Being John Malkovich Review

Being John Malkovich is a 1999 film directed by Spike Jonze, and written by Charlie Kaufman. It stars John Cusack and Catherine Keener. This is a very strange film people who discover a portal into famous actor John Malkovich’s mind. This is one of Charlie Kaufman’s best films, and I really liked it.

Being John Malkovich follows Craig Schwartz, a complete loser in life with a passion for being a puppeteer, who lives with his girlfriend who’s a veterinarian. After taking a strange job on floor 7 1/2 of an office building, he meets his femme fatale coworker Maxine. Soon after, he finds a door in the building that lets anyone experience the life of John Malkovich in real time. Craig and Maxine then go on to found a business letting people experience being John Malkovich. Things get complicated however, when both Craig’s wife, John Malkovich itself, and a cult of people who inhabit other bodies all get involved.

Being John Malkovich is excellent. It’s hilarious, it’s thoughtful, and it touches on some unique themes, that are similarly touched on in other Charlie Kaufman films. The dynamic and clear power difference between Maxine and Craig is quite funny at times, with Maxine clearly manipulating Craig while he’s simply infatuated with her. Additionally, this movie ponders what it is that keeps us from our dreams, and how we tend to only love one aspect of a person, instead of loving them as a whole. Craig is an excellent puppeteer, however his skill is only recognized when he’s inhabiting Malkovich. Similarly, Maxine falls in love with John Malkovich, but only if Craig’s wife is inhabiting him at the moment. There’s a lot to analyze in this film and I found it really interesting to try and decipher some of the themes and messages found within.

One thing that felt rather needless to me was the introduction of the “mind transporting cult” that ends up living in Malkovich at the end of the film. They really don’t seem to serve a purpose, and although funny at times, made the movie a lot more confusing, at least to me.

Overall, Being John Malkovich is a weird film that deserves your attention. Charlie Kaufman should be more famous, and this movie is undoubtedly one of his best.

Spectre Review

Spectre is a 2015 film directed by Sam Mendes, and starring Daniel Craig with Léa Seydoux. It follows James Bond as he takes down a secret organization that has up until now, been the architect of all Bond’s troubles. Sadly, this Bond film doesn’t live up to the previous one, and it’s a notable downgrade from Skyfall.

Specter follows James Bond soon after the events of Skyfall. He soon discovers a shadowy organization called Spectre, that’s been behind all the previous movie’s problems. He later discovers that the person behind Spectre is none other than his half brother Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Together with his old enemy’s daughter Madeleine, he takes down Spectre.

First off, this Bond film has great action, and easily some of the best action scenes in the whole series. There are a lot of memorable scenes such as the opening one shot take during the day of the dead in Mexico, or the scene where Bond chases a car with a plane in the Austrian alps. Additionally, the organization of Spectre itself is really interesting. At one point Bond infiltrates a secret meeting in Rome, and spies on their shadowy dealings. The general air of mystery about Spectre was fascinating to me, and seeing how vast the organization was made them feel like a formidable adversary.

However, Spectre also has a lot of flaws. For starters, it has a really forgettable and silly villain, as well as an annoying Bond girl. I love Christoph Waltz, and I was very excited to hear that he was in this film. However, he’s underused severely, and frankly he just isn’t that scary. Christoph Waltz is an amazing actor, but he really wasn’t given the time or writing to really make a good character. Also, the Bond girl here, Madeleine Swann, is really annoying, and seems like she’s in a bad mood all the time. Also, this movie doesn’t seem as unique as sky fall, in that it kinda feels like they just tried to fulfill a checklist of everything a Bond film needs. It sometimes feels like it lacks soul.

Overall, Spectre is a pretty big disappointment. They had a lot of opportunities to do make a great movie, and they failed on most of them. It’s worth watching, but it’s definitely not as good as Skyfall.

Britannia Season 1 Review

Britannia Season 1 came out in 2018, and it stars Kelly Reilly and Eleanor Worthinton Cox. It follows the Celtic tribes as they deal with the second Roman invasion of Britain. Overall, Britannia has a lot of potential. It’s got a great setting, some interesting spiritual elements, and an excellent villain. However, it is held back at times by a bit of an identity crisis, and some very hit or miss characters.

Britannia follows Cait, a Celtic peasant forced on the run after The Romans slaughter her family. Along the way she has encounters with various druids and tribal queens, and eventually finds out she is the child of a prophecy concerning the arrival of the Romans.

My absolute favorite aspect of Britannia is it’s villain, Aulus Plautius, or the Roman general who led the second invasion or Britannia. David Morrissey is an incredibly underrated actor, and he’s amazing in this. He’s incredibly charismatic, yet also unpredictable and even scary at times. He also clearly inspires morale in his men throughout the show, and seems like an incredibly formidable threat. Beyond Aulus, there are a handful of other memorable characters. There’s Divis, an insane outcast Druid who has the niche ability to hypnotize people using pebbles, and Kerra, the defiant newly elected queen of the Cantii tribe, and Veran, the ancient lead Druid. Speaking of Druids, a really cool aspect about this show is how it integrates the Celtic religion into the plot (albeit not terribly realistically but still.) some characters can also use magic, and it makes for some hilarious moments.

Britannia is not without it’s flaws however. A big problem with this film is that it seems to have a sort of identity crisis. It can’t make up it’s mind wether it’s trying to be a zany historical drama or a brutally serious one. It’s a bit jarring at times and it makes this show feel a little weird. Thankfully however, the trailers for the second season seem to be hinting at more humor in the second season. Additionally, a lot of the characters in Britannia are poorly written. They’re boring and I didn’t even know the names of some of the characters until the last episode. Also, why is the Roman armor leather!? Lorica Segmentata armor was very cheap to make, and it makes no sense to have it made out of leather.

Overall, Britannia displays a lot of potential, and I’m excited for season 2 this October, however, season 1, at least in my opinion, doesn’t live up to other similar shows’ first seasons like Vikings or The Last Kingdom.

Skyfall Review

Skyfall is a 2012 film directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, and Javier Bardem. It follows James Bond as he takes on a dangerous rogue agent from MI6’s past, as well as demons from his own past. This is regarded as one of the greatest Bond ever, as it featured great action, one of the best villains of the series, and a pretty epic main theme by Adele.

Skyfall follows a damaged and grizzled James Bond, a far cry from the slick and confident one audiences met in Casino Royale. After being wounded in action by a fellow agent, Bond falls into alcoholism and leaves MI6, with them all believing him to be dead. However, he is forced to come back when Silva, a rogue MI6 agent comes back and seeks revenge. Bond must then confront Silva, as well as his own personal demons at his ancestral family home, Skyfall.

This is the best of the Daniel Craig Bond films. Up until Skyfall, Bond’s humanity has really never been explored. This film makes Bond seem more like an actual damaged human being, instead of a slick womanizing super-spy. Additionally, Skyfall has one of the absolute best Bond villains ever with Raoul Silva. Javier Bardem plays an ex MI6 agent who went rogue after his superior, M, possibly gave him up to be captured and tortured. He’s unique and unpredictable. One moment he’ll pull out his prosthetic jaw to reveal cyanide burns, while in the next he may try and turn Bond gay. He’s interestingly written and very well acted. There’s also a cool contrast between old and new in this movie. Bond is referred to as being off his game due to leaving MI6 temporarily, which contrasts nicely with his new quartermaster, a very young inventor. Additionally, the end of the movie takes place at Bond’s ancient ancestral family home in Scotland, Skyfall. It’s a cool underlying theme, and it makes the movie feel very smart compared to some of the dumber James Bond movies such as moonraker.

The one thing I wish they did with this movie is better explain Bond’s past. It seems like he’s going to have to confront his personal demons from his parent’s death but nothing ever comes of it. They’re even building up to it, by having him freeze when he hears the word “Skyfall” during a therapy analysis session. In fact, the audience doesn’t know or find out what trauma happened in Bond’s past. Characters make allusions to it, saying “how old were you when it happened?” Or “He hid here for two days when they died.” But it feels pointless and a bit disappointing that the audience never finds out what happened to Bond, and that he never has to confront his demons.

Skyfall is a great film, and it is much better than it’s predecessor Quantum of Solace. Although it’s not the absolute best Bond film of all time, it probably falls into the top 5, and deserves to be seen.

Looper Review

Looper is a 2012 film directed by Rian Johnson, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. It follows a hitman from the past who is hired to kill criminals from the future. This movie is really underrated, and it uses it’s time travel scenario to the fullest extent with some unique ideas.

Looper takes place in 2044. In this dystopian version of America, hit men called loopers are tasked with killing people sent back in time 30 years from the future, as it’s very hard to get away with murder in the future. However, every once in a while, the people from the future will send back an ex-looper to be killed by themselves from the past. This is known as “closing your loop,”and it essentially means a looper only has 30 years to live. A ruthless crime boss from the future, known only as the Rainmaker, is killing off loopers by sending them back in time. He does this to a looper named Joe, however, the future version of Joe escapes before he can be shot by his past self. The future version then goes on to try and hunt down the rainmaker when he is still a child. This leads to a conflict between both the past and future versions of Joe opposing each other.

The movie has a really interesting premise, and it makes the most of it. There is an absolutely horrifying scene where a future looper is being killed off piece by piece in order to lure him into a trap. Another unique scene granted by this premise is how the audience sees a young Joe (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt,) age into an older Joe, (played by Bruce Willis) over the course of a 30 year montage. Additionally, the acting in this movie, from both versions of Joe, is fantastic. They seem like the same character, and the makeup on Joseph Gordon-Levitt is incredible. Bruce Willis even apparently said in an interview that he noticed Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing tiny behavior quirks that he does with his language. Overall, this movie is very smartly written, and very well acted.

The one thing I really didn’t like about Looper was the antagonist. I’m not talking about the older version of Joe, I mean the true antagonist, the Rainmaker. First off, I was a little disappointed that we as an audience never get to see the older version of the Rainmaker. He’s hyped up as being this brutally effective and mysterious boss, but he’s never shown, at least not as an adult. He is, however, shown as a kid, and he’s really annoying. He’s smart, but kind of rude to everyone, and it doesn’t make any sense that younger Joe suddenly starts caring for this kid after a single interaction involving him passing a screwdriver, and then Joe sleeping with his mom once. The kid is really unlikable, and I found myself wanting older Joe to shoot him in some scenes.

That being said, Looper is a very smart and interesting movie. It’s got a unique premise, some great acting, and some excellent scenes. It never fails to amaze me how Rian Johnson makes movies like this and Knives Out one year, but then an abysmal train wreck called the Last Jedi another year.

Casino Royale Review

Casino Royale is a 2006 movie directed by Martin Campbell. It is the first of the Daniel Craig Bond films, and it follows James Bond as he must infiltrate a high stakes poker game in order to apprehend a banker for terrorist organizations. This movie is very good, and although it doesn’t feel like the classic Bond films, it thankfully brought the character into the modern era, and revitalized the series.

Casino Royale follows James Bond, this time portrayed by Daniel Craig, as he acquires his license to kill, and is sent to take on Le Chiffre, a sort of banker for terrorist organizations. When Le Chiffre loses the money given to him by the terror organizations, he attempts to win it back by staging a high stakes poker game. Bond must then infiltrate and win the poker game in order to foil Le Chiffre’s plans.

This is an excellent bond film. It has a charming and charismatic 007, a mysterious Bond-girl, and fairly terrifying villain portrayed by the incredible Mads Mikkelsen. Prior to this movie, the only movie that made poker seem this cool was the Sting. The scenes where Bond is playing against Le Chiffre are surprisingly intense, and very well directed. What’s also nice about this movie, is that even if you don’t understand how to play poker, characters such as Vesper talk about it in such a way that the audience can understand what’s going on. It’s also nice that unlike the previous Pierce Brosnan Bond films, which were at time way too silly and campy, this film takes itself very seriously. There are no scenes of Bond surfing on a piece of airplane in this movie. This film feels very realistic, and it’s a nice change of pace. Granted, that also means that at times it doesn’t even feel like a true Bond film, because it does lack some of the funnier aspects the Sean Connery ones had while also remaining serious.

Another aspect I noticed about this film is the glaring plot flaw. Although I don’t usually select these to discuss in movies, this one is so obvious it’s really hard to ignore. There’s no purpose to Bond going to the Casino to win against La Chiffre because there’s literally nothing stopping Bond from bringing him in then and there. La Chiffre has no protection, he’s desperate, and he’s completely exposed out of hiding. This plot flaw really undermines the film, and it stands out in what is otherwise a pretty perfect film.

Overall, despite it’s different, more serious tone compared to other Bond films, it nonetheless is a stellar spy movie, and one that absolutely deserves fans attention.

La La Land Review

La La Land is a 2016 movie directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. The film follows two young artists who must choose between their respective careers or being with the other person. This movie is truly unique and incredible, and it really doesn’t get enough attention as it should.

La La Land follows Sebastian and Mia. Sebastian is a jazz pianist who wishes to start his own jazz club and bring classic jazz music back to Los Angeles. Mia is an actress who wishes to make it big, but is consistently overlooked for whichever role she auditions in. The two of them fall in love and end up being a couple. However, over time, their respective dreams take hold of their lives and deprive them of each other. Although this is technically romance film, it’s certainly not a happy one, as the ending is incredibly sad and bittersweet.

In addition to being a romance film however, La La Land also incorporates elements from broadway musicals, and often the cast will break into a song and dance routine in the middle of a traffic jam. The music in this movie is simply amazing. Almost every track is memorable, catchy, and sometimes even beautiful. In addition to the music, the setting of L.A. is wonderful. This movie makes me want to move to California, because La La Land portrays it as being magical vibrant. The setting perfectly compliments the music, even the slower more somber tracks such as “City of Stars.”

There were a couple of annoying things I found in La La Land. For one, Ryan Gosling’s voice. I think Ryan Gosling is a really great and underrated actor. He’s excellent in this. However, his voice I found irritating. It almost sounds too quiet or tired. Another thing is that despite Mia and Sebastian’s relationship feeling very real as a whole due to some great chemistry between the leads, the fight scene they have feels really unnatural. First off, it’s never really been shown that there was any tension in the relationship. Yes, Sebastian was touring, but Mia was shown missing him, not resenting him. And also, the fight seems to come out of nowhere, and escalate from 0-100 in a second. Overall it just doesn’t feel natural and stands out considering the rest of their relationship was so well done.

I love La La Land. It’s a magical and unique film. It’s really sad that the main reason people remember this film is because of that fiasco at the Oscars a couple of years ago. La La Land deserves your attention and needs to be watched by more people.

The Princess Bride Review

The Princess Bride is a 1987 movie directed by Rob Reiner and starring Cary Elwes and Robin Wright. It follows a swordsman trying to get back his true love from the clutches of an evil prince. This is a classic swashbuckling movie and it absolutely deserves it’s reputation.

The Princess Bride follows Wesley, a peasant who becomes a great pirate and swordsman after being captured by a famed pirate captain. However, the rest of the world believed him dead, and his lover, Buttercup, consequently became engaged to a prince. After Buttercup is kidnapped by bandits, Wesley must stop them as well the prince and bring her home.

This movie is great. I still remember seeing it on my cousins portable dvd viewer when we couldn’t sleep one night, and it retains the same charm years later. It’s got funny characters, such as Wesley with his dry wit, or even the prince with his cowardice, some excellent (albeit completely ridiculous) sword fighting, the fight between Wesley and Inigo is legendary among film buffs, and a really likable lead character that the audience roots for the whole film. As I said before, there is a very famous fight scene between Wesley, and a Spanish fencer named Inigo Montoya. It takes place upon a cliff side, with both men using rapiers. Some of the fighting is quite good actually, with fairly realistic, although slightly telegraphed moves. Granted, there’s also acrobatics and pirouettes which no fencer worth their salt would ever do, but it looks very cinematic. Additionally, the line, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.” Actually comes from this film, and it’s constantly parodied.

The acting and plot in this movie are nothing particularly special. Cary Ewles as Wesley is incredibly likable, particularly due to some hilarious line delivery. Buttercup on the other hand is a little boring and doesn’t really do anything the whole film it seems. The main thing I didn’t really like about this film was the sub plot in the present day. Technically, the whole film is occurring while a grandfather is reading to his sick grandson. This wouldn’t be as much of a detraction from the experience, if it weren’t for the fact that the grandkid is really annoying, and seems to interrupt the action at the worst times. Also, it just seems unnecessary to even have a present day section.

Overall, The Princess Bride is a classic film, that should be watched. It’s got fun action, some hilarious moments, and incredible sword fights. I love this film, and I highly recommend it.

The Last Airbender Review

The Last Airbender is a 2010 film directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Noah Ringer. Saying this film is bad is like saying Hitler wasn’t a particularly good person. Both, while technically true, don’t even begin to cover the extent of how awful each is/was.

The Last Airbender is a movie based off the classic kids tv show Avatar: The Last Airbender. Now while the show is arguably one of the best pieces of television ever made, the movie falls on the opposite side of the spectrum. Both follow Aang, a young boy living in an eastern inspired fantasy world filled with “benders,” or people who can manipulate one of the four elements. However, Aang is the only person able to bend all four elements, and is called the Avatar. It’s his job to stop the fire nation from conquering the world. The tv show handles this plot wonderfully, while the movie messes it up and is consequently very confusing.

This may sound like an exaggeration, but there is not a single aspect of this movie that’s good. The acting is awful. The cgi is terrible. The script and writing is so bad it’s not even fun to laugh at. The editing is atrocious. The names from the show are all mispronounced. The action is laughable from how bad it is. The casting for the most part is terrible (and kind of racist?) The only slightly good aspect is Dev Patel’s Zuko, and he actually feels well cast in the role. The rest of the cast however feels incredibly wrong. In the show, the various elemental nations were inspired by real life Asian cultures. For example, Airbenders were based off Tibetan Monks while waterbenders were based off of the Inuit people. In the show, everybody is white, and it just feels completely wrong. Ironically though, the bad guys are still diverse.

It’s not all bad however, as The Last Airbender makes one ask questions. Such as, “they thought they were going to three movies like this?!” Or “what could I have done for two hours instead of watching this piece of junk?” Overall, spare yourself from this terrible experience. Watch the animated tv show instead, it’s amazing. Just please, for the love of all things good in this world, skip the movie.

Good Will Hunting Review

Good Will Hunting is a 1997 directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Matt Dameon and Robin Williams. It follows a janitor who is also an extremely gifted mathematician, who must determine the course of his life with the help of his psychiatrist. This is really a great drama, of not just a bit formulaic.

Good Will Hunting stars Matt Damon as Will, a janitor at MIT University. However, when he solves an extremely difficult math equation accidentally, a professor takes interest in him, and tries to get him a career in mathematics. Due to his probation however, Will is forced to meet with a psychiatrist named Sean, a friend of the math professorGood Will Hunting is an excellent film. It has likable, well-written, realistic characters, a good protagonist, and a very relatable theme. There really isn’t much I can say other than that this movie essentially succeeds in every account. The acting, especially by Matt Damon, is fantastic. He conveys the character’s flaws very realistically, and he’s incredibly likable, particularly in the bar scene. The main flaw with a Will is that he doesn’t want to use his talents, or that he’s afraid to. This is prevalent throughout the movie, and it’s more unique than most cliche drama themes. And I found it very relatable, as I have to go to college soon, and the pressure to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life exerted on Will in this movie feels similar to high school nowadays.

There’s not many flaws with this film. It almost feels like a perfect movie. If I had to find something wrong with Good Will Hunting, it’d be that it’s a tad predictable at times. Granted, it’s probably because this film follows a clear version of the “hero’s journey,” but that formula works pretty much all the time, so the predictability doesn’t really hurt the movie itself.

All in all, Good Will Hunting is simply a great film. There’s not much I can talk about with it, because it simply excels in every account. It’s definitely worth watching, and more than likely a career-best performance for Matt Damon.