Split

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I enjoy horror movies, I really do. Even better are thrillers, the ones that get your blood racing and keep you guessing endlessly. The problem with the horror and thriller genres is that it has become extremely hard, at least for me, to find quality films that meet or even exceed the standards put in place. Too many times the films become predictable or outlandish, with unsurprising tropes and not enough emphasis on story itself. Director M. Night Shyamalan is famous for his thrillers, so I was immediately intrigued with the trailer for his new film Split. Though some of Shyamalan’s past films have faltered along the way, Split marks a return to form for the director known for this twists and thrills.

Split follows three girls, who are kidnapped by a man (James McAvoy) with severe dissociative identity disorder. The girls must find a way to escape his 23 different personalities before the emergence of an even worse 24th.

Despite my few reservations, Split was a great film. It was a solid thriller and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I appreciated the story and the use of suspense and thrills in the film. I never knew what was going to happen next and even if I did guess, I was always surprised. Probably the highlight of the film for me was James McAvoy. He was outstanding in this film and his performance blew me away. Honestly I hope he receives more acclaim and awards for this film as I believe it to be his best performance. The task of the role is monumental enough, essentially playing 24 roles, but McAvoy accomplishes it flawlessly. One of the best scenes was one that required him to switch back and forth between the different personalities all at once. McAvoy shines here as his performance really made the movie.

I did have a few complaints about the film but not many. Though I appreciated the development of the main heroine Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), I found the other two girls kidnapped alongside her to be pretty useless. My main problem with the film, however, was the ending. Though I will not discuss it, as doing so will spoil the film, I found one final scene to be pretty jarring from what I expected. Though I suppose that was the purpose of the scene, I still believe Shyamalan’s decision to be completely unnecessary so I myself am choosing to ignore that scene. Everything else about the film though was well done.

Split is an interesting film. It’s discussion of dissociative identity disorders was fascinating and I actually liked the different genres that film picked up as its story developed. I would not recommend the film to those too faint of heart but I personally really enjoyed the film. If you are looking for a new thriller to watch, look no further. Split debunks everything you know to be true and will keep surprising you until the very end.

ALL IN ALL: James McAvoy is a tour de force in Split, a film that shines in the thriller/horror genre with great direction and a consistently twisting story.

Split 4 out of 5 ticket stubs

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Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula

Run Time: 1 hour 57 min, PG-13

Year: 2016

 

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The Revenant

Oh man, how I have been looking forward to this film or what! So glad I finally got to see The Revenant recently because right now it is my top awards season contender. It was fantastic and deserves every single Oscar nomination it received (12 by the way!).

After being mauled by a bear and left for dead by his own hunting team, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s, is forced to fight for survival and find redemption.

A few words to describe The Revenant: raw, intense, amazing, epic, beautiful…the list goes on! Coming off his work on the Oscar winner Birdman, director Alejandro González Iñárritu deserves praise for his excellent direction in the film. The grueling shoot and the work put into this film shows in every single scene. Probably my favorite aspect of the film was the gorgeous cinematography by the ingenious Emmanuel Lubezki (who also won awards for his work on films such as Gravity and Birdman). Chivo outdoes himself in The Revenant, with stunning camera work and the use of only natural lighting throughout the whole film. The result is breathtaking with shots that are as raw as they are delicate.

Let’s be real though. The Revenant is Leonardo DiCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio is The Revenant. Never before have I seen a performance like that, one that just requires so much commitment from the actor. Needless to say he was absolutely incredible and deserves every single accolade out there. The things he had to do in this movie! It is insane! His character is mostly silent throughout but the power of his performance is loud. Tom Hardy also did a great job in the film so I am glad he finally got the recognition he deserved through his nomination.

A revenant is defined as one who has returned, as if from the dead. Glass’s return is one that truly expresses the power of the human spirit. The backbone of the film is a gripping fight for survival and revenge with the only guidance of sheer will and a love for family. The Revenant is bleak but it is beautiful. The amazing feats of cinema and acting achieved in the film should be appreciated along with the epic true tale of Hugh Glass.

Spectre

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 and 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

 

 

Catch-up!

Well where has the time gone? Ticket Stub Love has been extremely busy lately and we probably won’t be able to get back into full swing until summer but we’re doing our best to still bring you some reviews.

So I recently went on vacation to Barcelona and on my way there I watched some movies of course. Right when I turned on the little TV in front of me, I got really excited because it was full of pretty up to date ones too!

Now these aren’t full reviews but a few thoughts of some of the movies I watched:

American Hustle (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner)

I have wanted to watch this for a while so I immediately selected this as my first choice. Got to say though, kinda disappointed. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the cast. Every single actor did a great job but the story was so bland. I enjoyed the beginning where you got introduced to everyone and it went through some of the past cons of Christian Bale’s and Amy Adam’s characters, but when they got into the full Abscam storyline, I quickly lost interest. It got good again near the end, but still a downer.

Gravity (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney)

Sooo remember my trailer review of Gravity back in August where I made fun of the movie (I later too back some of this in follow-up post). Yeah, I was wrong. Dead wrong. Gravity was AMAZING! No wonder it won 7 Oscars! Everything was great: cinematography, score, direction, performances. I mean Sandra Bullock’s character has pretty much everything go wrong on her in space, but the audience is still tethered to her because it’s just that thrilling. I loved this movie and thought it was fantastic!

The Book Thief (Sophie Nélisse, Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush)

I am a huge fan of the book so I was naturally curious to see how the movie pulled off the movie. Overall I would say it was well done. Nothing compared to the book though because there are some aspects of the book that don’t have the same impact when transitioned to the big screen, such as the narrator being Death-you just can’t do that well on-screen.

 

The Impossible

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My cousin Aimee first saw The Impossible and raved about how it could tear your heart out. A bit skeptical myself, I hadn’t heard much of the film because of it’s poor marketing. However, we all decided to do a movie night and watch it, and I realized that The Impossible is maybe the most overlooked film of the year.

The Impossible tells the true story of a family spending Christmas in Thailand, who are caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Maria (Naomi Watts) and her eldest son are swept one way, while Henry (Ewan McGregor) and the two youngest sons are swept another. The movie focuses on their fight to find one another and reunite their family.

Many critics accused the film of whitewashing, portraying the characters more “white” to appeal to more audiences, since the original family was in fact from Spain. However, I disagree because the actual Maria Belon chose Naomi Watts to play her in the film, and what a perfect choice. Naomi Watts shines in the film and gave the unarguable best female performance I’ve seen all year. She showed so much emotion and pain in a mostly bedridden role. Her scenes were intense and the pain was palpable. I’m glad the Academy gave her some recognition by giving her a nomination for Best Actress, but honestly, she should have won. I know, I know, I love Jennifer Lawrence just as much as the next person, and I can’t say anything bad about Silver Linings Playbook since I haven’t even seen it, but portraying a person with bipolar disorder doesn’t seem like much work compared to Watts’ performance. She was raw and you could feel her pain in every grimace and scream she let out. A+ work.

The film was hard to watch at times and I did close my eyes during many parts. Naomi Watts’ character went through the most  it seemed, from being hit by objects underwater, to being dragged through reeds with a huge gash in her leg, and to even throwing up seaweed. Gosh this movie was graphic so I don’t recommend it to young viewers or those faint of heart. However, we all have to remember that this actually happened to a person, actually thousands of people. Just be warned.

The rest of the cast was fantastic as well. Ewan McGregor showed that a simple phone call back home can be turned into a tear-jerking heart-wrenching moment. The sons were surprisingly one of the best parts of the movie. The eldest, Tom Holland, showed incredible bravery as he rose to the challenge as the provider for his mother. Simarily, the two youngest sons were adorable and delivered their lines with painful cuteness.

If there was anything to critique, it would have to be that they kept going back to the scene where Maria is hit with debris underwater, it seemed a bit unnecessary and graphic, but it was forgiven by an incredible and inspiring image of her hand rising out of the water, a metaphor to her fighting strength and determination. The Impossible is a must-see film, that packs pain, heart-break, and joy in one package of amazing emotion.

ALL IN ALL: The Impossible is an intense must-see film with incredible performaces and an inspiring story of a determined family who will tear at your heart.

images from: http://images.moviefanatic.com/iu/t_full/v1364991725/the-impossible-poster.jpg

Argo

One more day!!!!!! AHHHH!!!! I cannot wait for the Oscars and to release some of my pent-up energy, I decided to do one more post until the show. Argo: my prediction for Best Picture. I saw it last week and I can only say that it rightfully deserves the Oscar.

Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, is a dramatization about the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation in which Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA operative, led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis by creating the alibi of a phony film being shot in Tehran. Also starring Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman, the film is up for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor(Arkin).

I thought Argo was great. The casting was excellent. Ben Affleck did a good job as Tony Mendez, and Alan Arkin and John Goodman were hilarious! The film was also very tense and suspenseful. Very suspenseful. I was practically rocking back and forth during the climax scene at the airport. It was hair raising! The sound mixing added all the suspense and should win the Oscar it’s nominated for.

It  is not rare to see a historical film like this have so much of an impact on audiences everywhere, but really my favorite part of the movie was actually learning about this secret operation that would not have otherwise known about. The mission was declassified for such a long time and until 1997, when former President Bill Clinton declassified it, many people were oblivious to the whole thing. It’s so amazing how brave all those involved in the operation were especially Mendez, who had all the pressure thrown on his back, and the six diplomats, who had to presume complete fake identies in order to not get caught. They could get killed, but they still went ahead with it. If that was me, I think I would have collapsed with fear and anxiety. Kudos to Ben Affleck for bringing this amazing story to light.

ALL IN ALL: Argo is suspenseful, thrilling film that tells the story of a ground-breaking operation, and deserves all the acclaim.

image from: http://latino-review.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Argo-Poster.jpg