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Tuesday: The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is a bad movie, but at least it's a little bit better than the first one.

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence
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Dutch horror filmmaker Tom Six created a film that got a lot of buzz and popularity, even through mainstream audiences. After all of the hype that the first film created of being one of the sickest movies ever created, it proved to be false. However, Six stated that he would make a sequel that would be even more disgusting than the original. I wasn't sure how accurate this statement would be due to the fact that the first is rather tame. When a filmmaker aims so highly at attempting to create something with so much shock value instead of making a genuinely well-made movie, there's absolutely nothing behind it. However, how much substance is going to come from a movie about people being attached from mouth to anus? None. Is it really worth spending full ticket price in order to simply see something with one deprived scene after the other?

Inspired by the fictional Dr. Heiter, disturbed loner Martin dreams of creating a 12-person centipede and sets out to realize his sick fantasy. I was originally wondering how they would continue the story since the ending of the first one concluded the story. However, this film takes place outside of that universe since Martin is constantly watching The Human Centipede on his small television at work late at night. To put it simply, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is the real deal when it comes to what Tom Six promised. It's pretty nasty. However, if you were to take out those sequences, this is an unbearably boring flick that drags. Even those who are simply waiting for the sequences with shock value will feel that this movie moves extremely slowly. Despite the fact that Martin is the main character, he has absolutely no dialogue and doesn't say a single word the entire film. The flick transitions between Martin's project of making the centipede and his personal life involving his horrible mother. I never found myself caring about his personal life, so I'm not sure what Six was trying to accomplish there. I doubt anybody will be checking out The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence to find character development. The ending is truly one that leaves the audience to decide how it really ends. However,I don't see many viewers enjoying the finale. Even though I really didn't like the first movie, I believe that the ending is better.

I'm going to keep the acting portion of this review short. Most people will probably disregard this section anyways due to the fact that it's not meant to have strong performances to begin with. This is Laurence R. Harvey's first acting performance and he plays Martin. Even though he doesn't have any dialogue, he actually nails the character. He looks the part and surprisingly does a good job in the character. The same cannot be said for anybody else in this cast. Ashlynn Yennie from the first movie has returned for the sequel playing herself. She's just as bad at being herself as she is in another role. With the exception of Martin, the acting is just as bad as one would imagine.

Tom Six has really altered the style of the sequel compared to the original. To start, the film is in black and white. That is - everything except the the brown tint of the feces. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is much more sick than the first movie. In fact, there are a few scenes that were forced to be cut from a few countries due to their controversial content. Such scenes include Martin masturbating with sandpaper and a rape sequence using barbed wire. The only places to find the full uncut version is in the United Kingdom, on video on demand, and in the United States on the uncut Blu-ray. The visual effects are exceptional. All of the small grotesque details come to life and Tom Six did wonders with it. This is one of the few movies that has shocked me in a little while from a couple of the more disturbing scenes. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is not for the faint of heart or anybody who gets nauseous easily.

Everything from the first movie is present, but amped up. If that's all you're after here, then I suppose it delivers. Even though I had low expectation, I still found it to be a poor movie. Fortunately, I didn't find it to be quite as bad as the first one is. I think that the majority of audiences will dislike both of the movies, but will actually be sickened by this one. However, the torture porn cult followers are sure to get a thrill out of this one. If you're going to still check this one out, then you should be aware of what you're getting into. Those who have a weak stomach may have a bit of difficulty getting through this one. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is a bad movie, but at least it's a little bit better than the first one. I sincerely hope that Tom Six stops with these movies though.

My Rating = One and One Half Stars

Next movie: The Ides of March

Thursday: The Ides of March

The Ides of March is okay, but doesn't reach the greatness that many people hyped it up to be.

The Ides of March
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With politics becoming a lot more involved with the media and even gossip rags, George Clooney decided to take a shot at creating a movie revolving around it. However, it has a bit of a deeper message. The central themes are ones such as loyalty, honesty, and the lack thereof. It displays what some of the elements of politics can do to a man and how it can completely change a person. With George Clooney behind the camera and writing the screenplay, I'm sure his name alone attracted plenty of audiences. Clooney explores the levels of the game of manipulation in the competitive world of politics.

Dirty tricks stand to soil an ambitious young press spokesman's idealism in a cutthroat presidential campaign where "victory" is relative. I wasn't sure how great a screenplay would be from George Clooney concerning politics. However, it surprisingly feels authentic. The beginning of the movie is really well-composed, but it loses quite a bit of its steam in the second act. The ending of the movie is decent, but still isn't able to reach how good the beginning was. It sets everything up well, yet isn't able to keep as strong throughout. I found myself quickly and genuinely caring about a couple characters. However, we didn't get to see very much character development in some of the supporting roles. It's unfortunate since some of them appear to be rather intriguing roles. Clooney attempts to express the behind-the-scenes of the political world, and he has his moments. There are times where The Ides of March gets a little bit too sucked into the sub-plot drama rather than focusing on the politics of the movie. The screenplay surprisingly has some great moments, although it also has its low scenes. A majority of the dialogue is very well-written, which truly aids the movie in feeling real. Clooney has helped write something much better than i would have imagined from him. The pacing is pretty good as the movie never slows down too much, but it won't pump adrenaline, which is to be expected. It's a bit of a shame that the entire film couldn't reach the level of quality that the beginning of the movie is able to master. After it loses its power, it's a little bit of a letdown to see the movie not being able to pick itself fully off the ground.

What is probably the primary reason why The Ides of March attracted audiences is the cast. The film stars Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Max Minghella, and more. There are some marvelous performances to be seen here. Ryan Gosling surely delivers the strongest representation. He plays Stephen Meyers and is extremely convincing, as he always is in his films. I truly respect him as an actor to be able to choose movies with a character that he can really relate to in order to become extraordinarily natural. He has a lot of talent that is shown yet again in The Ides of March. When it comes to George Clooney, he's the type of actor I have always believed to have played himself in every movie. He delivers his dialogue in the exact same manner as we're used to seeing him in. Philip Seymour Hoffman is fantastic as Paul Zara. He has some great dialogue that one can tell he put a lot of effort into. He really became the role in this movie. Evan Rachel Wood really made me care for her character and is as charming and believable as ever. The greatest aspect of The Ides of March is the acting. Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Evan Rachel Wood provide the strongest performances here.

There isn't very much to say about the visuals, but it's more involved in the cinematography than most other dramas. There are some sequences that Clooney really is able to create parallelism through the visuals and the characters. When it comes to the audio, it's pretty important. One may ask why since it's just a drama and not an action flick. Well, The Ides of March is a dialogue-heavy affair, so it's important to be able to clearly hear what is being said. All of the talking is focused through the center channel and it's never difficult to hear what's being said. There's a lot of applause being spread through the front speakers during the speeches, but there aren't very many uses for the surrounds. However, there are some minor atmospheric effects every now and then. The visual aspect of the movie is passable.

George Clooney's attempt to tackle the politics of politics in modern times is ultimately successful. It isn't an incredible movie, but it's decent. There's a deeper story than just the politics that shows the loss of innocence within our characters over politics. The first act of the movie is strong, but it doesn't remain consistent from there on out. The second act is shaky and the final portion of film gets a little bit better, but doesn't come close to reaching the quality of the beginning. The acting is strong, especially by Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Evan Rachel Wood. George Clooney is once again playing himself. That shouldn't serve as very much of a surprise to audiences who are familiar with his work. I can definitely see audiences splitting upon his or her opinions concerning this movie. It definitely has its ups and downs. I'm noticing both of them and trying to address both sides through this review. The Ides of March is okay, but doesn't reach the greatness that many people hyped it up to be. It's worth a rental for the performances and dialogue.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

Next movie: A Better Life

Saturday: A Better Life

A Better Life is a generally well-made film and comes recommended.

A Better Life
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The very controversial subject of illegal immigration has some standing strongly behind his or her take on it while others prefer to not touch upon that topic. A Better Life jumps right into this matter head first. I haven't had a real opinion on illegal immigration, although I have taken note of the pros and cons of it. Thankfully this film doesn't shove either message down anybody's throat. In fact, both sides are present in the movie. Hollywood generally tries to show dreams coming true, which are often great escapism for audiences. A Better Life does just the opposite.The movie shows how dreams don't always come true, but reality is actually far removed from all of the fantasies that Hollywood often has in flicks. It's a bold move for a filmmaker to create something that treats such a controversial subject as if it's so easy to discuss. However, it approaches it in a good way without trying to convince us one way or the other.

Determined to give his estranged teenage son a better future, Carlos Riquelme, an illegal immigrant, buys a used truck and gardening equipment to start a business. However, when the truck is stolen, he and his son work together to recover it, reconnecting for the first time in years. The story and the dialogue are opposites in a strange way. The plot proves to a very realistic movie about dreams. It shows that even those who work extraordinarily hard to receive a better future, it doesn't always turn out so well. Hollywood wants us to believe in the "happily ever after" type life, although A Better Life tells us a completely different story of life. By the end of the movie, the story certainly speaks a message that is quite heartfelt. However, the dialogue tells a different story. Unfortunately, a lot of it is rather cheesy and dramatic. It would have been nice if the dialogue felt as real as the story. The plot points are extremely predictable and the movie never pulls any punches. Despite that, this is still a powerful motion picture. It displays a father and son simply trying to survive and trying to make A Better Life for themselves. In fact, Carlos constantly mentions attempting to become a citizen, although the process is so difficult that he is having troubles with the system. This is all occurring despite the fact that he's a hardworking man who simply wants to live in peace with his teenage son, send him to a better school, and give him a normal life. From the beginning, the characters feel very realistic and audiences are sure to feel a lot of sympathy towards them. They're likable characters and I can't imagine people not rooting for them the entire running time. Life isn't as clean cut as a lot of Hollywood pictures tell us, there are many grey areas.

The strongest aspect of A Better Life is the acting. Demián Bichir deserved his Oscar nomination for this role. To be honest, it's a bit of a shame that he didn't win. He was against some heavy competition and this movie didn't get very much exposure. However, he composed an extremely genuine character. There isn't a moment where I didn't believe him in this character. He's very natural and truly made me feel bad for him. Audiences are sure to constantly want his character to succeed. I'm hoping to see him in more motion pictures in the future. There aren't a lot of actors around nowadays that can completely steal the show and shine like this. José Julián performs as Carlos's son. This is his first full length feature film, yet he does wonderfully. He's also convincing in this character and I don't see many other actors his age slamming a performance such as this. The acting department is utterly fantastic.

I'm a bit surprised to see that the Academy didn't give A Better Life more attention. This is usually the type of film that gets a lot of appreciation from them. It has a message that is sure to touch the hearts of all moviegoers. It's a film about life, dreams, and wanting to see that light at the end of the tunnel. To know that things will end up alright. This movie isn't meant to be entertaining or a form of escapism. It's meant to be a very real picture of real life. Some things work out and others are absolutely demolished. Ultimately, this film is a character study between Carlos and his son. The acting is absolutely perfect, which is what gives this film the strength that it possesses. The script has some issues, especially with the fact that it's a bit too predictable and melodramatic in a few scenes. Despite that, this movie definitely deserves more attention than it has received. A Better Life is a generally well-made film and comes recommended.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

Next movie: Beginners

Sunday: Beginners

There are some personal and heartfelt moments in Beginners, although it sometimes suffers from being a bit tacky.

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If one was to look through independent movies for the theme of loss and regret, it would be an overwhelmingly high number. Dramas such as Beginners are quite easy to make. From the start, this film has been getting a large amount of hype from festival-goers and critics. After hearing about its Oscar nomination, soon to be victory, for Best Supporting Actor, I figured that I should check it out. From a glance, it definitely isn't my type of movie. I'm aware that a lot of moviegoers and especially a lot of mainstream critics really eat this type of movie up. I personally find it to be melodramatic and often exaggerates upon human emotion and takes away any form of reality from it. These dramas are transitioning with time into whatever is most popular. In this case, it has to do with homosexuality. Go figure that every stereotype of a gay man coming out is present.

Oliver is a graphic artist coming to grips with the imminent death of his father. At 75 years old, his last secret is that he's gay. Both inspired and confused by his father's determination to find true love at least, Oliver tentatively pursues a romance with a commitment-shy French actress Anna. The plot is all centered upon the themes of loss, regret, love, and being true to oneself. However, each one is so present that it almost feels as if they're going shoved down the audience's throat at times. One of my primary issues with movies such as this is that they're far too predictable. Anybody can guess what the inevitable end is with only knowing the synopsis. It appears that gay is the new big thing. I found it to be a bit offensive that Oliver's father isn't treated like any other normal character, but it portrays him as if he has nothing else in his life other than being gay. There's much more to a character than that, so I felt that his character is very much underdeveloped. The beginning of the movie is good, although it quickly pulls itself down. The pacing drags quite a bit, and struggles to pick itself back up. Once it finally has the potential to gaining some steam, the credits are rolling. The dialogue is fine, although there are only so many flicks such as this that I can stand at a time. These movies keep popping up left and right with the same problem. That issue is that they almost all feel like the exact same movie. From this portion of my review, it may appear that I completely dislike the movie. This isn't true as I did find that Beginners had its moments. However, I feel that the script is too common for its own good.

Starring in Beginners are Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, and Mélanie Laurent as the main characters.To put it simply, the acting is the strongest asset the movie has. Ewan McGregor may not be on my list of my favorite actors, but he certainly gets the job done here. He's actually quite believable as Oliver and never breaks that mold. Christopher Plummer won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Hal, Oliver's father. Plummer is a fantastic actor, but he has performed much better in some of his other works. To be honest, the strongest performance seen here is by Mélanie Laurent as Anna. She's very convincing and has proven in Beginners and Inglourious Basterds that she's an extremely well-composed actress. She delivers upon not only the emotional scenes, but the very tranquil scenes as well. Whether you love or hate this movie, I highly doubt that anybody will have anything negative to say about the acting. All of the actors are great, although I do think that Laurent is a standout here. It's a shame that she didn't get as much recognition as she deserves. However, as a whole, this cast is extremely believable as each character was well-cast.

As expected, there are some personal and heartfelt moments, although it sometimes suffers from being a bit tacky. The script has been seen way too many times over the years in a variety of different movies. I would like to see a movie with a similar story be written in a completely different fashion from a different perspective. That would be an interesting film that I would be willing to check out. However, it isn't a good thing when it blends in too much with other dramas. Within the next few months, this won't be something that will standout in my mind. It'll simply blend in with the rest. The acting is solid, although it's a shame that they couldn't have been provided with a script that could be as refreshing as I had hoped for it to be with all of the hype that people were spreading. Beginners is perhaps worth a rental on a bit of a slow weekend.

My Rating = Three Stars

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