January Blind Spot Review: The Ides of March (2011)

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the ides of march movie poster

“I’ll do or say anything if I believe in it, but I have to believe in the cause.”
– Stephen Meyers

SYNOPSIS: Stephen Meyers is a young idealist who’s brilliant at communications, is second in command of Governor Mike Morris’s presidential campaign, and is a true believer. In the middle of the Ohio primary, the campaign manager of Morris’s opponent asks Meyers to meet; he offers him a job. At the same time, Morris’s negotiations for the endorsement of the man in third place, a North Carolina Senator, hit a snag. A young campaign intern, Molly Stearns, gets Stephen’s romantic attention. Republicans have a trick up their sleeve; Stephen may be too trusting, and Molly has a secret. What’s most important, career, victory, or virtue? – via IMDB

the ides of march

GRADE 8There we go, first movie on my blind spot list checked off. I have been putting this off for years, and not so much intentionally as that I keep forgetting that it needs to be watched, and when I remember, my other half rejects the idea of a political film. So not his thing. So now I had to watch it, and I had to make the time. It was on a list, right? Right. The Ides of March was a smart and engrossing film. That is the first thing that I would like to say. From the opening scene and from thereon out, it demands your attention, and I’ll bet you it will receive it. Ryan Gosling gives another hell of a performance here, though it is something I have come to love about him. He is very talented. It was really great to see how Stephen preps all of Morris’s stuff, and practices and tests it, and how phenomenally different it sounds when you see Clooney step up as Morris and pull it off. Evan Rachel Wood was good again, as was to be expected. I liked the story for this quite a bit, and thought that it was pulled off really well. Philip Seymour Hoffman was at his finest here, and captured the essence of his jaded character perfectly. He exuded the power and control he was supposed to, and owned every second he was on screen. The whole cast was solid, and all contributed really good efforts that are seen throughout the film. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing, how everything starts gradually and then just snowballs into this huge and out of control situation, with everyone stabbing someone else in the back, and Stephen learning all about how being an idealist is a really difficult thing to be in his line of work. I actually enjoyed the romance between Stephen and Molly, and really wished that the movie had focused on that a little bit more, giving it some more meat. Overall, I think that The Ides of March was a successful political drama all around that I would recommend if this is your scene. It was definitely my cup of tea.

Review: Gravity (2013)

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“Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission.”
– Matt Kowalski

Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on her first space shuttle mission with space veteran Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). They are on a mission aboard the Explorer to service the Hubble Space Telescope. This is supposed to be Kowalski’s final mission. Mission Control in Houston calls in a warning, though says that it is nothing serious but that they should keep their eyes open. A Russian missile strike on one of their defunct satellites has formed a cloud of debris in space, though they are not withing the trajectory. However, Mission Control soon calls back and tells them to abort the mission and regain re-entry immediately. While attempting this, the cloud of debris hits them, and Stone is sent careening off into space. Kowalksi needs to find her and soon.

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“Explorer, this is Kowalski confirming visual contact with debris, debris is from a BSE sat. To repeat, I have…” – Matt Kowalski

When Stone ultimately slows down and gets her coordinates back up, she reports her position to Kowalski. Contact with Mission Control has been lost. Kowalski has a Manned Maneuvering Unit, and makes his way over to fetching her. Once she has been retrieved, it is noted that Stone has only 8% oxygen remaining, and Kowalski’s levels are low, too. He estimates that they have ninety minutes remaining before the space debris comes around again. He hatches the plan that they will make it back toward the Space Shuttle. Upon arrival, however, it is evident that the crew is dead and that the Shuttle is heavily damaged. Reevaluating the plans leads Kowalski to make the call to make for the International Space Station (ISS). His thruster pack is low, and the going is slow too. Arrival at the ISS shows that the ship is damaged and that the crew escaped using one of the Soyuz modules, and that the other one’s parachute has been deployed, making it useless. When they get right to it, the tether between Stone and Kowalski snaps, and the two make a desperate attempt to attach themselves to the ISS somehow. Ultimately Kowalski makes the call that Stone can make it if she lets him go, though she is not prepared to, and he eventually makes the call himself by detaching himself from her, floating off into space.

gravity towing

“Explorer, permission to retrieve Dr. Stone.” – Matt Kowalski

Stone needs to get into the ISS and use it to travel to the Chinese space station, the Tiangong, where she will be able to board and use one of their modules to return to Earth. She is also insistent that she will rescue Kowalski first, though he tells her it is impossible. Stone eventually makes it into the ISS, and attempts to contact Kowalski unsuccessfully. A fire breaks out in the ISS and forces her to retreat to the Soyuz. Attempting to navigate away from the ISS, Stone has issues getting away due to the parachute, and spacewalks to detach the pod safely. However, back out in space she encounters the debris, and struggles furiously to detach the Soyuz from its parachute chords. Stone ultimately frees the Soyuz and aligns it with the Tiangong but is horrified to learn that there is no fuel to take her. Communication with Mission Control is still pointless.

gravity in the space ship

“I know, we’re all gonna die. Everybody knows that. But I’m going to die today.” – Ryan Stone

Will Stone make her way to the Tiangong, despite her odds? Will she survive her terrifying space ordeal? Will she be able to return to Earth as the sole survivor of the botched space mission? Will the debris come around again and ultimately defeat her?

A 7.5/10 for Gravity. I want it on the record that Gravity really lacks a storyline, and this is one of the few movies that managed to get away with that, regardless of the fact that it should have hurt the movie. This was still a good watch at home, though I imagine that it must have been far more amazing to see in IMAX or 3D due to the effects. I have to say that the movie got off to an exceptionally slow start, and I was afraid the rest of the movie would progress in that vein, which was boring. The movie does not feature top notch acting at all, but the acting is perfectly fine to maintain and carry the story with. There is not really much to say about this movie seeing as it is more about showing the audience Ryan Stone’s ordeal in space, as well as how scary it can be should something go wrong that far away. It shows how amazing space is, but how the unknown is scary, too, and that things can go bad. I just though that everything that could possibly go wrong for this woman did go wrong for this woman, which showed predictability as well as the weak script and the fact that it is not totally believable, but also it was necessary to keep the movie moving along for the duration of the time we spent watching it, so it was entertaining. The movie managed to capture that tense feeling and hopelessness of being stuck in space, and I must say that it was intense and gripping at times. I might not have absolutely loved this movie like Eric did (check his gushing here), but I must say that it was better than I expected it to be, but I think that I lost a lot of the experience due to watching it at home as opposed to on the big screen.

SPOILER: I was relieved that Clooney’s return was in her head and not serious, because I was over it the minute he turned up, it really put a damper on the proceedings for me. 

Review: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

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OCEAN'S ELEVEN POSTER

“If you’re gonna steal from Terry Benedict, you’d better goddamn know. This sorta thing used to be civilized, you’d hit a guy, he’d whack you, done.”
– Rueben Tishkoff

SYNOPSIS: Danny Ocean and his eleven accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. – via IMDB

This movie is just a load of fun; there are no two ways about it. It is smart, witty, well shot, excellently cast and so well written. You are captivated by the story from the get go, and it does not disappoint. It also has an exceptionally awesome cast, and they all bring the goods to the table here. It’s really rewarding to see something that could have bombed come together so well.

Brad Pitt never ceased to entertain me with the amounts of food that he consumed throughout the film, having had to work it into his character. Don Cheadle was just a bag of laughs (crazy Brit that he portrayed, accent and all). I particularly enjoyed Casey Affleck and Scott Caan together. Every actor contributed to this film perfectly (and the ensemble cast is just too big to discuss each and every contributor), and Andy Garcia really gave forth that scary don’t-mess-with-me Mafia vibe. Also, watching Clooney and Pitt together was very rewarding, they just work together.

Steven Soderbergh carried this film with zest and flair, and it was very clever and fresh. For a film that was a remake, this just goes to show that they are not always destined to bomb out and fail! The pacing is fantastic and I cannot recall a single dull moment in it. Everything is set out as you need it, and it is smart and funny while doing it. The movie looked really good, the soundtrack was smooth and suited exactly for what this was – a bag of fun heist flick! Ocean’s Eleven is sharp, and worth the watch every single time.