Monday, September 22, 2014

Harry and the Hendersons (1987)

Okay, so this is the second movie I borrowed from Blaine before I recently went to his place last Friday before he showed me a couple of other movies and gave me a couple more to borrow and watch, which is where most of my next couple of reviews will revolve around. So let's take a look at Harry and the Hendersons.

Plot: The Henderson family accidentally hit a big furry creature that they begin to think is Bigfoot. So they take it home, trying to think about what to do with it, while the being starts to wreck their house. They eventually begin to grow fond of the creature and being to name it Harry, but things get more complicated when a hunter is trying to hunt the creature down.

Now this was not an easy movie to get to finally watching. Most of it was because of work and school and other things, but also because I was nervous on what I was going to think of it once I did watch it. When Blaine gave this movie to me, he really wanted me to give this movie a genuine try because he really likes it because of the makeup and how he found the movie to be very heart feeling, and he figured that just by looking at the DVD case that I would quickly think that the movie was not going to be anything special for me. And true to his expectations, I thought this movie was going to come out as very cliche, but I was willing to give it my best shot. Eventually I watched the movie and ultimately, I did in fact find moments when it was being heart feeling, as well as being cute and having nice makeup considering it's time...but I also found the cliches that I was expecting. But let's start with the things that's good about the movie. Firstly, the majority of the family are likable enough. The boy had a couple of cute moments, and the parents had some well acted moments. In fact, as heart feeling as the moments were with Harry, I honestly liked the moments with the father much more. I just can't help but like how he was having such a hard time with the whole deal about helping Harry while also trying to please his dad and having his wife be proud of how he was growing as a person during the events of the film. And I'll add that while nothing made me laugh, there are some moments that I did find to be a little funny. Also again, while I am no expert in make up, I can see how what they did for Harry in that department was worthy of an Oscar considering it's time. Now what is the bad stuff with this movie? Well...pretty much everything else from where I'm standing. Granted, the movie still is not without its charm, but it really does have very cliche beats to the story and just as cliche characters that did distract me. In fact, I said the majority of the family are likable, because the daughter was pretty much the least interesting character in the film. She pretty much was the snotty girl that was worried about her social status. And while she does get better as the film went on, I honestly didn't really care. Really, if you've seen this kind of story a lot of times before, you're probably not going to enjoy this movie a whole lot.

And that's my review for Harry and the Hendersons. It's a little hard to think of what to say about it. On one hand, it really is a cliched movie that has characters that are not very interesting. But on the other hand, Blaine was right in saying that there really is a charm to the movie with its decent jokes, good makeup considering its time, and gives heart feeling moments that did work for the most part. So I guess ultimately it's give and take with whether you would like the film or not. I for one liked that I did find some of the nice moments Blaine was talking about. And while I don't praise it as much as he does, I will give it a roughly okay rating for the little things that I liked.

Rating: 60%

American Hustle (2013)

Alright, So I've borrowed a couple other movies from Blaine that I had not had a chance to watch until recently, so here is my review for one of those movies, American Hustle.

Plot: In 1978, con artists Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser have start a relationship and develop a partnership in conning people. But eventually they are busted by an FBI agent named Richard "Richie" DiMaso, but he also offers to let them go in exchange for using their conning skills for other arrests that eventually include taking down some political people. This causes drama to Irvin and Sydney's relationship with them having trouble trusting each other, on top of Irving dealing with his wife, Roslyn and caring for his son, Danny.

Now I've heard kind of positive but generally mixed things about this movie. My dad and two of my siblings went to see it in theaters and thought it went way too long to the point where they eventually left the theater, and I saw Nostalgia Chick show a parody picture of the poster where the headline more or less says "It's a good movie...we think." Now is it actually a good movie? Yes. But do I also see where people seem to be coming from in terms of not entirely praising it at the same time? Uh...more or less, yes. But let's talk about what's good first. What really makes this a good movie is the performances. This film right off the bat gives us a great cast; Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, even an uncredited appearance from Robert De Niro, and all of them give out terrific, energetic performances. They establish who these people are, what their goals are, what they're experiencing through this whole series of events, and they all do a fantastic job. Christian Bale does a great job with giving us a new character that you may notice at the beginning of the film, that he once again changes his body to get into the role. Amy Adams and Bradely Cooper do a great job in showing how their characters are having a deep conflict about their selves through the events of the film, and Jenifer Lawrence seem to get the most hype with her energetic performance as Roslyn. (By the way, am I the only one who finds it a little weird that this movie has Christian Bale and Jenifer Lawrence as a married couple? Especially considering how Bale is 40 and Lawrence is basically my age?) But even with the performances on top of the story itself being interesting, the movie does have some flaws. As I said, my dad and two of my siblings eventually left the movie being much to long. And while I personally never quite got that when I saw the movie, I will say that looking back, I will agree with them, as well as Jeremy Jahns that the film had too many things happening. In fact, it's possible that more stuff happened than I remembered happening (though I could be wrong). Granted, none of those moments for me felt like they were really dragging, because they still were giving us this great cast that was giving us all of these great performances the entire time. But I will say that some scenes where probably not needed because they seemed to have distracted me from what is happening to the main characters. Now the second problem, at least from my perspective is from a point Jeremy Jahns makes about this movie as a comedy. He says in his review for the film " If I didn't know that it was a comedy because it was nominated for a Golden Globe for a comedy, I would just think it was a hustle movie that has really awkward moments in it." And I pretty much agree with him because I had no idea that this was a comedy until I heard him say that in his review. Just from seeing trailers, pictures and the poster for the movie, it did not strike me as a comedy at all. So when I watched those moments where it was suppose to be funny, I may not have found them awkward per say, but as far as I was concerned, the movie was giving me moments like Bradely Cooper beating up his boss with a telephone that was just there to roughly move a part of the story along.

And that's my review for American Hustle. It somewhat has too many things going on in it, and the comedy doesn't work at all unless you watch it knowing it is a comedy, but aside from that, it still is an entertaining film with an interesting story, and great performances from a terrific cast. I can see why this movie did not really stand a chance against 12 Years A Slave for best picture, but it still is a nice energetic film that is entertaining enough film to see.

Rating: 80%     

Capote (2005)

Okay, I know I didn't really do anything in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman after his death earlier this year (my apologies to all Philip Seymour Hoffman fans everywhere), so I hope I more or less make up for that by reviewing the one movie where he won Best Actor in a Leading Role that I just watched recently, Capote.

Plot: At a farm in Kansas, a family friend discovers the Clutter family to have been murdered in their homes. This interests writer, Truman Capote to write a document about what happened, ao he travels to Kansas, taking his childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee with him and interviewing the people who were involved with the victims. But eventually, the murder suspects, Perry Smith and Richard "Dick" Hickock, are caught, and once Capote begins to interview Smith in particular, be begins to grow an attachment to him and starts to turn his document into a book and tries to use it to try to defend the suspects.

If I can sum up how this movie turned out in one word, I would more or less go with saying that it was riveting. Because while the matter of what Capote is apparently trying to do from the beginning is interesting enough, it's Hoffman's central performance that, over time, makes the journey in the film very compelling. The real heart and focus of the film is of coarse on Capote and how this entire thing is a very significant period in the writer's life. Which is not to say that there is no significance to everything else in the film, because there is. Clifton Collins Jr. also gives us a great performance as Phillip Smith. And just having someone like Catherine Keener give us Nelle Harper Lee, the writer of To Kill A Mockingbird mine you, on top of bringing up both her book and the film was a nice little addition of the movie. But at the end of the day, what leaves the biggest impact is Hoffman's performance. Because what debatably makes this film the most compelling is how Hoffman gives us all these different layers to Capote. We see him be the center of attention at a fancy party, we see him hanging out with his partner or Nelle Harper Lee, we see him try to write, we see him try to be a friend for Smith, we see all these different elements of him, and it's basically left unclear as to whether or not any of it is real. Hoffman created this character to become so complex, that it's really left to interpretation as to whether Capote is wearing a make while he's in public while showing his real self when talking to Smith, or vice versa. Heck, one can make the argument that not even Capote himself knows. And I think that especially is what made this performance debatably Hoffman's best to the point where he definitely deserved to win Best Actor, as well as being what really made this film really special.

And that's my review for Capote. It has an interesting story and some other great performances besides Hoffman, but it was Hoffman himself that made the film work by giving us a character that has so many different elements to him that makes the entire story compelling and so gives us the real heart of the film. If you have not seen this movie and maybe don't even know that much about Philip Seymour Hoffman, I think this is a great movie for you to take a look at.
Rating: 100%

Looper (2012)

Okay so I've been busy with work and school recently, and Blaine just recently showed me a few films, so I'm trying to catch up before I get even busier in October. With that said, let's take a look at a movie that has been getting a lot of praise but I had yet to actually see until recently, Looper.

Plot: Set in 2044, Joe is working for crime syndicate as a Looper. Basically, time travel is made in 2074, and a man from that time named Abe hires Loopers to kill victims from the future that are set back in time. But when the next victim Joe is hired to kill turns out to be older him from the future and escapes, it's up to him to hunt him down and finish his job and find out what future him is after.

This was a much smarter film than what I expected. Looper is a very clever film with the futuristic world they created, it's story, and especially with it's characters . They didn't make it so that every single thing has been made to look futuristic, and even with the stuff that is made futuristic, they don't go full CGI with it. They make the futuristic world look like it's still our world, but with just a couple more features, and a lot of it is relevant to the story, which makes it even better. And a lot of the stuff they explain about time travel makes sense. I do say only a lot, because there is one scene that has something to do with time travel that even my brother Johnathan, who has this movie tied as his fifth favorite film of all time, has no idea how that particular moment makes sense, especially since they don't explain that moment at all. But then again, it's possible that they might've wanted to leave that moment for interpretation for the audience, so I'll let that part slide. The story is also far more layered that I made it appear to be on the plot paragraph. If I said anything else, I probably would be giving too much away for those of you who have not seen this movie. Finally, there's the acting. Joseph Gordon-Lovett and Bruce Willis both give fantastic performances. The film does a great job in making them visually look more or less like they are the same person while also making it clear how these are also characteristically living different points of Joe's life. But by far the most memorable performance in the entire film is from the kid actor, Pierce Gagnon as Cid. Good golly was this kid a remarkable actor in this movie. And at roughly 7 years old to boot. I would argue that he's almost a little too good because, while not giving anything away for those who haven't seen this movie, this kid more or less does a fantastic job...of creeping me out. Yeah, laugh all you'd like, but really, there are moments where this kid really comes out as honest-to-my-autism scary. You can keep the kid from The Omen (original, not the remake), this is the kid that gives the creepiest kid performance I've ever seen.

And that's my review for Looper. It was very smart with its futuristic world, it gave us a much more layered movie than you probably would've expected, and it gives us great performances from Joseph Gordon-Lovett, Bruce Willis, and, most notably for me, Pierce Gagnon. If you have not seen this movie, I definitely recommend that you take a look at it.
Rating: 95%