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American Hustle (2013)

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It’s been quite a while since a film’s come along and moseyed its way on in to the lore of cinema. You know, the type of film you can watch over and over again…that plays on TV every other weekend. A film you’ve seen so many times over you can catch it midway, watch till the end, and still enjoy each and every part. A movie that plays in the background of gatherings, parties, or while you’re performing other tasks without taking away from these other primary distractions. These are the flicks we quote day in, day out to no end. Now, these pictures may not always the best of what cinema has to offer, they might not have even garnered many awards or much critical acclaim, but still we love them more than most things we’d care to admit.

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On the other hand however, these timeless movies do pertain to our greatest cinematic achievements and have been acknowledged as such by critics and cinephiles. And of course the odd award or two has been bestowed upon them. Nonetheless, what’s so special, enduring about these films is that they’re so appealing and appeasing. They’re fun, entertaining, and most importantly, they never seem to get old. “American Hustle” fits somewhere in this criteria, I’m just not quite sure where exactly. It’ll win its fair share of accolades come award season 2014, it’s endlessly entertaining, and full of quote-able dialogue. Wherever it finds itself, expect this flick to be on television in the near future and in your hearts after the initial viewing.

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Directed by the aforementioned David O. Russell, “American Hustle,” is the much anticipated follow-up to his Best Picture nominee “Silver Linings Playbook.” Glamorizing the lives of a couple of con-artists and corrupt politicians until they are dealt a harsh reality check by a power-hungry detective. I think it’s safe to say O. Russell went in a completely new direction with this one. Using a magnificent soundtrack, the trademark styles and imagery of the late 70s and early 80s, and extremely potent, masterful performances from his entire ensemble to conjure up a mafioso-like thriller with moments of overwhelming drama and an array of diverse comedy. O. Russell has truly created a unique cinematic experience with “American Hustle.” Although, it is one that feels vaguely familiar, even Scorsese-esque. Yet, it remains so original and genuine that Marty himself would be proud.

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There is so much that makes O. Russell’s “American Hustle” this instant classic, a modern masterpiece. The first thing to hit you is this obscure, dated, penetrative humour executed flawlessly by the film’s cast. Speaking of which, has an undeniable, limitless chemistry that bursts forth from the screen and roots in their bones. It’s this bizarre, surprising nature that spawns so many instances in which you’ll find yourself asking, was that just said? Did that just happen? It’s content and characters are fresh and honest, the “what you see is what you get” type that refrains from being bland and predictable. O. Russell’s camerawork is the most stellar I’ve seen in recent memory, reminiscent of the aforementioned Scorsese, albeit younger. It’s a concoction of all these facets mixed with impeccable timing, immense, boundless talent, and extraordinary vision by all involved that makes “American Hustle” shine so bright.

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Fine, you got me, it’s not all sunshine and roses. The story definitely takes a bit of a backseat to the characters, which isn’t necessarily a big deal. That being said, with “American Hustle,” the stakes don’t ever appear or feel as high as they actually are, or at least should be. I mean, I never really feared that the lifestyle or the lives of those who’ve been chosen to lead us through this picture were ever compromised. They just never seemed to be in as much danger or trouble as they should have been, if that makes any sense? It’s plot is as captivating, enthralling as can be and the characters are some of the most well-written and developed of the year. The end however, the last thirty minutes give or take, is a tad anticlimactic. That being said, the fact that the film’s ensemble and spectacular, utter enchantment can overcome this slight blemish should speak to its almost fully realized immaculacy.

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The cast, the ensemble, that’s all I keep blabbering on about. I supposed it’d make sense to inform you of who comprises this plethora of talent and achievements. Returning are O. Russell vets Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence, with new faces Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner rounding out the unit. Now, I could go on and on about the superlativeness of each and every member and how it wouldn’t surprise me at all if each individual got a nomination come award season, but I’m a realist. If I had to stake my life, I’d say Christian Bale is the front-runner to take home some hardware. The rest, I feel are too up in the air. There’s been a surplus of solid flicks with tremendous portrayal this year, so it’ll be tough to break through. Cooper, Adams, and Lawrence bring their predictable flair and still manage to stun. Renner is the only one who comes close to rivalling Bale’s brilliance and already his outstanding performance is being overlooked. Oddly enough however, is that funny man Louis C. K somehow steals every scene he’s in. Figure that one out and let me know.

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Hilarious, intoxicating, and bloody brilliant, “American Hustle” is, without question, one of the best films of the year.

American Hustle: 9.5 out of 10.

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The Guest List: Mr. Rumsey’s Film Related Musings

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Well, it might be only the third edition of The Guest List, but I think it’s already a huge success. It’s accomplished exactly what I had hope, introduced fellow film lovers to one another, spurred on some debate, and definitely stirred the pot. And I can already tell that this week’s edition featuring James from Mr. Rumsey’s Film Related Musings is only going to improve upon the segment. If you don’t know who James is or haven’t already followed/subscribed to his website, I highly recommend you do so right now. You’ll find some solid reviews, terrific articles, and a lovely segment entitled “Who’s That?” when you head on over. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Now, I have to get some administrative stuff out of the way. For those of you who have signed up for The Guest List segment, could you please post a comment below on when I can be expecting your article. I am very organized about my posting and would love to get a schedule going with this segment.

If you’d like to submit your very own top 10 to The Guest List, here’s how to do it! First, shoot me an e mail (thecinemamonster@gmail.com) with your name, website info (if you have one), and the topic you have chosen for your top 10. If I like what I see, I’ll give you the all clear and you can begin composing your entry. Make sure to include a descriptive, yet brief introduction and a picture or clip for every entry in your top 10. Use my own top 10s as references. Then, send it back to me and we will discuss a date of publish.

Also guys, please if you haven’t already, check out my TIFF 2013 reviews. I wouldn’t usually beg like this, but I worked extremely hard on them. It is totally worth your while, there are a bunch of films reviewed that haven’t even be released yet with plenty more write-ups to come. So head on over to a review or two by clicking on the picture under the sidebar entitled TIFF 2013.

Okay, now that the boring stuff is all taken care of, I am going to turn things over to James, enjoy!

Top 10 Films of the 2000s: by James

Thanks Joseph for allowing me to spread my opinions out across your blog here! This is my pick of the top ten films of the last decade. There are endless films which could have made it into here but didn’t, such as Oldboy, so feel free to criticise, praise, rant or rave at me and my choices in the comment section below! For now though, take a look at what I did pick out:

10: Spirited Away

This charming tale of a young girl who ends up in a mysterious place inhabited by gods and monsters is the only animated film to make it onto this list, and it truly deserves its place here. It’s some of the finest animated storytelling of all time, and a personal favourite to re-watch.

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9: Battle Royale

Shockingly different to the previous entry; Battle Royale has kids killing each other off in all sorts of ways after being forced into a nightmarish situation. For its satirical commentary and also sheer entertaining spectacle Battle Royale makes it onto this list.

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8: Volver

One of the first films that introduced me to Almodóvar, Volver quickly became one of my favourite films for it’s well handled and performed story of loss and redemption. If I said any more I would spoil it, but please do seek it out if you haven’t already seen it.

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7: Kill Bill: Volume 1

I often describe the final third of this film as being perfect cinema; and anyone who listens long enough will hear me rant and rave about the use of colour and music, the well-handled action, and the enormous sense of fun that Tarantino seems to be having which then crosses on over to the audience. The rest of the film isn’t too far off this level of entertainment either, making Kill Bill an obvious entrant into my list here.

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6: The Pianist

Adrien Brody is incredible here as he takes us through the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto. This isn’t an easy or an uplifting watch, but it’s certainly one that lingers in your mind for a long time after the credits roll.

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5: Hero

This is one stunning film. The focus on the splendour of the visuals may not be for everyone, but Hero really deserves more praise than it often gets. It is not a fast paced action film; rather it’s an exploration of movement.

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4: City of God

Now this is where the list becomes really tricky, I can play around with the ordering of these last four movies endlessly and quite happily put any four of them in first place. City of God is a tale of violence set in Rio de Janeiro and is essential viewing if you haven’t already seen it. The directing style and rawness to the film makes it a pretty special watch.

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3: No Country for Old Men

Javier Bardem is an unforgettable presence in what is arguably the Cohen brothers’ best film, and yet its success is not all down to those three. Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and Kelly Macdonald all contribute fantastic work and collectively make this one of the best and most important films of the decade.

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2: Lost in Translation

My personal favourite out of all the films on this list, or in this decade, Lost in Translation is the deceptively simple story of two people who meet in Tokyo and form a relationship that’s more meaningful than they could have previously imagined. It features excellent performances by both Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, who have brought characters to life here that I have grown far too attached to and fond of. This is easily one of my absolute favourite films.

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1: Adaptation

I know of no other film which so confidently, nor so successfully breaks itself apart and exposes itself. This is unquestionably a fantastically handled film that is about film; it’s about itself, the creation of itself and then the evolution of itself. Not only is it incredibly clever though, it doesn’t come across as pretentious but is instead warm hearted, funny and occasionally touching with great performances given by Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper. I cannot recommend Adaptation enough.

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What an outstanding list. A BIG thank you to James for contributing his list this week. Remember, check out the criteria for submitting your own list above. Have a great weekend!

The Hangover Part 3 (2013)

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The Hangover was a massively successful raunchy comedy that had the honourable distinction of being one of the funniest movies of the year, arguably the funniest. So, logic would dictate that a sequel was inevitable… and in 2011 we witnessed a less inventive, watered-down version of the original. Now, it’s 2013 and although The Hangover part 2 critically failed, the movie-going public seemed to differ and we are plagued with a third, and apparently final entry into the series. Two years have passed since Bangkok and one would think that Todd Phillips and company would learn from their mistakes. However, this is not the case. I mean, they don’t even get drunk or at any point become intoxicated by a form of abusive substance, effectively nullifying the very title. I’m all for cinematic evolution but, c’mon, natural selection should have wiped this series off the planet after the first disastrous sequel.

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After Leslie Chow (Jeong) is arrested in Bangkok, he is sentenced to serve time in a Thai prison. When a prison riot erupts, Chow makes a daring escape and begins his travels back to the U.S. In the United States, the gang decides to throw an intervention for Allen (Galifianakis) who is seemingly out of control. While en route to the rehab facility, the crew is attacked by a gangster named Marshall (Goodman) and his thugs. He informs the wolf-pack of the situation and kidnaps Doug (Bartha) until Allen, Stu (Helms), and Phil (Cooper) can bring him Chow.

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The Hangover greatly benefited from spontaneity, relevance, and a script that never took itself too seriously. Facets that its two sequels recklessly diverted from and ultimately paid the price for it. Look, no one is denying that Phillips has a keen sense and talent when it comes to comedy and direction, illustrated by his three films Old School, Starsky and Hutch, and of course The Hangover. Nonetheless, he seems to have lost his touch since 2009 churning out three stinkers including Due Date and both Hangover sequels. There is no doubt that his status in the industry and his ability to create top-notch comedy flicks has put tremendous pressure on him. Companies want to make money, and make it fast leaving Phillips torn between integrity and cash. Sad to say, it appears the dollar speaks the loudest. Conversely, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone as selective about the films they see as I am. What I’m trying to indicate is that I respect Phillips enough to continuously give him chances, as will I always.

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The Hangover part 3 falters under the weight of its own stupidity, ridiculousness, and overly dramatic tendencies. As with part 2, it has nothing new to offer and the only thing these sequels contribute to is the decimation, albeit inadvertently, of the original. I didn’t go in anticipating Academy caliber material, that would be idiotic. However, I did expect an improvement over 2011’s debacle and it couldn’t even accomplish that. With a cast that has proven track records and knows their way around a joke, it becomes very apparent that it is the source material letting everyone down. The story feels as if it was slapped together with leftover one-liners from other screenplays and fused together with weak tape. Which leaves us begging Phillips to take more time comprising his next outing and try to recapture some of the brilliance that made him so revered as a comedic filmmaker in the first place.

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Usually I’d dissect and describe the performances of the entire cast. Yet, they all perform with such mediocrity that it’s hard to differentiate one from the other. If it wasn’t for the obvious inconsistencies in their physical appearances, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart, but I digress.  When did Allen, Zach Galifianakis’s character, become a physically incapable, mentally maladjusted, morally void reject? If I remember correctly, in The Hangover he was awkward and maybe a bit of a sociopath. Nonetheless, still normal enough to function in society and intelligent enough to cheat a casino. Anyway, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms don’t have enough dialogue between them to make either one of their characters relevant. As for Ken Jeong, who I absolutely adore in the weekly television comedy Community, has had his character become even more of an annoying nuisance to the film series. John Goodman, one of the most underrated actors in the industry, does his best to aid this sinking ship, but ends up drowning just the same.

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Justin Bartha…why…do you even need to be…I mean…ugh, whatever…I’ve had enough of reviewing this train wreck. Barely being able to scrape a decent joke together, let alone a feasible plot. The Hangover part 3 is no where near as entertaining or funny enough. I just feel bad for Goodman, Cooper, Phillips, cast and crew. At least they got to travel to new, exciting, and exotic places while making these two, needless, unavoidable sequels. Anything worth any value you can see in the trailers and TV spots and save yourself the ticket fee. I don’t usually get dragged to movies, I am very selective in what I watch. However, I did get dragged to The Hangover Part 3 and it reassured me that I should never trust anyone ever again. On the plus side, I got to see the new Pacific Rim trailer on a big screen which was somewhat of a silver lining. All in all, I’m not as mean as this review is making me out to be. I respect everyone who worked on this film, it’s just that the film itself is piece of flaming garbage.

The Hangover Part 3: 3.5 out of 10.

The Company You Keep (2012)

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Usually, a script is the foundation, the jumping off point for any picture. Now, when this screenplay, charged with the task of holding your film steady, is flimsy to begin with. Everything that follows, camerawork and acting and so on, can be nothing but disappointingly weak due to the faulty skeletal structure baring a majority of the weight. This neatly sums up what is essentially wrong with The Company You Keep. Apart from some good, albeit typical performances from a few of its cast members, The Company You Keep really has nothing new or captivating to offer, which can be said for a lot of Robert Redford directed pictures since the year 2000. I have nothing against Mr. Redford. I thoroughly appreciate his acting prowess and directing skills. However, it appears that since the new millennium, his artistic choices have severely dropped off.

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Jim Grant (Redford) is a recently widowed single father. Formerly part of the Weather Underground militant wanted for a 1970’s bank robbery and the murder of one of the security guards. Ben Shepard (LaBeouf) decides to make a name for himself by creating a national story from the recently arrested Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon), also a member of Weather Underground. Ben visits his ex-girlfriend Diana (Kendrick), an FBI agent, and urges her to hand him information on the case. While Jim continues to evade the law, Ben keeps pushing for his story, intervening in issues beyond his control. When Ben meets up with a retired cop named Henry Osbourne (Brendan Gleeson) after harassing Jim’s brother Daniel (Cooper) for information, he is taken with Henry’s daughter Rebecca (Marling). As the situation progresses, Jim and Ben find themselves in life altering predicaments.

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This was by far the most disappointing film I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival this past year. Upon reading up before hand on the plot, director, and cast, it was fair to say I was readily looking forward to its premiere. Starring the likes of Brit Marling, Shia LaBeouf, Anna Kendrick, Chris Cooper, and of course Robert Redford, amongst countless others with proven track records, it seemed implausible that The Company You Keep would let me down. However, by the time we reached the summit of its two hour runtime, the story and its characters were worn out. Even though it was plenty underwhelming from the get go. The Company You Keep arguably suffered from simplicity, irrelevance, and unsympathetic characters at a time when self preservation is on a decline.

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Based on Neil Gordon’s novel of the same title, Redford had his hands full adapting The Company You Keep to the big screen. In a year that saw history come alive with films like Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, and to an extent Django Unchained. The Company You Keep didn’t harness any of the retro nostalgia or tension that made all of those films effective. The performing aspect of the film was something I thought I’d never question going into the premiere. What I mean by typical performance is, for example, Marling, Cooper, LaBeouf, and Kendrick, to name a few, made it look effortless as usual. The root of the issue stems from the limitations brought on by the tedious nature of the script. There is no room for these fine actors to evolve their roles. They aren’t allowed to make these characters their own due to the suffocating similarities in their roles.

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Suffering from a bloated run time, stretched out story, and unlikable characters. The Company You Keep is a meek offering forcing its all star cast to under-perform and appear timid.

The Company You Keep: 5 out of 10.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

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Deceptively intricate and performed infallibly. Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is morally sound and inevitably cyclic. Encompassing a complex set of circumstances marred by incalculable chaos. The Place Beyond the Pines is irrefutable evidence that history is inescapable. Now, whether or not we chose to look upon this unavoidable repetition as beneficial, dooming, or simply as fate itself, is entirely subjected to the nature and nurture  of our upbringing to the very present moment we have watched this film. Cianfrance has laid out multiple paths that we are allowed to tread along. The decision however, lies within our beliefs, karmic standpoint, and stance on true freedom. Featuring an all star cast that includes, Ryan Gosling, Ben Mendelsohn, Bruce Greenwood, Bradley Cooper, Rose Bryne, Ray Liotta, Dane DeHaan, and Eva Mendes. Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is a highly philosophical, towering achievement in understanding the makings of a generation fuelled by loss, regret, and deprivation.

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Luke (Gosling) is a talented and mischievous motorcycle stuntman who travels with a carnival, currently stopped in Schenectady, New York. Luke is trying to reconnect with his past lover named Romina (Mendes). Romina secretly gave birth to Luke’s son and neglected to tell him as he was travelling with the carnival for the past year. In order to provide for his new baby and Romina, Luke quits the carnival and commits a series of bank robberies with his friend Robin (Mendelsohn). As Luke continues to raise the stakes, the more heat he is under. After a robbery, Luke is confronted with a chase to escape the clutches of a persistent police officer named Avery Cross (Cooper). Avery is confronted with his own tribulations as he soon realizes his police force is ripe with corruption and his marriage to Jennifer (Byrne) is faltering. Fifteen years down the road, Luke and Avery’s paths continue to cross.

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It is excessively challenging to navigate a film with several, individual story lines. When stitching together a film as complex as Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, you run the risk of overbearing the audience. The multiple motivations, principles, and circumstantial elements the viewer needs to consider while deciphering impressions could very well prove too disproportionate. However, with The Place Beyond the Pines, this is not the case. Cianfrance’s ability to extract only what is essential from his cast and divide the disarray into manageable portions is a harrowing achievement. For a film that is packed with calamity and discord, there is never a feeling of disorganization. You’ll never have the urge to scramble. You’ll create a complete, unhampered opinion of the characters.

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A rather unexpected fault I originally found with this film is the indifference I felt towards Bradley Cooper’s character. Then, after some time had passed, I came to the conclusion that it was and is the way I am supposed to feel towards him. It was alarming at first because of the compassion and sympathy I was able to emit for Ryan Gosling’s character. When looked at comparatively, Gosling and Cooper play relatively the same role, the only difference is they’re at opposite ends of the moral chain. Both have made grave errors in their time, do whatever is necessary to keep themselves alive, and relentlessly provide for their families. Now, some will undoubtedly share similar opinions to my own and some will relate to Cooper more earnestly then Gosling. The point is that their isn’t an issue with who’ve you found favour in.

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In a similar fashion, the viewer will be polarized by Gosling’s son and Cooper’s. I generally felt a deep hatred for Cooper’s son for not respecting the opportunities and benefits he has in front of him. Conversely, Gosling’s son was very loyal and charged with an ambitious, thirsty energy. So I full heartedly despised Cooper’s son for his idiotic behaviour and not relishing what he has available to him. I’m supposed to be summarizing the casts performances, gotten a bit sidetracked. I suppose I am reviewing subconsciously and that this personal dissection is probably the best way to influence your opinion regarding this film.

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In comparison to Gosling, Cooper did not measure up. For his segment, Cooper had arguably been set up for disappointment. Following up a masterful performance is never easy. However, having one of your top actors be slightly over performed by another is a great problem to have. Ben Mendelsohn has slowly creeped his way to becoming one of my favourite actors currently active. His performances in The Dark Knight Rises, Killing Them Softly, and now The Place Beyond the Pines are staggering. It seems with each outing he becomes more confident and orbited. Another actor who has had a terrific rise is Dane DeHaan. After contributing to the misunderstood Lawless and surprising Chronicle, DeHaan certainly left his mark in The Place Beyond the Pines. Rose Byrne continues to prove why she is one of the hottest actresses in cinema today. A heartbreaking performance alongside a disgruntled Cooper is no easy feat. In their limited time, Bruce Greenwood and Ray Liotta wielded their experience in spectacular fashion. It’s remarkable how Liotta can just stare at you and its almost enough to make you wet yourself in fear. In a film littered with outstanding performances, Eva Mendes is passable. Now, it isn’t as recognizable because the viewer is focused in on everything thats going on. But, this was a supreme opportunity for her to prove herself alongside these acting heavyweights and she didn’t fully grasp the chance.

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Besides an impeccable effort in controlling the vast and multifaceted stories in The Place Beyond the Pines. Cianfrance infuses an enthralling atmosphere to a suggestive and emotionally dark film. With an invested and talented cast, an unprecedented script, and a director brave enough to undertake it. The Place Beyond the Pines is a rare blend of bravery, sacrifice, and judgement.

The Place Beyond the Pines: 9 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.

Top 10 Films of 2012

We might be a bit late to this particular list’s party, but better now than never. This was a difficult list to compile, lots of great pictures to chose from. But myself (monster1711) and my bud (cinema2033) think we’ve created a diverse and respectable list. If you feel that we overlooked a certain film or have any suggestions for future top 10’s, please comment below. Without further anticipation, let’s get started.

10. Looper. Easily the best science fiction film of the year. Featuring terrific performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, Looper is a brain scrambler that will leave you stunned.

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9. The Cabin in the Woods. Speaking of brain scramblers. The Cabin in the Woods is definitely the most bizarre film of the year. Mixing the hilarious and terrifying elements of horror and poking fun at them, it is sure to be a cult favourite.

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8. Skyfall. Quite possibly the best Bond film to ever grace the big screen. Skyfall is witty, charming, and one hell of a ride. With towering performances from Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem, Skyfall is not to be missed.

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7. Seven Psychopaths. Another entry into Martin McDonagh’s violent comedies. Seven Psychopaths is full of violence, hilarity, and outstanding performances from Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken.

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6. Argo. Winner of the 2012 Oscar for best picture, need we say more? Directed and starring Ben Affleck, Argo is history come alive.

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5. Silver Linings Playbook. Thought by many to be the best picture of 2012. Silver Linings Playbook is another solid outing from David O. Russell and features a return to form for Robert De Niro. Not to mention the emergence of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as real acting heavyweights.

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4. On The Road. Possibly the most controversial film on the list, On The Road left audiences divided. Based on Jack Kerouac’s generation defining novel. On The Road features entrancing performances from Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, and especially the lovely Kristen Stewart.

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3. Django Unchained. The second chapter in Tarantino’s yet to be finished history trilogy. Django Unchained landed Christoph Waltz another supporting actor Oscar. Also starring Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, and a deliciously evil performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained is violently hilarious.

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2. Zero Dark Thirty. Best picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty is brought to you by the creators of The Hurt Locker. There really isn’t anything else that needs to be said. Incredibly tense, monumental performances, and impeccably scripted. Zero Dark Thirty is an unstoppable force.

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1. The Dark Knight Rises. The conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy, directed by the brilliant Christopher Nolan. With Tom Hardy as Bane, The Dark Knight Rises has the best villain performance of the year. Including an unmatchable cast and an epic finale no one saw coming, The Dark Knight Rises might be the greatest comic book adapted film in the history of cinema.

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Honourable Mentions. Lincoln, Sightseers, Prometheus, The Avengers, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, End of Watch.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

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The quirkiness of its approach to aggression and mental illness may be off-putting to some, but Silver Linings Playbook is an undeniably realistic and accurate depiction of psychological instabilities and the people who deal with them. Of course personally being able to relate to the illnesses portrayed is an advantage. However, one does not need to be at a disadvantage to enjoy and understand the craft and perfection in Silver Linings Playbook. Directed by the dependable David O. Russell (The Fighter) and featuring oscar nominated performances from Bradley Cooper (The Hangover), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom), and Robert De Niro (Goodfellas). Silver Linings Playbook is a faithful adaptation for the countless who have been helped by the original text and for ones who need to feel hope and know they are not alone. It is a nice change of pace to see that optimistic, although controversial film making still exists amongst the endless pieces of high budget dribble released every weekend.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Pat Solatano Jr (Cooper) convinces his mother Dolores (Weaver) to discharge him from the mental health institution after his court ordered stint is complete, against medical advice and without the consent of Pat Sr (De Niro). With conditions that Pat Jr must live at home with his parents, take medication, and attend mandatory therapy sessions, Pat Jr attempts to get his life in order and return to his wife. Pat Jr attends dinner with close friends and it is here where he is introduced to Tiffany (Lawrence), a recovering sex addict who’s husband has recently died. Through their mental issues, Pat Jr and Tiffany find common ground and become friends while they help each other to get over their tribulations.

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It was uplifting to see the strength in the supporting and leading male actor categories at the Oscars this year. When Bradley Cooper and especially Robert De Niro walk away empty handed after their performances in Silver Linings Playbook, it becomes clear there was some serious competition. Robert De Niro gives the best performance of his illustrious career with his take on an aging OCD victim. Jennifer Lawrence, the only actor in the film to win an Oscar for her performance, is radiant as always. She melts with Cooper and together they become flawlessly dysfunctional. Feeding off their problems to become unified and eventually able to heal. David O. Russell once again unleashes a compelling tale of distress and succeeds in showing not just the work and time needed to breakthrough hardships, but as well as the support needed from family and friends. Silver Linings Playbook is the most elevating and rewarding film of the year.

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Silver Linings Playbook: 8.5 out of 10.

Starter For 10 (2006)

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The first film I’ve chosen to review is one that many people have never heard of, Starter For 10. This romantic-comedy Directed by Tom Vaughan, remains relatively unknown despite its stellar cast of current stars such as James McAvoy (X-Men First Class), Rebecca Hall (The Prestige), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Alice Eve (She’s Out of My League) and Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double). Starter For 10 follows Brian Jackson (McAvoy), a scholarship student at Bristol University in 1985. Brian is extremely intelligent and grew up watching “University Challenge” with his father. During the semester, Brian meets the activist Rebecca Epstein (Hall) and while trying out for Bristol’s “University Challenge” team he succumbs to the charm and beauty of Alice Harbinson (Eve). The three get tangled in a love triangle with severe consequences. To make matters worse, the “University Challenge” captain Patrick Watts (Cumberbatch) who is overly dramatic challenges Brian at every opportunity. Can Brian qualify for the “University Challenge” team? Will he be able to escape the love triangle without harming Alice, Rebecca, or his friends?

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Make no mistake about it, this was and is McAvoy’s emergence. Don’t get me wrong, Hall, Eve, and Cooper are extremely effective and are no less than perfect in any of their performances. Benedict Cumberbatch steals every scene he is in and sets the stage for his shot to stardom with this hidden gem. However, McAvoy flexes his acting chops in all forms and executes flawlessly, enough to break your heart with compassion. Without giving too much away, Starter For 10 is essentially the structure all romantic comedies are based upon with a twist that separates it from the pack, that twist being intelligence. The writing is clever and nothing short of spectacular and is what really divides Starter For 10 from the cluttered trash known as the current romantic comedy standard. Starter For 10 invests in each character which ultimately leads to the audience investing in the characters, making the viewing and understanding experience much more rewarding. With the overwhelming romanticism, subtle humour, and the classic, favourable character you consistently root for, Starter For 10 exceeds expectations and fulfills the criteria that makes every good romantic comedy worth watching while adding the intelligence factor that sends it over the top.

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Starter For 10: 8 out of 10.

Hopefully later this week I can get my Oscar predictions posted with a separate list with the films and actors I think should have been nominated and won.