The Immigrant (2013)

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The Immigrant isn’t just set in the past, but feels like it’s been rediscovered from another time. The latest film from award-winning director James Gray ignites outdated modes of film making and highlights the perfect details behind a luckless Polish woman’s difficulty in attaining the American dream. The intelligence, maturity and honesty of this work is outstanding and a little bewildering to say the least.

Upon arrival at Ellis Island, Ewa is immediately separated from her beloved sister Magda, ignored by her uncle and threatened with deportation back to Poland. All seems hopeless for Ewa until Bruno comes along with the promise of boarding and work at his theatre, which quickly proves as nothing more than a high-class brothel. However kindness arrives in the form of a charming travelling magician who falls for Ewa, meanwhile causing Bruno to become immensely jealous.

The Immigrant has a melodramatic edge to it, but there remains something too fragile and tense about the actress in the role. The film delivers a performance that’s quite integral and charming, but also surprisingly forceful. You can never predict the behaviour and emotions of characters intertwined in the thick plot. The immigrant is almost a fatuous love story in a world haunted by fear. Bruno and Orlando are grown men with weapons, but their devotion to Ewa doesn’t make their actions feel any less immature. For such a gorgeous, thoughtful film, The Immigrant is more of an intellectual experience than an emotional one – mainly as a result of Ewa’s commiserating but never quite heartbreaking problems.

The Immigrant is a simple love story in an undoubtedly terrifying adult world of hate, fear and abandonment. The film unfolds at its own pace, building slowly, perhaps even tediously towards its emotionally relieving conclusion.  Such an incredible movie – and so cold too.

★★★★☆

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The Book Thief – Courage Beyond Words (2013)

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The Book Thief is a very successful novel written by Markus Zusak that captured the hearts of over eight million readers worldwide. Director Brain Percival has undeniably captured the same courage, irony, horror and humanity of the original pages in this stunning film adaptation. The Book Thief is an impactful historical drama filled with impressive performances, comedic relief and tear-jerking scenes that will have you fumbling for a tissue.

The Book Thief is set in War stricken Germany between 1939 and 1943 and is narrated by Death, who illustrates with perplexity the seemingly strange way humans conduct themselves. Death tells the story of nine-year old Liesel Meminger, who he introduces when her younger brother dies on a train to the fictional town of Molching, Germany. A kind and affectionate working-class painter, Hans, and his strict but caring wife Rosa adopt Liesel into their childless home. Hans instantly commits to teaching his grief-stricken daughter to read and write after an incident at school labeling the girl as illiterate. With all the constant horror surrounding her, the bright girl manages to escape in words and language, all the while learning to read, write and smuggle books.

Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson are well cast as Rosa and Hans Hubermann. Geoffrey Rush brings his usual command of humor and dramatic authority, making him one of the most sympathetic characters. He constantly radiates kindness, consideration and encouragement, especially towards Liesel. Emily Watson captures the dark and relentless character of Rosa with stability and domination, making her a personality hard to fall in love with. Rosa is sharp-tongued, rigid and impatient to all those around her, a clear reflection of the original novel character. Ultimately the undeniable horror of losing her home and her loved ones exposes Rosa’s inner warmth and fondness for her infuriating husband and adopted daughter.

The film delivers quality acting, mesmerizing settings as well as humor weaved carefully throughout the heartbreaking events. Overall, The Book Thief is a rewarding and emotional film with heart, celebration of language and a reminder that in times of utter madness there is always a silver lining.

Last Vegas – It’s Going to be Legendary (2013)

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I haven’t posted in a while but now that the New Year has begun I’ll be posting a review every Monday for all of my readers. Thank you again for your support!

Starring four legends like you’ve never seen them before. Last Vegas stars well-known Academy Award winners Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline. If you loved The Hangover and The Bucket List than you might look fondly upon Jon Turtletaub’s indulgent, high-concept comedy about a group of rapidly aging childhood best friends living it large in Sin City.

Faded Brooklyn buddies Billy, Archie, Sam and Paddy reunite in Las Vegas after 58 years of friendship to celebrate the much-anticipated wedding of their ring leader Billy. He’s a long-lived bachelor who has finally decided to get hitched with a fair-skinned beauty half his age, not surprising when you notice his coppery skin, silk shirts and mostly invisible insecurities. The old buddies embark on a weekend through the fantasy world of modern-day Las Vegas, whistling at young girls by the pool, gambling and drinking alcohol to their heart’s content.

Morgan Freeman plays the wily gentleman Archie, a naturally gifted gambler who struggles with his health to the point where he’s not entirely intact with his sons family. Robert De Niro smiles rarely, so naturally he’s cast as the killjoy of the group. De Niro reveals his tough side once again and proves that despite his age, he’s still got it. Michael Douglas is cast as the privileged, charming old dimwit who’s terrified of growing old. Kevin Kline elevates the film with his provisional failure, carrying the notion that he is terribly worn down. Kline manages to downplay every scene and line, timing punchline moments to advance his character’s wit. Thankfully, a soulful performance from Mary Steenburgen, an older night club singer, provides the film with at least a little heart. I suppose the film would have had edge if the characters had really been prepared to misbehave.

Despite the frequent humorous moments, Last Vegas isn’t a film I am fond of neither a film that I would recommend you watching.There are extraordinary scenes that I won’t describe, except to say they were terribly written, ridiculous but somehow painfully funny. The film faded from my memory instantly once the credits rolled, much to say that Last Vegas is simply a mockery of previous successful films based in Sin City, like The Hangover.

Last Vegas is a ninety minute picture with a few bright moments, starring the actors you like in a comedy of unmeasured proportion.

★☆☆☆

The Notebook – Behind every great love is a great story (2004)

I decided to review a fairly old romance, however this movie is my one of my favourite films of all time. Everything about this film is magnificent and no matter how many times I watch it, it still brings tears to my eyes.

Young lovers Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun find themselves in a fast tracked passionate summer romance and, after years of separation created by Class differences and the World War, the lovers unexpectedly reunite. The film is distinctly photographed and the simple filming techniques create a thrillingly atmospheric twist on ordinary romance.

In nowadays time in a nursing home, a man named James Garner desperately tries to rekindle the memory of a woman who is suffering from Alzheimer’s by reading a notebook to her every single day. The story tells the story of two young lovers by the names of Allie and Noah, who accidentally fall in love despite their different backgrounds and beginnings. She’s a rich girl with class and nobility and he is a dirt poor mill worker.

Rachel McAdams who plays lovestruck Allie Hamilton is unbelievably real and graceful and her counterpart Ryan Gosling is a handsome, incredibly vulnerable charmer who easily wins the heart of every female audience member.

This film follows a straightforward love story pattern, based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks. You will find the exquisite sunset, birds drifting through the sky, rain filled romantic evenings, but at its core it has wonderful performances that bring depth, courage and beauty to the filming masterpiece.

Despicable Me 2 – More minions, more despicable (2013)

If you like adorable animated films then this is a perfect movie for you. The entire movie overflows with quirky comedy and impressive animation. Despicable Me 2 picks mostly where the original ended, this time exploring the characters more deeply and uncovering hidden secrets as the movie progresses. Pierre Coffin directs yet another hit animation film but Despicable Me 2 sticks to a nicer only slightly evil sequel.

Steve Carrel returns as Gru, the villain turned loving parent of his three adopted little girls in the new minion filled sequel. Since parting with his life of stealing precious objects in the first movie, Gru has accustomed himself to a joyful life with his new family. It is however, Gru’s dormant evil persona that attracts attention of the Anti-villain league. A new threat has emerged that is seemingly positioned in the mall, a playground for Gru and his sidekick agent Lucy, who perhaps fall in love, unpredictable I know.

El Macho voiced by Benjamin Bratt is a potentially great and very interesting villain embodied with hairy-chested masculinity and a Lucho mask. Unfortunately he doesn’t become a daunting enemy until later. Dr. Nefario voiced by Russel Brand and the squabbling Minions are the highlight of the movie because events and actions centre on their emotions. Gru’s love interest Lucy does have her unforgettable moments and Gru is the more improved, recently emotion filled character we know and love.

DreamWorks introduces humour excellently that will entertain both parents and children without drawing offence or any inappropriate behaviour. The plot suffers occasionally from overpowering predictability, but there’s no refusing that Despicable Me 2 does a great job of appealing to anyone searching for indestructible characters and enormous robots. The minions never mature and the film uncovers a hidden side to the three adorable daughters. It’s a fantastic animated film that all ages can enjoy.

Iron Man 3 – Unleash the power behind the armour (2013)

Tony stark is now a shadow of his former courageous self. He’s struggling with reality, love and depression, obsessed with recovering from the circumstances he experienced during The Avengers. The third Iron Man installment relies more on character and irreverence, which makes this a better film, equipped with more surprises and fewer clichés.

Killian is a socially awkward outcast turned criminal billionaire that begins working on a human mutation project which seems linked to an exclusive terrorist known as The Mandarin. Tony Stark’s last adventure left him in a complete wreck. But as the past comes back to haunt him he’s totally unprepared – and when the world’s biggest terrorist threatens to attack and demolish America, Stark decides to reassemble his war machine and put up one last fight.

Robert Downey Jnr. once again charms the viewers as Tony Stark, the complex and egotistical superhero with no real secret identity. Gwyneth Paltrow returns as the elegant and overly stunning Pepper Potts, who is thankfully featured on-screen more than in earlier films. Kingsley brings full weight and gravity to his character The Mandarin, his voice portraying a creepy yet powerful intonation. Guy Pearce who plays the mastermind Aldrich Killian, is part slick businessman and part mad geek who handles conflict surprisingly well.

The film is given a potentially vibrant Tony Stark, an improved Mandarin, a fantastic cast, phenomenal special effects and a bland and uninspiring script. It was disappointing in comparison to the previous big-budget Iron Man films. On the bright side it was a great pleasure watching Downey Jnr. and his wonderful performance that really pulled Iron Man 3 out of full despair. It’s highly entertaining, full of unexpected surprises and pulled by a phenomenally talented cast.

Catch Me If You Can – Ingenious deception (2002)

Spielberg’s supremely amusing tale of self-invention in the land of opportunity tells the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a teenager from Rochelle, New York. Spielberg grasped that unique history and turned it into a superbly charming pursuit story precisely set in the sights and sounds of Abagnale’s 1960’s era. The film’s approach is cheerful and fun but maintains firm attention towards the dark side of characters pain and suffering.

Frank Abagnale Jr. was only 16 when he became one of the 1960’s most legendary con artists. The film opens with his home life; everything seems perfect for the teenager, whose parents are seemingly madly in love. But everything changes when Frank Sr. is investigated by the IRS and his dear mother files for divorce only to wed one of her husband’s closest friends. In hope of avoiding the confusion Frank Jr. runs away and begins a three year crime spree in which he successfully impersonates an airline pilot, a doctor, a lawyer and several other professions, and tricks various establishments out of $2.5 million before he is caught and condemned to serve 12 years in prison.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the young Abagnale with an effortless charm, and we never fail to forget that his character is still a teenager distressed for approval from his father. Tom Hanks is also fantastic as FBI agent Carl Hanratty. The guy is passionate, ambitious and strongly devoted to his profession. Christopher Walken is great as Frank’s father. You really believe the genuine bond between the two characters. Martin Sheen appears as the impending father-in-law for Frank and his reactions to Frank’s giant stories are priceless. Jennifer Garner draws one of the biggest laughs in the movie when she tries to fraud the con man.

Steven Spielberg is a leading storyteller who has a delightful sense of visual design. Though very visually appealing and entertaining, Catch Me If You Can establishes a cheap grace because the soft ending to the movie seems to excuse Frank’s adolescent behavior. The movie, therefore, values love, compassion and sympathy above repentance and responsibility.