Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Analysis of Anton Chigurh

Javier Bardem
If there is one singular fact about the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men regarding the praise that I give it, it is this: I haven't always liked No Country for Old Men, but I have always enjoyed Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Weeks after the Academy Awards, I saw the film at a second-run venue with terrible seats waiting for the film to impress me. Much like two different parties who were moaning as they shared their opinion moments after Tommy Lee Jones woke up, I was left sort of baffled by the praise. At the time, I perceived it as an underwhelming film. That is, in every category except one: Chigurh and his cattle gun.

Analysis of Walter Sobchak

Warning! Major Spoilers Ahead.

His morals are very black and white and he won’t settle for anything that he thinks is wrong. The bad guys want money from Jeffrey Lebowski and The Dude goes to do the tradeoff but Walter won’t let it happen, he has to give them a ringer, he doesn’t care that this has nothing to do with him; he has to do what is right. He doesn’t want an urn for his friend’s ashes because he plans to scatter them so when the funeral home forces him to buy one he gets very angry and ends up putting his friend in a big coffee can. And then of course when he Donny, and The Dude are getting mugged he refuses to give anything “What’s mine is mine”, and then proceeds to humiliate the muggers by kicking their asses. Sure if he had just let the muggers take their pocket money they would have come out on top because no matter how much money they had it still wouldn’t be enough to make up for the loss of Donny’s life, but for Walter it is more possible for him to flap his arms and fly than it is to give what is rightfully his.

The Coens Best Characters

With “Inside Llewyn Davis” hitting theaters soon and a TV show based on “Fargo” coming next year we thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the Coen brothers and their characters. All of them are pretty colorful and can have doctoral dissertations written about them but we chose to take one of our favorite characters and write a piece on them.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to Succeed Post Potter Without Really Trying.

In the interest of the future of cinema it is important to be able to spot the talent that will make up the next generation of the industry. More often than not actors will not grow up to be as famous as they were as a kid, with good examples including Haley Joel Osment, and Macaulay Culkin, but occasionally as is the case with Jodie Foster, one will make it through to being a great adult talent.

Years ago when “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone” came out, I am sure that nobody suspected that the 11 year old boy playing Harry would go on to be a star of Broadway, performing in Tony Award winning revival plays such as “Equus” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”. Daniel Radcliffe was nominated for a Drama Desk award for his performance in “Equus”. His performances in the early Potter films didn’t promise this much talent and yet the films continued to be made around him.

Emma Watson Proves That There is a Life After Harry Potter

Emma Watson in The Bling Ring
I will admit that in the grand scheme of the world involving Harry Potter, I will always admire the books over the movies. It isn't some anal code in which literature trumps cinema, just that the films seemed a bit too streamlined to be more than good. Still, if the Harry Potter films had any success, it is the amazing longevity that most of the actors had. 12 years ago, director Christopher Columbus changed the world by teaming up with prepubescent performers who didn't have more than a few minimal credits to their name. When compared to most child actors, the fact that a near perfect record stands not only for those who made it to the final film, but also live somewhat decent lives, despite being among the highest paid performers in the world and forever icons in a franchise grossing $1.15 billion (with a "B"). Still, how do you follow up the phenomenon without being typecasted? Among the main players, I feel like Emma Watson is doing it right.

Intro: Who Has Had the Best Life After Harry Potter?

Left to right: Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe
Hey everybody! It's Thomas.

With the recent news that J.K. Rowling is planning on expanding the Harry Potter universe by adapting the least adaptable book in her catalog: "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." Yes, while the story doesn't focus around the boy who lived or his friends necessarily, the story will follow an adventurer as he discovers the creatures in the glossary. While we both agree that the film needs to impress us before we place judgement, it got us thinking about another form of argument: who has the better career from the Harry Potter central cast?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness Is the Best Movie of the Summer.

I enjoy an independent drama with deep thought provoking character stories, no special effects and budgets as small as my bank account as much as the next guy, but in my book, a good explosive action science fiction extravaganza with hundred million dollar budgets, and young heartthrobs in the leading roles has an advantage that no quiet drama can match up to. That is not to say that any blockbuster is immediately better than any drama, quite the opposite. More often than not the dramas and indie comedies are the ones that turn out better because they rely on quality to make their money back. When a good sci-fi epic comes along though, I myself feel excited and alive. I tend to come off as biased with my taste but I think it’s only natural considering human nature. There is something primaly exciting about watching explosions and lasers and aliens, after all when kids play with each other they don’t play as the struggling writer who is going through a divorce, they play as the Jedi or the cowboy.

"Fruitvale Station" was the Best Movie of the Summer

Michael B. Jordan
When I look back at the summer movie season, my initial reaction is disappointment. I may be somewhat of a snob when it comes to what I find entertaining, but I try not to be crass when it comes to the summer line-up. Last year saw great blockbusters like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Even in terms of smaller titles, there were ambitious titles like Moonrise Kingdom and Oslo, August 31. Save for Monsters University, The East and The Bling Ring, there wasn’t anything that struck me as above mediocre between June and July. Even the films I wanted to see, including V/H/S 2 and This Is the End were good, but not without caveats.

Intro: A Look Back at the Summer Season

Artwork from Beach Blanket Bingo
Hey everybody! Thomas here to thank everyone for making my piece in our Marvel vs. D.C. debate the winner. As a consolation for winning, I am in charge of presenting what we have next up. As we enter September and look at some high scale films, it would almost be too easy to forget about the past few weeks. In fact, we're not having a contest this time around, but instead looking at two different sides of the summer movie season.

Friday, July 26, 2013

DC Makes the Best Superhero Movies

I don’t really read comic books. They don’t appeal to me that much and most of the few that I have read are of the French “Asterix et Obelix” issues. But I have seen quite a few movies based on comic books and even though I don’t feel like I know the universes just because I have seen a few films, I definitely recognize how rich and artful the stories can be. The DC cinematic universe Is quite Versatile; most of the films might be superhero films but there are many films that are more dramatic in nature and show the true potential of comic book storytelling. Films like “V for Vendetta” “Constantine” “Road to Perdition” “A History of Violence” in my opinion show a great potential for expansion in their universe.

Marvel Makes the Best Superhero Movies

Photo courtesy of FrontArmy
There is little debate that superhero movies are here to stay. Even more-so is the fact that Marvel is most likely to be the biggest reason. Just look at the box office receipts. The Avengers made $1.5 billion internationally and this year’s Iron Man 3 was no chump either with $1.2 billion. The studio is a behemoth in terms of capital gain. There is no end in sight and if last weekend’s Comic Con proves anything, it is that everyone wants a piece of the pie. This is a cultural milestone that has never been seen before. Why is that? Risks.

Marvel Vs DC

Our Star Wars contest might have been slow but I did manage to win more votes so that makes me the winner of the very first contest here on Films with Friends. So now that that is over, we have for you round 2 of the interactive articles.

Comic Con has made some very interesting announcements. Not only has “The Avengers 2” officially been given a title “The Age of Ultron” but the next Superman movie has confirmed that Batman will be in it. Although to casual viewers all this means nothing, to people who follow movie news these are both very important stories. It does seem silly that people go crazy over a title but I liken it to the stock market, the smallest decision a business can make can affect the stock. Here at Films With Friends it has us thinking; If The Avengers 2 and the Superman, Batman crossover are announced around the same time what will this mean for the two rival enterprises? And also, overall who makes the better movies? Does Marvel beat out DC because of how well the movies can co exist? Does DC beat out Marvel Just because of Christopher Nolan?

 Well there really is no right answer because that would be comparing two very different tings believe it or not. First of all how would we compare them? Would we take the best movie from each side and whoever wins takes the trophy? Should we measure total box office and give the win to the highest moneymaker? It’s almost like asking which one of the characters would win in a fight, something that always stirs up the nerd community.

Well we are going to let you the readers decide again. Both of us wrote an article about the two sides of the coin. I made the case that DC was better and Tom made the case that Marvel is better. So read up and vote. Here is the case for DC and here is the case for Marvel

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How "Star Wars VII" Should Go. Tom's Version

Before I dive too far into my introductory post, I would like to share where I stand on Star Wars in general. Prior to the news that J.J. Abrams was attached to direct, the series has had a lukewarm feel for me. While I accept that it was technically impressive for its time, I am not entirely sure if the hype justifies the product. I have been to a local Comic Con and have been chased by remote controlled R2D2’s. I’ve seen the cosplay and know the culture. Still, my bigger issue just lies in the depth of the series.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How "Star Wars VII" Should Go. Mike's Version

I have never been to a convention; I have never dressed like a storm trooper on Halloween, I have not read any of the books of the expanded universe and yet I still maintain that I am a huge fan of Star Wars. The reason why I am a big fan might explain why I don’t participate in any of the nerdy activities that lesser fans than me partake in.

A Friendly Welcome to Films with Friends

Hello and welcome to Friends with Films. As you are well aware by Mike’s introduction, this is a blog dedicated to collaboration of people and discussion of movies. My name is Thomas and I have grown up for most of my life in California and ever since high school, I have been labeled as “the movie guy” among my friends. Don’t believe me? Just check out my yearbook and cancelled MySpace account for further evidence. 

While movies have always been a central part of my life, it wasn’t until around 2007 when I began understanding why that was. I started going to more movies, notably Judd Apatow shtick like Knocked Up. The following year, I started a pop culture blog called Optigrab and began taking college courses on movies and found a new appreciation for wider variety of genres. In 2012, I started The Oscar Buzz as a love letter to the only movie awards show that matters. Upon writing a negative review of Cloud Atlas, I met Mike and our collaboration has been building since.

We may not always see eye to eye, but it is just great to chat with someone about the current happenings. If I had to describe how I approach movies, it comes down to characters. They need to be interesting or else the story doesn’t work for me. Sometimes this means more independent movies with avant garde techniques. I tend to prefer comedies, but I am mostly obsessed with finding contemporary films that speak to the time period as well as create an entertaining product.

Some of my favorite directors are: the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, David Fincher, Derek Cianfrance, Jason Reitman, Danny Boyle, and James Whale. 

Some of my favorite films include: Blue Valentine, Frankenstein, West Side Story, Annie Hall, The King of Comedy, Steamboat Bill, Jr., The Master, Adventureland, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, HarveyWaiting for Guffman, Holy Motors, March of the Penguins, Up in the Air, The Social Network, 127 Hours, and Duck Soup.

Other quick opinions: 
  • I consider Casey Affleck’s I’m Still Here to be an underrated gem in the study of celebrity culture. 
  • My favorite performers are Ellen Page and Ryan Gosling, though I think Jack Nicholson is one of the best overall. 
  • I have a penchant for indulging every adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy from book to film to comic book. I guess that I have a thing for Lisbeth Salander.
  • The quickest way to my heart is through a well-shot single take. 
  • I consider 50/50 to be the Terms of Endearment of our generation, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was robbed an Oscar nomination. 
  • Ludovic Bource's score for The Artist is my favorite score from the past five years.
  • I prefer For a Few Dollars More to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, even if Eli Wallach has the best performance overall.

I guess what can be taken away from all of this is that I watch cinema for entertainment as well as hopefully something more. I like films that transcend time. I know that what I wrote may come off as a little snooty, but I try to be open-minded and most of all enjoy cinema as an art form. I haven’t quite broken some biases, but when I see a good movie, I want to talk about it. That is what I hope to do during my tenure here. Hope that you have enjoyed my ramblings and I look forward to writing more and hopefully hearing more from you.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Welcome to Films with Friends

Hello friends. Welcome to the new blog all about collaboration. This is the launch of what we hope to be a successful and beneficial project to everyone who is involved, from the authors to the readers. The goal of this blog is simple: To bring lovers of cinema together and share their opinions about everything and anything movies. We don’t know ourselves what this will turn out to be but we know that we will have fun doing it.

There are two of us in this team. I am Mike, creator and author for the blog “Mike’s Reviews”. I am American born but I grew up in Greece and now I am a 21 year old, I live in California and am studying cinema in college. My motto is “Entertainment over Quality” and I mean it. My taste in films is complicated but some of my favorite movies include “Pulp Fiction”, “The Godfather”, and “Star Wars”, while my favorite directors include Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese.
Yours Truely

Thomas is the other half of the team. He should introduce himself in his own post but, me and he met through our blogs and our style clicked so we decided to work together.

Our first order of business is to begin with a friendly contest between me and Thomas. We decided it would be interesting to see who could come up with the best idea for the new “Star Wars” installment. After Thomas introduces himself, we will both post our versions of what it should be like and at the end you will get a chance to vote on which one you think is better.

Thank you for reading and welcome to “Films with Friends”.