchopoulos doesn’t shy away from giving us every look, side or cranny that Adèle has, which is even more impressive considering that we first meet her when she’s 15, and follow her all throughout her early-20’s, where changes in personality, looks and taste-buds change at a very rapid, spit-fire pace.

Cheer up, dammit! You're in love! Don't take that ish for granted!

Cheer up, dammit! You’re in love! Don’t take that ish for granted!

We all see Adèle for what she is, what she isn’t, what she’s feeling and what she wants to feel, and yet, like I mentioned before, she isn’t perfect. However, she doesn’t have to be a perfect person to be watchable or even the least bit of sympathetic; she just has to give us a real reason why she matters to us, and why she deserves to be loved, especially by somebody like Emma. Obviously Exarchopoulos deserves mucho credit for going all-in when it comes to the sex scenes, but that doesn’t matter when you think about the rest of her performance and just how every second she has up on screen, she makes count, having you understand and feel for her character more and more as you follow her on this journey. Adèle was already a beautiful character to begin with, but Exarchopoulos makes her absolutely stunning in any way you can imagine a female character like hers as being. She may not even get nominated, but if I had to, she’d be my pick for Best Actress this year. So far, that is. However, I still feel pretty damn confident.

And it isn’t like Léa Seydoux is chopped-liver either as Emma, the one that falls for and catches Adèle’s attention right away, it’s just obvious who has the more meatier role out of the two. Still, with that being said, Seydoux still gives us a beautiful character in which we can understand why she’d fall for this young 15-year-old and even go so far as to drop everything she has in her life, just for her. Together, the two make a beautiful couple that may last in many people’s minds for ages and ages to come. However, let’s just hope those people’s minds don’t automatically go straight to their passionate, overtly sexual love scenes together. Although, that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

Consensus: The three-hours may be a bit unneeded, but Blue Is The Warmest Color whole overall production doesn’t get jaded one bit as it is not only a beautiful picture about the romance between two women, but a beautiful picture about romance itself, and all the raw, unrelenting and loving feelings that go with it.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

The eventful first kiss, with an annoying sun in the background, just watching your ever move.

The eventful first kiss, with an annoying sun in the background, just watching your ever move. Whatta a clock-block.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Ethan Hunt is back once again, and he’s freakin’ cooler than ever.

Tom Cruise stars once again as IMF agent Ethan Hunt who has to go undercover along with his team (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg) to clear his organization’s name after they are implicated in a global terrorist plot.

After a year or so of this movie, coming and going at the theaters, I still feel pretty guilty that I missed out on it. I missed out on it for many reasons, but the main, which one being that I just didn’t really care for the series all that much and didn’t even bother catching up with any of the other movies. As you all have probably been able to see, I’ve reviewed all three and rather enjoyed them all, but none stand anywhere near as close to this one. I’m still pissed I missed out! Damn you my broke ass from last year!

All of the M:I movies seem to have been all about the cool gadgets, the high-tech stuff, the crazy stunts, and the incredible amounts of punishment that Hunt was able to take. All of those factors, are still here, but they are given more class and pizzazz this time around that feels more like James Bond movie, rather than another, useless cash-grab for the audience. In a way, it is gunning for the wallets of moviegoers, but at the same time, it’s still offering us more than what we are used to seeing in action-thrillers of this caliber, and I think that’s all thanks to the one, and the only, Brad Bird.

After making animated-flicks like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Bird took his chances with live-action filmmaking and even though taking a popular-series like this seems awfully risky for a guy who’s never directed humans, up until now, he still over-comes the task of not only allowing us to have a bunch of fun with the material, but do it in a more sophisticated, smarter way that’s easier to believe and understand than most action movies. I know, it’s crazy to actually think a M:I movie would actually have us believe in some of it’s crazy stunts and action, but that’s what Bird does, and he does it oh, so freakin’ well here. But, what’s even crazier is how much fun Bird seems to be having, despite giving this flick a new look and feel that we haven’t ever seen before. Sorry J.J. Abrams, you tried, but the Bird will always fly higher.

Yeah, we all know what you're looking at in this photo. Can't blame you.

Yeah, we all know what you’re looking at in this photo. Can’t blame you.

There’s a couple of stunts and set-pieces that really mess with you and make you realize exactly why you love action movies so much in the first-place, that is, when they are done well and done the right way. The one scene that always sticks through my mind is when Hunt is climbing the walls of that Skyscraper, as if he was Spider-Man himself, and what’s so breath-taking about that sequence is not only how breathtaking it is to see on-screen in such a way that makes you wonder how somebody didn’t slip-off and plummet to their death, but more or less why you are so on the edge of your seat. I mean, think about it: we all know Hunt is going to survive this stunt, we all know he’s going to live, and yes, we all know that he’s going to end-up saving the day and doing all that cool, action-y stuff that we are used to seeing him do, but yet, we are still on-edge as in wondering if this guy is going to end up becoming a splat on the ground below. Seriously, the palms get sweaty, the hairs on your neck come-up, and the tensions get higher and higher, and it just continues on throughout each and almost every scene/sequence that Bird plays around with, and that’s what I missed so much with action movies, let alone, M:I movies.

The amount of effort that Bird puts into this movie and the material is outstanding and I can’t believe that this guy hasn’t done more live-action movies in his career. Hopefully, just hopefully, this will be the one flick that gets his name out-there for all of the major studios to finally take notice of and give a shot, because who knows what other animated directors are out there, just looking to get their notice for being able to direct actual people. Well, I guess we can all forget about Andrew Stanton for now, but hey! That was one time and one time only! Just choose wisely next time.

No matter how much people may hate or criticize his wild and crazy personal-life, when you get right down to it, Tom Cruise is still, and forever always will be a movie star and his fourth-outing here as Ethan Hunt, shows us once again why we all love him to begin with. Make no means about it, Cruise was born to play Ethan Hunt and no matter how lame or strange the past 3 movies have been in terms of plot, characterization, or action, Cruise has always prevailed in being the best of all and always being able to keep us happy and pleasant enough to watch him go around, kick-ass, and always bring out the best one-liners we can imagine in certain situations. Even the fact that Cruise does his own stunts is something to revel at, especially here, where it seems like it would be so much harder for a man who’s pushing 50 to do. However, like always, Cruise proves all of us nay-sayers wrong again and it just makes me hope and wish to see more of him in this role.

Probably the best remake of Vertigo, ever.

Probably the best remake of Vertigo, ever.

The rest of the crew that Hunt works with, all do great jobs as well, especially Jeremy Renner who, with this role and The Bourne Legacy, seems like the perfect guy to take over an action role, when the reigns need to be passed-down. Renner adds a lot of sensibility to this role and not only gets to flex some of his action-muscles every once and awhile, but his comedic-ones as well, and you know what? The guy’s pretty damn funny when you allow him to be. Just another reason why this guy is a total diamond in the rough when it comes to casting. Paula Patton’s role as Jane Carter may be a tad unbelievable  mainly because she’s so young and brass that handing over a top-secret, professional-operation would seem almost too volatile to whoever assigned her, but yet, Patton prevails. Not only is the gal unbelievable sexy beyond belief, but she also gets a chance to kick some ass as well and show the boys a thing or two. Simon Pegg is always fun and nimble to watch as Benji, aka the comic-relief of the movie, but he’s not over-bearing and at least allows a lot of the tense scenes to just calm you down with his jokes. Overall, solid cast that actually gets to take-over the movie, more than Hunt ever does and that’s not so bad considering all of the characters are fun and interesting to watch.

My main gripe with this movie was that despite there actually being a villain, played by Michael Nyqvist, there’s no real-threat that ever seems to stand in the way of our lovable crew. After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s superb job in the last movie, it seems like it would be damn near *ahem* impossible to do anything as good as that, but at least give us the chance to have a villain that at least poses a threat to Hunt and everybody else. Instead, the guy is barely around and even when he does show-up, he doesn’t do shit and most of the time, just gets his ass-kicked. Where’s the real threat in that? It’s also even lamer that the show-down between the two never really occurs and even when it somehow does, it feels almost anti-climactic. Real, real bummer, especially since I can now say that Dougray Scott was probably a better villain than this chump. Does Jon Voight even count? Or Jean Reno for that matter?

Consensus: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the best in the series for many reasons, the main one being that it always keeps you excited, always allows you to have a good time, and never loses your interest for a second, and just goes to show you that Tom Cruise can still make any movie he wants, and have it be as successful or as entertaining as his last one. Long live, Tom. Fuck you, Katie!

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Seriously, who the hell is this guy?!?

Seriously, who the hell is this guy?!?