Hello film fans and fellow participants of Movie Talk On Sunday: #MTOS!

I am very glad to host this week’s edition with the topic of my favorite director, Christopher Nolan.

Just a reminder that it starts at 20:00 in the UK and at 3:00 pm EST in the US.

Please remember to use this format to answer the questions : A1- This is your response. #MTOS

Q1- Would your thoughts about Following change if it were filmed in color, and the story was told in a more straightforward way?

Q2- Memento is based on a short-story written by Jonathan Nolan. Brad Pitt passed on it. Thoughts on the film’s style and cast?

Q3- Insomnia is the only collaboration between Nolan and Pacino, Williams, and Swank. Should they have been cast in other films?

Q4- Where would you rank Batman Begins in the superhero genre? How would you compare this Gotham City to Tim Burton’s in Batman?

Q5- The Prestige features a duel between rival magicians. Do you find similarities between magicians and Nolan’s work as a director?

Q6- The Dark Knight took the character of the Joker to another level. What are some of your favorite scenes from this film?

Q7- Inception tackles the theme of dream vs. reality. What was your reaction to it? Did you see it many times to understand it?

Q8- What are your thoughts on the ending of The Dark Knight Rises, and what if Blake had actually suited up as Robin during the film? 

Q9- We are highly-anticipating the release of Interstellar. Would you like to see Nolan continue with sci-fi or another noir film?

Q10- Which actors or actresses would you like to see Nolan work with next aside from the regulars that he’s been known to keep?

 

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It should be no surprise that the number one film in the country is this one – X-Men: Days of Future Past. The latest installment in the mutant-hero franchise brought in more than $100 million during the Memorial Day weekend. Only the last film in director Bryan Singer’s trilogy, X-Men: The Last Stand, made more money at the box office in its opening weekend. This success can be taken as another statement that simply reassures the world that the rivalry between Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics continues to be one-sided. A rivalry that stands strongly in favor of Marvel. This film is also significant for a number of other reasons, including its value as a sequel to X-Men: First Class, and how it will lead to X-Men: Apocalypse. Given the scene that is on display after the credits are finished rolling, if you stuck around for them, you may have some questions about where this series will be going next. It’s a good thing to have those types of questions knowing that another film will in fact be coming in the near future.

From a directorial perspective, I had my doubts about how I would like this film given that Bryan Singer took over the director duties for Matthew Vaughn. This change seemed like deja vu all over again when Singer left before the third film in the last trilogy to direct Superman Returns. To this day, I still haven’t seen the film because I never heard any positive comments about it. While it is true that you should simply watch and judge a film for yourself, it doesn’t help the cause when there are overwhelmingly negative comments about the film. However, after having seen the first two X-Men films by Singer, I was confident that his directing would make the film a success because he’s been a part of this universe before. It is no surprise that X-Men: The Last Stand, which was directed by Brett Ratner, was not loved by critics or fans. Directing a film based on the comics is a whole other animal so to speak. To this day, I still feel that the film could have done much better under the vision and approach of a different director.

The good news is, we have moved on from that. Perhaps we have even seen the final moments of the original cast on screen. There is a reason why the previous film in this trilogy was made in the first place. It’s time for a new generation of fans to appreciate the X-Men universe with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender taking over as the new stars of the series. The chemistry that I saw between these two brilliant actors in First Class was just incredible. It was enough to make me want to watch the film again. That type of chemistry between is very difficult to find; perhaps even more so between very popular stars. However, regardless of what type of film you may be watching, when the actors share that effortless chemistry on screen, you can’t help but want to see more. Everything else falls into place. The dialogue and the relationships between characters during the film should mean so much more to you than the action scenes that provide entertainment. Of course, it’s the entertainment aspect that drives people to the theaters to go watch it. If you really love and appreciate film as an art form though, you should dig deeper to appreciate the other aspects of the film.

Despite the fact that this is Singer’s first time back directing an X-Men film, going back to the two solo Wolverine films, and First Class, you feel as though you haven’t missed a beat with this film. It almost feels as though he never left the cast or the franchise. That speaks volumes about the pacing, narrative, and chemistry between the characters. You know that you can praise a film when you feel some sort of connection to the characters. If you don’t, you might as well leave the theater despite the fact that you paid for your ticket. At least for me, the chemistry between the characters on screen is a big factor in differentiating the good from the great films.  You can look at this film as a roller coaster ride. Whether you get on it today, next week, or next month, the thrill and the excitement are still there. If you missed previous films that have lead to this one, you still won’t be lost in crowd. Simply sit back and enjoy the ride as it will entertain you from start to finish.

You simply can’t say enough about the lead stars in this film and current X-Men trilogy. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender simply steal the show. The chemistry between them in First Class was a joy to watch, and it continues to be the same in this film. I would even say that their chemistry is even more intense here. So if for nothing else, watch this film for the intensity that these actors bring to their roles. I’ve yet to see McAvoy outside of this franchise, but I’m sure I can expect the same gracious performances. I can definitely say that about Fassbender. I’ve yet to see a film where I’m not blown away by the intensity and drama in his performances. In her second outing as Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence is a beautiful sight! She shows the deadly combination of having brains and physicality to be a force to be reckoned with. Watching Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, and other original members of the cast was like taking a trip down memory lane. It’s a bittersweet feeling to know that we may never see them in another film in the franchise again. So while you still have the time, get your ticket and watch this film in theaters. Believe me when I say that it’s worth it!

Everyone should expect to see a nail-biting, pulse-pounding combat fight to end a great action or drama thriller film. These fights are what keep you at the edge of your seats, make you wish you were on screen doing the same, and perhaps, inspire you to want to fight against evil to save the day. Combat is an essential part of films that have them, so it is with pleasure that I share with you the questions for this week’s edition of Movie Talk On Sunday. Always remember to include the number of the question and #MTOS as your answer. For example, A1- This is an example. #MTOS. I hope you enjoy this week’s chat, and I will see you on Sunday!

Q1- Who is your favorite actor in terms of their abilities to do combat and why? What is your favorite film with them? 

Q2- Which director do you feel does the best job of delivering combat scenes in their films? What are some of those films? 

Q3- Of all the super hero films that you have seen, past or current, which film has the best combat scene? Who is in it? 

Q4- What combat scenes are you more excited about watching: The ones in Amazing Spider-Man 2 or Guardians of the Galaxy? Why? 

Q5- What is your favorite combat scene in a film that involves an actress and a female villain? In which film does it occur? 

Q6- James Bond has had to do a lot of combat to save the day for the world. Which is your favorite combat scene with him? 

Q7- Which actor or actress do you feel does the best job of playing the villain in combat scenes? What are some of those films? 

Q8- Pick one. Who wins and why? Harrison vs. Liam? Rocky vs. Jake? Arnold vs. The Rock? Steven Seagal vs. Jean-Claude Van Damme? 

Q9- Which film franchise would you say has the best combat scenes throughout the series? What do you want to see in the future? 

Q10- You are the director. Come up with your best or ideal combat scene and scenario. Who is in it? And ultimately, who wins? 

 

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One of the things that I have always stressed to my English students is that there is a difference between goals and dreams. While goals may be difficult to achieve, they are not impossible if you really work hard at accomplishing them. They can be either short-term or long-term, but it is definitely important to have them. Dreams however, are a lot harder to achieve. In fact, they may never even happen in our lifetime. They do have a very important function in our lives though: they motivate us and inspire us to keep reaching higher until we make them a reality. Now imagine that your dream has been to make a movie. You may not have the most clear vision of how you’re going to make it, and what it will take, but that’s your dream. So the best thing to do is to give it your best shot with all that you have. That is precisely what popular Mexican actor, director, and producer Eugenio Derbez has accomplished with the release of this film; and he did quite a remarkable job with it. Imagine what the perceptions of films would be today if every director took that same type of enthusiasm to make films in the most original ways. I certainly hope that Derbez will continue the success of his directorial debut.

Do you ever stop to think about how there’s a manual that tells you how to operate many things, except your life? As we get older and mature, sure, we get tips and advice from parents, friends, bosses, teachers, and everyone you come across; but the reality is that we receive no instructions on how to live our lives. Perhaps the phrase that sums this up the best is to always expect the unexpected. Life is full of surprises and unexpected letdowns and disappointments that in the end prepare us for what’s coming later. It would be great to know what those things are before we experience them, but that’s the beauty of surprises. You just don’t know what’s going to happen until you live it at that moment. Which is why we always have to act fast but responsibly. Try understanding that at a time when you are a teenager in high school, and your only responsibility is to do well in school. I can imagine that your state of mind was that you were going to stay young for a very long time, and that you would not have to pass through life as a hard-working and responsible adult. Well, as we’ve all come to see, life has other plans for us that we simply have to accept.

Given that this is the directorial debut of Derbez, perhaps it makes it easy for the film’s critics to point out any flaws that it may have. As a first time director of any film, I am sure that it is always going to be a learning experience. You can’t strive for perfection in film or in life because it’s just not possible. Everything is always going to looked at subjectively. Just the idea of making a full-length, feature film is a tremendous task. Regardless of any flaws, what is absolutely essential is the delivery of the message. To me, that’s what separates the good films from the great ones. Of course, all of the other elements are critical as well, but as a whole, they should deliver  a message to the audience. The way that message is delivered will always vary depending on the style and approach of the director. More importantly, when you deliver a message that everyone in the audience can relate to, that is a blueprint of success for future films.  Derbez fortunately has the advantage of knowing other directors from Mexico such as Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro González Iñarritu to share some directorial and filmmaking techniques with.

Despite the lack of a well-known star in the film, it has no affect on the outcome. Anyone can watch this film and be entertained by the charisma that both Derbez and Loreto Peralta showed on screen. I had never even heard of her, but I am sure that it is safe to say that her acting career will take off from this. She has tremendous charisma and on-screen presence; you can tell that she was born to do this. More importantly, it has a message that absolutely everyone can relate to. This isn’t a film that is geared towards a certain age group or crowd. Perhaps Latinos can identify with it more because they make up the majority of the cast, but the message certainly goes out to everyone. Just the other day, after I finished watching it, I mentioned that this film may not win an Oscar or any major awards. The truth is that it doesn’t need to in order for people to spread the word about how great and entertaining it is. When a movie is great, you tell your friends and family that they need to see it. This film is no exception. In fact, I kept hearing from friends and family how much they enjoyed it. So it was only a matter of time before I would see it, and do the same.

For some actors, it is difficult to make the transition from stage or television to film acting. As far as Eugenio Derbez, who also directed this film, I think that he has executed a great transition. Not to mention that this is also the first time that he has a directed a film. Doing this was a dream come true for him, so I can only imagine how much better working on a second film would be. Comedy has always been his strength, so I’m curious to see what he does with his next film; of course, I’m hoping that he will do that since he does have the talent for it. I also hope that other directors and young directors will get inspired from this and do some original work. It would be great to see a lot more original films than reboots and adaptations. I’m sure there’s a great wave of young directors coming up, and they can all learn from what’s being done now. This is a movie with tremendous heart, and a must-see for the entire film. You don’t really see a lot of these aside from animation movies; but this is definitely an exception. Please take the time to enjoy this heart-warming comedy-drama that will surely entertain you in many ways.

 

 

 

Her

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It really is interesting how as great as a film can be, sometimes you are just not in the right mood to see it and enjoy it. Sometimes there is a certain message that you want to take from a film that another simply doesn’t have. As entertaining as they can be, romantic comedies simply aren’t realistic enough to leave with you with a good feeling about love. Maybe this has happened to you, but how often have you seen a romantic comedy and think to yourself, how often have I seen this in my life? Perhaps never. I don’t think it would be something that you see every day; as far as what happens to the characters in the film. You can almost always associate these types of movies with fairy tales, and the timeless quote, “and they lived happily ever after.” In that sense, romantic comedies can be very predictable as you watch a trailer or read the synopsis. However, when you combine the genres of drama and romance and add some humor, it is a very good combination as showcased in this great film by Spike Jonze.

Over the years I have had less and less faith in the quality and entertainment of romantic comedies. At times it feels as though there is so little that really sets them apart from each other. Which means that in order for me to go see one in theaters, it needs to phenomenal. Well that is the precise adjective that I had seen used to describe Her on many occasions. Of course, you should always judge a film for yourself. No matter what the critics or other people are saying, everyone has their own taste and opinion of the films they watch. However, when it becomes difficult to hear any negative commentary about a film, you know that it is worth going to watch in theaters. Not to mention that given the synopsis, I quickly discovered that I would definitely have an emotional connection to this film. It is the emotional connection with audiences that film makers and directors should aim for when making great films. Sometimes it is not enough to enjoy the visual elements that come with an action/adventure movie. When you have a much deeper story and screenplay, having an emotional connection to the film can really make a difference in how you see the film when it has finished.

I have often said that we are living in a time when I am really begging to see more originality in films. Pixar for example, one of the giant animation studios, has been criticized lately for not coming up with new and original films as opposed to coming out with sequels. We know that the last film they released was Despicable Me 2. The next film will be an anticipated sequel to Finding Nemo. In cases like these, it is quite understandable to see sequels or trilogies. However, I believe that the number of modern remakes or reboots of films is what is causing the bleeding so to speak. The classics are called as such because they all have something that has contributed to pop culture, our lives, and film. The really isn’t a need to retell those stories. It almost seems as though no one wants to take the challenge of taking on a film with a very fresh and original approach. Even films that are based on novels can take a break. The truth is that there isn’t anything original coming from those films either. Those types of films will probably never end, but so will the habit of bringing their stories to life on the screen. I am sure that the biggest word of advice for aspiring film directors is that they need to take a risk on a film with being original.

Before watching this film, I don’t think I had ever seen a romantic comedy or any film focused on love, question what love truly is or how far love can push a person to unimaginable heights. That is the bold type of risk that all film makers should take with their films. It is a shame that Spike Jonze was left out of the nominees for best director, but the fact that film is nominated for best picture makes up for that. Going back to the bold directing that Jonze did, it truly is remarkable to know that you can have a very deep discussion with yourself or with someone else about your perceptions of love after watching this film. When a director takes a topic like love which everyone knows about, but really questions how we come to feel it in our own lives, that really inspires, opens eyes, and lifts hopes. Those are things that you will rarely take from romantic comedies because more often than not, they lack the emotional attachment and connection between the audience and their characters. When you actually want the characters in a film to accomplish something, you can easily feel how much more engaged you are watching the film than if you feel nothing at all.

What else can I say about Spike Jonze? To say that he is selective about the films that he does is an understatement. A previous film that he did that earned him a best director Oscar nomination is Being John Malkovich. So with the addition of this film, it is safe to say that you can expect great films from him, and it is with great anticipation that I look forward to seeing what’s next from this fellow Marylander. You can’t ask for a more talented cast. Another person from this film that was very deserving of an Oscar nomination is Joaquin Phoenix; delivering a very charming and outstanding performance. Even though we never get to see her on screen, it is Scarlett Johannson who provides the voice for Samantha, the unique operating system that enchants, intrigues, and pulls you in. It is her voice acting that really blows you away; it shows how important a character’s voice can be. Performance is huge, but the voice is something that can be completely overlooked. Joining her in the supporting cast are Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde. The music, directing, acting, screenplay, everything about this film is worth enjoying again and again.

 

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From acclaimed director Steve McQueen, this is definitely my top, if not, one of my top films of the year. There are very few directors in this world that just have an extraordinary ability of raising the bar of expectations with each film that they make. Steve McQueen is definitely of the directors on that list. At this moment, he has only directed three full-feature films, and you can arguably say that each one just keeps getting better and better than the last one. The two films that he directed prior to this one are Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011); both are films that if you have not seen yet, you definitely should. Which brings me to this film that is based on a true story, and that is a highly anticipated best picture Oscar contender. When you take a history-based film like this one and say that other films of that genre can really learn something from it; that really speaks volumes about what McQueen has accomplished with his work on it. It is one of the movies that I was definitely anticipating  to see this year, and I could not be happier that I got to see it in theaters. 

In life, we must all learn that we can never take anything for granted. After watching this film, it should be an immediate reaction to stop and think about just how lucky we are to have freedom.  Just to have the opportunity to write this review is a gift of freedom that I whole-heartedly value and enjoy. And I’m just talking about the ability to write freely on my computer; which may not seem like a big deal, but think about how dependent we are on technology today versus centuries ago. Technology was something that people must have dreamed night and day about to make life a whole lot easier to live. What about the freedom we have of not having to work shedding blood, sweat, and tears for other people? Can you honestly imagine what life would be like if we had to be slaves for an entire week? That would seem like an eternity, but in reality, it doesn’t even come close to serving as a slave for 12 years. Perhaps we can look at our lives as a form of slavery because once we enter the real world after high school, our lives become consumed by the need to work to pay bills which will never end. We do it because it is what we must do in order to survive. That is a choice that we make; a choice that is driven by a need. However, what I think long and hard about is that slaves never had the choices that we have to make. Their options were as clear as black and white: do I want to live or do I want to die?

When killing yourself seems to be the only option of getting away from the misery that you are living, that is the time when you have to realize that you are not alone in this world. However, that is the terrifying and unflinching reality of slavery. I have no words to describe the effort that it takes to portray the pain, agony, and despair of the characters in this film who are slaves. How can you possibly value the gift of life when that life that you are forced to live is not of your choosing?  It takes the extraordinary physical, mental, and emotional strength of a person who would value and care more about the lives of the people they love than their own to survive that torture of slavery. It is not very often that you come across a film that combines terrifying and uplifting tones at the same time. Despite all of the pain, suffering, and hopelessness that life sometimes throws upon us, there is always light to be found at the end of the tunnel. All it takes is a positive thought or emotion within all of the misery to make the impossible a reality.

Pacing is one of those elements that can really influence the reaction that people will have to a film. More often than not, it tends to pick up in the second half. That is not the case here. As he has done so well in his previous films, the pacing that McQueen uses here is what we should all expect from every film. It gives us the perfect opportunity to feel for the characters. Whenever you have a villain that you truly don’t like, that also has to do with the emotional connection between the audience and the characters. This is credit that should be given to the outstanding screenplay. Not only do you feel as though you are in that historical time period because of the costumes and cinematography, but the dialog also captured the historical setting in tremendous fashion. From the smallest of supporting roles and cameo appearances, to the lead stars, you can really appreciate the ensemble cast and the acting from everyone because they all contribute to the flow of the story. Like taking nothing for granted in life, there is nothing that you cannot appreciate from the full body of work that is presented here.

You can’t help but feel respect and admiration for what Steve McQueen is doing with his directing resume. It just continues to get better with every film that he releases. Needless to say, I am anxiously waiting to see the next one. I cannot say enough about the ensemble cast in this film, which is being nominated for outstanding cast awards. Michael Fassbender delivers a vicious performance of a villain that truly gets my vote for villain of the year. He is a rising star, and continues to be one of this generation’s great actors. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o are absolutely phenomenal and inspirational in their performances. It is only a matter of waiting to see where their acting careers go from here after being a part of this masterpiece. Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Alfre Woodard, Sarah Paulson, and Brad Pitt also star in not just one of the best films of the year, but of all-time.

 

It is hard to believe that come next week, we will now be in 2014! This year has already become a record-setting one at the box office. So we shall see what films are in store for us next year.

As far as this year’s films are concerned, there are quite a few that deserve to be recognized and rewarded for their incredible cast, crew, and amazing viewing experience that they have. This is always a bittersweet post to write because there are still some films that I have not seen, that probably would be on this list: The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Philomena, and Nebraska. Hopefully sooner than later, I will have a chance to see those films. However, here are in alphabetical order, my top films of 2013!

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Ender’s Game

Fast and Furious 6

Frozen

Gravity

Her

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Out of the Furnace

Pacific Rim

The Place Beyond The Pines

Prisoners

Side Effects

Star Trek: Into Darkness

12 Years A Slave

 

Gravity

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If you have a bucket list, what are some things that you have on there? I have never written one, but if I do, it would be a dream come true to be in space. Space is the best visual example of what a movie watching experience should be for anyone that goes to see one in theaters: an escape. Our daily lives are filled with so much noise, change, repetition, and drama, that sometimes it feels amazing to escape our every day lives for at least two hours. When you are watching a great film, time is irrelevant. You don’t think twice about how long it is, or how much time is left in it. You should feel as though you are part of the action. Look no further than this film for a full and complete immersion into the fascinating, and breath-taking place that we call space. When it comes to using adjectives to describe the beauty of what space is, I am at a loss of words because you simply cannot say enough about how amazing it really is. The more you think about it, you know that you have seen a great film in theaters when you are already thinking about adding it to your collection. More importantly, you have so many words that you want to say about it, but you are not sure about how to put it in writing.

Let me begin by saying what a remarkable job director Alfonso Cuarón did with this film. He may not have several directing credits doing these types of films as some of his colleagues do, however, that becomes completely irrelevant after watching this movie. In fact, he dreamed of being an astronaut and director growing up in his native Mexico. I think that it is safe to say that he is a very respectable director who can do some fine work with sci-fi thriller films. There is also the very lucrative Harry Potter franchise that he was also a part of. In case you may not know, Cuarón was the director of the third film in that series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. What is interesting to know is that while it was the only film that he directed in the franchise, many have said that they liked his film the best. Personally, I still wonder why that was the only film that he directed given all of the positive support and feedback from die-hard Harry Potter film fans.  One thing that I have come to learn from great actors and directors is that it is not so much about the extensive work that has been done, but the quality of  their work. Cuarón has been very critically selective of what he does, and it shows in his work. The greatness of his films just continue to get better with each new film that he directs.

To this day, I continue to be very critical of Avatar. It was the first film that I watched in a 3-D format, and needless to say, I did not enjoy it. I have refused to watch any films released in that format since. Having said that, I received the good word about watching Gravity in IMAX 3-D. Despite my strong dislike for that format, I can honestly say that I would love to watch Gravity again that way. Simply saying that this film was breath-taking is an understatement. Keep in mind that I watched it on a regular screen. So I can only imagine what it must be like to see this on an IMAX screen. You have to believe me when I say that although you will pay extra money to see it that way, it is worth it! Even though it may seem as though there are so many films that have shown some great scenes of space, you have to tip your hat off to the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. So from a visual perspective, that is already one big expectation that has been met. Everyone should have great story and visual expectations of films when watching them in theaters. Listening to the hype is one thing, but having the expectations is another.

At some point I may run out of adjectives to describe the beauty of this film, but I must say that it is definitely one of the most emotionally gratifying films of the year. On a personal level, I measure a film’s greatness by how much I reflect on it after it is done. I’m not just talking about mentally, but how much spread the word about it to others. I even think about how I am going to review it. The film may have ended, but when you find yourself deeply thinking and reflecting on things well after it has finished, then you have watched one incredible film. Life speaks to us in very different and mysterious ways, but the constant reminder that you will always hear is that when you have the will to do something, you can do it! The beauty of success or achievement is knowing that you may have fallen countless times, but your success overcomes all of those failed attempts combined. Recognizing and accepting failure is one of the best things that we can do because it is going to happen to us all at some point. After all, we are only humans living in a world that requires our undivided attention in order to succeed. When I say succeed, I’m talking about living life not just surviving it. We have to embrace the rewards and hardships life has because that’s what makes us all stronger.

As the fall movie season continues its full swing in the holidays, if there is one movie that is worth watching at the movie theaters it is Gravity. Director Alfonso Cuarón has given us a sci-fi thriller to love for the ages. He is a director that really chooses the films that he does carefully. Two of his other films that I would recommend are Children of Men and Y Tu Mama También. I am excitedly waiting for the next feature film that he will direct next. As for the acting power in this film, that credit goes to the two stars that shared the amazing dialogue in this film, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I must say that it was great to see Ed Harris as the voice of mission control in Houston. His casting reminded me of his Oscar-nominated performance in Apollo 13. The Bullock and Clooney on-screen pairing worked very well in this film. I would gladly watch them share the acting spotlight in another film. However, this is a film in which Sandra delivered her abilities with such grace and heart. Her performance, the visual spectacle, the music, Cuarón’s work, and everything about it is what makes this film a must-see in theaters now!

Just a few days before the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King delivering his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in the nation’s capital, and marching for civil rights, I am reminded of how far we come since that historic date. That is in terms of how far we come as far as accepting cultural diversity; which has been a tremendous achievement. However, that achievement is terribly overshadowed by the presence of racism that never seems to go away. As many issues as there are in the world today, racism is one that has been around for a very long time and probably will continue to be. It is terrible to see how just the color of a person’s skin can influence how we think and act; especially in very critical situations. It sounds ridiculous and unacceptable, but even in times of life and death, racism has shown its face. Racism is not something that should be classified as superiority and inferiority. Different races should be looked at with great appreciation because cultural diversity is what really makes this country special. The day that everyone embraces these differences, I am very sure that the world we live in will be a much better place.

It is no secret that a film like this has had many similar films before and after its release. The truth is that Hollywood is well-known for recycling things by now. If there is one negative comment that I have heard with regular frequency about the film industry, it is the lack of originality. The only differences are the directors and actors people say. You can also argue that the message that is trying to be told is different too. Everyone is entitled to sharing their version of a story. We can either accept or ignore the repetition of similar films that we see released from time to time. In fact, most of us have a favorite genre of movies, so watching so many similar films is nothing short of what we enjoy. What matters is that you enjoy the drama and entertainment that the film has. This is especially true when you have never seen the film before, or it has been many years since you last saw it. In my case, I had never seen this film, so I was completely focused on it throughout its entirety. If you pay close attention, when you see a film like this for the first time, there is always a message that you can take from it. The message is what separates good films from great films. The message is what separates the best films from the weak ones when they are within a particular genre.

If there is one question to reflect on about this film, it is this: how far are you willing to go to protect your family? your children? I think that when we are pushed to the limit, we are very unpredictable. The truth is that most, if not all of us, will do whatever it takes to keep our children and families safe. It is obvious that the times have changed between today and many decades ago. The consequences we face for our violent or fatal actions may be even more severe now than what they were many decades ago. Regardless of a person’s race, there are things that should not be tolerated or accepted. This is why we are taught right from wrong when we are young. No one should be exempt from that. The problem is that we continue to live in a world where superiority is defined among different races. It truly is disappointing to see that reality when there are so many more urgent and critical issues that should be addressed. An even bigger problem is that crimes can often lead to another; depending on the nature of the crime. It all has to do with that eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth philosophy, or what goes around comes around. Walking away is truly the best solution, and yet some people refuse to accept that given the situation they are in.

One thing that is incredibly remarkable about this film is the cast itself. For the first time in a long time, I truly enjoyed watching a film with an all-star cast that was great on many levels. It may be hard to believe, but it is not just the stars that make films great. The stars in these films may be a great motivation for us to see them, but more importantly, it is the great story that will help us to remember and appreciate them. I am sure that there have been quite a few instances where you have seen films with some great stars in them, but for some reason, you just did not enjoy the film. Perhaps the film did well enough for you to not hate it, but you also were not praising it either. So when you do come across star-studded film that works, you really can’t help but want to promote its greatness to others for them to watch it as well. What’s truly amazing is when you have a star-studded cast in which all of them are at the peak of the prime. Therefore, the on-screen chemistry that you see between them all is nothing short of brilliant entertainment. This is what we all pay big amounts of money nowadays to see.

When I talk about an all-star cast, this is as good as it gets. This is a powerful, emotional, and gripping drama that reminds us all of the dark realities we have in society today on so many levels. Especially the flaws that are in the judicial system, courts, and so forth. While it was only the fourth film that director Joel Schumacher did, it is definitely my favorite of his work that I have seen so far. As I mentioned, the film is a joy watch thanks to the powerful performances from the all-star cast that it has. Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L. Jackson lead this amazing cast that also includes Ashley Judd, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey, Chris Cooper, Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, and Oliver Platt. The year that his film was released has nothing to do with whether or not you will enjoy it. The message is one that withstands the test of time, and from an entertainment standpoint, you will be at the edge of your seat from start to finish. If this was a film that was released today, it is one that you should definitely go to see at the theater!

Pacific Rim

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One of my favorite lines from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is: “Life goes pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” A very fitting quote for the most recent film from visionary director Guillermo Del Toro. Based on the amazing attention to detail, you can tell that a film of this scope and magnitude is what Del Toro has been dreaming of doing for a long time. This is the same director of the Hellboy series, and my absolute favorite from him, Pan’s Labyrinth. Perhaps it was just a few years ago when Del Toro stopped and thought to himself, what do I need to do to make this dream a reality? Directing major motion pictures is not an easy task. I am sure you can come up with a few directors who you believed would do pretty well, but whose careers have suddenly gone extinct. So the reality is that time is precious with film making. Even though a film may not make it close to the budget it cost to make, I’m sure there is a tremendous feeling of achievement for a director when they have gone through the process of making their dream a reality. So I ask you, do you stop, look around and think about your childhood dreams? Time is a resource that you must use to your advantage. Never give up in your pursuit of making your dreams realities.

Just watching the trailer of this film, it seemed very easy to categorize this film as a mix between Independence Day and Godzilla. Contrary to what the Mayan calendar predicted, we are still here and we are still strong. Apocalyptic films however, still continue to be produced at a very predictable rate. There have already been quite a few of them this year, and I am sure that they will continue to be shown in theaters between now and the end of the year. What these films showcase tremendously is the strength of the human spirit. There is nothing like it, and when it is done well, it is quite a sight to behold. The reason that I mention when done well is because there are many examples of directors that have persistently worked on this genre, and have always seemed to focus on style over substance. Substance is much more important than style in my opinion, but of course, this is a form of entertainment, so people like to see some quality substance as well. This is why I give a lot of credit to directors that have consistently delivered successful films year after year. Successful of course can be broken down into box office numbers and overall appreciation of movie fans worldwide. So I am hoping that directors that are well-known for working on films like this have taken notes at how Del Toro mixes the style and substance elements. Are there loud and bombastic scenes? Of course there are when you think about the type of film that this is. However, that does not dominate over the film in its entirety.

What makes this film so entertaining is that you can really appreciate seeing these actors do things that they really don’t do in their daily lives. This can be so inspirational for you to fight the battles you have outside of the theater that you have temporarily suspended by watching a movie!  That is what makes the art of acting and performance so special. You have the amazing opportunity to look at the world with different eyes; to look at the world from a different perspective. It is so easy to just lose yourself in your daily and weekly routine that you don’t give yourself the time and moment to look for change or an adventure. Risks are fun when the result doesn’t affect you in the most terrible way. However, you cannot appreciate the feeling of accomplishment if you do not take a risk that is within your capabilities. No one likes to be told that they cannot do something because it is the most rewarding feeling to prove that person wrong. Sometimes it is difficult to admit, but we all know when something is too overwhelming and challenging. But when the salvation of humanity is at stake, there really is no tomorrow for one to not fight with all that they have. That is the type of world that we live in: you either celebrate victory or you must reflect on the pain of defeat or failure.

There is no doubt that this is a society that is being dominated by technology. If things continue to move at this pace, it is kind of difficult to imaging what the future holds in terms of what technology will do for us. The jaegers (hunter in German) as they are brilliantly called in this film, are the greatest combination of man and machine that I have ever seen in a film. You can look back at a lot of films over the years and see how we have worked with machines and make your own statements, but this is a whole other level to me. It is the perfect summary of what each can bring to the table: humans will bring instinct, heart, courage, and fearlessness. The machines have what it takes to help you to stay in battle with the weaponry and protection that you need. Together it makes an amazing team that is extremely difficult to defeat. Figuratively speaking, we all have to be hunters of what we need to get rid of in our lives. They say that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Well I would say that you should always do what you can to stay on top of your challenges. There are many battles to fight, but the good thing to know is that you never alone because there are many who fight the same battles as you do.

While he has many more producing credits to his name than directing credits, Guillermo Del Toro is one of the most visionary directors in film, and his work is really something to appreciate as he showed us with this film. He is director that really blends the style and substance qualities very well, and those are things that you can always expect from any project that he works on. His next film could very well be the darker version of the classic Disney tale, Pinocchio. So it is safe to say that I’m very curious about how he will dazzle us with that film. In terms of the cast, it is a brilliant one. Idris Elba is an actor that has some amazing screen presence. That is very difficult to accomplish when just the presence of an actor alone piques your interest. You can see his leadership and character from the moment he is introduced, and he is an actor that always delivers a strong performance regardless of his role. While I had no previous knowledge of Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi, they worked incredibly well together. It is always great to see young, rising actors have that type of chemistry. Supporting cast members including Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, and Burn Gorman add the humor to this great sci-fi fantasy film that is worth the watch in theaters now to cancel the apocalypse!