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Author Topic: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews  (Read 126 times)

Andrew Milito

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Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« on: July 20, 2015, 02:30:20 pm »
This thread may not be used all that often, but I'd like to have somewhere to store all of my full length reviews whenever I find myself writing them. Thus, I present to you... Milito at the Movies!

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Andrew Milito

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2015, 02:30:46 pm »
Lost in Translation (2002)
Directed by Sofia Coppola
Starring Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris
Rated R
101 minutes


On paper, Lost in Translation could seem like a quirky romantic comedy about a washed up actor stumbling upon young love while on a business trip to the average eye. A perfect comedic vehicle for someone like leading man Bill Murray, with just enough drama to squeeze some water from the tearducts once or twice. An oft-overlooked independent film with just enough of a following to be a quiet cult classic among chick flick enthusiasts. Yet, Sofia Coppola's second feature film, following her well received debut film, The Virgin Suicides, couldn't be any further from an offbeat rom-com, or a comedy helmed by Bill Murray. And, while Lost in Translation can be considered a romance film, it's not overly gratuitous in expressing its romance and relationships; Coppola has crafted a film not necessarily about romance, but about the human experience.

Bill Murray plays Bob Harris, in a role tailor suited for an actor of his past roles despite being much less comedic. Bob is a middle-aged movie star who's well past his prime, taking a brief trip to Tokyo to film a whiskey commercial for an easy $2 million. Or, at least, what he thinks is an easy $2 million; unfortunately for Bob, many aspects of the job process become lost in translation, as the title of the film implies. Long, very specific directions from the director are simplified down to "Do it slower this time." by the translator. It's not until a late night at a bar after a long shoot that Bob stumbles upon Charlotte, played by a fresh faced Scarlett Johansson in a performance that would catapult her out of her teen roles and into a more adult acting career. Fresh out of college, Charlotte is lost in terms of how to start the next chapter of her life and struggling in her relationship with her constantly busy photographer of a husband (Giovanni Ribisi). It is through this chance encounter that Harris, currently suffering through his own midlife crisis, and Charlotte form a bond that affects the two lost souls in ways they never could have expected.

Coppola's screenplay, with which she received a well-deserved Academy Award for her original screenplay, takes its time in setting up this relationship, but never meanders or drags in getting to the relationship. Bob and Charlotte don't even share their first words together until the end of the first act; everything before that is just subtle smiles in an elevator and quick glances from across the bar. This subtlety features quite prominently not only in this aspect of their initial meeting, but as their relationship blossoms, and throughout the entire film as a whole. The two share plenty of deep conversations amidst their hijinks on the town, but the themes of finding your role in life and overcoming isolation and loneliness as they both find themselves lost in an unfamiliar culture are never force fed or feel overtly preachy. This factors throughout the story all the way until the now-iconic ending, in which a sense of ambiguity allows for varying degrees of bittersweetness. Coppola finds a way for everything to flow naturally through the 101 minute runtime, with very few moments that feel unnecessary, somewhat in thanks to the editing from Sarah Flack.

Such a character driven story requires actors that can carry the film on their own. Naturally, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson do just that. Murray manages to separate himself from the heavily comedic roles of his past with a performance that is more reserved and more poignant than the typical Bill Murray role, yet still suited perfectly for an actor of his caliber. Murray instills plenty of his mannerisms into the character of Bob Harris, such as his subtle presence and dry sense of humor, but it's often hard to remember that Murray is only acting a part, and not his real life counterpart. Murray's aforementioned sense of humor isn't completely gone in favor of a dramatic performance, however: he gets his chance to lay down some very funny lines several times, most notably the scenes in which he actually films the whiskey commercial and during a photo shoot for the whiskey advertisement.

Acting alongside Murray is the last person you'd expect to hold a candle to an actor of his fame: a seventeen year old actress, even if that actress happens to be the one and only Scarlett Johansson. Young Johansson manages to stand her own with Murray, not acting against him, but rather with him. She perfectly fills her character with the loneliness and isolation that the part necessitates, as seen in a heartbreaking scene in which Charlotte hosts a phone call in which she admits she has no idea who she truly married. However, the passion and warmth of her character unravels as Bob and Charlotte strengthen their relationship, and it's here that Johansson really gets her chance to shine.

The third star of the film is someone who never appears onscreen and in front of the camera, but is most certainly worth mentioning due to her commanding presence. That, of course, is director Sofia Coppola. The story Sofia Coppola tells through Lost in Translation has a lot to say not only about relationships, but about the emotional outlook of Mrs. Coppola herself. She takes a concept that could've ended up feeling like a pointless affair, and crafts it into a truly beautiful tale, both thematically and sensorially. The latter comes largely in thanks to the pairing of director of photography Lance Acord's gorgeous cinematography and Kevin Shields' original score, which really help bring the stunning city of Tokyo to life onscreen.

By the time Lost in Translation is said and done, a wide spectrum of feelings have come and gone: exhaustion, loneliness, isolation, happiness, sadness, sympathy, relatability. Sofia Coppola has created a story that any lost soul - past, present, or even future- can find solace in. The characters feel real, the dialogue feels real, and the relationships feel real. There's not much more to ask from a film like Lost in Translation.

Tommy South

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2015, 05:26:00 pm »
Nice review! I love that movie.

Flounder Prefers Browntown

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2015, 05:32:02 pm »
*OFFICIAL JOHN TYLER SEAL OF APPROVAL*

Great review for a great film.
Everything is terrible.

Andrew Milito

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2015, 05:34:04 pm »
Nice review! I love that movie.
*OFFICIAL JOHN TYLER SEAL OF APPROVAL*

Great review for a great film.
Thanks guys!

Andrew Milito

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2015, 02:52:13 pm »
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Starring Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Jon Bernthal, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon
Rated PG-13
105 minutes


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is truly something special. In a subgenre packed with the same stories involving the same characters doing the same things and ultimately facing the same outcomes as they blossom into adulthood, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl stands out among the pack as something fresh. Something unique. The story has elements and plot points that are familiar, sure, but the characters seem to transcend the silver screen and feel like real people with real flaws. It's that endearing quality that makes Me and Earl and the Dying Girl the charming whirlwind of emotions that it is.

The film, penned by author Jesse Andrews and based on his book of the same name, follows the seemingly ordinary life of Greg Gaines, played by Thomas Mann, one of three impressive young talents presenting themselves in starmaking turns. A senior in high school, Greg navigates the social life every awkward introvert could only dream of: making himself aware to every clique in the school so that his presence is noted by everyone, but not associating with any one particular group, allowing him to coast by in a state of perfect isolation. He's not completely disconnected from his high school peers, however: Earl Jackson (RJ Cyler in his acting debut), a longtime friend known to the wary Greg as simply a "co-worker," provides just the right amount of friendship for Greg as the duo spend time watching classic cinema, and consequently making their own painfully mediocre spoof films in secret. Greg's comfortable life can only last for so long though, as a childhood friend in the form of Olivia Cooke's Rachel Kushner finds her life intertwined with his and Earl's upon being diagnosed with leukemia, and after he is forced by his mother (Connie Britton) to attempt to befriend her. As their bond grows stronger and more inseparable, Greg's life takes turns he could and would have never expected, especially after an initial conversation as simple, and awkward, as talk about masturbation, pillows, and playing dead to avoid interaction with peers.

The characters of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, most notably the three lead protagonists, stand out among the other coming-of-age heroes due to their charming, and sometimes terrifyingly relatable, personalities. Each character houses their own flaws that propel them from mere fictional movie characters into what feel like real human beings. This aspect of the film is especially admirable, setting it apart from the other coming-of-age protagonists who seem much less flawed. The rest of the screenplay is brilliant as well. Andrews finds a perfect mix of witty humor (often from the camaraderie between Greg, Earl, and Rachel) and emotional character moments that create a perfect equilibrium. The laughs never outweigh the tear-jerking moments, and vice versa, creating an absolutely spellbinding story that covers all kinds of emotions without becoming too heavy-handed.

In a lead role that is sure to propel him into Hollywood's young stardom, Thomas Mann nails every aspect of the character of Greg. As a character who isn't a perfect role model by any means, or even a likeable person at times, Mann brings a strong sense of relatability to his character who just wants to make it though life unnoticed that keeps him from becoming a completely unlikeable protagonist. Mann's meaty role forces him to handle a wide spectrum of emotions, and he has absolutely no problem in conveying not only the jokey, passive side of Greg, but also the emotionally wrecked side as things begin to fall apart for him. As Earl, newcomer RJ Cyler makes a brilliant debut as a character that initially seems like little more than comedic relief, but slowly grows into much more, eventually culminating in a tense scene that allows Cyler to show off his acting potential. Lastly, but absolutely not least, is Olivia Cooke as the titular Dying Girl, Rachel. In what may be both the most physically and emotionally demanding role in the film, Cooke is absolutely endearing, making her character arc all the more powerful. The supporting cast, featuring names such as Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, and Jon Bernthal, is impressive, but just can't compare to the immense talent of the main trio.

The quirky, and even somewhat flashy, direction of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's sophomore effort (having handled The Town that Dreaded Sundown only a year earlier) may seem out of place for such an emotional and character driven story, but Gomez-Rejon makes the direction fit so that it matches the quirkiness of its protagonist. Quick cuts to a stop-motion animation of a chipmunk being stepped on by an oblivious deer (Greg's metaphor for someone of his personality interacting with a "hot girl") and glimpses of Greg and Earl's home movies appear repeatedly in a way that could overstay its welcome, but the joke never wears thin. Most impressive in terms of the film's technical aspects, however, is the cinematography from Chung-hoon Chung. The camera takes on a life of its own, gliding in every which direction and in varying orientations as it sets up multiple beautiful shots that are absolutely stunning in motion. Even the camera calms down as the film progress through its three acts though, eventually allowing for a wide angled, single take clocking in at eight minutes as Mann and Cooke work their magic in a heart wrenching scene, for example.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl takes the standard tropes of its genre and flips them on their head. The result is a refreshing coming-of-age tale that not only succeeds in a narrative sense, with an emotional whirlwind of a story and characters that are completely engaging, but in a technical sense as well, with gorgeous cinematography and original music from Brian Eno and Nico Muhly both contributing to Gomez-Rejon's quirky, almost Wes Anderson-esque sense of direction. This is a film that anyone of any age can truly appreciate: teens can find solace in the interactions between Greg, Earl, and Rachel, while older viewers can find a sense of humor in Greg and Earl's classic film references. The talented cast and crew behind this film can't be praised enough for creating one of the best films of the year.

Flounder Prefers Browntown

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2015, 03:04:06 pm »
Fantastic review, Milito.
Everything is terrible.

David Tanny

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2015, 03:48:01 pm »
Great review, Milito! I agree with every point you made.

Andrew Milito

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2015, 04:00:01 pm »
Fantastic review, Milito.
Great review, Milito! I agree with every point you made.
Thanks! I'm still wanting to do a more personal retrospective on the film, but I think that's better suited for an analysis or something rather than a review.

David Tanny

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2015, 04:01:29 pm »
Thanks! I'm still wanting to do a more personal retrospective on the film, but I think that's better suited for an analysis or something rather than a review.
Maybe you can turn that into the video review?

Andrew Milito

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2015, 04:13:42 pm »
Thanks! I'm still wanting to do a more personal retrospective on the film, but I think that's better suited for an analysis or something rather than a review.
Maybe you can turn that into the video review?
Sure. Maybe I'll do something like go through different specific plot points and give my individual thoughts on them.

PORG

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2015, 05:24:28 pm »
Great review! I especially agree about how realistic the characters were. That's what made me truly love the film.

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Re: Milito at the Movies: Andrew's Movie Reviews
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2015, 07:25:17 pm »
Amazing work man!

 

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