10 Cloverfield Lane Review

Posted: March 30, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson 10c_1-sht_online_teaser_alt

We live in an age where we seem to know everything about a film long before it’s even out. Sure, indie releases can come from nowhere and surprise, but mainstream movies often have concept art, set photos, and trailers released months, sometimes years, before the product actually hits theaters. This is a big part of what made 10 Cloverfield Lane’s marketing such a treat. No one even new this was movie was in development when the trailer dropped in March but the fact that the film was slated for a release just two months later was even more enticing. And then of course is there was the fact that this was marketed as a sort of sequel to Cloverfield, a film I’m very fond of.

As it turns out, the film has very little to do with the original Cloverfield outside of hints of a science-fiction high concept and certain broad thematic overtones. On the one hand, I do think there is more potential to explore in the world of the original film, but at the same time, I’m glad J.J. Abrams has opted to do something more creative with this franchise than recycle the first film. More importantly, the story at the heart of 10 Cloverfield Lane is a good one. As the film starts, we are introduced to a young woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) after she breaks up with her boyfriend and drives to an unknown destination. On her way, Michelle is in a car accident and passes out. Later, she wakes up chained in the underground cellar of a man named Howard (John Goodman). Howard is a conspiracy theorist who has built this large bunker and stocked it with supplies in the event of some sort of disaster. He tells Michelle that some sort of attack has occurred which has left the surface uninhabitable and that she cannot leave. Michelle is naturally suspicious of this, but the bunker’s other dweller, Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr) confirms that an attack has taken place. Read the rest of this entry »

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Posted: March 26, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Batman_v_Superman_poster

In 2013, Zack Snyder attempted to bring Superman back to the big screen with Man of Steel and the resulting film divided a lot of people. I fell into the minority group of people who loved it and rewatches have reaffirmed my enthusiasm Snyder’s film. In a nutshell, I admire that film for asking deeper questions about the role of a superhero, for having a unique visual style, for creating a sense of grandeur, and for its interesting villain, and for the unique action scenes. In spite of this love, I can’t say I was ever really that excited for the Man of Steel follow-up, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. For one, that title is a nightmare, but more importantly, the film’s efforts to include Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, and the many other characters rumoured to show up strike me as a misguided effort to rush a shared universe and compete with Marvel. The trailers also had me worried. There’d be good bits sure, but also a lot of moments which made me roll my eyes. If nothing else I’ve been curious to see how the film would turn out and now that I have, I can’t say I’m impressed.

It has been eighteen months since Man of Steel and Superman (Henry Cavill) has become a famous figure, continually saving people and preventing disasters. The world is continually in debate regarding what to make of Superman, what his role on earth means for the rest of the planet, and if he is friend or foe. Superman himself is conflicted with what his role is, in spite of the encouragement and love from journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams). For the hardened superhero Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman is a threat to the planet. After seeing the destruction Superman was a part of in Metropolis, Batman has resolved himself to being able to stop the Kryptonian creature should the need arises. Superman in turn sees Batman as a crazed vigilante who is a menace to the people of Gotham City. It is for this reason that the two titans come into conflict. Metropolis billionaire Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) also sees Superman as a threat and in turn has been experimenting with Kryptonian technology and taking part in his own schemes. Read the rest of this entry »

Barry Lyndon Review

Posted: March 19, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson Barry_Lyndon_A

Barry Lyndon is set in the 18th century and follows Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal), a young man forced to leave his native of Ireland after an altercation with a British officer. After working his way through multiple armies, Barry eventually makes his way to England and cons his way up the aristocracy, eventually taking on the name Barry Lyndon.

Barry Lyndon is not one of Stanley Kubrick’s most famous films and there are a few reasons why. It’s a longer movie, and it also has a deliberately slow pace. The fact that it’s a costume drama also loans to the movie’s “boring” stigma. However I think the main reason the film is so divisive is Lyndon himself. Barry can be a pretty unlikable bastard, and not in the same way as a Jake La Motta or a Daniel Plainview. Vicious as those guys may be, they have a real passion that underlines their actions and a core skill that makes them feel worthy. Lyndon doesn’t have those things. He’s a cold and withdrawn man who is all too often revealed to be a pathetic loser. This is actually a big part of why the film is so fascinating. Kubrick is giving the lavish period treatment usually reserved for the historically significant and great men and women to someone who is actually pretty insignificant; someone who conned some success but who ultimately failed. In doing so, Kubrick is suggesting that all people are equal in the end. Read the rest of this entry »

PG Cooper’s Top Ten Films of 2015

Posted: February 25, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists, 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.

When I put together my top ten list last year, I had quite a struggle putting together my top ten. Simply put, I saw a lot of great stuff in 2014 and could have swapped out my bottom slots for a few other films and be just as satisfied. This year was a little different. While I saw a lot of good movies, there weren’t as many clear locks for the list as last year. That is not to say I’m unhappy with the list. These are all good movies and I’m particularly happy with my top tier selections, but the bottom slots are filled out by movies which, though containing a lot of great elements, ultimately are shy of reaching that greatness fully. I don’t want to make that sound like a bad thing though as its allowed me to celebrate some interesting films which really work in spite of some flaws. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay (2015)

Posted: February 24, 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 Original Screenplay

Olivier Assayas, Clouds of Sils Maria: The actual plot for Clouds of Sils Maria is pretty straightforward; what really shines are the characters and the themes. Everyone here is pretty well-drawn, with the characters played by Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chloe Grace Moretz really resonate. The film also proves to be a very effective meditation on identity, ageing, and relationships. Analysis of the details shows just how well thought out the script is.

Matt Charman, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen, Bridge of Spies: Matt Charman is the one who wrote the original story, while the Coens were brought in to add some flavour and humour in the dialogue. It is those little details that really shine. There are some great dialogue exchanges here which cut to the heart of the film’s themes directly and elegantly. There are a few missteps here and there, but for the most part the film is very well-written. Read the rest of this entry »

The Witch Review

Posted: February 23, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

 

witch_movie_poster_1

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Horror cinema has seen something of a renaissance in recent years, with films like The Babadook and It Follows receiving high acclaim from critics and managing to break through the white noise of studio filmmaking. I too really enjoyed these films and found them to be head and shoulders above the competition from mainstream Hollywood. Having said that, great as The Babadook and It Follows are, both films are playing within existing formulas, the filmmakers are just executing at a greater and more creative level. I’ve still been waiting for a horror film to push boundaries and deliver a truly awesome and original experience. That wait has finally come to an end thanks to a little film called The Witch.

This is a hard film to write about in terms of plot. The actual story at the heart of The Witch is very simple and to reveal any more than I have is to give too much away. I say this especially given that I went into the film with next to no information. I hadn’t seen a trailer, TV spot, or read any reviews. I didn’t even know the film was set in the 17th century. All I knew was that it was a well-reviewed horror movie and that’s all I needed. Still, the basic premise is that in the 17th century, a puritanical family is exiled from a New England plantation due to religious differences. Upon their exile, the group come to an isolated patch of land at the edge of a large forest where they build themselves a farm and try and make a life for themselves. However the family is haunted by a strange presence from the forest which continually harms them in increasing ways. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Cast (2015)

Posted: February 23, 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 Actress

Juliette Binoche, Clouds of Sils Maria: Juliette Binoche is such a reliable actress, but she also doesn’t get lead roles too often and thus can be easy to overlook. Her work in Clouds of Sils Maria is a reminder of how excellent she is. Binoche plays a middle-aged actress going through something of a crisis in identity as she struggles with her age and her personal relationship with her assistant. It’s a very subtle performance, but that just makes her success all the more impressive.

Emily Blunt, Sicario: Emily Blunt has played characters who are hardened and strong before, but her character in Sicario also needed a more vulnerable element. Kate Macer is somewhat lacking in experience, and the character also needs to be frustrated and confused. Blunt does a great job capturing these elements while also maintaining Macer’s professionalism. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Biggest Surprise and Most Underrated Film (2015)

Posted: February 21, 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.

Biggest Surprise

The Gift: The Gift’s trailer looked like a really standard Hollywood thriller and having just seen Cache for a film class, this also looked like a rip-off. As it turns out, the resulting film was a lot smarter and well-made than I expected.

Kingsman: I suppose I should have had faith in this given Matthew Vaughn has generally put out solid stuff, but man did the trailers look stupid. Turns out, this is actually a pretty fun film and while I don’t love it as much as a lot of people seem to, I definitely enjoyed myself. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Animated Film, Foreign Language Film, and Action Film (2015)

Posted: February 20, 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 Animated Film

Over the last few years I had abandoned this award, but given that I actually saw some animated films in 2015, I thought it time to bring it back. I unfortunately was unable to see Anomalisa.

The Good Dinosaur: I almost didn’t nominate this film as on the whole I don’t think it’s good, but the animation is impressive. The backgrounds in particular are pretty striking.

Inside Out: The general vibe upon Inside Out’s release was that Pixar had returned to the greatness they had built their name on. I don’t quite love the film, but it is certainly a lot more ambitious, intellectual, and emotional, than anything they’ve done post-Toy Story 3. Read the rest of this entry »

PGCMAs: Best Comedy and Best Horror Film (2015)

Posted: February 18, 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 Comedy

The Martian: There has been a lot of debate regarding whether or not The Martian counts as comedy, but given Mark’s comedic attitude and the humorous soundtrack, I’d say it belongs. More importantly, the film made me laugh, more so than a lot of the “real” comedies in 2015.

The Night Before: There really isn’t anything new about making a raunchy Christmas comedy, but The Night Before succeeds thanks to some great jokes, a fun cast, and just the right amount of heart. Read the rest of this entry »