Rush (2013)

130910155412-rush-movie-poster-horizontal-galleryRoze-Rating: 5 / 5

Rush is based on the true rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the racing season of 1976. It’s a story about two sportsmen with different outlooks on life and racing. Despite their seeming hatred of each other, there’s one thing that set’s them apart from other rivalry’s, they respect the effect it has on their lives.

What makes this film great is the attention to detail given to make this true story as real as possible on the big screen. If you are unaware of this rivalry and Formula 1 in general then I wouldn’t advise to go looking up the story. For me, not knowing anything about these two guys made it a much more thrilling watch. Your constantly wondering how far these drivers will push themselves to win, and whether or not they will go too far. It definitely makes that last race an edge of the seat moment. After the film though, having done some research and youtube-ing, it’s quite remarkable how much detail went into this film. From the costumes to the accents, almost everything about this film is spot on. Of course parts of the film are dramatized but it’s essential to telling this story as effectively as possible.

The casting is great, as a result of this we get two of the best performances of 2013. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl don’t only look like the famous drivers they are portraying but sound like them too. Hemsworth captures the bad boy persona of James Hunt perfectly, with a you-only-live-once swagger. You buy into his character because he doesn’t race because of the lifestyle it brings, he races because it supports the lifestyle he lives. He respects the dangers of F1, therefore sympathizing for the men that get into accidents every season. Niki Lauda of course is the complete opposite. Bruhl presents Lauda as a cold, calculated racing driver, always acting on statistics and not emotion. If a fellow driver spins out or crashes, he shows no compassion but criticize their technique. He may sound like an antagonist but his conflicting behavior between winning and actual happiness gives us a reason to care for this character.

The cinematography is brilliant throughout the film, giving us the perspective of the driver during these relentless races. It makes the racing scenes more of an adrenaline inducing experience. As for it’s overall look, the shiny shades of orange and colour filtering make it great to look at. It feels as if we are in the 1970s as well as watching a documentary about it. Everything from the camera angles and the colours used to the back commentary and interviews.

It’s definitely one of the best rivalry stories I’ve seen on film. I like how the story doesn’t make the rivalry dirty or unpleasant but rather inspiring for both drivers. They use it as a way to push each other harder, a way to learn from each other and ultimately a way to feel alive. During the journey of the season, we realize that there’s a lot more respect within the rivalry than we think. That’s what makes the final scene quite a compelling moment.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTYRoze-Rating: 4 / 5

Ben Stiller returns to the directors chair with this remake of short story adaptation of the same name. If trailers could win awards (can they?) then The Secret Life of Walter Mitty would win hands down, but because of that it may have left some viewers disappointed. As for me, it was everything I thought and wanted it to be. I didn’t expect it to be deep or emotional, if there was something I knew it would be, it was fun. As for viewing experience it totally did it for me, this is my perfect film for those time’s I feel wanderlust or just bored with life. That being said, maybe with a bit more finesse and fine tuning of the characters and the development of the story, it could have been something really special.

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is just your average Joe stuck in a trance called life. Not the thrills of it but the repetition of it. Ironically Life magazine is where he works. He’s quiet, polite and in the shadows. Initially when first introduced to his place of work, we wonder how a man that works in such lively conditions could be as stuck as he is. Until we actually see where he works; a dark, cluttered space with only his subordinate as company. The film truly starts with a bang as we’re introduced to his first zone out while talking to an employee of a dating website. He spectacularly jumps off a bridge into a building window in order to bravely save the dog of the woman of his dreams (Kristen Wiig) before the building explodes. It’s a great opening, capturing just how imaginative Mitty can be, and honestly haven’t we all done that before? To get the synopsis out of the way, what finally encourages Mitty to take that leap of faith and live his fantasies is a lost negative, taken by loyal photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn).

There’s a lot I love about this film, the cinematography, music, locations and characters. First of all Mitty is one of those guys that we can all relate to. He wants to get out and explore the world but just can’t seem to do it. Maybe he feels he’s past that time and now he should be sticking to other commitments like his job or maybe he’s just scared of what he might find. That’s where we can identify ourselves in him. There’s moments where we should feel sorry for Walter but we don’t fully give into it because we know he has it in him. Just like most of us we aren’t aware of our potential either until we truly test ourselves. I think as a character he’s someone you can easily care about which is important in films. All this is of course due to Ben Stiller’s honest depiction of him, definitely his best performance in a while.

I’d also like to mention Kristen Wiig’s performance, it was actually so refreshing seeing her play such a normal character for once. Usually she takes on these oddball characters with eccentric personalities and what not, but watching her just tone it all down for a more real character was quite pleasant.

The locations are absolutely stunning given justice by the cinematography. From start to finish the film is filled with great shots and smart transitions, utilizing the camera at its best. For an actor who stars in a lot of comedies with silly humor and story lines, he sure has an eye for a great looking film. Ultimately that’s what makes this film so entertaining. We’re absorbed in vast scenery and its lush colours, making us slightly envious of Mitty. As for the sound track, any film with Rogue Wave in it will be in my good books.

The only negative I would say about this film is the comedy. When intended to be funny it produced laughs from me and the people around me but I felt some of the jokes just didn’t fit the tone of the film. It’s such a minor thing but you can definitely see some of Stiller’s influence with certain jokes. I like his films and his brand of humor but in terms of the films overall tone, the more satirical and indie jokes fitted in more than the mainstream ones. To be honest it didn’t bother me that much, it was just something that I noticed affected the film a little bit.

I can understand why critics were so split with this film. In terms of emotional substance, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty doesn’t produce much of it. There’s quite a few avenues that could have been explored a tad more, like love, growth and the meaning of travel. They are definitely present but for those viewers hoping for a little bit more, they may be left disappointed. In my opinion I like how light hearted it is. I didn’t want it to have moments which would bring the film down, I wanted it to be fun and charming and that’s what it delivered. I had a smile throughout most of the viewing and I think that says a lot about how much of a feel good film this is.

The Spectacular Now (2013)

82be1a35bdd197cdb228bea4120f7e72Roze-Rating: 5 / 5

Every year I watch a shiz load of films, ranging from the brilliant to the utterly terrible, but there will always be that odd film that some how finds its way to me and strikes the sweetest G-Chord within my heart. The Spectacular Now is that film for me of 2013.

Ever since The Descendants I knew I was an instant fan of Shailene Woodley and had been waiting to see her follow up film for quite a while. And what a film. Just as The Descendants was, this film is down to earth and totally real. Miles Teller plays Sutter Keeley, a kid on the brink of adulthood. We meet him as he struggles to begin his college application, unsure of how to put his life into words. He seems like he has his sh*t together as we indulge in his large personality and his way of words, but once we’re exposed to his constant alcoholism we know something is up. What makes this such a relatable film is Sutter’s predicament. He’s lived in the now for all his life and has struggled to do anything productive with it. He may have heaps of fun but during a time of his life where a future plan matters he becomes stuck. His girlfriend dumps him for the pure reason that he has no ambition. Then Shailene Woodley’s character Aimee Finecky comes along and gives him a bit of a pick me up. Aimee is the complete opposite of Sutter, she’s down the chain on the social ladder and has dreams of finally leaving for college although stunted by her mother. Sutter befriends her in the hope of helping her out.

There’s films out there which make you wanna cry because devastating stuff happens in them with that sole outcome in mind, but then there are some films which make you wanna cry because you connect so much with the characters and the films themes that they are more tears of inspiration than sympathy. I wont lie, by the end of the film I felt quite emotional. It was odd because I’ve never felt so emotional for such a character triumph. Something so simple yet profound. I’m at a similar time in life as this Sutter kid which is why it probably felt so relatable, and because of that I may have left the film slightly a better person.

What I like about this story is that there’s no defining character that helps grow Sutter. From watching past coming of age films there’s usually a father figure or someone that can be looked up to who knocks some inspiration into our lost soul, but in this film, it took getting to his lowest point to finally grow. Sure there were characters along the way which were important but at the end of the day if you can come to terms with your problems then you can look for a solution. That’s what makes the final scene so good, it’s ambiguous but does it really matter? (You’ll see)

The cinematography is earthy capturing the human element of young love and uncertainty pleasantly. Along with the score which slowly develops from upbeat to endearing to melancholy.

As for performances, Miles Teller has the potential to be the next Vince Vaugn of sorts with his natural ability to bring charisma to a character. Saw him for the first time in Footloose then 21 & Over this year. He has no problem with running his mouth rampant and when put in the right film, it comes out positively. Hopefully he sticks to movies such as this and doesn’t over do this type of character as some actors do. Shailene Woodley co-stars and offers another great performance. Really looking forward to her new franchise film next year, Divergent, I don’t care if it seems like a Hunger Games copy, I’m sure she will bring something to the films.

What really makes these performances stand out though is the chemistry between Woodley and Teller. The last time I saw legitimate awkwardness and realism brought to teen love was last years Amazing Spider-Man, maybe I need to watch more films if that’s the case. But everything about their interaction is something I’ve been through, and for that reason it felt so real.

The Spectacular Now is a coming of age tale that starts off upbeat then hits you with emotional substance. It’s engaging and totally relatable with great leads and raw chemistry. One of my favourites of 2013.

Gravity (2013)

GravityRoze-Rating: 5 / 5

A group of astronauts are sent out on a seemingly routine space expedition until mayhem ensues. Mission control warns the space crew that a Russian missile strike has just destroyed a satellite causing a chain reaction of debris to head in their direction. Before they can evacuate, the debris destroys their space ship, leaving only Dr. Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski as the sole survivors.

Alfonso Cuaron returns to mainstream film making with this groundbreaking Sci-Fi thriller, avoiding fantastical space adventures and bringing us a terrifying film about the true dangers of space. As far as how factual the film is, it must be the most realistic space film we have had in a long time as we are captivated by zero-gravity and breathtaking imagery. Gravity finally brings us a film where there is no noise in space, and surprisingly it’s a hell of a lot more scarier than having your ears ravaged by loud explosions. Not having that ability of anticipating danger around you and losing that sense makes you more vulnerable than you would think. Seeing that on screen really gets your heart pumping.

Gravity has really pushed the bar for technology in film, that alone has made the film what it is, a special effects triumph. The attention to detail is commendable and would make any real life astronaut less prone to ripping their eyes out during viewing. I don’t know how they did it but I want to know very badly as you get a real sense of that zero gravity and how frustrating it would be floating around up there; cool at first but when disaster strikes, it’s less than ideal. Ultimately that’s what makes Gravity so riveting, it’s realism makes space expedition scary even if the possibilities of the events depicted are very low and that’s why we can’t take our eyes off the screen.

Beneath the engaging visuals and thrilling action sequences is quite an emotional narrative. The film explores the themes of getting through a series of bad situations and the rebirth of our protagonist Dr. Ryan Stone. With the constant orbit of debris, disaster will strike multiple times if you happen to be in the line of fire. Throughout the film we’re wondering if Stone will make it or even have the desire to carry on as we learn of her hardships on earth. There is an important scene where we see Dr. Ryan Stone curled up resembling a fetus in a womb, there on we’re given the impression that there’s an emotional growth to come.

As for performances they were brilliant with added emphasis on Sandra Bullock. Thinking about it, these role’s must be what most actors dream about. Firstly it’s a freaking space film, secondly it’s totally groundbreaking and thirdly you get to wear a space suit. By landing this role Bullock has really shown us what she’s made of, steering away from comedies and doing something a lot more thrilling. I hope she continues making films like this.

Gravity will definitely be getting some awards during award season and rightfully so as this is probably the best film I’ve seen all year. I’m a total sucker for a good thriller with awesome special effects. If you’re into sweating involuntarily throughout a film then Gravity is for you.

Mud (2013)

Mud-Movie-2013-Matthew-McConaughey-Roze-Rating: 5 / 5

Two boy’s, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), venture to an Island in the Mississippi where they find a boat stuck in a tree. Excited by the prospect of finding something they can have for themselves, they soon realize that a man has been living in it. His name is Mud (Matthew McConaughey), he recruits the boys to gather food and complete tasks for him as he reveals his predicament. Ellis sympathizes with him and soon enough a strong bond is created.

The film revolves around the theme of love as we see Ellis try to understand it in both harsh and warm ways. Mud has been in love with Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) since childhood but he doesn’t see that love being shared back, yet he continues to pursue her. Similar to Eliss’s mother towards his father but that love has deteriorated over time. This make’s Eliss’s father cynical towards women and their affection, telling Ellis “you can’t trust women, they’ll never love you back”, Ellis fail’s to believe him as he continues to help Mud, mislead to think that Juniper’s love is shared back. From this point we know that Ellis is a strong believer in love, he is 14, on his way to adulthood but naive towards the heartache love can cause. His heart is strong which is why he is not afraid of helping people.

This film exposes love in many shapes and sizes. We have Neckbone and his uncle who takes care of him like a father, you may not get a large glimpse of it but they share unconditional love. The head of the crime family attempting to avenge the murder of his son, they go about expressing their love differently, and in the end we wonder if it was all worth it. Mud is a coming of age film about love and letting go, accepting what won’t work and getting back up and trying again just as Neckbone’s uncle says “if you get your heart broke, don’t walk around with a shit look on your face, get back in there and get your tip wet”. In terms of coming of age films this is the most unique one I’ve seen as it explores its themes using an uncommon plot. The narrative is compelling which makes us root for the characters and feel strong emotions for them even if they aren’t all good guys.

What I liked about it is that it’s not melodramatic or sappy, it doesn’t try its hardest to make us bawl our eyes out, it tell’s the story as honestly as possible with great performances and southern settings. We truly care for the characters and I think that’s what makes this film so masterful, we can relate and genuinely connect with the story. This is totally down to precision writing and execution on screen, of course it couldn’t have been achieved without the actors.

Matthew McConaughey has once again come up with a great performance. He’s reviving his career like a total boss, coming out with consecutive wins of films. He proves this with his raw grit and ability to dig deep to play these roles making his way to being one of the best actors today. In the process he’s getting rid of his hot bod reputation even if we do see him with his shirt off. Young stars Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland also kill it with their performances and should be looking at big futures as we get a great sense of their friendship on screen.

Mud is a respectable addition to the list of great coming of age films and hopefully will get some recognition during award season. A must watch for 2013.