Get Out (2017)

Get out

Directed by: Jordan Peele

Cinematography: Toby Oliver

Starring: Daniel KaluuyaAllison WilliamsCatherine KeenerBradley WhitfordCaleb Landry Jones, and LilRel Howery

Runtime: 1h 44m

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

In an attempt to not spoil this movie I have my review in two sections.  The top section is more of a general response to the film and below that is a section where I dig into more specifics about the film that I want to unwind.  So do not read the whole thing if you want to avoid spoilers.

Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a psychological thriller that keeps you on your toes and unsure of where the characters stand the whole way through.  The story follows Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, and his girlfriend Rose, played by Allison Williams, as they visit her family in upstate New York.  No more information is needed.  Peele succeeds in taking the viewer on a comedic, thrilling, and satisfying ride.

Continue reading “Get Out (2017)”

Toni Erdmann (2016)

Directed by: Maren Ade

Cinematography: Patrick Orth

Starring: Sandra HüllerPeter SimonischekMichael Wittenborn, and Thomas Loibl

Runtime: 2h 42m

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Rating: ♣♣♣♣


Toni Erdmann is triumphant in its use of socially uncomfortable situations to pursue a relaxed and less serious take on life.  The film follows uptight and determined business woman, Ines Conradi, played by Sandra Hüller, and her jester father, Winifred, a.k.a Toni Erdmann, played by Peter Simonischek.  Their characters could not be more polar when it comes to self-confidence in terms of social acceptance. In other words, he doesn’t care what people think about him and she is obsessed with self-image and self-preservation. Ines is making a name for herself as a consultant in the oil industry in Bucharest, Romania.  Winifred is a teacher in Germany who spontaneously decides to visit his daughter after the death of his dog.  Her somber and humorless demeanor mixed with her fierce determination to move up in her company puts her in a highly stressful state throughout the movie.  This, coupled with her father’s outrageous and eccentric persona that is embellished by his live-in-the-moment attitude and absence of shame, makes him push his daughter to her limits. Continue reading “Toni Erdmann (2016)”

I ♡ Huckabees (2004)

Directed by: David O. Russell

Cinematography: Peter Deming

Starring: Jason SchwartzmanIsabelle HuppertDustin HoffmanLily TomlinJude LawMark Wahlberg, and Naomi Watts

Runtime: 1h 47m

Genre: Comedy

Rating: ♣♣♣♣


I   Huckabees is a philosophical comedy that follows Albert Markovski, played by Schwartzman, as he is investigated by existential detectives, Hoffman and Tomlin.  His desire to find meaning in specific coincidences in his life inspires him to learn more about the meaning of life.  The story encompasses opposing and differing ideologies surrounding self-image and status,  the human impact on the world, and the interconnected relation-ship between everything within the universe.  The film also features a comedic performance from Wahlberg as well as Jonah Hill’s debut in the acting world. Continue reading “I ♡ Huckabees (2004)”

Cat People (1942)

Directed by: Jacques Tourneur

Cinematography: Nicholas Musuraca

Starring: Simone SimonKent SmithTom ConwayJane Randolph

Runtime: 1h 13m

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

Rating: ♣♣♣♣


With love and passion comes sin and strife, this is the theme throughout Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People.  Is the curse of the cat people a figment of their imagination, are they alive and well, or is there a panther on the loose?  Cat People tells the story of Irene and Oliver as they fall in love and reconcile the difficulties of marriage. Continue reading “Cat People (1942)”

Mr. Nobody (2009)

Directed by: Jaco Van Dormael

Cinematography: Christophe Beaucarne

Starring: Jared LetoSarah PolleyDiane KrugerRhys IfansNatasha LittleLinh Dan PhamToby RegboJuno Temple

Runtime: 2hr 21m

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: ♣♣♣♣


Jaco Van Dormael’s Mr. Nobody is an ambitious project in terms of concept and structure. The film dissects life’s struggles and achievements through an examination of infinite choices, possibilities, and outcomes.  Nothing happens in a vacuum, and this film functions as a vehicle to demonstrate this idea.  An individual’s path in life can be broken down into a series of junctions defined by choices, actions, and responses.  Each junction setting the stage for the next and influenced by the previous.  Dormael accents this powerful exploration of the human mind with a mosaic of differing camera shots and editing styles.  The final result is a challenging concept that loses some of the impact through convolution.

Continue reading “Mr. Nobody (2009)”

Love & Mercy (2014)

Directed by: Bill Pohlad

Cinematography: Robert D. Yeoman

Starring: Paul DanoJohn CusackElizabeth BanksPaul Giamatti

Runtime: 2h 1m

Genre: Biography, Drama

Rating: ♣♣♣♣


I am both a Paul Dano fan and a Beach Boys fan, especially in regards to Pet Sounds.  So, I was biased going in to this film from the onset.  Part of the reason I enjoyed Love & Mercy so much is the same reason I enjoy “Pet Sounds”, it challenges my thought process on life and forces introspection.  This album contributed to my psyche and I feel this film adequately conveyed Wilson’s vision.  The opening line of the movie passes by so quickly you might miss it.  Paul Dano, as young Briand Wilson, says, Continue reading “Love & Mercy (2014)”

Zootopia (2016)

Directed by: Byron Howard , Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Cinematography: Matthias Lechner

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate

Runtime: 1h 48m

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Rating: ♣♣♣♣


It is hard to imagine that a crime thriller about prejudice, corruption, and the viral spreading of misconceptions, is above all else a family-friendly animated adventure comedy.  Zootopia brings a beautifully exotic world to life in a way that we are accustomed to expect from Pixar, not Disney.  For the adults, the film is an overt allegory for intolerance and how fear can be used as a weapon, and for kids it is a story about perseverance and never letting others hold you back from achieving your dreams. Continue reading “Zootopia (2016)”

Deadpool (2016)

Directed by: Tim Miller

Cinematography: Ken Seng

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Karan Soni, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller

Runtime: 1h 48m

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

Ryan Reynolds has yet again found a bombastic, confident character that relishes every moment of screen time.  To be honest, I found his style tiring right away when I first saw him in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder.  There is just something about his smug and arrogant demeanor that is hard to watch.  Luckily, his tiresome foibles epitomize the role of Deadpool. Continue reading “Deadpool (2016)”

Jungle Book, The (2016)

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Cinematography: Bill Pope

Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o

Runtime: 1h 46m

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family

Rating: ♣♣♣♣


I was a little nervous going into this film, as I grew up on the cartoon.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they stayed true to the original cartoon with only a few changes.  Favreau was able to capture the essence of the film as an escape from the hustle and bustle of society and to remember to take time for yourself and enjoy life. Continue reading “Jungle Book, The (2016)”

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Directed by: Travis Knight

Cinematography: Frank Passingham

Starring: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Matthew McConaughey

Runtime: 1h 41m

Genre: Animation, Adventure

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

Kubo and the Two Strings is the latest project from LAIKA.  This visually stunning mix between CGI and stop motion creates resplendent images throughout the film.  It is almost hard to believe that the picture is comprised of stop motion at all, considering how well all the elements bled together.  The techniques used allowed them to create some incredible textures.  The story of a young boy with the gift to shape origami with his Shamisen seems like it is an adaptation of Japanese lore, although I was unable to easily locate one.  When I first saw the trailer for this movie I thought that his instrument was an Erhu, not a Shamisen, since the Erhu has 2 strings opposed to the 3 stringed Shamisen.  I realized after watching it that the titular strings are actually a reference to the mementos acquired from his parents.  Like most animated pictures these days there is a story aimed at children that also has a subtext for adults to follow.  In this story Kubo is challenging his elders to consider paradigm changes that were initiated by his parents.  Societal views are always evolving and the only way to ease the constant transition is to be compassionate and forgiving.