Up In the Air (2009) Review

Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert with a job traveling around the country firing people. Ryan, played by George Clooney, enjoys living out of a suitcase, but finds that lifestyle threatened when he meets the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams

WATCH THE REVIEW

Sam Kench reviews the 2009 Jason Reitman film Up In the Air starring George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Farmiga.

FUN FACT VIA IMDB

“A large amount of the people we see fired in the film are not actors but people who were recently laid off. The filmmakers put out ads in St. Louis and Detroit posing as a documentary crew looking to document the effect of the recession. When people showed up, they were instructed to treat the camera like the person who fired them and respond as they did or use the opportunity to say what they wished they had. A way to discern who are the actors and who are the real people is that the real people do not have dialogue with George Clooney or Anna Kendrick, as they were shot separately. Jason Reitman did this intentionally, feeling that the real people would freak out Clooney and Kendrick.”

Turbo Kid (2015) Review

Sam Kench reviews the 2015 post apocalyptic 80’s throwback Turbo Kid written and directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell , and Yoann-Karl Whissell, and starring Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Aaron Jeffrey, and Michael Ironside.

 

 

If you think Turbo Kid looks like your cup of tea you can find it on Amazon right here

The Lobster (2015) Review

Sam Kench and Tara Hartnett review the 2015 dystopian absurdist drama The Lobster directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, written by Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, and starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman and John C. Reilly.

If you think The Lobster looks interesting you can click here to check it out on Amazon

It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012) Review

Sam Kench and Tara Hartnett review the 2012 animated film It’s Such a Beautiful Day written, directed, and voiced by Don Hertzfeldt.

There was a professional audio set up for this review done by Brian Hubbard.

Click HERE to watch the review.

 

Beasts of No Nation (2015) Review

Sam Kench reviews the 2015 Netflix original film “Beasts of No Nation” starring Abraham Attah and Idris Elba and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga

Review on Youtube

The 13 Best Movies of 2015 That Weren’t Acknowledged by the Oscars

The Academy Award is one of the most prestigious prizes in the filmmaking world but it is not the end all be all of quality. Every year there are dozens of great movies that go by without recognition from the Academy, either because they don’t fit the Academy’s ideal for what is quality or because they are just missed for some reason or another.

This list will briefly go over 13 movies that are worth watching that weren’t given as much award attention. These are all movies that I would highly recommend that did not receive a nomination in any category.

#13)  Legend
Legend was a fun gangster movie that had a few shortcomings but was elevated 10 fold by jaw droppingly good dual performances from Tom Hardy playing real life British Gangster twins, the Krays. Tom Hardy could have easily been nominated for both best lead actor and best supporting actor at the Oscars for this film instead of just supporting actor for The Revenant.

 

 

#12) While We’re Young

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While We’re Young is one of two efforts this year from indie director Noah Baumbach. It is a small scale dramedy that works equally well as a biting social commentary on aging, truth, hipster culture, friendship, and more, and as a very funny comedy. It does suffer from some third act problems where the plot gets a little too lofty for its good which is what keeps this movie from being higher on the list.

#11) People, Places, Things

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People, Places, Things is a very small indie drama that has a good helping of comedy to help it along its way. The drama is very strong, particularly regarding the work done by the lead character as a cartoonist which lead to some genuinely touching and emotional moments. The comedy is less frequent than the drama but is strong when it does show up. The film is helmed by the excellent Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame, and has a solid supporting cast as well. The kind of indie movie that knows it won’t be super famous or gross a ton of money and doesn’t care, it just wants to tell its story well.

#10) Call Me Lucky

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A documentary by Bobcat Goldthwait, Call Me Lucky functions as a biopic on Barry Crimmins, a stand up comedian with a tragic past. The less that is known about this story before watching the better. A great documentary that is both funny and tragically sad.

#9) The End of the Tour

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The End of the Tour has an Oscar worthy performance from Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace, but it isn’t at all surprising that he wasn’t even nominated. The only slight against this movie is that it becomes a little bit visually repetitive, since the entire film is mostly just two dudes having a conversation, and there is a lot of horrendous product placement, otherwise The End of the Tour is a great drama with some comedy sprinkled throughout.

#8) It Follows

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It Follows was the best straight up horror film of the year. An 80’s throwback in style but fresh in it’s ideas. Well written, well cast, and well directed. An all around great horror movie.

#7) Kingsman: The Secret Service

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Kingsman got plenty of buzz but no recognition at the oscars, which isn’t surprising at all, it’s not the type of movie the Academy goes for, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good by any means. Kingsman is a blast, a possible contender for most straight up fun movie of the year. Collin Firth, Mark Strong, and Samuel L. Jackson are all great and there is a real star turning role for Taron Edgerton. The Church scene will likely go down as one of the most memorable actions sequence of the decade.

#6) Beasts of No Nation

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The Netflix made film about the horrors of child soldiering is very well put together. It avoids the melodrama and preachyness that it could have easily had. Idris Elba and Abraham Attah both deserved Oscar nominations for their performances in Beasts of No Nation.

#5) What We Do in the Shadows

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The second appearance by Jemaine Clement and this time he’s also in the writer and director chair as well as acting it it. What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious movie that puts vampires into extremely mundane contemporary situations. Great comedy.

#4) Bone Tomahawk

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This one I’ve already reviewed: Review on youtube

It’s a brutal western with great characterization that mixes horror into the traditional western action elements.

#3) The Lobster

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The Lobster is a film by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, the man behind Dogtooth and The Alps. It’s wonderfully bizarre and critical of society while also being very funny and dark at the same time. It switches between disturbing drama and whimsical weirdom with ease.

#2) Réalité

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Réalité is the latest film from French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux. It is crazy and surreal. The plot is hard to explain and even to understand which is all intentional. Another film that it’s better to know nothing about going in, I loved every second of it.

#1) Mistress America

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Mistress America was the other film from Noah Baumbach in 2015. In the vain of his earlier film Frances Ha, Mistress America is a study of friendship, but through a much different lens. The film feels very authentic and the emotion is palpable. The film is also hilarious and features fantastic performances particularly from the two leads found in Lola Kirke and Greta Gerwig. One of the best movies of the year, and criminally underseen.

The Hateful Eight (2015) Review

Sam Kench reviews the 2015 film The Hateful Eight written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, and Demian Bichir.

This review is from about over a month ago with the film was first released. Click below to watch the

The Hateful 8 is set 6 or 8 or 12 years after the Civil War in blistering cold, snowy Wyoming, and a blizzard is coming.  Bounty Hunter John Ruth is bringing his bounty, Ms. Daisy  to the town of Red Rock where she’s scheduled hang for her crimes.  Along the way he and his wagon driver Olie pick up two strangers; another bounty hunter and former union soldier, Major Marquis Warren, and a former southern renegade who claims to be the new mayor of Red Rock, Chris Mannix.  The impending storm forces them to stop at Minnie’s. Rather than being greeted by the bubbly Minnie, four strangers have taken up residence in the shop/stage coach station to wait out the storm. As the storm takes over the mountainside cabin worlds collide. Who’s fate is it to make it out alive?

BUY IT NOW

 

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

By Sam Kench, who watched “Birdman” at Red River Theatres in Concord, NH

“Birdman” is a drambirdman posteredy starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifianakis among others. Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thompson an actor known for a superhero role from his past (not unlike Keaton himself) who is now trying to regain relevance and prove his worth as a serious actor by putting on a dramatic stage production.

“Birdman” features a lot of comedy, which could be argued as its primary genre, but the film features incredibly strong dramatic elements as well. The film has a very good grasp of its tones and blends the genres wonderfully. It is very funny on more than one level and had me laughing multiple times throughout. “Birdman” is capable of being funny and serious within the same scene, and even within the same moment. A scene that begins with a comedic tone can evolve into a highly emotional confrontation and vice versa. The dialogue in “Birdman” always feels natural and more notably features incredibly dynamic and realistic arguments. In most movies if an argument is going to take place, the character will initiate their dialogue directly in the conflict, but in “Birdman” characters may start an argument about something small and inconsequential and use it to ramp up to the issues that truly plague their minds, as people often do.

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The acting is fantastic all around. Every single performance, no matter how small is perfect. This is Michael Keaton’s largest role in quite a while and he deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance in this film. In fact “Birdman” also deserves Oscar nominations for best picture, director, and cinematography at least. Keaton’s character is very complex and makes for an impressive performance. Edward Norton is pretty much great in every role he plays and here is no exception. Emma Stone and Naomi Watts are both excellent as well and each of them are given scenes where they can really showcase their full acting ability. I was thinking that Zach Galifianakis might have been playing a purely comedic role, but he also has an opportunity to show off some impressive dramatic acting alongside the comedy.

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The score to “Birdman” is great. It creates a fully defined style for the film right from the opening credits. The music done by Antonio Sanchez is fantastic. The soundtrack features mostly percussion and was stuck in head hours after the movie ended. “Birdman” features a soundtrack worth owning on its own and serves as the final layer of glaze on an already excellent film.

The most impressive aspect of “Birdman” is the way it is shot. The entire film aside from a short sequence is presented as one continuous unbroken shot. There are cuts in the film, but they are hidden. The editing is disguised to look as the camera is floating through the environment as an observer. As a filmmaker I can recognize places where cuts may have been placed, but most people likely won’t. I was amazed by the cinematography. The filming style had me completely captivated and serves to make the viewer more immersed in the film. The single continuous shot is a technical marvel and especially impressive when considering that the film takes place over multiple days in a variety of locations.

The presentation of Birdman is simply amazing. The director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, is a true master of his craft. The direction of Birdman as a whole is impeccable. This is a true feat of filmmaking.

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Birdman is one of the best films of 2014. Everything about it, right down to the credits, is perfect. For now Birdman is in limited release and I was able to see it at Red River Theatres in Concord, NH.  Definitely check this film out if you can.

Macabre Month of Horror: Movie Review #2 “The Host”

The Host

Welcome to day two of our Fourth Annual Macabrethe host #2 review macabre month of horror 2014 Month of Horror. Today’s review is for the movie “The Host”

Please keep in mind these are Horror Movies and the video reviews contain content from the films that may not be appropriate for younger viewers, or those with a weak constitution for that matter.

Remember to visit every day for the latest video review. Or just subscribe to our posts by entering  your email over where it says SUBSCRIBE on the right hand side of the screen and get our posts in your inbox.

Movie Review #2 “The Host”

The Host” is about a giant fish-like monster that rampages through South Korea. It might sound like your typical monster movie, but what you end up getting is a surprisingly deep and emotional movie that just happens to feature an awesome monster. 

The Host” was named one of Quentin Tarantino‘s top twenty films since 1992.

Want a copy of your very own? Click Here  to buy “The Host” on DVD

Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

Escape From Tomorrow is made interesting by the very way that it was shot. Escape from Tomorrow is a feature length film shot almost entirely in Disney World/Land without permission from Disney.  Just the fact that they were able to make this is a crazy thought, even more so that it has received such a wide release, even being shown in theaters and added to Netflix. The spectacle of seeing a dark horror movie filmed in Disney World is the reason to watch it, but the question is; Does Escape From Tomorrow have any depth or entertainment value beyond the production gimmick?

Well sadly the answer is; not really.

The story follows Jim, the father in your typical Disney going family. Jim is a sexual deviant who stalks a pair of young french girls around the park and the mother is nagging and annoying. The two children completely lack any traces of character.

Escape From Tomorrow manages to have fairly good cinematography for a large amount of the film which is especially impressive considering how it was shot, with many real people walking around and the general chaos of the park around them. There are some shots that they spent a very long time planning to achieve. The effort is valiant and doesn’t go unnoticed, but then there are particularly awful looking scenes. There are a handful of scenes that would horrible on their own, and are highlighted more so by the overall nice presentation of the rest of the film. More than one scene has the actors very obviously and poorly green screened into B-roll footage of the amusement park and it does not look passable at all.

Escape From Tomorrow is full of really bad acting. The best acting you can find in this film is passable, while the worst actually comes from the lead actor. He is consistently terrible throughout. By the end of the film I had actual become accustomed to the bad acting and stopped being as distracting, but adjusting to the bad does not make it good.

Escape From Tomorrow attempts to be a creepy screwed up horror film, but largely fails. The “scares” are too few and far between and when they do pop up they often fall flat. The closest the film got to be effective from a horror standpoint was actually the opening credits which managed to provide a genuinely surprising moment, but this one solid moment was cheapened when it was revisited later on in the film, to lesser effect.

The film seems very unsure of the tone that it wants to convey. It presents itself as a cerebral horror film, but then it throws comedic elements at you which don’t mix well. In the end both elements miss their mark and what few moments could have been funny, are muddled and ruined by the confused tones of the movie.

The Pacing is dreadful. Escape From Tomorrow has a meandering plot that kills far too much time following the characters as they walk around the park, go on rides, and do absolutely nothing of any importance. The movie wastes time and feels as though much of it was shot without purpose other than stretching out what probably should have been a 20 minute short film into a feature length film. As a 20 minute short this concept may have actually worked better. A more condensed runtime would have helped Escape From Tomorrow as most of the time it will have you waiting for something to happen, and when it does happen, it will likely disappoint. It also doesn’t help that pretty much all of the set pieces and interesting moments are given away in the trailer.

The gimmick is interesting but the film fails to impress beyond the fact that it actually got made and released the way it was produced. I would only recommend it to those who are seriously interested in the concept of a film shot guerrilla style in Disney world, otherwise definitely stay away. The concept is incredibly intriguing, but a much stronger plot and acting would have been needed to stop this film from being a disappointment.