Reviews

The Immigrant is an artistically-created modern tragedy

Director: James Gray
Writers: James Gray & Richard Menello
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, & Jeremy Renner

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The twenties is a time that has a special place in American history — it is the decade when America experienced economic growth and this subsequently led to higher standards of living, flourishing of culture, and rapid social transformation. This period dubbed as “The Roaring Twenties” cemented the United States’ prominence and had ultimately reified what is known as “the American dream” — the dream that many people in the world still aspire.

At the same time, however, this period also witnessed a drastic downward shift in the social and moral disposition of the American people, epitomized by the yearning to defy the Prohibition and laws which restricted the influx of immigrants into the country. It is in this tumultuous setting that a powerful narrative is breathed into yet another excellent period piece — James Gray’s The Immigrant (2013).

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Submarine is a subtle charmer

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Director: Richard Ayoade
Screenplay by: Richard Ayoade
Cast: Craign Roberts, Yasmin Paige, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Sally Hawkins

I came to know about Submarine because I was (and still am) obsessed with Alex Turner and the Arctic Monkeys. I found out that there was this coming-of-age film with a soundtrack written entirely by Alex Turner during the pre-Suck It And See era; it signified the change in sound Arctic Monkeys was headed towards, from its indie rock garage band roots.

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Days of Future Past is a smart, worthy addition to the X-Men canon

Director: Bryan Singer
Screenplay:
 Simon Kinberg 
Cast: 
Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart

The scandalous allegations plaguing Director Bryan Singer aren’t enough to deny the fact that X-Men: Days of Future Past is a sleek, bold and intelligent film that can go down as one of the finest superhero films in history.

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Godzilla marks the kaiju king’s return in fighting form

Director: Gareth Edwards
Screenplay: Max Borenstein
Cast:  Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn

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There’s a good reason why many of us are apprehensive about the new Godzilla movie: we’ve had our fair share of bad flicks adapted from the so-called king of all kaijus. The perfect example of this would be the godawful 1998 franchise whose only achievement was casting the (still) dreamy Matthew Broderick.

So how did Godzilla’s return to the big screen fare? To put it mildly, like the titular character at the end of the film, it reigned supreme. (more…)

What happens in Last Vegas, should stay in Las Vegas

Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Cast:  Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Stenburgen

Nothing could be as heart-wrenching as seeing an amazing ensemble of award-winning actors trying to resuscitate a plot line that is as predictable as your next intake of medicine.

Maybe the producers of Last Vegas thought that by placing Oscar-winning actors in a supposed comedy, they could pull off box office success, regardless of having worn-out jokes and tired punch lines concerning Viagra, hip replacements, and body pains. But these respectable actors could only do so much and this movie, which could be seen as a GP version of the Hangover trilogy, has failed to deliver on its promise of being a comedy.

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That Awkward Moment wasted its charms

Director: Tom Gormican
Writer: Tom Gormican
Cast: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas

Even Zac Efron’s abs could not save it.

Three friends find themselves in relationship conundrums and they try to decipher what to do next about it. Jason (Zac Efron) sits on a bench, apparently waiting for someone, and tells the story from the beginning. After learning that his wife is having an affair and wants to divorce him, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) gets dragged into a bar by his friends, Jason and Daniel, to meet new people. Mikey meets a girl with glasses (Kate Simses) but doesn’t call her until the end of the movie, as he keeps trying to patch things up with his wife, Vera (Jessica Lucas). Daniel eventually falls for his wingwoman, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). And Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots), a writer. He commits a lot of what would be considered relationship mistakes, yet of course, she is the one he’s waiting for while sitting on that bench. All these become complicated when the three friends make a pact to remain single and help each other out during this time in their lives.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not amazing at all

Director: Marc Webb
Screenplay: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner
Cast:  Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Chris Cooper

My problem with The Amazing Spider-Man franchise is its sheer existence. Why did Sony have to do a reboot when it has already established a superior franchise back in 2002 witn Sam Raimi at the helm? Upon seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2, my problem was further reinforced.

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Why Mean Girls Matters: A Fan Manifesto

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Director: Mark Waters
Screenplay: Tina Fey
Cast:  Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jonathan Bennett, Daniel Franzese

Mean Girls…How do we begin to explain Mean Girls? In all its flawlessness, it needs no validation: it is the quintessential high school movie; the queen bee, if you must. And if you don’t know it, you’ve been living under a rock, or homeschooled by your research zoologist parents while spending your formative years in Africa. The wisecracks (say crack again? CRACK) has punched our hearts for 10 years now, and it’s still awesome.

Yes. Yes it is.

Yes. Yes it is.

And yes, I’ve packed 5 movie references in that first paragraph, and I’m unrepentant about it.

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Reading Transcendence’s virtual (dis)reality

Director: Wally Pfister
Screenplay: Jack Paglen
Cast: Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Cole Hauser, and Paul Bettany

A science-fiction film starring Johnny Depp (and also [the] Morgan Freeman) with Christopher Nolan as executive producer and a script included in the 2012 edition of The Black List (which, by the way, is a list of the best unproduced scripts handpicked by film executives) would have definitely sounded brilliant and full of potential. However, we all come to realize that once in a while, even blockbuster elements lead to lackluster results. Transcendence had it all, or so we thought.

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Wes Anderson’s grandest film yet: Reviewing The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson
Screenplay: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Tony Revolori, Léa Seydoux

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I remember seeing the music video of Vampire Weekend’s Oxford Comma for the first time and thinking that it was reminiscent of the Wes Anderson aesthetic – the chapters, the way the camera pans from one scene to another for the entire duration of the video, and even the preppy outfits. The message of the song was revealed in the manner by which Wes Anderson would have told an audience of the story of one of his films; perhaps Wes Anderson’s quirky visuals and alternate realities are not just what constitute his approach to filmmaking, but something that has been established as a distinct brand of storytelling. But in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson takes this aesthetic to a whole new level, without sparing the plot of the movie from the revolutionary grandeur he took in his stride.

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