The Shawshank Redemption Review

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 film directed by Frank Darabont and starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. It follows two men who spend their lives in the Shawshank prison, and the way that it affects them. This movie is great, and the chemistry between Red and Andy holds it together. The one thing I didn’t like is that at times, it can feel a little sappy due to the way it bluntly tries to get the audience to feel certain emotions.

The Shawshank Redemption takes place originally in the year 1947, and it follows Andy Dufresne, an innocent, but convicted murderer who is sent to Shawshank prison over the death of his cheating wife and her lover. There, he meets Red, a fellow prisoner who is known for smuggling items for fellow prisoners. There are a lot of twists and turns within this film, so naturally I’m not going to spoil the rest of the plot here.

Th relationship between Andy and Red is excellent. They have good chemistry and genuinely feel like they are friends. Certain scenes like Red giving Andy poster boards after he’s released from solitary really sell their relationship. The other characters are ok, mostly just cliche characters for every prison movie. There’s a brutal and unfair guard, a warden that is literally just a rip off from the one in escape from Alcatraz, and various prisoner stereotypes. They all serve their purpose, however, with the exception of perhaps the older prisoner Brooks who has a particularly stand out scene, none of them feel as fleshed our or well written as the main two characters.

The big thing I didn’t enjoy about this film, or found annoying, is that the movie is extremely blunt in the way it steers the audience. The score is very noticeable, and feels almost manipulative at times with the way it so clearly wants the audience to feel for the characters. The narration by Red can feel needless at times, and seems to have been done in purpose in order to make emotional scenes even more powerful. If anything, all these things lower how powerful some of the scenes are, because it makes it seem like the movie can’t show the audience a scene without trying to artificially enhance it through big annoying musical swells and narration in order to make the audience think the scene is greater than it actually is. I may be in the minority about this but these things got on my nerves.

Overall, although The Shawshank Redemption comes off at times a bit manipulative with the way it handles certain scenes, it ultimately is a good movie, and certainly a classic. It’s worth seeing, and I would definitely recommend it.

Knives Out review

This movie was recommended by a lot of my friends, and I finally got around to watching it. Knives Out is a mystery movie directed by Rian Johnson starring Ana De Armas and Daniel Craig. It follows the death of a wealthy mystery novel writer, and the mystery of who killed him. However, the biggest mystery I found with this movie, is how Rian Johnson can direct a piece of garbage like The Last Jedi one year, and then a great movie like Knives Out another year.

Knives Out stars Ana De Armes as Marta, the nurse and friend of a wealthy mystery writer. Marta as a character seems a little boring at the beginning, with her only real character trait being that she throws up when she lies. However, later on, she becomes much more interesting as she tries to cover her tracks and possible connection to murder. However, she always remains a good person, even throughout her Walter White-esque activities. And this was very intriguing, as although she’s tampering with evidence, she never succumbs to becoming a “true criminal” or bad person. At the end of the movie this is ultimately what saves her. The other major character is detective Blanc, played by Daniel Craig. He’s a very cool character, and he has some interesting speeches, however, his intense southern accent can be a bit annoying at times. I’m summing this was done in an effort to distance the actor from his 007 persona, but still, it feels out of place and annoying.

As far as the mystery within this mystery movie goes, it’s incredibly compelling and well done. Marta throughout the movie actually thinks she’s the murderer, due to an accidental morphine overdose, the audience in turn believes this too. Sadly however, although the murder reveal is cinematic, the true murderer itself is a little predictable, not in the sense that the audience suspects he tried to commit murder, but the audience does get a sense of an ulterior, sinister motive behind the character, therefore causing the audience to suspect him.

Another thing that must be mentioned about Knives Out is the music, and in particular, the fact that they used the song Animal Zoo from one of my favorite albums, Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. This is a very strange psychedelic album from the 70s that is incredibly unknown. Kudos to them that they even knew the song, and further credit that they decided to use it in the movie.

All in all, behind Looper, Knives Out might be Rian Johnson’s best film. It makes up for the abysmal train wreck that was The Last Jedi, and succeeds as a whodunnit movie, as well as a film overall. Knives Out is definitely a fun movie worth watching, and I really enjoyed it.

Joker Review

Joker is a very interesting movie. It has some incredible acting from the Joaquin Phoenix, yet at times it can feel a bit juvenile in it’s portrayal of violence, and it can also be a bit full of itself.

Joker takes place in the dark setting of Gotham City during the 80s. There’s class tension between the rich and the poor. In this dark time, a failed comedian named Arthur Fleck eventually leads class revolt against the rich. This movie heavily draws inspiration from film like Taxi Driver, and the King Of Comedy. This movie is very dark, both in its setting as well as the events that happen to the main character. Fleck is teased, beaten, and abused incessantly. The fact that he suffers from a disorder that makes him laugh when he’s sad doesn’t help his situation at all.

That disorder however, really lends itself to some of the acting in this movie. There are some scenes where Joaquin Phoenix has to simultaneously laugh and cry at the same time. It really is incredible, and he absolutely deserved an academy award for it. His performance is one of the best parts about this movie, and he holds the whole experience together, without him, this movie simply wouldn’t work.

The plot of Joker is very similar to taxi driver. In it, a man is pushed to the edge by an uncaring society, and decides to do something radically violent about it. However, unlike Travis Bickle in taxi driver, who actually does something morally good, Arthur Fleck simply decides to shoot a talk show host (ironically played by Robert De Niro who also played Travis Bickle.) This brings me to what I don’t really like about this movie. The whole story about Fleck becoming a hero for the 99% feels gratuitous, because he really didn’t do anything. All he did was shoot a talk show host because he was being politically correct about his jokes. It seems weird that he’d become a leader of a violent revolution simply over that.

Despite my mixed feelings about it’s plot, Joker has some amazing scenes and acting. It’s a good movie, and it feels very unique as far as superhero movies go. Kudos to Todd Phillips for making this movie, as releasing a movie as slow and unique as this in a market over saturated by a ridiculous amount of superhero movies is a risk, and one more film should take. Joker is worth watching, especially for the amazing acting on display here.

Cowboy Bebop Review

Normally, I don’t watch or review anime, however, this show heavily inspired my all time favorite show, Firefly, and apparently Netflix is making a Cowboy Bebop adaptation with John Cho, so, writing a review seems fitting. Cowboy Bebop takes place in the late 21st century, when humans have terraformed and colonized most planets and moons in the solar system. Bounty hunters, nicknamed “cowboys” are hired to hunt down and capture criminals throughout the system. The show follows a crew of these “cowboys” as they go on various bounties and adventures.

This show however, is very unique, in that it blends quite a bit of different genres. It’s got traditional sci-fi elements (and even does a spoof of alien in one episode,) it’s got parts of a spade western, it has sections taken from crime or even thriller movies, and it also has a major noir aspect, both in the noir inspired main character, and in the award winning incredible jazz soundtrack.

Cowboy Bebop’s characters for the most part, are one of its greatest strength. Three of the main characters, Spike, Jet, and Faye, are all very well written, with interesting backstories and personalities. However, the fourth, Ed is just plain annoying, speaks like she’s on drugs the whole time, and gets old very quickly. There are also guest characters, who get introduced to the show each episode, and usually killed at the end of it. However, this show actually kills off characters properly, by giving them backstory and motivation, and making the audience care about them.

Some of Cowboy Bebop’s story arcs per episode, are also incredibly interesting and creative. One includes a spoof of the movie alien, where a mutated creature is loose on the ship hunting down the crew. Another, has the crew fighting what essentially is space PETA. One of my favorites, is when they investigate graffiti appearing on the surface of a ruined and destroyed Earth, only to discover that it was a satellite recreating the nazca lines because it became lonely.

Overall, there really isn’t much else to say about Cowboy Bebop, for the most part it excels in basically every area, and upon rewatching it, I’d have to say it’s one of my favorite shows. This show even appeals to non-anime watchers, and if you like sci-fi or westerns, this is a must watch.

Moonrise Kingdom Review

Recently, my friend Augustus and I covered this movie on our podcast, Cinemix, but it only feels right to have a review on it, as it really is an incredible work. Moonrise Kingdom is a 2012 film directed by Wes Anderson starring Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. This movie feels like Bridge to Terabithia on drugs, and I loved it. This is probably my favorite Wes Anderson movie, and probably his best work.

Moonrise Kingdom takes place in 1965 on the island of New Penzance, and it follows two troubled twelve year olds who run away. However, they both know that their endeavor is essentially futile, as there’s a massive storm shortly arriving at the island. Moonrise Kingdom really is quite an amazing movie. It’s incredibly funny at times, very sweet and heartfelt at others, and it tackles personal themes such as belonging to a family, childlike love, and ultimately, the sad temporary nature of our childhood as human beings.

Unlike a lot of other Wes Anderson films, this one doesn’t come off as pretentious or ponderous, mainly because any notion of that is dispersed by the beautiful nature of the two main leads. They work, both as actors with their chemistry, but also as a way to express the themes of the movie. They have some great scenes together, such as their first kiss, a confrontation on top of a church steeple during s thunderstorm, or the ending of the movie, which reveals that they continue to see each other despite the girls parents’ wishes against it.

This movie also features a very impressive cast, including Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Francis McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and even Harvey Keitel. All of them are actually great, but standouts were Bruce Willis as a good hearted loser “island cop,” Edward Norton as a Boy Scout troop leader, and Bruce Willis as this depressed yet comedic father. They’re all incredibly funny and really interesting.

Overall, Moonrise Kingdom feels like a step above Anderson’s other works because of a sweet and heartfelt story, as well some deep themes. I really liked this movie, and despite it’s Wes Anderson “weirdness,” it’s a movie everyone should try and see.

Midsommar Review

Midsommar is a 2019 horror movie directed by Ari Aster starring Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor. It’s about a college student named Dani who travels to a Swedish midsummer festival with her boyfriend Christian and their friends. However, as the movie progresses it’s revealed that the festival is cultish and possibly dangerous. Overall, this movie isn’t all that scary, at least not to me. Midsommar is incredibly disturbing, however, it lacks a lot of the pure horror elements that Aster’s previous film, Hereditary, showed so excellently.

Midsommar is very unique as far as horror movies go, mainly because of it’s setting. It takes place in a remote Swedish village, and it used this setting to great effect, by having the villagers adopt barbaric and ancient traditions that date back to the Vikings. The history and cult aspect of this movie is interesting and well done, and it really makes this movie feel incredibly unique. Another very interesting aspect about this movie, is that it takes place almost entirely in the daytime. This is very strange as far as horror movies, as usually, they’re set at night.

Midsommar doesn’t go for traditional jump-scares or monsters like most horror movies. Instead, it opts for disturbing sequences or scenes. Hereditary also went for similar disturbing scenes, but unlike in Hereditary, which is a terrifying movie, Midsommar simply isn’t all that scary. It’s more uncomfortable than Hereditary to watch, as some scenes are arguably more disturbing than those in Hereditary, but there’s no real horror in Midsommar, at least not to me. I can’t quite figure out why. I think it’s becasue this movie never really speeds up in any sense. Hereditary was a slow movie too, but in certain scenes, when it wanted to scare the audience, it knew to speed up the pace. Midsommar really never does that. Because of that, it really doesn’t feel like a horror movie. That may be this movie’s biggest downfall. It succeeds more as a thriller than a traditional horror movie. And since it markets itself as the latter rather than the former, I found Midsommar a little disappointing.

However, this is still a good movie. It’s a little long, it’s a little silly, but it does have some truly disturbing imagery. For people looking for a pure horror movie, don’t watch this. Go watch Hereditary or Insidious. However, for the few viewers who actually like watching disturbing movies, you’ll love this. It’s just a pity this movie isn’t scarier, as the setting and historical elements really had a lot of potential for a great horror movie.

American Psycho Review

American Psycho is a 2000 movie directed by Mary Harron starring Christian Bale. It follows a young wealthy Wall Street executive who begins to commit a string of murders. This movie’s greatest asset is Christian Bales performance as Patrick Bateman. Other than that, everything else is basically average with this film.

Christian Bale is surprisingly great as the lead. He plays a Patrick Bateman very well, and makes the character extremely likable, despite his psychopathic tendencies. Nuances like discussing his taste in music with his victims really sell the character and make him interesting. He holds this entire film together and is easily the best part.

The rest of the film is kinda average in literally every other sense. Some of the acting is good, such as William Dafoe’s unnerving performance as a detective looking into Patrick’s murders. But some of it is really pretty bad, like the actress who plays Patrick’s secretary, she’s extremely boring and does basically nothing but read her lines. Also, other than Patrick, the audience really isn’t introduced to anyone. This movie moves along so fast that I can’t even remember anyone’s name other than Patrick’s. Granted, this isn’t a huge problem within this movie, as it really isn’t trying to make you invest in any character other than the main one. Still, it feels very jarring when the audience only knows one character in basically every scene.

The biggest problem with this movie, at least for me, is that the ending falls apart. After going on a murder spree with a gun that he seemingly pulls out of thin air, since the audience never saw it before, Patrick makes a confession to his lawyer on a phone. The next day he tries to talk to his lawyer about it, but his lawyer either covers for him, or he’s hallucinating. It really isn’t clear, and it makes you leave what otherwise was a fun movie, feeling pointless.

Overall, American Psycho is a violent yet entertaining movie with a very charismatic lead holding it all together. Sadly, everything outside of that lead feels painfully average. Still, if you’re into slasher flics or you like Christian Bale, you would probably like this movie. Unfortunately, I’m not particularly into either of those, so although I enjoyed Patrick Bateman as a character, I wasn’t a huge fan of this movie

Toy Story 4 Review

Recently, my Mom decided to get a Disney Plus subscription, mainly in order to watch Hamilton. Neither me nor the rest of my family are particularly huge Disney fans. However, we all do like Pixar, and as such, yesterday we decided watch Toy Story 4. It really is an excellent film and probably my favorite Toy Story.

This is undoubtedly the absolute funniest Toy Story movie. The comedy due Key and Peele voice two carnival plush animals, and they really made this film. There are some incredibly hilarious moments featuring them. In addition, Keanu Reeves plays a Toy Canadian stuntman who has PTSD from his previous owner. All three of these new characters are well written and surprisingly funny, and they were definitely my favorite part of the movie.

This movie’s themes are a bit less deep than some of Pixar’s other movies, like Up, which made audiences sob in literally the first ten minutes. This movie basically is saying that it’s ok to be honest with yourself, and sometimes people will let you down. This was a bit disappointing, as it’s kind of a typical theme in kid’s movies, and from the ending to a 24 year saga, it’s a bit of a letdown. However, despite that, I’m not ashamed to say I was crying a little at the end of this movie, as I grew up with this franchise and the ending is very emotional.

The biggest thing I don’t understand about Toy Story 4 is why it was made. This movie feels almost pointless, in that they already seemed to have finished the Toy Story franchise with a very satisfying conclusion at the end of the third movie. Making a sequel seems kind of greedy and needless, and this movie just overall is unnecessary.

That being said, although this movie didn’t need to be made, it was, and it’s great. Pixar has done it again, however, I really hope they don’t make a Toy Story 5, as for two movies in a row, they’ve given us what could what could be an end-point for the franchise, and making a fifth movie just seems wrong.

The Lobster Review

The Lobster is a romance movie directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. The film takes place in a society where single people are forced go to a hotel. There, they must find a partner within 45 days, otherwise, they are turned into an animal of their choice. David, whose wife just left him, goes to the hotel. However, when he cannot find a partner, he escapes, and joins the “loners,” a group of hotel escapees who live in the woods and force themselves not to love anyone. Ironically, it is here that David meets a woman that he loves. In case that synopsis didn’t make it clear, this is not a typical movie, but despite that, I really quite liked the lobster.

The acting in this movie is actually great, especially from Colin Farrell. He’s very subtle, however the audience can always tell what he’s thinking and what his motives are. He’s excellent as David, and he really sells the character as being this loser nobody who just wants to live a normal life. The audience really sympathizes with him as he gets caught up in the strange rules and regulations of both the hotel and the loners.

The biggest thing this movie does right, is that it doesn’t become pretentious, like Mr. Nobody or Swiss Army Man. This movie, unlike those, doesn’t get caught up with it’s message. It doesn’t try to be painfully obvious like Swiss Army Man, or ridiculously full of itself like Mr. Nobody. The Lobster is essentially showing that as people, we get into and out of relationships for incredibly petty reasons. And thankfully, this message is told without becoming ponderous or downright stupid.

This movie, is not for everyone. The story is presented in a weird manner, with a Third person narrator who’s later revealed to be David’s lover partially telling the story. This movie also has some very uncomfortable scenes, that will undoubtedly turn off some members of the audience. To be frank, this movie is weird and if you’re the kind of person who really likes marvel movies or “normal” things like that, you probably won’t like The Lobster.

All in all, I really liked this movie. I love Colin Farrell, and the movie as a whole is philosophical without being pretentious. The Lobster is a good film, and one you should at least try to watch.

Shutter Island Review

Shutter Island is a 2010 thriller directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo. It takes place in the 1950s, and focuses around two Marshalls investigating the disappearance of a mental patient from an insane asylum on an island. However, over time it’s revealed that there is something extremely sinister going on in shutter island.

I recently discussed this movie with my good friend Augustus on our podcast, Cinemix. Our general consensus was that this movie is quite good at keeping up tension, but the ending is a little polarizing. Just like in our podcast, this review will contain spoilers, as it’s very hard to talk about this movie without talking about the ending. In the last couple scenes of shutter island, it’s revealed that the main character, a U.S Marshall named a Teddy Daniels, is actually a patient at shutter island named Andrew Laeddis, and that his partner is actually his psychiatrist. The whole investigation on the island, was actually all an experiment in order to break into his psyche and stop his delusions of being a U.S Marshall. This twist ending is interesting, however, it feels a little unearned, at least to me, since the entire movie It’s implied that the ending reveal is that shutter island is doing experiments on it’s patients to develop mind control, and by having the twist be the complete opposite, I felt it undermined the experience as a whole. However, that’s not to say that they didn’t give clues or hints as to the truth in this movie. In fact, this movie has some of the best Easter eggs and secrets hidden throughout it. In one scene, at the beginning, teddy and his partner must give up their guns to the warden upon arriving at the island. Teddy, who used to be a real U.S Marshall before being committed to an asylum, easily unholsters his gun and hands it in. But his partner, who is in reality his psychiatrist, fumbles and has to take off his gun belt to hand in, because he doesn’t know how to use a gun, since he’s not a real Marshall. Another secret occurs when the Marshalls begin interrogating patients, behind both Teddy and the patient they are interrogating, a guard can be seen. However there is no guard behind Teddy’s partner. This is a subtle indication that Teddy is in reality a patient. Shutter Island is full of little secrets like those, and this makes it a great movie to analyze.

The acting is actually quite good in this movie. DiCaprio has some emotional scenes during some of the dream sequences where he really gets to show his talent. Mark Ruffalo however, did something really interesting. The whole movie, whenever he looks at teddy, it isn’t a look of respect or admiration for his “partner,” but rather a look of observation or amusement. This stood out, and it made the movie more believable.

Shutter Island still has it’s flaws however. It’s a little gratuitous when it comes to showing that the asylum is creepy, and there’s whole needless sequences at the beginning designed simply to create spooky ambience. The movie also uses very annoying musical swells at times, and since I made the mistake of watching this movie at around one in the morning, this especially got on my nerves.

Overall, despite it’s subjective ending, Shutter Island is a good movie, and a good thriller. It doesn’t really feel like typical Scorsese, but I would still recommend this movie.