John Wick (2014): An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.
I freaking love this movie. Keanu Reeves shines in what is easily his best performance since The Matrix. Is the premise ridiculous and unbelievable? Yes. But here's why I love this movie: it knows it. This movie knows it's ridiculous, and as a result has an absolute blast with itself. Everyone involved with this movie didn't go into it trying to be anything more than it actually is. It doesn't try to make some political statement. It doesn't try to throw in a heavy dose of morality. It's just. Plain. Fun. This is easily the best mindless popcorn flick I've seen since 2010's A-Team reboot. Not only was it mindless fun, but it was also spectacular to look at, as the movie offered us great visuals and choreographed fight scenes that Reeves navigated like a born natural. Even the subtitles, as of course the incredibly cliched plot had to have Russian mob bosses speaking in Russian, were pretty creative and fun to read. Despite predictability, there was still enough intrigue to keep me very entertained throughout the 101 minute (and frantically paced-those 101 minutes FLEW by) movie. Director Chad Stahelski even took the time to give Wick a backstory so his motivations into doing what he did were understandable. And the one-liners! There were several great one-liners in this movie. Overall, it was a great film to watch, and one which I had an immense amount of fun viewing. Just....don't expect anything more than mindless, well-shot action.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great.
Cake (2014): Claire becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group while grappling with her own, very raw personal tragedy.
This is an excellent film. You know something is good when you make Jennifer Aniston cry. But seriously. She is phenomenal in the movie Cake, singlehandedly bringing the movie from the realm of mediocrity into the realm of greatness. Sure, it's a good story, but it's Aniston's phenomenal portrayal of the character that makes the movie as a whole great. I would honestly recommend this movie to you based on Aniston's performance alone. But I digress. I loved the cinematography and the score as well, and I particularly enjoyed the decision made by director Daniel Barnz to use a handheld camera for most of the 102 minute film. Using a handheld definitely made the movie more intimate and raw, which is exactly what Barnz and Aniston were going for. Seriously. It takes a damn good performance for an actress as recognizable as Jennifer Aniston to be absorbed into a character, but she does it here EASILY. She was absolutely snubbed at the Oscars this year, guys. I mean Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything? Really? Sigh....she's good, but Jennifer Aniston was great. Damn shame. While there were a few moments of imperfection throughout the movie, these imperfections were not enough to prevent this movie from being almost awesome. Go see this one, guys. Actually, this would make for a great adult date movie. Sure you'll be crying by the end of it, but isn't that the point?
The Verdict: 8.5/10 Almost Awesome.
The Judge (2014): Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town's judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.
Ya....So this movie kind of sucks. It tries to be good. It really does. But it just doesn't get there, and as a result we get a movie that is 141 minutes long that's overlong by about 40 minutes. This movie is wildly inconsistent from start to finish, offering poorly-shot court scenes, (which is kind of a rather large misstep in a movie called The Judge) very poor direction from David Dobkin, and mostly phone-it-in acting performances from RDJ, (who's basically just playing himself) Vera Farminga, and Robert Duvall. Ya. I get depressed just thinking about Duvall's very lackluster performance in this movie. Now I do love me some Robert Duvall. This much is certain, but no way does he deserve an Oscar nomination for his performance. After watching this movie, I can confirm to you that he received this nomination on name alone, and is probably just as surprised as we are that he was put on the list. Oh, and did I mention the horribly done "emotional payoff" at the end of the movie? Ya, one of the worst scenes I've seen in a film all year. Unless if you loooooove RDJ and have to see everything he does, your time is better spent elsewhere.
The Verdict: 3.5/10 Almost Bad.
Two Days, One Night (2014): Sandra, a young Belgian mother, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job.
Well. That's a really long description courtesy of IMDB. Anyway, Two Days, One Night was a very pleasant surprise. Backed by a great and incredibly human performance from Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night's very relatable and human story is its calling card. Its plot is simple, but it's also incredibly real and powerful. While there were a few misses with the story, for the most part I was sucked in, and was always pulling for Cotillard, despite significant adversity she receives from some of her coworkers as they, and understandably so, don't want to lose their bonuses so she can keep her job. Cotillard is also dealing with depression and anxiety, which comes up at several points in very dramatic and gripping fashion. However, there were several misses with the story, as I said, and combined with a very average film from a technical standpoint, this movie fails to reach the level of great. Better than good, but not great. Definitely worth a watch for those who are fans of foreign films, and with it's short 91 minute runtime, I'd even say anyone who wants a very feel-good story can't go wrong here. While Cotillard is not going to win Best Actress, her performance is definitely worth a nomination. Definitely better than that death scene in The Dark Knight Rises...
The Verdict: 7.5/10 Almost Great
"Like" Enter the Movies on Facebook for the latest and greatest on all things movies! OR ELSE FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A KILLER RABBIT. Sorry about this one, guys. Not my decision. He volunteered. And is just absolute dynamite!