Tag Archives: Best Picture

West Side Story (1961) Film Review

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Anyone else hate long films that just go on and on AND ON? I certainly do, and I’m always left thinking about glorious 70 minute long animated movies. West Side Story runs at 152 minutes, so this is gonna drag, right?

It’s a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but instead of it being rival families, it’s gangs (the American Jets VS the Spanish Sharks) who keep fighting for the turf by twirling and prancing around. At a dance, one of the Jets, Tony, falls in love with the Sharks leader’s sister, Maria. The two keep visiting each other in secret, while the fight between the Jets and Sharks escalates…

The most important part of any musical is… well, the music, and it’s absolutely cracking here! There’s plenty of tunes to get stuck in your head and the dancing is consistently impressive. It’s also very well paced, with enough time between songs and building up the story to keep the viewer engaged.

Maybe it IS the pacing that keeps the movie from becoming dull because of the run time. Something entertaining is always happening, where it be seeing where the story goes next to a big dance number, there was never a dull moment.

West Side Story is often considered one of the great movie musicals, and after seeing it for myself, it’s hard to argue with that statement. Give it a watch if you haven’t already, although be prepared to have Maria stuck in your head all day long…

Mary Poppins (1964) Film Review

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Mary Poppins isn’t really the type of movie I’d like to review, so I tried to come up with a word to describe it instead, but I can’t think of the appropriate word at the moment, so I might as well talk about the film while I try to think of one…

The story (for the three of you that don’t know it) is about a magic nanny called Mary Poppins who comes to look after the Banks children, and the rest of the movie is the three of them going on several capers with the “cockney” Bert. There isn’t much of an actual story, it’s mainly Mary and the children going on some short adventure and then the next one, but when the adventures are this charming, imaginative and fun filled, the two hour length flies by.

Those two hours hold up remarkably well after 53 years, with practical effects that still look convincing, and great performances from all the cast. Yeah, Dick Van Dyke’s accent might be considered the second worst in film history (just beat by Sean Connery in The Untouchables) according to Empire Magazine, but admit it, it wouldn’t be the same without him (or Julie Andrews, for that matter).

Do I even need to tell you how good the songs are? They’ve become household tunes, with Feed the Birds, Chim Chim Cher-ee, Let’s Go Fly a Kite… and that really long word one that I can’t remember the name of…it should back to me.

Put simply, Mary Poppins is still a delight after over 50 years for all ages, that’s tons of fun and at the end, rather poignant. Needless to say, you’ll come out of it feeling- YES! I know what word I can use to describe this movie, it’s the perfect word for Mary Poppins!

It’s great.

Argo (2012) Film Review

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Many people consider Argo to be the Coen Brother’s masterpiece, a film so compelling that- wait a minute, I’m thinking of Fargo… rookie mistake.

The actual movie I’m reviewing is a true story during the 80’s in which the CIA created a fake movie to rescue six members of the American embassy hiding out in Iran. The first half of the film focuses on the production of the fake movie, which is interesting to see unfold, as well as having some surprisingly good humour. It’s an entertaining time.

The second half sees the escape being put into place, but to properly fool the government of Iran, they spend an extra day there pretending they’re looking for a filming location. From this point forward, this movie isn’t entertaining any more. Argo becomes one of the most intense films I’ve ever seen. Ben Affleck absorbs the viewer into the situation and refuses to let you breath easy until [SPOILERS], but even if you know that [SPOILERS] in real life, it’s still one hell of a rollercoaster ride.

After an enjoyable first half, Argo really steps it up a notch and gives a film that keeps you on the edge of your seat for most of the vast majority of the film, and once you get to the end after all that you just went through, you can’t help but grin. What a great movie.

Jerry Maguire (1996) Film Review

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Jerry Maguire is classified as a sports movie, even though the actual sports only appears a few times, particularly by the end. I’d personally classify it as a comedy and a really great one at that.

Unsurprisingly, the main character is Jerry Maguire (played by Tom Cruise), a sports agent who gets fired and decides to set up his own business, which leads to comedy, romance, drama, all that good stuff we like to see in movies.

While I don’t think this movie really had a chance of winning Best Picture (unless I’m mistaken and The English Patient is a humorous farce about an American doctor trying to understand his stereotypical British patient) but it’s still a very funny movie with lots of heart. There’s plenty of laughs to be had as well as some heartfelt moments that leaves you grinning plenty of times throughout the run time.

There’s really not much for me to say about this one except that it’s a feel good movie that’s the perfect film to sit down with a snack and just enjoy! Oh, and the kid should’ve won Best Supporting Actor. Just sayin’.

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

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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