Movie Review: The Martian [2015]


The Martian
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Andy Weir (book) Drew Goddard (screenplay)
Runtime: 141 min
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica ChastainKristen WiigJeff Daniels, Sean BeanKate MaraChiwetel Ejiofor, etc
Nominations: None

RRR8.6/10 Letter-grade: A-



I always get excited for adaptations of my favorite books, just like I did last year. Gone Girl ended up to be my most favorite. Even further, The Perks of Being a Wallflower sneaked in my all time favorite list, just as I rewatched it multiple times. 

The Martian turned out to be an amazing adaptation - as joyful and entertaining as Weir's brilliant work. In fact, I loved most parts of the book, because it was smart, with quirky humor and delightful main character. Andy managed to create the most realistic story about living on Mars, so realistic that you will never cast a doubt on anything he writes. Having said that, there were few parts where a though of skipping couple of pages crossed my mind. Anyways, I read all of it.

Bests of TV 2014-2015

Last year I wrapped up the TV season by naming 10 best drama episodes, which was not surprisingly led by The Good Wife's masterful Hitting the Fan. This year, I decided to name favorites in  more categories, party because I've not written here for quite a long time and mostly because I've watched a lot drama series [38 Emmy eligible shows]. Traditionally, I've divided "awards" in drama and comedy category.

I applied minor changes to Emmy rules. First, I consider Shameless as drama and especially current season, which has two major dramatic story lines - Ian's illness and Fiona's marriage/personal issues. Second, I included some guest performers in Supporting actor/actress nominations, because I find it extremely hard to follow or remember most guest performers. For that reason, I did not make top choices in respective categories.

[Huge disclaimer: I have not watched House of Cards S3 yet]

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: The Sound of Music

the Film Experience hosts an incredibly interesting post series Hit Me With Your Best Shot that I've been following for quite a long time. Thought it's my first time participating. The series celebrates the great work of directors and cinematographers who succeed to impressively deliver ideas and emotions in a single shot, with colors, sets and masterful camera work.

First movie of the 6th season to watch is The Sound of Music. Despite my great passion with musicals, I've never watched it before. It was three hours of absolute pleasure and I am glad I finally set down for it.

The Sound of Music is a story of Maria (Julie Andrews), an unsettled future to be nun, who extremely loves music, singing and mountains. Unlike to many nuns in abbey, she does not enjoy to obey rules, that keep her in the walls of church. For that reason, she is sent to Von Trapp family to take care of 7 children of Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), whose wife has recently passed away. To cut it short, Maria brings an unusual joy and happiness to family and she finally falls for Captain

The Sound of Music celebrates music with amazing songs and Ted D. McCord's mind blowing cinematography. I was not an easy job to choose THE one shot, that I could call THE BEST. Before jumping to my choice, here is honorable mention:
It's a scene where Von Trapp family gives a heartwarming singing performance in the name of Austria, during the yearly days of Nazi occupation. Except really beautiful work with lights, I found this shot very significant to what's really going on in this scene. Captain Von Trapp feels disgraced that Austria decided to give up independence without fight and he decides to run away with family. Here, the audience is full of people who actually welcomed Nazi armies. In fact, Von Trapp family is the only one against occupation. What we see here is them being the only people "under light", the rest is as dark as the idea of Nazism itself. As if director Robert Wise wanted to show superiority of Captain's ideas. 

3 days until Oscars: 3 Academy Awards record no one will ever break

There are dozens of official Oscar records, by age, number of nominations/wins, for movies, for individuals, etc. Some are recent, some are really old. I find reading articles about those record very entertaining and I know some of them well. Even though, I believe most of them will never be broken due to simple fact that these years are alot more competitive compared to past. However, there are 3 records that will NEVER, EVER be broken. So they are:

4 days until Oscars: Actors who can still win their 4th acting Oscar

Katharine Hepburn is the only person to win 4 Oscars in an acting category. Out of 12 total nominations she scored 4 lead actress nod becoming a record holder for most acting win. She is closely followed by 5 actors with 3 wins, of whom 2 are passed away. The rest three (pictured above) still stand a chance to break a record.

5 days until Oscars: 5 essential thoughts on Oscar race

5 days left until the big night. I had different plans for today's post, but changed my mind, because of the toughest Oscar race I can remember. I've been predicting The Academy awards for more than 7 year (most of it just sitting home, writing down my choices in my textbook). There has not been an year more unpredictable, even when The Hurt Locker won over Avatar or No Country for Old Men over There Will Be Blood

Accordingly, I have enormous amount of thoughts on future winners, especially in Best Picture and Directing nominations. Here they are:

6 days until Oscars: 6 Best Losing Performances

There are exactly 1,322 loser and 344 winner acting performances in 86 years of Oscars. Nevertheless the winners deserved the glory or not, there always have been losing performances that were no less equally good to have their name on that envelope. So, before we add up 16 more losers and 4 winners to these numbers, here is my 6 best performances that lost their battle to other nominees.

The honorable mentions, in alphabetical order:

Bette Davis (All About Eve, 1950) - lost to Judy Holliday in `Born Yesterday`

Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, 1976) - lost to Peter Finch in `Network`

Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon, 1975) - lost to Jack Nicholson in `One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest`

Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004) - lost to Hilary Swank in `Million Dollar Baby`

So, my top 6 losing performances are:

A week before Oscars: 7 things I want to see next Sunday

In a week all comes down to 24 category winners, their momentum and then it all starts again - the endless Oscars Race. I'd not be lying if I say that we are facing one of the toughest competition this year, because, you know, it's Birdman v. Boyhood. The first one swept all major Guilds, while the other one took Golden Globe and BAFTA home. So, it's not easy to predict. 

Except winners, there are some many things to love about the Oscars - the red carpet, the ceremony, all those jokes and fun and the idea of celebration. So, here are my 7 reasons I want to watch The Academy Awards this year.

Musings on trailer of Crimson Peak

Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak is one of my most anticipated films of 2015. Few days ago, it's first trailer premiered introducing main characters and general plot of the film. Amazingly, it all looked perfect: from Tom Hiddlestone to production design.

Synopsis: Set in Cumbria, in a crumbling mansion in a largely rural and mountainous region of northern England in the 19th century, young author Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) discovers that her charming new husband Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) is not who he appears to be.

Movie Review: Fifty Shades of Grey [2015]


Fifty Shades of Grey
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Written by: Kelly Marcel (screenplay) | E.L. James (novel)
Runtime: 125 mins
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Marcia Gay Harden, Eloise Mumford
Nominations: none

RRR: 5.3/10 Letter-grade: C-

I never thought of either reading or watching Fifty Shades of Grey and especially in cinema. Couple of days ago I received two invitations on its premiere from local theater chain called Rustaveli/Amirani Movie Theaters. So, I though, why not? Accordingly, I went to the screening totally blind, knowing nothing but its erotic nature and the fact that over 100 million copies were sold. So, obviously, my review will not discuss how well adapted the film is, it's merely a collection of my thoughts on so many things happening in film.

Fifty Shades of Grey has two main characters: Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). As in most love stories, they belong to two different social classes - the girl being a poor, beautiful student, while the boy is a rich, powerful, handsome billionaire. They meet each other by chance and fall in love. For now you might think that you've seen it hundreds of times and you are definitely right about it. Most things in this movie is so well known and familiar that it bores you. Accordingly, if you continue watching it as another complicated love story, you might walk out of theater or order a cup of coffee to keep yourself awake. What I tried is to look at this story in a different perspective, something alike to Nymphomaniac or even more, Blue Is the Warmest Color (the comparison does not necessarily mean they are equally good). At the end of the day, not many films, at least in Hollywood, talk about BDSM or dominant/submissive sex experience.

Mixed thoughts on casting of Marvel's new Spider-Man

Some arguably good news hit the internet that The Spider-Man is brought to Marvel, which means we probably are not getting another boring installment of this very old superhero franchise. No, really people, it's like the 6th one. Just, please, don't call it The Amazing Spider-Man 3 - just drop any kind of adjective from its title.

The only news that could make it a definite "YAY" is that probably Logan Lerman will be Peter Parker. I am thrilled because I can watch ANY film just because of him (seriously, I watched Fury). Even though, it's not my original idea, I still take credit for naming Logan the best possible Spider-Man in history.

I also have some ideas, who might play other characters in franchise, so let's start:

Movie Review: Jupiter Ascending [2015]


Jupiter Ascending
Directed by: The Wachowskis
Runtime: 125 mins
Cast: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, James D'Arcy, Douglas Booth
Nominations: none, but I'd give all the Razzies

RRR: 3.6/10 Letter-grade: D

When it comes to creation of cult movies, The Wachowski siblings are among few directors who created something so outstanding that it still defines the genre - I mean The Matrix Trilogy. Then it was Cloud Atlas with rave reviews and my personal favorite. Logically, I expected something very extraordinary, that would blow my mind in any ways their films do. Honestly, the casting of Jupiter Ascending should be giving a clear vision of what would the movie look like. 

Movie starts with introducing Russian immigrant Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) waking up at 4:30 in the morning, rushing to her job which merely includes cleaning toilets of rich people. She's obviously hating her life, because there is nothing happening until some unearthly creatures try to assassinate her at the hospital. Being saved by ex-military member named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) she learns that one of the members of galaxy's most influential families wants her dead. Balem (Eddie Redmayne) has inherited Earth after his mother's mystical death. His other sibling Titus (Douglas Booth) wants to take over control on our planet, because it is such a treasure. The reason why Jupiter needs to be killed is that she is a reincarnation of Balem's mother and accordingly the sole owner of the planet, meanwhile Titus is trying to save her, marry her and claim the title. For that reason, he sent Caine as a savior. 

And here starts Miss Jones's voyage through galaxies to meet her "family" and prove that she owns the Earth, in order to keep it safe. As visually spectacular Jupiter Ascending is, as messy the story seems. It's two hours of Jupiter's stupid decisions, number of drama scenes between Wise and her, tons of fights and flights. 

Movie Review: Force Majeure [2014]

This film can not be discussed without spoilers

Force Majeure
Directed by: Ruben Östlund
Country: Sweden
Runtime: 119 mins
Cast: Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Vincent Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju
Nominations: Golden Globes [Foreign Film]

RRR: 8.2/10 Letter-grade: B+



Force Majeure is a Swedish film shortlisted by The Academy in best foreign film nomination. It's director Ruben Östlund's fourth full feature film, were he tells about a family of four that is about to fall apart, because their perceptions of each other were actually far from reality.

Thomas and Ebba with two children are having a vacation in French alps. On a fine morning, while they are having their meal on veranda, allegedly controlled avalanche cascades towards the hotel. They all panic but behave differently. Ebba grabs kids to cover them, Thomas, to the contrary rushes inside, leaving hopeless family members behind. This is when his, as a family patriarch's status is questioned leading the relationships to unwilling direction.

Poster: Magic Mike XXL

Magic Mike XXL is one of most anticipated films of 2015. This is its first official poster, what do you think?

17 most anticipated films in 2015

2015 started with big hopes for big movies. Actually, every year starts the same way: me wanting to find the movie I'll fall in love. This year, there was one Gone Girl, last year it was Rush, before that Les Miserables and Cloud Atlas. This amazing journey always starts with anticipation and here are my 17 most anticipated films this year:

Amazon Pilot: The Man in the High Castle

Last year, Amazon premiered its very first pilots of original series, making some observations whether to renew the shows or cancel it. I instantly reviewed three most compelling ones: Mozart in the Jungle, Bosch and The After. This year, Amazon cancelled The After and ordered new seasons for the rest. Meanwhile, they are continuing the experiment by premiering over 6 new shows for our consideration, for free. 

The Man in the High Castle is an adaptation of the alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick of the same name, telling a story of the world from the perspective that Nazis won the WWII. It mostly concentrates on the US, where German and Japanese Axes try to gain control over the historical America.

Top 10 Movies of 2014 (and few other awards)

TOP 10 MOVIES
1. Gone Girl 9.8/10
6. Whiplash 9.1/10
8. The Skeleton Twins 8.9/10
9. Pride 8.4/10
10. Enemy 8.3/10

I love books no less then I love movies. Gone Girl is one of few book to movie adaptations that both are equivalently brilliant, intrigue and thrilling. David Fincher managed to film Gone Girl in the way that it did not disappoint any book reader, even more, we were surprised how amazingly it was shot, esp. Cool Girl part. Plus, phenomenal acting by Rosamund Pike makes this movie a perfection, leaving alone the rest of pretty amazing cast. The same time, movie goes through so many social issues, including marriage, society's perception of women, misogyny, etc. It's this years the most complex and memorable film for me and one of all time favorites.

Top 10 Performances in 2014

The year 2014 is over and traditionally, here is another MUST list of top performers from movies. I've divided this list in awards-like sequence, separately for actors/actresses, lead/supporting.

Top 5 Supporting Actresses
5. Rene Russo in Nightcrawler
4. Mackenzie Foy in Interstellar
3. Emma Stone in Birdman
2. Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer
1. Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game

Keira was the biggest surprise this year, her quiet, natural performance was a definite highlight. I was also unexpectedly charmed by young actress Machenzie Foy, who's performance in Interstellar was just heartwarming and extremely emotional.

Top 10 Movie Characters in 2014

This has been an amazing year because of so many good films, but most of all I will remember some of the characters that made their movies more interesting and compelling. While thinking on this list, I observed that it is possible that I liked a movie without significantly well written or interesting characters and vice verse. In fact, some of memorable characters featured in not so memorable movies. Only two of my Top 10 Characters are from my favorite films of 2014.

So, here is my list:

Movie Review: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) [2014]

Birdman is a type movie that does not impress until I watch it, because there are films that grab my attention from the very fist teaser. However, it got my heart the moment I finished it and realized how genuinely original and masterfully done it was. 

Alejandro González Iñárritu's new film is a story of a washed-up actor Riggan (Michael Keaton), who once played an iconic superhero Birdman and now he has to overcome his ego, family trouble, relationship and reclaim past glory, by directing a Broadway play. Ongoing financial problems make it harder to find a proper lead actor for the play.

First thoughts about Birdman - how crazy it is to cast Keaton, who played Batman in two films, as a widely loved superhero. And especially, when his career was also faded for such a long time. Nevertheless the true masterful acting, it's been a good catch. The same time, Birdman is not an easy movie to review, it's just an experience you should feel by watching the film, because if I start describing what's going on there, you'll never get the enjoyment I had during almost two hours.

And the Oscars nominees are...

The nominees for 87th Academy Awards are (will be updated live):

BEST PICTURE
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

DIRECTING
Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman
Richard Linkalter for Boyhood
Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game

LEAD ACTOR
Steve Carrell for Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper for American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton for Birdman
Eddie Remayne  for The Theory of Everything

LEAD ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore for Still Alice
Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon for Wild

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robert Duvall in The Judge
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
Edward Norton in Birdman
Mark Ruffallo for Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
Laura Dern for Wild
Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game
Emma Stone for Birdman
Meryl Streep for Into the Woods

WRITING, ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

WRITING, ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

ORIGINAL SONG
"Everything is awesome"  from The Lego Movie
"Glory"  from Selma
"Grateful" from Beyond the Lights
"I'm not Gonna Miss You" from Glenn Campbell
"Lost Stars" from Begin Again

ORIGINAL SCORE
The Grand Budapest Hotel Alexander Desplat
The Imitation Game Alexander Desplat
Mr. Turner Gary Yershon
The Theory of Everything Johan Johannson 
Intestellar Hans Zimmer

FOREIGN FILM
Ida
Leviathan
Tangerines
Timbuktu
Wild Tales

ANIMATED FEATURE
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the  Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

COSTUME DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Tuner

CINEMATOGRAPHY
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Mr. Turner
Unbroken

FILM EDITING
American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

SOUND MIXING
American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash

SOUND EDITING
American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of Two Earthes
Interstellar
Unbroken

VISUAL EFFECTS
Captain American: Winter Soldier
Dawn of thee Planet of Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

ANIMATED SHORT
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Feast
Me and My Moulten
A Single Life

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
CitizenFour
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Virunga

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Joanna
Our Curse
The Reaper (La Parka)
White Earth

LIVE ACTION SHORT
Aya
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)
Parvaneh
The Phone Call

Most nominations:

The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman 9
The Imitation Game 8
Boyhood 6
American Sniper 6

The shockers of Golden Globes and why it messed up Oscar predictions

The only win everyone got correct: Boyhood wins Drama Film
No matter what you predicted, you'd not get anything right, unless you predicted something really crazy. But it's mostly about TV categories, where The Affair, Transparent and Fargo were major winners, also awarding Matt Bomer in TV Supp. Actor nomination and Maggie Gyllenhall for The Honorable Woman.

When it came about Motion Picture category, we all thought there would no more surprises, but wrong, again!

Golden Globe Winners


The winners of The 72nd Golden Globe Awards are:

MOTION PICTURE CATEGORY

Best Film Drama
Boyhood

Film Drama Actor
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

Film Drama Actress
Julianne Moore in Still Alice

Best Film Musical/Comedy
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Film Musical/Comedy Actor
Michael Keaton in Birdman

Film Musical/Comedy Actress
Amy Adams in Big Eyes

Film Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

Film Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Film Director
Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Film Screenplay
Birdman

Animated Feature
How To Train Your Dragon 2

Foreign Film
Leviathan - Russia

Original Score
The Theory of Everything

Original Song
`Glory` from Selma

TV CATEGORY
Drama Series
The Affair 

Drama Actor
Kevin Spacey in House of Cards

Drama Actress
Ruth Wilson in the Affair

Comedy Series
Transparent

Comedy Actress
Gina Rodriguez in Jane the Virgin

Comedy Actor
Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent

TV Movie/Limited Series
Fargo

TV Movie/Limited Series Actor
Billy Bob Thornton in Fargo

TV Movie/Limited Actress
Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Honorable Woman

TV Supporting Actor
Matt Bomer in The Normal Heart

TV Supporting Actress
Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey

Top 10 Trailers of 2014

Trailers are one of my most favorite movie experiences. They can create a huge buzz before the movie is out - they can either make you watch or not watch the film. Every year, I watch more trailers than actual films and I find it extremely entertaining. For me, a good trailer is the one giving interesting hints about film, with some outstanding music and good scenes. However, it is always important that it did not give any major spoilers regarding the plot twists in film. 

From my personal experience, some of my top trailers turn into my favorite movies of the corresponding year. The same applies this year and after I conduct my Top Ten Films, you'll see how similar they can be. 

I also believe that making a good trailer is not as easy work as it sounds. Because, here a director should choose very specific and limited number of scenes to make future viewers interested. And this is exactly how I chose my Top 10 Trailers of 2014, those who made my really want to watch a specific film. So, here they are:

Golden Globe Predicted Winners

These are the final predictions of this years Golden Globes few hours earlier than the awards ceremony, which will be hosted by brilliant Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, for the final time.

Winners in motion picture category will determine a lot in current Oscar race, since Globes has correctly guessed most winners in the past decade. 

Movie Review: The Imitation Game [2014]

You might read some spoilers here

Back in 1940s, world's one of the best mathematician's and not the world savior, yet, Alan Turing created a very simple game, which had three players male, female and the interrogator, who was unable to see the other two and only communicated with them through notes. The idea was to guess which of those two was a man and a woman. And he called this game The Imitation Game. Later, before suicide at the age of 41, based on this earlier work, Alan created a standard Turing test, which only included the interrogator and other party, which either was a person or a computer. In between these two, he saved our grand parents' lives by assembling first computer machine and decrypting unbreakable Enigma that Germans used for all communications during WWII.

Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game is a story of this man, who saved more lives than probably anyone in history and who actually made it happen that now I'm writing the review on my PC and you're reading it. 

To begin with, I did not find The Imitation Game to be simply a biographic movie, it's rather complex, detail oriented story of morality, of heroism and of what really matters in life, on the example of one particular brilliant mind - British mathematician Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). Because of its many layers, the film starts with voice over of Alan, urging someone (a policemen interrogating him? or the viewers? or both?) to listen carefully, to pay attention and if you decide to stay, than everything is your responsibility. I found the start very intrigue, as if it prepared for something very big, very deeply emotional and satisfactory. 

Movie Review: Pride [2014]

Lesbians and Gays Support Miners!

This is not a fiction or product of some creative mind, it's all the nearest history of the Great Britain. During the British Miner's strike in 1984, a group of lesbian and gay activists decided to raise some money to help families of those affected by the strike. Having decided so, they contacted to The National Union of Mineworkers - the organizers of almost two year strike - and suggested their full support. However, the Union declined it due to the union's worries about being openly associated with a gay group. So the activists decided to directly take their donations to Onllwyn - a small mining village in Wales. This is considered to be the birth of organization Lesbians and Gays Support Miners (LGSM) that finally managed to help affected citizens recover from this long running problem.