‘First Man’ Review

Damien Chazelle’s 3rd outing proves he is one of Hollywoods great young directors. First Man is a stupendous technical achievement, but at times can feel sluggish and monotoned.

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A look at the life of the astronaut Neil Armstrong and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.


Have you ever really thought about it? The Moon landing? It’s something that happened almost 50 years ago, actually, next July will be the 50th anniversary of one of the most important and significant events in the history of mankind. While I sat in the theatre and looked up at that massive IMAX screen, it hit me. I actually didn’t know anything about Neil Armstrong and his fascinating life story, even less about the insane journey that NASA went on to finally put a man on the Moon. Maybe that’s because the Moon landing although a massive achievement is celebrated by Americans. Over a billion people watched their TVs on July 20th, 1969. I walked away from this movie, not thinking about the film itself, but rather the sympathy and pain I felt for the heroic man that pretty much sacrificed everything so he could accomplish something very few men have ever done.

I had high expectations for First Man. Coming off Whiplash and La La Land, Damien Chazelle is held in pretty high regards when it comes to directors with me. I don’t like comparing movies, but I felt this was his weakest film to date, but not by much. As the film opens up, the first 5 minutes is almost utter silence. The sounds of intense wind, and heavy breathing, but there is zero dialogue. That’s how I described this film, it’s very quiet. There are several moments of long pauses, and immense quiet, which can be successful in certain scenes but can make the overall film feel long and drawn out. If you had to choose one word to describe Ryan Gosling, for me, the word that always comes to mind is stoic. He’s a quiet actor to begin with. Actually, he does some of his best work when he isn’t saying anything at all. Drive, Blade Runner 2049, all these great performances are done not with words, but rather his face and his body. Well, First Man is no different. Neil Armstrong was a private person, especially after the death of his infant daughter. He becomes recluse and doesn’t know even how to treat his other two children. Death can change a person, and it was pretty clear that the death of his daughter took an immense toll on him, even if he didn’t let it show through. Gosling is as usual, fantastic, and I’m certain he will nab an Oscar nomination.

But he has two roles here. Neil Armstrong the family man, and Neil Armstrong the astronaut. For me, this is where the movie falters. The space exploration and the Moon landing is movie making at its finest, and what the movie will be remembered for. But it all feels so detached from everything else that is going on. That is the films biggest downfall. But for me, that is just a tiny nitpick, because the movie does flow really well, and it’s such an incredible story, that small details like that shouldn’t matter. Ryan Gosling isn’t the only one giving a terrific performance. Claire Foy plays his wife Janet Armstrong who has to deal with a lot herself on this journey. She doesn’t work and has to take care of the kids, but at times has to listen to the mission control room through a tiny little radio, while her husband is literally fighting for his life. Talk about tension and talk about nerves. She’s really great here, and you can feel the discomfort and the disconnect that her and Neil share after the death of their daughter Karen. Corey Stoll, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Ciaran Hinds, this really is a jammed packed cast, with everyone contributing in their own way. It’s an “oh that guy” kind of cast, but it’s super effective.

The filmmaking aspect is really a special achievement. From the get-go, it felt different. The screen almost looked fuzzy, like we were watching some old footage. I found like I was actually traveling back in time. But when the space exploration takes place, you really are blown away. I’m not sure how they pulled it off, but Chazelle deserves a ton of credit. He’s now 3-for-3 with this feature films and after a disappointing weekend at the box-office, it will be interesting to see how this fairs come awards season. It’s a slow burn, and I think audiences going in thought this might be a little more like Gravity, and a bit more intense. The claustrophobic space stuff does get intense and it makes you tighten your grip on the armrest, but when you know history and you know how this story ends, that tension and intensity can feel a little fake.

Overall, I rather enjoyed First Man despite its flaws. Was it everything I wanted it to be? No. But that doesn’t take away from the overall achievement of the film-making here. It’s not going to transcend the film industry or even the space genre, but rather it should be considered a technological achievement. Damien Chazelle is going to be in our lives for a long time, and I can’t wait to see what he pumps out next. I just wanted a little bit more, but learning about Neil’s life and his journey was worth it for me. The most emotional beat in the whole movie is something that I feel uneasy about. I have tried to research it, and it’s hard to talk about without spoiling the ending. I’m sure they talked to Neil’s family, but this moment was something that they were building throughout the whole film. If this was just added for theatrical effect, I’m not going to lie, I’m going to be a tad upset. But if this moment really did take place on the Moon, boy, it makes it all more special and emotional. This movie won’t be for everyone, but for cinephiles like myself, I certainly loved the ride.

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Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – First Man = 86/100

‘Blade Runner 2049’ Review 

Simply marvelous, one of the best science fiction movies of the decade. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen

(WARNER BROTHERS)
A sequel 35 years in the making, some people have been waiting their wholes lives for a follow up to the masterpiece that was 1982s Blade Runner directed by the legendary Ridley Scott. It’s crazy to think about a sequel being made 35 years later, and it turns out to be one of the greatest sequels in the history of cinema. This is why we go to the movies; it’s movies like Blade Runner 2049 that make people like myself realize why I love film so much. It had everything I want in a movie it is simply marvelous. This dark and twisted, futureristic, neo-noir film, that is exstential in every sense of the word, is just all around stunning. Denis Villeneuve directs the follow up, and he is fast approaching becoming one of the best, if not the best director in Hollywood right now. Villeneuve’s track record right now is uncanny and something I can’t really fathom at this point. Every time he steps up to the plate, he hits a walk off home run. I think it was a mistake not getting this man to direct Episode IX because he is the perfect man for the job, especially after watching this science fiction masterpiece. Blade Runner 2049 is the kind of movie that inspires young filmmakers, or creates new ones. This will be a vague review because I don’t want to spoil a single thing about this movie, you need to go experience this for yourself, because it’s unlike anything I have ever seen. I knew it would be one of the most beautiful movies, but it even exceeded my expectations in that regard.

So the movie follows Blade Runner, Agent K (Ryan Gosling) as he is investigating a case from the past. As he learns more about the case and himself, he starts to question everything he knows and his beliefs. The case ultimately leads him to Deckard (Harrison Ford) and the two of them must work together for the common good. I’m really going to leave it at that, and not getting into any specific plot points, because going in and just experiencing this movie is what it’s all about. Everyone knows that Ryan Gosling is an A-list actor, a movie star, but he reaches new heights in this. It’s weird, I don’t think anyone else could have been in this role, Gosling does so much acting in his face, and he really is a master brooder. He really showed that he could lead a franchise, that he is more than just a love interest in a rom com. Like I said, everyone already knows this, but I don’t know I was just really blown away by his performance, and he worked really well alongside Harrison Ford. Imagine playing a character 35 years later. I thought he might mail it in here, but Harrison Ford was simply delightful as Deckard again. He did not take any scenes off and he seemed to relish being back playing this character. This is his best performance in a long time, I know he came back as Hon Solo, but this role and performance is vastly superior to his in The Force Awakens. I think Ford fed off Ryan’s intensity and they just complemented each other so well here, and I would really love to see them work together again. The rest of the cast is fantastic, Dave Bautista is great, and he just keeps on impressing me after his shift towards becoming an actor. Some of the cast has very minor roles, where they are only in a few scenes, but the scenes that they are in, they are all in for their roles, and that’s what you need in a movie like this. Everyone committed and wants to be the best they can be. Robin Wright as Joshi, who is K’s boss is also great, she’s good in every thing, so that should not shock anyone. Jared Leto who plays Niander Wallace is good. It’s Leto and I think there’s a fine line between people really loving Leto and people who are just sort of “mehh.” I like Leto so I thought he was great as the bad guy Wallace, I guess he really isn’t a bad guy; it’s hard to describe his character. The two people I was pleasantly surprised about were Ana de Armas who plays Joi; I’m not going to go into detail about her character, because it’s actually really interesting and unique, so I will just say that I thought she did a fantastic job. She’s in a ton of scenes with Gosling and they were so good together. But for me besides the two leads in Gosling and Ford, the best performance has to go to Sylvia Hoeks, who plays Luv. She is Wallace’s assistance/body guard, and she is menacing and just really stood out in the movie. Again I don’t want to say to much, but after the movie, I thought this women, just got a lot of people’s attention and we will be seeing her in more things to come.

But the real star of the movie is the cinematographer Roger Deakins. I can’t overstate how beautiful this movie is. At times and certain moments the visuals are actually distracting because of how beautiful they are, you’re almost not paying attention to the actual movie, but rather taking in all the scenery. Without doubt the best cinematography that I can ever remember seeing in the movie theatre. Some of the visuals and imagery are breathtaking and I couldn’t really believe what I was looking at. The movie takes place in the year 2049, and I swear, there wasn’t one moment where I thought, yeah that looks fake, or that’s too much CGI. It’s flawless, and perfect and so crisp looking. The detail and the colors are so incredible, and again it’s just something you need to go see, because it’s so hard to describe and put into words. Just give Roger Deakins his Oscar now, like don’t even bother having the cinematography category this year, because there really is no dog in this fight other than Roger. This movie will win a bunch of Oscars, the score and the sound is also perfect. You need to go find the biggest screen you can, that has the loudest speakers, get a large soda and popcorn and just get transported to this world. The reason I go to the movies is to escape from life, you want to be transported to another world, and this is exactly what happens. Blade Runner 2049 is a film from start to finish. One of the best parts about this movie is that it just wanted to be its own movie. They didn’t try to build this massive universe that will have a ton of other sequels or spin off movies. They had an idea in mind for the movie and they executed that plan to mere perfection. You just get immersed into this world and you don’t want to leave, I know I didn’t. At a run time of almost 3 hours, it flew by, because you just want to keep seeing these incredible landscapes and I felt that the movie was paced beautifully. The movie is also very thought provoking they ask you questions and challenge your way of thinking. Just like the original, they want to open your mind and that’s exactly what happens.

I really can’t express enough how much I loved this movie; it’s one of the best sequels ever made and also one of the best science fiction movies ever made. It’s a shame that I don’t think a lot of people are going out to see this movie, so I think with word of mouth that could change. I can also see this movie not being for everyone. This is a piece of movie art that will live on forever. I really can’t wait to see it again. This is one of the best movies of the year! GO SEE THIS MOVIE.

Check ya later

Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Blade Runner 2049 = 96/100

‘Blade Runner 2049’ Looks Breathtaking 

So I guess I should watch the original Blade Runner now.

(WARNER BROS.)

Wow, wow, wow. This movie trailer is simply breathtaking. After the smash hit Arrival last year, Denis Villeneuve he’s back in the director chair for the follow up the the massive hit Blade Runner. Right away I’m going to say that I really don’t know anything about Blade Runner, it’s a movie I feel ashamed for not have seeing yet. I will be getting around to sometime in the near future. I know it’s one of the most respected science fiction movies ever made.

Everything in this trailer is just gorgeous, Villeneuve makes some of the most boring landscapes pop and every frame seems to be packed full of fantastic colours and backgrounds. So I’m not so sure what this movie is about, but they are bringing back it’s original star Harrison Ford. Who seemed to play some sort of cop and now Ryan Gosling has come along and needs his  help. Ryan Gosling back at it, doing his thing. You know not saying a whole lot, but doing most of his acting through his facial expressions. Jared Leto looks creepy as hell, who appears to be the films villain. Coming off his Joker role, he is well suited to be the baddie in another blockbuster.

I honestly think I’m going to watch the original and I could care less if I didn’t see another thing for this. I’m sold, I will be there opening night. It’s hard for movies to do that these days, with trailers being rolled out every few months. So kudos to their marketing team for already getting me in a seat, that’s a hard thing to do from just one full trailer. Harrison, Leto and Gosling seem to be a trio movie match made from heaven.

Check ya later.