SOUTHPAW (2015)

Directed By: Antoine Fuqua 
Written By: Kurt Sutter 
Cinematography By: Mauro Fiore 
Editor: John Refoua 

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Forest Whitaker, Beau Knapp, Miguel Gomez, Dominick Colon, Skylan Brooks, Naomie Harris, Victor Ortiz, Rita Ora

*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from IMDb among other sources In this review

As tragedy strikes him in his prime, famed boxer, Billy Hope, begins to fall into a great depression. Once the decision regarding the custody of his daughter is under question, Billy decides to get his life back on track by getting back into the ring.


Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance is the strength of the film and provides a kind of new type of performance from him. That makes him seem more brutal and streetwise. Speaks as more of a brawler. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t give him much to work with nor does it rise to the sorts of depth that he tries to showcase. As the film ends up becoming more of a combination of well-intended and dressed-up cliches. That makes the film constantly feel familiar, yet ends up becoming formulaic.

As soon as Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson shows up we know all we need to know about his character and where most likely the story is going. As everyone seems to play their character by the book. Which again makes the film come off as paint by numbers. Where here they try to color outside of the edges time to time to throw off where the movie is going. For instance a scene or two where it seems like the film might go the revenge route and quickly drops that side of the story. I am guessing as to his spiritual well-being and beating up the guy’s friend in the ring will be the ultimate revenge?

His wife’s murder subplot is a major point of the film. As it introduces the revenge-justice angle of the story but after that, it never answers many of the questions the audience has. Like what happened to the guy? Was he caught as the entourage seemed to rush him out. Also, I know it is easy to set his opponent up as a major villain, but his look of shock could have opened up the movie dramatically as to what he is going to do about this. Turn his friend in? Hide him And disavow him. That is a major dramatic opportunity dropped. We never even really see it affect him other than that moment and leaves you to wonder if he was just shocked, thinking they were just busting each other’s chops and this fool brought it to a place it didn’t bleed to be or wondering will this hurt his career? As is it only sets up a well-earned rivalry. As it is Gyllenhaal enemies’ camp fault for the death.

So that it seems the film keeps coming up with interesting ideas and abandoning them. To either keep the movie streamlined and moving forward or were scared to go off the path that might have added something new to the mix and made it at least more noteworthy.

It seems the child bonding scenes are here to give the main character something to strive for and keep him going throughout. As well as show his sensitive side and add a heartwarming element to the film.

Strangely the film seemed to be set up to be an awards season challenger and THE boxing movie of the year, but CREED seemed to be the one that no one saw coming to take that title, An underdog itself.

While that takes shape on the side the film adds a child surrogate for him to bond with as it ends up having little to no reason. As it eliminates it later for emotional manipulation, but as it was never built too strongly. So that it just adds up to a challenging scene that asks us to get emotional for something. And someone that wasn’t properly or strongly introduced in the first place. That just seems to reinforce the fact that these are some mean streets. Embrace them, but try to get away from them also. In other words, don’t forget where you came from.

We envy get the grizzled old trainer played by Forest Whitaker whose character is tough but loving and likes a drink now and then.

The film uses the fight as a representation of revenge and redemption. It also encourages the reunion with his child. On that end the film again becomes not only cliche but convenient as the social worker he is dealing with at first seems gruffer with him. Though all of a sudden with no real reason, she does an about-face and is one of his biggest supporters. A dramatic decision that isn’t seen or earned.

The film has plenty of workout scenes to show the brutality of trading but gives the men credit for the toughness and bravado shown. Letting the audience have a more physical reaction to the actors physical (it seems) transformation. I am sure it also helps to convince the audience to be attracted to the star even more.

The boxing scenes are more about brutality and seem to want to come off more as street fights that is how vicious they look at times.

Though the film eventually becomes monotonous as it seems to get in its own way too often that not even the impressive visuals can save.

“Southpaw” is the term given to unorthodox stance (left-handed) boxers. However, Jake Gyllenhaal is right-handed, therefore orthodox. He only adopts the southpaw stance in the final fight, under instruction from his trainer Which even seems like a premeditated conclusion for the title.

As the film was first offered to star Eminem as an unofficial follow-up to 8 MILE. One can see how as the character has many similarities to him as far as the public knows about him and fits the themes of his songs. Closeness to his daughter, growing up on the mean streets, becoming successful and still not being entirely happy, having many enemies who seem to come for him. Having an entourage, going down the road of drugs and booze that seems to almost destroy him, making a comeback. Though Eminem did work on the soundtrack and wrote 2 songs for the film

It’s a film that could have been interesting, but we have seen it way before. Even if it tries to offer a different take then ROCKY a more street smart, tougher and violent one. It just offers nothing new. Other than an opportunity to see a movie star stretch.

Maybe as it seems to try and at the time seek out awards contention. That might be the reason the film feels so stuffed. As it goes overboard in trying to impress the audience. Instead of just being itself and going where the story could naturally lead.

Grade: C-

KRAMPUS (2015)

Directed By: Michael Dougherty 
Written By: Zach Shields, Michael Dougherty & Todd Casey 
Cinematography By: Jules O’Loughlin 
Editor: John Axelrad 

Cast: Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner, Allison Tolman , Conchetta Ferrell, Emjay Anthony 


When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.

At first, this film seems to play up the more comedic elements of the story.

It plays like a darker version of GREMLINS, Only more supernatural.

The cast sets the tone, though with Toni Colette. The film can go either way from horror to drama to comedy. As she is good, versatile, and established in all, but most of the recognizable cast are comedic veterans especially both Adam Scott and David Koechner. Which it seems like this film is a warm-up for them to do a buddy movie. With the two of them instantly memories of comedic horror films such as PIRAHNA 3D come to mind and what you expect. Except only, this one is less explosive but tries more for a hard edge family-friendly vibe. That’s more well thought out.

The second act of the film has more humor. Horror at times, but slowly becomes more serious and thrilling as it goes along.

Director Michael Dougherty is making his second feature and again another horror-themed holiday film. (After TRICK R’ TREAT) Full of folklore, energy, and fun.

At first, this film takes a more cynical attitude and looks at the holidays and situations that traditionally go along with them. Though children are in peril. You know nothing truly violent will happen to them at least on screen. There are scares, but an Absence of stakes.

In his films so far there always is an Augustus Gloop type of character. A grossly overweight yet cute character who has victim written all over him, but is there for a few good pokes of humor. The director backs the silliness of the film with a strong backstory that enriches the film and helps the audience forgive the more ridiculous elements. Which serves the film from the tone and fate of films such as SANTA’S SLAY. Which seek to be made and written around the title rather than have a good story thought out.

As here the film like JAWS only suggests a phantom who we see glimpses of and shadows. As we see the hard work was done mainly by possessed toys and appliances.

The film is almost like a nightmare supernatural version of HOME ALONE or NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION.

It’s more a film of scares than actual macabre violence or graphic horror. The most objectionable thing here is language and some blood.

The creatures in the attic are truly terrifying. Even if the demented gingerbread men seem more like cute gremlins. That truly makes you wonder if the film is trying to be more innocent and family-friendly.

This film Makes more for a starter horror film. More made for those who get scared easily or are uneasy with the horror genre. As it contains the elements but does so with a lighter touch. It could almost be a harder-edged family film. Though can easily be enjoyed by horror aficionados as long as they can accept more of a mainstream and lightweight horror product.

Another aspect to enjoy here is that the special effects seem to be more practical and less extravagant then a cgi production.

The film feels too knowing and knowledgeable to be a classic. Too glossy to be quite as noteworthy. Though entertaining throughout the viewings with plenty of gothic designs. Especially the terror toys.

The film is a creepy confection with a nod to JEEPERS CREEPERS. As the film is fun yet allows it to be downtrodden and unhappy.

The film fits right in with the directors oeuvre so far  

GRADE: B-

HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT (2015)

Written & Directed By: Joshua Safdie & Ben Safdie 
Inspired By The Book Written By: Arielle Holmes 
Cinematography By: Sean Price Williams 
Editor: Ben Safdie & Ronald Bronstein 

Cast: Arielle Holmes, Caleb Landry Jones, Eleonore Hendricks, Buddy Duress, Ron Braunstein


Harley loves Ilya. He gives her life purpose and sets her passion ablaze. So, when he asks her to prove her love by slitting her wrists, she obliges with only mild hesitation, perhaps because of her other all-consuming love: heroin.

This movie is crazy as it seeks to keep you on your toes and off-center throughout. It is a slice of life that feels like it lacks are tidier and goes out of its way to show the downside of drug abuse. Which yes we have seen many times. Though it has been a while. Then again just as we have seen many other stories a bunch of times. So one more won’t hurt and all that matters is how it is told and the individual’s story. Here we get more of an insider’s guide. Cinema verite style.

The film feels a bit like misery porn as there is no shame throughout this film. We see the rarely good, but plenty of the bad and ugly. I can’t really call the film exploitive as it is stylized a bit but feels like an experimental attempt to tell a story but also a show-off film to show how edgy the filmmakers are by going after the truth. Like a less surrealistic, more realistic drug addiction tail like REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. Though we are thrust right into the tale rather than showing the beginning like how the characters started in the addiction. We also get very little told about anyone’s past.

Think of this film as a modern-day PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK. Without the luster of seeing classic New York locations.

For some, it might be like seeing the day-to-day life of those addicts or characters you see it encounter on the train or New York streets.

Caleb Landry Jones is barely recognizable. Which is how deep he goes into character here. He is also the only recognizable cast member who might be a professional actor. As the character of Ilya this ghost-like a menace. Who is the main character’s ex who at the beginning of the film demands that she commit suicide as an appropriate apology for cheating on him? He seems to haunt the film as he stares in judgment and treats her like crap but seems to give off a sense of caring

Arielle Holmes makes an impressive debut. This film is based on her book a kind of journal/biography of her life on the streets as a drug addict. Written in an Apple Store using the free computers there. It’s interesting to see her now clean having to relive all these moments.

The film almost seems like a documentary. It is more docudrama as there seems to be a voice and reason for this film and why it was made. Not to mention keeps moving forward.

Throughout the film stays realistic as the level of dirt and grime is a supporting character that could easily take over as the lead.

At times it’s hard to believe it is going anywhere. Though stays hard-hitting and feels disturbing half of the time. The film is not an empty endeavor.

The film feels almost like an 80’s film with its washed-out look and man-on-the-street type camera work as well as a soundtrack that feels ambient. Then sometimes it adds to the scenes and comes along naturally.

There is no pretension in any of the performances. Which is a danger sometimes that you encounter in films of this nature. They all feel like characters you have encountered it seen like this.

Seems filmed on the streets with no permits as it seems rate that there are rarely any actual sets or setups or grand camera shots.

Goes into detail on how these junkies who are often homeless survive and hustle for money and drugs. Sometimes shelter

Throughout the film, it is hard to see why she is in love with Ilya so deeply and cares so much about what he thinks. Throughout the film things ha he yet remains the same which the ending clearly illustrates.

The film never comes close to having a message nor having its characters clean up their act though you might hope for it.

GRADE: B

SEOUL SEARCHING (2015)

Written & Directed By: Benson Lee Cinematography: Daniel Katz Editor: Steve M. Choe

Cast: Justin Chon, Jessika Van, In-Pyo Cha, Teo Yoo, Esteban Ahn, Rosalina Leigh, Albert Kong, Hee Jun Han, Crystal Kay, Nekhebet Kum Juch 

During the 1980s, the Korean government created a special summer camp for “gyopo” or foreign-born teenagers where they could spend their summer in Seoul to learn about their motherland. While the intentions of the program were honorable, the activities of the teens were not. The program was eventually canceled after a few years because the government simply could not control the youth. Seoul Searching is a teen comedy and coming of age film, based on a true story about one of the summer camps that took place in 1986.


While this is a fun nostalgic coming-of-age movie exploring the usual themes of finding oneself and their own identities. While growing up. This film is also about culture and trying to find it. As you are misplaced. As first-generation Americans coming to grips with your heritage and history. While managing to be both.

The film would be admirable if it could have stayed on that path and for the most part it does m. As a kind of John Hughes homage as most of the characters learn something and prove to be more than the cultural identities they came with.

Most characters seem lost between their American-style selves and who they are supposed to be back in their home countries. 

Then the film runs into a similar problem John Hughes was called on later in His career. Having little to no minorities in his films and the few he did playing into stereotypes and caricatures in his films. Notoriously long duk dong in SIXTEEN CANDLES and just like that film this one would have been near perfect if not for some unfortunate stereotyping. 

This is interesting considering that this is a film that is about a foreign culture but liberally uses the n-word and other derogatory names for dark-skinned characters and a group of characters who have chosen to identify with rappers and hip hop. Who is more played for laughs.

As the film is set in the 1980s some of the defense might be. Oh it was a different time, but still, the one mixed character not only barely gets any screen time but when she does she is treated at first as beautiful than as a bitch and disposable. 

The rapper wannabes are the ones mostly using the n-word, but their characters are treated as buffoons and comic relief. They are the few characters who get no dramatic epiphany and are gone before they can wear out their welcome. Meanwhile, the sexist, Racist good ole boy character who uses mostly racially charged derogatory terms amongst other bad behavior gets a chance to explain himself and get the audience to have sympathy for him. Which still runs the audience the wrong way. If not for that this film could be a total success, instead of wallowing in The same problems as the films that inspired it. 

As it has an original cultural story. An ensemble cast who each get character arcs and times to shine. Romance and even a mentor figure in their chaperone and teacher who has his own dark secrets and a drinking problem. 

It’s a worthwhile film if not for some dark clouds around it. As it does expose the audience to the culture and price of history they might not have known and gives a lesson for teenagers and foreign characters to identify with.

GRADE: B-

THE SIMILARS (2015)

Written & Directed By: Issac Ezban 
Cinematography By: Isi Sarfati 
Editor: Oscar Figueroa 

Cast: Luis Alberti, Carmen Beato, Fernando Becceril, Humberto Busto, Cassandra Ciangherotti  
On the rainy night of October 2, 1968, eight characters waiting on a remote bus station for a bus heading to Mexico City start experiencing a strange phenomenon.


The film is like a twilight zone episode made into a feature-length film. Heavy on mood and atmosphere.

The film feels like its own spin on one of the tales of THE TWILIGHT ZONE movie and a lot more ominous. This is a good piece of filmmaking. That moves along nicely for the audience and doesn’t leave them Confused. It feels more like a retro dream. Though eventually becomes more like a nightmare.

The film plays more like an OUTER LIMITS episode rather than a TWILIGHT ZONE one which most people will say it is. Only in feature-length form. As there is really no irony and the film at least tries to explain its far-out situation and accepts it. Not leaving you around waiting for some twist or allegory on the human condition or sociology.

Even if the film seems inspired by a particular episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. That actually became part of the movie spin-off of the show It’s like a 1950’s movie as it takes place in one location. Making the film automatically claustrophobic, but so much happens that it feels so vast and open. Even though most stay in the same room you can always see them somewhere. Except when it is time to make a big reveal.

The film becomes more interesting as it goes along. As the mystery deepens. That plays in homage to classic horror films of the ’50s. Relying more on momentary thrills and revelations. Rather than monsters. But with plenty of advanced modern special effects. Those are impressive yet rudimentary in use. Especially for the time period represented.

The filmmaking is what you will come away with rather than necessarily the plot.

It also seems very influenced by pop culture Sci-fi. From literature, television, and film, Especially Stephen King

The first film in Mexico and Latinamerica that was shot with the new Red Camera sensor (the Red Epic DRAGON) although, since this camera would give great quality and sharpness to the image but the film is a period piece and takes place in the ’60s, Director of Photography Isi Sarfati decided to use a lot of filters to make the image look like something out of a 60’s film, as director Isaac Ezban had envisioned. The voice-over used doesn’t help necessarily explain anything.

The filmmaking here is more imaginative than exciting. So the more the film explains it. The more there is to marvel at and be amazed by. As it is immersed, presented, and filmed in such a way for as smart as it is. It never quite lives up to the promise of the higher level it seems to want to work at. Especially by the end it just becomes too familiar. Almost betraying the promise it once had.

Grade: B

A PERFECT DAY (2015)

Directed By: Fernando Leon De Aranoa 
Written By: Fernando Leon De Aranoa & Diego Farais 
Based on the Novel “Dejarse Llover” By: Paula Farais 
Cinematography By: Alex Catalan 
Editor: Nacho Ruiz Capillas 

Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins, Melanie Thierry, Olga Kurylenko, Sergei Lopez, Fedja Stukan 

A group of aid workers work to resolve a crisis in an armed conflict zone.


The film has an international cast of actors from different nationalities and origins. As the film follows two days in the life of foreign aid relief workers.

While the characters aren’t perfect there is a humanity to them as in their hearts they want to help and do the right thing. Even if Benicio Del Toro’s character reminds he audience of the type of character who is only a few days away from retirement.

This is the most I have seen Benicio Del Toro play a normal average type person. It is kind of a relief as here there is no showing off or character tics to his performance and he is wonderful in it.

The film is a small film, but defiantly a crowd pleaser. With horrors that are more everyday or average for the people they are trying to help.

The film is mostly centered around the removal of a dead body from a well that is poisoning a towns water. Along the way there are roadblocks and bureaucratic rules that keeps getting in the way.

Throw in there an efficiency expert, who is an ex affair of one of the main characters and a child wondering around who they take with them. That the film ends up almost a political caper. Though with it’s breezy tone throughout never shoes away from reminding you of the dangers the characters face. Which seem to be just around the corner, but the film manages to stay bright and keep the town somewhat light throughout.

The film stays entertaining. As it keeps moving along. With various plot threads and personal stories of the characters that help define them and their time while away from home.

Wish I could say that the film was more noteworthy or that it sticks around after you watch it.

The film never rises above a certain level. Never showcasing or providing the stakes it wants about throughout. 

They keeps the film closer to the day to day real life of the workers, but also leaves some disappointment amongst the very few things they seem to achieve and help they are able to provide.

The cast is game and work together as a unit. As their energy is infectious to the audience.

The film allows for flirting and some sexual intrigue between the characters that comes up time to time, but stays verbal more than anything.

Though if looking for something hard hitting despite the description this isn’t the film for you necessarily.

The bureaucratic rules and loopholes they must jump through is what gives the story life. Plus the circumstances of host trying to complete this simple task lead them from one high wire situation to the next in the spacious bleak landscape they also informs us of the citizens and culture. As the film offers no real indulgences. Though seems to be very liberal.

Grade: B

PRINCE (2015)

Written & Directed By: Sam De Jong Cinematography: Paul Ozgur  Editor: Mieneke Kremer 

Cast: Ayoub Elasri, Jorik Scholien, Oussama Addi, Achraf Meziani, Elise de Braun, Sigrid Tennepal, Olivia Lonsdale, Chaib Massaoudi 

A troubled teenager attempts to conquer the love of his life by becoming the baddest boy on the block.


This is a film I was expecting more from. Strangely Wasn’t totally disappointed. Though by the end felt a little thin. 

Considering the issues of the film. I didn’t expect it to stay so clean material-wise. So that by the end it felt like an after-school special with some adult themes.

It’s fine for what it is but was expecting something mroe hard-hitting. Especially for where it seemed to be going and what it introduces. 

The film tries to paint the neighborhood as thorny and a bit crime-ridden but was left wondering is this the worst they have in the Netherlands? As it seems a bit quaint.

The film really comes off as a coming-of-age tale. Nothing you have my seen before. In fact, still shocked at how innocent it seems to stay. Like a teenage version of a crime film that doesn’t involve so much crime but more themes of growing up. 

For instance, the scene where he is feeling grown up after a job well done after a night out. He celebrated by drinking milk like it’s an alcoholic drink.

How at first his problems are presented as worse than They actually are. Introduced to him more as immature. We notice throughout how he becomes more mature and responsible. Even as he gets more brand names and expensive designer clothes. As well as how they can. enticing and what is needed to keep them up.

The ending is the only place where it feels like a false note. As it is satisfying from the standpoint of liking the characters but it feels unrealistic when it comes to criminals and street rules. 

GRADE: B

THE GUNMAN (2015)

Directed By: Pierre Morel
Written By: Sean Penn, Pete Travis & Don McPherson
Based on the Novel By: Jean-Patrick Machette
Cinematography By: Flavio Martinez Labiano
Editor: Frederic Thoraval

Cast: Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Mark Rylance, Ray Winstone, Jasmine Trinca, Peter Franzen 

A sniper on a mercenary assassination team kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier’s successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself.


This seems like Sean Penn trying to be like Liam Neeson. Where after having a career doing more dramas here late in his career and in shape deciding to do an action movie. Only here more involved as he co-writes and produces this film.

At this point in his career, it seems like he has tried it all so why not an action hero? While also showing macho charisma while being the sensitive hero at the same time. While it is a change of pace. Sean Penn slides right in like he has been doing it forever. He does get to show off his body and the film includes some of his well-known Past times such as surfing that find their way into the film. 

If you notice this review mainly revolves around him. As truly he is the only noteworthy thing about this movie.

The movie isn’t as compelling as his other thriller THE INTERPRETER though that worked as it had a More sure hand direct by it with Sydney Pollack and worked more as a thriller and at least felt more like an ensemble while he starred in it.

This film seems to be more of an action film but it actually more an espionage film involving spies. Which should make it more intriguing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t In fact, the film seems more devoted to showing off Krav Maga as a fighting style.

It’s easy to get lost in espionage films as to the actual plot once it is finally uncovered. Though it does offer a mystery to be uncovered.

This seems like a film made for an older crowd. As it takes it’s time and offers up mostly older seasoned characters and not the hot young things. So that you know the characters are veterans and skilled. Not naive and learning along the way.

It has all the basic ingredients. As the action scenes are more in the second half and are pretty basic. It seems to hit all the required points but still comes off as dry. Though it seems to be more self-important and spread some kind of message before it becomes more centered on the action.

The love story in the middle of the film seems a bit lame but adds a little skin to the film as well as stakes. Plus can’t blame the filmmakers as this is based on a novel.

The film has some respectable actors shows g up in the film. Even though Idris Elba doesn’t appear until the third act. The film also seems to age funnily by putting up a red herring for a villain amongst the bigger names of the cast.

It seems the recognizable names in these types of films. Are here for easy paychecks and either to be red herrings as the main villain not end up being the surprise third act main bad guy.

Although the film was produced by veteran action producer Joel Silver, Silver was removed from the editing room after one visit, and the final cut of the film was supervised by actor Sean Penn and director Pierre Morel. Which would explain why this seems like Sean Penn porn as he seems all over and able to do everything and anything in this starring role. As it seems if he is going to crossover he wanted to truly make it worth it for him.

When it comes to Javier Bardem’s character you can understand his motivations but it feels so sappy and ridiculously is for a man in his line of work and position. So that even if not the main the film tries to make him seem noble but he comes off more as pathetic.

Grade: C

SICARIO (2015)

Directed By: Dennis Villeneuve 
Written By: Taylor Sheridan 
Cinematography By: Roger Deakins 
Editor: Joe Walker 

Cast: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Donovan, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Maximilano Herandez, Raoul Trujillo

An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.


This film is where director Dennis Villeneuve style really comes alive. Now while PRISONERS is a well directed film. I always had problems with it. Here Villeneuve’s style is crucial to the story.

It can only be explained as he has a knack for making scenes feel alive with tension. Even simple ones. He manages to catch you off guard so many times. That at any moment in his films anything can happen. Especially in the world the characters inhabit. Violence can break out at any time. Tension which he excels makes everything feel urgent and powerfully delivered. Makes it feel like anything can happen

The film while having violent scenes manages the trick of not really showing any violence but making it feel like there is more in the film then there actually is. The few scenes of violence are either so shocking or graphic. That in other scenes that even suggest it. Your imagination is already at work going overboard.

That is certainly a skill in story telling.

Here Emily blunt is our protagonist so we learn things just as she does and through the first half of the film. We realize we are on a mission, but just like her the rules and true objective are confusing and the rules keep changing. So that we are constantly confused even when the audience thinks it knows where the film is going.

She makes a good lead as her character proves both tougher and more fragile then she is presented. Seeing her in EDGE OF TOMMOROW convinced most audiences of her ability to be tough. Which she uses here, but here she also reminds us of how deep and emotional she can be whole Doing or at least showing so little.

Initially, the director was asked to rewrite Emily Blunt’s part for a man. But, Denis Villeneuve wanted Emily Blunt for the role after he saw her in The Young Victoria.

The film could easily be compared to films like TRAFFIC. For how it mainly shows the government side of taking down drug cartels, but the film also manages to tell small Individual stories of different characters and their position in this trade. What it also manages to do is remind the audience yes we are in this films singular world, but there is a greater real bigger world out there. That is our reality that these characters live in also.

Some night even compare the film to ZERO DARK THIRTY. If they did the only reason I can see is that they both have a female protagonist who learns to become more cautious and tougher as the film goes along. As well as learning more information about her supposed target through various different governmental agencies. As well as working with special teams to extract certain people to get to main targets. Though that film is more fact based. This one deals with a real subject, but manages to create it’s own story. This film is truly it’s own Animal

No matter what is shown and not shown this film is brutal. It is a cutthroat world they operate in.

There are some nitpicking like why at first do they forbid her partner access to go with them. Then throughout they seem to not mind if he is there.

Josh Brolin is good as the charismatic leader of this force. Who seems to operate in bureaucracy and in shadows, but the films MVP is Benicio Del Toro as a badass man of mystery. Though his character is mostly quiet. There is an intensity and toughness about him. That makes him look world weary, but constantly sharp. He takes no prisoners and seems to have no moral guide. I missed this type of performance from del toro. He played this type in SAVAGES, but that character was more of a loud mouth and sadistic for fun. Here he does it because he has to and can. If it helps achieve whatever mission he is on.

Throughout the film. The story plays out slowly only revealing itself when it has to. Even when we are privy of scenes and information that blunt isn’t. There isn’t too much revealed. So we are still just as unsure as she is. History is more reveled slowly about the characters rather then present it as soon as we meet them.

The shots throughout are beautifully composed and framed. That makes the territories they govern and go through come Alive. Even in their plainness. They feel constantly full of mystery even though they are mostly plain.

Though the film is structured well and directed well. It doesn’t feel overly stylized.

This film is a doozy, it is wild, yet calm. Epic and far reaching yet small.

The acting that plays out constantly or at least the threat of it Is not the kind you expect in a film Like this. No big action set pieces that rely on the audience finding a thrill. Like it is a roller coaster. Often the violence is either surprising, quick or just plain unorganized in the manner that it happens. This isn’t a thrill seeking movie. It is a thrill feeling movie.

Though it more relies on a moral meter. Rather than having a clear political message or even discussing the politics of the situation. It is matter of fact, yet offers a deep reserve for the audience to ponder. As it Also doesn’t offer any answers. Leaving it more of an open ended film. It’s not even really too much of a political film More like an extreme procedural.

Now while this film could have been made with any director. I believe the reason the film excels is because of director Dennis Villeneuve his style totally fits in with the story and reminds one of the promise he showed with the film INCENDIES. As with his other films though acclaimed. The style for me never quite fit the stories. Or the stories never quite fit his style. They took too many wrong turns or all there seemed to be was that style and little to no substance at least nothing deep. As the direction seemed to suggest.

GRADE: B+

PAPER TOWNS (2015)

Directed By: Jake Schreier
Written By: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Based on the Book by: John Green
Cinematography By: David Lanzenberg
Editor: Jacob Craycroft & Jennifer Lame

Cast: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair, Cara Buono 

*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review

Adapted from the bestselling novel by author John Green, PAPER TOWNS is a coming-of-age story centering on Quentin and his enigmatic neighbor Margo, who loved mysteries so much she became one. After taking him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, Margo suddenly disappears – leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher. The search leads Quentin and his quick-witted friends on an exhilarating adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving. Ultimately, to track down Margo, Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship – and true love.


This reminds me of a John Hughes movie at least the closest modern equivalent. The next generations model. That doesn’t speak in stereotypes and generalities. It also doesn’t feel disposable and plastic. Made purely for entertainment value. Rather than a film that will stick with you.

This film feels like the kind more can identify with for the good and the bad things that the characters do.

How there is a natural mystery to life and in life, but also how we look for things or put various things together that might not even go together or are just various mistakes that happen to fit together and can create their own narrative.

A movie of the generation after mine that feels familiar while having it’s own quirks and points of view. While also playing by it’s own rules.

It stays inventive and charming yet cute. 

What I lie a it the film is that I like about John Hughes films that they are smart, reserved and fun. They educate while telling a entertaining story. It tackles serious subjects lite but responsibly.

Luckily it never passes itself off as deeper than it can handle as it isn’t.

Cara Delevingne’s character is largely absent as she is at the center of the mystery and while her character is mystical there is also a sense of irresponsibility and pretentiousness about her that makes her come off as more manic pixie dream girl. As she has little qualities a young man might wish for in a girl who acts too cool for school. Yet also always seems to try things out to discover. As she has yet to define herself it wants to. Which you can see coming. So when that comes into play you are not that surprised and understand why it must be done. Though seems rather dramatic.

Cara Delevingne wasn’t the only person considered for the role of Margo. Shailene Woodley was originally cast, but had to drop out due to clash of filming schedules with Insurgent. John Green said he would have chosen Emma Blackery, a fellow YouTuber, for the role, but he admitted the casting wasn’t up to him.

I like that the ending shows that it necessarily isn’t meant to be more about learning and bonding with those who care and truly love you.

So that the journey was more important than the goal and have a true adventure. For those who can’t see the obvious. As it is the same lesson told to a new generation in their own language.

Though the film doesn’t hold into account her characters selfishness. Though it does shed light on something women have to go through. Instead of being looked at for themselves, personality and talents. Instead they represent what others choose to put on their shoulders jewel, fantasy, sex object, miracle, and that hey are nothing more the. A guns being a person who has flaws and doesn’t have everything figured out. Falling in love with their without really knowing them.

A teen, free spirit who while admitting guilt at least apologizes and proved to be a convenient to freedom at least from a mind state or sense of being. Also away from your parents.

While I am not necessarily a big fan of John Green’s books. Of which I have only read one and really enjoyed it. As i find his writing somewhat truthful, well researched, quirky and touching as he doesn’t paint his characters as saints and actually has sexuality and language. That most books of that type seem to avoid to be more universal and safe.

In the book, Angela does not (and is never asked to) go on the road trip. Does not have the same ending as book

If you like coming if she movies or teen films. This will be a nice film to check out. Time nothing special but it is a good time.

Grade: C+