Casablanca (1942) Film Review

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In one of the Big Nate comics, Francis proclaims that Casablanca is his favourite movie of all time, and after seeing it, I certainly like the character less now.

I already hear the angry film veterans writing the mile long essays on why I’m completely wrong, and I can’t blame them. The American Film Institute declared it’s the second greatest film of all time (below Citizen Kane, of course) and most people regard it as a classic. But to a 14 year old, I found it pretty “meh”

It’s set during WWII in (where else?) Casablanca where two former lovers reunite in a bar and… stuff happens… To be honest, that’s the best synopsis I can give. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman just do things, she’s with someone else, some Nazi’s also do some things, and it’s not very interesting. There’s a couple of good moments, but I spent most of the 103 minutes of run time bored.

I’m possibly not old enough to appreciate the film, and I couldn’t really think of anything artistically wrong with it (aside from a few cheesy moments) but a good movie means nothing if I was simply bored. I really don’t have a lot to say about this one but I’m with Nate and Teddy, Dumb and Dumber is better.

Field of Dreams (1989) Film Review

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What is a films purpose? Is it to make us reconsider our understanding of life, challenge our perception on a certain topic, or give us a thought provoking experience? It can be those things, but any filmmaker should make their movie with the main purpose to entertain the audience. Field of Dreams doesn’t set out to be anything other than simple entertainment, and it succeeds in doing so.

It’s a simple premise: Kevin Costner is an ordinary farmer until he hears a mysterious voice say “If you build it, he will come…” So he builds a baseball field over his crops (it makes sense in the film, trust me) and soon dead baseball players come to play on the field. The voice instructs him to do more things, and the rest of the film is him just going around trying to figure out what the voice is trying to tell him to do.

Writing down the premise certainly made me realize it must sound bonkers to someone who hasn’t seen the film, but the film does a great job of making this strange idea work in this world. Heck, you never find out where the voice is actually coming from, but it’s the kind of movie where you simply roll with it. And as I said, it’s just enjoyable! It didn’t blow my mind or make me question my life, it’s purely simple entertainment, and that’s more than enough for me.

Field of Dreams won’t be remembered as a masterpiece, I doubt you’ll see it on anyone’s favourite movies list, and there’s nothing particularly artistic about it. With that said, I’d happily watch it again, and sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and just enjoy a film. It’s nothing amazing, but to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Birdman (2014) Film Review

birdman-michael-keaton

Tell me if this person sounds familiar: An actor famous for playing a superhero who didn’t have much fame after that now trying to get popularity again. They really couldn’t have cast anyone else but Michael Keaton, could they?

Yes, Keaton plays a once popular actor struggling to get more fame. But Riggan Thomson’s only famous for the role of Birdman, and he’s trying to get back on top with a new stage show he’s directing and starring in. Things don’t go quite so smoothly for him though, as one of the actors gets under everyone’s skin, a critic promises to give him a bad review, and to top it all off, he keeps hearing Birdman in his head, trying to get him to ditch the play. So all in all, not the smoothest running production backstage.

Pretty much the first thing you’ll notice about the film is the cinematography. The entire film is made to look like it’s all just one continuous shot. (with a couple of brief exceptions) Even if you can’t get into the story, you can at least appreciate how originally it’s filmed, and it looks fantastic. But I was also able to get into the story of how this guy is desperate for fame and also kind of insane. The acting from pretty much everyone was fantastic, and it helps carry the events along, to the point where it didn’t feel like two hours long, with no point of it dragging on.

This is a movie I absolutely recommend that you see at least once, even just to see how cleverly it’s filmed, but you’ve also got interesting events being filmed, so that’s a plus. Also, Michael Keaton’s got a bit of a popularity boost from this movie, so in a way he and Thomson got what they wanted in the end…

Jaws (1975) Film Review

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Dur…dum…dur dum…duuuuuur DUM. Dundundundundundundundundu-okay I’ll stop now.

Jaws takes place in the middle of nowhere on a remote island being hit by shark attacks. The first half of the movie is the shark claiming victims whilst the mayor decides to keep the beach open for business. But by the second half, Police Chief Brody decides to put a stop to it and goes on a shark hunt with a marine scientist and a fisherman. I’d say the people who were killed got what was coming to them for going out so far to sea, but then we wouldn’t have our big thriller, so I’ll play along.

Most people remember the tension built before each attack, and who can blame them? With John Williams iconic theme to the fact that you only get the first proper look at the shark by the end, it’s very effective stuff, and the point of the first half is to build tension before the big hunt, and it works very well. (especially THAT scene with the abandoned boat, scared me sh*tless)

The second half sees our three heroes attempting to murder the shark, and while that’s also done well, it can also get a bit tiring after a while. Even though this is very much a film about tension, things start to get repetitive when they just keep harpooning barrels at this shark (an animatronic shark that still holds up, I should add). But it does build up to a satisfying climax that makes the more dull scenes worth sitting through, it just takes a bit too long to get there.

So as a whole, Jaws still holds up and it will most definitely continue to keep people from going into the water, or at least going out really goddamn far, which is a very sensible thing to teach audiences, so good job!

4/5

Good Will Hunting (1997) Film Review

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Here’s a fun game: Take a shot every time someone says f*** in Good Will Hunting. You’ll either be violently sick or possibly dead by the end of the movie. Though you’ll probably be too compelled by the film to actually play anyway.

The film is more or less a character study of Will Hunting, a genius who would much prefer to hang out drinking with his friends than using his brain to it’s full potential. After getting sent to jail, he’s offered an early release by someone who discovered his genius on two conditions: He does some complicated equations, and that he takes part in therapy sessions. He agrees, and the rest of the movie sees him taking part in the therapy sessions with Robin Williams, fall in love and choose what he really wants from life, a successful career or to just enjoy himself.

The film has a very realistic tone to it, almost if it could happen in any time at any place… and that’s the movies biggest strength. It’s how real it feels that keeps it so compelling all the way through. The script is written in a believable way (though the characters do swear like sailors) they make Will a very relatable character in the way that they’re times that you don’t like what he does, but still get where he’s coming from. And the acting from pretty much everyone is so good that you never see the actor, just the characters, who feel like real people.

There’s some films that I know I enjoyed, but I don’t really know why. This is one of those cases, but I guess it was at how realistic and unpredictable the film was that kept me so enthralled. So maybe the reason wasn’t quite so clear as to why I really liked it at first, but from when the movie ended, I knew I really, really liked it.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) Film Review

butch In the unlikely event that I decide to rob a bank, I’d do it whilst listening to what is known on the soundtrack as “South American Getaway” You can look it up yourself, but I’ll give you some sample lyrics: “Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba da da da”

Put simply, the soundtrack to this movie is simply gold. There’s not even that much music in the film, but whether it be the bike ride to “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head” or the aforementioned bank robbery to “ba ba ba ba ba”, they’re definitely highlights. And the rest of the film is also pretty entertaining. It’s a western about two outlaws, and most of the movie follows them trying to outrun the police (or whatever they were called back then) as well as continue to rob banks.

Now while I did enjoy the film, I only consider it to be a good movie, not a great one. This is for a few reasons. At first, it’s really hard to tell who was who. There’s literally a scene where it looks like they’ve both jumped down from a roof, but it turns out only one of them jumped down and someone else found him. The films also far too long for it’s own good, as many parts do drag on, even entertaining scenes like the bank robbing montage are SEVEN minutes long, and by the end of the movie, I was pretty bored.

Okay, so what did I like? Well, when the movie doesn’t drag, it’s a lot of fun, with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (the characters, not the film) are likeable enough. I always got a great laugh whenever the camera done a dramatic close up, and it looks very unprofessional, but hilarious nonetheles. And as I’ve already said, the music is always great whenever it does appear.

I liked this movie, but it’s certainly far from the best I’ve ever seen. So I do recommend it, but only for some great laughs that aren’t always intentional. And on a final note, Sundance looks like Keith Lemon. Good luck getting that image out of your head.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) Film Review

SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS

Something I’ve found whilst watching classic musicals is that there’s always quite a few songs I’d never heard of amongst all the iconic ones. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one such musical, expect there was only ONE song I was aware of before going in, and it’s more of a dance number anyway. This tells me the film isn’t so well known amongst other musicals like Sound of Music or Singin in the Rain as I anticipated, and I suppose theirs  kind of a reason for it.

Just telling you the story kind of proves my point. Adam is a woodsman who’s looking for a wife. He finds a woman named Milly and he asks her to marry him, despite only just meeting. Of course she agrees, and they get married THAT AFTERNOON. Geez, and I thought Disney characters rushed their marriages! Anyway, she goes to live with Adam, only to discover he has six brothers, and that’s she’s expected to do all the chores around the house. Soon the other brothers fall in love with six women, queue numerous hijinks and song numbers.

Now unless you’ve just time travelled from 1954, I don’t think I need to tell you that this movie’s story sounds like a product of it’s time, and that kind of sums up most of the film overall (though I did get a good laugh every time they rode the horse carriage against a green screen). It also doesn’t help that by today’s standard, it’s quite sexist, and after giving you the premise, I don’t think I need to explain why. And later on, what do the brothers do to get the girls? Kidnap them, of course! Yeah, yeah, I know it’s fiction, but it just seems a little extreme, especially considering by the end it actually works.

But I should probably say that I did enjoy this movie fine, the songs (while they do come out of nowhere) are pretty good, and I was humming the first one after watching the movie. The dance scene halfway through was very impressive, and despite being a tad outdated, it does have that old movie charm that can’t be found today. Some of the choices made haven’t aged that well, but it’s good old fashioned entertainment, even if The Wizard of Oz (made about 20 years earlier) is much more timeless.