Another week, and another bunch of movies watched and reviewed. Here they are from the best to worst:
Léon: The Professional – This is a rewatch, and it still remains one of the best movies I’ve seen. Great direction from Luc Besson, bringing out great performance from the cast. This was Natalie Portman’s first feature film and you could already see why she will grow up to be one of the best actresses in Hollywood. Extra points to Gary Oldman for one of his best performances as a villain. This film is a true modern classic and you need to watch this.
Hot Young Bloods – A recent Korean movie set in a rural school in the 80’s. Part teenage rom-com, part coming of age flick, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit as it made me reminisce my growing up years dealing with my first crush. This movie is well produced and there’s little to dislike. Watch if you’re a fan of Korean film.
Jump Ashin (翻滾吧！阿信) – Based on a true story, this sports drama about second chances, redemption and pursuing your dreams. Eddie Peng shines in a physically-demanding role as Ashin, a prodigal gymnast who loses his way and mixes with the wrong crowd. The cast and their performance are pitch-perfect in this movie. I would have preferred the pacing to be balanced better because the last act felt a little rushed. However, this movie is still a must-watch if you’re a fan of sports dramas and/or Taiwanese cinema.
Tim’s Vermeer – A feature documentary is a fascinating look at one man’s passion and obsession with using modern science to capture the magic of Vermeer. I found it inspiring to see a man dedicate years of his life in pursuit of reconstructing Vermeer’s masterpiece. If you’re looking for a great example of liberal arts intersecting with science, you’ll enjoy this.
The Monuments Men – I was a little disappointed with this. It had a great ensemble cast, with an interesting premise but somehow it fell a little flat. To me, rescuing art pieces in the middle of the Second World War while millions are dying feels a little frivolous, and the film didn’t do a lot of explain the enormous brevity of their mission. I think George Clooney could be too close to the material as director, screenwriter and actor to take a step back to set it up properly. Overall, it felt like the whole is less than the sum of it’s parts. Watchable movie, but lacking soul and purpose.
The Pretty One – I really wanted to like this movie, especially with Zoe Kazan who was brilliant and charming in 2012’s Ruby Sparks. This movie is clichéd and the characters are bland, uninteresting and stereotypical. Rent it if you have nothing else to watch.
Stalingrad – I estimate they’ve spent 29 million of their 30 million dollar budget on special effects. This movie is filled to the brim with spectacular and often gratuitous visual effects which are absolutely stunning to watch. But when it’s all over, I wondered what the movie was really about. I think it can’t decide if it wants to be a war action movie or historical drama so instead of spending more time refining the script, they spent even more on visual effects. Watch for the action sequences, go do something else in between.