Entourage Review

Entourage was one of those TV shows that captivated me like none other. I get bored with TV shows that run on too long, but I always had a soft spot for Entourage even when it dropped off towards the end. I couldn’t have been more excited when I found out that a movie was going to be coming out this past summer. After watching the film, there is no possible way that I could say I’m disappointed in any sense. Reason being, however, is because I am such a huge fan of the Entourage TV show. This movie, instead of standing out as its own creation with a cinema like expansion on themes and character development, simply plays out like an hour and 45 minute television special. The plotline isn’t a worthy movie plot line and there are side stories that don’t seem to be relevant or hold much weight in the grand scheme of it all. They overdid the cameos, but let’s be honest here, they’re fun to watch the first time around. The script was a bit dull in places and for parts of the movie it felt like it something we had all seen before. If you haven’t watched the television series, or weren’t a big fan of the show, then you won’t enjoy this movie either.

Now, with that being said, after watching the film I took time to reflect about the movie a little bit more and I came to the realization that I didn’t want the movie to be its own individual, completely separate from the television series. I had waited so long to see these beloved Entourage characters in a new adventure, and I was given just that. I would be more upset if the writers had gone and made dramatic differences to the television show in order to help the film stand out on its own. I wanted the banter, the friendship, the celebrities, Ari Gold doing what Ari Gold does best, and when it was all said and done, it was perfect in that respect. This was a film that was designed to be for the die-hard Entourage fans that wanted something more from the beloved TV show. It provides closure in a way that the show never did and brings back all the characteristics that made the show a hit.

In all reality, is it that great of film overall? No, not technically. But I don’t care about that. At the end of the day, I got to spend an extra hour and 45 minutes with some of my favorite fictional characters that I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy if this film was never made. I won’t praise it as a great film, but it is a good film for those who love the television show, and unlike most films nowadays, this movie knows what it was designed for and doesn’t try to be something that it isn’t. And I think that deserves at least some recognition. I will always be smiling when the credits roll every time I see this film, albeit simply for just sentimental reasons.

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Entourage (2015): 2.5/4 stars

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Top 10 Acting Performances

For this list, I have compiled my favorite acting performances of all time, whether it be in the supporting or main role.  All the actors on this list did amazing jobs with the roles they were given, and used their skills to change the landscape of cinema history.

#10. Ben Kingsley: Ghandi– Playing an influential figure that has the stature of someone like Ghandi is never an easy task in the first place, but doing so while simultaneously carrying the weight of being the driving force for a film makes Kingsley’s performance all the more incredible.

#9.  Javier Bardem: No Country for Old Men– Ruthless, cold, insane, and the complete definition of what a badass should be, Javier Bardem stole the spotlight of the film from the supporting role and gave this Coen Bros. western thriller that extra edge it needed to be cemented into the history books.

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#8.  Gregory Peck: To Kill a Mockingbird– The epitome of what a gentleman should be, Peck commands the screen in his role as Atticus Finch and reminds us what it truly means to do your duty to humanity.

#7.  Daniel Day-Lewis: My Left Foot– Daniel Day-Lewis will go down as one of the best actors of all time, and his work in My Left Foot is a testament to his skill as an actor and, somehow, manages to upstage his near perfect performances in Lincoln and Gangs of New York.

#6.  Anthony Hopkins: Silence of the Lambs– The master of creepy was the best of many highlights to be taken away from this horror film. Acting with such confidence and creating a never-ending sense of tension and uneasiness, Hopkins steals the show, as Dr. Hannibal Lector, like never before seen in the horror genre.

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#5.  Heath Ledger: The Dark Knight– The best supporting role performance in all of cinema, with the potential to be even higher on this list in years to come, saw Ledger upstage the legendary Nicholson, redefine what it means to make a character your own, and delivered a flawless piece of acting that will not only be grounded in pop culture but will go on to define a generation.

#4.  Jack Nicholson: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest– Confident, crazy, yet always on point, Nicholson tops off a spectacular career of brilliant films with his portray of a man taking residence in a mental institution, locked in a battle of wits with the head nurse.

#3.  Robert De Niro: Raging Bull– De Niro is utterly absorbing and painfully brilliant with his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in quite arguably the finest film to come about from the De Niro Scorsese combination.

#2.  Daniel Day-Lewis: There Will Be Blood– While brilliant in My Left Foot, Daniel Day-Lewis becomes the only actor to be entered twice on this list with a once in a lifetime performance as Daniel Plainview, the twisted, greedy oil tycoon. Uncompromising in every way, Day-Lewis plays this character with such vigor and raw emotion; it makes it impossible to turn away from the screen.

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Honorable Mentions- Jack Nicholson: The Shining, Daniel-Day Lewis: Lincoln, Henry Fonda: 12 Angry Men, Christoph Waltz: Inglorious Bastards, Anthony Perkins: Psycho, Marlon Brando: The Godfather, Sean Penn: Milk, Tom hanks: Forrest Gump

#1. Marlon Brando: On the Water Front– Brando redefined what it meant to be an actor with his portrayal of Terry Malloy, a performance that will forever be the bar that all actors will strive to achieve. With this performance he became more than just a contender; he become somebody (if you don’t get the reference go and watch the movie and have a better life because of it).

Think I missed one? Let me know what was your favorite acting performance of all time is!

Titanic Review

Per request, I am writing about a film that, until the release of Avatar (a blockbuster film by the same director no less), was the highest grossing film of all time. For many girls born in the 80s and 90s who had their first viewing when they were in their teens, this film is the epitome of romance and a long-standing testament to what true love can accomplish, even in times of great tragedy and despair. There are many different things to consider when looking at this film because it encompasses so much melodrama in its slightly excessive three hour plus run time. It blends historical context with forbidden love, ultimate tragedy, promises of hope, glimpses of pure joy, testaments to the benefits of a simplistic lifestyle, criticisms of the overzealous aristocracy gifted to the select few during that time period, dazzling visuals, and quite frankly, one of the best musical scores ever composed. It manages to accomplish and touch upon more cinematic elements than most writers can even dream of, but does that make it a good film? In my mind, I much rather prefer a movie similar in style to “Fruitavle Station” or “Beasts of the Southern Wild;” short films that only focus on one or two themes, but explore those themes with such rigorous intensity that it manages to feel like it has accomplished a similar amount to “Titanic,” but in half of the time. Still, trying to compare those aforementioned movies to “Titanic” is like comparing apples and oranges, so let’s just stick with “Titanic.”

Let’s look at what it does well. Like I said before, I simply cannot get enough of the musical score in this film. Even if you aren’t innately aware while watching the film, if you hear those classic notes playing somewhere, your mind automatically jumps to this movie. The effects, even to this day, are still spectacular and it is brilliantly accurate in depicting the way that the boat would sink. Many historical melodramas suffer from historical inaccuracy, so it is nice to see Cameron portray some amounts of realism, even if it may be only to counteract the functionality of the romance between the two lead characters. It is filled with loads of passion, scenes of immense excitement, and manages to tug at heartstrings in a way that almost reaches the same level as Pixar.

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There are some areas, however, where it starts to drift off course. As dazzling as it is, it is equal parts overdramatic and obnoxious. The script feels like it was taken right out of pre-teen girl’s diary. When I was in high school I thought the love story of Romeo and Juliet was insufferable, but this film takes it to an entire new level. The lack of pragmatism in the relationship between the two main characters provides more annoyance than it does romantic fortitude, causing the film to lose a portion of its audience before anything else is considered. Sure, the romance will make some people become all weepy, just like your classic Nicholas Sparks book, but when you actually remove yourself from the emotion of the moment and look at the situation objectively, you start to realize just how ridiculous all of this is. The only thing that is more ridiculous than the romance is the run time; I’m sorry James Cameron but this film does not need to be 194 minutes. Run times of that length always pose a threat of making any film feel worn out or stretched to its limits unless it has real narrative depth to it. Films like the Godfather and Apocalypse Now explore every angle of the themes presented during the film. Titanic, on the other hand, decides to substitute a depth in theme exploration for quantity of themes. There is too much going on in this movie.

Yes, it is impressive that it packs so much into the movie and it makes it somewhat bearable to watch for the entire run time, but at the end, I feel like I have gotten no purpose from the movie. Watching this film feels like talking to that one friend we all have that is terrible at telling stories because they make every story more drawn out than it should be. This movie could have been told in half the time and still have the same emotional and intellectual impact. There are many times when the film outright angers me, the lack of originality in the storyline bores me, and the pure idiocy of some of the events and decisions made by the main characters makes me want to throw my remote through the middle of my television screen. It is one of the most self-indulgent, pity-inducing pieces of entitled cinema I have ever come across. The film meanders around like it knows it’s one of the greatest gifts to mankind without ever actually proving it. Films like “Schindler’s List” have instances where this is true as well, but at least “Schindler’s List” justifies its pomp and circumstance. “Titanic’s” ultimate flaw is that it feels it can do anything it wants and be in the right, when it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Nothing is handed to you automatically in the world of cinema, just ask Woody Allen, who has had his fair share of duds in his long and illustrious career; however, “Titanic” tries to change that notion with no avail.

At the end of the day, will people still love it? Yes. Will it still remain a blockbuster hit? Yes. Will it be remembered as a defining film from the 90s? Yes. But it will also be one of the most overrated films ever to grace the silver screen in my opinion.

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Titanic (1997): 1.5/4 stars

Ex Machina Review

The way I see it, there are two types of science-fiction films: ones similar to Star Trek that rely on special effects bringing futuristic inventions and ideas to life in a spectacle of explosions and terrorized people, and ones similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey that combine small amounts of special effects to create great visuals but rely heavily on themes and ideas that relate to scientific topics. Ex Machina lands confidently within the boundaries of the latter definition. There are no intense action sequences in this sci-fi film, but rather, questions about artificial intelligence are asked that would not normally be considered by your typical blockbuster film such as I, Robot. There are times in the film where you begin to question everything that has been told to you and you try to figure out what is actually going if indeed there is something suspicious about the entire situation. During the viewing of this film, I had to force myself to take a stop back and wonder if I was just being paranoid about the entire situation and about which side was telling me the true reality. You are constantly feeling like not every card is being shown to you and that is the cause of your confusion, but at the same time, you wonder if everything is actually how it appears. It is a haunting, suspenseful experience that is truly gripping and is the definition of “leaving you on the edge of your seat.” It brings about questions of creator versus created and how we justify what constitutes as realistic human life.  It forces you to think about the differences between us and forms of artificial intelligence, thus subliminally discussing what characteristics define humanity and the composition of human nature.  There are one or two moments when the movie seems to be dull, but those moments aside, the film provides great scenes of paranoia-fueled suspense combined with intelligent themes and questions, all set upon a backdrop of great natural beauty in the outside world around the facility where the very limited cast is residing. Oscar Isaac continues to prove himself a tour de force in every film he acts in and Domhnall Gleeson puts in a very solid performance as well.  It flew under the radar this year, but is still one of my standouts of 2015.

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Ex Machina (2015): 3.5/4 stars

It Follows Review

I don’t watch very many horror films because of two main reasons: the first being that horror films almost always seem to lack the quintessential themes and narrative elements that lead to basic filmmaking success; there is hardly any character development in most mainstream horror films, and they tend to sacrifice intelligence and suspense for cheap thrills and gore. The second reason is that, quite frankly, I like to sleep at night. There are some horror films, however, that manage to use great filmmaking techniques and are overall fantastic works of cinema. These are the films that I am willing to sacrifice a good nights sleep for. Some that initially come to mind are Silence of the Lambs, The Exorcist, Blair Witch Project, the Babadook and Psycho. After hearing about all the praises for It Follows, I decided I would give this movie a chance as well.

Since this isn’t a very well known movie, I’ll discuss the plot a little bit. Essentially, there is this curse that is only passed on by sexual intercourse. The main character, Jay, receives this curse from a boy that she has previously hooked up with, meaning that for the rest of her life there will be this thing, this “It,” walking towards her at all time trying to kill her. It will never run, never speak; it just walks. It is always following her and is invisible to everyone else except for those who have had this curse before. The only way to pass the curse on is to have sex with somebody else, but if the person you passed it on to is killed by It, then it begins following you again, ensuring that even when the characters think they’re safe, they may not be. It’s a very simple topic, but the director does such a great job of getting as much as possible out of this storyline, making it his own, and turning it into a modern day urban legend.

The first thing that stands out so well in this movie is its brilliant use of dynamic camera movements to portray suspension, and just the overall feeling of suspension as well. While it doesn’t quite hit Hitcockian type levels of suspense, it comes incredibly close to achieving such a high standard of comparison. For me, suspense is always going to make a movie more terrifying than any amount of blood and gore. I want to say there is one relatively gory scene in the entire movie, right at the beginning, and even it is used in a way that haunts the audience, with the shot lingering just a bit longer than normal, forcing you to look at the horror on screen. It Follows has such great storytelling, solid acting, and moves along at a slow, yet very deliberate, tension-building pace. The feeling of paranoia was almost as extreme as the suspense. Every time you see an unfocused figure in the background and start to wonder if it may be this “It,” the camera quickly moves away and comes back into focus ten seconds later, revealing that “It” is right behind Jay ready to attack.

Overall, the film isn’t particular scary while watching it, but what makes it brilliant is the lingering feeling that the films leaves you with. If you actually take time to take a step back and think about the entire premise of the film, you begin to realize that it is actually a terrifying situation. It is filmed in such a haunting way, which such an atmospheric musical score, that even though it only has a couple of outright scary moments, it is one of the more terrifying films that have come out in recent years. It takes horror themes and maneuvers them in such a creative and original way that makes the film stand out as not only terrifying, but also a wonderfully executed overall film with a very well told story. More horror films need to be like this one.

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It Follows (2015): 4/4 stars