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Showing posts from October, 2016

Rapid Reviews: Arrival and The Edge of Seventeen

Denis Villeneuve has rapidly emerged as one of Hollywood's most notable filmmakers. Elevating his craft from the ranks of indie filmmaking to mainstream motion pictures, Villeneuve's most recent works include Prisoners and Sicario. This year, however, the director is angling for a clever and artistic entry with his newest endeavor, Arrival, in hopes of capturing some awards season glamour.

Five-time Academy Award Nominee Amy Adams (now, let that sink in for a bit) stars as Louise, a linguistics expert summoned by the United States Military following the arrival of unidentified spacecrafts across 12 different areas of the world. Tasked with making contact and learning the intentions of these aliens, Louise and mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) try to unlock the secrets of their foreign language before a global catastrophe unravels.

Make no mistake about it, Arrival represents an artsy and cerebral effort merely using its sci-fi backdrop as a portal to its mind-bending st…

Rapid Reviews: Hacksaw Ridge and American Pastoral

Despite Mel Gibson's personal controversies, as a filmmaker he's managed to deliver impressive features like Braveheart, Apocalypto and The Passion of the Christ. This November Gibson returns with the war drama, Hacksaw Ridge. While the film doesn't quite measure up to the director's most notable works, its incredible true story makes for an engaging cinematic experience.

After a near-fatal accident as a child, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) makes a personal vow to never physically harm another human being. And following an attack on Pearl Harbor, young men all across the country are enlisting in the army to help America win World War II. Doss decides to join the army as a medic, but encounters the vitriol of his fellow fighters when he refuses to carry a weapon on the battlefield.

Hacksaw Ridge is a film about convictions, a theme that's obviously near and dear to Mel Gibson's heart. And while Andrew Garfield reaffirms his ability to carry a film, there are coun…

La La Land

Film: La La Land

Starring: Ryan Gosling (The Nice Guys) and Emma Stone (Birdman)

Director: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

U.S. Release: December 16th, 2016 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Musical

Runtime: 128 minutes

This year's Philadelphia Film Festival captured a gem for its 25th anniversary Opening Night selection. Damien Chazelle follows up his highly regarded Best Picture Nominee, Whiplash, with his dazzling sophomore effort, La La Land. Nostalgic and full of passion, the film pays its respects to old Hollywood all while providing a fresh vibe that will be difficult for any competitor to topple during the upcoming awards season. So if you're in search of an early Best Picture frontrunner, look no further than La La Land.

Mia's (Emma Stone) lifelong dream is to be a respected actress in Hollywood. But as the Nevada native experiences the ego-crushing defeat of Los Angeles' cutthroat audition process, she falls for a Jazz pianist named Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who hopes of one-day runni…

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Rogue One (NEW) Trailers

James Gunn's wildly successful 2014 origins story, Guardians of the Galaxy, delivered an engaging story and laugh-out-loud humor, making it my favorite film from the expansive Marvel universe. Therefore, the franchise's anticipated sequel is guaranteed to be one of next year's biggest summer blockbusters. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 unveiled its premiere teaser trailer yesterday and while its tight-lipped regarding any specific plot points, we do know the film will address the mystery surrounding Peter Quill's (Chris Pratt) father. Check out the debut teaser below.

While we have already witnessed some impressive footage surrounding Gareth Edwards' Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, can we ever really get enough? A new trailer for the December 16th release has dropped and it only elevates excitement to a whole new level. Academy Award Nominee Felicity Jones stars as Jyn Erso, a Rebellion soldier tasked with the mission of stealing the plans for the Death Star. James E…

Ben Affleck's Finest Works

The Accountant is the number one film in America and its leading star, Ben Affleck, is a two-time Oscar winner (neither of which were for acting, oddly). Therefore, this month felt like as good a time as any to recognize the writer, director and actor's most notable career achievements (September's list). So here they are, the finest films either written by, directed by, or starring Ben Affleck:

Honorable Mention: Chasing Amy, Dazed and Confused and Mallrats.

#5. Gone Girl (2014)

David Fincher's no holds barred mystery-thriller, Gone Girl, also happens to be the only film in the top 5 in which Affleck's only connection is as an actor. Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a disgruntled husband whose wife (Rosamund Pike) goes missing and all signs quickly point to him as the main suspect. There are twists, turns, gore, and so much more that help transform this brilliantly acted film into a thriller classic. And although Affleck's performance never quite resonated with the award…

Rapid Reviews: The Accountant and Queen of Katwe

After a recent string of successful releases, one of which earned a Best Picture Oscar, Ben Affleck has proven to be a far more accomplished director than actor. However, Affleck puts his acting chops on display in Warrior director, Gavin O'Connor's, new action-drama, The Accountant.

As a socially inept mathematical savant, Christian Wolff (Affleck) is raised by his military father and trained by martial arts experts to become a human weapon. As the years pass Christian works as a freelance accountant for some of the world's most dangerous criminals. But as the U.S. Treasury department closes in on Christian's identity, the accountant is left to solve the mystery surrounding his latest client.

The Accountant opens with a very strong first act that sadly crumbles throughout the rest of its more than two-hour running time. As the plot thickens and smaller storylines continue to form, the film reveals countless inadequacies. Surprisingly, The Accountant effectively uses com…

A MONSTER CALLS (2016) REVIEW : Film Fantasi Penuh Emosi

Jika sudah pernah membaca A Monster Calls milik Patrick Ness, tentu kalian akan menantikan bagaimana film adaptasi dari buku yang menang penghargaan. Ya, A Monster Calls mendapatkan kesempatan untuk akhirnya menjadi sebuah perjalanan visual adaptasi. Jika sudah pernah membaca dan bermimpi akan diadaptasi menjadi film, mungkin akan terpikirkan nama Guilermo Del Toro yang mumpuni dalam menyampaikan pesan tersebut ke dalam sebuah gambar bergerak.
Sayangnya, Guilermo Del Toro tak menjadi sutradara dari A Monster Calls. Proyek ini ternyata berada di tangan J.A. Bayona yang sudah pernah menangani film-film serupa. Sebut saja The Orphanage dan The Impossible, rasanya dua karya miliknya sudah cukup menjadi referensi atas kapabilitas J.A. Bayona sebagai sutradara. Sehingga, A Monster Calls diarahkan oleh J.A. Bayona rasanya sudah cukup berpengaruh besar dalam gaya penuturan film adaptasinya.
Beruntungnya lagi, A Monster Calls masih menggunakan Patrick Ness sebagai penulis naskahnya. Harapan fi…

ATHIRAH (2016) REVIEW : Urgensi, Relevansi, dan Intimasi dalam Film Biografi

Urgensi, kata yang tepat dan selalu menjadi poin menarik di setiap film-film tentang seseorang atau biografi. Menilik tujuan seperti apa yang ingin diwujudkan lewat beberapa sineas setelah menyelesaikan proyek film biografi. Beberapa poin ini memang terkadang masih terkesan bias, karena masih ada kepentingan politik yang berusaha ingin disampaikan. Memang, film sejatinya bisa digunakan sebagai alternatif penyampaian pesan, film memiliki misi dari pembuatnya. Sehingga, metode ini kerap digunakan sebagai medium untuk membangun atau mengembalikan sebuah citra.
Juga ada Relevansi, kata yang tepat setelah menonton sebuah film biografi. Apa yang berusaha dibangun dan ingin disampaikan oleh menonton akan berdampak pada bagaimana seseorang memiliki paradigma dengan sosok tersebut. Dua poin itu juga yang membuat Riri Riza ingin mengabadikan secara visual tentang sosok Ibu Jusuf Kalla bernama Athirah. Memoir tentang Athirah telah pertama kali dituliskan ke dalam bentuk buku oleh Albethiene En…

Allied (NEW) and Patriots Day Trailers

Another potential Oscar contender from the heralded filmmaker, Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump and Back to the Future), makes its way into theaters at the end of November. Allied features Brad Pitt as an intelligence officer in North Africa during World War II who crosses paths with a French Resistance fighter (Marion Cotillard), and their developing relationship becomes complicated by the challenges of the war. Boasting a high-profile pair of leads and a renowned director, Allied becomes an intriguing fall prospect that could impact the awards season.

Peter Berg recently unveiled his latest true-story drama, Deepwater Horizon, which happened to be accompanied by a sneak peek into Berg's next project, Patriots Day. Slated for an early release in January of 2017, the film centers around an officer (Mark Wahlberg) and various others involved with the horrific Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt which followed in 2013. Berg has certainly followed a formulaic approach to his true-sto…

2016 Philadelphia Film Festival Preview

Nearly a week ago the Philadelphia Film Festival announced the lineup for its 25th anniversary of bringing Oscar-caliber films to the City of Brotherly Love. I was very pleased as they were able to secure the vast majority of the titles atop my wish-list. The event kicks off of on Thursday October 20th and runs through Sunday October 30th. For more information regarding the full film schedule or how to purchase tickets to this monumental event, you can visit the festival's website. Now, let's take a look at the most notable films appearing at this year's event.

Honorable Mention:Bleed for This, Blue Jay, I, Daniel Blake, Jackie, Lion and Moonlight

#5. The Edge of Seventeen

Since I have a soft-spot for coming-of-age comedies, Kelly Fremon Craig's The Edge of Seventeen already felt like an intriguing prospect. Yet, after a wildly successful premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival a couple weeks ago, this late entry into the Philadelphia Film Festival (playing Th…

Rapid Reviews: The Birth of a Nation and Deepwater Horizon

The Sundance Film Festival has turned into a gold mine for major studios looking to profit off of reasonably budgeted works. And when one movie hits the trifecta of earning the Audience Award, the Grand Jury Prize and a record-setting $17.5 million deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures, in the famous words of Ron Burgundy, it's "kind of a big deal". Writer, director and star Nate Parker's debut feature, The Birth of a Nation, accomplished the difficult feat and leaves us all wondering, what exactly are the film's Oscar chances?

Prior to the Civil War, Nat Turner (Parker) is a literate slave and preacher who's spent his entire life on the plantation of inherited owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer). Considering the times, Samuel provides his workers with a more desirable lifestyle as he entrusts Nat to keep morale high. But as a drought strikes the area and finances grow tight, Samuel sells Nat's preaching services to nearby slave owners where Nat discovers ter…

DVD Outlook: October 2016

As the calendar turns to October, generally it represents a packed fall season filled with awards players and top-tier filmmakers (September's suggestions). Therefore, new DVD releases often take a backseat to these in-theater options until the December rush just prior to the lucrative holiday season. However, this October boasts one of the year's finest films and a must-watch that impressed me on all levels. So here's a look at the month's finest offerings:

Captain Fantastic - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)

The Sundance Film Festival has become a fruitful platform for the year's best independent films. One such under-the-radar selection, Silicon Valley's Matt Ross' directorial effort Captain Fantastic, captures every emotion and proves to be one of the year's finest movies. Viggo Mortensen stars as Ben, an independent father who's become disgusted with the concept of modern society. Along with his wife, the couple ventures deep into t…

WARKOP DKI REBORN : JANGKRIK BOSS PART 1 (2016) REVIEW : Semangat Nostalgia Atas Nama Komersialisasi

Siapa yang tak kenal dengan trio komedian Dono, Kasino, dan Indro? Nama mereka menjadi salah satu sosok legendaris yang dikagumi oleh banyak orang yang pernah mengikuti zaman kejayaan mereka. Mereka menyebut diri mereka ‘Warkop DKI’ yang sudah memiliki banyak sekali film-film dan serial televisi. Dono dan Kasino yang telah wafat, membuat grup komedian ini sudah absen selama beberapa tahun. Beberapa pihak ingin sekali ‘menghidupkan kembali’ sebuah ikon komedi legendaris di Indonesia ini.
Maka, Falcon Pictures yang sudah sering bekerjasama dengan Indro Warkop akhirnya melahirkan kembali trio komedian ini dengan sosok baru. Bersama dengan Anggy Umbara, Falcon Pictures berinisiatif untuk membuat Warkop DKI Reborn yang tetap mengangkat nama Dono, Kasino, dan Indro tetapi dengan wajah yang berbeda. Abimana Aryasatya, Vino G. Bastian, dan Tora Sudiro dipercaya untuk melakonkan sosok legendaris ini ke dalam sebuah film berjudul Jangkrik Boss yang dibagi menjadi dua bagian.
Jelas, proyek ini m…