Her (2013)

After a long break, I’ve acquired some free time and am happy to be back to writing reviews. Due to the appropriateness of the season, the next reviews will be on the nominees for Best Picture. Starting with Her…

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Her

Written and Directed by: Spike Jonze

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, Amy AdamsScarlett Johansson

All the greatest filmmakers are those that craft their films as though the film is their child. Spike Jonze has the potential to go down as one of the top filmmakers of his generation, and Her was a step in that direction. The concept of love is something that is explored far too often in movies and television, which makes the basic concept of Her appear to be a drag on paper. It just took one look at the trailer to make me see the concept in a whole new light. Jonze showed a stunning ability to work with his actors, and got performances that fit the tone of the film. He showed his true leadership by making the decision to cut the original voice of Samantha (recorded by Samantha Morton) and replace it with Scarlett Johanson’s voice. Also, cutting a big name actor like Chirs Cooper shows that he will not allow anyone to get in the way of his vision (IMDb trivia)

MV5BMTYxMTEwODk5OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDkwNjM3MDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Joaquin Phoenix, coming off of his game-changing performance in The Master, proves once again how lucky the film industry was to get him back as an actor. This performance, one of the best of his career, came with an extra level of difficulty due to the fact that half of the films scenes were filmed with him talking to someone that does not actually exist. The film would not have worked without an incredible performance out of Joaquin. The other actors feed off of the tone that Joaquin sets, which leads to stunning performances from everyone involved.

Her is the best love story to hit the screens in a long time. I dare anyone that is put off by the premise to go see the film and tell me that you still don’t understand how a man can fall in love with an operating system.

Best Picture Reviews: 87/100

Side Effects (2013)

SideEffects-exclusive-lg

Direction, Cinematography, and Editing by: Steven Soderbergh

Written By: Scott Z. Burns 

Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum

Side Effects

Deemed as a psychological thriller, Side Effects takes you on more twists and turns than any roller coaster at your local theme park.

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Steven Soderbergh

Allow me to start with the bad news, we are going to have to bid farewell to Steven Soderbergh in cinema. He has announced that this will be the last film of his career. I think he’ll be back, but it won’t be anytime soon (give it 8 years). So what’s the good news? He went out with a bang. Side Effects has Soderbergh running through its veins. It has the amazing camera work that I have learned to expect with all of Soderbergh’s movies. The shots that he does never seize to amaze me, and his work behind the camera will always be remembered as one of the best. One thing that is credit to both the directing and the writing is that the film respects the viewers’ intelligence, which is something that is very lacking in modern cinema.

The highlight of this twisty thriller is the writing. Scott Z. Burns takes us on a magnificent ride through the imperfections of humanity. It shows how we, as humans, are subjects to depravity, sex, corruption, and most of all greed. Told from a third person point of view, there is no favorite character. Every character is developed perfectly, which only adds to the viewers’ interest.

Jude Law is playing the same role that he has played in movies such as Sherlock Homes and Contagion. In the past I have criticized him for being the same character in every film, but in Side Effects it works. Channing Tatum continues to surprise me, and now seems like he can do just about anything. Rooney Mara has been good in every movie that she has been in: from her small role in The Social Network, to her leading role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and now her role in Side Effects. Lastly, Catherine Zeta-Jones shines in her role as Dr. Siebert. She brings an underlying intelligence to the film, that without her performance would have been missing

Viewers are a full two months into the year, and Side Effects is the best picture. It’s a masterfully crafted thriller that takes you through a story full of twists and turns.

IMDb: 7.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 84

Metacritic: 75

Best Picture Movie Reviews: 79