My review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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So first off for anyone who has actually been reading these movie blogs sorry for not posting for so long. I watched two movies in a row that weren’t very good and I felt like they didn’t have much worth reviewing so I kind of got away from it. I’m going to try and start writing more regularly now so hopefully the wait for the next one won’t be as long!

This movie was one that I was eager to see but also sort of dreading. Not because it’s a bad movie or anything but I knew it was going to be kind of a tear jerker and I didn’t want to be too depressed by it. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is about a young boy named Oscar (played by Thomas Horn) who loses his father in 9/11. He was pretty close with his father (played by Tom Hanks) and they used to go on these scavenger hunts all over New York City. When his father dies Oscar goes into his dad’s room hoping to find something to remember him by. He opens the closet and finds a mysterious vase that he’s never seen before. He tries to reach it but ends up knocking it onto the floor, inside he finds a mysterious key inside an envelope with the name Black on it. He gets excited thinking that this key is the start of one last hunt with his dad. He decides to start visiting everyone with the last name Black to see what they know. This starts a moving and emotional journey of people’s attempts to help Oscar the various joys and hardships in their own lives and how it all affects Oscar both good and bad.

Along the way Oscar transforms from an insecure boy who seems terrified of everything to a young man who is confident and hopeful. He meets a lot of interesting people; like Abby Black (played by Viola Davis) who despite going through her own divorce when meeting Oscar for the first time still finds the time to give him a photo and some kinds words. Another person he meets is an older man who doesn’t speak (played by Max von Sydow) and rents a room from Oscar’s grandmother(played by Zoe Caldwell.) I loved the way they were able to bond and how he helped Oscar overcome some of his fears (like riding on a subway.) His emotions were so heartfelt and he was able to say a lot despite only communicating with a pen and a pad of paper. The two become really close and Oscar is sad when the man finally decides to leave (after Oscar plays him all the messages  his dad left on the answering machine on 9/11.)

There’s also another moving scene when Oscar gets really upset and yells at his mom (played by Sandra Bullock) and starts throwing a bunch of stuff in the kitchen. He wants to stop feeling so scared, sad and alone so he tries to block out anything that would set off those emotions. Even if that means trying to shut out his mom’s voice. The raw emotion on the boy’s face and the way his mom tells him that running and hiding won’t make the feelings go away really got to me. I thought it was a great moment of acting for both Horn and Bullock.

Towards the end of the movie Oscar finds a piece of paper with the words not stop looking circled on it and a number on the back. When he calls the number he finds it belongs to Abby Black one of the first people he met on his journey. She takes him to see her ex-husband who has the lock that fits Oscar’s key. Unfortunately it isn’t the answer he is looking for. Despite the unexpected results of this scene I still felt it was a really interesting moment. I felt like I connected with this man who had also lost his father and wanted to find one last thing to connect them even if they weren’t close while he was alive. After this Oscar is somewhat depressed and heads home to talk with his mom. She reveals that she knew where he was going all along (sorry if that’s a bit of a spoiler) and he shows her the scrapbook he’s been keeping about the experience. While I felt that was a nice scene I’m glad the movie didn’t end there because I felt like it would have been a little too perfect. Instead the last scene is of Oscar swinging for the first time, something he couldn’t bring himself to do when his dad was alive because he didn’t think it was safe. I feel like this scene shows how much he has grown and that there’s hope for his future. I felt like it shows that we can all find hope even in the most terrible of situations.

Overall I felt like this was a very good emotional moving story. I admit that I wasn’t expecting the main character to be a kid who was on the Autism Spectrum but Horn’s portrayal was spot on.  A good example is when Oscar asks the renter if he can’t speak because he doesn’t want to or can’t and then proceeds to list the various reasons why someone wouldn’t speak. Another good example is when Oscar gets upset and starts repeating things sort of nonstop to try and comfort himself. I felt that Tom Hanks’ character was portrayed very well. The bond between father and son was clearly evident and his acting brought warmth, humor and charisma to a role that might have been forgotten otherwise. I do like Sandra Bullock and I think she’s a great actress. That being said I don’t know if this was a great fit for her. She plays Oscar’s mom well and I do feel like they had a bond. Her character did bring a sense of urgency to the actual events on 9/11 and provided kind of a stabilizing force for her kid but I feel like Bullock’s talents were a bit wasted here. The character isn’t in the movie very much and when she is it seems more like she’s just there to add more emotion and urgency which isn’t really necessary. As for the portrayal of 9/11 itself I felt there was just enough of it shown and heard that you get the idea of what’s going on and you feel the emotional turmoil of the event;but  it’s not bashed into your head over and over again. I also felt like it gave me a sense of hope and didn’t just leave me feeling angry or sad like some movies or specials do.

I would highly recommend this movie. I felt the acting was superb and the story was moving and while it made feel emotional at times I felt like that wasn’t a bad thing. I also felt like it struck the right balance between fact, fiction and emotion concerning the events of 9/11.

For a trailer of the movie click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_quK9SEGYE

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My Review of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

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I have wanted to watch this movie for a long time. I remember the previews from when it first came out and I remember that it wasn’t reviewed very well. Granted I can kind of see why. This movie about a brother and sister duo who escape being killed by a witch when they’re young; who then grow up to hunt witches as adults, doesn’t pull any punches. It goes through all the tropes one would expect and has the classic characters that an action/adventure/fantasy movie would have. That being said I still think it’s a decent movie.

The movie centers around Hansel (played by Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (played by Gemma Arterton) who are hired by a mayor of a small town to find their missing children and kill the witch who took them. They enlist the help of an enthusiastic fan named Ben and a white witch named Mina. The story is your basic beat the bad guy, save the children, and learn a bit about yourselves type of story. The special effects while not spectacular are still good. I also really liked the makeup in this movie and I like how the troll was played by an actual person not just something that was CGI (that’s computer generated imaging.)

The acting is okay. Hansel and Gretel have decent chemistry and are believable as brother and sister. The main witch Muriel (played by Famke Janssen) was decent. While she was rather one sided I did enjoy seeing her run around and shoot blue electricity out of her wand and change from human to witch form.

Admittedly Mina (played by Phila Viita) is a minor character so I can’t say much about her acting. From what I saw she was okay but nothing really stood out about her. She played the part of romantic interest and that was about it. Ben (played by Thomas Mann) does shine in his limited role. He does a good job at injecting humor into the movie and does show at least a little growth as a character. I kept thinking throughout the movie that he would finally get to be a bad ass by saving them or doing something else heroic but that never really happens. The bad guys (which here means the sheriff and his men) are just that. They are two dimensional and I was kind of glad to see them die midway through the movie.

I admit that I’m kind of sucker for cool or interesting weapons in a movie. This movie fills that need. Hansel and Gretel’s main weapons are awesome. I especially liked Gretel’s crossbow that shot arrows at machine gun like speed. The machine gun at the end of the movie was pretty bad ass as well. While the witches wands are just okay looking I do like the look of the spells in the movie and how they differentiate good witches from bad by changing the color of the electricity. I also really liked how all the weapons had a kind of steam punk look to them. If you don’t know what steam punk is look it up on Google I’m sure you’ll find a lot of images.

This is one of those movies that a lot of people would say is terrible and not waste your time with it. I have a slightly different take. While I wouldn’t say this a great movie; I would say it’s a decent movie. Here’s the thing, it’s a movie that you don’t have to think much about. It’s something you watch to see the cool make up, fun special effects and decent fight scenes. If you want a movie that’s deep, has complex characters and a clever plot then this movie is not for you. If you want a movie to pass a rainy afternoon or are looking for something to watch with friends and talk about the ridiculous(ness) of it afterwards then give this a shot.

While I don’t know if many people will want more information here is a link to the trailer and more information about this movie. One note, this movie is rated R which means it’s rather violent and bloody so I wouldn’t recommend it for young children.

http://splashurl.com/kypdr8k

My review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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This movie is a coming of age story that follows a young man named Charlie (Logan Lerman.) He’s had a rough summer and hopes to start his freshman year of high school with a better outlook and make some new friends. Two senior siblings Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) take Charlie under their wing. From going to his first party, to getting stoned, to having his first kiss, Charlie learns the joys and heartaches of high school.

This movie deals with a lot of mature themes such as suicide, molestation and death. However there are plenty of lighter moments too. A good example is early on in the movie when Patrick makes fun of teacher by imitating him to make the other kids feel less nervous.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” This quote sums up a lot of the relationships in the movie. Whether it’s Charlie’s sister’s relationship with her abusive yet popular boyfriend Derek; or Sam’s various relationships with older guys. Both of them seem drawn to men who treat them like crap but can’t seem to find a guy who will treat them with some decency. This dovetails nicely with something that Charlie wrestles with throughout the movie. How can we save/shield ourselves and those that we love from pain?

Another thing I loved was the chemistry between the characters. The scenes with Sam and Charlie make it seem like the actors have known each other for years not months. Patrick is great too, his charming demeanor and self-deprecating humor nearly steal the show from Charlie at times.

To sum it all up this movie has a great cast, a relatable and intriguing story and an awesome soundtrack. I would highly recommend it to everyone. Not just those of us who love old music or people who love coming of age movies; just everyone.

For more information about the movie and to view a trailer click here http://splashurl.com/mxtp8ge