Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Movies – Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood is one of the most well known of the 2015 Best Picture nominees.  That is because of how it was made.  Writer/director Richard Linklater filmed it over the course of 12 years, shooting for a week or two each summer.  The result is that we see the characters age throughout the film, especially the main character who goes from six to eighteen during the movie.  The result is a film that requires evaluation on two different levels: as a movie and as a unique undertaking by Linklater.  I’ll start with the latter.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Movies – The Theory of Everything (2014)

The Theory of Everything is the last of the four Best Picture nominees based on real events that I have to review.  In this case it’s about Stephen and Jane Hawking.  People looking for a film delving into the great scientific achievements and discoveries of Dr. Hawking may end up being a little disappointed.  While it does mention some of them, especially early on, this movie is actually a relationship drama about the marriage of the two and how Jane had to deal with Stephen’s deteriorating condition from ALS.  While this wasn’t what I was hoping for when I started to watch the film it nevertheless is worth seeing.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Movies – The Imitation Game (2014)

I was at a bit of a loss on how to review The Imitation Game.  It’s the story of three points in Alan Turing’s life – as a teenager in the late 1920s, as a code breaker during WWII, and as a lone man in the early 1950s.  I was very familiar with Alan Turing’s life since he is one of the key pioneers in the field of computers.  Anyone who works in the computer field, or at least anyone who got a degree in the field, should have no surprises from this film.  The problem is that, as presented, the movie keeps a key secret about Turing until more than halfway through the film.  It’s played as a mystery that is hinted at a few times.  And the consequences to Turing when that secret came out were also well-known to me.  They make up a key part of the ending.

The problem is, some people will never have even heard of Alan Turing, and all the events in this film will be new to them.  Most any review for this movie will spoil it for them, since the filmmakers and actors themselves are talking quite openly about what is revealed.  It’s as if they have decided most everyone already knows the story, too.

I finally decided that I will mark a couple of spoiler sections in this post, with labels as to who they will be spoilers for.  I will still have a regular review for those who just want to get a sense of what the film is about and if they might want to see it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Movies – American Sniper (2014)

American Sniper received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  It is based on Chris Kyle’s 2012 best selling book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.  I confess that I don’t ever remember hearing of Chris Kyle or his book prior to this film coming out.  I didn’t even know this was a movie about a real person until I started looking into the Best Picture nominees for my Oscars observations post six days ago.  Overall, this is a moving film and it is guaranteed to get people talking afterwards.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Movies – Selma (2014)

It seemed appropriate to review Selma – the film about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s protests for voter registration reform – on this day named in his honor.  I only wish I could write a glowing recommendation for this movie.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good movie about an important topic.  It’s just that Dr. King deserved better, especially since I’ve now read that this is the first theatrically released film about him.  I have to admit that that surprised me, but when I wracked my brain I could not come up with another movie where he was more than a supporting character in someone else’s story.  If Malcolm X can get a great movie made about him thanks to Spike Lee, then Dr. King should have the same.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Observations on the 2015 Oscar Nominations (with No Bitching About What Didn’t Make It)

The 2015 Oscar nominations were announced today.  Going down through them there are a few eyebrow raisers, but no out and out WTFs like a couple years ago when Ben Affleck didn’t even get nominated for Best Director for the movie that ended up winning Best Picture (Argo).

Here are the eight Best Picture nominees:

American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

I will post reviews for as many of these movies as I can prior to the Oscar telecast on February 22nd.  At this point I have seen only a few of them.  I will also post my predictions in the days leading up to the ceremony.  And I will have another Oscar quiz like last year’s on the titles of Best Picture nominees.

Click “Read more” for a complete list of the nominees, what got the most nominations, and some other things of interest.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Steve’s Selections #1 – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

I had heard good things about the film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but I had never happened to get around to seeing it.  When Steve Honeywell at 1001plus put it on his list of 12 films for me to watch and review this year I was glad.  I wasn’t sure what film I would do first.  This one was certainly a front-runner based on my history with it, and also based on the fact that it was one of only three films on the 2014 Empire Top 301 Movies of all time list that I had not yet seen.  What finally cemented it were comments from a couple of fans both on my last post and on a Letterboxd list I created to go along with this.