Movie Reviews

Darkest Hour – Movie Review

In 1940 World War II, the Nazis were taking over Europe and about to capture France. At this point, England was losing faith in their Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, and he eventually resigns. When his successor declines the position, England turns to their next option, whom no one had faith in, Winston Churchill. He then has to make the difficult choice of whether to continue the war against Germany or negotiate peace with Hitler.

Image via The Filtered Lens

Gary Oldman undoubtedly gives one of the best performances of a historical figure of all time. Credit must be given to Oldman himself for completely enveloping Churchill down to his accent, speech patterns, and even small mannerisms. However, the makeup team deserves immense praise for their difficult task of physically transforming Oldman into Churchill. They perfected his look to where I never noticed the prosthetics, even in the close-up shots.

Gary Oldman could have overdone the acting, instead, he gives a believable performance that will be remembered as one of the best in years to come. The combination of the masterful performance and the impeccable prosthetics made Oldman unrecognizable as Churchill. You never see Gary Oldman, all you see is Winston Churchill.

The supporting cast is fantastic and elevates the film, some of which giving context to Churchill’s personal life. Kristen Scott Thomas is a standout as Clementine Churchill, and Ben Mendelsohn was surprisingly fit for the role of King George. Lily James was competent as Churchill’s secretary, but despite some great moments, the script struggles to find a use for her character for the majority of the film.

Image via The Atlantic

This film is incredibly interesting if you want to know more about how Churchill came into power and how much support he had from his party. The writers didn’t over glorify Churchill, they gave insight into why he didn’t have support from many people, even his own party. He also has an interesting relationship with King George, which was one of my favorite parts of the movie.

Churchill has to consult with the British Parliament throughout the movie, and this prompts long dialogue sequences. Much like Lincoln, the lead performance and the directing cause these scenes to be tense and engaging when they could fall flat and become dull. The movie is also very funny, there are some funny jokes scattered throughout that add to the film’s accessibility and enjoyment.

One of the main points of the movie is as a deeper look into Operation Dynamo, otherwise known as the Dunkirk Evacuation, recently told in DunkirkDarkest Hour goes into depth about what decisions were made to reach that point, and how important that event was to England in the war.

Image via Hardwood and Hollywood

While he film was wholy intriguing and entertaining to me, I would understand if some people find it boring if they aren’t interested in the subject matter. If you want to know more about what I described above, you will probably really like this movie as I did, but if this isn’t your cup of tea it might drag in many scenes.

Darkest Hour is worth watching for the lead performance alone, and the compelling story makes me reccomend it that much more. It is a great character piece about Winston Churchill, while being an enthralling historical film. Make sure to catch this before Oscars because Gary Oldman is a lock for the Best Actor awards.

Rating: A-

Have you seen Darkest Hour? If so, what did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Movie Reviews

La La Land – Movie Review

Since The Greatest Showman just came out, and the same lyricists from La La Land worked on the songs, I thought I would review the Oscar-winning film. La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, who plays a jazz pianist looking to save jazz and eventually open his own jazz club, and Emma Stone, a struggling actress looking to make her name in Hollywood through the grueling process of constant auditions. The two characters fall for each other, and the story is told in the style of a modern-day musical.

Image via Rolling Stone

Despite the phenomenal performances, the real star of this film is the writer/director, Damien Chazelle. This is his second feature film, his first being Whiplash, and it’s hard to believe that looking at the work he did. The film is gorgeously shot, making Los Angeles look absolutely beautiful. Chazelle uses vibrant colors in the costumes, props, and backgrounds to enhance the scenes, especially the dance sequences which are also very impressive.

Mandy Moore, the choreographer, deserves a special Oscar for her work on this film. The opening number is one of the most elaborate scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie and the musical scenes that follow don’t disappoint at all. The songs are some of the best I’ve ever heard in movies, I immediately got the soundtrack after seeing the movie because of how catchy the songs were. The musical numbers are shot using long takes which makes the scenes flow much better. Unlike in many musicals, the transitions between normal scenes and musical scenes are seamless, feeling like they belong.

The performances in this movie are stellar. As I wrote earlier, Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian, a jazz pianist, whose dream is to open a jazz club, and his performance is fantastic. He does a great job of conveying his love for jazz through passionate dialogue including one great scene where he is explaining to Emma Stone’s character why jazz is one of the best music genres. According to the director, Ryan took piano lessons for three months and did all of the piano playing scenes himself. Coming from someone who plays piano, he plays some songs that would be almost impossible to play with only three months of practice, so he gets extra credit from me.

Emma Stone gives the best performance of her career in this movie as a barista who wants to be an actress, and they do a great job of showing how miserable auditions can be. People walk into the room and interrupt her, no one pays attention, and sometimes she just isn’t the type of person they’re looking for. You get a strong sense of her struggle, yet persistence in becoming an actress.

Image via Time Out

While both performances are great, they both need to have good chemistry for the film to work. Thankfully, they did and I really bought into their relationship. The two have some great scenes together including dialogue scenes and musical scenes. The film shows the ups and downs of their relationship, and whenever they have problems it doesn’t feel cliché, instead it feels natural and necessary. They can both sing very well, and the dancing scenes are done to perfection.

The best aspect of the movie is the overall theme of following your dreams. That sounds extremely cheesy, but the film manages to integrate it into the film in a way that feels real. They go into the harsh reality that you have to make some sacrifices to go for what you want in life, and everything might not go your way. The filmmakers could have gone for the more glossy and optimistic route, but they are honest with the audience and don’t hit them over the head with the theme. This movie will be relatable to people who have goals and will go as far as they can to reach them.

Image via Entertainment Weekly

This movie had a very divisive reception after it was nominated for dozens of awards, but I have to say that the film earned all of them. This proves that Damien Chazelle is one of the best new directors out there, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling give career performances, the songs and dances are some of the best parts, and the film is inspirational throughout.

Rating: A

I’m working on some end of the year articles including my top 10 movies of the year. Those should go up in the next week or two.

Have you seen La La Land? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Movie News

‘Wonder Woman’ to Make Big Oscar Push

Now that it is the highest grossing movie of the summer, Warner Bros. is working towards an Oscar campaign for the DC film, Wonder Woman

Image via Warner Bros.

According to a report from Variety, Warner Bros. is going to push to make Wonder Woman the first comic book movie to be nominated for best picture. They are also campaigning for Patty Jenkins to get a best director nomination. No director of a comic book movie has ever been nominated for best director. Looks like they’re trying to break more records than they’ve already broken with the summer hit.

It’s surprising how no comic book movie has been nominated for best picture. The Dark Knight was supposedly the reason why they opened up the number of nominations for best picture to up to ten films. Also, only four female directors have ever been nominated for best director: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Lina Wertmuller (Seven Beauties), Jane Campion (The Piano), and Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation). 

Image via Warner Bros.

I really loved Wonder Woman, I thought it did a great job of showing a loving, and compassionate woman who could also kick butt at the same time. While the movie was great, I didn’t think it wasn’t one of the top ten comic book movies of all time, not to discredit the movie. My point is, it didn’t really do anything to transcend the genre of comic book movies or anything just outright amazing. Again, I absolutely loved the movie, but I don’t think it was anything Oscar worthy.

It’s great that Warner Bros. is pushing for this to get Oscar buzz. I wouldn’t be upset at all if got a nomination, I’d actually be pretty happy that it got one. Also, this year hasn’t had many Oscar type movies so far, though those usually come late in the year. So, if there isn’t much competition by the end of the year, my opinion might change, and it might have a better chance. One comic book movie that did do something daring and different with the ends this year was Logan. If any comic book movie could be nominated, I would choose Logan because it proved that comic books movies aren’t all the same. It showed what you can do with storytelling with that type of background behind it.

One last time (if I haven’t said it enough), I thought Wonder Woman was amazing, it just doesn’t seem like an Oscar movie.

Image via Warner Bros.

I know my opinion might be unpopular, so what do you think? Do you want Wonder Womab to get a best picture nomination? Leave your comments below.

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Movie Reviews

‘Hidden Figures’ Movie Review

Hidden Figures is about three African-American female mathematicians Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) who were a significant part of the NASA Space Program’s challenge of putting a man in space. The film also features Kevin Costner as Al Harrison, the director of the Space Task Group.

Image via 20th Century Fox

I really loved Hidden Figures. I’m really surprised this story isn’t taught in school. These women played a very integral role in getting John Glenn to space. It’s really important for young girls to know this story. Taraji P. Henson plays Ketherine Goble Johnson, and she is the main character in the film. She was great in this role. I loved the way she kept proving everybody wrong with her math skills. She has a scene in the film when she’s finally done with all some racial issues, and she has that scene where she gives a big speech. That usually doesn’t work for me since it’s so overdone, but I thought it was really great in the movie.

Janelle Monáe was also really great in the movie. I thought she and Taraji P. Henson were the standouts in the film. Her character wants to be an engineer, but certain restrictions are placed so she cannot achieve that. And, that was another aspect of the film I liked. The constant struggle of trying to fight past the barriers society places in front of them. There’s a line in the movie when Mary Jackson says, “Every time we get a chance to get ahead, they move the finish line. Every time.” That really came through for me, I loved seeing them move past their set backs and succeed I their careers.

Image via 20th Century Fox

Octavia Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughn, who wants to be supervisor of the colored computer group, but is not able to do so. She was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and while she was great, I don’t think she was better than Janelle Monáe. I don’t mean to discredit her, but I just thought that Monáe gave a more powerful performance. She really stood out in a scene in court, and she has to address the judge. That scene alone, I thought, stole the film. Getting back to Octavia Spencer, I liked how her character had a bit of sass to her, for lack of a better term. Dorothy Vaughn was the character that leads the group through racial issues specifically. I’d say her character was the most fun to watch. Also, she has the best line in the film.

Kevin Costner played the director of the Space Task Group, and he was awesome. His character was one of my favorites because he’s not really a jerk, he’s just following the rules, but when he needs to, he takes charge and makes changes. He was one of my favorite parts of the movie. Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory is plays Paul Stafford in this film, which was a surprise for me. His character is a jerk. He works in the same place that Katherine Johnson works, and he makes sure that she cannot do her job efficiently. His character was a little unnecessary for me, he didn’t really impact the film. Jim Parsons was fine in the role, but I just didn’t see much need for his character. He did have some good moments to set up good scenes for Taraji P. Henson to work with, and gives her one of the best lines in the movie. Kirsten Dunst is in the movie, and her character is an antagonist of sorts to Octavia Spencers’s character, and I thought that aspect worked very well. It represented the person who thinks they’re not doing anything wrong, but really is.

Image via 20th Century Fox

The film doesn’t beat you over the head with its messages. It shows you instead of telling you what it has on its mind. Also, the soundtrack is amazing. Of course, the Hans Zimmer parts are very well done, but I didn’t know Pharrell Williams did some cool songs for the movie. His songs added a sense of fun to the movie to underline the seriousness and racism of the film.

I had one flaw of the film, and that was the romance aspect. Each character has their love interest, Mahershsla Ali shows up as Colonel Jim Johnson, to be Katherine Johnson’s love interest. Aldis Hoodge plays Levi Jackson, husband of Mary Jackson. Every time they switched to the personal lives and the romantic scenes, I just wanted to get back to NASA. It wasn’t completely unbearable, everybody does their job and gives a good performance. Also, you kind of have to have that stuff so the characters aren’t too bland. It just made me want to see the main story more. the film is 2 hours and 7 minutes with credits, it could have been a little shorter.

Image via 20th Century Fox

In the end, this film was amazing! It teaches a story that you wouldn’t know if it weren’t for this film. I would definitely suggest you see this film if you haven’t already. Please go see it.

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Rating: A

Hidden Figures is directed by Theodore Melfi. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, and Mahershala Ali