Rapid Review: Good Will Hunting (1997)

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“You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself.”
– Sean Maguire

SYNOPSIS: A janitor at MIT, Will Hunting has a gift for math and chemistry that can take him light-years beyond his blue-collar roots, but he doesn’t realize his potential and can’t even imagine leaving his childhood Boston South End neighborhood, his construction job, or his best friend. To complicate matters, several strangers enter the equation: a brilliant math professor who discovers, even envies, Will’s gifts, an empathetic shrink who identifies with Will’s blue-collar roots, and a beautiful, gifted pre-med student who shows him, for the first time in his life, the possibility of love. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5This movie is one of those movies that is just really good, whether you are in the boat of it being overrated or not. Either way, it’s a good one. I adore Matt Damon and will watch him in anything (hence I made it through Elysium), and I think he is immensely talented. That was showcased once again in Good Will Hunting. The movie is one of those films that makes you laugh a lot, feel for the characters, and touches on some things that make you think (pretty much anything Sean Maguire said in this movie was something to think about). I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how insanely smart Will was, dissing college students yet being a janitor who is actually just too scared to reach further in his life. The humour in this movie is sharp, and gets me laughing every time, and Casey Affleck’s character was just adorable (what a chop). The story is really good, and moves along at a respectable pace, never getting boring, never getting so intricate that you lost what was going on. Robin Williams was something else in here, and I loved his character. This is one of my favourite roles of his. Sean Maguire was depressed, so flat, and yet he had so much knowledge to share, and was an integral part of Will realising there was nothing that he couldn’t do. He and Damon worked wonders together. The story is sweet and inspiring and has aged pretty well. I think Ben Affleck and Damon are very good writers, no matter how you feel about it. Minnie Driver is someone you don’t see in many films anymore, but she embodied Skylar very well, and I thought that Stellan Skarsgård’s Lambeau was a fantastic character to put Will’s gifts into perspective with, though I do feel his character was not used as consistently or as effectively as he could have been. Good Will Hunting is shot well and is engaging, and it just so worth the watch.

Rapid Review: Gone Baby Gone (2007)

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“Kids forgive, they don’t judge, they turn the other cheek, and what do they get for it?”
 – Detective Remy Bressant

SYNOPSIS: Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl’s kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7I recall enjoying this movie quite a bit when it came out a few years ago, and then I read the book by Dennis Lehane and I freaking loved that, though it certainly wasn’t an easy read at all. Naturally I stumbled across this movie and thought now would be a good time to watch it again, and let me tell you, it lost a lot of the magic for me. Not because it wasn’t done well or anything, it just missed a lot of the things that made the book so great. Ben Affleck did a damn fine job directing this, and I think he has some real talent as a director. Casey Aflleck was very good here, though not quite what I pictured Patrick Kenzie to be. While I find that Michelle Monaghan is one of the most beautiful women ever, I honestly think she was a terrible Angie. Why? Angie is this sexy, loud, in-your-face, smart-as-a-whip cussing part-Italian with ties to the Boston mob… and Monaghan was just a little too timid, quiet and mousy for me, which really sucked. Also, Bressant and Poole were underplayed, and I felt the story was far too rushed, skipping out completely on the things that actually gave you chills, and didn’t spend time building on anything. For instance, there is the scene in the bar where it was implied that Angie and Patrick were going to get attacked and Angie raped, and that scene carried no power and no weight. I blame the writers for this, because the movie also had a ridiculously short runtime for what it needed to tell, and so a lot was cut out and discarded along the way, which is a pity. Don’t get me wrong, I know this sounds like I hated it, this is just a typical case of the book is better, infinitely so. The film is entertaining, though it certainly falls short, but it is worth a watch, if for nothing else other than seeing Ben Affleck’s impressive skills as a director.

Rapid Review: Interstellar (2014)

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“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”
– Cooper

SYNOPSIS: In the near future Earth has been devastated by drought and famine, causing a scarcity in food and extreme changes in climate. When humanity is facing extinction, a mysterious rip in the space-time continuum is discovered, giving mankind the opportunity to widen their lifespan. A group of explorers must travel beyond our solar system in search of a planet that can sustain life. The crew of the Endurance are required to think bigger and go further than any human in history as they embark on an interstellar voyage, into the unknown. Coop, the pilot of the Endurance, must decide between seeing his children again and the future of the human race.- via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5This has, undoubtedly, been my most anticipated movie of 2014. I have talked my other half’s ear off about how I cannot wait for it, so naturally I had to go the minute it pitched up here. I was not going to waste a second of my time waiting to get to it seeing how Gone Girl aired for only thirteen days in my useless cinema. If I missed this, someone was going to burn. So, what with all my excitement and anticipation, how did it stack up? I must say that I was extremely impressed. Visually it was absolutely gorgeous, though I didn’t expect anything less on that front. A solid cast carried this story for us, and I thought the performances were great all round. Initially I was not over the moon to see Anne Hathaway in such a large role for it, but she managed to not irritate me to the end. I was thrilled to see Matt Damon, I do so thoroughly enjoy the man, and McConaughey was fantastic as the lead, Cooper. The casting of the actors to play the children (Mackenzie Foy and Timothée Chalamet) was wonderful, and I was especially pleased to see Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck play their grown counterparts. They fit the bill and were realistic and believable. I know that some people have complained about the dialogue being clunky, and also silly at times with explanations (such as explaining to an astronaut about a black hole in space), but I did not find this to be the case. I enjoyed most of their conversations (though at times it did get a little convoluted), and I was grateful for the explanations sprinkled throughout the movie, and the way it was done. It did not feel like Nolan was treating the cinema-goers like idiots, but rather just ensuring we were all on the same page, and I appreciated that. Naturally Hans Zimmer created a fantastic score to accompany the film, building up tension and emotion in all the right places, and coming in as nothing short of complementary. Interstellar manages to recreate some exceptionally sad emotional scenes, many of them stemming from the tapes that the astronauts are receiving from home in space. There was some humour in this film, which was lovely, but was certainly focused more on the dramatic aspect. I thought the multi-purpose robots were extremely cool, and I felt for Cooper, trying to be the best dad that he could. John Lithgow, as always, plays a wonderful fatherly/grandfatherly figure, and I always like seeing him, no matter how small his part. I do feel that Michael Caine could have been used more, but I understand that there were a lot of characters and time constraints. Interstellar is a long movie, but it is certainly a wonderful journey, even with the flaws that it has – as much as I have sung the praises, there are things that fall a little short of the mark, but were definitely not enough to cripple and ruin this movie for me. Interstellar was well worth the wait, in my opinion, and is a really good movie overall – most importantly, it is an experience. Christopher Nolan has, once again, delivered another stunning film, though this will certainly not be in a high running for taking over and outranking some of his other works.

Review: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)

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“I shot someone. I think I’ve shot someone.”
– Ruth Guthrie

In Texas Hill Country in the 1970’s, lovers Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara) live on the other side of the law. Together they live and they love, but Ruth had been threatening to leave her lover, but instead shares her happy news with Bob – she is pregnant. They are going to have a family. However, the dream is marred somewhat when at a shootout Ruth shoots local sheriff’s deputy Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster). Ruth is panicking, and Bob decides to take the fall for the shot, receiving a very severe prison sentence for his actions, though he swears to return to his wife and their child.

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Sharing the happy news

Bob is imprisoned for a twenty five year sentence, and Ruth is waiting for his return. However, weeks turn into months, and Bob is still in prison. Ruth births their daughter Sylvie (Jacklynn and Kennadie Smith)) alone, and takes on the task of mothering their child alone. She is supported by and large by Skerritt (Keith Carradine), who runs a little hardware store in town, though he seems to have far more sway that a mild-mannered storeowner would, and he keeps an eye on Ruth and Sylvie. Bob writes Ruth daily, his love for her never wavering. Soon their separation passes into years. Ruth has a very difficult relationship with Patrick Wheeler – he has entered into their lives, though his role in unclear.

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“Every day I wake up thinking today’s the day I’m gonna see you. And one of those days, it will be so. And then we can ride off to somewhere. Somewhere far away.” – Bob Muldoon

Around Sylvie’s fourth birthday, Bob finally springs his cell and sets off to be with his family again. His escape is not particularly warmly welcomed everywhere. Ruth is put under pressure to reveal her husband’s plan, though she has no idea. Ruth has started to peter out and become a normal person since Bob has been away and the responsibility of motherhood has taken out. Bob meets up with connections for assistance to make his way home. Sweeter (Nate Parker) lends him as much help as possible, whereas Skerritt threatens Bob dreadfully – he is not to go near those girls at all.

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“I haven’t slept in four years. And I’m tired. I’m so goddamn tired.” – Ruth Guthrie

A few criminals are in town, and it seems that Skerritt makes a deal with them, and Bob is now in some serious trouble to be run out of town. There is a threat that he is unaware of. Sylvie has gotten the letter she has been waiting for, and is prepared to run with her husband, taking their daughter with him. Will the new outlaws get hold of Bob? What are their plans exactly? How do they tie in to Skeritt’s plans? Where does Patrick stand with Ruth? Will he ever be the man in her life? Will Bob and Ruth finally be united?

I’m scoring Ain’t Them Bodies Saints a 7.5/10. This was a really good movie and it looked really lovely. The cast was a very good one and carried the story really well for me. I must say that Ben Foster impressed the hell out of me in here, and I really think he is an under-appreciated actor. Casey Affleck again delivered a solid performance, though I didn’t really expect less, I enjoy his work. Rooney Mara brought another hauntingly sad character to life on the screen, and she did so well. While not the newest or deepest plot of all time, it really was suited for what was done. I liked the way the soundtrack worked its way into the movie, subtle but important. Keith Carradine carried his old school Texan outlaw role out well (though I believe he still owes Eric cash). I enjoyed the movie. The camera work and lighting was fantastic, and the portrayal of the love life of an outlaw was stunning. I really liked how this was done and conveyed, and it is definitely worth looking into if you have not already.

Review: Out of the Furnace (2013)

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“I’ve got a problem with everybody.”
– Harlan DeGroat

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) is a hardworking man. He is a blue-collar worker at the local mill and lucky to have a job seeing as he lives in the economically depressed Rust Belt. His younger brother Rodney Jr (Casey Affleck) is a military man with a gambling problem and in with some criminal types but not necessarily bad people for some money. Going to settle his brother’s debt with John Petty (Willem Dafoe) one night, his whole life is changed. Going home to his girlfriend Lena Warren (Zoë Saldana) he is in an accident that is not even remotely his fault but sentenced to prison. Leaving his younger brother and dying father behind, Russell begins his incarceration.

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“Working for a living? I gave my life for this country and what’s it done for me? Huh? What’s it done for me?” – Rodney Baze Jr

While in prison, his father passes away, and Russell is wracked with even more guilt over his passing and not having been there. Upon his release, Rodney takes Russell to his father’s grave and then to their home. Russell slowly but surely starts sinking back into the old ways of his sad life, though he is upset that Lena has moved on and is now seeing police offices Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker). Rodney is not working and is finished serving his country, fighting for Petty to settle his debt. Russell discovers this one day and confronts his brother, again offering that Rodney come work at the mills and that he should not be too proud to work for a living. In a rage, Rodney goes to Petty, forcing his hand to set up a fight for him with Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), a disgraceful redneck with a drug and anger problem. Petty is not keen on the idea, but Rodney’s vehemence eventually gets the upper hand and he arranges.

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“Now, will you calm down. I’ll get you the money, Harlan. I’m fixin’ for a fight this week.” – John Petty

Rodney is told to throw the fight, but has a tendency to forget that policy in the heat of the moment. Petty continually warns Rodney that DeGroat is not worth screwing over, and in the ring it looks as though Rodney is set to win, and Petty has to make sure that Rodney loses, which he progresses to do. However, on the way home from the fight, DeGroat catches up to them and kills them both. Russell is informed by Barnes of the transgression, though he says Rodney may still be out there and that Russell should leave it to the police to work out. Russell and his uncle Gerald “Red” Baze (Sam Shepard) set out together with a plan – justice will be exacted for Rodney. Either they will find Rodney in DeGroat’s county, or they will make him pay for what he has done.

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When your future relies on the decision you are faced with

Russell must make a decision about avenging his brother and throwing away his freedom and average, hardworking life, or he must let the police sort it out, though they have made it clear that they don’t really want to get involved with DeGroat. Will Russell be able to let DeGroat get away with the murder of his baby brother? Will Russell ever be able to live a normal life and stop suffering unreasonable hardships all the time?

A 7.5/10 for Out of the Furnace. I was hooked from the get-go. The film boasts a pretty solid cast and they all bring brilliant performances to the table and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Woody Harrelson but wow he was so reprehensible in this one. Christian Bale delivered a great performance of the hardworking and very caring brother. It was great to see Casey Affleck again, and he played the little military man gone wrong very well. I was not particularly sold on Forest Whitaker in here, either his skills or his character, it just didn’t work completely. I enjoyed the plot of this film as well as the progression. I loved the camera work and effects; it looked so great, like washed out. The soundtrack worked perfectly, and the pace was so good for what it was. The conclusion of the film had me at the edge of my seat, not because it was unexpected, but because it was pretty moving. The film’s pace is slow and deliberate and worked perfectly for this film. This is a film not everyone, definitely nothing new or revolutionary and goodness knows it has its flaws, but I enjoyed it and would recommend it, if not for the performances alone.