Nov 7, 2010

Movie Review #4 - Donnie Darko (2001)

"28 days... 6 hours... 42 minutes... 12 seconds. That... is when the world... will end." 

Two years ago, I watched the cult classic "Donnie Darko" for the first time. Though I didn't think it was bad, I wasn't exactly blown over by it. I didn't understand it, truth be told. Two years later, having heard enough praise for this little movie to drive me to my grave, I decided to give it another chance. I impulsively purchased an inexpensive Blu-ray copy of this film at Best Buy the other day, and watched the original theatrical version last night. I had a feeling that it would soon become one of my favorites, and my senses didn't let me down. I'm not sure whether my inability to comprehend it the first time was due to my age or if it's just one of those movies that requires a second viewing, but I LOVED it either way. It's a funny thing, rediscovering and falling in love with a movie that didn't impress you the first time around. But with "Donnie Darko", it's understandable. What isn't there to love?

"Donnie Darko" is a bizarre psychological thriller named after its protagonist, Donnie Darko, a paranoid schizophrenic teenager whose life is saved by his imaginary friend-- a large bunny rabbit named Frank-- when an airplane engine falls from the sky and destroys his bedroom. After this strange event, Donnie's visions only become more and more recurring, and he begins to commit a series of crimes in response to Frank's requests, renewing his violent past. He also develops an obsession with time travel and seeks answers regarding what lies ahead, after being told by Frank how many days remain before the end of the world. Angst-ridden, the only person who Donnie is truly able to connect with is Gretchen Ross, a girl in his class who claims to have been born with tragedy in her blood. As the story progresses, so do the weird, supernatural, freaky, and thrilling elements.

Nov 6, 2010

Movie Review #3 - 127 Hours (2010)

Movie Review #2 - Hereafter (2010)

Probably the most under-appreciated movie of the year, Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter" is a very thoughtful film that demands our personal reflection. It asks many questions on the mysteries surrounding life and death, and life after death. But these topics aren't presented in an "in-your-face" sort of way (in fact, religion never comes into play with them); instead, they are left to self-interpretation. "Hereafter" ultimately asks you to reevaluate your faith and beliefs. Being an agnostic born into a Christian family, this was the perfect film for me. Not only did it make me wonder, but it also made me widen my scope of the world around me. 

Hereafter is a drama that focuses on three people in different corners of the world, who all "confront" death in different ways. George Lonegan (Matt Damon) is a construction worker who reluctantly uses his psychic ability to help people talk to their deceased loved-ones; Marie LeLay (Cécile De France) is a French journalist who sees everything in a new light after having a near-death experience; and Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren) is a young boy in London who loses the person closest to him and seeks answers regarding death and spirituality.   

The acting in the film is generally quite impressive. Matt Damon, as always, is good as the top billed actor (though the film uses an ensemble cast where the characters have an even amount of screen time). Even better is Cécile De France, a foreign actress known for French films such as the thriller "High Tension". I was also surprised by Bryce Dallas Howard, who wasn't bad at all. However, the one performance that shines brighter than any other is actually from a minor character. Lyndsey Marshal, the British actress who plays the alcoholic mother of the two little boys, is phenomenal. For the 5-10 minutes of screen time she has in this film, she is incredibly convincing. Everything she says is deep and heartfelt. I'm hoping that she snags an acting nomination at next year's Academy Awards, the same way that Viola Davis did for "Doubt". The only performance that didn't impress me too much was that of the little boy Marcus. At times, it felt like he was reading what he was saying off a piece of paper. But he wasn't bad. His performance was still above-average for a kid.

Nov 4, 2010

Movie Review #1 - Almost Famous (2000)

Hey everyone!
This is my first entry on my newly created blog "Nick Plus Movies".
I thought I'd post my most recent review that I posted on, so please read and let me know what you think of it!
- Nick L.

"It's all happening!"
A couple days ago, I finally decided to watch "Almost Famous". And I couldn't have chosen a better time to see it. Just like the film's protagonist, I'm growing up and struggling to discover my true identity. I'm in need of a life-changing experience similar to his in order to find myself.

Out of all the films I've seen in the past while, this is the one that really stands out, soaring above every other. Why is that? It's because, for once, I can personally relate to the story. "Almost Famous" has rightfully earned its spot in my book as "one of my personal favorites".

A semi-autobiographical take on director Cameron Crowe's adolescence, the story centers on William Miller (Patrick Fugit), an intelligent and ambitious 15-year-old growing up in the early 70s with a great passion for music (particularly classic rock). Living with none other than his loving but imposing mother (Frances McDormand), he feels tied down to the boundaries and limits she sets, and always feels that he must remain loyal to her. However, things change when he gets hired by Rolling Stone Magazine to tour with and write about an up-and-coming rock band named "Stillwater" (a fictitious band). He embarks on a coming-of-age journey where he is finally able to come face to face with life and love while finding his place in the world.