2014 Box Office Leaders

#1: Frozen: This is a Disney movie that is massively popular, and is proven to be by the amount of money it has made so far: nearly 400 million dollars. One of the most successful Disney Films, Frozen earned 2.6 times more money than was spent on it.

#2: Gravity: This Alfonso Cuaron directed blockbuster was not only the winner of seven Academy Awards, but it also earned 275 million dollars.

#3: The LEGO Movie: This movie was a surprise, but was evidently extremely entertaining, making the second of three children’s movies on the top box office earnings. One factor that may have lead to the popularity of these children movies is that they have some aspects that may be appealing to adults as well. The LEGO Movie earned 250 million dollars.

#4: Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Only in its third week released this massively popular Marvel film is seeing a 200 million dollar revenue, but is most likely expected to as much as double that. We have seen Marvel become a cinema giant, or cinema hulk recently and both Captain America films have been a part of that.

#5: Divergent: Much like Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter, Divergent is a blockbuster film based on a teen book that saw great box office earnings. Divergent has seen 133 million dollars so far and is still climbing.

#6: Mr. Peabody & Sherman: The third children’s movie on this list, yet is the only one that hasn’t profited from the box office earnings yet. Mr. Peabody & Sherman has gotten 107 million dollars, though used 145 million as their budget.

#7: 300: Rise of an Empire: The sequel to a very popular 300, 300: Rise of an Empire has earned about half as much as its predecessor so far.

#8: Noah: Noah is a biblical epic of massive proportions that has made about 100 million dollars though hasn’t made up for its large price tag of 125 million.

#9: Non-Stop: This action thriller takes place inside of a plane where Liam Neeson does what he always does. This always attracts an audience evidently since he has brought in 90 million dollars.

#10: The Monuments Men: The collage of decorated actors in this World War II drama didn’t necessarily reach intellectual viewers, and really sort of let down audiences, but that didn’t stop it from reaching 77 million dollars.

Review of Joe (2014)

Joe is a dramatic film highlighting fatherhood, friendship, morality, and the outcomes of revenge and grudges. This film stars Nicholas Cage as Joe, an ex-con who is a veteran at killing trees for deforestation for the land-owners. We see Joe in this controlled environment, as a foreman who systematically gives pay. We see glimpses of his past as an erratic, reckless man, but he is for the most part more stable now.

But, he meets a boy named Gary, who is the son of an abusive father, this disrupts his stable environment. He gets several run-ins with cops, he gets into more violence, and we see this controlled system of his life slowly crumble into his past self. One of my favorite scenes is when Joe and Gary go to search for Joe’s dog. They have fun, and the this scene shows less acting, and more just plain enjoyment and the actors being themselves.

The director puts these characters in a depressing, bleak mood. Events that tear the characters apart just keep happening, and towards the climax, we see Joe faced with a moral decision where neither choice is ideal. A great scene that shows his slow breakdown to violence and frustration is when he lets his bulldog kill another dog. Joe really gets a strong relationship with Gary. I think the greatest point this movie makes is that a boy who doesn’t have a good childhood really has a tendency to crime, and Joe, who has gone down that path tries, but pretty much fails to keep Gary from going down the wrong road.

I like Nicholas Cage as Joe because lately Cage has played this crazed, manic person, and since this role forces him to tone down his acting, it actually matches the character he is playing. Also, the actor who plays Gary’s dad, who actually has no acting experience, actually gives the most dynamic and, really, the best performance in this movie. There is also a child actor, Tye Sheridan (Gary) who is puts out a good performance and nearly keeps up with Nicholas Cage.

My rating: 7/10

 

 

Top 7 War Films of All Time

War films have been a genre ever since All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), but have been more popular following World War II, and there is a film about WWII almost every year. A great war film is made up of some or all of the following: accurate violence, effects of war, severity of war, soldier relationships, and acts of heroism. I have chosen this list based on this criteria: the films have to completely be immersed in war, no films that don’t have actual war or just take place during a war,  and no films about the holocaust alone (see Schindler’s List), and the films have to be about wars that are real, no fictional wars (see Star Wars or Lord of the Rings). I have chosen them based upon cultural and cinema influence, depiction of war, watchablity and entertainment , and critical acclaim.

#7: The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Deer Hunter is a film depicting the violent effects of the Vietnam War on United States soldiers. With an amazing cast including De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Meryl Streep; this war film is entertaining based on acting alone. Showing prisoners forced into a game of Russian Roulette, this is a very intense and emotional flick. This film won 5 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. The Vietnam War was a drastically violent war and this film shows the immediate impact of its warfare on Americans. I love how this movie is split up into three perfect parts. The first part is the wedding and a first hunting trip, which shows not only their life before the Vietnam war, but the happiness and chemistry between friends as well. The second part is the war itself. Then the final part depicts the same setting after the war

#6: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

All Quiet on the Western Front pretty much kickstarted the war film genre. Based on a book by Erich Maria Remarque, this is a film depicting the effect of World War I on german soldiers and violence it brought upon them. All Quiet on the Western Front follows Paul as he loses comrades, endures warfare, and goes through emotional disappointments.

#5: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

This is a war classic starring Alec Guiness, who won an Oscar for his performance. It is directed by David Lean, and he and Guiness made another spectacular movie, called Lawrence of Arabia. The Bridge on the River Kwai is a movie about an american General who cooperates with the Japanese to build a railway bridge at a prisoner of war camp. Both the Americans and Japanese building it don’t know that the Allies actually plan to destroy it. This is one of the few World War II films that show the Japanese in a somewhat different light than the Americans’ opinions. One other I can think of is Letters from Iwo Jima, which is also a good war film.

#4: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

This Stanley Kubrick classic comedy is original, comedic, but uses it in a clever, satirical fashion in the background of war and a harsh drill sergeant. Much like The Deer Hunter, this film shows the effects of the Vietnam War on recruits. Going back and forth between fire fights and bootcamp training, Full Metal Jacket is a realistic representation of the dehumanization that the army gives to soldiers.

#3: Platoon (1986)

Platoon really stretched the boundaries of war violence in a motion picture. It has bloody scenes, yet for a reason. Platoon uses theses scenes to get the realest image of war and it totally works. This film uses morality as a theme in the middle of the Vietnam war, and shows the development of a soldier, much like All Quiet on the Western Front.

#2: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

If Platoon stretched the boundaries of war violence, then Saving Private Ryan blew them up with a World War II tank. The opening scene of a battle at Normandy is intense but masterfully executed by Steven Spielberg and company. Starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, Saving Private Ryan is about a Captain who receives an order to rescue Private Ryan, who’s brothers had all died in World War II. The theme of this movie is the dilemma of “Is it worth it to potentially sacrifice five men to ultimately save another?” And this moral decision is covered by the soldiers while they fight their way to rescue Ryan. This is by far the best war film of the recent decade and maybe the best one of World War II.

#1 Apocalypse Now (1979)

This is a Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece about the Vietnam War and a general who is sent to assassinate a rogue colonel in Cambodia.  The most beautiful war film ever, and masterfully written, the most i can say about this film is for everyone who is reading this to watch it, since the film is much like poetry, where the interpretation is up to the viewer, and can’t really disclose my experience because it is definitely different from everyone else.

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Review of The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson’s latest film about a hotel concierge named Gustave an his lobby boy named Zero Mustafa where he become fugitives after murdering a woman who leaves a painting in Gustave’s possession. This movie has a great cast with Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, and Harvey Keitel. But the great thing about this script is it used the famous actors in a good way where they don’t steal the show. Wes Anderson plays them as character actors, and bringing enjoyment everytime you see Bill Murray or Edward Norton appear. This comedy also includes some war satires, including a scene where soldiers in the hotel hear gunshots and start firing at each other for no reason, maybe sarcastically representing the absurdity of the second World War.

Plot: The Grand Budapest Hotel starts out with a woman reading a book. This book is written by someone who is retelling a story about how he met an owner of the Grand Budapest. That owner then tells the author a story of how he used to be a lobby boy for Gustave H., an eccentric hotel concierge. Gustave H then steals a famous painting from a mean, rich person who then chases after him.

The greatest part of this movie is the screenplay, set design, and camerawork. This movie shows quick cuts to still cameras that show rooms or places. It is enchanting, and the details put into each shot is unreal. Wes Anderson also puts great colors into each shot making them infinitely more interesting and never loses your attention. Ralph Fiennes delivers a great performance as the concierge. One of the best parts of this film is the relationship between this vastly rich  concierge and a low lobby boy. As the story progresses, we see a friendship unfold and we see a theme of how money can destroy many things ,and that it we may take money for more than it is worth. A great scene is at the end, we see this famous painting that people died over just wonky in a small room, enhancing that theme even more.

My Favorite Films of All Time

So here are my top 7 movies that have ever existed. Keep in mind that I have chosen these based only on the level of enjoyment I experienced these movies at. I haven’t seen a lot of movies, but these are my favorite of the ones I have seen.

7: The Departed (2006)

The Departed is a remake of 2002’s Infernal Affairs, but it is a little bit better executed because of director Martin Scorsese, and a brilliant cast. It follows Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Sargent Sullivan (Matt Damon).  Billy Costigan is an undercover cop who goes in the gang run by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). At the same time, Sullivan is a henchman of Costello who goes undercover in the police force. Both sides suspect a rat in their respective operations and try to find who it is. This film is extremely entertaining, and I could watch it over and over. Components of this film that contribute it to being such an enjoyable movie are: the plot, acting (especially Jack Nicholson, and screenplay.

6: Raging Bull (1980)

Raging Bull is a boxing movie starring De Niro and Joe Pesci. In reality, it isn’t actually about boxing, just a boxer who sees his life affected by boxing. De Niro plays Jake LaMotta, a world renowned middleweight boxer. Him and his brother, Joey (Joe Pesci)try to climb atop the boxing world while seeing Jake self destruct in the process.
Martin Scorsese brilliantly displays Jake’s brutality and violence onto the characters in his life.

5:  The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

This classic prison film shows Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) go through hardships in Prison Shawshank after he was wrongly convicted of double murder. This biopic explores Andy through his life sentence in the maximum security prison. He makes friends and enemies with prisoners and prison guards, and even personally becomes the warden’s personal accountant/ financial advisor. The Shawshank Redemption is an emotional story of fortitude and strength displayed by the lead, and how he makes a great friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman) along the way.

4: Fight Club (1999)

This David Fincher film wasn’t acknowledged enough at its release by critcs or by box office, but it is know well recognized and very entertaining. This is a psychological thriller about a guy, The Narrator (Edward Norton) who is bored with life and meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), an eccentric soapmaker who convinces The Narrator to make a fight club with him. The fight club is under a bar where people fight for fun. Tyler Durden goes a little bit out of control and starts something called Project Mayhem where he creates chaos in the city. Then, Tyler Durden disappears after he tells the Narrator that he will explode some buildings. This is an extremely original and creative film directed by David Fincher, it is one of the most fun experiences you can have watching a movie.

3: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is a wonderful, creative, entertaining, and fun film that brings together stories of a boxer, two fun-talking hit men, and a gang boss’ wife. The writing of this film is perhaps the greatest of its decade and Tarantino brought the world a movie that no film has ever done or perhaps ever will. He artistically weaves together the character’s stories and includes themes of morality,  crime, and gang violence. And a mysterious suitcase!

2:The Godfather (1972)

Though The Godfather is about crime and the mafia, it is one of the most beautiful films of all time and the strongest themes are actually family and power. With a very strong acting cast in Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, and Al Pacino, there wasn’t many flaws in that department especially with its impeccable script. The Godfather follows the Corleone family who is involved with the mafia. The head of the family, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), or the “godfather”, is aging and soon has to move on. So, through the movie, we see his son Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) becoming the “godfather” as well as the Corleone’s conflicts with other mafia families.

1: Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane is a biography of Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), a wealthy, powerful owner of the New York Inquirer who was loved by some, hated by some. The movie starts where it shows newspapers of his death and his final words of, “Rosebud, Rosebud.” Then it shows a reporter investigating the meaning behind those words. The rest of the movie is the story of Charles Foster Kane’s life from beginning to end. This is truly a masterpiece of cinema that will never be replicated. One thing very inspirational about this film is because Orson Welles had complete artistic freedom in this film, yet very little budget and still delivered greatly. Words still can’t completely grasp the greatness and legacy of this influential artwork, but the most I can say is this: Watch it.

Review of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

When I decided to review Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, I was for sure expecting trash at the end of an excruciating series of “found footage” ghost/demon movies. Let me tell you, just because I am telling it to you like this doesn’t necessarily mean I actually liked the film. It DEFINITELY doesn’t mean that. That being said, I did experience a minute amount of entertainment.

Alright, so the movie begins at a high school graduation; the fact that it shows teens having fun and messing around just makes me want to stop watching the film due to how many teenage death movies start out that way. No paranormal activity movie is without friends or family casually discussing “weird sounds, moaning.” And The Marked Ones does not disappoint, three minutes through and there is already joking about moaning. The story follows Jesse a graduate from high school who lives in an apartment complex in Oxnard, CA. Jesse and his friends talk about a neighbor who is “strange”, and “maybe a witch.” They start to pry into that neighbor, named Anna. He sees Anna perform some sort of ritual on another lady, she draws a red circle on her stomach. Jesse and his friend, Hector start messing with Anna, such as telling kid to go knock on her door. But they stop joking around when they find out she was murdered. The whole movie just goes on and on about a guy possessed by a demon, like nearly every horror movie, ever. So. The Marked Ones just goes on around that premise until he becomes murderous, and in the climax there are actually a few unexpected cameos to the rest of the Paranormal Activity series. But, in order to do this, the writer had to make the climax very confusing because they were in a witch coven house and then Hector just appears in the house from the first Paranormal Activity from a door. A confusing climax is not a good thing to have in a film.

The Marked Ones seems like a one of those games you would play with your friends in the 5th Grade, by pretending that some stranger is a crazy person. It appears as if there is no screenplay or script, just a plot summary by a stoned, near broke director or writer who needs money and does it by hiding his movie under the title of Paranormal Activity. What nearly saves this film is how it uses the knowledge of the viewer as an advantage. It knows that the viewer knows that something will happen here, or “this is going to be scary since it is called Paranormal Activity.” But the truth is, it never actually turns out as scary as you expect it. Not to mention that their are too many occurrences where a friend plays a scare joke, and it is never funny or scary. Anyhow, I thought teen horror cinema was past that. All in all, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is a movie for lovers of the franchise, or a movie for a huge group of teenagers to watch at 2 AM. So I wouldn’t suggest it unless you are in those two categories.

I Rate it 3/10

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