Blog Archives

Tracks (2014)

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In case you missed the news, I’ve started contributing to The Cinematic Katzenjammer, in addition to Gone With The Movies. Of course, The Cinema Monster will still remain my home. That being said, it’d mean the world to me if you could head on over to The CK and give my latest review (Tracks) a gander. And while you’re there, feel free to drop a like/comment, seeing as the site is also run through WordPress! So logging in and such won’t be a hassle. Just click the link below!

Tracks (2014)

If you did happen to miss the notice last week, you might have missed out on my review of “The Trip to Italy.” Don’t feel left out, it’s very easily rectified. Simply click on the link below and it’ll immediately direct you to the article!

The Trip to Italy (2014)

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The Last Days On Mars (2013)

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Ruairi Robinson’s “The Last Days On Mars” sure picked one hell of a time to unveil. With sci-fi stunners like “Europa Report” and Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar heavyweight “Gravity” already lighting up the screen so far this year, it appears this horrific space adventure is a tad too late to the party. That being said, although it certainly doesn’t measure up to its brethren’s immense successes, this little tale about a group of astronauts fighting off their colleagues turned space-zombies offers up a few moments of pure brilliance and one heck of a soundtrack. Make no mistake, this flick is only related to the previously mentioned gems by label only. Their content, premises, and aspirations are in no way alike. While all three are technically science-fiction, their sub-genres greatly differ. “Gravity” is more of a thriller, “Europa Report” a mix between mockumentary and drama, and our current subject “The Last Days On Mars,” is without question, a horror. So one must critique accordingly.

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Reading through some of the more harsh reviews out there, I noticed terms like “over-saturation” and “generic” getting tossed around, not to mention the opinion floating about that another perfectly sublime sci-fi epic was ruined by falling back to convention and common ploys. Then you have those claiming that “The Last Days On Mars” failed when compared to the genre’s efforts this year, and to their credit, they’re idiotically accurate. Of course it crumbles when lining it up alongside films like “Gravity,” the two aren’t even in the same league! All this criticism does is make it easy for those on the fence to get caught up in the negativity surrounding “The Last Days On Mars” and disparage it all together. When in actuality, it’s anything but your run-of-the-mill space horror. The acting is strong, the visuals breathtaking, and the soundtrack rivals those of past, great sci-fi epics. There is value here, one just needs to look beyond the mistakes.

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“The Last Days On Mars” is a lot like a plate of food you receive at a fancy banquet hall or that someone has ordered for you…instead of throwing it away, just pick around what you don’t like. Sure, you could be a baby about it and toss the whole meal out all together and miss out on something spectacular, or you can live a little and swallow the occasional bitterness just to say you had. This film, this plate, this smorgasbord of space, spectacle, sensation, and slaughter might be chaotic, inconceivable, and tired, but it’s also beautiful, stimulating, and rewarding. I can tell you in confidence that there is a hell of a lot things I genuinely loved about “The Last Days On Mars,” and yeah, a few that didn’t sit well with me. Yet, I’m not going to throw something away just because I don’t particularly like or agree with all of it, which is what a lot of viewers seem to be doing with this polarizing look at exploration and discovery.

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Director Ruairi Robinson makes his full-length feature debut with “The Last Days On  Mars,” and for the most part, it’s a reassuring, impressive one at that. He’s a little shaky from time to time, but doesn’t get too comfortable in his mistakes. At times, his quick movements and jumping around will nauseate you a tad, but other than a few questionable scenes, it’s a successful outing. There’s moments he captures of such beauty and atmosphere that they’ll leave you shaking your head in disbelief. If there is a weak spot in the film, it’s the screenplay. Scribed by Clive Dawson, the structure can seem nonexistent at times and the story a little worn out. That being said, there are some lines of dialogue that blew me away and moments of excellent substance that make up for any wrong doings.

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Max Richter, who’s probably best known for his musical contributions to Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” composes the original score for this flick…and what a score it is. I mean, What can I say? After I finished watching “The Last Days On Mars” I went and bought the soundtrack…that’s probably the best summary I can give. Go and give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed. As for the cast, led by Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, and Romola Garai, I felt they really grounded the film, gave it that human element is desperately needed. They frequently executed Dawson’s dialogue to heartbreaking effectiveness and melded into a dysfunctional, occasionally funny family on the edge of collapse and death in the middle of nowhere. Granted, things could have been a little stronger and consistent on the acting front, but for what they’re given, this cast does a respectable job.

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Look, this ain’t Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine,” Duncan Jones “Moon,” or Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity.” It has similar themes, motivations…you know, some fragments of those films, but not to the same extent, nor is it as thoroughly executed. Odds are if zombies in space isn’t a flavour you prefer, this film isn’t for you. That being said, its stunning visuals, transcendent score, and powerful characters make “The Last Days On Mars” a notch above the genre’s drivel, enough anyway to make it recommended viewing.

The Last Days On Mars: 7.5 out of 10.

 

TIFF 2013: Gravity (2013)

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Visually striking, unfathomably straining, and performed to near perfection. In space, no one may be able to hear you scream, but the Oscar buzz surrounding Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” travels infinitely and is completely deafening. It’s consistently destructive, awe-inspiring, and unbearably tense. The flick’s climactic nature makes for a non-stop thrill-ride that will leave you craving the solidarity and silence of the void, when or if you are able to survive. Undoubtedly, this will be the most physically and mentally draining 90 minutes you’ll ever spend in a cinema. If you’ve never felt the insignificance of your own life, you’ll surely feel microscopic against the staggering backdrop that is our universe. Cuaron’s visual effects and relentless action are tremendously enthralling, but are a mere bonus to “Gravity’s” true brilliance… Which is the inevitable, disconcerting truth that no matter how far we stretch from the bounds of Earth, we will never truly leave the atmosphere.

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PLOT:

Engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is on her first space shuttle mission. Accompanying her is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) who is on his final expedition. During a routine spacewalk to issue some repairs to the Hubble telescope, debris from a satellite collides with the space shuttle Explorer. The impact delivers catastrophic damage to the ship, kills the other astronauts on board the ship, and leaves Stone spinning alone in space. Now, with no means of communication to Earth, Kowalsky must retrieve Stone and the two must figure out a way to return to Earth.

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Listen, I’m a sucker when it comes to specific sub-genres, and none more so than sci-fi driven by actual science, space, and drama. Granted, there isn’t exactly a name for this particular tangent, but we all know the films that fall into the category. They are astonishing feats of cinema that reach out and connect with our humanity, leave us in awe of the universe and marvelling at our technological advances. Films such as Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine,” Duncan Jones’ “Moon,” and more recently Sebastian Cordero’s “Europa Report.” These films capture the very essence of science-fiction while never forgetting our benevolence, flaws, and irrelevance. The visuals are unprecedented and leave the audience winded. It’s nearly impossible to find a cinematic experience that rivals this strand’s immaculacy and for good reason. I can tell you with pure confidence that “Gravity” is the newest and possible best member of my favourite genre.

Now, you might think that my passion for this very precise sub-genre hampers my ability to distinguish the truly brilliant from the utterly lacking. When in actuality, it’s quite the contrary. If anything, my fascination has made me even more skeptical and critical of new entries. I respect the art too much to compromise it with childish crushes. So when I tell you that Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” is resplendent, heart-stopping, and impassioned…you better believe I am telling you the truth. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed on the big screen. Which is why I can deem it the best film I saw at TIFF 2013 without hesitation. And the argument could be made that I attended a majority of the screenings for Oscar favourites at the festival, such as “12 Years a Slave,” “The Fifth Estate,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “August: Osage County,” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” So it’s not like I’m comparing it to mediocrity. There’s no doubt in my mind that you will not see a better film than “Gravity” released so far this year. As for November and December releases, only time will tell, but I can’t see it being trumped.

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The film itself literally has no weaknesses. From the soundtrack, the story, its graphics and performances. “Gravity” is as completely and structurally sound as they come. Even more astonishing is the scientific, visual, and technological authenticity. And of course with astronaut Chris Hadfield on hand to verify the film’s successes at the screening, I rendered it pointless to argue. The story is not overly complex, but it is real and believable. Which is why I feel it is so effective and relatable. With “Gravity,” Cuaron definitely understands that less is more. Once you’ve settled in for the ride, there is no escaping. You might as well strap yourself into a spacesuit, buckle up, and prepare for the physically and mentally draining journey that is “Gravity.”

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From the get go, two things hit you, the music and the imagery. And there’s this beautiful dissonance between the two that you have to experience to believe. The original score shifts, swiftly I might add from a sweet, atmospheric hum to a terrifying, exploding, tense onslaught that wreaks havoc on your nerves. It’s similar to an ascending, ear-piercing rumble that, at a point becomes impossible to withstand. It is undeniably one of the most definitive, creative soundtracks I’ve ever heard. Alongside the score in this intoxicating concoction is Cuaron’s stunning, panoramic imagery that’ll leave you breathless and in disbelief. All I can say is that it’s sure to resonate with you long after the closing credits. Above all however, is the genuine interpretation of the space just outside our planet. All the beauty that the universe has to offer present in “Gravity” is no substitute for the authenticity on display here.

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As revolutionary, engaging, and stunning as Cuaron’s sci-fi thriller is, the fact of the matter is that “Gravity” would be totally lost without its two phenomenal stars. Leads George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are thoroughly outstanding and remind us all of their deep talent and why they are so revered in the first place. The truth is that it’s been a while since either have tastefully and fully wowed cinephiles, but no longer. Even more remarkable is what makes their performances so compelling and down-right impressive. It’s not merely the conventional dramatic element, although they do provide that abundantly. The duo’s physical maneuvers and delicate mannerisms in the vacuum is what really stupefies. It is immensely strenuous and difficult to make it look like your floating and working in space. Yet Clooney and Bullock pull it off with sheer immaculacy and make it look so easy. Their performances are just another facet  in “Gravity’s” long line of sublime accomplishments.

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As totally immersive of an experience that you’ll likely ever be apart of in a cinema. Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” is performed flawlessly, visually impeccable, and as a whole, matchless.

Gravity: 10 out of 10.

127 Hours (2010)

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An adrenaline high that pushes the boundaries of patience, mortality, and extremeness. “127 Hours” is a biographical-drama that is anything but easy to watch. Confined to a crack in a vast desert and the innermost thoughts and emotions of a doomed individual. “127 Hours,” without any doubt, is a severely draining experience. However, regardless of its morose and heartfelt tendencies, this expressionistic piece rewards just as often as it takes. As always, director Danny Boyle offers some immaculate, stunning, and at times stomach-churning visuals to accompany his flare for the dramatics. Delightfully atmospheric, airy, and elemental. Boyle’s  “127 Hours” is an entrancing piece that is arguably the illustrious director’s most complete and honest film to date. Provoking an array of colourful reactions and breathtakingly tingling to every sense,  “127 Hours” is a true masterpiece.

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Aron Ralston (Franco) prepares for a day of biking and hiking through Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. After biking for a while, Aron meets Kristi (Mara) and Megan (Tamblyn), two hikers who are apparently lost. The three stick together and end up doing a blind jump into an underground body of water. Soon after, Aron is invited to a party by Kristi and Megan, then parts from the girls. Continuing on his adventure alone, Aron soon finds himself stuck in a life-threatening situation with seemingly no escape.

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The build-up before the accident, let alone the nauseating climax is exhausting. While watching “127 Hours,” from start to finish, there is a constant fear of inevitability that tugs incessantly at the viewers reflexes and Boyle knows this and uses it as somewhat of a tiring agent. This effect works in brilliant contrast to the alarming, persisting melancholic visions, beautiful visuals, and paced self-brutality. Not to mention A. R Rahman’s outstanding score that ranges from deviously haunting, decidedly up-beat, and splendidly resplendent. Everything about Boyle’s “127 Hours” flourishes and acts as an intoxicant that poisons the viewers physical and mental bodies in the most exuberant, best way possible. It might be a bit too claustrophobic or detailed for some, to say the least. Yet, if you can power through, “127 Hours” is a rewarding cinematic experience.

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Just because “127 Hours” has a relatively small cast and bit parts, doesn’t mean that the roles and the actors who characterize them perform inadequately, actually it’s quite the contrary. “127 Hours” stars the impeccable James Franco, the exquisite Amber Tamblyn and the radiant Kate Mara. Tamblyn and Mara only appear on screen sparsely, however their affect on the film is monstrous. Exuding the energy and care-free lifestyle of young, ambitious sightseers, Mara and Tamblyn perform perfectly. I’d give the slight advantage to Mara, simply because I am smitten with her. As for James Franco,  who I feel should’ve won an Oscar for this role, is truly remarkable. Every minute of his performance is outstanding. Whether he is flipping through memories, gazing into the future, or dissecting his own body, Franco completely delivers.

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On a personal side-note, I saw this film for the first time at its premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival. Danny Boyle and the entire cast was in attendance, including Aaron Ralston. Upon hearing of his real-life struggles and memories regarding being stuck in the canyon, the film resonates so much more. Hearing Boyle and cast discuss filming and trials and tribulations that accompanied such a difficult shoot, I grew to appreciate “127 Hours” with an unparalleled depth.

Infallibly filmed and performed, “127 Hours” is immaculate in every sense of the word.

127 Hours: 9 out of 10.

Top 10 Zombie Flicks

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In all honesty, this Top 10 is long overdue. I should have posted this when I first started the website. Regardless, here it is!

I don’t think there is a film category I love more than the notoriously gory, excessively violent, and at times, down-right idiotic Zombie sub-genre. Show me someone who doesn’t yearn for rotting flesh so detailed you can almost smell the decomposition or over-the-top brutality conducted with a plethora of vicious weapons thrust into action by survivors fighting for their lives and I’ll show you a liar. Below, you’ll find a variety of films about the undead ranging from satirical romps, dramatic thrillers, brilliant homages, and so much more.

Remember, the films listed are my own personal favourites, not that of the movie-going public. So, try your best to differentiate preference from the general consensus. Nonetheless, hopefully you’ll find a lot of your own cult-favourites ranked and enjoy this week’s top 10!

 

Honourable Mention:

“The Horde” (2009, Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Rocher). The Horde is the header image in case anyone was wondering.

 

10: “Planet Terror” (2007, Robert Rodriguez).

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9: “Dawn of the Dead” (2004, Zack Snyder).

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8: “Zombieland” (2009, Ruben Fleischer).

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7: “Dead Alive” (A.K.A “Braindead” 1992, Peter Jackson).

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6: “Zombie” (1979, Lucio Fulci).

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5: “28 Weeks Later” (2007, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo).

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4: “Dawn of the Dead” (1978, George A. Romero).

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3: “Shaun of the Dead” (2004. Edgar Wright).

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2: “Night of the Living Dead” (1968, George A. Romero).

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1: “28 Days Later” (2002, Danny Boyle).

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Alright guys, that’ll do it for this week’s edition of the top 10. Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did organizing it. Please comment below if you think I’ve overlooked a film or if you feel a film made the list that shouldn’t have. Have a great weekend!.

Top 10 Films That Give Me Goosebumps

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Now, before you jump to any conclusions about this week’s top 10, just bear with me for a minute. When I mention “goosebumps,” I mean these specific films listed provoke a profound reaction of euphoria, nostalgia, and wonderment in me, essentially any strong emotion. These feelings can be caused by breathtaking imagery, an ambient, sedating soundtrack, haunting dialogue, or simply a magnificent performance. I know this top 10 is rather personal and abstract, seeing as any film can evoke any reaction depending on the individual. I just think its time I put more of myself into these weekly posts. While the other editions of the top 10 segment are sorted and ranked by me and me alone, I do take other factors into account before concluding and publishing. You might think that this top 10 contains a lot of my all- time favourite films. Although it is a good indicator of what I look for and enjoy in a film, you’d be surprised at how many are actually considered to be some of my preferred films…but I digress…let’s just get into it!

For each film listed I’ll provide a brief clip for you all to check out. If you like what you see, I highly recommend all films listed, so give them a watch and be sure to let me know what you think!

Honourable Mention:

“The Trip” (2010) Michael Winterbottom.

 

10: “Melancholia” (2010) Lars Von Trier.

 

9: “Another Earth” (2011) Mike Cahill

 

8: “To the Wonder” (2012) Terrence Malick.

 

7: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004) Michael Gondry.

 

6: Into the Wild (2007) Sean Penn.

 

5: “The Tree of Life” (2012) Terrence Malick.

 

4: “127 Hours” (2011) Danny Boyle.

 

3: “Take Shelter” (2011) Jeff Nichols.

 

2: “Moon” (2009) Duncan Jones.

 

1: “Sunshine” (2007) Danny Boyle.

 

Okay all, that’ll do it for this week’s top 10, hope you all enjoyed it! If you have any comments or questions about the top 10 or any of the films listed, don’t hesitate to ask. Everyone have a great weekend!

Millions (2004)

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Astoundingly, Danny Boyle, director of such dark, diabolical films. Followed up his twisted efforts in Trainspotting and 28 Days Later with the heartwarming and innocent, Millions. Running rampant through the imaginative minds of two brothers who’ve obtained the ability to achieve all of their wildest fantasies. Millions is a journey through the magical purity and uncontaminated processes of virtuous youth. In typical Boyle fashion, their is no shortage of stylish camerawork, ethical behaviour, unprecedented wonderment, and disproportionate beauty. However, perhaps the most rewarding part of Millions is witnessing Boyle out of his natural element. Now, as he trots in uncharted territory, Boyle is able to flaunt never before seen facets of his craft that are unable to fuse with his more morose outings. Featuring James Nesbitt, Alex Etel, and Lewis McGibbon. Millions is an unmatched chapter into a genre that is lacking the awe and originality needed to inspire future generations.

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Damian (Etel), his brother Anthony (McGibbon), and their father Ronnie (Nesbitt) move to a new house. Since the recent passing of their mother, the brothers have vastly changed their personalities. Anthony is fixated with money, how much things cost, and the impending currency change from British pounds to the Euro. Damian is not bothered with these trivial things and finds himself obsessed with completing good deeds and acquiring sainthood. Damian rounds up all the empty boxes left after moving and builds a fort near the train tracks in his backyard. One day, a train comes zooming by and a bag filled with money smashes into his fort. As Damian and Anthony struggle over what to do with the money, there is another who covets the bag and is willing to do anything to retrieve it.

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Bringing to life what most on this planet have wished for at least once at some point in their existence is no easy undertaking. But for someone as accomplished and respected as Boyle, there is no second guessing Millions. Their is no denying that greed and sadness are prominent throughout the film. Focusing on such fragile themes with young, prepubescent protagonists carrying a majority of their weight is risky. Baring them with these burdens needs balancing and Boyle, with the assistance of Frank Cottrell Boyce in composing the script, infuse it with laughs, love, and generosity to refine any irregularities.

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Like a bug inside your brain, Millions is never to far from your thoughts.The viewer is slowly immersed in the fictitious situation at hand and left answering countless questions regarding their own morality. Millions allows the viewer to decipher the circumstances and enhance their conscious. Which ultimately lets the audience unleash their most exposed, vulnerable selves and make uninfluenced decisions.

Boyle continues his descent into ousting greed from our minds by bringing a unique offering to the forefront that includes the downfall of the pound and a daring train robbery. Trainspotting was heavily based upon the ugly side of greed and managed to show the dark depths one is willing to go to satisfy their needs.Make no mistake, Boyle’s persistence doesn’t weigh down his skill set. His atmospheric prowess, striking visuals, and ability to find the heart in the abstract is pleasingly present at every moment in Millions. Performance wise, one wouldn’t expect two leads of such a young age to convey portrayals as strong as they did. Etel and McGibbon could pass as brothers in any situation. Nesbitt is relentless in his bereaved role, as any parent would be. Desperately trying to find solace in his children and subtle relationships, Nesbitt is terrified and masks it well.

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Decidedly endearing and surprisingly philosophical, Millions is a Boyle film that should appease all cinephiles of any age.

Millions: 8 out of 10.

Top 10 Films of 2013 Predicted

To make the directive of this list clear. The films contained are what myself and cinema2033 believe to be the best hopes for cinema in 2013. Again, these are our preferential films, not that of the general viewing public. We are simply predicting what we think will be our favourite or preferred films of the year. We will be creating a separate list with what we believe to be the most anticipated films of 2013. That list will be our perceived notions from discussing and judging the amount of publicity, budget, and overall excitement of the general public. Without further delay, Enjoy another chapter of our top 10 series.

Let’s begin this list with the honourable mentions. Stoker, A Single Shot, The Look of Love, American Hustle, Don Jon, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, The Fifth Estate, Out of the Furnace, Kill Your Darlings, and Before Midnight. We would also like to insert Terrence Malick’s 2013 film, even though its cast, story, and release date are kind of up in the air at the moment.

10: Inside Llewyn Davis. Directed and written by the Coen brothers and starring Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, and John Goodman. Inside Llewyn Davis is sure to be another Coen brother smash.

9: Mud. Written and Directed by Jeff Nichols, the mind behind Shotgun Stories and the hauntingly epic Take Shelter. Mud stars Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and Michael Shannon.

8: Trance. The new film from the brilliant Danny Boyle. Trance is a mind-bending thrill ride featuring outstanding performances from James McAvoy and Vincent Cassel.

7: The Counselor. Based on Cormac McCarthy’s incredible novel and helmed by none other than Ridley Scott. With its outstanding cast that features Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, and Javier Bardem. The Counselor is ripe with genius and ready for viewing.

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6: The Place Beyond the Pines. Directed by Derek Cianfrance and starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Rose Byrne, and Ben Mendelsohn. The Place Beyond the Pines is an intricate gem.

5: The Way, Way Back. What seems to be an endearing coming of age romantic comedy. The Way, Way Back looks to have another outstanding performance from Sam Rockwell and an unusual role for Steve Carrell.

4: Nymphomaniac. Directed by the creative and controversial Lars von Trier. Nymphomaniac appears to be a fresh take on sexual addiction with Shia LaBeouf, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Stellan Skarsgard leading the way.

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3: The Wolf of Wall Street. Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, need I say more?

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2: Only God Forgives. The Duo of Gosling and Refn appear to be stealing the spotlight from Scorsese and DiCaprio, and rightfully so. This follow up to their 2011 hit Drive is one of the most anticipated releases of 2013.

1: Twelve Years a Slave. Steve McQueen, director of Hunger and Shame, teams up once again with Michael Fassbender for this mid-1800 slavery epic. Also starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, and Scoot McNairy. Twelve Years a Slave has all the key facets to take top spot as our best film of 2013 predicted.

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If you think we overlooked a film or made a grave error on our list, please comment below. Also, if you have recommendations for future top 10’s, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Trance (2013)

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With every release, it appears that Danny Boyle improves upon his unequaled style, superlative storytelling, and multifaceted brutality. Trance is no exception. Composing a profound, resplendent core comprised of obsession, violence, love, and loss. Boyle constructs an intelligent thriller that has the heart and flare to match. The persistent twists and unforeseen turns will prove to be too daunting for some to handle, let alone comprehend. However, if this intimidating, obscure brilliance circumvents your ability to understand, appreciate, and savour Trance. It is probably a safe bet that you’re not a fan of Boyle’s to begin with. Starring the marvellous James McAvoy and the phenomenal Vincent Cassel. Along with an unprecedented performance from Rosario Dawson. Trance’s labyrinthine plot is coordinated with a competent and talented cast. With its seductive soundtrack, hypnotic atmosphere, and unrelenting brutality. Trance is another unmeasurable chapter inducted into the renowned collection of Boyle pictures.

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Simon (McAvoy) is an art auctioneer who, in a desperate attempt to secure a valuable piece during a heist, is hit hard in the head. When he wakes, he is greeted by the group of thieves who tried to steal the painting. The leader of the gang, Franck (Cassel), begins to question Simon while his thugs torture him. Upon learning he has sustained memory loss when he was knocked unconscious, they persuade Simon to attend a hypnotherapist. The one Simon has chosen is named Elizabeth (Dawson).  When the limits of her abilities to detect the location of the lost painting are questioned, the circumstances begin to change. Crossing the line between fantasy and reality, Simon becomes entangled in a life threatening situation.

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A lot like strange dream sequences, the seemingly out of place, yet oddly entertaining shifting and abruptness of Trance induces a euphoria of inconsistencies that surprisingly, interleave themselves quite effectively. Resembling that of a hallucinogenic transcendence. The complexity and strangeness of Trance’s shared sedated state might look dysfunctional, but it is never misplaced. The connected minds weaving in and out of consciousness and hypnosis hooks into the viewers natural, almost instinctive presumptuous mind and pulls it along until what looked plausible is torn down to the improbable. A haunting beauty really. There is a distinctive link between Trance and the viewers mind. As we try to dissect and distinguish what is happening in front of us, again instinctively, we are simultaneously fearful of it because it is unknown. These are major plot points throughout Trance that, to an extent, mirror the viewers struggle. Rarely do we see a film that not only sucks the viewer in, but also attaches itself to the thought process.

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One of the more respectable traits in Boyle’s approach and direction is his unsurpassed style that bursts forth from the screen. Every so often in Trance, a scene unveils itself from the cluster of emotion and abstraction that the viewer can’t help but fixate on. These sequences contain some sort of ambient, cosmic musical composition swiftly encompassing all senses while an accurate depiction of a harmonious or chaotic event causes the viewer to question the reality of it all. Throughout all of Boyle’s works, there is no shortage of occurrences similar to those radiating from Trance.

Another fine aspect fused into Trance is its very elemental and personal motives. Rather than making a film directly focused on abstract notions and deranged visuals. The blueprint for Trance’s foundation is not flimsy. Most science fiction or fantasy thrillers focus too much attention on the hypothetical and not the philosophical. Trance has equal heart and brains, neither is superior to the other.

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I hate to go into a film with assumptions. But with Trance’s cast, it’s difficult not to expect concrete performances. However, a cast with this much experience and strength, its almost a foregone conclusion they’ll deliver. Beginning with James McAvoy, lets assess the three leads. It’s quite the seldom spectacle to see an actor with such a diversified repertoire, which McAvoy possesses. He did not hold back anything for Trance. Funny, enraged, melancholic, and diabolical, McAvoy left everything on the table. Following in similar fashion is Vincent Cassel, who snakes his way around the viewers opinionated mind. You can never quite get a read on him, which makes it all the more effective. Finally, the broad and brave Rosario Dawson. Leaving all components of her brilliance exasperated, literally, Dawson is only upstaged by the boundless performance from McAvoy.

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For the record, without a doubt, Trance has one of the best original scores of 2013 to date. I can already tell from acquaintances opinions and reviews that Trance is misunderstood and unappreciated in its own time. If you can, separate yourself from anything regarding Trance (except my review obviously, because my opinions are awesome) and just watch it and judge for yourself.

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Intelligent, grounded, and utterly violent. Trance is a must see for Boyle fans and cinema enthusiasts alike.

Trance: 8.5 out of 10.

Sunshine (2007)

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Following in the tradition like other science-fiction defining films such as: Solaris (1972), 2001:A Space Odyssey (1968), and Moon (2009). Sunshine uses the complexity of physics and the elegance of the cosmos to create one of the most complete genre films to date. With a star studded cast featuring Cillian Murphy (Inception), Rose Byrne (Insidious), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger), and Mark Strong (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Sunshine is not only visually stimulating but is also incredibly acted. Directed by Danny Boyle, a current all star behind the camera, Sunshine is both hypnotic and eye opening. Don’t spend too much time on the science of it all, regardless of its authenticity, it is after all, science fiction and a film.

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In the not too distant future, a group of astronauts and physicists are assembled to pilot a mission to the Sun. The reason for the voyage is to restart our dying star. Previously, a similar mission was sent to reignite the Sun, however communication was lost and the ship and its inhabitants were never heard from again. The package the crew is sent to deliver is a stellar bomb which should theoretically restart the Sun. On their journey to our dying star, the crew receives strange signals and encounters severe setbacks and tribulations.

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Whether it’s the slow transit of Mercury or the approaching, immense Sun, the music used to accompany these visuals makes the film. With John Murphy lending his contribution in completing the score with the bands Underworld and I Am Kloot, Sunshine would not be complete without its hauntingly epic compositions. All the while Boyle is using simplicity and awe inspiring moments such as never before seen celestial imagery and our closest encounters with the solar system to stir the audiences imagination. Sunshine literally and figuratively goes places we only dream about and accomplishes its journey with flare and style. Leading the way for the cast is Murphy who’s portrayal of a torn physicist admiring the universe, essentially living his dream while it’s marred by the circumstance is astonishing. Byrne is marvellous as she is constantly contradicting her characters moral and emotional sides. Evans and the rest of the crew follow Murphy’s dynamic suit into the abyss, while Strong is outstanding as an insane rogue astronaut. Sunshine is somewhat of a looking glass into the Earth’s inevitable demise and how humanity must come together to delay the apocalypse.

Sunshine: 9 out of 10.