Day 362: Amadeus (1984)

amadeusThere are movies for this challenge that I promised myself that I was going to watch before it was over and today’s film is one of those said films. One of the greatest composers of the 18TH century was the virtuoso Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and for today’s film I decided to watch the 1984 film Amadeus. Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) likes to believe that he is a great composer and writer of classical music, but he had to work hard for it. Unlike his counterpart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) who was born with a natural talent and ability that it drives Salieri mad with jealousy. The film is Salieri’s take on what drove him to the point that he would actually murder the young prodigy. The film also stars Elizabeth Berridge (The Funhouse) as Constanze Mozart, Roy Dotrice (Hellboy II: The Golden Army) as Leopold Mozart, Christine Ebersole (The Wolf Of Wall Street) as Katerina Cavalieri, Jeffrey Jones (The Crucible) as Emperor Joseph II, Kenneth McMillan (Dune) as Michael Schlumberg, Charles Kay (Henry V) as Count Orsini-Rosenberg, Cynthia Nixon (Sex And The City) as Lorl, Kenny Baker (Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope) as Parody Commendatore, Simon Callow (James And The Giant Peach) as Emanuel Schikaneder, and the film was directed by Milos Forman (The People Vs Larry Flynt).

elizabeth-berridgeI just want to warn all of you with short attention spans that this film is a little over three hours long so if you can handle it then proceed. Amadeus is definitely one of those films that they went all out for because it has an amazing score, amazing set designs, amazing costumes, and most importantly great acting that makes it complete. The soundtrack features so much as far as amazing 18TH century classical music and amazing opera music that should satisfy any fan of that genre. The set designs and costumes were so amazing that it actually makes you feel like you are walking and living in 18TH Century Austria which is what a time period piece is supposed to do in the first place. One thing I do know is that this is actually a fictionalized look at the life of Mozart or at least the idea of Salieri killing Mozart. Mozart died of an illness that is often debated as to what it was exactly. When he was working on his Requiem, it said that he dictated in bed to one of his proteges and not Salieri (although this is not proven either). F. Murray Abraham was absolutely brilliant in his portrayal of a man driven with jealousy and hatred toward God and Mozart. Tom Hulce is brilliant as the virtuoso who if he was a lead singer he would have had LSD (Lead Singers Disease). He knew he was amazing and he wasn’t afraid to show it. I was a little skeptical of Jeffrey Jones playing an Austrian Emperor, but he does a pretty good job at it. You really have to love classical music and Mozart to want to watch this film, but I am a fan of music so I loved it. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.


Day 350: There Will Be Blood (2007)

there-will-be-bloodAs we close in on the end of our mission, there are films that are out there that are on my must see list and that is certainly true in regards to today’s film. One of the best actors to come out of the late 20TH century and well in the 21ST is Daniel Day-Lewis (The Crucible) and for today’s film we are watching There Will Be Blood which is based off of the book Oil! by Upton Sinclair. Daniel Plainview (Lewis) is a semi successful oil prospector who is looking for that piece of the pie that will set him for life. One day a young man by the name of Paul Sunday (Paul Dano) gives up some information on oil in California and it kicks off this story of family, religion, hatred, oil, and madness. The film also stars Paul F. Tompkins (Hell And Back) as Prescott, Dillon Freasier as H.W. Plainview, Ciaran Hinds (Bleed For This) as Fletcher, David Willis (The Good German) as Abel Sunday, Sydney McCallister as Mary Sunday, Kevin J. O’Connor (Peggy Sue Got Married) as Henry, David Warshofsky (Now You See Me) as H.M. Tilford, Hans Howes (Death Warrant) as Bandy, Russell Harvard (The Hammer) as Adult H.W., and the film was directed by aul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights).

there-will-be-bloodRight from beginning to end, Daniel Day-Lewis is intense and he commands the screen like any great star. Can you believe that right now he has only 29 films to his credit? He’s definitely one of those actors that doesn’t need to star in five films a year which means he chooses his roles and this was made for him. He was definitely the star of the film, but he’s not the only one who shined in the film. Paul Dano at first is a little confusing because he is first known as Paul Sunday, but then all of a sudden he is known as Eli Sunday. I didn’t realize that he was playing two different characters, but his performance as an early version of a evangelist was brilliant. It’s a constant war between Eli and Daniel throughout the film, but it all boils down to greed on both their parts. The film was excellently written as the story flows nicely, but there’s more than just oil. There’s the family angle between Daniel and his son H.W. that is a big factor as well. One of the coolest scenes in the film is the oil well that burns up in flames which could have been looked at as a disaster, but is ultimately a blessing. If you want to see what acting is all about then you go on to Netflix and you check out this because class is in session and Day-Lewis is ready to teach. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.

Day 263: The Finest Hours (2016)

finesthoursbar640You all definitely know by now that I love to watch films that are based on true stories especially when they have to do with where I am from. In 1952, the greatest rescue mission in Coast Guard history happened and it’s the subject for today’s film The Finest Hours. While at sea, an oil tanker called the USS Pendelton that wasn’t properly fixed splits in half leaving it’s crew to literally fight for their lives as they wait for rescue. Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) is a coast guard first mate who is looking to forget the events of the previous year. As he is about to get married to his fiance (Holliday Grainger), he is called out to sea along with Richard Livesey (Ben Foster), Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner), and Ervin Maske (John Magaro) to rescue the ships crew members in an impossible mission. The film also stars Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) as Ray Sybert, Eric Bana (Hulk) as Daniel Cluff, John Ortiz (The Drop) as Wallace Quirey, Graham McTavish (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) as Frank Fauteux, Michael Raymond-James (Jack Reacher) as D.A. Brown, Josh Stewart (The Dark Knight Rises) as Tchuda Southerland, Beau Knapp (The Nice Guys) as Mel Gouthro, and the film was directed by Craig Gillespie (Lars And The Real Girl).

the-finest-hoursThis was truly an incredible film and an incredible story of testing the human limits and believing in yourself. The cinematography for the film was absolutely amazing even though at times you could tell that most of it was filmed on a soundstage. The one thing that I found funny about the film is that every spoke in a John Fitzgerald Kennedy Boston accent. Like the accents are as thick as you could possibly go as far as the time period is concerned, but maybe everyone spoke like that back then. Now as always, I try to look up what was fact and/or fiction about films that are said to be based on a true story. What was fact was that the USS Pendelton did have a crack in it and that even though it wasn’t properly fixed, it still somehow passed inspection. One of the big things that was fiction about the film is that Miriam was actually home sick with the flu the whole time this was going on. To read more about what was fact or fiction, click here. The caliber of actors that are in this film is absolutely incredible as well with guys like Ben Foster, Casey Affleck, Chris Pine, and so many more made this film great with their incredible acting. This truly is ana incredible film and story as I said above and one that if you love true stories, rescue type films, and history then you should see this. The film is available on Netflix as we speak and with that being said, I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 187: Woman In Gold (2015)

woman in goldI figured since I watched two films in a row that were both based on true stories that I would go for a third in a row. The film I chose to watch is called Woman In Gold and it stars Helen Mirren (The Queen) as Maria Altmann, an Austrian woman who was forced to leave her home during the invasion of the Nazis in the 1940’s. In her home was a very expensive painting of her aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer (Antje Traue) that was commissioned by Gustav Klimt that was taken by the Nazis and brought to a museum in Austria. Now it’s over 50 years later and Maria wants her painting back so that she can reclaim what is rightfully hers to begin with. So, she hires a young lawyer by the name of Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) who risks everything to try and make Maria happy. The film also stars Katie Holmes (Batman Begins) as Pam Schoenberg, Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War) as Hubertus Czernin, Tatiana Maslany (The Vow) as Young Maria Altmann, Max Irons (The Host) as Fritz Altmann, Charles Dance (Last Action Hero) as Sherman, Allan Corduner (Defiance) as Gustav Bloch-Bauer, and the film was directed by Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn).

womanI was having a conversation with someone earlier about Ryan Reynolds and what we love seeing him in. Deadpool was such a natural role for him just as much as Waiting or Van Wilder were. I couldn’t take him serious enough in the Amityville remake, but I can see him in roles like Self/Less and definitely in this one. He was given a chance to hang with an actress like Helen Mirren and I think he did a pretty good job with it. There were times when his serious acting were a little shaky, but he would always bounce back nicely. Helen Mirren was masterful as usual in her performance as the tough and rugged Maria Altmann, but there is one moment that stands out to me. She was this tough cookie throughout the whole film, but for a moment she emotionally breaks down and the walls come tumbling down. After years of constantly fighting the negative aspects of her life, she was finally able to let go and move on remembering the good times. I want to give a shout out to Daniel Brühl who might have had a minor role in the film, but he was also masterful. The gold leaf painting itself is remarkable and to find an actress that kind of looks like the woman in gold was a good catch as well. It’s not the best film in the world, but it’s a very good one that tells a take of redemption and restitution. I am going to give the Woman In Gold an B+ for a final grade. Check out the painting below:


Day 186: Everest (2015)

everestI want to start off by wishing everyone a happy and safe fourth of July. While yesterday’s film was loosely based on a true story, today’s film Everest claims to be based on a true story of the 1996 tragedy. Ever since the first person to successfully climb Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953, people have been obsessed by making the climb which is 29,000 plus feet in the air. In 1996, Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) led an expedition to the top of Mount Everest, but what was supposed to be a triumphant occasion quickly went south. While up at the top of the summit, a wild and crazy storm hits the mountain forcing all the men to fight for their lives as they try to make the trek back down the mountain. The film also stars Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men) as Beck Weathers, Jake Gyllenhaal (Zodiac) as Scott Fischer, Sam Worthington (Terminator: Salvation) as Guy Cotter, Emily Watson (Red Dragon) as Helen Wilton, Tim Dantay (Summer) as John Taske, Michael Kelly (Now You See Me) as John Krakauer, Naoko Mori (Spice World) as Yasuko Namba, John Hawkes (Lincoln) as Doug Hansen, Martin Henderson (The Ring) as Andy Harris, Keira Knightley (Domino) as Jan Hall, and the film was directed by Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns).

everest 2Before I get into what is fact and what is fiction about a film that clearly says that it’d BASED on a true story, I wanted to say that I really loved the film. There were way too many names to list in the above paragraph, but this was just an excellent film with excellent performances all around. Jason Clarke is a superstar and is becoming one of my favorites in the business and you can’t go wrong with the performances from Jake Gyllenhaal or Josh Brolin. It was truly an all star cast in my opinion in a film that could have gone one or two ways. This could have been a boring film about mountain climbing, but it ended up being a story about the power of belief and the will of man. These men faced unbelievable odds while climbing the mountain and while I said what was supposed to be a day of triumph turned into tragedy. Apparently John Krakauer has said this about the film, “It’s total bull … Anyone who goes to that movie and wants a fact-based account should read Into Thin Air.” After watching the film, he was annoyed at the notion that he never attempted to help anyone on the rescue mission, he says, “I never had that conversation. Anatoli came to several tents, and not even Sherpas could go out. I’m not saying I could have, or would have. What I’m saying is, no one came to my tent and asked.” To read the rest of the article, click here. There is always going to be differentiating opinions on what really happened in a film, you just have to take it or leave it. I shed some tears at certain parts of the film that I won’t give away, but it has to do with Rob and his wife Jan. Check out the film on HBO or HBOGO right now. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 185: Mississippi Burning (1988)

mississippi-burningThere was a time in some parts of the country whose history was very dark and very shameful. In the 1960’s, the living conditions for African Americans were not very ideal as racism and segregation were at it’s peak especially in Mississippi. For today’s film, Mississippi Burning, we explore the atrocities that mankind committed during the civil rights movement. Two drastically different FBI agents, Allen Ward (Willem Dafoe) and Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) are sent to Jesper, Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights activists. The only problem is that they can’t seem to get anyone to talk out of fear and for some of them it would mean implicating themselves. That doesn’t stop the two agents from moving forward and not in reverse as they try their best to bring justice. The film also stars Frances McDormand (Fargo) as Mrs. Pell, Brad Dourif (Child’s Play) as Deputy Clinton Pell, R. Lee Emery (Full Metal Jacket) as Mayor Tillman, Gailard Sartain (The Outsiders) as Sheriff Ray Stuckey, Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day) as Clayton Towney, Michael Rooker (Guardians Of The Galaxy) as Frank Bailey, Pruitt Taylor Vince (Monster) as Lester Cowens, Kevin Dunn (Warrior) as Agent Bird, Tobin Bell (Saw) as Agent Stokes, and the film was directed by Alan Parker (Pink Floyd The Wall).

mississippi-burning2This was an excellent film that featured excellent performances by just about everyone in the film. Even Darius McCrary who starred in the hit 90’s TGIF TV show Family Matters was very good in the film so it’s hard to choose an MVP, but for me it would go to Gene Hackman. His character and his performance were bad ass and you were rooting for him the whole entire time hoping that he would get to do things his way. I do have to say that Willem Dafoe was a good balance to Hackman because he represented doing things by the book while Hackman was all man and did what he felt was right. It’s hard to believe today that people thought and acted the way they did like they did in this film. Some parts of the county were pretty ignorant to the idea of human rights.You see the KKK in action in this film and you see how hateful they are. I looked it up and this film is loosely based on a true story. Loosely based because they changed the names of people and they created a fictional town in Mississippi. If you want to look up the facts on the real story, then click here. Like I said before, this was an amazing film and if you are a movie fan and a fan of history then this is the film for you. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade, it’s playing on Starz/Encore this month.

Day 151: Flags Of Our Fathers (2006)

flags of our fathersFirst of all I want to start this article off by wishing everyone including the men and women of the Armed Forces a Happy Memorial Day. After all, this day is about remembering all soldiers past and present that have fought for this country. So for today’s film, I decided to watch a war film and I picked Flags Of Our Fathers which was directed by Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby). It’s 1945 and the war is almost coming to a close, but America is still at war with the Japanese. While on the island of Iwo Jima, the goal is to hang an American flag at the top of a certain point. The film follows the six men who raised the very flag that we see in that iconic image and all of the issues they had to deal with while at war and after it. The film stars Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions) as John “Doc” Bradley, Jesse Bradford (Hackers) as Rene Gagnon, Adam Beach (Windtalkers) as Ira Hayes, John Benjamin Hickey (The Bone Collector) as Keyes Beech, Barry Pepper (True Grit) as Mike Strank, Jamie Bell (King Kong) as Iggy, Paul Walker (Furious 7) as Hank Hansen, John Slattery (Captain America: Civil War) as Bud Gerber, Robert Patrick (Striptease) as Colonel Chandler Johnson, Neal McDonough (Red 2) as Captain Severance, and Melanie Lynskey (Up In The Air) as Pauline.

foofAs far as the film is concerned, it’s a very different type of war movie because not only do you see the horrors of war, but you see a very different side of it. You see a side of war that the politicians do not want you to see. For instance, throughout the film, the image of the men putting up the flag is more important to the cause then the actual truth behind the picture. The country practically has no money so they use the image and the remaining three men who are alive to try and raise money by selling bonds. They know very well that these guys are not comfortable with the whole hero thing, but they need to use that to try and draw money to win the war. Those are some of the things we do not get to see, but is the film controversial? Maybe or maybe not because it depends on who you ask like Spike Lee. Clint Eastwood as a director is money because I have yet to be disappointed at any of the films the man has made and that is truly amazing. There are some iconic images in this film like all of the warships out in the ocean to the gritty aspects of war. All of the acting was great, the cinematography was amazing, and the story was well written. This film may not be my favorite war movie in the world, but it certainly ranks up there. Like I said above, this day is about remembering all the men and women that served this country. Check out the film, learn some history about the nation, and I am giving the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 149: The Crucible (1996)

220px-ThecruciblemovieEarlier in the year, I had seen a movie called The Witch which I thought was going to be a scarier look into the Salem Witch Trials or at least that time period. Coming from Massachusetts, my interest in the subject matter has always been peaked and when I saw that The Crucible was available to watch, I immediately chose it for today’s film. The film follows the actual accounts of the Salem Witch Trials in which Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) started. Abigail among other girls were caught dancing in the woods with the famous Tituba (Charlayne Woodard). In order to save themselves, they began to start accusing innocent people from the villiage that they had problems with which included the wife of John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis). The film features an amazing cast that includes Paul Scofield (A Man For All Seasons) as Judge Thomas Danforth, Joan Allen (The Bourne Supremacy) as Elizabeth Proctor, Bruce Davison (The Lords Of Salem) as Reverend Paris, Rob Campbell (Hedwig and The Angry Inch) as Reverend Hale, Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) as Thomas Putnam, Peter Vaughan (Brazil) as Giles Corey, Karron Graves (The Good Shepard) as Mary Warren, George Gaynes (Police Academy) as Judge Samuel Sewall, Mary Pat Gleason (Basic Instinct) as Martha Corey, and the film was directed by Nicholas Hytner.

2a969dec83b76b2ffccddca6c9704461Now as far as The Witch was concerned, it wasn’t as scary as people made it out to be even though it was well acted. This film gave you exactly what you thought you were going to get and that was an account of all the horror that occurred in the town of Salem. The subject is still a sore spot in Salem, but it’s a history they no longer deny. You watch this film and you say how stupid could people have been back in those days and you must understand that this was a puritan society where religion was number one alongside greed and envy. I cannot begin to make you understand how amazing the performances in this film were and I was not lying when I said it was an all star cast. Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the most amazing actors to come out in the 90’s and he has provided us with classic after classic even though I need to catch up on a lot of them. All the performances in the film were absolutely fantastic and you should see it for that and the sets and costumes. The sets were amazing as it made you feel like you were in Salem in 1692 and the costumes enforced those beliefs. I also loved how they stuck the original script that Arthur Miller wrote as they stayed true to that. This was an excellent choice for me for today and if you ever want to learn more about Salem, start here and then travel to Salem for yourselves. It is such an amazing place to be and there is so much history. With that being said, I am going to give the film an A+ for a final grade.

Day 137: Zodiac (2007)

zodiacI was searching for a film to watch and I was going through a whole entire list before the film I chose caught my eye. I have always been a sucker for films that are based on true stories because real life can be scarier than fiction. The film I chose for today is called Zodiac and it stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners) as San Francisco Newspaper cartoonist Robert Graysmith. In the late 1960’s into the 70′, a killer appeared in Northern California calling himself the Zodiac killer. He would murder his victims and he would send letters to local newspapers. Robert Graysmith became so intrigued with the case that he followed it. Unfortunately, a suspect was never found and no one was ever arrested. When everyone else stopped looking, Graysmith took the reigns and decided to investigate himself coming close to identifying the actual killer. The film stars Mark Ruffalo (Avengers: Age Of Ultron) as Inspector David Toschi, Anthony Edwards (Top Gun) as Inspector William Armstrong, Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) as Paul Avery, Brian Cox (Troy) as Melvin Belli, John Caroll Lynch (Ted 2) as Arthur Leigh Allen, Chloë Sevigny (American Psycho) as Melanie, Elias Koteas (Shutter Island) as Sgt. Jack Mulanax, Donal Logue (Blade) as Captain Ken Narlow, Ione Skye (Say Anything…) as Kathleen Johns, and the film was directed by David Fincher (Fight Club). 

zodiac 2This is a long film, but it’s a film that is very intriguing especially when it’s a true crime story that has never been solved to this very day. I watched the film because it starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo because all three men are some of personal favs. At first, I kept wondering how they would close a movie that has no ending in real life. The killer has never been caught so how do you write an ending to that especially when there is none? Do I like the way they ended the film? Essentially, I kind of do and I kind of don’t, but it’s something that I am willing to accept (of course, you’ll have to watch it for yourself). Jake Gyllenhaal is brilliant in the film as this kind of neurotic obsessed guy that kind of reminds me of his role a little in Nightcrawler. The case they are all investigating and researching is kind of destroying there lives because they are way to attached to the idea of breaking it open and catching the guy. You see the characters literally falling apart right in front of your fac while the killer stays free. There are several theories and several accusations that have been made as to who the killer was, but the characters in this film believe in the guy they are after. I have to admit that I was a little creeped out watching this film in the wee hours of the night so it definitely gets bonus points for that reason. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade based on performances and just the pure creepiness of the film.

Day 73: Bridge Of Spies (2015)

bridge-of-spies-656There are certain actors in Hollywood that when you hear that they are starring in a film, you immediately want to see it because of how amazing they are. The same could be said when you hear a certain directors name and Bridge Of Spies is one of those films that works for both those cases. The film stars Tom Hanks (Catch Me If You Can) and it was directed by Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List) and it takes place during the cold war at a time when both The Soviet Union and The United States were deploying spies. One day, a Soviet Spy by the name of Rudolph Abel (Mark Rylance) is caught and arrested. James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is tasked with the duty of representing Abel in a court of law and then he is tasked with having to set up an exchange between the two mega powers. The film also stars Domenick Lombardozzi (Phone Booth) as Agent Blasko, Victor Verhaeghe (The Wolf Of Wall Street) as Agent Gamber, Joshua Harto (The Dark Knight) as Bates, Alan Alda (M*A*S*H) as Thomas Watters Jr., Amy Ryan (Escape Plan) as Mary Donovan, Mikhail Gorevoy (Die Another Day) as  Ivan Schischkin, Sebastian Koch (A Good Day To Die Hard) as Wolfgang Vogel, Burghart Klaußner (Goodbye Lenin!) as Harald Ot, Will Rogers (The Bay) as Frederic Pryor, Austin Stowell (Whiplash) as Francis Powers, and Jesse Plemons (Black Mass) as Joe Murphy.

sp1Mark Rylance who played Rudolph Abel, the accused Soviet spy won an Oscar this year for Best Supporting Actor and it was the only Oscar the film won I believe. I have still not seen many of the other pictures that were nominated to really make a critique, but I didn’t think he did enough to earn the win. It was a great performance none the less from the man, but there was more of Tom Hanks than there was of him. I do however understand the point of Best Supporting Actor who is there to support the lead actor. Nevertheless, you are probably wondering what I thought about the film itself. Like I said in the above paragraph, there are actors that you see their name and you do not question it at all. Tom Hanks is definitely one of those guys and he puts on a superstar performance in the film as James B. Donovan. Donovan’s character is very interesting because here is a man representing someone we labeled a spy knowing full well that he was going to be hated because of it. yet, the man kept going and did one of the most unthinkable things later on. I’m not giving away any spoilers because it’s based on a true story. The film is compelling and the story was well written. This isn’t an action film or a psychological thriller, but a drama that is historical and I guess is a little bit of a thriller towards the last half of the film. The cinematograghy in the film was amazing and you have to give it up to the set design and costume department for making us believe we were 1950’s New York and a dilapidated Berlin. I love films that are based on true stories because they are so much more compelling. That is why I am going to give this one an A- for a final grade.