Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Shining - Cause It's Halloween This Month

Film analysis for me has always been a sincere pleasure for me ever since I was introduced to it the freshmen year of my high school year. The teacher told us that we had to write an essay after watching each movie and this was the first time in my life that I had to reflect and put thoughts on paper about how I felt about movies. I wrote about a lot of movies in that class, everything from Singin' In The Rain to Days Of Heaven. This opportunity was the beginning of me starting analyze films, looking for the deeper meanings and appreciating cinema's finest productions ever put on celluloid. I still look for it no matter what movie I'm watching, hell if you didn't see the ideas of rebirth, death, religion, and grief throughout last week's Gravity then I do not know what movie you were watching! So why am I talking about film analysis because today I am writing about the film that has been analyzed more than any other film ever made: The Shining. Now why has this movie been obsessed over and studied like some holy text? Well I will tell you soon so keep reading about a movie impactful on its audience that it still is debated, wrote about, and documentaries made about it to this day.

The Shining is Stanley Kubrick's 11th feature film released in 1980 starring Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall. Nicholson plays a young writer, father, and husband who decides to take up a job to watch over the Overlook Hotel, a large mountain resort, during the winter months while it is closed. While accepting the job he learns that the previous housekeeper had murdered himself and his family during their stay at the hotel. Jack brushes it off as nothing and decides to bring his wife, Wendy, and young son, Danny, up with him to stay in the hotel for the winter as he tries to write his new novel. Then things slowly start getting weird as Danny starts to see things and Jack begins to lose his grip on reality and his sanity. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013


There are lots of reasons I fell in love with movies. It has a lot to do with growing up watching Jurassic Park and being mesmerized by the spectacle of dinosaurs being brought back to life. It also has to do with an Introduction to Film class I took Freshman year of high school thinking it would be easy and then realizing that film was something bigger and better than I could have ever imagined. Still there you can't beat that some movies became a cinematic experience, breaking the fourth wall of the screen and soaking me into a world I had never seen before and actually experiencing it. It has those moments where you forget you are watching a movie and become part of that reality. With this I think about movies like 2001 A Space Odyssey, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and many more. It becomes awe-inspiring that a film can break through and become something more than moving pictures that they can place us in the middle of these amazing places. Now we have a new kind of experience, one unlike anything I have ever experienced, with a little movie called Gravity. 

Gravity follows the space shuttle Explorer and it's crew as it attempts to update a satellite for medical reasons. Specialist Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a rookie astronaut in space for her first time but luckily she has Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), a veteran astronaut who wants to break the record for most time in space, to help and assist on the mission. As the repairs and updates commence on the satellite the team gets a report of a Russian satellite being destroyed and the debris heading their way. The team must then rush back onto the shuttle before getting hit by the debris. Soon things turn for the worst and Stone and Kowalski must work together in order to have any chance of survival in the bare, scary, empty space that surrounds them.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

One of the funny things about being a movie maniac in my opinion is that I never once thought that I would reach a point in my life where there would be too many movies to watch. Then as I grew older and I learned more about film, I realized that there are times when there are too many movies to choose from at times. Some movies I want to watch to study the history of cinema, some movies I want to watch to enjoy, and other movies I take a chance on to see if they are any good. So as I came across The Wind That Shakes The Barley I thought I might give the movie a chance and see if its any good. I only know that it won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival so it has to be somewhat good. I also saw that it was directed by Kes director Ken Loach so I know that the film was in good hands. So what could go wrong?

The Wind That Shakes The Barley follows the relationship between Damien O'Donovan (Cillian Murphy) and Teddy O'Donovan (Padraic Delaney) during the early 20th Century rebellion of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against the British Empire. The film explores the bloody and tyrannical rule the Brits had over the nation of Ireland. The two brothers decide to take an oath with the IRA and begin fighting back slowly through guerrilla warfare. As the time passes and the Irish begin to have victories, the two brothers see different views of the future for Ireland. Damien more of the democratic type wants absolute freedom for Ireland while Teddy is more militaristic and is willing to somewhat compromise for any freedom. As tensions rise in the conflict and the brothers deepen their lives into the fight for freedom, the war splits these brothers apart and leads to an unfortunate end.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fruitvale Station

It seems that a lot of things we learn in life pile on. For example if you learn about human trafficking you might see a movie about it in the same week or hear about it in news stories for the next month. While the truth is that stuff like that has been happening your whole life, you finally are acquainted with it's presence and begin to become fully aware of its impact on the world. While this might be getting deep for a movie review, I feel like something like this has been happening to me recently. See I grew up in middle class suburbia and was taught that policemen are honest, good working people that have the best intentions for protecting civilians. Over the past year though my eyes have been slowly opened to the falsity of this idea. While certainly not every policeman is corrupt, I am becoming aware that there are bad cops out there who have done some horrible atrocities over the years. It all started with my Criminology class that showed me how many innocent people were set up and how huge corporations get away with mass murders yearly. Then two movies I saw recently helped me grasp a personal perspective on this corruption, first In The Name Of The Father and now recently Fruitvale Station.

Fruitvale Station follows Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) a young 22 year old in Oakland, California who is just trying to find a stable job while making his girlfriend, mom, and most importantly daughter happy and give them the life they deserve. Oscar may not be perfect and has a troubled past, but he is trying to get his life back together and have an optimistic future. On the night of New Years Eve 2009, Oscar heads out with his girlfriend to enjoy the night and party in the new year. As they try to head back home, Oscar comes face to face with people from his past and one thing leads to another putting him and his future at risk.

End Of Watch

Suggesting films is a tough thing because you can't just tell people to go see movies that you enjoyed. For example, I really enjoyed Lars Von Trier's Anti-Christ but I will rarely suggest that to people because its a unique film to say the least. You got to make sure that you know the tastes of the person you are talking to and see if the film your talking about will fit those tastes. Its complicated when you really think about it but once you get used to a person's tastes you can find a good exchange of films that you can suggest to them. For me I love hearing what people suggest because it will tell me more about a person than most conversations will. So what does all of this have to do with End Of Watch? Well one of my fellow film aficionados whose knows my tastes pretty well highly suggested this to me saying that it was great film and wasn't getting enough credit. While I certainly was not going to pay to go see it, I was definitely interested in watching this on Netflix or maybe Redbox. Why was I interested? Who knows maybe I was willing to give Jake Gyllenhaal a chance. End Of Watch taught me a very important lesson, no matter how well some one knows you sometimes they will misread you.

 End Of Watch follows two young patrol cops Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhall) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) as they travel the streets in South Central LA. Along the way they must deal with the clashing personalities of their fellow officers and the constant danger of criminals. They handle everything from hand to hand brawls to discovering drug cartel houses. Besides patrolling the streets they also deal with their personal life, Taylor dealing with young love and Zavala dealing with his pregnant wife. Unfortunately as the cops start to pile up victories against the drug cartels, they get hits put on their heads. The partners must find a way to protect civilians against Big Evil and his gang while also protecting themselves to go back to their families.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

In The Name Of The Father

Criminology was one of my favorite classes in school mainly because I got to get a look behind all the bullshit of the justice system, well hopefully it was honest. Still I got to read some great books about people who had been imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. It was sad to realize how many people had been set up under false pretenses and had to stay in prison for years even though they were innocent. Even more than that it really showed me that I couldn't trust cops or anyone in the justice system at any time. Now I am not trying to say everyone is innocent all the time, but there have been so many innocent people that have served jail time that it could really happen to anybody. So then we throw Daniel Day Lewis in the mix and we have In The Name Of The Father which came out in 1993. It truly is weird seeing a younger Daniel Day Lewis and thinking about all the fame and honors waiting ahead for him. He teams up here with Jim Sheridan, the man who directed My Left Foot, so things look good.

The year is 1974 and at the Guildford Pub in London has been attacked by a terrorist bombing all while London and the IRA are constantly fighting in the streets. Unfortunately for Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day Lewis) he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Gerry gets arrested for the crimes and after days of senseless physical and emotional abuse is forced to sign a confession to the crimes. Then in court Gerry, his father, family, and friends all get charged for terrorism, Gerry specifically getting 30 years to life. They face their time but along the way meet the man who actually bombed the Guildford Pub and a lawyer looking to help fight for their innocence. Gerry must find the strength to fight for his family, his name, and for justice.

Upstream Color

When I first saw Primer it was the first experience for me where I walked out having no clue what was going on. I had at least a grasp of that plot in a majority of films but with Primer it was a completely different experience. I had to do extensively research and rewatch it few times and I am sure that I still am missing stuff about that movie. That said I was glad to see a movie, especially a sci-fi time travel movie, trust its audience so much and didn't feel the need to explain every single detail of the plot. It is a film that wants you to become engrossed in its world and then figure out all the clues. It was an enriching experience as a cinephile to see a movie challenging me and making me analyze everything instead of being spoon fed everything. Now come to the present and it seems like forever since Primer came out and I know I wasn't the only one dying to see what else filmmaker Shane Carruth, he wrote, directed, editing, and did basically everything on Primer, had up his sleeve of visual storytelling. So it takes 9 years of waiting to see what else Carruth has to bring to cinema and he gives us Upstream Color. 

Upstream Color stars Amy Seimetz as a young woman who finds her life turned upside down but horrific event out of her control. An unknown man comes into her life and takes her savings, house equity, and more while she is powerless. As she tries to rebuild her life after the traumatic events she meets Jeff (Shane Carruth) who seems to have a emotional but also metaphysical connection with her. After times passes the two become close and fall in love with each other but then strange things begin to happen. Memories collide and strange noises come from no where as together they must discover about their past and connection to each other. Meanwhile, a strange man takes care of some very unique pigs.