April 6, 2014
The Book Thief (2013)

IMDB Summary: While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

Although I read this book sometime in middle school, I still remember the story well, and I still loved the manner in which it was written. Unfortunately, that led to my boas going into this film.

The story is about Liesel, who is given up for adoption during World War II in Germany. She lives with the rather enchanting father and a stern mother. She at first is very poor at reading, but then her adopted father helps her read and she begins to have this fascination with books, fueled later by a Jewish refugee that comes to live with Liesel’s adopted family. I really did love the story, however, in the film the pacing was very strange, I felt as though it contained too much plot for a limited amount of time, and there wasn’t enough down time for the more important parts in the film. The sets for the film looked very much 1940’s Germany, so props to them for that.

Something that really bothered me was that some parts of the film was spoken in German, however most of the conversation was in English, but with casual German words thrown in there, and heavy, heavy German accents. I just think they should have either filmed it completely in German or completely in English. I wasn’t pleased.

One of the cool things about film adaptations of novels is the ability to include music, which in this case WAS FREAKIN’ AWESOME! Lots of sad orchestral music in the entire film, so I think the movie is neat for that.

Rate:5/10

April 6, 2014
Mr. Nobody (2009)

IMDB Summary: A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn’t choose, anything is possible.

I have a bit of a cold this weekend, so I’ve been sitting in bed, spaced out on DayQuil watching Netflix. And the movie was a total trip. Jared Leto (mega babe) stars in this sci-fi (kinda) film. He plays Nemo Nobody, who in the future, is the oldest living mortal. He’s on his deathbed, being interviewed by these journalists and scientists, trying to remember his life. When he was a young boy, his parents separated, and he was forced to either choose to live with his mother or father. The film delves into all the possibilities of what Nemo’s life could have been depending on what life he chooses at that train station.

Like I said, I was completely high on DayQuil, and I still am as I write this review. I really did like this film though, I might have to watch it again due to its Inception-like characteristics in plot. Jared Leto is possibly one of the most gifted actors of our time, and seeing him play all the roles of Nemo’s life was so interesting, and completely believable. I may be in love. No, no I am in love. If Jared Leto reads my lowly film review blog, hit me up some time, I’ll buy you chai tea and look deeply into your eyes for a few hours. Anything can happen.

The cinematography was very interesting; it combines science fiction elements with intimate shots, which portrays the possible loves in Nemo’s life. Vivid colors and very striking shots make the movie look flawless. Definitely pay attention to this film’s color.

The plot of this film is very, very cool, and very unique. I don’t know why this film didn’t have more recognition because I genuinely think it’s a brilliant film. It may lose points for me due to a few continuity issues, and it needed more time in the editing room (it really didn’t need to be 2 and a half hours…), but other than that I genuinely enjoyed this film and highly recommend it!

Rate: 8/10

April 5, 2014
Non-Stop (2014)

IMDB Summary: An air marshal springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account.

Not sure what made me decide this was an OK film to watch prior to boarding a flight, but I did anyway. Thankfully I made it home safely, although I was quite frightened and uncomfortable, making me a huge pain in the butt passenger for the poor US Airways flight attendants.

Primarily I saw this movie for my love, Lupita Nyong’o. However, she has a very minor role. It’s a Liam Neeson-action film, with a lot of weird suspense and predictable plot twists. (hint, the trailer gave it all away)

I wasn’t a fan. Granted, you have a very large cast in a very small space, but I felt as though a majority of the film was very, very forseeable. Plus, although Liam Neeson is very good at the action-dad role, I’m very tired of it. If he could just be the socially awkward dad in Love Actually again, I would be totally fine with that. Maybe these kind of movies aren’t for me though, maybe I’ve grown out of the stage in which I find these Blockbuster action films entertaining as film. I probably just watch these sort of films so I understand SNL references. Maybe.

I wasn’t a fan, but if you want to spend 10 bucks on a film that isn’t aimed at teenagers/young children in theaters now, I assume this is a safe bet. 

Rate:4/10

April 5, 2014
The Departed (2006)

IMDB Summary: An undercover state cop who has infiltrated an Irish gang and a mole in the police force working for the same mob race to track down and identify each other before being exposed to the enemy, after both sides realize their outfit has a rat.

I went to Boston last week and due the drastic climate change I’m pretty sick. So the obvious choice for me to make was watch The Departed 4 times this week.

It’s probably my favorite Scorsese film. It’s perfectly casted, Matt Damon as the crooked Boston cop, Leonardo DiCaprio as the undercover cop in the mob, Jack Nicholson is the mob boss, plus Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, and Martin Sheen. I KNOW! I KNOW!!!

It’s basically this battle of morality, who’s the rat and who is loyal to whom? (Is my grammar correct in that sentence??). It’s very well written, and it captures Boston very well in my opinion. I just think the acting and the actual plot is so spot on, that it makes this film perfect with just that! Seriously, you constantly have to keep guessing what will happen, and the whole “departed” title hints at death. Lots and lots of death.

Other than the PERFECT cast and the AWESOME plot, there’s nothing special with cinematography, but Scorsese includes plenty of deeper meaning woven into the film, surrounding topics of justice, morality, and loyalty. Also, I’m an Irish-Catholic and I feel like this film captures my more…gritty family very well. (Cousins, if you’re reading this, I love you guys very much, but you’ve beaten people up at a mere period joke too.)

Just really perfect acting and I highly recommend this film. I mean, I’ve seen it 4 times just this week, that’s how good I think this film is. 

Rate:10/10

March 26, 2014
Rachel Getting Married (2008)

IMDB Summary: A young woman who has been in and out from rehab for the past 10 years returns home for the weekend for her sister’s wedding.

I may be the odd one out on this, but I legitimately think this is a perfect film. Anne Hathaway came onscreen as Kym former model now addict out of rehab. Kym goes back home in time for her older sister’s wedding-Rachel. Of course, drama ensues as Kym is struggling with her own issues with her addiction and her troubled past, and ultimately the family struggles to forgive her. It’s really complicated, but wonderful. The writing for this film was literally so well thought out and perfect. The plot was really good.

The cinematography is wonderful too, it’s intimate and documentary-like, but what I love most about the filming done for this is that it mirrors life in such a real way. I adore that.

However, what astonishes me most about this film is the acting. Like, woah. Anne Hathaway-is I didn’t know her from Princess Diaries, I would never even know it was her. She made me believe she had these complex addiction issues and to see her fighting to for her family’s love and trying to just live with herself was so heartbreaking.  The family gave stunning performances as well, the over-protective father played by Bill Irwin was an amazing performance, Rachel, played by Rosemarie Dewitt was also very realistic and awesome. Seriously, the film is perfect because of the performances, I cry like a baby every time I watch this film.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone really. It is dark and sad, so you have to brace yourself for that. But, it’s also on Netflix right now!

Rate 10/10

March 21, 2014
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

IMDB Synopsis: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

I must admit that I am a HUGE Wes Anderson fan. I love his stories, I love his characters, I love the music he picks and the cinematography. So it may not be a surprise to you that I loved this film. It’s a multilayered flashback to an extent, but when you watch the beginning you’ll understand that it’s like…flashback-ception. The primary story delves into the life of a Lobby boy, Zero, at the most prestigious hotel in Eastern Europe. He’s schooled under Monsieur Gustave, the concierge at The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s a great story of how Gustave is accused of murdering his 84 year old mistress, and how they try to get out of that.

Ok, let’s talk about the fricken’ cast. Jeff Goldblum, Saorise Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Wilhelm Dafoe, Lea Seydoux, Jude Law and the usual Wes-friends- Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody. But the newcomer, playing Zero, is Tony Revovlori. Wonderful performances given by all, I can’t even believe they were all in the same movie together, Wes darling you have that power to unite. Seriously, the cast did so great and the movie was so great because they made the story even better than it already is!

The cinematography was interesting, it was darker lite than his other films and it was very tall and skinny. (I’m a pathetic cinematography describer.)

The story was quirky (I hate that word but really, is there anything else to describe Wes Anderson’s movies?) It’s wonderfully witty and unique and beautiful and sad and all of the emotions tied into a nice little hour and a half package. In comparison to other Wes Anderson films, I definitely love this one a lot. Partially because of the cast, but also I think this one was interesting because he set up definite “bad” and “good” guys. Go watch the film and disagree with me if you’d like, but if you compare it to other films (obviously all of his characters have their flaws) he set up the film in a murder-mystery sort of thing and it’s a battle of good vs. evil. Granted this is also seen in Fantastic Mr. Fox, but that was aimed for a more child-like audience so yes true. However, for a rated r film, it was interesting to see from him. I liked it though.

Overall, I highly recommend the film. I think it was marvelously done, and it definitely solidified Wes Anderson’s place in my heart as my favorite filmmaker. 

Rate:10/10

March 14, 2014
Violet & Daisy (2011)

IMDB Summary: Two teenage assassins accept what they think will be a quick-and-easy job, until an unexpected target throws them off their plan.

The first five minutes of this film is Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan dressed up as nuns shooting a gang of Latino men. Enough said. The premise of this film was really awesome, but the dialogue and acting fell through for me. Also, the editing was way off and there were weird errors with that in some places, like obviously weird errors. It’s Tarantino-esque so obviously I adored it in that sense, a mix of glamour and gore, cutesy assassins. But the weird forced dialogue and the over the top, dramatic acting turned me off from this movie at first. It’s really great the first half hour then it seems to fall flat. However, if you, like me, have nothing to do tonight on the first day of weekend, then this Netflix choice could be a good one if you like the whole Kill Bill meets Zooey Deschanel behavior thing. (Another note, the bangs, the weird acting, was Alexis Bledel TRYING to channel/mock New Girl? The world may never know…) Overall, ok film, but really it’s a great idea that sort of fell flat. 

Rate:5/10

March 14, 2014
Before Sunrise (1995)

IMDB Summary: A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together.

Directed by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (mega babes) star in this film about two twenty-somethings meeting and exploring Vienna together. Julie Delpy plays Celine, who meets Jesse, played by Ethan Hawke, on the train going to Vienna. Basically they get off the train together and explore the city before he has to fly back to America in the morning. Dude, I love this movie. Maybe it’s the whimsical cinematography and the gorgeous setting and two babes doing things that attractive people do, but really what I fell in love with about this film is how it’s all dialogue based and it’s so real. Like, no points in the film make the language sound forced or unnatural, it’s all basically real conversation, and I adore that about these actors! It’s either great talent or brilliant writing, a mixture of the two, perhaps. Granted, some of the events in the film maybe be too unrealistic (two people hoping off the train together!? Serial killer material there, I know). However, the movie is so real to me, and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have this wonderful embodiment of their characters and this great onscreen chemistry. I dig it. Ok, but here’s the best part of the film: the ending. I can’t give it away, but it’s super ambiguous and vague, and Linklater sort of gives insight into what your thinking process is, are you a lover, a pessimist, or do you NEED to know the truth? It’s brilliant. This film is a tricky one, because it’s the first installment of a trilogy so that helps out for the people who want to know what happens, BUT THEN THE ENDING OF THE SECOND IS LIKE THE ENDING OF THE FIRST AND I WANT TO RIP MY HAIR OUT A LITTLE BIT. Alright, ranting aside, I love this film, I highly recommend, please go watch!

Rate:9/10

March 9, 2014
The Princess and The Frog (2009)

IMDB Summary: A fairy tale set in Jazz Age-era New Orleans and centered on a young woman named Tiana and her fateful kiss with a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again.

This may possibly be the most risky review I ever post on this blog. Mainly because, well, it’s a Disney Princess movie. For some reason, there’s always raging controversy as to whether Disney princess films are diverse and pro-feminist enough and it’s a very intimidating topic that, to be honest, I am not well versed with. (I do consider myself a feminist, and I am an Asian American woman, but I have no idea whether pieces of animation are an affront to my morals or not.) So, in general, be sensitive with this review and don’t take it personally if I’ve offended you and what you stand for. I mean, this review is going to be a positive one. Again, I’m looking at Princess and the Frog from the filmmaker/review perspective.

OK, so I love the plot for this film. Granted, cliché endings and whatnot, but let’s be honest, whoever came up with this idea was super duper inventive. It’s basically about this girl, Tiana, who works two jobs in 1920’s New Orleans to make ends meet and start up her own restaurant. She gets mixed up in voodoo with a self-centered, broke Prince and both become frogs. Weird, I know, but so is voodoo! So lessons learned. Plot-wise, awesome film. It’s so creative and weird, and literally just my thing. The characters are so cute and well developed and I just really like them. Tiana is so clever and snarky and her friend Charlotte is a riot and Prince Naveem is a jerk (but a cute one) so the characters are totally worth watching the movie for in general.

The animation is basically 2D, Mulan style. I like it.

The music is cute, and it gets stuck in your head all day.

The only real issue I had with the film is that Tiana’s dress in the end is absolutely hideous, like they had the entire spectrum of green to work with and they chose this puke and boogers green which I detest.

If you have little kids/siblings, it’s a cute little film that is a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Don’t watch it if you…don’t like kid films/laughing/animation/having fun.

Rate:8/10

March 2, 2014
Nebraska (2013)

IMDB Summary: An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.

I literally don’t even know why I liked this movie so much. I watched it for the first time at amc bps yesterday, and I wasn’t expecting much but I ended up loving it. Maybe it’s my love for old people. Anyway, the acting seemed a little forced, and some of the shots were rough, but aside from that I loved the cinematography, I thought the film was refreshingly witty and equally sad but beautiful. Nebraska is about an old alcoholic father trying to get to Lincoln to claim prize money. His son played by Will Forte, is supportive to an extent, whereas the rest of the family wants to put him in a home. It’s a little sad, because it’s about how he didn’t really do all the things he wanted to do in his life and he’s dying, but it’s funny and it restored my faith in people to be sympathetic. I just really liked the plot of this movie. Again, not the best picture for tonight, but I definitely think that the people in the film gave wonderful performances and deserved to be nominated, so kudos to them.

I recommend to people who like dry?? Dark?? Comedy. And old people, if you hate old people (which is weird because they’re so neat and I love them) don’t want Nebraska.

Rate:8.5/10