West Side Gory: Review for "No Country for Old Men"

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Out in the desolate west is where many great films have taken place. The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, (winner of Best Director) are among the great American filmmakers. Their snarky noir to their screwball comedy have earned them prestige and respect and also a few Oscars. I’ve never cared for films that take place in the barren desert. They tend to be too formulaic. That’s where you have the Coens take an overused setting and make it new and interesting. Their 2008 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, No Country for Old Menis a refreshing look out west. Josh Brolin (Grindhouse) plays a man who finds dead bodies in the desert, with a briefcase of two million dollars and a truck filled with heroin. He tries to escape with the money, but on his trail is a hitman with the world’s worst haircut (Best Supporting Actor winner Javier Bardem). The Coens definitely produce, write, and direct the Thinking Man’s film, due to he fact it’s a bad idea to doze off through one of their films, otherwise, you might miss something very important. Many critics have said this films is a western horror movie, and in a way, they’re right. You have your maniac, your refugee, your hero, and your ultra-violence. The violence seems brutal, from explosions to shots…in the head. Javier’s hitmanis one of the most original portrayals in film history. He’s quick, slick, and keeps his cool, all with a very unfortunate hairstyle. Tommy Lee Jones (Academy Award nominee for In the Valley of Elah) is the good guy, trying to track down the killer and find who stole the money. The pursuit is heart racing, the emotionless face of the causes fear hitman as he walks closer to the door with his silenced gun. He’s very eerie, and his raspy voice intensifies it. He is one of the most evil characters ever to appear on screen. He runs shivers up your spine. You may find that “Call it, friend-o.” may be the most popular line of 2007. There’s a little of he Coen’s familiar humor hidden in the film, one liners and awkward moments. Joel and Ethan adapted the script from the novel by Cormac McCarthy. The great script and the wonderful storytelling is clear as day in this western thriller. The desolate wasteland where film takes place is haunting, as if you are alone and no one can help you. If you are trapped, laying in the sand covered in blood, and a man with a weird haircut calls you friend-o, you’re dead meat. Joel and Ethan tell this story in a flawless style (and won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay), and it is done it gorgeous detail. The ending has been causing controversy. Audiences have felt cheated. You are left with a cliff hanger, not as if it were to be made into a sequel, but just left on the edge of your seat, wanting more, but the film leaves you hanging. I did not care for the ending. I can not appreciate it. Other than that, No Country is a masterwork. A brutal, yet glorious film.

Grade: A

The Great Ape: Review for Peter Jackson’s "King Kong"

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Peter Jackson, famous for the Lord of the Rings films, makes films that are very faithful to, not only the original of what it is based on, but also to his vision of what it should be. King Kong is not exception to this band of greats. Naomi Watts plays Ann Darrow, a hopeful starlet for the new adventure film by Carl Denham. Jack Black plays Carl with surprising ease and skill, considering he is more of a comedic actor. Black not only plays Carl, who is somewhat of a wannabe film maker who’s denied every chance to film a film by those evil producers, with seriousness, he plays him as somewhat of a mad scientist and conniving con artist. Black’s charisma and comedic timing works with the character very well. While trying to film on location on a mysterious Skull Island, the crew of Carl’s film decides to explore the island, only to find carnivorous bugs, dinosaurs, and a giant gorilla. Carl’s screenwriter is the famous Jack Driscoll, who writes plays and begins to fall in love with Ann. Driscoll is played by Adrien Brody, who won an Oscar for The Pianist. He is fine, but he doesn’t really stand out. The real emotional relationship in the film is between Ann and Kong (Andy Serkis, who made the movements for Kong and LOTR‘s Gollumn). Kong finds Ann fascinating, considering he hasn’t seen a human before. During one of their first encounters, Ann bangs her fist against her chest as a sign for “beautiful” towards the end of the film, when the two are on top of the Empire State Building, bangs hiss chest. That is so beautiful and the way Jackson portrays this misbegotten love story is fantastic. This is probably the best remake I have ever seen in my life. The emotion of the original film lingers. The visual effects are excellent and the sets very well made, though I ponder why in many period films, they make the cars in such bright, fluorescent colors. Naomi Watts is absolutely ravishing and acts fantastically in this film. Her protests against the fighter pilots killing the already bullet riddled Kong are heart wrenching. This performance deserves a standing ovation, because it is the visual effects and Watts’s performance that make the story of the tragic love story. The facial expression is so real on Kong. My heart breaks every time when Carl says, “It was beauty that killed the beat.” The most romantic and the saddest films I’ve ever enjoyed watching. This is one of my favorite films of all time.
Grade: A+

Miss Interpretation: Review for "Atonement"

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The long and somewhat confusing adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement, is a masterpiece to behold during the Oscar season. The story of a young girl, Briony Tallis (Oscar nominee, Saorise Ronan, for Best Supporting Actress), who reads a letter that was delivered to her sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley, ravashing as always), by Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) that featured the C-word and blames him for not only being a pervert, but molesting her sister in the library and her friend Lola. What happens: Robbie is sent to prison, but then joins the army during WWII in 1940. Robbie and Cecilia had been very much in love, but have now been torn apart for what the little girl had done 5 years earlier. She becomes a nurse and then tries to talk with her sister. Robbie is stuck in France in the war, desperate to get home to his Cecilia. The ending is not only emotional, but also a bit shocking. Some may feel tired and restles during the film, but the end of the film will completely change your views, as it did mine. In some sequences, it shows what Briony had witnessed, and then what really happen, going with the point of view, though some may find it hard to make the transition, due to no actual notification of change of scene or fashback. The film is very intricately made and is a wonderful watch. Keira Knightley is beautiful, graceful, and brilliant, though she smokes some eleven or twelve cigarettes. Smokey and the Falsely Accused Bandit, I guess. Young Ronan plays her with great ease. McAvoy and Knightley have great chemistry, real spark on film. This is the kind of film, however, that you have to be in the mood to watch. Dario Marianelli wonderful score, which has been nominated for Best Original Score Academy Award, is wildly creative. When Briony is on screen, a piano and a typewriter start playing an intoxicating little tune that, I suppose, symbolizes that something might happen, typewriters are weapons, and/or a reminder of what happened in the beginning of the film. Joe Wright, who previously directed Ms. Knightley in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, has come back to make a masterpiece of 2007.

Grade: A-