Dir. Akira Kurosawa (1961)
Yojimbo is about a masterless samurai, or ronin named Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune) who comes to aid a town that is divided by dueling gambling lords. There is no peace, and fighting seems to happen everyday, so it is up to Sanjuro to put an end to all of it. A lot of fighting ensues. The entire movie is SO busy. And hectic. There really isn't even that much of a plot, because it is really just centered around the two battling lords and how they're both trying to get Sanjuro to be their bodyguards and help them beat the other side. It's almost purely action based, but some parts are comedy. The thing is, I'm not sure if it's supposed to be comedic or not. Kurosawa didn't seem like he would have much of a sense of humor, since most of his films are really focused on humanity and emotionally charged situations. Still, there are some lines from the sake brewer and other characters that are just comical. I also laughed every single time someone would go out in the town and bang drums to announce the hour. The soundtrack killed me too, because it was just like intense fluting and just the kind of music you wouldn't expect to hear when there's such a violent situation unraveling in the film. Toshiro Mifune is a great actor from what I can tell in seeing him in Yojimbo and Rashomon, because his two characters are polar opposites. In this, Mifune plays Sanjuro, who is a very stoic samurai who really gives off the I'm A Tough Righteous Guy vibes. He's so relaxed all the time too, which is a funny juxtaposition between the gambling lords who have zero chill at all. In Rashomon, he plays this crazed bandit with a really scary laugh that sounds like it comes out of one of those witch figurines that they sell during Halloween. (maybe that's not a thing. I have one.) He's also an embarrassingly bad swordsman and fighter, whereas in this movie he kills three men in like, less than ten seconds. This movie was okay, but it was just too busy for me. It didn't really have a plot, so I was really confused the entire time trying to look for one. I've heard Sanjuro is a lot better and has plot and character development, so if I get around to it, I'd like to watch it to compare. I feel like compared to other Kurosawa movies, this one might not have as much emotional depth. I've only seen two of his, so that's only based off descriptions. I didn't hate it, but I generally prefer to have an idea of what's going on most of the time when I'm watching a movie. No hate to Kurosawa, though, because he's great. That's all.
Dir. Joss Whedon (2012)
The Avengers... the first movie in the Marvel series where all the heroes that have been built up in their own movies are in one together. All is well in the world, until Loki starts being annoying as usual and starts some real other world conflict. The Avengers then band together, with the introduction of Black Widow (!!!) to fight Loki and his army from another planet (I can't really keep up with all the armies and alien people that come to attack from other planets under Loki's leadership. He does it so often, and I just watched the second Thor, where there's even more alien people, so I'm not even going to attempt to name them.) (Also, I don't really feel like writing a review for Thor: The Dark World because I didn't care for it and don't think its necessary to write an entire review on. But just know I watched it.) But there's some pretty freaky ones in this film, and they looked like they were really gonna destroy New York and also the world if the Avengers didn't band together. There was some pretty important character stuff going on in this movie, like conflict between Steve and Tony. They really didn't get along, so I get why the Civil War movie happens shortly. Unless that's not what I think it's about, then never mind. Admittedly, I didn't watch The Incredible Hulk or Iron Man 2 and 3 (check my review on Iron Man to get why I didn't), but I don't think that affected my viewing of Avengers. If there were any important plot changes or set ups in those movies, I didn't notice anything that I didn't understand in this one. I loved Black Widow. She was tough and strong and smart and had some cool character development. And in the first ten minutes of the movie she effectively got herself out of bondage from a chair, knocked out three guys while being tied up, and then hung one of them upside down. I don't like or dislike the SHIELD people, so whether or not they get more developed in movies to come doesn't matter much to me. I guess they do serve an important purpose to the entire series, though.
This movie has converted me. I never thought I would be into the superhero movies, but this one did it. I got CHILLS watching this! SO GOOD! For some reason, I enjoy watching all of the heroes act together instead of in their own individual movies. I really get why people are so obsessed with this. I still don't have a favorite, but I'm leaning towards Thor or Captain America for now. The humor in this movie was a must for me, or I probably would not have liked it as much. The scene at the very end after the credits where they're all eating that weird food that Tony wanted to try made my life. And also taught me that I will watch till the end of the credits from now on. A+ on The Avengers.
Dir. Vittorio de Sica (1955)
This movie was.... a real bummer. I feel like I somehow understood it wrong, though, because I know that Italian Neorealists films aren't supposed to be sad. Sorry! It was really sad! It was an odd movie, though, because usually sad movies really play up the sad parts to make the audience feel it too. But this one was just showing Umberto and his dog as they were, living day to day and really struggling. The saddest parts usually contained the dog, Flag, but that's not even because they played up the parts with the dog to make the audience feel more sympathetic. That's just because I like dogs and when bad things happen to them it is very upsetting. It didn't even feel like a movie. I guess that's Neorealism done right. I can't say I enjoyed watching it, because I was more just watching it for what it was, if that makes sense. The main character, Umberto, is not a protagonist. He's just the character that the movie focuses on. He's not a good person in the sense that he does good deeds, but I did admire him for his relentlessness (for the most part, not counting that almost suicide theme) to keep trying to make ends meet. A lot of people who basically live on the streets would just give up and accept it. Umberto had scarcely any lines, too, so it was hard to analyze his personality. I think that just adds to the essence of the film, to show things how they truly are, because in real life a person like Umberto wouldn't really have any friends and he's mostly on his own, so he wouldn't be speaking much anyways. It felt like a silent film almost. It was almost like a Charlie Chaplin film, but slowed down a lot and makes you just feel like a heavy depressed lump afterwords. There's no real lovable character (except Flag), which is an odd thing to watch in a movie.
My favorite parts of the movie were probably the saddest, partly because it actually seemed like the plot was coming to some kind of climax, but mostly because that's when the most emotion was seen. Umberto came really close to committing suicide, which you could totally see coming, even though you really didn't want him to do it. It's strange, because making that scene so raw with nothing to play it up kinda makes you feel/understand it more. You're just watching a man who has run out of options and doesn't see a need to live anymore, which is one of the saddest human reactions that you can watch in a film. This one just felt really different because of the way it was filmed. The only strong bond that the man has is with his dog, and that ends up kind of saving his life. I would say it is endearing, but that's still pretty depressing because at the end he is no better or worse. That's my thing with Italian Neorealism: I do appreciate it because it knocks your socks off with the way it portrays emotions. I like it even more because none of the actors are professionals, they're just people. It makes everything feel so real. But, does it all have to be sad? Are they all bummers? In this way, Umberto D was really no different than Bicycle Thieves. I can't say I liked it, but I appreciated it for what it was.
Dir. Woody Allen (2017)
So, this is one of the only Woody Allen movies I have ever seen. And it was so odd! He does that on purpose, apparently. So basically, Kate Winslet (I forget what her character's name was) works and lives on Coney Island in the 1950s. She lives in a small one floor apartment with her husband, Humpty, and her pyromaniac son, Richie. Mickey (Justin Timberlake) is a lifeguard at the Coney Island beach, but he acts as the narrator for the film and also Ginny's (that's Winslet) lover. The entire movie is basically about Ginny's affair with Mickey and her struggle of losing her beauty and youth. She is losing confidence in herself, and this gets worse when Humpty's long lost daughter, Carolina, arrives on the scene after being estranged from him for years. She is on the run from the mob after leaving her husband. Ginny is totally wrapped up in this affair with Mickey, but things turn south when Carolina shows up. Mickey slowly starts falling in love with her, which causes Ginny to go into a downfall. She only had Mickey left to make her feel like she was still youthful and beautiful, and when he left her for another woman, she was enraged. Ginny then calls and reveals Carolina's whereabouts to the mob while her and Mickey are on a date, and Carolina then goes missing. The movie ends with Ginny back to living her bland life with her husband and son, now with an inescapable guilt of giving away Carolina.
This movie felt really odd because it felt more like a play instead of a movie. The lighting, staging, and camera work all added to this. I was actually getting really hard Streetcar Named Desire vibes from it. It focused almost only on dialogue, and the only music that played was the music from Coney Island in the distance. I think it was mostly quiet to emphasize the emotions going on in the movie, which isn't that deep anymore because we've all seen that done before. There was also an odd thing that happened with the lighting. Every time Ginny had conflict with her husband or Mickey, a bright red light was either coming in through the window shades or in the distance. Whenever she was doubting herself and feeling like she was losing her youth, a blue light shown. That just seems like a typical thing that happens in plays. It reminded me of the blue piano from Streetcar. I can't say I liked the movie, but I guess I'm glad that I watched another Woody Allen so I can know him better as a director (not a person). The one thing that I did like about this movie was the aesthetic and cinematography, but when that's all that is good in a movie, it's not enough to make me like it. If you've seen Allen movies before, then I don't recommend this movie. If you haven't, it might be an OK one to watch.
Dir. Simon Curtis (2017)
Warning: this is a biopic! Apparently that wards some people off. They are kind of different from other movies and they give off a different feel (definitely not meaning it's bad). For some reason, this didn't really feel like a biopic though. It felt like just a plain old movie. It follows the story of Alan Milne, the creator of the Winnie the Pooh series. I grew up reading those books, but never knew the back story to them or how they ever came to be. I am kind of actually really bummed about it after watching the movie. Not that it ruins the books, but it definitely puts a damper on everything. Milnes (Domhnall Gleeson), suffering from severe PTSD after WWI, moves with his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) and his son, real name Christopher Robin but goes by Billy Moon. As a writer, he needs the peace and quiet to think of his next idea. It is in this small house where he finally becomes close with his young son, because he had never been around him before as both the parents left the job of actual parenting to a governess, Nou. As Milne starts spending more and more time with his son, he steps into Billy Moon's world of imagination and playtime with his favorite stuffed animals: a bear, a tiger, piglet, kangaroo, and a donkey. This is where he gets the idea to write a children's book with Christopher Robin as the main character featuring all of his stuffed animals as actual animals with unique personalities and names. The books blow up, and in his moment of fame Milnes becomes a huge jerk. He uses his son for publicity and doesn't really let him have a childhood anymore because he's always taking him to press tours and interviews instead of letting him stay at home and play. This is actually heartbreaking, because all that Billy Moon wanted was a relationship with his father and to play with him. He grows up and goes to boarding school, where he's brutally bullied because of his role of Christopher Robin, and then he goes on to enlist in the military. At this point, he is almost completely estranged from his parents. When he is sent home, he tells his father how much he ruined his childhood and how much he resents him for it. Things end with the relationship slightly bettering with Milnes trying to rebuild a genuine relationship between the two.
This movie was OK. All I could think about was how sad the actual backstory was. The ending was subpar for how the entire movie went, but I guess that's the point of a biopic. They're not really making up the plot or the ending, they're just retelling history through a film. The performance of the actors in this movie was pretty great. I particularly liked Gleeson as Milnes. I've seen him in a few movies here and there (including a favorite of mine, About Time, which does not get the praise that it deserves) He was so cute in that movie and lovable, and he went to a mentally ill PTSD suffering horrible parent in this movie. He was great! He really came off as emotionally unavailable. Margot Robbie was good as Daphne, but I've seen her in better movies. It was kind of odd and surprising that she was in this movie. I don't know why, I guess I just didn't really see her as being in this kind of movie? That doesn't really make sense but it just felt odd. Her acting was great, nonetheless. It wasn't a huge part, because the movie really just focused on the father and son. Going back to that: the story was sad, but I guess there wasn't really anything else to predict. Milnes had PTSD from the war, and he was so focused on that and his fear of another war that there wasn't enough room for him to focus on anything else, let alone being a father. The movie made it predictable that he would be a pretty bad parent. The title itself seems sentimental and cute upon first glance, but it's actually a real bummer when you watch the movie.
Dir. Jake Kasdan (2017)
I FINALLY SAW IT! I had wanted to see this movie for forever. It spent weeks in the theaters and I still didn't get to go see it. I guess this was during my Oscar phase when I needed to see every movie that was nominated. That sounded pretentious. Okay, I loved this movie! It was HILARIOUS. If you don't think that it's funny, you probably actually do but you don't want to admit it because you are on some high horse. If that's the case, please dismount the horse and admit that this movie is hysterical. I'm glad that this movie was made and that it was made this way, because the first movie created a really cool concept but they made it oddly creepy. I watched it not that long ago because I had plans to see this one, and looking back, that movie would be kinda scary for kids! My 10 year old brother got a little creeped out and I do not blame him. That drum beat that started playing whenever the game was nearby was honestly kinda scary. And the things that came out of the book were disturbing as well, like those huge spiders. In this movie, the players go INTO the game, instead of the other way around. I think that's a much better concept.
After seeing Central Intelligence, I love when Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart make movies together. They're hilarious. And it looks like they like doing movies together too. The addition of Jack Black was genius. This movie really cemented my opinion on him. I've only seen him in movies here and there (for some reason Nacho Libre is really prominent in my mind and I don't want it to be)... but he was really the most memorable part of this movie. No one would shut up about how funny he was, but they have reason to! He was really funny! I was also pretty impressed with Nick Jonas. Usually when famous singers are in movies, I am not impressed. It kinda just ruins the movie a little because you're not used to seeing them as an actor and it just feels like they're playing themselves for the sole fact that they're in a movie (I'm thinking about Selena Gomez in The Fundamentals of Caring). However, he was pretty good! It made me appreciate him a lot more. SPOILER: I loved how they tied in the old movie with Nick Jonas (I don't remember his name in the movie) being the boy who got lost in the game 20 years ago. It took a while for me to figure it out (OK, I figured it out when the movie revealed it actually). The way the movie ends is cute too, but pretty predictable for the plot.
This is another one of those movies that is just enjoyable to watch. You don't have to worry about its depth, there's nothing to really ponder about after you see it, it's just funny for funny's sake. I don't think I will ever stop loving these kinds of movies. It's hard for people to not enjoy those kinds of movies. I really don't even have anything bad to say about it. If you haven't seen it, go see it, and I guarantee that you'll laugh.
Dir. Jon Favreau (2008)
So, uh.. is this everyone's favorite? Does everyone like Iron Man the most? It just seems like it, because everyone was like "you MUST watch this one first!!" I didn't, oops. And to be honest, this one was probably my least favorite. Sorry!!! It was really boring to me. I don't know why everyone loves Iron Man so much, probably because Robert Downey Jr. is literally just sarcastic the entire time. It's funny, but he didn't really act at all. And Iron Man himself is really not that great of a person. He makes the suit and is super smart, but he is kind of awful to Pepper. He bosses her around and she does everything for him, and she still is totally okay with it and falls for him just because he's funny. He even forgets her birthday! And ditches her on the balcony during that party! And makes her do the super gross thing when she fixes his metal heart or whatever (even though that was kind of nice) but what does she get in return? I don't know, I just don't get it. You can totally tell they're going to be together by the end, but their relationship just seems kinda like a fraud to me. He's also completely selfish. I mean, all of the superheroes are self-centered (because how could they not be?) but at least they kept their identity concealed for the most part. The Hulk actually hates and is embarrassed that he turns into a huge green guy when he's angry. Not Iron Man! He tells the whole world that he is in fact Iron Man and he gets a ton of recognition. I KIND OF understand why, because he made that entire suit two times himself with his own knowledge and skill, when the other superheroes didn't do that much work themselves. He also was held captive in that cave for a really long time and escaped with that suit. Don't get me wrong, I admire him for that. Still, he just doesn't sit well with me. I skipped the second one, because I heard that not much happens (sorry, ok??). I DID like the love interest better in this one, or at least better than I liked Jane from Thor, but Peggy is the best by far. So overall, there's not much else I have to say. I didn't love it, but I'm glad I watched it so I know what's going on for the rest of the movies. It was long and kind of just boring. Probably my least favorite one for now.
Dir. Joe Johnston (2011)
Captain America, AKA Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), lives in 1940s America during WWII. He is short, scrawny and weak, and all he wants to do is join the army but gets rejected every time. He's resorted to lying on his application to apply multiple times, knowing that if he gets caught he will get sent to jail. His life changes when he runs into Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci), who gives him a chance. He enlists Steve in the army, despite his struggle to keep up with the other recruits, because he sees something different in him. During training, when a fake grenade is thrown on the ground, everyone runs but Steve. He throws himself on top of it to protect others. He is a genuine, morally good human, and this is what persuades Dr. Erskine to make Rogers the subject of his experiment. Rogers is to undergo Project Rebirth, designed by Dr. Erskine to make Rogers into a superhuman with incredible strength, speed, and power. The whole idea behind Rebirth is that it enhances strength in people, so the good get better and the bad worsen. This is why Rogers is chosen: he has the good moral character, so when he is given the power he will be enhanced into a hero to fight in the war. The experiment is successful, and right after Rogers is transformed, Erskine is murdered by a German HYDRA agent, which is a top secret research department in Nazi Germany run by Schmidt, an evil dictator who has the powers of the tesseract (a powerful cube of sorts) and uses it to ruthlessly murder his enemies. Rogers is angered and in want of revenge, and after being made a show pony and puppet for war recruitment, finally shapes up to fight against Schmidt and defeat HYDRA.
I enjoyed this one for the most part. The story was really interesting and I followed it pretty well, I think. I get how every movie references the other Avenger movies, because the tesseract with in Thor's dad Odin's greatest prize and it was in Asgard in some giant vault. I guess it got robbed so then Schmidt had it? That's unclear but was or will be probably explained somewhere else. First thing: the CGI in this movie KILLED me. Evans' small weakly body in the first part of the movie looked so fake it made me cringe, so I'm glad that didn't last for long. His head moved but his body didn't. I couldn't take him seriously. Anyways, I really liked Rogers for the most part, except there were times when he got really righteous about himself and thought he was God's gift to mankind. I guess he had an excuse, because he actually did defeat HYDRA and Schmidt, but he didn't have to be so self centered at times. This movie really reminded me of Wonder Woman for some reason; probably because they were both fighting in either WWI or WWII, and the Schmidt was kinda similar to Aries. Also, there were so many sad parts in this movie! Are Marvel movies supposed to be sad? Bucky DEFINITELY did not have to die, that was so unnecessary. For some reason I loved their friendship and was expected that to be a constant in the series. Guess not.... and I'm sensing a recurring theme of the hero never ending up with their love interest. I really did not love the ending, because he just slept for 70 years and totally missed out on being with Peggy. And Peggy was COOL. I liked her a lot better than Jane, because she had so much more development and a better personality and was all around a stronger character. I felt like she had a lot more purpose in the movie and for sure thought she would be in the rest of the movies, (or maybe she will? No one will tell me anything when I ask questions like these). When Rogers woke up, he was all bummed and all he said was "I had a date" and then it just ends. I hope somehow Peggy resurfaces or something because I loved her. I guess I shouldn't get my hopes up though, because with any series people that you love die, and then you feel dead inside. Overall, I really liked this movie. Hopefully I like the other characters as much as I did Captain America, and from what I can tell already, I can tell that Marvel makes these characters pretty lovable. I can see why everyone is such a fan.
Friends and readers,
I have decided to embark on the journey that is the Marvel Series. This is embarrassing, I know, but before Black Panther, I had only ever seen maybe 2 Marvel movies. I'm not really sure why, I was just never that interested. Oh, how the tables have turned. I know I am SUPER late and I have so much catching up to do, and there's a real chance that I will be really confused throughout this entire process. I'm going to try my best though, and I'm having all of my Marvel nerd friends (I mean that in the most endearing way possible) help me with this. Please don't judge my reviews on these movies too harshly, because I will almost definitely get names and places and all sorts of stuff mixed up. I'm sorry in advance. The goal is to watch all of phases 1, 2 and 3 before Infinity War comes out, but don't hold me to that. So, without further ado, enjoy these reviews from someone who might have the least amount of knowledge on Marvel possible, and please bear with me.
Dir. Kenneth Branagh (2011)
Thor, the son of Odin, lives on a planet called Asgard. This is one planet of nine realms, which also include MidGuard (earth) and Jotunheim, where the enemy Frost Giants live. Thor, son of the King Odin, is about to inherit his father's throne. He is going to be king over his brother, Loki. Thor's coronation and ceremony is quickly disrupted when Odin learns news that the Frost Giants have invaded Asgard in an attempt to steal the Tesseract, held in the Casket of Ancient Winters, which is Asgard's most prized possession. The Tesseract is the source of power for all of the planet. Thor is infuriated that his ceremony has been interrupted, and also that Asgard's source of power has been taken. Odin strongly advises his son to not do anything, but Thor goes against his father and rounds up Loki and a few warrior friends to travel to Jotunheim to retrieve the Tesseract. This requires passing through Heimdall, the gatekeeper, who has to open the Bifrost (the means of traveling through the realms). Thor and his team fight the Frost Giants, and for a while it looks like they will win, when things turn poorly. Thor is almost defeated until Odin appears to defend them and return them to Asgard. Even though no one was hurt, the battle that Thor caused started a war between Jotunheim and Asgard. Infuriated, Odin strips Thor of his powers and exiles him from Asgard due to his arrogance. He is sent to Midguard, and lands in New Mexico. His hammer, Mjolnir, is stuck in the ground, since Thor is not able to wield it without his powers. In New Mexico, he meets Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), an astrophysicist, her intern Darcy, and their mentor Dr. Erik Selvig. They offer to let Thor stay with them, though they are confused by who he is and his incredible strength. During this time, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents located Mjolnir and built a site around it to investigate more and try to archive it. Hearing this, Thor goes on a mission to try to get Mjolnir out of the ground, which is impossible because he has been stripped of his powers. Meanwhile in Asgard, Odin has fallen into a deep sleep to recover from illness. Loki has overthrown the crown and named himself king, and travels to Jotunheim. After discovering that he is the son of Laufey (leader of Jotunheim), and he was adopted by Odin as a baby, he returns to make a deal with Laufey to travel to Asgard and kill Odin while he is asleep. Opposing Loki on the throne, Thor's friends and warriors travel to Midguard to rescue Thor. Hearing this, Loki summons the destroyer, which is some large metal giant that shoots fire out of his eyes to go after them. On earth, Thor finds his friends, but they are defeated by the destroyer. Thor then sacrifices himself to save his friends, and near death, he proves that he is morally capable of having his powers back, and Mjolnir is returned to him. He defeats the destroyer and leaves with the warriors to go to Asgard to fight Loki. In Asgard, Loki betrayed Laufey and used the fake plot as a way to destroy Jotunheim to prove to his family that he is worthy of being King. When Thor arrives, he fights Loki and destroys the bridge to the bifrost to stop Loki from his plan. Doing this, he destroys the only way to Midguard, severing his chances of ever seeing Jane again. Loki then jumps into the destroyed space portal, supposedly committing suicide. Thor is now back on Asgard with Odin, while Jane is still in search of another way to open the portal.
So, this was actually the first Avengers movie I watched. I was not disappointed. Thor is probably my top two with Captain America, even after watching Iron Man. The plot of this movie seemed a little more basic in terms of a superhero movie (not that I'm well versed in any of that), but I can see why because it's the first addition in the Thor series. That wasn't really a con for me, because there were other parts of this movie that made me really like it. First, the special effects were GREAT. I loved the way Asgard looked and all the realms and that good stuff. And it was even made in 2011! Wow. It was just fun to watch. I can tell they are already setting up Thor's personality to be pretty comical, like the one scene in the diner where he smashes the glass of beer. This movie was mildly funny, so I am looking forward to watching his humor and personality grow as the movies progress. I've heard Ragnarok is hilarious, but I still have a long way to go before I get to that. But Thor's character was probably my favorite, along with Darcy. I really hope Darcy is in the other movies because she's pretty funny too. The one character I didn't really get or see any relevance to was Jane.... sorry, Natalie Portman, but she did nothing to the plot besides being the romantic interest. Even though she was a scientist and had her own gig going, which is great, really her only lines were her ogling over Thor and being completely entranced with him. It was just annoying to watch. They could have made her more developed and with her own actual personality. That was really the only part of the movie that I disliked. Other than that, it was pretty solid. I don't think I need to go more in depth because everyone has seen Thor except me, so this was really just a test to see if I would actually like it. I did.