Saturday, July 12, 2014

- - Film Review Friday | Week 1 - -

Hi friends,

I hope you've all been doing well! Thank you for being so patient with me while I hid away for two weeks. With tons of shifts at work and assignments due for school, it's been tough to stick to a regular blogging schedule.

Anyways, in an effort to broaden my horizon in the field of films and also to give me another reason to put up a post each week, I've decided to start up a new series! Each Friday (or every other Friday) I'm going to talk about the new movies I watched leading up to that point (in the order I watched them). This week will be an exception as I'm posting this on a Saturday instead of a Friday.

Although I'm going to try my best not to give anything away, please note that there may be spoilers in these posts

Without further ado, let's begin!

A Million Ways To Die In The West (2014)
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Screenplay: Seth MacFarlane & Alec Sulkin

Release date: May 2014
Genre: comedy | western
Running time: 116 minutes
Ratings: 33% (Rotten Tomatoes) | 6.2/10 (IMDb) | 45% (Metacritic)

After cowardly Albert backs out of a gunfight because he's never fired his gun, his fickle girlfriend leaves him for another man -- the proprietor of the town's foremost moustache emporium. When he accidentally saves the life of a mysterious and beautiful woman, she helps him find his courage and learn to stand up for himself. But when her husband, a notorious outlaw, arrives seeking revenge the sheep farmer must triumph over all of the hilariously awful dangers of the old west in order to save her.

Two of my favourite shows are Family Guy and American Dad, so you can imagine that I was pretty enthusiastic when I saw that Seth MacFarlane was coming out with a new movie! Overall, A Million Ways To Die In The West was not a bad comedy. The film has a star-studded cast that includes: Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, and Seth MacFarlane himself. Interestingly enough, there are also other well known stars - such as Ryan Reynolds and Jamie Foxx - that pop up in random places throughout the movie, which makes the film that much more interesting to watch.

The main plot is the typical "guy meets girl, guy gets girl" kind of thing, so there's nothing unique there. However, my favourite part of the movie was the subplot - the relationship between Edward (Giovanni Ribisi), Seth MacFarlane's best friend in the film, and Ruth (Sarah Silverman), a town prostitute who genuinely believes in waiting for marriage to make love to Edward. The unlikely pair have great on-screen chemistry and Ribisi and Silverman play their characters very well. Ruth and Edward are definitely the most unexpected element in the film, which in my opinion was given away for the most part in the trailer.

22 Jump Street (2014)
Director: Chris Miller, Phil Lord 
Screenplay: Rodney Rothman, Oren Uziel, Michael Bacall
Release date: June 2014
Genre: action | comedy | crime
Running time: 120 minutes
Ratings: 85% (Rotten Tomatoes) | 7.9/10 (IMDb)

After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college. But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership. Now they don't have to just crack the case - they have to figure out if they can have a mature relationship. If these two overgrown adolescents can grow from freshmen into real men, college might be the best thing that ever happened to them.

22 Jump Street is the sequel of 21 Jump Street, which I haven't watched, so coming into the movie I didn't really know what to expect beyond what was shown in the trailer. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed 22 Jump Street. I didn't get all of the references because I didn't watch the first film, but the plot was easy enough to follow and because my boyfriend was helping me out along the way, I understood that in some way the roles of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were reversed in this film. In fact, the first film was constantly being referenced by way of saying that the pair's new assignment "needs to be the same as last time" and that it in fact "isn't the same as last time."

I like that the plot and the jokes weren't all given away in the trailer. I also really like that bit at the end just before the credits where possible sequels are explored, so if you stay long enough at the theatre - check it out!

Open Grave (2013)
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Screenplay: Eddie Borey, Chris Borey
Release date: August 2013 (Italy) | January 2014 (USA)
Genre: horror | mystery | thriller
Running time: 102 minutes
Ratings: 18% (Rotten Tomatoes) | 6.3/10 (IMDb) | 33% (Metacritic)

A man (Sharlto Copley: District 9, Elysium) wakes up in a pit of dead bodies with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Fleeing the scene, he breaks into a nearby house and is met at gunpoint by a group of terrified strangers, all suffering from memory loss. Suspicion gives way to violence as the group starts to piece together clues about their identities, but when they uncover a threat that's more vicious -- and hungry -- than each other, they are forced to figure out what brought them all together -- before it's too late.

One thing you need to know about me - I hate horror films with a passion (especially psychological horror). So if you ever see me review a horror film in one of these posts, it's because my boyfriend, who is a huge film fanatic and who loves horror flicks, has coerced me into watching it. As much as I hate scary movies, I often find their plots really interesting, so from time to time I'll read them on Wikipedia at a safe distance from any visuals.

I didn't know anything about Open Grave when we sat down to watch it - I never heard of the film nor have I watched the trailer for it. Andrew was pretty much in the same boat. Things got really interesting very early on in the film after Sharlto Copley got out of the "open grave" and made his way to the house with the other inhabitants where it was discovered that he wasn't the only one with complete memory loss. Isn't that a fascinating storyline? Of course, it would be terrifying to actually be in that kind of situation! As the film progresses, the characters begin to learn more about themselves (such as - hey, one guy can read Latin!) and certain memories begin coming back to them.

Ultimately, I think that the premise of this film had so much potential yet that potential failed to be explored. Despite knowing very little about him, there was one particular character I really liked who suffered from a what I only see as a useless death. His character wasn't developed at all and he died so early on that he didn't get to make his mark on the plot in any significant way. It was painful to know that he died in such a useless way. He may not have been included in the film at all. Furthermore, the ending was kind of frustrating, but I read the plot on Wikipedia afterwards and I was able to come to terms with it a bit better. Bad things aside, I have to praise this movie for being able to keep things frightening even when it's day-time in the movie. 

Sin Nombre (2009)
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Screenplay: Cary Fukunaga
Release date: March 2009
Genre: adventure | crime | drama
Running time: 96 minutes
Ratings: 89% (Rotten Tomatoes) | 7.6/10 (IMDb) | 77% (Metacritic)

Sin Nombre is a U.S.-Mexican adventure thriller film about a Honduran girl trying to immigrate to the U.S.A, and a boy caught up in the violence of gang life who also needs to escape.

If you're in the mood to watch a foreign film one day, I strongly recommend watching Sin Nombre. I chose to watch it for a film review this past Wednesday that I had to do for my Contemporary Mexican History course. I'm really glad that I stumbled onto it in such a way because this film is phenomenal.

The film follows two stories - one of Sayra, a young girl from Honduras, who takes up a long and dangerous journey with her father and uncle to New Jersey; and a second one, that of Willy (“El Casper”), a young man in Chiapas, Mexico who struggles with the obligations and the realities of his affiliation with one of North America's most dangerous gangs. The acting is brilliant and emotions fly high as the film shows an accurate portrayal of illegal immigration and gang violence in Mexico.

The Thing (1982)
Director: John Carpenter
Screenplay: Bill Lancaster
Release date: August 1982
Genre: horror | mystery | sci-fi
Running time: 109 minutes
Ratings: 79% (Rotten Tomatoes) | 8.2/10 (IMDb)

Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.

Tell me - does the title sound terrifying or what? Imagine humans coming across something that is so out of this world (literally), unique, and frightening that there is no other way to name it other than "the thing"! This was another scary movie that I agreed to watch with Andrew two nights ago. The film had an intriguing beginning - a Siberian Husky is running through the Arctic chased by two men in a helicopter who are shooting at it. It's unclear why they're doing this, but let me tell you - any time that men try to shoot down an animal in a horror film, it's probably because it's somehow connected to something terrifying!

The movie got a little bit boring for a total of about 20 minutes, but the action picked up strongly after the men stationed in the Arctic (not connected to those in the helicopter) realized that the shape-shifting alien could be among them! The movie can be a little cheesy at times, but that doesn't make it any less scary.


I hope you guys liked this post! If this series is popular enough, I may do the same thing for books. For now, I'm definitely going to be watching a lot more movies in the coming week, and if you're wondering what's next for me and Andrew, it's probably going to be Frozen and Jaws.

I'm open to suggestions about what movies to watch!
Have you watched any of the ones above that I watched?

 Thank you for reading! -A.~

 All of the posters were taken from Google. All of the film descriptions (in italics) were taken from either Google, Rotten Tomatoes, or IMDb.

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