Texas Tom (1950)

Texas TomTexas Tom Review

Texas Tom is a 1950 animated short that is the 49th Tom and Jerry cartoon. It is an atmospheric, but problematic entry.

This short has its evident strengths and weaknesses. The flaws here are that the ending is hit-or-miss and that the entire second half with the bull is pretty forgettable and familiar. It kind of ruined the film as it was quite good before it. It isn’t bad or anything like that, but it is still forgettable and definitely a problem the film never overcame.

But that first half is great. The duo is phenomenal here with the cowgirl being very well used as well. The entire singing sequence is fantastic and Tom makes some really amusing faces in this one. The music is so well utilized, but the animation is also superb and the entire flick has such a good atmosphere and tone of a western and that really helps it a lot. It is in the end disappointing, but still fun and charming.

Texas Tom does have a disappointing second half, but the first one is great with good humor, an excellent use of music and a great western feel to it.

My Rating – 3.9

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Sicario (2015)

Sicario

Sicario Review

Sicario is a 2015 crime thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin. It is such a weak, overrated movie.

The plot is one of the reasons why it fails in my opinion. Everything about it is either familiar or completely underdeveloped. All of the conflicts and the action was typical and pretty boring. The movie is also very slow to the point of being boring. And it never help my attention particularly well.

But the characterization is so problematic. Each and every character here is underdeveloped and unlikable with the main character being so badly realized. You never really feel like you met here as she is so undefined. And her goals and actions are also troublesome. The movie is at times even sexist as it handles her character rather poorly. She is never a strong, capable woman she was supposed to be. I never got that here and that is disappointing because she is the center of the entire flick.

The acting is certainly good. Josh Brolin did a good job and Benicio del Toro is also good. Emily Blunt is really good and even though her role is weak, she is good in it as she always is. Sicario is a technically solid work and the cinematography in particular is its biggest strength with many memorable and unique shots. The film is very well shot and mostly well edited and acted.

But the directing is not that good and Denis Villeneuve continues to be a weak director. I don’t get the appeal of his movies whatsoever. But Sicario still benefits from some solid score, great cinematography and some memorable imagery. And the script has its strengths and interesting points to it, but it is unfortunate that they never did anything with it. It had a lot of evident potential to be a good film, but ended up being not only boring, but also forgettable and familiar. There isn’t anything unique about it and it is undoubtedly one of the most overrated movies of the year.

Sicario is one of the most overrated movies of the year with some very good cinematography, solid score and good acting, but the plot is quite typical, the characters are so undefined and the whole film is not only quite boring, but also extremely forgettable and there isn’t anything unique, interesting or sophisticated about it whatsoever.

My Rating – 3

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A Clean Shaven Man (1936)

A Clean Shaven ManA Clean Shaven Man Review

 A Clean Shaven Man is a 1936 animated short from Popeye the Sailor series. It is one of the funniest Popeye cartoons of all time.

This short is such a good one. Popeye and Bluto are forced to shave each other and whereas Popeye does truly shave him, he gets tortured when his turn comes. The premise is simple, but works wonders for the series and especially its characters. Bluto continues to be the highlight and his torture methods are all elaborate and well thought out. But Popeye is fantastic as he mostly is with his signature redneck talk and some fun looks on his face.

But Olive is great and that ending in which she goes out with Wimpy is hilarious. But I did not like the kicking in the butt conclusion afterwards and I did not like that Popeye’s reaction to the torture was that late. But overall, A Clean Shaven man works mostly due to its humor which is the best in a long time. I laughed out loud many times and those two are both terrific in this one. It is one of the best Popeye cartoons in years.

A Clean Shaven Man is such an incredibly funny short with Popeye and Bluto both being superb and with the scenario being very well played out.

 My Rating – 4.3

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Ranking the 2015 Best Picture Nominees

Ranking the 2015 Best Picture Nominees 

2015 was overall a weak year for movies. But the Academy’s choices for Best Picture were even weaker. Still, there are some good movies here and one that is truly great. With that said, here are all of the Best Picture nominees of 2015 ranked from worst to best in my opinion.

The Revenant

  1. The Revenant

This is easily the worst nominee this year. It is the movie that I truly despise as everything about it is really bad – from the directing to the stupid storyline to some ridiculous and laughable scenarios to its black-and-white, stupidly simplistic characters. This is a movie that is also incredibly tough to sit through due to some disgusting imagery at display here. The Revenant is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, the worst film of the year and of course it lands on the bottom of this list as well.

The Big Short

  1. The Big Short

The Big Short is such an annoying film. It is one of those movies that are so arrogant in tone that it makes it frustrating to watch. The film is also very boring and its already incredibly dull subject matter isn’t made accessible to the casual viewer whatsoever. It does have a very good performance from Steve Carell and it is of course important, but it is also a very weird movie due to its odd inclusion of humor and breaking the fourth wall. It isn’t a bad film per say, but is still so annoying and extremely offbeat, but unfortunately in a bad way.

Brooklyn

  1. Brooklyn

Brooklyn is the kind of a movie that could have come from the fifties how traditional it is. But that old-fashioned feel did not help it because the story is so standard and, although Saiorse Ronan admittedly did a good job, her character is so unlikable which is a big problem as the film revolves around her. And although the movie is okay in terms of quality, it is so boring and forgettable that it shouldn’t belong on this list and its inclusion is so frustrating to me.

Bridge of Spies

  1. Bridge of Spies

Spielberg once again made an Oscar-bait movie and of course it was nominated. Bridge of Spies is a basic Cold War picture that is once again old-fashioned to its detriment. The film is technically very polished, the acting is quite good and its first half had promise, but it became a typical propaganda piece later on which is why I found its Oscar nomination to be so problematic. It is definitely a solid movie, but still the one that does not belong here as it is so clichéd.

The Martian

  1. The Martian

This disappointing flick is on the middle of the list just because the entire slate is very weak. But it surely did not deserve its nomination as it was a huge disappointment to me. It still has good Matt Damon in it, technically it is well made and some scenes are wonderfully emotional, but it is such a giant cliché of a film that is predictable and uninspired at every turn. That made it so frustrating to watch and it is once again such an old-fashioned and typical blockbuster. The Academy did nominate so many conventional movies this year.

Mad Max: Fury Road

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road

This is the film that appeared on so many top ten lists for the year and although I find it to be very overrated due to its poor character development and a non-existent plot, Mad Max: Fury Road is still a much better blockbuster pick for the year due to many great technical aspects about it (and it did deserve to win most of those technical awards) and its action which is so well executed that it made me like the movie even though I usually dislike the genre. It is far from great, but still a good movie and it gets the third spot on this list.

Spotlight

  1. Spotlight

And this was the movie that ended up winning Best Picture and it was an unexpected choice. Although it is still a clichéd Oscar material, I still found its win to be somewhat satisfying as it is not only the second best nominee, but also a well acted, well made film that benefits from some really powerful scenes and such a strong second half that fixed many mistakes of the previous one. It is a basic Best Picture flick, but the one that is a strong film and a solid pick.

Room (2015)

  1. Room

And the best of the nominees is easily Room, a film that is also the year’s finest film overall. It has incredible performances from Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson in it and she rightfully won an Oscar for her role. But it is also such a heartbreaking and emotionally strong movie that is also sophisticated in its every scene with a very authentic approach to it. It is a shame that this film, which is obviously the best one here by a mile, got away with just one Oscar, but to me it is a great movie by all means and the only truly terrific one in this weak year.

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Review

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a 2011 action spy film directed by Brad Bird and starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg. It is such an improvement over its predecessors.

The reason why this fourth film works better than usual is because it does have at least some plot. The plot is not only present, but also often pretty interesting to follow. The various locations they visit are beautiful to watch and there are many really entertaining sequences here. It is undoubtedly very engaging and fun to watch.

But it still disappointed me as the second half and mostly the third act is very uninspired. Whereas the film was engaging before, it later on became pretty boring and typical. That was unfortunate because if it hadn’t run out of steam, it would have been a pretty good movie. But because of that, it ended up being just solid. But that is still much better than is expected for this franchise which is why the movie still satisfied me.

The character development is much improved in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Ethan Hunt continues to be boring, but at least we get some memorable supporting characters this time around. Brandt is pretty good and his backstory is interesting, Benji is quite likable and I really liked the female characters as well. But the film succeeds mostly because of the character interactions which are unexpectedly good for an action flick.

The acting is also quite solid. I liked Jeremy Renner quite a bit here even though he plays a typical Renner character. Tom Cruise is good as is Paula Patton, but Simon Pegg is likable and of course it is always nice to see Lea Seydoux who is such a good actress.

The Russian and the overall Slavic angle to the story annoyed me as it is so overdone by this point. But Ghost Protocol still has a solid plot and some scenes are very memorable. The highlights of course are the skyscraper action scene and everything afterwards is very good with the fights being well realized. And the first act also has quite good action. Yes, the action is very good here. The scenery is also pleasant as the film makes use of its settings wonderfully. The directing from Brad Bird is expectedly great, but this is still his worst movie in my opinion as most of his movies are either good or great with this one being just solid. But I still liked it and despite its weak third act, the film was surprisingly engaging to me and that I did not expect and I have to give kudos mostly to Brad Bird for that. It is of course infinitely better than ‘Mission: Impossible‘ and ‘Mission: Impossible II‘ and this is the only solid entry in the franchise along with the third film.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol does have a very disappointing third act and some annoying plot points, but it is still an immense improvement over its predecessors due to much more memorable and entertaining action, great visuals, better story and some fine character interactions leading to a solid action flick.

My Rating – 3.5

 

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Saturday Evening Puss (1950)

Saturday Evening PussSaturday Evening Puss

Saturday Evening Puss is a 1950 animated short that is the 48th Tom and Jerry cartoon. It is a traditional and very entertaining entry.

This short is very old-fashioned and typical for better and for worse. While the plot is typical, the ending is expected and that scene with Jerry’s body reacting to music is basically a rip-off of the similar scene in ‘Solid Serenade‘, the film is still so entertaining and typically funny and wonderfully fast paced that I liked it. I liked that approach as I haven’t seen such an approach from the series in a while.

The action is excellent. The humor is really good and Mammy is stupendously well used here and she can even be seen in one scene which is unexpected and memorable. Jerry is wonderful here and he’s very endearing, especially in that ending. Tom’s invitation for a party is great and that scene is so fun as is the entire film. And I loved that all of the other cats were present here and they were utilized quite well. This is one of the most entertaining entries in years.

Saturday Evening Puss is so old-fashioned for better and for worse, but it is incredibly entertaining and has many memorable moments.

My Rating – 4.2

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Dheepan (2015)

Dheepan

Dheepan Review

Dheepan is a 2015 crime drama film directed by Jacques Audiard and starring Antonythasan Jesuthasan and Kalieswari Srinivasan. It is such a well crafted movie that is the year’s finest foreign film.

It follows the three Tamil refugees who flee from their war-ravaged Sri Lanka and come to France to start over. This film works as a great, important drama. By showing you their coping and adapting to a new country, the film becomes really powerful and also quite emotional. I loved its realistic approach as well. It shows how France may be open to accepting refugees, but the society isn’t and that scene where the child is rejected in school by her classmates is the best one as it perfectly demonstrates that.

But I loved how the two adults try to adapt to living in France and to the new people they meet. The film wonderfully shows you all of that, but in subtle ways which I appreciated immensely. The film has such a great direction and script. However, there is one thing that bothered me and that is its crime aspect. The film is a drama in the first half, but becomes a crime flick in the third act. And I disliked its tendency to go into basically third person shooter action territory as everything that came before it was quite the opposite – smart and subdued. And that shift in tone that the film makes is most certainly jarring.

That is a flaw, but the reason why I still did not hate that aspect is because how well executed it was. It follows the action from the protagonist’s point of view with some superb camera movements and the action is so well executed with some really clever choices being made. I really liked those scenes and I really think that they were extremely well handled, but still not necessary for the overall story.

The characters are really well realized due to some strong characterization. Dheepan is really well depicted, but I felt Yalini to be the stronger and more memorable character. She is so likable in some scenes, but also unlikable in other ones. She is realistic and very well developed. The acting is absolutely terrific. Antonythasan Jesuthasan did such a good job in his role, but it is Kalieswari Srinivasan who is the highlight in a more difficult role. She did such a great job and gave one of the year’s finest female performances.

The humor in Dheepan is very good. Yes, the fact that this movie even has humor is unexpected, but it is a positive thing to me as it made the characters more real and more relatable and led to a better tone. The humor is so good and so observant (as is the entire movie) that I laughed many times and I found those scenes to be very charming as well. It truly does have such a great screenplay.

Dheepan is very well directed and the direction from Jacques Audiard is so good and professional that it just might be the film’s finest aspect. The entire film is incredibly well crafted. It is the kind of movie that is important because of its subject matter, but is admirably never slow or preachy or too crime-oriented which I loved. And the attention to detail is so great as the movie is wonderfully sophisticated and observant and looks at the scenario from different angles. The dialogue is also really good and the film has a big heart. It has some very emotional scenes, but it is also quite effervescent from time to time which I did not expect. And it is also quite well edited and paced. Dheepan is such a great movie that it is to me the finest foreign film of the year and it undoubtedly deserved its Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

Dheepan is such a great movie. The directing is so good here, the acting is superb and the characterization is terrific. Its third person shooter aspect near the end is definitely troublesome, but it is still very well executed. It is great as an observant and sophisticated drama that is also quite important and emotional to see. It is even charming at times with a surprisingly good humor. It is above all such a well crafted movie on all levels and without a doubt the year’s finest foreign film.

My Rating – 4.5

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Racing Extinction (2015)

Racing Extinction

Racing Extinction Review

Racing Extinction is a 2015 documentary film directed by Louie Psihoyos. It is such a powerful call for action and the year’s finest documentary feature.

It is about the ongoing Anthropogenic mass extinction of species and it follows the efforts of scientists to document it. I found the subject matter not only engaging, but also incredibly important. This is the kind of film that everyone should see at some point. As the film itself states – if more people are educated about this matter, more help would go to the endangered species and some could even be saved. I was always interested in this subject matter and I always found the human species to be incredibly selfish. We are the ones who are responsible for this massive die-off so naturally we are the ones who should also stop it.

Racing Extinction is a propaganda film and although sometimes the film is too angry and preachy, it is all done for a good cause meaning that it is a positive propaganda piece which I admire. The film is so sad and poignant, so dramatic and such a powerful call for action that it might be tough for some to watch. It was for me as it was tragic to behold, all the more tragic because it is real and it is happening right now and most people are either not aware of it or don’t care at all. However, the film ends on such a positive and optimistic note full of hope and light that I absolutely loved it.

Yes, the film is heartbreaking. This is one of the saddest films I’ve seen in years and the one that almost moved me to tears. My heart was truly broken watching this movie and some sequences were almost impossible for me to bear. Those heartbreaking scenes are also the highlights here. I am talking of course about the scene where they photograph the last members of certain species. The shot of the very last member of Rabb’s fringe-limbed treefrog just destroyed me. That was indescribably tragic and one of the saddest scenes I have ever witnessed. Also, the scenes of the fish struggling to swim and the bird’s hopeless call for a mate is tragic. But, on the happier note, the ending is another highlight. It is just so moving and so triumphant and hopeful that I adored it.

Racing Extinction is such a strong film technically. That ending is incredibly well shot and presented and even artistic in its own right. The score in this movie is beautiful to listen to and it lifted some of the more poignant scenes to greater heights. The directing from Louie Psihoyos is also terrific and he did a wonderful job with it. The pacing is also solid. The only problem I’ve had with it is its first act which is not as inspired or nearly as engaging as the rest of the picture which is very involving. It just takes a lot of time to get there, but when it does, it becomes great in almost every aspect.

I liked the interviews as well and some of the scientists again almost made me cry. They clearly do care and you can see the pain in their eyes. You can see how much they try to help and how much they want to raise awareness and that was wonderful to witness. The message in this movie is great and I like how it is smart and they know what is essential for this to stop. It is one of the most emotional documentaries I’ve seen, but the emotion is always real and never forced which is such a great accomplishment.

They say that to raise awareness and educate people about this issue is essential, but I would add that the film industry itself should be more responsible. The fact that this movie wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar is just so devastating to me because not only is it the most important film of the year, but is also the most technically brilliant one and overall the best documentary of 2015. They should be ashamed that they didn’t even consider nominating it. Having in mind that ‘Project Nim’ was also snubbed, it is evident that they are prejudiced against these issues when they should be the most important ones to honor.

Racing Extinction is heartbreaking. It almost made me cry. It is filled with such tragic scenes that are difficult to watch, but it also ends on such a positive note with that beautiful and moving ending. The film takes its time to get there, but it is so well made and directed, it is very engaging and the subject matter is such an important one meaning that everyone should see it at some point. It is such a shameful Oscar snub, it is one of the saddest films I’ve ever seen and it is without a doubt the year’s finest documentary.

My Rating – 4.5

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Creed (2015)

Creed

Creed Review

Creed is a 2015 sports drama film directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. It is such an overrated and clichéd movie.

It is the seventh installment in the franchise and it basically feels like that. We’ve seen this story countless times before and it was so boring and typical to watch. It was a chore to sit through. The plot is nothing new and although he lost in the end, that was still a rip-off of the original movie. It isn’t an homage because it basically repeats some scenes.

There were some positive things in here. The relationship between the two is fine and they have some heartwarming scenes together. However, the character of Adonis I found pretty boring and familiar and I never found him likable which was a big problem. The characters here are mostly uninspired and the development is weak.

The acting is fine. But I strongly disagree with the praise that Stallone’s performance received. He basically plays the same character he’s always played and although he did a good job, he is far from great. And his manner of speaking continues to irritate me. Michael B. Jordan is also rather forgettable in his role.

Ryan Coogler’s direction is weak. Creed is overlong with the running time being over two hours which is just too much for such a ridiculously clichéd screenplay. That is why I was bored from beginning to end and it was difficult to watch. The boxing scenes were boring and the whole third act is just frustrating to witness. The dialogue is okay, but should have been better. And the emotion I never felt to be honest. The whole film was forced which is expected for a seventh entry in a tired franchise. Creed is such a forgettable and standard picture that is definitely not bad, but is far from good either, not to mention far from great. That is why I found its critical praise baffling as the film is a giant cliché. And the screenplay does hint at some more interesting and smart points, but those are all underdeveloped and not explored properly and the film ended up being awfully boring and simple-minded.

Creed is such a boring and clichéd movie. It has its moments with the relationship between the two being heartwarming, but for the most part this is just a rip-off of the original movie with a tired and frustratingly familiar storyline, boring characters and an annoying third act. Such a forgettable and awfully dull movie.

My Rating – 3

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It’s a Mystery, Charlie Brown (1974)

It's a Mystery, Charlie BrownIt’s a Mystery, Charlie Brown Review

It’s a Mystery, Charlie Brown is a 1974 animated television special and the eleventh entry in the Peanuts series. It is problematic, but has its strengths.

Snoopy and Woodstock go on a hunt for the missing nest. The premise itself had potential, but it was executed weakly. The whole first half with the checking of the places is really boring as most of those places and kids in it do not do anything memorable and they react in a forgettable manner. And Charlie Brown is underused here as well as most of the kids are.

But Woodstock is quite endearing and Snoopy is very funny at times. Of course, that whole court scene is really fun and it plays on the strengths of Lucy and Snoopy really well. Sally is naturally one of the highlights here as most of the lines she says are hilarious. And although I disliked the ending as it ended on an abrupt note, the whole second half is quite good with its fair share of charming sequences. But overall, this special is disappointing unfortunately.

It’s a Mystery, Charlie Brown has a great use of Snoopy, Sally and Lucy, but it is still boring in its first half and doesn’t use its premise particularly well.

My Rating – 3.3

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