Friday, October 14, 2011


Restless is a quiet coming of age drama centered around death.

My rating: 3 reels out of 5

"Does anyone here know you?" Annabel (Mia Wasikowska) asks Enoch (Henry Hopper), who is a little out of place. Enoch has been crashing funerals because he is curious about death. Annabel, who is terminally ill, takes a liking to him and the two form a relationship. Enoch is a little crazy to crash funerals, but he is also "haunted" by a Japanese kamikaze pilot from World War II named Hiroshi. Enoch and Hiroshi talk about life and play Battleship when they get a chance. When you focus on those two things, Enoch may seem like he's crazy but he will appear normal to anyone around him.

Director Gus Van Sant doesn't reveal all his character's cards right at the start. Enoch may seem like a crazy kid, but the reason for his madness is revealed as the story chugs along. Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper have great on screen chemistry together. There is a great one-shot character building scene between the two as Enoch introduces Annabel to his parents. Both characters are cast well. Henry Hopper fits his role well as a lost kid trying to find his way around life. Mia Wasikowska plays Annabel with innocence and gentleness.

There's really nothing special about Restless. It reminds me a little bit about Gus Van Sant's biggest hit, Good Will Hunting. In fact, there is a song in the middle of this movie where the lyrics are practically taken from a scene out of Good Will Hunting. It's not that the film is poorly executed, everything about the film feels like it belongs. It just seems like I've seen this somewhere before or it doesn't really bring anything new to the table.

Movies that center around death can be tricky. It's a subject that's not easy to face in our society and our main character is surrounded by it. Hiroshi, the ghost that haunts Enoch, was someone who chose to accept death freely. Annabel is in a situation where she can't choose whether she lives or dies. And at the center of all this is Enoch, who tries to understand death. It's not an easy thing to figure out and you need the guidance of friends and family to help you get through it, even though you may not be the one dying. It's the ones that are left on this earth who have to deal with death the most.

You may like this film if:
1. You like coming of age stories.

You may not like this film if:
1. You've seen too many coming of age stories.


Drive is a stylized action crime drama...with an 80s feel to it.

My rating: four and a half reels out of five

From the start of the film it feels like you are sucked into a missing gem from the 80s. The thing that gives this film such an 80s feels is the soundtrack and it is one of the things that helps give this film such a particular style. It adds to the tone of the film which is established at the beginning and stays consistent throughout.

The film opens with our protagonist, simply called Driver, as a driver during a heist job. It's a tense driving sequence that's brilliantly told with just the sound effects of the environment around our characters. Our main character is calm, confident, and keeps a lot to himself. During the day he works as a Hollywood stunt driver for Shannon and also works in Shannon's shop. Shannon utilizes Driver in any way possible including stock car driving and for heists. Driver takes an interest in his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son, but when her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) returns home from jail, Driver agrees to help him with a job in order to protect Irene, Standard, and their son from being harmed.

Drive is not a high octane thrill ride that some might suspect. The pacing is slow after the opening sequence because the time is taken to develop all the characters in the movie. When there are car chase sequences, they're precisely executed with fantastic sound editing and on one particular sequence, great cinematography. The focus of the movie though is really more about the Driver. Driver cares about his love interest enough to protect her and that includes respecting her marriage to Standard and protecting her at all costs. Driver may have a tender heart but he is not a pushover. He holds his own and is not afraid to confront people or to stand up for himself when confronted.

Ryan Gosling, just like his other roles, plays Driver to perfection. He also has a great supporting cast around him. Carey Mulligan performance is genuine and Albert Brooks playing Bernie Rose is surprisingly ruthless. Bryan Cranston is great as Shannon, like a proud father to an extraordinary son. Finally, Ron Perlman is great in his role as Nino.

Drive is a very dark film with explosive bits of shocking violence and very little room for humor. It's a very different take on the crime genre. The film takes on styles from multiple movies, but is able to form them all into a particular style. For example, I was reminded of the protagonist from Ghost Dog and the style of violence and tone from Scarface. And some of my friends mentioned it was like Pretty in Pink meets Pulp Fiction. Overall, Drive is a unique film.

You'll probably like this film if:
1. You like great acting.
2. You like a good story.

You'll probably not like this film if:
1. You expect a film like fast and the furious.
2. You hate music that sounds like it's from the 80s.
3. If you hate graphic gory violence. 

"If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours no matter what. I don't sit in while you're running it down; I don't carry a gun... I drive."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Avengers Trailer #1

Well...I went 6 hours before I caved in and saw the trailer. I just need to not watch this trailer a 100 times.

Ever since Iron Man came out, there has been a buildup to the The Avengers movie. A brilliant idea if you ask me, introducing super heroes one at a time and then bring them all together. Not a big fan of Mark Ruffalo as the Bruce Banner yet, but pretty excited for the movie!!!

And this is one sexy image.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Real Steel

Real Steel is about as predictable as any boxing or underdog movie that comes out these days...but I couldn't help but be charmed by it.

My rating: three and a half reels out of 5

Real Steel, a dramatic sci-fi movie set in the not-too-distant future where boxing matches are fought by robots instead of humans. Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is a former boxer turned promoter, who owes a lot of money to people and who has been struggling to win any matches recently. After the mother of his estranged son dies, Charlie finds an opportunity to make some quick money and get back into competition.

Charlie Kenton is a very stubborn person and he has been making the wrong choices when it comes to gambling. To him, in order to get out of debt, he has to win big and bet big. He feels he is too good to be starting from the ground up. He has the ability to charm everyone around him but sticking with him for too long can be poisonous. As the bookie, Finn (Anthony Mackie), puts it, "I like you, but you're a bad bet." Charlie even loses the faith of long time friend/love interest/robot expert, Bailey Tallet, whose father trained and mentored Charlie when he was younger. Hugh Jackman makes the right choices when he portrays him and has the perfect look for the role. Charlie Kenton is not a perfect person, but he's someone you can root for.

Max Kenton (Dakota Goyo) is equally stubborn as his father. Max sees the wrong choices that his father makes but cannot do anything about it at first because Charlie chooses to ignore his advice. Max is able to charm people around him too and does it with puppy dog eyes at times. I was doing some research after the movie and saw that some people said the movie might be ruined for them because Dakota Goyo reminds them of Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace. Rest assured, he is nothing like Jake Lloyd and that is a very good thing (although I blame Jake Lloyd's acting on George Lucas, but that's a post for another time).

Charlie made the choice to exclude Max from his life from the very beginning and Max knows this. Charlie makes the choice to bring them together once again at the expense of his new guardian, but neither father or son tries to make an effort to get to know one another. When they do come to an agreement, Charlie usually does it in the way he knows best, through bargaining. There are moments of father and son bonding, fortunately it doesn't get too sappy at any point.

It's not the father and son relationship that will bring people to this movie, it's the robots smashing into each other and director Shawn Levy gives you plenty of that.  With a movie about fighting robots, having the father and son relationship in the movie gives something that people can relate to. Real Steel is not the most original movie, think Rocky with robots, but it's a movie with a lot of charm and it can bring a smile to your face. It will have you rooting for the underdog once again.

You'll probably enjoy this movie if:
1. You like boxing or underdog movies.
2. You like robots fighting each other.

You'll probably not like this movie if:
1. You hate predictable storylines.
2. Dakota Goyo reminds you too much of Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace