PGCMAs: Best Poster and Best Trailer

Posted: February 9, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

PGCMA 2015

*The above image represents 2014’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.

Best Poster

Crimson Peak: This is a simple poster, but the contrasting colours look great, I love the one-word tagline “Beware”, and the whole thing has an old school charm.

The Hateful Eight: I don’t have much to say about this one. It’s a nice piece of art that I like to look at. I also like that it avoids plastering the casts’ faces all over the poster. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Musical Performance and Best Score

Posted: February 9, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” SimpsonPGCMA 2015

*The above image represents 2014’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.

Best Musical Performance

This award is all about honouring performances of songs by the characters on film. These can be covers, or original works. It’s worth noting that I’m more focused on the role of each performance in the film more than the musical integrity itself.

“Big Rock Candy Mountain”, Room: This is a relatively lowkey performance where Joy sings this song as a sort of lullaby to get Jack to sleep pending the arrival of Old Nick. The performance captures the love Joy has for her son as well as her fear of Nick and the song’s slightly melancholy tone is a good choice.

“Blood Bag”, Mad Max: Fury Road: This is actually a piece of score, but the song is briefly performed live in the film by the Doof Warrior (a.k.a. the guitar guy) and his percussion section when Joe and his army first leave the Citadel in pursuit of Furiosa. Simply an awesome scene which is presented in epic fashion. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Soundtrack and Use of Source Music

Posted: February 8, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Danel “PG Cooper” SimpsonPGCMA 2015

*The above image represents 2014’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.

Best Soundtrack

The Big Short: If nothing else, The Big Short’s soundtrack is probably the one I would most likely listen to on my own time. It’s got all sorts of pop music (new and old), some classic rock, and some really awesome metal songs.

Creed: The Rocky series has always been known for its music and I like how the series shifts to music more representative to Adonis than Rocky. There is a lot of energetic and inspiring hip hop tracks which both fit the tone of the series while also forging its own identity. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Editing

Posted: February 6, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

PGCMA 2015

Best Visual Effects

Avengers: Age of Ultron: It’s a testament to how effects heavy modern blockbusters are that the VFX in Age of Ultron was almost an afterthought for viewers. This is a film full of robots, superheroes, flying, lasers, hover vehicles, and monsters, often on-screen at once. The sheer volume of effects is really impressive.

Ex Machina: Contrary to Avengers, this is a really small-scale film, but one equally dependent on effects. The most important character in Ex Machina is a robot who bears slightly human futures. It’s a character that requires both CGI and live actors and the filmmakers hit a great balance. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Art Direction, Make-Up, and Costume Design

Posted: February 2, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Uncategorized

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

PGCMA 2015

*The above image represents 2014’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.

Best Art Direction

Bridge of Spies: Period pieces usually do well in this category and Spielberg’s cold war drama really excels in art direction. From the buildings, to the interiors, to the vehicles, everything feels period authentic and lived in. The film has the added challenge of having to recreate late 50s America and early 60s East Berlin.

Crimson Peak: If nothing else, Crimson Peak should be remembered for creating one of the best haunted houses in recent memory. This doesn’t go for the standard old dark house with cob webs and creaky steps, but descends into more colourful areas, with walls which bleed rust in a giant hole in the ceiling for gentle snowfall. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Chase and Best Set-Piece

Posted: February 1, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Uncategorized

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2015

*The above image represents 2014’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.

Best Chase

This award looks chase scenes whether they be a race, someone trying to escape another force, a struggle against the clock. Both foot and vehicular chases are eligible. It’s been an abnormally good year for chase sequences and it was hard narrowing this list down to just five.

Beach House, It Follows: It Follows is essentially a chase movie in that it involves a pursuer relentlessly seeking a target, albeit at a slower speed then we usually see. This scene sees Jay escaping from It both on foot and in a car. It’s a tense scene which is well-shot and ends well.

Brothers in Arms, Mad Max: Fury Road: No 2015 film emphasizes the term “chase movie” like Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s difficult to pick just one scene, but my favourite is one where Max and Furiosa escape through the canyon, contending with both Immortan Joe and a biker gang. The scene is shot with all the flair and technical excellence as the rest of the film and is important in developing plot and characters. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Fight and Best Shootout (2015)

Posted: January 31, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Uncategorized

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

PGCMA 2015

*The above image represents 2014’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.

Best Fight

This award focuses on either hand to hand combat or melee weapons. Other types of weapons are allowed to play a role as well as long as the focus is still on physical fighting.

Car Fight, Wild Tales: My favourite story in Wild Tales involved two people who come into conflict while driving on an open desert road. Their conflict starts as petty, before culminating in this hilarious fight which gradually becomes more violent as it goes.

Final Confrontation, The Revenant: The Revenant is one main’s quest for vengeance and it culminates in a satisfyingly savage manner. After an incredibly long journey, Glass finally finds Fitzgerald and what follows is an incredibly brutal and sloppy fight complete with grappling, stabbing, chopping, biting, and choking. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: And the Nominees Are…(2015)

Posted: January 28, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Uncategorized

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

PGCMA 2015

*The above image represents 2014’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.

From my first year of blogging, I’ve been commemorating the end of each year with a series of awards posts, ranging from the typical Oscar categories for acting and other aspects of filmmaking, along with awards for things like Best Shootout and Best Cameo. It’s a lot of fun and I’ll be doing it again this year. The awards end with my top ten films list, the top five films being the nominees for Best Director and Best Picture, and number one being the winner of the aforementioned awards. Finally, I should mention that I was not able to see every major 2015 release. Particular blind spots include Carol, Son of Saul, Youth, and Macbeth. I would have loved to see these films, but there really isn’t a way I could see them for my awards and have them posted in a timely fashion.

And the nominees are… Read the rest of this entry »

Star Wars Original Trilogy Review

Posted: January 25, 2016 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

So now that I’ve soldiered through the prequels again, it’s finally time for the light at the end of the tunnel: the original trilogy. I don’t see any reason to waste more time, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

Star Wars (1977)

You say the words “Star Wars,” and more often than not, it’ll conjure up giddy, nostalgic childhood memories for most people. Just like the majority of the world’s population, I watched Star Wars as a kid. But curiously, the film never really had much of a lasting impact on me at a young age, to the point where up until now, it was at least a decade since I’d last watched the movie in full. Before you overreact, though, don’t take that to mean that I dislike the movie; nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just that after having finally re-watched it again, I at last have a much fuller appreciation for it than I ever did, and I can recognize its status as not only the turning point for big Hollywood blockbusters, but as one of the biggest achievements in the genre in general.

Really…what is there to say about Star Wars that hasn’t already been said? Well, let me just focus on the things about it that stood out to me this time instead of trying to hit all the general points. First of all, the pacing and story structure of the film is extremely tight, and it never feels like there’s a wasted or unnecessary scene in the entire film. It gives you all the information you need to know and then doesn’t waste any time getting into the heart and adventure of the story. Perhaps the film’s biggest strength is its reliance on characterization rather than dialogue to develop its characters. I was initially thrown off a little by this, but the more the movie sat with me, the more I realized how much of a good thing that is. Rather than explaining to us who these characters are, George Lucas SHOWS us, and that’s much more efficient. The best thing about Star Wars, though, is its simplicity. The plot isn’t overcomplicated a all, but it doesn’t need to be. All it needs to be is an adventure in space, and it succeeds greatly at being that, and because of its simplicity, we’re able to get into the characters and universe very easily. Plus, there’s that constant sense that there’s more to this world/universe than we’re seeing, and that enhances the sense of wonder and mysticism that’s present when characters talk about The Force and Jedis.

Star Wars, to me, is executed just as well as other earlier blockbusters such as Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The one thing they all have in common is that they showcase a mindset of not undervaluing how a simplistic story can invite the best kind of thrills and excitement, and Star Wars has those in spades.

****/****

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

There are a handful of sequels from the 80’s/early 90’s that are commonly regarded as the best of their respective franchises. Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day are two of them, but also included in that group is Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. For me personally, there seems to be a curious, common pattern amongst all those sequels: while I most certainly like them a lot and think they are all strong movies in their own right, I wouldn’t consider them the best of their franchises, and the same rings true for The Empire Strikes Back, no matter how hard I try with it. Now, before any of you impale me with your lightsabers, hear me out.

First of all, like many, I admire Empire‘s turn to a decidedly darker tone which allows the filmmakers to explore the characters in a deeper fashion than the first film. That shift makes sense, given the progression of the plot and what’s happening throughout this one. I also like the furthering of the mythology of this world where Jedis and The Force are concerned. As with the character development, it gives us a bit more to chew on. We also see a bit more of this whole universe, with a few different planets — each of them unique in design — serving as significant locations. And, of course, there’s an oppressive sense of danger present throughout the film. The performances from the main cast are all captivating as well. So, then, what is it that keeps me from calling The Empire Strikes Back a great film?

If I had to put my finger on it — and, believe me, I’ve given this a lot of thought — it’s that while I can admire the film’s desire to treat the material more seriously this time around, the movie is never able to fully hook me emotionally to the degree where I feel truly invested in it and the consequences story from minute to minute. If I had more of a deeper love of the franchise and the characters than I do, then perhaps things would be different. But as it stands, Star Wars has never held much of a place in my heart as something like, for instance, Harry Potter. Consequently, while The Empire Strikes Back still manages to have a hold on me as I watch it, there’s another part of me that’s just waiting around for all the major events to happen. There are many other films I can think of where even though I’ve seen them many times and know what’s coming, I’m still deeply involved in them because I’m either so invested in the world, the characters, or both. But not with this. Also, that other part of me questions if a Star Wars movie needed to go this dark, because the original still manages to be captivating without going with a more oppressive tone. In many ways, I actually prefer the simplicity of the first Star Wars film.

In the back of your minds, many of you are probably thinking that I actually dislike the film simply because I’m not giving it a perfect rating. Nothing is further from the truth. When I sit down to watch a movie with endless praise like this, naturally, I expect to be wowed. But if it doesn’t manage to do that, then I have to call out any problems I have. Come to think of it, I don’t think this was EVER my favorite of the Star Wars films. I think The Empire Strikes Back is a very good film with a whole lot of merit, just not a great one.

***1/2 /****

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

So, I’ll just come right out and say it: I love Return of the Jedi. If you had asked me right after I re-watched it, I would’ve even gone so far as to say it was my favorite of the trilogy, but a little bit of reflection gives the edge to Star Wars instead. That doesn’t diminish my opinion of this film in any way, though. However, I’m just a little disappointed to hear that this is apparently not well-regarded among even Star Wars fans in general.

It’s The Ewoks and the plot structure that bother people about this movie, but I’m here to say neither of those things bother me about it. The Ewoks may seem overly cutesy, but underneath that fluffy exterior, they’re pretty capable and resourceful — and they’re in no way annoying to the degree of certain characters in the prequel trilogy, let’s be honest. And for those saying it’s problematic that The Ewoks are able to take down a bunch of Stormtroopers during the climax, need I remind you that they had the tactical assistance of Han Solo, Princess Leia and a bunch of other Republic fighters to help them accomplish that? As for the issue of the film mirroring the basic plot of the first film…again, I don’t care, because this movie executes very well and the flow of the film is incredibly smooth to the point where the running time just flies by. My main issue with the movie is just that the first act in Jabba’s Palace could be trimmed down slightly.

Return of the Jedi makes a return to the simplicity of Star Wars, and I think that’s part of the reason why I react more strongly to it than The Empire Strikes Back. We’re back to the adventurous tone that makes the first film so great, with the added bonus of the mythology delved into from the previous movie. On top of that, the film climaxes in truly exciting fashion, with everything between Luke, Vader and The Emperor standing out in particular. The duel between Luke and Vader carries real weight, and the way it culminates in Vader’s redemption results in perhaps the most powerful scenes of the franchise.

Return of the Jedi is very much in the tradition of classic blockbuster filmmaking, and serves as a strong and effective send-off to the initial Star Wars trilogy.

****/****

The Big Short Review

Posted: January 16, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

PrintWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

The 2008 financial crash is one of the most significant events of the 2000s and has had a profound effect on the world. Given how fundamentally the lives of millions of people were changed, you would think that we would have more significant cinematic representations of the event. We’ve certainly seen films dealing with Wall Street greed, notably Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, but most of the films to actually deal with the crash directly have been smaller and less seen efforts like Margin Call. That’s not to say there hasn’t been great films made about the crash. The 2010 documentary Inside Job is an excellent film which explores how the crash occurred and its consequences very well, but that too has been underseen by the general public. The Big Short is the newest cinematic effort to educate people on what exactly happened and its coming from the unlikely source of Adam McKay. Previously, McKay had only directed broad comedies with Will Ferell like Anchorman and Step Brothers and while The Big Short is also a comedy, the film is clearly a different turn for McKay.

The film begins in 2005 with hedge fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale) discovering that the housing market is unstable and due to collapse due to subprime loans. Realizing he can profit on the situation by essentially betting against the housing market, Burry begins to buy millions of dollars’ worth in credit default swaps which will pay out big time if the market actually crashes. A trader named Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) hears of Burry’s actions and realizes he too can capitalize on the situation. He seeks out hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) and convinces him to invest in buying credit default swaps and betting against the bank as well. Finally, young investors Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Witrock) also decide to profit off of the coming crash and enlist the help of retired trader Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt). The film jumps between all of these men as events move closer and closer to the eventual financial crash. Read the rest of this entry »