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Posts tagged the lawn wrangler reviews

Mar 19 '14
thelawnwranglerwrites:


Grand Piano (2013) - by Eugenio Mira 

Grand Piano is a film that tends to deny its own strengths, thus depriving itself from being a truly ingenious, clever, and memorable thriller. The premise alone sells the tale quite well, though in execution, slow tendencies drag down the greater parts of the whole piece. Director Eugenio Mira had a great handle on the high concept at hand, especially visually, and in capturing 2/3 of Damien Chazelle’s clever script, but outside of that, he has issues getting to the juicy core of it all. The build up is unbearably slow and doesn’t leave a good impression, and outside of Elijah Wood and especially John Cusak, the performances range from stale to embarrassing. The saving grace of the film, other than the music and well-crafted dialogue from Chazelle, comes from Grand Piano’s overall beautiful look from Cinematographer Unax Mendia. Mendia’s clever eye makes this thriller exciting and an overall gorgeous piece worth admiring alone for his craft, from the second act and onwards. The good manages to balance with the bad for Grand Piano, making it a serviceable thriller with B movie tendencies. If you can look past its unfortunate missteps as a film, when you see it at its best, you’ll be glad you’ve seen it at all.
The concept is simple: Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is one of the world’s greatest pianists, despite having a meltdown on stage some years ago. In making his return, someone named Clem (John Cusak) has a gun focused on him and his wife Emma (Kerry Bishe.) Clem will shoot the two of them is Tom does not play all of the correct notes on tonight’s playbill, thus instilling a stake-raising, somewhat absurd and yet intense scenario that plays out mostly in real time. Screenwriter Damien Chazelle, whose film “Whiplash” excited audiences at Sundance this year, took this clever concept and wrote it well. The dialogue between Tom and Clem creates a fascinating rift between two smart, highly emotional people at hectic odds with one another. The action between the two cleverly replaces standard action film intensity with classical music orchestration and performance. Looking back on the film’s finest moments, it really does have something special under its sleeves, and delivers well upon it about 2/3rds of the time.
Where Grand Piano loses me is at a very poorly timed place, which is in its opening moments. The set up to this whole event takes about 22 minutes, including a pretty yet unnecessary opening credits sequence, and plot/character exposition that could’ve been better delivered in a shorter amount of time. Considering the rest of the film’s fast and furious pace and energy, the first act of the film feels like a complete wash without purpose. It feels quite sloppy overall, and doesn’t hold up as well as the rest of the film. The film starts out ringing toward the melodramatic in a campy sense. The thriller aspects at hand are lightly touched upon, though feel weak through bad foreshadowing, forced exposition delivery, and the meeting of key characters, even if they’re stiff or annoying for the most part.
It doesn’t help that the performances outside of the leads don’t really impress. A friendly couple to Tom and Emma, played by Tamsin Egerton and Allen Leech, feel like they’re playing a goofy odd-couple straight out of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.” Their inclusion in the story adds tension, but otherwise, their presence is more annoying than entertaining. The excellent Bill Preston himself, Alex Winter, makes an appearance as a security guard who assists Clem on the ground floor. Winter isn’t exactly menacing, but he tries his best with intense dialogue and action, so it’s merely a partial treat seeing him in the film. Kerry Bishe, god love her, doesn’t do much in this movie other than provide a loving presence for Elijah Wood’s sweaty, nervous Tom. She does just fine, but her character is basically a device. Save for her and Don McManus as a friendly conductor, everyone and everything other than the dilemma between Wood and Cusak (both of whom pull off anxiety and intensity with a lovely dynamic between them) feels like a distraction from what Grand Piano is best with.
I feel like I’ve maybe been harping on Grand Piano a bit much here. There are parts that just don’t work for me, sure, but as mentioned before, they’re only at certain points and can easily be shrugged off as cheesy if you’ve got the patience. My last point I want to touch upon is how absolutely well made the movie is, especially once things start going with the piano, sniper, etc. Unax Mendia’s camera is lively and crafty, practically zooming around the main location that is a concert hall. The usage of reflections, specific framing, and movement that takes the storytelling into its own hands with ease, the visual style is practically the star of the movie here. There’s a new visual trick and surprise at each cut, which helps set the mood concerning the tone of music being performed, as well as the high stakes situation going on in the background. Suddenly, the performers aren’t so crappy under this excited lens and tonal shift, and the film begins to shine under a new, very unique limelight, full of genuine excitement and surprising craft. 
By its end, after the fun and games, the film scrapes by with its plot actually feeling somewhat unearned, and unfinished. There is some character resolution in a very small, unspoken way, but Grand Piano sneaks away with my enjoyment by developing a very good thriller concept and making it as exciting as it deserves. The best moments can easily be boiled down to the film’s middle hour, driven by beautiful cinematography, intense music, and strong thriller writing. That alone impresses in a way that most mainstream cinema has failed to on standard occasion. It’s not an amazing film, but a fun experiment that feels fitting on something like Netflix’s Instant Streaming catalog. It should make a lovely home for itself there, where it’s absolutely worth checking out once, and enjoying once. Grand Piano seems to love what it sets out to do. In terms of working with a thriller concept and trappings, when it is in the prime of its work, it works the best and actually is quite good. In looking past the goofier, borderline mediocre aspects of cinematic bookending, and just having an open mind in general, Grand Piano offers up quite a good time.
Grand Piano is now available on Video on Demand… also it’s streaming on a site like Putlocker or something, if you’re a scumbag like me. Yay movies.

thelawnwranglerwrites:

Grand Piano (2013) - by Eugenio Mira 

Grand Piano is a film that tends to deny its own strengths, thus depriving itself from being a truly ingenious, clever, and memorable thriller. The premise alone sells the tale quite well, though in execution, slow tendencies drag down the greater parts of the whole piece. Director Eugenio Mira had a great handle on the high concept at hand, especially visually, and in capturing 2/3 of Damien Chazelle’s clever script, but outside of that, he has issues getting to the juicy core of it all. The build up is unbearably slow and doesn’t leave a good impression, and outside of Elijah Wood and especially John Cusak, the performances range from stale to embarrassing. The saving grace of the film, other than the music and well-crafted dialogue from Chazelle, comes from Grand Piano’s overall beautiful look from Cinematographer Unax Mendia. Mendia’s clever eye makes this thriller exciting and an overall gorgeous piece worth admiring alone for his craft, from the second act and onwards. The good manages to balance with the bad for Grand Piano, making it a serviceable thriller with B movie tendencies. If you can look past its unfortunate missteps as a film, when you see it at its best, you’ll be glad you’ve seen it at all.

The concept is simple: Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is one of the world’s greatest pianists, despite having a meltdown on stage some years ago. In making his return, someone named Clem (John Cusak) has a gun focused on him and his wife Emma (Kerry Bishe.) Clem will shoot the two of them is Tom does not play all of the correct notes on tonight’s playbill, thus instilling a stake-raising, somewhat absurd and yet intense scenario that plays out mostly in real time. Screenwriter Damien Chazelle, whose film “Whiplash” excited audiences at Sundance this year, took this clever concept and wrote it well. The dialogue between Tom and Clem creates a fascinating rift between two smart, highly emotional people at hectic odds with one another. The action between the two cleverly replaces standard action film intensity with classical music orchestration and performance. Looking back on the film’s finest moments, it really does have something special under its sleeves, and delivers well upon it about 2/3rds of the time.

Where Grand Piano loses me is at a very poorly timed place, which is in its opening moments. The set up to this whole event takes about 22 minutes, including a pretty yet unnecessary opening credits sequence, and plot/character exposition that could’ve been better delivered in a shorter amount of time. Considering the rest of the film’s fast and furious pace and energy, the first act of the film feels like a complete wash without purpose. It feels quite sloppy overall, and doesn’t hold up as well as the rest of the film. The film starts out ringing toward the melodramatic in a campy sense. The thriller aspects at hand are lightly touched upon, though feel weak through bad foreshadowing, forced exposition delivery, and the meeting of key characters, even if they’re stiff or annoying for the most part.

It doesn’t help that the performances outside of the leads don’t really impress. A friendly couple to Tom and Emma, played by Tamsin Egerton and Allen Leech, feel like they’re playing a goofy odd-couple straight out of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.” Their inclusion in the story adds tension, but otherwise, their presence is more annoying than entertaining. The excellent Bill Preston himself, Alex Winter, makes an appearance as a security guard who assists Clem on the ground floor. Winter isn’t exactly menacing, but he tries his best with intense dialogue and action, so it’s merely a partial treat seeing him in the film. Kerry Bishe, god love her, doesn’t do much in this movie other than provide a loving presence for Elijah Wood’s sweaty, nervous Tom. She does just fine, but her character is basically a device. Save for her and Don McManus as a friendly conductor, everyone and everything other than the dilemma between Wood and Cusak (both of whom pull off anxiety and intensity with a lovely dynamic between them) feels like a distraction from what Grand Piano is best with.

I feel like I’ve maybe been harping on Grand Piano a bit much here. There are parts that just don’t work for me, sure, but as mentioned before, they’re only at certain points and can easily be shrugged off as cheesy if you’ve got the patience. My last point I want to touch upon is how absolutely well made the movie is, especially once things start going with the piano, sniper, etc. Unax Mendia’s camera is lively and crafty, practically zooming around the main location that is a concert hall. The usage of reflections, specific framing, and movement that takes the storytelling into its own hands with ease, the visual style is practically the star of the movie here. There’s a new visual trick and surprise at each cut, which helps set the mood concerning the tone of music being performed, as well as the high stakes situation going on in the background. Suddenly, the performers aren’t so crappy under this excited lens and tonal shift, and the film begins to shine under a new, very unique limelight, full of genuine excitement and surprising craft. 

By its end, after the fun and games, the film scrapes by with its plot actually feeling somewhat unearned, and unfinished. There is some character resolution in a very small, unspoken way, but Grand Piano sneaks away with my enjoyment by developing a very good thriller concept and making it as exciting as it deserves. The best moments can easily be boiled down to the film’s middle hour, driven by beautiful cinematography, intense music, and strong thriller writing. That alone impresses in a way that most mainstream cinema has failed to on standard occasion. It’s not an amazing film, but a fun experiment that feels fitting on something like Netflix’s Instant Streaming catalog. It should make a lovely home for itself there, where it’s absolutely worth checking out once, and enjoying once. Grand Piano seems to love what it sets out to do. In terms of working with a thriller concept and trappings, when it is in the prime of its work, it works the best and actually is quite good. In looking past the goofier, borderline mediocre aspects of cinematic bookending, and just having an open mind in general, Grand Piano offers up quite a good time.

Grand Piano is now available on Video on Demand… also it’s streaming on a site like Putlocker or something, if you’re a scumbag like me. Yay movies.

Mar 18 '14
thelawnwranglerwrites:


The Lego Movie (2014) - by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

The Lego Movie is a behemoth of a success in almost every field. Its craft is executed so cleverly and brilliantly, utilizing the likes of stop motion animation for a bright, exciting, and visually stunning aesthetic. It reminded me of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, being chock-full of jokes by the second, both loud and subtle, and rarely letting its energy waiver. Where The Lego Movie stands out is in how well it paces itself. It follows a common hero’s journey to an absolute T, though its unique style and personality make you forget in-between the standard plot and character development checkpoints. The humor is so fast, furious, and consistent that even when you reach these points of familiar story beats, it’s made delightful by a brilliant joke or visual gag. It’s an expertly made film that surprises merely on the basis of how well everything it tries works.
I’ll avoid spoilers, but the story takes a turn that I considered, but couldn’t see actually coming by a long shot. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the geniuses they are, made it work. I’ll just say that Will Ferrell is the MVP here in my heart. Without going further on the topic, I’ll branch out to the point that their script essentially does the impossible. The family movie humor that works for all ages doesn’t have tone blending issues, but is actually just purely hilarious for all audiences. This is thanks not only to the animation’s on point, swift nature, but also to the strong cast. Where do I begin with this cast? Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman (executing some damn good, lively jokes), Charlie Day, Allison Brie, Nick Offerman, Will Arnett, and so many more (surprises) just slay with the script’s slick humor and well fleshed out personalities that vary in dimensional development. The pop culture references don’t feel forced, but like a complete treat with clever trappings. Some of the characters have simple arcs and goals, but they serve from the side with ease and perfection, never distracting or dragging things down.
The film almost feels like a rare case where all aspects on deck happen to work to the best of their abilities. The Lego Movie is ridiculously funny and beautifully well done. Plus, there are some incredibly important messages at its core that exchange heavy-handedness for a very tender streak. The humorous, borderline dystopian society aspects aside, the movie doesn’t really account for strong commentary on big issues. Instead, there’s something more emotionally grounded at play. Topics about creativity, individuality, and finding what makes you special are touched upon. Of course, this sounds like standard family-based animated feature film thematic play, but never before have I seen it so well done as it is in this movie. I was completely moved at points. The filmmakers don’t hold back on what the main message is, but also don’t drown the humor in it. It’s just expert writing and directing that works and builds a product that is entertaining, unique, and almost important for all. Phil Lord and Chris Miller took an ingenious idea and took it to places that not only surprise, but completely pay off despite, or thanks to the high concept at hand. There’s so much on this movie’s plate that I can’t even really articulate how far things go without out-right freaking out about how good it all is (not to over hype, sorry.) The Lego Movie is a success, and a movie that should delight anyone open to its energetic pacing and personality, which proves to be more than meets the eye.

thelawnwranglerwrites:

The Lego Movie (2014) - by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

The Lego Movie is a behemoth of a success in almost every field. Its craft is executed so cleverly and brilliantly, utilizing the likes of stop motion animation for a bright, exciting, and visually stunning aesthetic. It reminded me of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, being chock-full of jokes by the second, both loud and subtle, and rarely letting its energy waiver. Where The Lego Movie stands out is in how well it paces itself. It follows a common hero’s journey to an absolute T, though its unique style and personality make you forget in-between the standard plot and character development checkpoints. The humor is so fast, furious, and consistent that even when you reach these points of familiar story beats, it’s made delightful by a brilliant joke or visual gag. It’s an expertly made film that surprises merely on the basis of how well everything it tries works.

I’ll avoid spoilers, but the story takes a turn that I considered, but couldn’t see actually coming by a long shot. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the geniuses they are, made it work. I’ll just say that Will Ferrell is the MVP here in my heart. Without going further on the topic, I’ll branch out to the point that their script essentially does the impossible. The family movie humor that works for all ages doesn’t have tone blending issues, but is actually just purely hilarious for all audiences. This is thanks not only to the animation’s on point, swift nature, but also to the strong cast. Where do I begin with this cast? Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman (executing some damn good, lively jokes), Charlie Day, Allison Brie, Nick Offerman, Will Arnett, and so many more (surprises) just slay with the script’s slick humor and well fleshed out personalities that vary in dimensional development. The pop culture references don’t feel forced, but like a complete treat with clever trappings. Some of the characters have simple arcs and goals, but they serve from the side with ease and perfection, never distracting or dragging things down.

The film almost feels like a rare case where all aspects on deck happen to work to the best of their abilities. The Lego Movie is ridiculously funny and beautifully well done. Plus, there are some incredibly important messages at its core that exchange heavy-handedness for a very tender streak. The humorous, borderline dystopian society aspects aside, the movie doesn’t really account for strong commentary on big issues. Instead, there’s something more emotionally grounded at play. Topics about creativity, individuality, and finding what makes you special are touched upon. Of course, this sounds like standard family-based animated feature film thematic play, but never before have I seen it so well done as it is in this movie. I was completely moved at points. The filmmakers don’t hold back on what the main message is, but also don’t drown the humor in it. It’s just expert writing and directing that works and builds a product that is entertaining, unique, and almost important for all. Phil Lord and Chris Miller took an ingenious idea and took it to places that not only surprise, but completely pay off despite, or thanks to the high concept at hand. There’s so much on this movie’s plate that I can’t even really articulate how far things go without out-right freaking out about how good it all is (not to over hype, sorry.) The Lego Movie is a success, and a movie that should delight anyone open to its energetic pacing and personality, which proves to be more than meets the eye.

Mar 17 '14
I wrote a review for Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, and I liked it! A lot! I’m still thinking about it, and I look forward to seeing it again. See why, and why you might or might not like it in my review! 
thelawnwranglerwrites:


The Grand Budapest Hotel (2013) - by Wes Anderson

I love Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Flat out, I think it’s a great film that is beautifully crafted, delightful, and incredibly thoughtful for its sort. The unique world that Anderson has created here is immense and dense, and completely lovable. From Robert Yeoman’s expert cinematography to the ridiculous and intricate production design Adam Stockhausen, Wes Anderson basically pulled out all of the Wes Anderson stops and made a thick film with his most considerably intriguing context and content that reaches into darker, borderline existential territory, and treading it well. His script is full of laughs and surprises, so much so that even devotees for Anderson’s work won’t see some of this coming. That said, it’s still very much a film with an aware style, but a style that is becoming more expertly honed in with each film. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is another Wes Anderson world and tale, and with some unique tricks up its sleeves, it should hopefully shock and delight fans and those open to his unique eye, which is absolutely on full display here. 
When people say that Wes Anderson is a director of objects and not humans, I agree and disagree. While I find subtext and great worth in the way he directs his characters and their varied personalities; we’ll talk about that later. I agree with this statement in the sense that Anderson’s touch on every single prop, location, costume, and world design detail is completely present and apparent, and deserves to be lauded. The color palette, strange but special use of animation and miniatures, and visual craft are an art form that he’s specialized in with great ease and admiration. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” serves as a vehicle of remembering appreciation of Anderson’s style, as it is fired upon on all cylinders here, without actually feeling like a parody of itself. It just is the way Anderson makes films, and it wears it proudly, which is slowly becoming an added layer of why I so heavily admire him as a director. He sticks to his guns and develops in many other ways, which if it works for him, it works for me (us.) There’s no doubt that if you love Wes Anderson for his aesthetic (and it’s obvious in that most to all fans are), this film will reassure your love for his love of the big and little things. 
Simply stated, the entire cast and crew at hand here should be lauded. Every performance and moment can be attributed to performers at the top of their game, having an absolute blast in a Wes Anderson play-set turned universe. There are too many standouts amongst a huge crowd, evening it out fairly, so I’ll plainly keep it with everyone being delightful… but especially Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori. Their chemistry and development together and alone are played for laughs, but also elusive and subtle character arcs that play toward more dramatic extremes. Never is it heavy handed, but instead endearing and thought provoking, without distracting from the whole, mulit-detailed picture. Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, and so many more also shine in their individual roles, making every second, line, moment, and sequence a special clashing of personalities. I also found a deep appreciation in the portrayals of a certain character by both Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson. There’s an endearing aspect to their performances, working as the heart of the tale(s) at hand. Though they merely serve as vessels for a larger, grander narrative at hand, the way they service the delivery of such stories is beautiful in a way. 
What fascinates me the most, other than how purely hilarious the film can be, is an underlying darkness and inevitability underneath the shenanigans. This is where the role of Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson’s character comes into play. They portray a writer at two different ages, and it is this writer and author that is told, and therefore tells the tale of what happens at the Grand Budapest Hotel. Wrapped in a storytelling world that’s even more so about storytelling, the film underlines thoughts of decay, death, a darkness in war and all it affects, etc. I won’t call it a cynical film, but it had the trappings of it, similar to a Coen Brothers’ flick. The “quirk” and dead-pan nature people complain about in Anderson’s films serve as as severe masks for some of his deepest drama, despite and in compliance with the humor surrounding it. For it, it’s beautiful and one of Wes’ more thought-provoking pieces, which is amazing considering how entertaining it is on a base level.
Anderson’s attention to detail, sense of humor, and overall style takes his tale into a manic, surprisingly bloody affair and tornado of excitement, character dynamics, and violence. It’s more of what Wes Anderson is known and loved for, and it’s by far, in many respects, some of the best material he’s produced yet. I look forward to the day when he works on a film set in a more modern time and/or setting, but with Anderson just getting better and better at what he does best, I’m not complaining. Be advised, because as per usual, if the work of Wes Anderson is not your cup of tea, I can’t guarantee that “The Grand Budapest Hotel” will change your mind, though it does introduce new territory, as well as reintroduce in an interesting fashion some specific devices and ideas. It’s one of Anderson’s more adventurous and humorous pieces, but in many ways, it’s exactly what you can expect from him. To me, that’s a great thing, and I absolutely cannot wait to see it again and let it wash over me once more. 

I wrote a review for Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, and I liked it! A lot! I’m still thinking about it, and I look forward to seeing it again. See why, and why you might or might not like it in my review! 

thelawnwranglerwrites:

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2013) - by Wes Anderson

I love Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Flat out, I think it’s a great film that is beautifully crafted, delightful, and incredibly thoughtful for its sort. The unique world that Anderson has created here is immense and dense, and completely lovable. From Robert Yeoman’s expert cinematography to the ridiculous and intricate production design Adam Stockhausen, Wes Anderson basically pulled out all of the Wes Anderson stops and made a thick film with his most considerably intriguing context and content that reaches into darker, borderline existential territory, and treading it well. His script is full of laughs and surprises, so much so that even devotees for Anderson’s work won’t see some of this coming. That said, it’s still very much a film with an aware style, but a style that is becoming more expertly honed in with each film. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is another Wes Anderson world and tale, and with some unique tricks up its sleeves, it should hopefully shock and delight fans and those open to his unique eye, which is absolutely on full display here. 

When people say that Wes Anderson is a director of objects and not humans, I agree and disagree. While I find subtext and great worth in the way he directs his characters and their varied personalities; we’ll talk about that later. I agree with this statement in the sense that Anderson’s touch on every single prop, location, costume, and world design detail is completely present and apparent, and deserves to be lauded. The color palette, strange but special use of animation and miniatures, and visual craft are an art form that he’s specialized in with great ease and admiration. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” serves as a vehicle of remembering appreciation of Anderson’s style, as it is fired upon on all cylinders here, without actually feeling like a parody of itself. It just is the way Anderson makes films, and it wears it proudly, which is slowly becoming an added layer of why I so heavily admire him as a director. He sticks to his guns and develops in many other ways, which if it works for him, it works for me (us.) There’s no doubt that if you love Wes Anderson for his aesthetic (and it’s obvious in that most to all fans are), this film will reassure your love for his love of the big and little things. 

Simply stated, the entire cast and crew at hand here should be lauded. Every performance and moment can be attributed to performers at the top of their game, having an absolute blast in a Wes Anderson play-set turned universe. There are too many standouts amongst a huge crowd, evening it out fairly, so I’ll plainly keep it with everyone being delightful… but especially Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori. Their chemistry and development together and alone are played for laughs, but also elusive and subtle character arcs that play toward more dramatic extremes. Never is it heavy handed, but instead endearing and thought provoking, without distracting from the whole, mulit-detailed picture. Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, and so many more also shine in their individual roles, making every second, line, moment, and sequence a special clashing of personalities. I also found a deep appreciation in the portrayals of a certain character by both Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson. There’s an endearing aspect to their performances, working as the heart of the tale(s) at hand. Though they merely serve as vessels for a larger, grander narrative at hand, the way they service the delivery of such stories is beautiful in a way. 

What fascinates me the most, other than how purely hilarious the film can be, is an underlying darkness and inevitability underneath the shenanigans. This is where the role of Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson’s character comes into play. They portray a writer at two different ages, and it is this writer and author that is told, and therefore tells the tale of what happens at the Grand Budapest Hotel. Wrapped in a storytelling world that’s even more so about storytelling, the film underlines thoughts of decay, death, a darkness in war and all it affects, etc. I won’t call it a cynical film, but it had the trappings of it, similar to a Coen Brothers’ flick. The “quirk” and dead-pan nature people complain about in Anderson’s films serve as as severe masks for some of his deepest drama, despite and in compliance with the humor surrounding it. For it, it’s beautiful and one of Wes’ more thought-provoking pieces, which is amazing considering how entertaining it is on a base level.

Anderson’s attention to detail, sense of humor, and overall style takes his tale into a manic, surprisingly bloody affair and tornado of excitement, character dynamics, and violence. It’s more of what Wes Anderson is known and loved for, and it’s by far, in many respects, some of the best material he’s produced yet. I look forward to the day when he works on a film set in a more modern time and/or setting, but with Anderson just getting better and better at what he does best, I’m not complaining. Be advised, because as per usual, if the work of Wes Anderson is not your cup of tea, I can’t guarantee that “The Grand Budapest Hotel” will change your mind, though it does introduce new territory, as well as reintroduce in an interesting fashion some specific devices and ideas. It’s one of Anderson’s more adventurous and humorous pieces, but in many ways, it’s exactly what you can expect from him. To me, that’s a great thing, and I absolutely cannot wait to see it again and let it wash over me once more. 

Dec 14 '13
Yo, this movie was really good.
thelawnwranglerwrites:


Captain Phillips - by Paul Greengrass

There are some very strong and tragically true ideas at the core of Captain Phillips. The base skeleton of its concept begs to be made into your standard military action thriller, though director Paul Greengrass attempts to have it both ways, in including emotional backstories and implications to it’s characters. It works completely in at least one of those respects, while showing promise but never following through entirely in the other. Phillips is very exciting and beautifully made. It contains some brutally intimidating and human performances, especially near the end of its account from Tom Hanks (the last act of this film proves as a space for one of Hanks’ best performances yet) and his impressive Somali opposites (Barkhad Abdi especially, though all 4 were just fantastic.) Greengrass uses his manic and deliberate style to great affect in the film’s action sequences. Similar to his film United 93, there is opportunity for true pathos to be explored without over sentimentality. There’s something incredibly tragic, heartbreaking, and mindful going on here, and in a few key, masterfully executed sequences of expert acting, filmmaking and pacing, this capability is clear. I only wish Greengrass took it even further- I felt that he could’ve made something really beautiful. What we get instead is not bad at all. In fact, it is very good, especially compared to today’s standard lineup of action thriller romps. What it bothers to convey and shows off makes a good case for substance amongst the fireworks.

Yo, this movie was really good.

thelawnwranglerwrites:

Captain Phillips - by Paul Greengrass

There are some very strong and tragically true ideas at the core of Captain Phillips. The base skeleton of its concept begs to be made into your standard military action thriller, though director Paul Greengrass attempts to have it both ways, in including emotional backstories and implications to it’s characters. It works completely in at least one of those respects, while showing promise but never following through entirely in the other. Phillips is very exciting and beautifully made. It contains some brutally intimidating and human performances, especially near the end of its account from Tom Hanks (the last act of this film proves as a space for one of Hanks’ best performances yet) and his impressive Somali opposites (Barkhad Abdi especially, though all 4 were just fantastic.) Greengrass uses his manic and deliberate style to great affect in the film’s action sequences. Similar to his film United 93, there is opportunity for true pathos to be explored without over sentimentality. There’s something incredibly tragic, heartbreaking, and mindful going on here, and in a few key, masterfully executed sequences of expert acting, filmmaking and pacing, this capability is clear. I only wish Greengrass took it even further- I felt that he could’ve made something really beautiful. What we get instead is not bad at all. In fact, it is very good, especially compared to today’s standard lineup of action thriller romps. What it bothers to convey and shows off makes a good case for substance amongst the fireworks.

Nov 27 '13
PLEASE go seek out and see The Dirties. A crazy little film that absolutely shocked me by its end. 
Also I guess I’m writing again… at the very least for films that end up really impressing me (THIS BEING ONE OF THEM.)
thelawnwranglerwrites:

The Dirties - by Matt Johnson


The Dirties is a hard film to watch. By that token, it is exactly why the film succeeds so well at what it sets out to do. On multiple levels, The Dirties works as a dark character study, a relationship film, commentary on independent filmmaking, commentary on bullying, a deeply unnerving thriller, and a hilarious comedy whose bearings are never official, which makes the mystique and chaos surrounding its existence even more intriguing to the viewer, if not more confusing. Not since 2012’s Chronicle have I been as impressed with the concept of a mockumentary’s cameraman, and the filmmaker in general having a presence and purpose.  It’s so rare that they are their own film’s character, or that the film itself is a character, and at the very least a device that transcends genre and parody. The reasoning behind a lot of this film is never laid out neatly for you, but is plainly shown through brilliant performances that use mundane life as smokescreens for so much more, and a style that both stays true to the concept, and betrays it, but for dramatic benefit. Matt Johnson’s The Dirties deserves all the talk around it, because its clever strides to make a simple concept feel and appear to be so much denser than most could ever do with it actually manage to impress and leave an impact. The film slaps you right across the face after you feel like you know everything that’s about to happen. All the way through to its incredibly tense last moments, The Dirties will easily make you laugh, feel, and cringe out of horror and awkwardness with its handful of scenes and moments driven by jaw-dropping worthy realism and rapidly occurring purpose.
Definitely one of my favorites of the year.

PLEASE go seek out and see The Dirties. A crazy little film that absolutely shocked me by its end. 

Also I guess I’m writing again… at the very least for films that end up really impressing me (THIS BEING ONE OF THEM.)

thelawnwranglerwrites:

The Dirties - by Matt Johnson

The Dirties is a hard film to watch. By that token, it is exactly why the film succeeds so well at what it sets out to do. On multiple levels, The Dirties works as a dark character study, a relationship film, commentary on independent filmmaking, commentary on bullying, a deeply unnerving thriller, and a hilarious comedy whose bearings are never official, which makes the mystique and chaos surrounding its existence even more intriguing to the viewer, if not more confusing. Not since 2012’s Chronicle have I been as impressed with the concept of a mockumentary’s cameraman, and the filmmaker in general having a presence and purpose.  It’s so rare that they are their own film’s character, or that the film itself is a character, and at the very least a device that transcends genre and parody. The reasoning behind a lot of this film is never laid out neatly for you, but is plainly shown through brilliant performances that use mundane life as smokescreens for so much more, and a style that both stays true to the concept, and betrays it, but for dramatic benefit. Matt Johnson’s The Dirties deserves all the talk around it, because its clever strides to make a simple concept feel and appear to be so much denser than most could ever do with it actually manage to impress and leave an impact. The film slaps you right across the face after you feel like you know everything that’s about to happen. All the way through to its incredibly tense last moments, The Dirties will easily make you laugh, feel, and cringe out of horror and awkwardness with its handful of scenes and moments driven by jaw-dropping worthy realism and rapidly occurring purpose.

Definitely one of my favorites of the year.

Nov 27 '13
So yeah, I don’t write reviews and such that much these days, BUT here are some small thoughts on Michel Gondry’s latest project! Go seek it out. It’s neat.
thelawnwranglerwrites:

Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? - by Michel Gondry
There’s a very simple moment in “Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?” that solidified an opinion of mine toward Michel Gondry. It involved Gondry asking Chomsky about his late wife. Chomsky preferred not to talk about her passing just yet in his life, and Gondry understood. Though they don’t talk specifically about her passing and its affect on Noam, Gondry treaded lightly both verbally and visually. Like a flower growing in a sped-up time lapse, Gondry sweetly animates a young Chomsky and his lover riding bikes in the clouds, and then down bright, flower-laden streets, smiling at one another. A beautifully simple song that repeated the lyric “Lover” played (, sucking us out of the conversation and into a singular feeling. It was obvious in Chomsky’s voice how much she mattered to him, even without having to spell it out. He felt it, and so did Gondry, whose directorial instincts kicked in perfectly, playing to my idea that he is a man full of and driven by heart. A romantic in the truest sense, everything he does has love and care at its core, or themes about the lack thereof. This is such a small moment in a dense, and yet simple film, but it defines and completes the whole piece, and its two subjects.
This is about to men talking about many things, ultimately in life. Chomsky’s ideas and delivery of verbal concepts, as fascinating as they truly are, can sometimes drone. I’m sure Gondry and even Chomsky himself can attest to, the man is quite old, despite being wise. Gondry chimes in at appropriate times and levels the intellectual playing field as need be, keeping an interesting pace to the conversation- us as viewers are clued in, making it not feel exclusive, but inclusive. Through Gondry’s clever, quick-witted creativity as an artist, with his unique animation, usage of Bolex-driven footage, and other mixed-media means, Chomsky’s knowledge and personality are delivered naturally, with a fascinating format to be examined upon. It’s a very open ended conversation that some times feels like a lecture that turns toward interesting rather than boring. The blending of expertise found within this animated documentary results in a special little art and life piece worth checking out, if you’re ready to ponder about said life, both aspects big and small.

So yeah, I don’t write reviews and such that much these days, BUT here are some small thoughts on Michel Gondry’s latest project! Go seek it out. It’s neat.

thelawnwranglerwrites:

Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? - by Michel Gondry

There’s a very simple moment in “Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?” that solidified an opinion of mine toward Michel Gondry. It involved Gondry asking Chomsky about his late wife. Chomsky preferred not to talk about her passing just yet in his life, and Gondry understood. Though they don’t talk specifically about her passing and its affect on Noam, Gondry treaded lightly both verbally and visually. Like a flower growing in a sped-up time lapse, Gondry sweetly animates a young Chomsky and his lover riding bikes in the clouds, and then down bright, flower-laden streets, smiling at one another. A beautifully simple song that repeated the lyric “Lover” played (, sucking us out of the conversation and into a singular feeling. It was obvious in Chomsky’s voice how much she mattered to him, even without having to spell it out. He felt it, and so did Gondry, whose directorial instincts kicked in perfectly, playing to my idea that he is a man full of and driven by heart. A romantic in the truest sense, everything he does has love and care at its core, or themes about the lack thereof. This is such a small moment in a dense, and yet simple film, but it defines and completes the whole piece, and its two subjects.

This is about to men talking about many things, ultimately in life. Chomsky’s ideas and delivery of verbal concepts, as fascinating as they truly are, can sometimes drone. I’m sure Gondry and even Chomsky himself can attest to, the man is quite old, despite being wise. Gondry chimes in at appropriate times and levels the intellectual playing field as need be, keeping an interesting pace to the conversation- us as viewers are clued in, making it not feel exclusive, but inclusive. Through Gondry’s clever, quick-witted creativity as an artist, with his unique animation, usage of Bolex-driven footage, and other mixed-media means, Chomsky’s knowledge and personality are delivered naturally, with a fascinating format to be examined upon. It’s a very open ended conversation that some times feels like a lecture that turns toward interesting rather than boring. The blending of expertise found within this animated documentary results in a special little art and life piece worth checking out, if you’re ready to ponder about said life, both aspects big and small.

Aug 24 '13

The World’s End (2013) - by Edgar Wright

Despite a slow, if not interesting burn of build up and characters, The World’s End adds up its various good parts into something really great, and at the very least interesting when it comes to sci-fi bending and the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy. First off, it’s probably the most emotionally fascinating of the three films, being about old friends and the bad blood between them. Included are some really thoughtful explorations of maturity, growing up, and nostalgia that are sad, true, and are an absolutely worthwhile edge. Frankly, some moments really did make me feel bad for these guys- it all was pulled off really well.
As well, the film is just plain funny. It’s easy at first, though in a weird way. It’s like an Edgar Wright movie is trying to happen, quick wit and camera work and all, and those are there, but the characters’ lives clash with that of the protagonist, who so desperately wants the high energy- it’s a contrast that I’m not sure is intentional that deeply, but it still adds a unique edge. But as soon as the action really kicks in, it turns into your standard fare Edgar Wright movie- exciting and surprising at once. The humor is fast fast FAST, even early on in the slower moments. Pegg and Wright’s writing is some science-dropping wit mastery that is just enthralling to listen to on its own. The more action based gags are in top form and are purely delightful, just as Edgar Wright fans like it. The visuals are impressive, pulling off some really good fight scenes and a tension build up that rivals most plain action films, and even that of good ones. Wright is getting good; damn good. Did I use that right?
The cast works well together. The chemistry between the main friends is strong, and gets stronger as things get intense. Members of the town have that Wright flavor of weirdness to them, but there’s also a sense of earnestness I haven’t really seen since Shaun of the Dead. Michael Smiley, Tyres of Spaced fame, actually plays a very genuine role, and Rosamund Pike plays somewhat of the straight character after the straight characters get drunk, and holds it together very well! She fit in quite nicely. Martin Freeman is hilarious as this constantly busy, blue-tooth toting businessman, Eddie Marsan plays a meek father and man well, and Paddy Considine does a great job as a former business tycoon, and current man of heartbreak. He has an arc with another character that is incredibly sweet and turns out really well.
What surprised me most of all is the obvious kind of table turning of casting for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, wherein Frost normally plays the weirdo and Pegg plays a fairly normal being in comparison, The World’s End has them at opposite ends, and they both do a damn good job. Frost’s seriousness, at least for the first 1/3 of the film, is believable and impressive, and funny in its own right. Pegg’s manic nature as the fascinating Gary King is humorous and inspired all at once. And as soon as all hell breaks loose, the dynamic between these two is such a weird roller coaster of hatred, emotion, violence, and beer that is hilarious and heartbreaking all at once.
Frankly, the latter 2/3 of this movie are truly fantastic. The first portion is good set up, but I can see how it can bother people. It helps to be patient and thoughtful, as it pays off really well in such a weird ending. Where this end up are bittersweet, for sure, but the emotional implications throughout the film are wrapped up in a very satisfying way. In fact, I almost want a sequel. It’s an incredibly well realized, original world from Pegg and Wright that has a lot of worth to it. I know it’s the “end of a trilogy”, but I’ve heard those guys use that term lightly, and I actually would be really interested in a sequel to this. The build-up, though quick and nuts, establishes some story pieces that you almost want more of. 
I’m excited for the new territory for all involved to tread from here on out, but forever and always will look forward to when they can work together. Wright shows great promise in being able to work on and possibly develop some deeper material, and Pegg and Frost show great capability as actors. I’d like to see them doing more interesting things, in and out of their wheel houses. The World’s End showed truly impressive work from all three, and as a whole just surprised me a whole lot. While I’m trying to figure out where it stands up against Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I can definitely say it made me feel more emotionally invested and excited by its end than those two did, and I think that really does stand for something.

The World’s End (2013) - by Edgar Wright

Despite a slow, if not interesting burn of build up and characters, The World’s End adds up its various good parts into something really great, and at the very least interesting when it comes to sci-fi bending and the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy. First off, it’s probably the most emotionally fascinating of the three films, being about old friends and the bad blood between them. Included are some really thoughtful explorations of maturity, growing up, and nostalgia that are sad, true, and are an absolutely worthwhile edge. Frankly, some moments really did make me feel bad for these guys- it all was pulled off really well.

As well, the film is just plain funny. It’s easy at first, though in a weird way. It’s like an Edgar Wright movie is trying to happen, quick wit and camera work and all, and those are there, but the characters’ lives clash with that of the protagonist, who so desperately wants the high energy- it’s a contrast that I’m not sure is intentional that deeply, but it still adds a unique edge. But as soon as the action really kicks in, it turns into your standard fare Edgar Wright movie- exciting and surprising at once. The humor is fast fast FAST, even early on in the slower moments. Pegg and Wright’s writing is some science-dropping wit mastery that is just enthralling to listen to on its own. The more action based gags are in top form and are purely delightful, just as Edgar Wright fans like it. The visuals are impressive, pulling off some really good fight scenes and a tension build up that rivals most plain action films, and even that of good ones. Wright is getting good; damn good. Did I use that right?

The cast works well together. The chemistry between the main friends is strong, and gets stronger as things get intense. Members of the town have that Wright flavor of weirdness to them, but there’s also a sense of earnestness I haven’t really seen since Shaun of the Dead. Michael Smiley, Tyres of Spaced fame, actually plays a very genuine role, and Rosamund Pike plays somewhat of the straight character after the straight characters get drunk, and holds it together very well! She fit in quite nicely. Martin Freeman is hilarious as this constantly busy, blue-tooth toting businessman, Eddie Marsan plays a meek father and man well, and Paddy Considine does a great job as a former business tycoon, and current man of heartbreak. He has an arc with another character that is incredibly sweet and turns out really well.

What surprised me most of all is the obvious kind of table turning of casting for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, wherein Frost normally plays the weirdo and Pegg plays a fairly normal being in comparison, The World’s End has them at opposite ends, and they both do a damn good job. Frost’s seriousness, at least for the first 1/3 of the film, is believable and impressive, and funny in its own right. Pegg’s manic nature as the fascinating Gary King is humorous and inspired all at once. And as soon as all hell breaks loose, the dynamic between these two is such a weird roller coaster of hatred, emotion, violence, and beer that is hilarious and heartbreaking all at once.

Frankly, the latter 2/3 of this movie are truly fantastic. The first portion is good set up, but I can see how it can bother people. It helps to be patient and thoughtful, as it pays off really well in such a weird ending. Where this end up are bittersweet, for sure, but the emotional implications throughout the film are wrapped up in a very satisfying way. In fact, I almost want a sequel. It’s an incredibly well realized, original world from Pegg and Wright that has a lot of worth to it. I know it’s the “end of a trilogy”, but I’ve heard those guys use that term lightly, and I actually would be really interested in a sequel to this. The build-up, though quick and nuts, establishes some story pieces that you almost want more of. 

I’m excited for the new territory for all involved to tread from here on out, but forever and always will look forward to when they can work together. Wright shows great promise in being able to work on and possibly develop some deeper material, and Pegg and Frost show great capability as actors. I’d like to see them doing more interesting things, in and out of their wheel houses. The World’s End showed truly impressive work from all three, and as a whole just surprised me a whole lot. While I’m trying to figure out where it stands up against Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I can definitely say it made me feel more emotionally invested and excited by its end than those two did, and I think that really does stand for something.

Aug 7 '13

Blue Jasmine (2013) - by Woody Allen

This movie really surprised me. I figured I’d like it, but it exceeded my expectations and hit me really hard in a humorously dark way. Cate Blanchett’s performance is otherworldy to a degree that I’d so often forget that it’s her acting. Just way too good here, as are the rest of this great ensemble cast. Andrew Dice Clay really surprised me here. That’s such a funny sentence, I’m glad I got to type it.
Really, I loved this movie. Reminded me of Jason Reitman’s Young Adult in the best way possible. So endearing and expertly crafted, this movie is for sure one of my favorite of the year, and probably one of the best.

Blue Jasmine (2013) - by Woody Allen

This movie really surprised me. I figured I’d like it, but it exceeded my expectations and hit me really hard in a humorously dark way. Cate Blanchett’s performance is otherworldy to a degree that I’d so often forget that it’s her acting. Just way too good here, as are the rest of this great ensemble cast. Andrew Dice Clay really surprised me here. That’s such a funny sentence, I’m glad I got to type it.

Really, I loved this movie. Reminded me of Jason Reitman’s Young Adult in the best way possible. So endearing and expertly crafted, this movie is for sure one of my favorite of the year, and probably one of the best.

Jul 11 '13

The Lone Ranger (2013) - by Gore Verbinski, starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp

The Lone Ranger wasn’t bad! Well, let me clarify, it wasn’t that good either. A literal 3/5 for myself- right down the middle. It had its moments, and those moments were DAMN good. This film’s 3rd act is actually pretty damn great. Everything else, not so much. Also, I liked an aspect of the movie that everyone seems to be… incredibly angered by. So yes… fuck me. Here’s my review!

thelawnwranglerwrites:

The Lone Ranger is a spotty film at best, but it is nowhere near completely terrible. Parts of it work, and work well. Surprisingly enough, Johnny Depp’s presence, as uncomfortable as it may understandably make you feel in its implications, actually works and entertains well enough in a more personal way. Sure, it’s another one of his quirky characters, but the guy sells it really well. As well, Gore Verbinski’s direction in terms of visual and physical comedy, as expected, is in top form, and the man can still sell an action sequence very well. Otherwise, the film doesn’t feel so fresh as far as its story, and main character go. Armie Hammer’s performance is fine, but what he’s given is quite weak, and is inconsistent with his progression as a character. The plot does not benefit from familiarity, as its screenwriters seem to have used development checkpoints without actually developing in between them. The world never stands out enough to be that unique, and though there are some interesting characters going around, much like Depp’s Tonto, they aren’t so much at the forefront as they really could be.  The overall film feels like a ride through genuine ups and downs, with the final product’s quality being found smack dab in the middle. Its highs are enjoyable, and its lows are truly tedious, so while it isn’t the best action thriller on the market, you can for damn sure do much worse than it.

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Jul 4 '13

White House Down (2013) - by Roland Emmerich and James Vanderbilt, starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, and Joey King

White House Down is fucking great fun, my friends. It’d be a good way to spend the 4th, or just time at the movies in general. If you’re like me and don’t have too much interest in this week’s releases and can’t find a theater showing The Way Way Back tomorrow, go ahead and check this out! It didn’t have a strong opening at the box office, and that’s strange, because I feel like it totally deserves some love. Here’s my review!

thelawnwranglerwrites:

White House Down does not have a new way of looking at summer action films and the popcorn genre, but in turn, it’s the epitome of what makes these flicks so much fun. Roland Emmerich’s grand approach to destruction and chaos is found in economic, yet flashy check. The director is at his best here, better than he has been in a while. He and screenwriter James Vanderbilt play with heightened excitement and patriotism in a celebratory fashion, and while it’s aware of how ridiculous it is, it’s never ironic. The film presents its entertaining aspects in taking its world and situation seriously, which allows its more humorous aspects, thanks to its great cast and script, to really shine. It’s smartly written and performed, and never oversteps its self-awareness and goofy edge. With that, White House Down succeeds at being one of the best of its kind, and a definite worthwhile time at the movies if you see it for what it is- easy, breezy fun.

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Jun 22 '13

The Bling Ring (2013) - by Sofia Coppola, starring Emma Watson, Israel Broussard, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann, and Katie Chang

The Bling Ring is endlessly fascinating, as I’m sure many of you know. For all of its weird decisions, it’s quite good, and in certain cases, brilliant.  Here’s my review!

thelawnwranglerwrites:

The Bling Ring is character study in its purest form. I like to think of it as if it were an exhibition at a museum, or an insulting way, a zoo. Director Sofia Coppola never really takes a negative or positive stance on her protagonists in this film, though really does observe them in various ways. Flashiness and frenetic filmmaking comes with filling a mood that we need to connect or disconnect with for the characters we’re following, though a majority of the film is fairly objective. This allows her subjects reveal their true and false selves on their own volition through action. Whether you like them or hate them really is up to you, and brings up a good point of separating character from film quality, or even the connection between the two. I suppose the overall consensus is that the subjects of The Bling Ring are absolutely loathsome, almost to a point of parody, but the film never delves into mockery. To that point, it never proves these kids wrong other than when the law comes in, purely on a justice level. It’s not reliant on being a morality tale, and instead makes for one of the most fascinating and brutally honest character studies about a specific generation and mindset that has come to life in quite some time.

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Jun 22 '13

Monsters University (2013) - by Dan Scanlon, starring Billy Crystal and John Goodman

Here’s my review for Monsters University! Yay!

thelawnwranglerwrites:

Pixar’s trek into sequel territory in recent years has produced some mixed reactions, though regardless of consensus, it seems like they’re not going to stop for anyone. Monsters University, thankfully, is a much better follow-up to a well-beloved Pixar franchise than Cars 2 was, and capitalizes upon Monsters Inc.’s universe in a satisfying way. Coming back to these characters felt refreshing, and seeing more of their world pays off as a welcome venture. It’s a funny film, and it executes college comedy tropes in their own unique ways, though often it feels unnecessarily restrained, and a little too simple for its own good. On the other hand, the film delivers upon Pixar’s consistent promise for sweet, honest lessons to be learned in true, fluid fashion. It tackles some interesting themes, and manages to avoid derivative hack while expressing its life ideals. Monsters University is a clearly fun, heartfelt film. It isn’t groundbreaking by Pixar standards, but it keeps the filmmakers and audience on their toes.

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Jun 12 '13

This Is The End (2013) - by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, starring Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Danny McBride, and Jonah Hill

I am over the moon for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s directorial debut, and here is why.

thelawnwranglerwrites:

If you’ve ever tried to write something deliberately funny, you’ve probably had a moment where an idea came to mind that is so insane or ridiculous, and it breaks logic or just doesn’t make any damn sense. You laugh at this idea, and yet shrug it aside as a humorous thought. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s This Is The End is crafted off of these kinds of ideas, and thrives as a strong comedy, of which you rarely see, but highly celebrate when it comes around. The meta-conceptual, apocalyptic comedy is written and directed by the duo, who utilizes fun, intelligent style, and has way too much fun with the small but strong cast at hand. These main 6 actors are so at the top of their game throughout the film and never let up on the humor and delicious chemistry at play. It’s enrapturing how well these guys work together, and deliver upon a concept that steers far away from getting tired quickly. Really, This Is The End overall exceeds expectations at every corner it turns, and is exhaustingly funny and impressive. All tones and styles at hand mesh together with ease and left me absolutely giddy. The film packs an audacious punch and doesn’t settle for anything less than unexpected or just pure fun.

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Jun 11 '13
Now You See Me (2013) - by Louis Leterrier
Now You See Me is a frustrating film, and I didn’t end up liking it a whole lot. It’s a smug, overly confident film that takes itself and its subject way too seriously and in the wrong direction. The film isn’t nearly as smart as it wants to be, or thinks it is, and therefore kind of hurts itself in the process. It’s an Ocean’s film minus the subtlety or intelligence. The filmmakers are so certain that they’ve got you fooled and impressed at every step, and it doesn’t bother slowing its own role. As far as thrillers go, it’s somewhat interesting in how it’s made, and partially fun, but it does nothing we haven’t seen before. It can’t really pull off any of the twists and turns it tries to execute as if they’re being clever, but in the end, it feels like undeserved pride and hand-wringing.
            That being said, the film seems so excited by its own game that it won’t acknowledge any confusion or possible misstep. It’s like a madman (I’m going to assume director Louis Leterrier) describing his own findings or weaving a tale, pacing around a room with his audience slowly leaving one by one, and by the time they’re all gone, he’s still going. Now You See Me doesn’t care how you feel about it, as it’s having fun on its own. If you’re into this kind of thriller, or the concept of magic, perhaps you’ll have a little fun with the film too. The cast , though a little pompous, especially in the case of Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo, seemed to be having a good time too in this fast paced, flashy adventure. It’s not even exceptionally well made, but it’s active and big enough to warrant a hearty thumbs up once in a while.
            That’s pretty much the case with the whole film: once in a while it does something to sidestep its premise and own attitude about it in order to do something really neat, but otherwise, it’s so deep in its own crap that you’re either in or you’re out. I found it to be predictable and not surprising or exciting enough to be considered anything too special, but I can see how some people could get into it. It likes to think it’s complicated, but its fairly simple, and I suppose could make for some easy, non-challenging fun. You’re probably going to see this on FX in a couple of years, and that’s damn appropriate for this film.

            And the thing is that I love magic! Magic is neat! I’m not the “it’s a MIRROR” dude in that Pete Holmes bit, I’m a child in a dream-land when it comes to this stuff. Now You See Me turns magic into something even lamer than Chris Angel has managed to with his career. It’s not even stupid fun… it’s just stupid. Magic is about entertaining and mystifying, and this film boils it down to bragging rights and over-analyzing in the worst way possible. It takes the specialness out of it, and that’s upsetting, no matter how fun the film could be as its own dumb heist/thriller. It doesn’t feel genuine, and that ended up ruining the whole thing for me.

Now You See Me (2013) - by Louis Leterrier

Now You See Me is a frustrating film, and I didn’t end up liking it a whole lot. It’s a smug, overly confident film that takes itself and its subject way too seriously and in the wrong direction. The film isn’t nearly as smart as it wants to be, or thinks it is, and therefore kind of hurts itself in the process. It’s an Ocean’s film minus the subtlety or intelligence. The filmmakers are so certain that they’ve got you fooled and impressed at every step, and it doesn’t bother slowing its own role. As far as thrillers go, it’s somewhat interesting in how it’s made, and partially fun, but it does nothing we haven’t seen before. It can’t really pull off any of the twists and turns it tries to execute as if they’re being clever, but in the end, it feels like undeserved pride and hand-wringing.

            That being said, the film seems so excited by its own game that it won’t acknowledge any confusion or possible misstep. It’s like a madman (I’m going to assume director Louis Leterrier) describing his own findings or weaving a tale, pacing around a room with his audience slowly leaving one by one, and by the time they’re all gone, he’s still going. Now You See Me doesn’t care how you feel about it, as it’s having fun on its own. If you’re into this kind of thriller, or the concept of magic, perhaps you’ll have a little fun with the film too. The cast , though a little pompous, especially in the case of Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo, seemed to be having a good time too in this fast paced, flashy adventure. It’s not even exceptionally well made, but it’s active and big enough to warrant a hearty thumbs up once in a while.

            That’s pretty much the case with the whole film: once in a while it does something to sidestep its premise and own attitude about it in order to do something really neat, but otherwise, it’s so deep in its own crap that you’re either in or you’re out. I found it to be predictable and not surprising or exciting enough to be considered anything too special, but I can see how some people could get into it. It likes to think it’s complicated, but its fairly simple, and I suppose could make for some easy, non-challenging fun. You’re probably going to see this on FX in a couple of years, and that’s damn appropriate for this film.

            And the thing is that I love magic! Magic is neat! I’m not the “it’s a MIRROR” dude in that Pete Holmes bit, I’m a child in a dream-land when it comes to this stuff. Now You See Me turns magic into something even lamer than Chris Angel has managed to with his career. It’s not even stupid fun… it’s just stupid. Magic is about entertaining and mystifying, and this film boils it down to bragging rights and over-analyzing in the worst way possible. It takes the specialness out of it, and that’s upsetting, no matter how fun the film could be as its own dumb heist/thriller. It doesn’t feel genuine, and that ended up ruining the whole thing for me.

Jun 10 '13

After Earth (2013) - by M. Night Shyamalan and Gary Whitta, starring Jaden and Will Smith.

I liked After Earth. Read as I scramble through a highly unpopular opinion and try to describe the merit I found in M. Night Shyamalan’s recent film. 

No, seriously, I dug it.

Really.

thelawnwranglerwrites:

Okay, this should be interesting.

Should I feel shame for liking After Earth? The vanity project for Will and Jaden Smith, directed by M. Night Shyamalan is garnering great amounts hate, and isn’t succeeding entirely at the box office, so it seems like a well warranted failure and reception of a failure of a film. People consider it a lazy, thrown together film, and many even consider it a “disaster” of sorts. On paper, I can absolutely see where people get the hatred from, though I feel like it was all predetermined and without any open mindedness to approaching the film. Now I’m not going to say After Earth is a great film, or that it deserves mass amounts of praise. What I will say is that based on watching it with fingers crossed and an interested mind, I found some merit to After Earth, despite all of the set up basically working against it. I feel like there was a hearty amount of effort given into making this film, which works with a sense of earnestness. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a simple sci-fi venture about survival, with a stilted father/son relationship at its core. This isn’t groundbreaking cinema, or even the best work by all involved, but for what it is, I found it to be quite enjoyable and commendable. 

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