Yes! I have been waiting to review this movie for such a long time! For those who do not know, I am a bit of James Bond fan so the anticipation leading up to the release of Spectre was unbearable for me.  I made the mistake of looking at some early reviews and the responses seemed very mixed. Some people really liked it and others flat-out hated it..which of course had me worried. So I did my best to go into the theater with an open mind and you know what? It worked! I enjoyed Spectre, but there are some flaws which I understand from those negative reviews. I just have a lot of thoughts about this movie overall so let’s begin.

The 24th James Bond film and the 4th of Daniel Craig’s Bond, Spectre has Bond on the trail to uncover a sinister organization after a mysterious message surfaces from his past. While M fights to keep the 007 program alive, Bond begins to learn the shocking truth behind SPECTRE.

I am going to start this review in chronological order of the film. First, the opening sequence was fantastic in my opinion. Probably one of the strongest points of the film as it started it all off with a bang. Great action sequence and stunt work, so kudos there. After the opening sequence in a Bond film always comes the title sequence (the animated into where they play the new Bond song for the film). When I first heard the Sam Smith song, “Writing’s On the Wall” in the intro, I did not like the song at all. It did not really fit the film, especially coming after that action sequence. Also, the animation intro for Spectre was not the best, way too many tentacles and octopus motifs for my liking. However when I went home and listened to the song again, I actually ended up really liking it. The Sam Smith song is great on its own, but just does not fit into the film that much and almost slows it down as a result. That is why I personally like Adele’s “Skyfall” better because it perfectly captured the essence of what Skyfall was all about.

The plot of the film was fine for me. Again when I compare the two, I think Skyfall had a better and more developed plot with more character and emotion given to Bond. However, Spectre seemed very confident and solid in following the classic 007 formula. Some parts felt very undeveloped though, especially the SPECTRE story line, which should have been the main focus of the film. The film could have gone more into the organization and villain Ernst Stavro Blofield (Christoph Waltz) instead of quickly presenting the two and their role in Bond’s story. Speaking of Waltz, his performance was not too strong in the film for me, mainly because I feel like I always see him in that same villain role.

Now for the Bond girls. Naomi Harris’s Eve Moneypenny was reduced to such a smaller role in Spectre which disappointed me since she is such a great character! Monica Bellucci, who is the oldest Bond girl in history and also totally gorgeous, was in the movie for like ten minutes. No joke. Bigger roles for these wonderful ladies please! In the end Madeleine Swann, played by Léa Seydoux, turned out to be the most pivotal female in the film. Truth be told, I was not a fan of Swann at all. The way her and Bond’s relationship progressed in the film frustrated me because it took an unnecessary turn. In terms of Bond girl ranking, Swann was perfectly forgettable in my opinion so I was surprised to see how big a character she became, especially in Bond’s life.

Daniel Craig did an excellent job as always. I was unsure of how I felt for him returning to do another Bond film since Skyfall seemed like such a strong and perfect film to end his Bond career. However, Spectre also gave a satisfying ending and provided an overarching story line that actually tied up Craig’s films. I think if Daniel Craig wants to step away from James Bond, since it obviously seems like he does, Spectre is the ideal film to end at.

This review is getting long, but probably not as long as the film itself, which came to 148 minutes in the end. Do not worry though, the running time actually did not feel too long while watching Spectre. The pacing of the film is excellent, with just the right amounts of action sequences and story to keep it going smoothly. I am not saying Spectre is the best Bond film or anything (I did like Skyfall better), but I enjoyed it believe that to be the most important part of a 007 film.

ALL IN ALL: While not as strong as its predecessors in its story and essence, Spectre is still an enjoyable and classic James Bond film.

image from: http://www.joblo.com/timthumb.php?src=/posters/images/full/spectre-poster.jpg&w=654&zc=1&q=90



Crimson Peak

It’s October, which means Halloween is coming around the corner, which also means that it is the time for scary movies! Now I like scary movies. I do not watch them all the time, but I do love a good horror film once in a while. Since it is currently the season of screams, I wanted to see a film with my friend, who also appreciates scary movies, that would give us some thrills. Crimson Peak caught our eye right when the trailer was released, so naturally we went in to see it. We came out with some surprised and mixed reactions.

Directed by master of horror and fantasy Guillermo del Toro, Crimson Peak tells the story of Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), who after a family tragedy, marries the mysterious but charming Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Swept away to live with him and his sister (Jessica Chastain) in their remote and dilapidated mansion in England, Edith soon encounters ghosts haunting her new home. Her search for the truth leads her to the real monsters of the house.

I think it is important to point out that Crimson Peak is not a horror movie. Though there were thrills and some gore, the actual scary parts were minimal. In the film, aspiring writer Edith describes her newest manuscript not as a “ghost story” but rather a “story with ghosts in it”. This description can actually serve for the film itself as well. The role of the ghosts in the film was actually not as large as I initially thought it would be. I was not expecting the big reveal of the film to be what it was either, though I had hunch in the beginning, because the whole time I was assuming a more supernatural aspect to take part.

Besides this initial confusion, I feel like as a whole I did enjoy Crimson Peak. It was not a typical scary movie, but it contained some really gorgeous visuals. The Gothic costumes and set designs were fantastic! Seriously, some of the shots that del Toro creates are truly beautiful. All of these elements combined along with the strong use of color imagery created the signature creepy atmosphere of the film.

So Crimson Peak is definitely not for everyone. Those who do not like horror movies should stay away because though that aspect of the film is toned down, it is still present. Other than that, it really is just stunning visually. Sure, the plot got a bit messy and outlandish with more than few loose strings left in the end but I would suggest ignoring all that. Let Guillermo del Toro take you on a journey to Crimson Peak.

ALL IN ALL: Do not be fooled by the horror label on Crimson Peak, and while the plot turns a bit to the extreme, the visuals in the film are gorgeous and not to be overlooked.

image from: http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BNTY2OTI5MjAyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTkzMjQ0NDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_.jpg

The Intern

My sister is the one who convinced me to see The Intern with her. In the months leading up to its release, I relentlessly made fun of her eagerness to see it. Of course advertisements started to appear on a daily basis in my Pinterest feed, which was a smart move for the film’s marketing team to reach their target audience by the way. I went in with the lowest expectations, and I am still not sure if I am ashamed to admit it, but I ended up really enjoying The Intern.

The Intern follows 70-year-old Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro) as he becomes a senior intern at a fast-growing online fashion site founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Though the transition to such a modern and young workplace is a bit jarring at first for Whitaker, he soon finds success at the company and develops a close bond with Ostin, who needs guidance in both her personal and work life.

I personally thought The Intern was a simple and relaxing movie. Robert De Niro once again shows his dexterity regarding his film roles and is such a cute character. Half of my pleasure from the movie was gained from just watching his classic traits as a gentleman and his interactions with his younger coworkers. I also appreciated the similarity of the movie to a previous film of Anne Hathaway’s, The Devil Wears Prada. In The Intern however Hathaway is now the boss and a much kinder one at that than Meryl Streep.

Along with the cute moments in the film, there were also some elements of humor. A scene of a house break-in orchestrated by Whitaker and involving his team of coworker friends had me cracking up. I did not expect to be so amused at all!

Anne Hathaway was fine in the film but the element to appreciate of her character the most is the fashion, which makes sense since she is the head of a fashion site and all. Still, her outfits looked straight out of a catalog! I was surprised in the end with the decisions made regarding her personal life, but I suppose it was to show the different experiences people go through.

I recommend The Intern wholeheartedly. Sure not everyone might enjoy it, but those looking for a light comedy with sincere moments should look no further! The mentor, almost father-daughter-like relationship Whitaker has with his boss Ostin was heartwarming and refreshing. The Intern was a pleasant surprise for me.

ALL IN ALL: The Intern is an enjoyable movie with touching scenes of a bond formed between two people of entirely different ages and backgrounds, mixed in with humor and some great outfits.

image from: http://www.fashiongonerogue.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-Intern-Movie-Poster.jpg

Far from the Madding Crowd


So I have a pretty weird dream. I want to walk across an English field in an old-time, long dress at sunrise. Okay I know this is a very super weird and random daydream, but it’s movies like Pride and Prejudice and Far from the Madding Crowd that make this vision come so alive in my head. Unfortunately, if there was a movie like this, I would most probably not be cast since I do not exactly fit the character descriptions but who doesn’t love a good period piece?

Based on Thomas Hardy’s classic love story and set in Victorian England, Far from the Madding Crowd revolves around independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) who attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor.

Let’s start with performances because they were all pretty fantastic. Though it should not have surprised me, Carey Mulligan was perfectly cast as the ever bold and modern Batsheba. She took the role by the horns and brought a fresh fierceness . I was not a fan of Tom Sturridge’s character but that is because he succeeded majorly in being so despicable. In his review for Film Comment, Michael Sragow comments, ” Troy provokes the flashiest filmmaking. When the soldier thinks he’s been stood up at the altar by his true love, Fanny Robin (Juno Temple), [director Thomas] Vinterberg prolongs a close-up of intense humiliation coursing across his face. (Sturridge is superb in that scene.)” I could not agree more! That scene was an interesting turning point and move for Vinterberg to make.

The real star to me was Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak. Maybe it is because Gabriel Oak is by far one of my new favorite movie characters, but Schoenaerts portrayed the quiet and ever-loving Oak brilliantly and with such subtle power that it is impossible for the viewer to not feel the heartache and struggles he undergoes. Batsheba frustrated me so much by the end of the film due to her poor decision-making and apparent blindness to the obvious choice that it was all I could do to not throw a heavy object at the screen. The ending though was beautiful and made up for all my pent-up madness.

The costumes and especially the score by Craig Armstrong (check out the “Opening” theme) were beautiful. The pacing of the film at times felt a bit off at times but that is one of the only complaints I have. For fans of period pieces, Far from the Madding Crowd will be enjoyable.

ALL IN ALL: Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) is a lovely adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel and blends classic romance and drama into one alluring package of a film.

image from: http://www.goldposter.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Far-from-the-Madding-Crowd-_poster_goldposter_com_6.jpg



Nowadays I feel like there are so many superhero movies coming out that I honestly cannot keep track of them all. They tend to sort of mesh together in my head in categories like Marvel or DC. You see movie studios are smart though. They know people will go to see big superhero blockbusters so that’s why they put more and more into production. I did go to see Ant-Man, and though I was not particularly psyched to see it or anything, I actually really enjoyed it.

In Ant-Man, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), armed with a super-suit with the ability to shrink in size but increase in strength, must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglass), plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Ant-Man was a quintessential superhero movie, with action, drama, and comedy all in one. Paul Rudd was great in the film, bringing some needed lightheartedness while still playing the role of a father/hero out to save the world perfectly. Sure Ant-Man might not be the best movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it was fun and enjoyable.

I will say though, the best part of the movie hands-down was Michael Peña as Luis, Scott Lang’s ex-con buddy. He was hilarious and brought the most laughs to the movie! The scenes with his crazy long, off-topic stories were definitely among the most funny and memorable parts of the film. That’s one of the things I really liked about Ant-Man, it was funny and light a lot of the time. The action scenes and visual effects were well done too, especially since you have a guy shrinking down to insect size most of the time. Ant-Man has the ability to draw in a wide audience and please them too.

ALL IN ALL: Ant-Man is probably one of the more humorous Marvel movies and is able to also blend in great action and story into one entertaining film.

pic: http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjM2NTQ5Mzc2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTcxMDI2NTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_.jpg



Inside Out

Okay so has anyone else been disappointed with Pixar ever since Toy Story 3 came out in 2010? To me, that was the last true and great Pixar film and ever since then the quality and creativity of their works have decreased greatly (mainly due to them relying on sequels, many of which are going to be in production soon as well). I am so happy to say though, that Inside Out has returned Pixar to its’ former glory!

Set in the mind of an eleven-year-old girl Riley, Inside Out explores how her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling)- try to lead her through life as she moves with her parents from the Midwest to San Francisco.

Let’s first start with the animated short that comes before every Pixar movie, for Inside Out it was Lava. Lava was such a cute story about two lonely volcanoes looking for love that I almost cried by the end. So obviously my emotions were already peaked by the time the movie actually started, and boy did they go on a roller coaster ride! I really loved Inside Out. The concept is so original and something I feel only Pixar would be able to come up with and actually put into motion. The director, Pete Docter, also directed Monsters Inc. and Up, so it is again obvious that he is a creative genius. I was constantly amazed by how unique the movie was and it only attests to the amount of time it took to develop the story. Kudos to the whole crew!

The film was super deep too, especially when you really think about it after watching. The whole idea of sadness being essential to achieve happiness and all emotions being involved in memories and experiences is pretty profound and also complicated. I sincerely doubt if the many kids in the theater really understood what was going on so it is a good thing that the characters were all brightly colored and that there were lots of funny moments. That being said, the animation was really cool to see up close since all the emotions had an almost pixelated, energy look to them. I read it took 8 months to achieve Joy’s “sparkly aura” and the team almost threw it out in the end, so again kudos to the animation team.

Amy Poehler was fantastic as Joy and a great leading character/emotion. The others were also fantastic with Lewis Black’s Anger emotion getting some of the funniest lines in the movie. However the breakout star was really Phyllis Smith who voiced Sadness. Sadness turned out to be the most important character in the film and became the film’s other lead, which I loved. The fact that Sadness resembles Smith was cute but Smith’s voice acting to me was top-notch and the best performance.

Inside Out had all the best emotions and gave me the feels too. There was love, lots of laughs, and yes sadness (two words: Big Bong…people who saw the movie will understand the distress I went through because of Bing Bong). Above all was a core message about growing up and how hard it is, but the themes of family and being yourself added some much-needed warmth. I do not know how well little kids responded to the movie, especially since again the story got deep at times, but I do know people of all other ages can definitely enjoy Inside Out.

ALL IN ALL: Inside Out is a triumphant return for Pixar with an amazingly creative concept, great voice work, and emotions that run high all throughout the film.

image from: http://cdn.movieweb.com/img.news/NEMye3g3VuXNQM_1_1.jpg


Jurassic World

As said in our last post, let’s get into the summer blockbusters people! We shall start with the number one movie at the top of the box office currently: Jurassic World! I got to see it with a couple of friends yesterday and let me tell you it was a real treat.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World is set 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park and takes place on the same island of Isla Nublar where a fully functioning dinosaur theme park has been running for 10 years. Chaos ensues when a genetically modified dinosaur, Indominus Rex, breaks loose and creates havoc across the park.

Jurassic World to me was that kind of classic summer movie. It was a lot of fun to watch! There was great action, little bit of romance, drama, DINOS. The dinosaurs and special effects looked good to me, though I cannot imagine filming and having to scream and act scared to a nonexistent dinosaur.

Chris Pratt was a “bad-ass” (as referred to in the movie) leading guy and was very likable so kudos to him. Bryce Dallas Howard also did a nice job, but I need to complain about her outfit in the movie. High heels..really? You expect me to believe she lasted that whole day in high heels and even outran a T-Rex in them? No, just no.

At times, the movie tried to take on too much, like having an emotional moment between two young brothers about their parents’ pending divorce. It was obvious though it was all for the sake of character depth and was simply unnecessary in the end. Ain’t nobody got time for this! It’s dino time! Also, you would think that these people would learn to not open up that island again but noooo apparently humans still think they can control dinosaurs. Number one lesson learned from this movie: always listen to Chris Pratt.

ALL IN ALL: Jurassic World is a fun, dino-filled film that is to be simply enjoyed, not examined.

Oh, almost forgot this…  dino Seriously the best part of the movie, my friends and I doubled over laughing during that scene!

image from: http://screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/jurassic-world-own-raptors-poster.jpg




Wow I am terrible, it has been almost three months since the last post! Wow, where did the time go? Well I actually was very busy for the past couple of months but my attention is now to you whatever few and faithful readers I may still have. One of the reasons I had a busy schedule was due to traveling as my family went to India for almost three weeks. Now anyone who has been on those cross the globe flights knows that the only real way to pass the insufferable hours is to watch movies and that is exactly what I did! So similar to last year’s catch up post after my trip to Barcelona, here are some short reviews of the movies I watched on the plane to and back.

Cinderella (2015: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter)

I loved Cinderella! It is a great movie for anyone to watch, classic Disney. Sure there were times when Cinderella’s goodness was almost sickeningly sweet but it was all made up for by the glorious Richard Madden as Prince Charming. He was fantastic and charming, (haha funny joke). However, I thought the best performance was hands down Cate Blanchett, who played the evil stepmother perfectly. Helena Bonham Carter was also a nice little pop of fun as the fairy godmother. Cinderella was very enjoyable.


Into the Woods (2014: Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp)

This was a very different turn after the traditional Cinderella as both films included the same character but in different lights. I thought the acting in Into the Woods was spot on, including of course Meryl Streep and also Chris Pine who was pretty hilarious at times. The movie itself was just eh to me. I realize the story is based upon the Broadway musical of the same name but the pacing felt off at times. This also is not exactly a movie for children which I think the marketing failed to highlight. Into the Woods was not really my favorite.


Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine)

I have actually been meaning to watch Kingsman for a while so imagine my delight when seeing it among the plane films. It was a fun movie to watch and I loved the style and tone of it. I am a big James Bond fan so it had that kind of vibe going on at times. I was surprised by the actual reason behind Samuel L. Jackson’s master plan: the environment and population size (shout out to AP environmental students!). The film was definitely goofy at times and the violence/gore actually caught me off guard but only added to the fun in the end. Kingsman was chock full of spy action which I enjoyed!



American Sniper (2014: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller)

American Sniper is not really a film that one enjoys. It is more of a film that one just has to sit down and get through. I can say though that it was very well done though so props to Clint Eastwood for his direction and an impressive performance by Bradley Cooper.



Focus (2015: Will Smith, Margot Robbie)

Focus was more stylish than solid to me. It is a pretty movie on the surface but closer examination just leads to a very confusing and at times messy plot. The chemistry between Will Smith and Margot Robbie was very believable though. I think the movie just tried to be too smart and slick.



Cake (2014: Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Adriana Barraza)

I was  deciding between Cake and Still Alice (which has Julianne Moore’s Oscar-winning performance) but I found myself to be more curious about Jennifer Aniston in Cake. I thought she did a fantastic job! The film definitely acted as a vehicle to show off her skills but for good reason since it seems she has not had this type of opportunity before. However the plot of Cake was very underdeveloped and was more about Jennifer Aniston overall.

The other two movies I watched on the plane were Mili (a Malayalam movie) and Happy New Year ( a Hindi movie), both of which were pretty good in my opinion, but this post is getting long and my fingers are tired of typing so we will save those for another time. Perhaps a foreign film post is needed to also cover the many movies I watched in India as well! Let’s get into the summer blockbusters now in the meantime!





I love this snow! Before you begin reading, please make sure to press play on the audio above. Trust me, the soundtrack for this next film will put you in the mood (the actual sound starts at 0:16). So another movie I decided to watch was Whiplash, which won 3 Academy Awards recently. Seriously, my heart is still pounding from this one!

Whiplash centers around a promising student jazz drummer (Miles Teller) who enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor (J.K. Simmons) who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

If you look at the poster above for Whiplash, you will see many different words that have been used to describe the film, all of which are so true. “Astounding” “Electrifiying” “Exhilerating” See, one of the things I love most about awards season, is that oftentimes it bring deserved praise and buzz to a film that might not have reached a great audience before. Whiplash, in my opinion, was fantastic.

What stands out most, besides from the great, great music involved, is the amazing performances. I am actually surprised Miles Teller did not receive more recognition for this role. He was incredible and put 100% into this role. Fun fact: he actually is a drummer and some of the blood that you see on the drum set in those intense scenes is actually his! However, the real breakout performance was J.K. Simmon’s. That man deserved every single award he won. He too put everything into this role and the result is incredible. I cannot even imagine being one of his students! His unconventional and hardcore teaching methods really make one wonder whether he is the ‘good guy’ or the ‘bad guy’. I myself am still unsure of this. The complicated and ever-changing relationship present between Andrew (Teller) and Fletcher (Simmons) produced some of the best acting performances in 2014.

Whiplash is one of the lowest-grossing movies to ever be nominated for an Academy Award, but do not be fooled. The sound, the story, the performances make it so hard to turn away. On the surface, the film may appear to be a simple student vs. teacher scenario, though there is much more. It is a film about reaching your potential but also determining your limits.

ALL IN ALL: Whiplash is an intense and thrilling film that delivers some of the best performances of the year.

image from: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51wq6VXHpRL._SY355_.jpg


Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Poster

So with all the snow coming down on the East Coast, these snow days have provided me the perfect opportunity to catch up on some of the most highly acclaimed films of 2014. First up on my list was Birdman, our recent Oscar Best Picture winner. Birdman was the film I was most curious about, mainly because I hardly knew anything about it. Oh buddy, this film so deserved Best Picture!

Birdman, directed by the awesome Alejandro González Iñárritu, follows a washed-up actor (Michael Keaton), famous for his role as superhero Birdman, as he attempts to salvage his family, his career, and himself in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play.

Probably my favorite part of Birdman, was the cinematography (which deservedly won an Oscar). Iñárritu is a genius and came up with the idea of making a film that appears to filmed in a single shot. The result is fantastic. It is unique and almost mesmerizing. The score that consists entirely of drums and classical pieces is at once iconic. The story is satirical and slick but so truthful. Have I used enough adjectives?

Michael Keaton. Oh my Michael Keaton. I cannot be one to fully judge, due to me still having not seen Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, however I can say with great vindication that Keaton gave the best performance of the year (again, of what I have seen). HE KILLED IT! Savvy viewers will probably be quick to pick up on the parallels between him and his character Riggan, both of whom are very well-known for their past superhero roles (Batman and Birdman respectively). However, one simply forgets this when watching Keaton in this film. He battles with his ego, loses hope and regains it all in one swoop, hits rock bottom but somehow manages to fly again. The other performances were grand too most notably and surprisingly Edward Norton and Emma Stone, both of whom were very impressive.

I probably have not made much sense in this review, but then again neither does Birdman and that to me is what makes it great. It mixes fantasy with hard reality and I simply do not have very many words to describe it. I loved it and praise it wholeheartedly as a most deserving Best Picture winner.

ALL IN ALL: Birdman is a layered piece that mixes great cinematography and story into a film that is not so much a vehicle, but a showcase for the film’s many impressive performances.

image from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2562232/