A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

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Horror (?), drama – USA – 101 min
Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour

A girl walks home alone at night.

Actually, no. She isn’t. She’s on the streets on purpose.

The girl’s after sinful blood, killing bad people. Or, if you’re lucky enough, she just warns you to change your sinful ways. Kind of a superhero, in a supertwisted manner. (She even wears a cape!)

Bad City with its few citizens seems to be full of various sins and poor life choices. A drug dealer, drug addicts, a streetwalker, her clients, a boy who tells lies, a spoiled girl from a wealthy family. Finally, a boy serving the rich house, whose father is both addicted to drugs and the hooker’s client. He, who adopts a homeless cat, takes care of his parent and seeks love. Almost crystal clear. He and the vampire girl fall in love. Or something like that – I mean vampires have cold, dead hearts, don’t they?

Regardless of what I had read in the reviews, I did not see a great story of forbidden love. The plot was alright, not really touching, not really eyes-opening. Nor did I see a horror. I’d rather call it a dark fantasy-drama with some western in it. Okay, there are some bloody, violent scenes but fearful events haven’t been much highlighted. The whole atmoshphere was mysterious, lyrical and hypnotising. Yes, that’s the most adequate word. The black-whiteness, in which the movie was created, paired with madly perfect-suited soundtrack add to the strange feeling about the movie. Or, is it a vampire’s trick? Now I can be scared. Perhaps it is a horror anyway…

Anyway, it is a beautiful piece of cinematography, made with mastery. Some scenes were simply amazing and addictive  (I want to do skateboarding with black cape on too!), some enigmatic and leave you puzzled.

My rating: 8/10.

P.S. Check out the soundtrack!

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Down with Love (2003)

Down with Love (2003)

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USA – comedy, romance – 101 min

Written by Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake

Directed by Peyton Reed

Women vs. men. Men vs. women. This war lasts quite a few years. Or centuries. Or millennia.  ‘Women are so…’ in the eyes and mouths of men, while ‘Men are just too… and not enough…’ according to women. The movie makers take on this seemingly risky, but oh so entertaining and engaging subject. Also, quite widely used.

The female army in the movie is lead by Barbara Novak (Rene Zellweger – flawless), an author of the best-selling advice book Down with love, in which she calls for women to be strong, career-oriented and independent, not those falling for the opposite sex with their hearts open wide and fully devoting themselves to men. (Yes, Barbara has had her heart broken.)

On the other side of the conflict here we’ve got a playboy journalist Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor who fit just right in the role). No, not a typo – they really named the character like that! Note the hidden meaning! Needless to say, they fight, irritate each other but are they really down with love? We sure Know (inside joke for those who have seen the film) that Block’s friend is not and he desperately tries to get something going with Novak’s friend and no. 2 in the female army.

Down with Love is a funny reflection on the whole thing of the war of the sexes. It tries to find a suitable, harmonic agreement between the two ‘enemies’ at least a few times. However, it seems as if the film makers have run out of ideas and finally leave the matter unsolved. Or, have they…?

The movie is above all the ideological features a nod to the 60’s and a parody of its ridiculous style and characteristic way of film-making. It’s so pleasant to watch it just to spot all the details, starting with iconic room decoration, clothes and hairdos, ending with the studied poses of the actors and the ludicrous behaviour of the characters. Well done!

If you miss the 60’s, want to watch something light, amusing but also thought-provoking – there’s no better choice than this piece of cinematography. Prepare for plot twists!

My rate: 8/10

P.S. Are you down with love?

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

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USA – Drama, Psychological, Comedy, Romance – 122 min

Directed by David O. Russell

Written by Matthew Quick (novel), David O. Russell (screenplay)

Will someone be there for you when you have a breakdown? Or when you’ll be recovering from one?

This movie will make you question the binar system of judging people – ‘normal’ vs. ‘nuts’. What is a normality? How much of it does one have to have to be marked as ‘normal’? Finally – is normality a real thing at all?!

The plot centers around Pat Solitano (ladies and gents, splendid Bradley Cooper!) who just left a mental institution after 8 months of stay. Diagnosis: bipolar disorder. A maniac episode burst when he witnessed his wife cheating on him and led him to beat his wife’s lover nearly to death. As he returns home, he desperately tries to reunite with his beloved (and untrustworthy, I guess?) spouse, which is extremely difficult due to the restraining order. His mom and dad (undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder, gambling addiction; played by the master, Robert De Niro) are doing their best to help him recover. It is not easy, partly beacuse they, especially father, struggle with their own problems.

His life seems to get even more complicated when meets a young widow – Tiffany (in this role Jennifer Lawrence, bravo!). Diagnose: depression and prolly sex addiction. She proposes him an interesting deal – Pat’s letter will be delivered to his wife if he participates with Tiffany in a dance contest. Do I need to reveal what happens next?

This bittersweet movie may be considered a miniature of a modern society and its perception of a mental illness. Although there are millions of people worldwide suffering from various psychiatric conditions, there still is a stigmatization of such citizens. Humans like you get sick, whether it is cancer, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis or schizophrenia. Get over it!

It also takes on other difficult topics. Fatherhood. Accepting yourself. Trying too hard to get back something that is no longer yours. Finally, it makes you realize how fragile and weak we all are deep inside. And we need someone to help us.

Thanks to Silver Linings Playbook I learned something about myself, too. Therefore, I recommend this fresh piece of cinematography wholeheartedly for everyone and anyone.

Peace out!

My rank: 9/10

Armageddon (1998)

Armageddon (1998)

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USA – Science Fiction, Action, Adventure, Drama – 151 min

Directed by Michael Bay

Written by Jonathan Hensleigh (story and screenplay), J. J. Abrams (screenplay), Tony Gilroy and Shane Salerno (adaptation), Robert Roy Pool (story)

I was surprised when I found out ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ by Aerosmith, one of the most beautiful love songs ever made (in my opinion), has been performed for a movie. I decided to check this one out.

Imagine you’re just walking your dog on the streets of New York, when suddenly pieces of rocks start falling from the sky destroying cars, building and killing people. Crazy, right? And that’s just the prelude for the concert of a massive asteroid approaching Earth to bring the ultimate end to the whole life. At this point the probability of events shown in the movie reaches its maximum.

At the N.A.S.A. scientists gather to find the way to save our noble planet (sadly, no, not from the pollution). A plan prepared by military experts is ridiculed by the man described as the most intelligent in the whole world (yawn!). (Interestingly, his greatest contribution to the Earth-saving project is moving a stick with a model asteroid attached to it while presenting the chosen tactics much later to the participants of space mission). In the end, the scientists decide to place nuclear load inside the enormous cosmic rock and detonate it at the right moment.

The plan requires to send there experienced and skilled staff with geological knowledge. Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) who is said to be the best oil-driller in the world (yawn, again) gets his call of duty for the mission. Just after he found his worker – A.J. (Ben Affleck) was dating and sleeping with his beloved daughter (Liv Tyler). Tough day for a tough man, you could say.

Anyway, he then recruits his co-workers  to take part in the project with him, along with A.J. None of the men (of course…) tends to hesitate with the decision whether to go or not, as if they were going on life-threating space trip once every month. Some sentenced, notorious law-breakers and mostly not giving the impression of sharp-witted are supposed to be the heroes of all the time. Seriously, is that as good as we can get? Really? Perhaps the ultra-fast training at N.A.S.A. can help bring the heroesness out of them. Perhaps…

At the beginning the action seems pretty tense and dynamic – even too much, which may be confusing and give the impression of watching rather summary or highlists, not the movie itself. It then slows down dramatically as characters enter the space. It actually goes too slow, as apart from saving life on Earth they can still argue and do foolish stuff. Cause they have time. Urgh. Come on, when will the bombs explode and destroy the freaking asteroide?!

I would decribe the film as a science-fiction fairy tale for adults. Too many cliches, too many illogical actions and lack of reflection at some crucial moments. A Russian astronaut representing all the stereotypes an American may have about Russians (and a t-shirt with a CCCP inscription on a red star as a bonus). Again: seriously? Apart from the unreality, this fairy tale brings some sad, often too affected moments of drama. Which – I have to admit – I have fallen for, and my tears as well. The editing annoyed me, especially in the fast-action part.

The music is pretty good, though.

My rate: 6/10

Kebab i horoskop (Kebab + Horoscope) 2014

Kebab i horoskop (Kebab + Horoscope) 2014

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Poland – 75 min – drama, comedy

Written and directed by Grzegorz Jaroszuk

This time a short review of a Polish movie.

Why short? Cause that’s a short movie. Also, I’m lazy. Okay?

Why Polish? I come from Poland so it’s high time I reviewed one of my land.

The story starts with presenting two unemployed men. Sad. Kebab used to work at a kebab bar but after reading his horoscope for that day he decided to follow it as usual and quits his job. He then meets the fortune-teller and the author of the tip  – yes, Horoscope, who has just been fired from the magazine. Sad and mind-blowing. The first man gives the other  his kebab and that’s how their partnership begins. They become marketing experts. DEAL WITH IT.

Their first task is to help a small carpet shop. Five people work there and they represent five very different life situations and personalities. There is an old perverted janitor, a forty-something cashier who hosts a Japanese suicidor in her apartment, a young woman who is forced to help her mother search for the love of her life, a former soccer fan whose wife obsessedly tries to connect with him through his passion (so sad!) and lastly, the fitness-loving boss who easily falls in love despite being married. So, the changes begin. Or do they…?

This brilliant movie shows how utterly sad is the reality. Throughout these 75 mins none of the characters laughs and there are just few light smiles. That is in complete opposite to the audience. The laughter bursts  every several minutes. The life shown in ‘Kebab i horoskop’ is absurdly cruel, pitiful and dull.  In such an extent that you can’t help but have fun.

So have fun with your life!

My rate: 9/10

P.S. The cinematography and editing make the whole film a masterpiece even more!

Seventh Son (2014)

Seventh Son (2014)

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USA – 103 min – Fantasy (Drama?)

Directed by Sergei Bodrov

Written by Charles Leavitt & Steven Knight (screenplay), Matt Greenberg (screen story), Joseph Delaney (novel)

Here’s the deal: I’ve never been one of those maniacs of fantasy nor a LOTR fan and didn’t understand at all that fascination with medieval-inspired magic worlds. It wasn’t until I saw my very first fantasy film – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I was enchanted! Suddenly, new doors opened for me. And then the next Hobbit movie came out. Disappointment. And… the last one. Better than the second chapter, fortunately. Therefore, I decided not to give up on fantasy movies. Not yet.

And now back to the topic. There’s a story of witch. Not “a witch”, no Harry Potter kind of witch, but THE witch – Mother Malkin, who is said to be the queen of the witches. She’s one badass (and totally bad at the same time) magic woman who transforms into cool dragon. And yet we can still add +1 awesomeness to the character as she has the face, the body and the voice of Julianne Moore, who fit into the role perfectly. Just how awesome is that!

Malkin used to be a good witch-being but people didn’t understand her, treated her badly (emo? ;c) etc. So… she became evil. And lost the love of a man. Who happens to be ‘the Spook’ played by Jeff Bridges. And kills evil magic villains. Like witches.

So now there’s a quest of the Spook, a.k.a. Master Gregory (or, Drunken Master imitation), his loyal, probably immortal but useless sidekick Tusk and the seventh son of the seventh son to kill Mother Malkin before she takes over the world and kill people or something. The 7th son, a.k.a. Tom Ward, meanwhile falls in love with half-witch niece of Malkin and brings us the cheap soap opera elements. Hurray.

The stunning, breath-taking (warning for the asthmatics!) special effects are beastly shadowed by poor plot. Dozens of cliches appear throughout the movie, along with illogical actions of characters, unfunny OVERused humor and too many unexplained and UNDERused themes. Seriously, that’s just annoying. What a pity they didn’t quite explore the psychological aspects of Malkin’s personality transformation! Perhaps Master Gregory wasn’t supportive enough as a lover and just ran away?

I just get the feeling they could have created so much more out of what they had and give us a better, deeper movie with much more intellectual value included.

The best sum up to this review came to my mind right at the end of the movie:

You know the movie is weak when the best part of it is closing credits. I kid you not – it rules! The main reason may be ’cause there was no plot nor dialogues involved, just amazing graphic design, editing and music.

But still, the questions arise:

Why did it have to be the 7th son of the 7th son? Was the grandpa a 7th son as well? Whose descendants are they anyway?!

My rate: 6 dragons out of 10 dragons (and only thanks to the graphic designers that created topping dragons and other ripping creatures. Well done!)

 

Can someone please recommend me any great fantasy movie? Anyone?

Whatever Works (2009)

Whatever Works (2009)

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USA – 92 min – Comedy

Directed and written by Woody Allen

 

Woody Allen takes on the topic of love again. This time, it is not only a funny movie, but philosophical as well.

There’s a neurotic, old guy (Woody Allen, is that you? No, not this time. It’s Larry David.), a physicist whose way of perceiving life and world is sarcastic and pessimistic, to say the least. There’s a young, naive girl with many hopes but with few IQ points. Then, there’s her ultra conservative mother, her father, a handsome guy (or even two of them), neurotic guy’s friends.

Finally, there’s love.

Whatever Works shows us some of the million faces of love and how unpredicted and unexpected it can be. Though it seems like a cliché, this movie isn’t one to follow hackneyed path of a typical romantic comedy.

Apart from the main theme of l’amour between two or more people we’ll find there reflections on the human nature. On the one side, an old, surly man, who’s tired of life and who failed to commit a suicide. On the other, a young woman, who starts her adulthood full of hopes, dreams and without any specific plans. The confrontation of these two characters resemble how much a person changes throughout his/her life and how hard it may be to communicate between the two phases of existence or two generations.

The movie sure is full of hilarious dialogues, monologues and surprising plot twists.

I recommend for a romantic evening for those of you, who’d like to watch a real comedy with elements of romance.

 

My rate: 8/10