The Tree Of Life (2011)

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Mrs. O’Brien: Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.

Starring: Brad Pitt as Mr. O’Brien, Jessica Chastain as Mrs. O’Brien, Sean Penn and Jack and Tye Sheridan as Steve, dir. Terrence Malick.

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Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men, Gravity, The Revenant)

The Brilliance Of The Opening Sequence From ‘The Warriors’ (1979)

The Warriors tells the tale of how a simple misunderstanding leads to hoards of individuals attempting to murder a group innocent of these accusations… The group calls themselves The Warriors and the hoards of individuals are rival gangs throughout New York.

The film was released in 1979 to sporadic bouts of violence from rivalling gangs attending screenings. The film had very little marketing & promotional efforts due to the nature of its themes and the initial incredibly mixed critical reviews caused moviegoers to be hesitant in watching the film in theatres. Since then, The Warriors has become a cult classic and is one of my personal favorite films of all-time.

Just watch this trailer with the ominous voiceover and tell me you’re not the least bit curious about this glorious picture:

Now there are many aspects to The Warriors that I love, but I will save that for another article. This particular one will explore the sheer brilliance of its first 7 or so minutes. When I think of how a film should begin, by not giving away too much yet giving away just enough, I think of the beautifully Walter Hill-directed The Warriors.


The Sequence In Question

So What Makes This Brilliant?

Let me give a disclaimer that everything said is of my opinion and you can view this and think it is the stupidest thing you have ever seen… That is the beauty of film and why I love it: shit is all subjective, yo!

The Wonder Wheel With The Comic Caption

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Sometime in the future…” The film immediately starts to intrigue you. So this is set in a dystopian future. The mesmerizing silhouette of the Wonder Wheel brightens up the screen against that pitch black background, and the ominous music sets the tone as you see a subway train in the distance, the train essentially becoming a character itself as the film progresses… Then the gradual fade in of the opening title card pops up and you know you’re in for a treat.

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The Initial Exposition And Setup Of The Film

“It’s still on and we’re goin’. Cyrus sent an emissary this afternoon to make sure. Now, Cyrus don’t want anybody packed and he don’t want anybody flexing any muscle. So, I gave him my word that the Warriors would uphold the truce… Now everybody says that Cyrus is the one and only. I think we better go have a look for ourself.”

Who’s Cyrus, String?

The introduction of Cleon, portrayed by Dorsey Wright, and the assertiveness of his delivery causes the viewer to piece together that this guy is probably a leader of some sorts for these Warrior fellows. So they are going to a place where there are going to be other people and there is a truce of some sort the Warriors are willing to uphold.

Who the fuck’s Cyrus, String?

In just under thirty seconds, the viewer is given the relevant information needed to progress the film. It is not delivered in a way that makes you roll your eyes or seems outlandish in any way. There is a sense of urgency given yet I don’t really feel like this set up is rushed. If anything, this urgency enhances the watch…

LOOK AT ME! WHO THE FUCK IS CYRUS?!

Yeah, you’re also left wondering “… who is this Cyrus and why is he so revered?”

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The Traveling Montage Begins!

This is my favorite aspect to this sequence. You see shots of numerous gangs traveling to this Meeting interspersed with various members of The Warriors discussing their thoughts on the event… Which means characterization, bitch!

We’re introduced to our protagonists with their initial character traits right off the bat, all set to an incredibly bad ass jamming tune.


Cowboy Man (Cowboy) Is Hesitant About The Meeting,
Other Warriors Member (Vermin) Doesn’t Give A Fuck

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“You never know what you’re gonna run into out there. We’re wearing out colours, we can’t hide.”
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“Who wants to hide?”

They’re Going In There With Nothing!

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The Glorious Subway Map Shots

These occasional panning shots work to illustrate just how far the Warriors are having to travel for the Meeting. The shots are certainly lovely to look at, however they provide a real sense of uneasiness as the gang ventures further and further away from home. If something were to go wrong, how will they make their way out?

This may also be interpreted as the Warriors possibly losing confidence little by little with each new station they reach. Every gang member thrives on two things: their colors and their turf. As the train progresses through stations, the Warriors’ colors stay with them however their all-important turf is left behind, thus leaving one of the key elements to them completely barren.

We’re also introduced to many impeccably dressed and colour coordinated gangs that pique our interest immensely, some of the honourable mentions:

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A Greaser Gang utilizing their tokens
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This Asian Gang impatiently awaiting the train

Who Are These People?

This sequence introduces the audience to every member of the Warriors with only a few bits of dialogue and an effective amount of showing, not telling.

We see the ultimate greatness of what this Meeting means to an insane amount of people and we realize how intimidating some of these groups are. There are fucking MIMES, damn it. What are these mimes doing and how will they stack up against the gangs who are able to verbalize their commands?!

Lest We Forget, Ajax’s Prediction…

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… Is Proven Incredibly Wrong

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The Ultimate Significance

When I think of which movie openings draw my eye and immediately intrigue me, I think of The Warriors.

These gangs we only see for a short time are essentially taking over the New York transit system and as I mentioned, the Subway essentially becomes a character in and of itself in the film. It becomes a haven our protagonists must utilize in order to reach safety.

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They’re far away from home and are entering territory with rivaling gangs. Will they make it? Will everyone manage to get along? The Warriors have a loose cannon as a part of their group, does he mess shit up for them? Why don’t they just meet up in the afternoon instead of the dead of night? Who is Cyrus?

All these questions arise by the end of the opening and what ultimately follows is an hour and a half of pure entertainment.

Now the real question that sums up the entire film… Can. You. Dig. It?

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What Are Some Of Your Favourite Movie Openings?

 

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

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Bill: Sweetheart, you can’t buy the necessities of life with cookies.

Starring: Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands, Winona Ryder as Kim, Dianne Wiest as Peg, Anthony Michael Hall as Jim and Alan Arkin as Bill, dir. Tim Burton.

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Cinematographer: Stefan Czapsky (Batman Returns, Ed Wood, Matilda)

Why I Will Never Get Over That Horrendous Final Season Of ‘Dexter’

Disclaimer
This article spoils major plot points of the TV series, Dexter.

It may seem like I’m rambling at times but… that’s because

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You’ve been warned.


Three years ago, the Showtime hit Dexter concluded its television run with the episode “Remember The Monsters”. Many television fans will tell you just how remarkable those first four seasons were, how Seasons 5-7 were alright… And how Season 8 was arguably the worst thing they have ever seen in their life… At least that’s my personal take on it.

Now I absolutely adored Dexter. When I initially started watching, Season 5 was about to premiere so I watched through Seasons 1-4 in anticipation for it. Man, that was a fun and disgustingly emotional couple of weeks. Let me preface this by saying Rita Morgan was my absolute favorite and I really needed a moment (or five) to myself when she died. My Starbucks name has been “Rita” for the past seven years because of her, that’s how pathetic I am. I hold no resentment toward the showrunners for deciding to kill her off, life’s shitty sometimes and your favorite people die.

What I do hold resentment over is the fact that the final season was so unbelievably awful, nothing can possibly redeem it except maybe using that Men In Black device to completely wipe my brain of any memory of it and never let me watch/become attached to the show.

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This post isn’t meant to sound like I was personally affected by this monstrosity the execs greenlit, although I did invest time out of my life for it but I digress. It is simply a means to express, in my own words and opinion, why the absolute, final time we would ever see these characters sucked so incredibly hard. I promise I’ve gone on with my life, I don’t dwell on it. I just simply can’t forgive such blatant disregard for a character and series that human beings dedicated seven years of their lives to.


A Solid Season 7 Made Us Believe The Final Season Would Be Better Than What We Got

The Seasons predating 7 receive somewhat mixed reviews since Jordan Chase wasn’t anything special and Colin Hanks‘ whatever-he-was really didn’t evoke the fear of a Trinity or even Doakes. That Season 6 ending however was done incredibly well and everyone was excited to see what Season 7 would bring…

Besides one of the stupidest kills in Dexter’s history (the airport kill in the middle of the day) I have two words for you: Isaak Sirko. Arguably one of the best Dexter antagonists since John Lithgow‘s essentially perfect performance as the Trinity Killer in S4… What made Ray Stevenson‘s Sirko even more appealing were his interactions with Dexter and how their characters’ story arcs concluded in such a beautiful way.

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… Not to mention, HOLY FUCKING DICKENS DEB SHOT LaGUERTA TO KEEP DEX’S SECRET! SHIT IS BOUND TO GO DOWN NEXT SEASON, I CAN’T WAIT! I wonder where they’re going to take this… How will Deb & Dexter’s relationship work through this? Will they be able to work through this? What happens when Angel finds out?! In the words of Clay Davis, aw “sheeeeeeeeeit.”

Friends, did any type of shit end up going down?

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Rita Becomes An Afterthought Until Dexter Needs To Use Her Dead Memory To Get Out Of Work

This is the one that truly eeks me the most. Hey, kids… Want to know a surefire way to be able to get out of work to book it to Argentina with your kid & girlfriend?

“Oh hey Angel, uh… I know I literally haven’t spoke about or barely acknowledged it or anything but I’m feeling super sad about Rita dying so… I think I’m gonna leave… Is, is that cool?” – Dexter Morgan, 2013.

The moment where Dexter tells Angel he has to leave because he isn’t over Rita’s death was a slap in the face to every person who believed in the Rita/Dexter pairing. Nevermind people like me who genuinely loved this fictional being, any regular viewer could see Dexter’s progression as a character when their relationship developed over those years. The guy went from a bachelor who barely knew the ins and outs of la pasíon to a full-fledged husband and father. Without delving too much into the Rita/Dexter relationship (as that is for a future post), she challenged him in his ways and he wanted to strive to be better for not only Rita but himself as well, damn it…

This was relegated to “uh, yeah I know I haven’t acknowledged her in years but I need an excuse to leave right now so… Rita.” Motherfucking no, man. Her death was wrapped up in Season 5 and rarely mentioned again prior to Dexter needing an out. Say you hate Miami. Say you hate Angel… Using your dead wife to get out of your job is an incredibly scummy thing to do.

The Anticipation Every Week That Maybe It Will Get Better!

What I usually hear from people who have finished the series following its initial run is, “Oh it’s not that bad, I finished it in a day.” What a luxury, you have there. From Episode 1 to around 7 or so I, among many others, were hopeful that maybe things will get better this week! The last few episodes are just setting things up for the final… moments… I implore anyone who is in the midst of watching Season 8 of Dexter, watch it in a weekly setting to truly appreciate the disdain it will make you feel.

Evelyn and Zach? Yeah, I guess they’re cool but will they reveal who Dexter really is? Saxon AKA Not Gosling, as r/Dexter eloquently nicknamed him? Um… I guess he’s intimidating? I’d have to give a shit about him to be threatened but he’s the antagonist now so… Sean Patrick Flanery? I mean, he can maybe be written up by the Fashion Police for those glasses but besides that, nobody of substance is on this show!

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I find you guilty of committing crimes against fashion

“He’s Good At This”

This is just… ugh. Fast forward to 30 seconds and avoid any hard areas your head may want to smash itself on.

THE TREADMILL

That mother… fucking… treadmill…

I really hope that forty-something year old who played Harrison’s stunt double managed to get work after this…

Not Really Fair To Mention But I Will Anyway: The r/Dexter Discussion Thread for ‘Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias” Episode

The Dexter subreddit kept me afloat during the final season run. For those unfamiliar, television subreddits usually have an episode discussion every week for its respective show. The penultimate episode of Dexter, entitled “Monkey In a Box”, aired during Breaking Bad‘s “Ozymandias” episode… The episode discussion on the Dexter subreddit that night was that of “Ozymandias” rather than “Monkey In a Box.” At that point, the reddit viewers simply gave up hope that the final two episodes will provide a level of entertainment a series of its calibre should provide, so they thought “why not just discuss Breaking Bad‘s highly-anticipated episode?” Rian Johnson, by the way, directed that episode of Breaking Bad… The helmer of motherfucking Episode VIII directed the Beast that is “Ozymandias.”

When a television subreddit loses faith in its show, the literal place where you will most likely find its fan base, you know shit has gone south.

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So those are my feelings. If you happened to love every single moment of Season 8 and think I am absolutely cuckoo bananas right now, all the more power to you! I love listening to opposing views since that is the beauty of art… Shit’s all subjective, yo.

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What Are Your Thoughts On Dexter, Three Years Later?

Peeping Tom (1960)

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Vivian: What would frighten me to death? Set the mood for me, Mark.
Mark Lewis: Imagine… someone coming towards you… who wants to kill you… regardless of the consequences.
Vivian: A madman?
Mark: Yes. But he knows it – and you don’t.

Starring: Karlheinz Böhm as Mark Lewis, Moira Shearer as Vivian, Anna Massey as Helen Stephens as Maxine Audley as Mrs. Stephens, dir. Michael Powell.

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Cinematography: Otto Heller (the Crimson Pirate, The Ladykillers)

The First Reviews of HBO’s ‘Westworld’ Are In And They Are Looking Pretty Good!

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HBO’s Westworld is being heralded as ‘the new Game of Thrones‘… That is, in terms of a series with an incredibly vast array of story and characters. Based on the Michael Crichton novel, Westworld follows a futuristic Western amusement park where people pay a lot of money to be entertained by the artificial intelligent beings of the Park. A film adaptation of the novel was released in 1973 that starred Yul Brynner and was actually directed by the man behind the novel, Michael Crichton. It ended up earning $10 million at the box office on a $1.5 million budget while also earning $4 million in rental sales, becoming MGM’s biggest box office success of 1973.

The television series boasts an incredible amount of talent, including Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, James Marsden and Sir Anthony Hopkins himself as the brilliant creative mind behind the Park. Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan serve as both the creators and executive producers of the series, the other exec producers being J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk.

ICYMI. Here’s the trailer for the new series HBO is hoping will strike it big:


The Reviews

Allison Keene’s review for Collider:

“What helps make that truly come to life, pun partially intended, is the calibre of the cast. Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and Angela Sarafyan are three hosts who imbue their characters with soul while still teetering on the edge of the Uncanny Valley… The series — with a solid logical foundation and world-building — is lovingly crafted, marrying its Wild West aesthetic with cold sci-fi elements of the labs that run the park in a way that feels believably connected.

Lucy Mangan for The Guardian:

“But for those of us who just like story – lots and lots of story! – Westworld will hit the spot as hard as GoT ever did. Gosh, there’s a lot going on. There’s the real world full of robot-wranglers, some of whom are jostling for position inside whatever just-possibly-malevolent company owns the park, others of whom are busy tinkering with their charges’ software and trying to decide whether to make the skinjobs more realistic or quit while they’re ahead… Watch out for those telltale flickers of consciousness in your actors’ eyes, showrunners. A mass existential crisis will play merry hell with ratings.”

Eric Goldman for IGN:

“After a lot of build up and some much-discussed production delays, would it deliver? The answer is a big yes, as those high expectations were met with a terrific, gripping premiere episode (airing October 2nd on HBO) that quickly draws you in… Even with the focus so much on Dolores in the pilot, we get a chance to see how many of these characters interact and there’s plenty of compelling ground set – from seeing which of those working behind the scenes dismisses the robots as “creatures,” to who steals a kiss of one of them, to seeing what kind of existence those inside Westworld have been programmed to lead and how that can change over time.”

Alicia Lutes for Nerdist:

“Playing out as if Deadwood and Black Mirror 3D-printed a living baby, Westworld is meticulously plotted to lay out the delicate intricacies of the story it’s telling, but it doesn’t move slowly or without an inherent tension. This show does demand you pay attention, but you don’t need to be pre-versed in the universe or theoretical physics in order to understand what’s going on. There’s a nuance to the performances of the robots and their different states—and even to those who are tasked with their creation and evolution… The realities of our consequences as we continue to mine the land of our own want in the face of increasingly volatile technical world is heady shit to put it mildly, but Westworld does not feel patronizing or tedious—its scares come from how close to reality this all could be.”

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There’s uh… something in your eye…

HBO’s Westworld premieres October 2nd at 9pm EST.
The pilot is directed by series creator Jonathan Nolan, who, fun fact! is director Christopher Nolan‘s younger brother.

Are You Guys Looking Forward To Westworld?

Kubo And The Two Strings (2016) Movie Review

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Can I please have the jolly old lady appear in every single movie from now on…
Please?

Kubo and the Two Strings tells the story of young Kubo as he is tasked to retrieve three items in order to uncover a secret legacy regarding him & his father, the greatest samurai warrior to ever live… Kubo is a fantastically wonderful film and I will admit there were a couple times when I found myself getting way more emotional than I thought. I was enthralled throughout it and it certainly left me wanting more.

How Were The Characters And Story?

The setup of this movie is essentially perfect. It introduces the characters in an incredibly intriguing way, you learn about the film’s lore & magic right off the bat and due to how well the filmmakers introduced the characters, when the main conflict arises you genuinely care about what will happen to these people. When shit initially goes down, I was frightened for Kubo and wanted to see him prosper!

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The relationship between Kubo & the Monkey is crazily enjoyable to watch, Art Parkinson & Charlize Theron have amazing chemistry together. The wit sprinkled throughout this film is probably my second favourite aspect to it besides the animation (of which I will laud a little further down the review). I found myself cracking up at Monkey’s dry humour since that type of humour is my personal favourite; one of the best lines being,

“Please keep in mind that my sense of smell is 10 times strong than yours…”

The Beetle, voiced by the whistlin’ Matthew McConaughey, served as the kind of comic relief of the film but I really could have done without it. The first half without him had incredibly humourous moments that made me actually laugh out loud, however there were some moments & sayings with the Beetle that felt so out of place… The one of the top of my head involved yelling FOOT! Instead of Fuck. I was like what was that? There are also certain revelations I found predictable, however what separates this film and other, quote “kids” movies, is that it doesn’t treat its audience like they’re complete morons. Are there frightening images? Yes! Are there themes present that certain audience members will personally identify with? Damn right! Will the action sequences entertain a younger audience that maybe aren’t too familiar with the more deeper messages? Absolutely. I love movies like your Toy Stories and Inside Outs where both adults and children alike are able to enjoy what they are watching on screen.

Were You A Fan Of The Animation?

Saying I loved the animation in Kubo and the Two Strings is like saying Cookie Monster only somewhat likes cookies… understatement of the century, my friends.

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I simply can’t express how much I adored every single frame of this movie. To think that there were actual human beings that were able to meticulously craft everything I saw on screen is incomprehensible to me. Looking at some of these screengrabs from The Verge’s video about Laika’s Stop Motion Animation Geniuses must pique one’s interest at least a little bit if they’re still on the fence about watching it.


If you’re looking for an incredibly entertaining stop-motion picture that has disgustingly beautiful animation and a number of characters you might fall in love with, check out Kubo and the Two Strings. So many complain about the “lack of original content” in theatres and when fantastic content like Kubo comes out, these people are nowhere to be found. Encourage your friends to support this shit.

Kubo and the Two Strings receives 4.5/5 Matt Damon heads.

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