Project Almanac

“Wasn’t too sure what to make of this at first glance. It seemed kinda amateurish, and I’m also not a big fan of found footage. Still, it gave off a Chronicle vibe, and that one turned out really well (and also propelled Dane DeHaan and Michael B Jordan into the spotlight). Besides, what else was I gonna go see, Mortdecai? *shudder*

It didn’t even take five minutes to hook me. The film introduced our characters by showing a video they were putting together for admission to MIT. Sitting next to a fellow MIT alum, the two of us were laughing hysterically, recognizing the same nerd qualities we see in ourselves. That illusion busted a few minutes later, when upon being accepted he lamented that he didn’t get enough of a scholarship to be able to afford it. The driving force behind much of the film was him trying to impress the school into giving him more money. Why did that bust the illusion? MIT financial aid is all need based. If you’re good enough to get in, that’s enough. And if this kid is the child of an unemployed single mother, they school is sure as heck gonna award him more than the meager amount in the film. But really that was just a slight hiccup.

Right so our kids find the blueprints for a time machine in their basement, left behind by our leader kid’s dead dad. So of course, they build it (gotta impress MIT afterall!). After a few initial jumps back in time, they start going further and further back, returning to find things changed in their world. Now they have to go back and fix it.

Sure, there were some flaws in the film, some logic issues around time travel and around the found footage format (a usual problem, which is why I typically don’t care for it). But what really sold it were the kids. This was a group I would love to hang around. They were smart and funny and just really enjoyable to watch. And yes, they (or at least the one who cared to) would have gotten along just fine at my old MIT dorm. Is this film gonna be a big awards winner? No. Never. Was it a worthy way to kill two hours? Absolutely. Nerds rule.

Project Almanac – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Black Sea

“Oh my goodness this was one of the most intense two hour periods I’ve ever sat thru, at least at the movies. Jude Law leads this claustrophobic thriller about a team in a submarine searching for lost Nazi treasure. The sense of danger built and built and built throughout the film as one thing after another would go wrong.

It began just with tension between the group: half of them Russian, half of them British, all of them untrusting of the others. Then, of course, the old submarine started to have issues. Then the tensions got higher, then there were more issues, and it was just non-stop. Even when it was over, I still couldn’t catch my breath.

Law was incredible. I expected his character to follow a certain path, but he went to dark places I didn’t expect, which raised the stakes and set all bets off. I went from early in the movie marveling at how they made him not hot (combination of receding hairline and harsh accent) to being in awe of the way he commanded the screen in unexpected ways. Not that it was unexpected that he could command a screen, just again, unexpected where his character went.

With it’s limited run and unfortunate January release date, this movie is likely to get lost in the shuffle. I know I barely had it on my radar, and even then couldn’t get a good handle on when it’d be out. But it’s worth seeking out if you’re tired of prestige pictures and need to find some solid entertainment in this graveyard release period.

Black Sea – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Two Days, One Night

“As much as I pore over Oscar predictions beforehand, there’s always at least one big surprise. The person that no one was expecting or really talking about that manages to sneak into a big race. This year, it was Academy darling Marion Cotillard. Although when conferring with IMDB just now, it seems her win for La Vie En Rose was her only previous nomination. I could have sworn she had a couple others. I suppose she’s been in the conversations in recent years, and this year when she wasn’t being talked about that much, she snuck in stealing the contested 5th spot when the first 4 were pretty much set for a while.

In this foreign film (right, not easy to land a nod when you’re speaking French instead of English throughout), Cotillard plays Sandra, a woman who has just been let go from her job. She finds out that a vote that was taken by all the remaining employees to either allow her to remain or reward them all with a bonus, may have been negatively influenced by the management. She’s granted a chance at a new vote, and spends the weekend knocking on the doors of every one of those employees, imploring them to change their minds.

I thought the film was very thought provoking. Such a difficult choice that lay ahead of her, and she was constantly struggling to convince herself what she was doing was right. She desperately needed her job to make ends meet and support her family, but all these people she was approaching also desperately needed the bonuses that they’d otherwise be awarded. It took so much courage to go up to them all, and place everyone in an impossible situation.

What I liked was meeting all of the various colleagues she had to persuade. Every time she walked up to a new door, I was curious to see who’d be on the other side. Their reactions to her were all different. Some were sympathetic, others hostile. For some the decision to vote one way or the other came easy, for others it was a struggle. Such a seemingly simple little film was filled with universal issues.

Two Days One Night – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Bronson

“A lot of people refer to this as Tom Hardy’s break through movie. He wasn’t introduced to the mainstream world until Inception not too long after (which is when he first caught my eye), but Bronson put him on the radar of lots of important people.

Hardy plays the titular true life character Charles Bronson, one of Britain’s most famous and violent prisoners. From the look of it and the description, I had a certain expectation of what it would be. I thought it’d be a dark and gritty macho movie, tough and serious. While there were certainly some elements of that, for the most part the film was a whole mess of crazy that came out of nowhere…And I absolutely loved it.

There was a level of theatricality that you don’t tend to see often, especially not in films with this type of subject matter. From the first moment that Hardy was staring at the audience narrating his story, I knew this would be something different and special. He would go on to act like a Cabaret MC, displaying a playful showmanship that I would have never associated with this usually stoic actor. Honestly, no words I could use to describe would do it justice. It’s on Netflix, only 90 minutes, GO!”