Tag Archives: ryan gosling

“Blade Runner 2049” a Great Sci-Fi Flick

Director Dennis Villeneuve has been steadily rising over the past few years. His films “Prisoners”, “Sicario” and “Arrival” are all solid works that hint at a filmmaker with vision and conviction. With “Blade Runner 2049”, Villeneuve practically blows the door off the cinema world and announces himself as one of the premiere filmmakers working today.

“Blade Runner 2049” features Agent K (Ryan Gosling), a replicant, hunting down the previous generation of replicants who have broken free of society’s restraints and gone rogue. The world hates what he is, seeing him not as a person, but a sick creature pretending to be part of the human race. A mystery begins to unfold however as the bones of a dead replicant reveal a hidden secret. As ‘K’ delves deeper and deeper into the case, heroes and villains emerge and the possibility of a more pertinent life presents itself to him.

Gosling is solid in the lead role of the film, balancing the right amount of human tendencies with robotic insecurities. Side players Sappa (Dave Bautista), Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright), Niander (Jared Leto) and Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) complete a diverse and interesting cast, but it is the characters of Joi (Ana de Armas) and Deckard (Harrison Ford) and their relationship with ‘K’ that really create the emotional core of the film. Joi and ‘K’ in particular share a very interesting arc of wondering whether or not their emotions are real.

The film tackles several absorbing existential questions regarding artificial intelligence and the ideas of living, building off the previous film’s themes in a great way. Do robotic beings have souls? Can they love? Can artificial intelligence in fact know more about life than the living? At what point do robots cease to be subordinate to man and become their own sentient race? This is a thinking man’s sci-fi film.

Special credit has to be given to cinematographer Roger Deakins and production designer Dennis Gassner for creating a world so rich and real. It is truly breathtaking especially combined with Hans Zimmer’s haunting score.

The original “Blade Runner” was able to build a world full of intricacies, but lacked great storytelling to cement it as anything more than a visual epic. This sequel builds a heart underneath that facade and give birth to something new, both paying homage to its predecessor and creating something far superior. It is one of the best films of the year, a haunting and soulful journey of consciousness that takes you into an unforgettable world so close and far from us.

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‘La La Land’ an enjoyable love story

Directed and written by Damien Chazelle, ‘La La Land’ tells the story of Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone), two dreamers living in Los Angeles, one looking for fame as a jazz musician, the other as an actress. As they meet and fall in love, their passions for fame and artistic brilliance threaten to tear them apart.

It is an incredibly well-made film, utilizing dramatic camera movements, a full color palette and strong performances to tell its story. Emma Stone’s huge blue eyes have never been used more effectively.

The music is not all that memorable, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be either. It stands as more of a metaphor for how the characters (as dreamers) view the world: full of love and possibility, a poem from the heart. It is both sad and happy, full of longing, hope and regret.

Much like his previous film “Whiplash” though, there’s something about Chazelle’s work that feels just a tad off. It doesn’t stick with you as much as it should. Perhaps it’s a case of style over substance. Perhaps because his characters are not wholly developed, more archetypes than fully fleshed out. Perhaps the stakes are not deep enough, the forces confronting both characters not crafted well enough to understand the character’s plights.

Regardless, “La La Land” is an enjoyable ride, full of great little moments and great visuals. Experience it for yourself and see what you take away from it.

 

‘The Big Short’ aims to be the definitive film on the financial meltdown

Early in the writing process on “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, Stanley Kubrick and his team found themselves in a predicament. All their focus on creating a serious story about the threat of nuclear annihilation between the U.S. and the USSR was fruitless. The film was turning stale on the page. That’s when Kubrick realized that the story wasn’t working because it was so ridiculous. He turned the Cold War into a comedy and suddenly everything fell into place. That is why “The Big Short” seems so much stronger than other films that examine the financial meltdown of 2008. The situation behind the calamity is just so devilishly maniacal that at some point you just have to sit back and laugh.

Directed by Adam McKay and written by him and Charles Randolph, the film follows three storylines and multiple characters who foresee the upcoming housing market calamity and bet for it on Wall Street in order to accrue a huge profit when the economy does tank. Based off the book by Michael Lewis, as Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), Michael Burry (Christian Bale), Mark Baum (Steve Carell), Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) begin to uncover just how dire the situation is, they begin to question their own ethics as they stand to profit off the misfortune of so many.

McKay, the director of comedies such as “Talladega Nights” (2006) and “Anchorman” (2004), might seem like an odd choice to helm such a project, but his instincts for comedy blend well the serious subject matter. The film is soaked in a comedic outrage over the situation and the possibility of it reoccurring. The breadth of such flagrant corruption is in its own way hysterical, something that more serious, similar fare such as “Margin Call” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” did not present.

Shot in a frenetic style and using comedic breaks of the fourth wall (the characters directly addressing the camera), the film feels very inclusive with the audience, almost as if we are there with them during the story, and the fact that we are watching the movie with our own background experiences of the financial meltdown fresh in our minds makes the film even more powerful.

With a strong script, powerful acting, tight editing and topical message, “The Big Short” is one of the best movies of the year. Though it lays its intentions on pretty thick near the conclusion, the overall structure, character development and humor mixed with drama make for a potent moviegoing experience.