IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT KIM GENTES MOVIE REVIEWS
The appearance of a movie in this review journal does not mean that the movie is endorsed by Kim. He writes reviews of movies that he saw that he recommends people avoid as well as movies that he considers worth seeing. Aside from just critical approval regarding the film, some movies may not be suitable for you or your family. You must make that kind of determination on your own, and stay true to your own convictions on what is appropriate to see. Some movies are well made, but have offensive or difficult subject matter that is questionable to many viewers. Again, the reviews listed here should not be your only filter for whether or not a film is appropriate for you and and your family.
Additionally, Kim has his own view on what movies are and why he thinks they are a worthwhile aspect of current culture to be investigated. You certainly don't have to agree with Kim on his viewpoints of movies, and he would be surprised if you did.
Kim's thoughts on movies -
Movies are the modern art "experience" of our culture. They are transmitted in many forms, on screens in theatres, DVDs, television and even computers. They are the merge of classical theatrical acting and modern day technical set and experience creation (effects). The reason I enjoy and watch lots of movies is that they not only entertain, they communicate the nuances of our society. Of course, some have nothing to do with culture, its just greedy corporations trying to produce profits. I am a guy, and as such am not the ideal audience for romantic comedies or 'chick fliks'. However I am also a husband, and domestic bliss (as well as common sense) compels me to at least review them...occasionally. For the most part, you will find I like (and therefor review a lot of ) action, drama, science fiction, suspense and similarly themed movies.
Summary: Spotlight is big screen "true story" of the investigative reporting team that uncovered the systemic coverup of sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston archdiocese. This film is unflinching and powerful, while remaining emotionally responsible. The best film of 2015.
Full Review: While I was aware (through the TV news) of the scandal that had taken place in the early 2000s regarding the Roman Catholic church and molestation of children by it's priests, I did not know how the story came to light and how it had been investigated. This movie is the brilliantly directed effort to tell that story. With one of the best acting crews in the last 5 years Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci engulf this story with passion and credibility. Each cast member rings honest and no character is turned into a faultless hero.
With horrific material details surrounding this script, it would have been easy to think the movie would have spun out recklessly on the intensity of the emotional aspect of this controversy. But writer/director Tom McCarthy (and co-writer Josh Singer) keep a disciplined hand on the script, refusing to discredit the power of this narrative by suffusing lurid details of the individual cases. Instead, the cases are represented by a few powerful interviews and the remainder of the film centers around the painstaking efforts of the Boston Globe's Spotlight team (investigative reporting group) to discover the details, perceive the dark pattern of abuse, and correlate an understanding of an even darker delusion within the Catholic Church hierarchy to cover up the evil deeds of its priests.
The acting, the script, the directing and the cinematography are all perfectly done. On a topic that deserves the very best from our creative community, it received a stellar achievement from McCarthy and his cast.
That said, for parents thinking of taking their children, they should be aware that there is some instances of strong language in this film and some brief but painfully descriptive dialog of sexual abuse. There are no graphic scenes or re-enactments, no nudity and no violence. But the topic and its nature are not shied away from. I would recommend that no child under 13 should be allowed to see this movie. The flim deserves the R rating for the subject material that underpins it.
This film just made wide release this last weekend, and I saw no advertising for it. Do not let that stop you. See this film. If you decide you will see one movie this year, Spotlight should be it.
Review by Kim Gentes
Summary: Love The Coopers is a waste of time. Do not see it. This is the most generous summary possible for a film of such low caliber.
Full Review: Plotless, aimless, emotionless, thoughtless dibble wrapped in pretentious philosophical cliches. It appears the answer to a Christmas movie in 2015 is to imagine 150 conversations with no humor, no acting, no character development, and no storyline all wrapped in a cast of great talent and exercising precisely none of it, and culminating in two apex moments involving a dog farting at a dinner table and a family dancing spontaneously (while hating one another) at an airport cafeteria. The best part of this film was, quite literally, the credit roll- which at least accomplished the purpose for which it was designed.
Save your money for Hunger Games latest or the upcoming Star Wars installment. Ignore me at your peril. The worst film I've seen in a very long time.
Summary: Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton try to lead this film out of the slavery of Hollywood cliché, but unlike the protagonist and the Hebrew people of the story, this project starves in the wilderness of dry, empty characters and thoughtless dialog just before drowning from poor direction amidst of a sea of dazzling CGI.
Full Review: Exodus. More than just being an iconic narrative of faith, it is the epic of freedom and struggle, representative of individuals, peoples, and cultures across history and across the world. Envisioning such an epic requires true thought, true vision. Either try for something revolutionary or keep to the story and make it work on the level of character development. Ridley Scott does neither and fails big. The acting, characters and story-line were weak. I fault the director for taking what is basically the major epic narrative of 3 world religions and treating the project like he was distracted and just trying to get it done.
The characters (in contrast to their historic epic) are all one-dimensional, predictable and unconvincing. They show no humanity- just stereotyped ransacking of what could have been thoughtful roles. Moses' character is turned into (like Darren Aronofsky's Noah) an educated, but basically psychotic, lunatic with luck on his side, who leads a military foment of slaves to an uprising. Along the way, lots of amazing things happen, that are all attributed to natural phenomena and don't hold anything like the narrative punctuation of the original book of the same title from the biblical text. Don't misunderstand me- I don't fault Ridley Scott for taking what is essentially an "enlightenment" stab at the Exodus work- no one who believes or considers the story in any sense "real" will likely accept his revision. But that is art. However, what is not art is the emotionless, boring, and even schmaltzy portrayal of characters that role across the silver screen.
Christian Bale does have the thoughtfulness to try to fill his dialog with some passion, but he is working with a script that feels as authentic as the $25 press board desk I put together when I was in college. Aaron Paul hardly has to earn his credentials for playing a passionate supporting role, but his part literally gave him nothing to work with. Sigourney Weaver seethes of contempt as she literally looks like she'd rather be infested by an alien than say the lines she was handed out. Joel Edgerton seems like he took his role seriously, but his court is such a mockery that one has to wonder how he could hold any sense of presence in a such a vilified supporting staff. And finally John Turturro looks like he is about a half second away from cracking up laughing on literally ever single line. Ben Kingsley has a chance at being the one rock in the film, playing a sagely Jewish elder. But he is shoehorned into a few quick segments that give him no space to develop his character.
Here is my point- we all know the story. If you are going to rewrite it, you need do a better job in some aspect than the original. And if you are going to rely on atheist philosophy when you are telling the narrative of a creator God directing his chosen people, then at least have the presence of mind to use good art- develop some great characters, use thoughtful dialog, give us a human interest in the film.
I can't imagine this film made anyone happy other than the various unions who were employed in its production. Save your money. Wait for the Netflix/Amazon free stream or when it hits your local cable free movie feature.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1yOfkmt
Review by Kim Gentes
Summary: Jake Gyllenhaal assumes complete mastery of his role as fledging video news videographer, Lou Bloom. Everything you always feared about modern news reporting comes to vivid life in the most gripping persona of evil since Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh (in No Country For Old Men).
Full Review: Dan Gilroy has a stellar debut in the director's chair with Nightcrawler. A screen/TV writer for over 10 years, Gilroy commands the storyline (which he also wrote) by a vivid videography of intense "realistic" style that superimposes the kind of professional seriousness that is echoed in the obsessive protagonist of the movie.
The story is simple. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a small time thief that is looking for a focus to his obsessive energies. Through a happenstance encounter, he realizes the thrill and potential rewards of video-taping crime and mayhem in the night life of the LA basin. Gyllenhaal's character, Lou, shows a fanatic demand for detail which results in acquiring some much sought-after footage of gruesome car crashes, bleeding attack victims and other tragic scenes. His stock with local TV station news rises sharply and he uses it to his full advantage.
At first blush, Lou appears demanding and intense, with an almost uncaring sense of fairness and justice. But his amoral sense of duty and hard work quickly are set aside for the fruits of an immoral rampage to gratify Lou's desperately hungry ego, and the accompanying monetary rewards. The film is very dark, but a couple of times grasps unrealistically at trying to convey the depravity of Gyllenhaal's character when plot twists allow him to get away with obviously criminal acts.
Nightcrawler is not a film for everyone. It will be too dark for some. But those who liked Crash or characters such as Walter White (Breaking Bad) or Dexter Morgan (Dexter) should think of Nightcrawler as the next evolution of the darkest form of antihero. Technically speaking, the cinematography, acting, directing and writing are some of the best you will see anywhere, in any year.
The language, violence and themes of this film are easily "R" in rating. But I would not allow any child under 18 to see this film. For me, the rating should have been NC-17.
This film is powerful, convincing, but very dark. For those whom it fits, it will be the single "must see" movie of the year. One which you should not wait to see on video- this is powerful, intense and important silver screen visual overload. That said, do not go if you have a queezy stomach or need a heroic and moral character. For those things you will definitely be disappointed.
Perhaps the best film this year.
Amazon Link: http://buff.ly/1uTLf0W
Review by Kim Gentes
Summary: Every story we tell, will always come back to the original one- where did we come from and where are we going to end up?
Full Review: For true modern sci-fi (not the 50s/60s comic/horror kind), everything begins and ends with 2001: A Space Odyssey. And every attempt at modern philosophical inquiry through the lens of science fiction has thus been held up to the standard that Kubrik brought us in his 1968 epic film. Interstellar is the latest film to reach out of our realm and try to grapple with the real questions of humanity- our origins, our struggles and our destiny.
Like recent touchpoint sci-fi contenders Terrence Malik's The Tree of Life, Josh Trank's Chronicle, and the Alien prequel Prometheus, Interstellar maps its path to deeper truth by unlocking some of the universe's secrets. At least that is what Christopher Nolan seems to be trying to portray as he unravels quantum physics in a bid to make his film plausible. Much of what is presented in the film is based on the premise of solving many current impossibilities regarding interstellar travel, and the writers try to achieve this by having humans contacted by a superior life form that has learned to exist and manipulate 5 dimensions. The mishmash of scientific jargon centered around relativity is less effective than I was hoping for. While the film employs a real scientific basis in its research (via theoretical physicist, Kip Thorne), aside from a few excellent graphical representations of worm holes and blackholes/neutron stars sucking in light from other cellestial objects, only a few keywords are echoed in the script. I suppose this is unavoidable, as a more indepth treatment in the film would have droned on enough to make most viewers fall into boredom (and, in any case, Thorne collects this information in an ebook spinoff The Science of Interstellar: Thorne/Nolan). That aside, little else in the film fails to lift itself out of earth's orbit. The direction is essentially focused, with Nolan undertaking the task of visualizing both a bleak earth homeworld and a transcendent star system as an explorable destination.
But the framework of the movie is not the science fiction. Overall, the weakest part of the movie is the relational story between a father and daughter. It is kept terse with the intention of it being powerful- daughter is head strong; dad is explorer type. Dad flies off in spaceship to save the world. Girl is mad at dad. This plot feels thinner than you'd hope for, given the backdrop of human survival, but its theme is re-echoed no less than 4 times throughout the movie in various ways. The relational fabric of people's perceived connection seems to constantly get in the way of saving the human race. It is an interesting approach and one that goes juxtaposition to Kubrick's 2001, which aims to pit humanity against the glorification of his own progress- machine.
I absolutely loved the imagery of the film. Top notch. The acting is also excellent. And while the story portends its conclusion several times it feels forgivable since humanity lies in the balance. The core story line of the movie is essential, but, in this reviewers opinion, childish. Despite this, this film crosses over the line of being gadgetry and tech sizzle into the philosophical questions we have long asked. It does not, however, answer any of these questions with the majestic power of 2001 or the raw focus of Tree of Life. In fact, Interstellar doesn't actually answer any questions about origins or destiny, except to keep alive the viceral reality that we are powerfully, humanly and wonderfully flawed. And it is at this point that Nolan seems to make the film triumph in ways that make it a strong addition to the modern science fiction art form.
Do not wait to see this film on DVD or Netflix. See it on the big screen. 169 minutes of absolute bliss to the eyes and ears. One of the best films of the year.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1xes458
Review by Kim Gentes