Archive for December, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

by on Dec.18, 2016, under Movie Reviews

Rogue One A Star Wars StoryThere aren’t a lot of films that effect me on deep emotional levels, the first Star Wars films did that for me when I saw them in the theaters and the countless times after. Episode VII had the opposite effect on me and I feared where things were going. Luckily Rogue One has restored my faith, and with my fear resolved I’m looking forward to what Episode VIII will offer.

By the way, I will not offer any spoilers here, there’s no way in hell I’m going to ruin this for you. You will have to see it for yourself to discover all the little nuances of it and there’s no possible way my words can do this film proper justice.

Rogue One is easily one of the best in the series, up there in terms of quality and depth as Empire. And while it’s a chapter in the greater story, it has an originality in it that’s unique as it feels more like a war film with a gritty, intense delivery you don’t normally see in the series. Among the many things great about this movie is what it’s about. The story revolves around one of the components in the Star Wars story in that it’s about how the rebels ended up with the plans to the Death Star. One of the discussions in the film when the plans are retrieved regards the sacrifice that was made to get the plans. This is the story of that sacrifice…

And it’s impactful with an expertly crafted, emotional story. I had to take some time to process it as I felt overwhelmed by it, in a really great way I might add. The visual quality of it had something to do with that. I saw it in IMAX 3D which was cool but is unnecessary, the film is amazing with or without the 3D. The effects keep getting better with some things that were so surprisingly realistic that it had me thinking about how they did it so the intensity of the suspension of disbelief knocked me out of the suspension of disbelief. Wow.

The acting is superb with all the actors completely going for it. Felicity Jones is the lead as Jyn Erso and played her role very well with a great balance of vulnerability, anger, determination, and passion while fitting into the physical demands of the film as well. Forest Whitaker was probably my second favorite in the cast as the unhinged rebel Saw Gerrera. Whitaker knows how to play a character that’s off-putting but still sharp. The rest of this amazing cast includes Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Alistair Petrie, and Alan Tudyk as the voice of K-2SO.

See this film in theaters while you can. And then see it again, I know I am.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Keanu

by on Dec.11, 2016, under Movie Reviews

keanuKeanu is an action/comedy brought to you by the minds that created Key and Peele on Comedy Central. Jordan Peele plays Rell Williams whose life changes when, facing a breakup, he falls back in love with a kitten named Keanu that happens upon his doorstep. It turns out that he’s not the only one in love with the cat though; hence the problems that ensue when some gangsters break in to his home and make off with the popular feline…

Yes, it’s ridiculous, but that’s the point. After all, Key and Peele’s popular comedy sketch show was a celebration of the absurd to great effect. The story still has it’s message with both main characters each experiencing their own arcs and coming out a bit tougher on the other side with a bit of a surprise ending. Along the course of their journey they experience the life of a gangster / drug dealer while emerging from their easy, suburban backdrops. Their brand of humor is laced throughout the film but not in a way that overpowers it.

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are in fine form playing the straight man kind of guy this time around while morphing into their bad-boy alter egos. Method Man plays Cheddar the main bad guy in an entertaining way that still seemed menacing. Tiffany Haddish plays the gang member Hi-C; her character takes a nice left turn that shines a different light on her when the film plays out. The talented lineup includes Nia Long, Will Forte, Jason Mitchell, Luis Guzman and Rob Huebel.

If you want something light hearted, fun, and entertaining, check out Keanu.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Hitchcock/Truffaut

by on Dec.04, 2016, under Movie Reviews

hitchcock truffautI am trying my damnedest to avoid politics right now so I decided to watch something inspirational for myself as a filmmaker. And what a better way to do that then to go back to the classics and the masters who created them. In this case I decided to watch Hitchcock/Truffaut. This documentary focuses on an interview Francois Truffaut conducted with Alfred Hitchcock covering each film in Hitchcock’s career for a book. The interview took place over a week in 1963. There’s also a photo series included with the book and it’s fantastic.

Truffaut was from a different generation and had a lot of respect for Hitchcock who also felt much respect for Truffaut and his work. It was great to explore the results of this week long interview by two legendary directors who really admired each other. Truffaut did have some tough questions for Hitchcock too. One such example is when Truffaut addresses what the critics would complain about in reference to Hitchcock’s approach to plausibility. Hitchcock’s response was that plausibility for the sake of plausibility gets in the way of the storytelling. His controversy is explored as well such as when Hitchcock refers to actors as “cattle”.

The doc is largely about Hitchcock and his tremendous influence on directors of many generations. Interesting facts include Hitchcock directing the first British talkie which is quite a historic moment as well as being known for his innovation like creating a glass floor to shoot beneath a subject walking around a room. His mastery of emotion and suspense is delved into deeply; I remember seeing The Birds as a kid and feeling terrified, the sound was unnerving.

Backstory on Truffaut is also part of the doc’s substance examining some of the moments from his childhood that shaped his work and how he approached films with innovation of his own.

Various directors are featured discussing the influences of both Truffaut and Hitchcock. Included on this list of illustrious film directors is Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich, David Fincher, Richard Linklater, James Gray and more.

If you’re a director or just a fan of the art of cinema, I highly encourage checking out this film.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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