Blade Runner 2049

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Harrison Ford
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”)
Written by: Hampton Fancher (“Blade Runner”) and Michael Green (“Logan”)

Depending on how invested you are in filmmaker Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi/film noir classic “Blade Runner,” its sequel, “Blade Runner 2049” by Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”), will either surpass your expectations or be, at least, a worthy companion piece that adds to the original’s expanding mythos.

Clocked at a hefty 163 minutes, “2049” revisits a dystopian world where androids known as “replicants” are hunted down and destroyed by cops known as blade runners. Two-time Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”) stars as “K,” a blade runner who is searching for the original blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford) to get some answers he needs to solve a case. Jarred Leto slightly hams up the screen as a corporate villain who wants to create more replicants to do as he pleases.

First, Villeneuve, along with 13-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins, who should pick up his first win ever this year if the Academy feels he has suffered long enough, creates a futuristic setting brimming with brilliance and style. Visually speaking, this is Villeneuve’s best work, which speaks volumes since every one of his prior films is memorable for the tone and look he gives the picture.

With “2049,” Villeneuve has more storytelling devices and tools at his disposal and the extra resources are evident in the way he and Deakins layer each scene to perfection through color and structure. This is especially true with the technology featured. While many of the ideas don’t necessarily feel groundbreaking (Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report” felt more ahead of its time when it was released in 2002), Villeneuve’s vision is one of the filmmaker’s best assets.

Gosling’s laid-back demeanor can, at times, feel a bit canned, but when the script allows him to show some range, he owns his leading-man status fairly seamlessly, especially when playing opposite his hologram domestic partner Joi (Ana de Armas), whose AI-inspired character is breathtaking to behold. The love scene between Joi and K is depicted beautifully.

Still, despite its flawless atmosphere, “2049” doesn’t tighten up its convoluted script enough to make the storytelling as intriguing as it is picturesque. Questions arise about what makes someone human – emotions, memories, an actual body – but there is little room for an in-depth exploration of these interesting themes. If you consider the original film the mold from which every other sci-fi movie since has blossomed from, “2049” will have you hooked from the start. For everyone else, it’ll probably be an improvement from the first but still too familiar to leave the same kind of lasting impression the original has earned over the years.

La La Land

December 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Rosemarie Dewitt
Directed by: Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”)
Written by: Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”)

Taking his love for jazz music, director/writer Chazelle breathes new life into the old Hollywood musical genre much like 2011’s The Artist did for silent cinema. At the center of this charmer are an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and a frustrated jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling), both of whom would like to find more success in their respected creative fields. Together, Stone and Gosling light up every scene they share and director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Damien Chazelle give the duo such a vibrant atmosphere to play on. We’re not talking Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers-level dance sequences, but the overall appeal is delightful. Driven by an exhilarating score and a handful of magical moments, “La La Land” is an adorable, choreographed-to-a-fault work of art.

Ep. 80 – Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Nice Guys, casting announcements for Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming, the new Star Trek Beyond trailer, and where to hear us on the radio!

May 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod are as sharp as ever as they review “€œNeighbors 2: Sorority Rising”€ and “The Nice Guys.”€ They also expertly tackle new casting announcements for a pair of Marvel films, “Thor: Ragnarok”€ and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”€ Also, they tell where you can hear more of this aural mastery on the radio!

[00:00-10:16] Intro/”RiffTrax Live: Time Chasers”€ recap

[10:16-22:41] News: casting announcements for “Thor: Ragnarok” and “€œSpider-Man: Homecoming”

[22:41-30:39] Final “€œStar Trek Beyond”€ trailer reaction

[30:39-42:16] Reviews: “€œNeighbors 2: Sorority Rising”

[42:16-53:55] “The Nice Guys”

[53:55-1:02:56] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!

The Big Short

January 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale
Directed by: Adam McKay (“Talladega Nights”)
Written by: Adam McKay (“Ant-Man”) and Charles Randolph (“Love & Other Drugs”)

Filmmaker Adam McKay, best known for directing and writing broad and silly comedies like “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights,” takes a swing at something a little more serious than Will Ferrell running butt-naked on a racetrack. Set a few years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, the self-important drama places audiences at the center of a three-ring circus where a group of stock market experts (Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and pals) find out the housing market is about to implode and that they can make a lot of money on the misfortune of others. What McKay creates here is his version of an exaggerated “The Wolf of Wall Street” that registers as phony and too shallow for its own good. Maybe that’s the point, but when the script spews out confusing financial jargon and then backtracks to explain economics by breaking down the fourth wall, it’s about as entertaining as listening to a comedian do a stand-up routine on predatory lending.

Only God Forgives

July 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”)
Written by: Nicolas Winding Refn (“Bronson”)

As much respect as a Danish filmmaker like Nicolas Winding Refn should earn for having the ambition to create something as polarizing and unique as the violent 2008 biopic “Bronson” with an unrecognizable Tom Hardy, and the 2011 art-house action film “Drive” with an always-smirking Ryan Gosling, there’s no reason any of his outings should ever be as purposeless and self-gratifying as “Only God Forgives.” Refn has made a movie for himself – a bizarre exercise in light, beautiful style and unnerving silence – and doesn’t seem to care if anyone else buys into the experience. Whether you enjoyed “Drive” on any level, “Only God Forgives” plays by its own set of absurd rules.

Reuniting with Gosling for the first time since “Drive,” Refn, who also wrote the screenplay, tells the story of Julian (Gosling), a drug dealer living in Bangkok who is coerced by his irritated mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) to search out and kill the person responsible for his brother Billy’s (Tom Burke) death. The all-too-familiar revenge set up never becomes engaging as we watch Julian, playing some kind of modern-day samurai warrior, creeping through the Bangkok underworld like he was waking up at home at 3 a.m. to get a glass of water. If a giddy, child-like Gosling annoyed you in “Drive,” here he replaces his million-dollar smile with a brooding look of resentment. That’s about all you should expect from Gosling, who spends most of his time starring into the distance, covered in an eerie red radiance or hiding in the shadows. Cinematographer Larry Smith (“Bronson”) does a fantastic job making Bangkok look like the most picturesque rat-hole possible, and composer Cliff Martinez (“Spring Breakers”) is once again on point with his electronic flair, but that’s just about as far as “Only God Forgives” can be commended.

The film is so aware of its own joylessness, it has nothing else to do but sulk in it…and then sulk some more. There not much else it can do with characters so thinly written and relationships that are emotionally nonexistent. Maybe that’s the point Refn is trying to make with a character like Julian. He is disconnected from normalcy and will only come out from the dark if he is forced. But Refn should’ve given audiences something to latch onto – a personality for Julian, perhaps, or a reason to care about his end goal. Instead, Gosling grimaces and glares. And we groan.

Gangster Squad

January 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”)
Written by: Will Beall (TV’s “Castle”)

As enjoyable as director Ruben Fleischer’s 2009 film “Zombieland” was (and to a lesser extent “30 Minutes or Less” in 2011), his foray into the criminal world of the 1940s with “Gangster Squad” is far from having the entertainment value a cast of this magnitude demands. It’s a glossed-over crime drama that feels like it’s been pulled straight from the Sunday funnies.

Hamming it up for the camera is two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn as gang leader and former boxer Mickey Cohen (an over-the-top role much like Al Pacino played in “Dick Tracy). If you need to know anything about Mickey, it’s that he owns everything in the Chicago area. You want guns? Go to Mickey. You want drugs? Mickey’s your man. You don’t play by the rules? Guess whose sending his tommy gun-toting goons to fill you with holes. Mickey.

On the right side of the law is Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin), who is given the task of recruiting a team of renegade police officers to do what very few lawmen would be brave enough to do: cross Mickey and his thugs and shut down his mob syndicate. Nevertheless, Sgt. O’Mara (with the help of his concerned wife, who “hand picks” the men she feels would best suit the job; a ridiculous notion) finds his men. They include Officers Coleman Harris (Anthony Mackie), Max Kennard (Robert Patrick) and his right-hand man Navidad Ramirez (Michael Peña), Conway Keeler (Giovanni Ribisi), and Sgt. Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), the latter of whom has started to bed Mickey leading lady Grace Faraday (Emma Stone) because he can.

Aside from wishing it could be just as enticing as Brian De Palmas’ 1987 film “The Untouchables” (or any other acclaimed film in the genre of the last 75 years for that matter), “Gangster Squad” is not much more than a collection of talented actors playing dress up in their parent’s closet. Although the story based on true events, it’s diluted by Fleischer’s style-over-substance approach, which worked well in “Zombieland,” but not so much here. Will Beall’s screenplay also leaves much to be desired in character development. Each member of the skeleton crew Sgt. O’Mara fashions together is thinly-written.

What is a bit meatier, however, is Fleischer’s eye for ultra violence, which is bountiful throughout “Squad”  but ultimately gives the narrative minimal boost. If Fleischer and Beall focuses as much attention to the relationships and characters arcs as they did ripping a guy in half between two classic cars, “Gangster Squad” could’ve been a contender…at least in the amateur ranks.

The Ides of March

October 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by: George Clooney (“Good Night, and Good Luck”)
Written by: George Clooney (“Good Night, and Good Luck”), Grant Heslov (“Good Night, and Good Luck”) and Beau Willimon (debut)

Every smile or sentence that comes from a political candidate is calculated. As Matt Damon’s politician character in “The Adjustment Bureau” pointed out, focus groups are employed for even the most mundane details, from determining what the perfect amount of scuff for a pair of dress shoes is to picking a tie that conveys the right message. There is always a crack staff working behind the scenes feeding candidates lines, strategies, and conducting damage control, all to make sure their campaign is unsinkable.  In “The Ides of March,” Ryan Gosling plays a skilled, idealistic young staffer who enters the world of politics as a true believer, but finds out very quickly that winning an election requires more than just having a candidate you believe in.

Adapted from the play “Farragut North,” which draws inspiration from Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid, “The Ides of March” follows the primary campaign of Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) as he seeks the nomination of the Democratic Party. The Morris campaign is managed by Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), but the real brain of the team is Stephen Myers (brilliantly played by Gosling), a smart and emerging political mind on the campaign trail. When the manager (Paul Giamatti) of the opposing candidate approaches Stephen to try and poach him from the Morris campaign, the news is somehow leaked to the press and an aggressive reporter (Marisa Tomei) won’t stop until she gets the answers she wants. As this story begins to unfold, Stephen uncovers an even bigger scandal that threatens his job, exposes him to blackmail and extortion, and leaves him at the center of a moral and professional dilemma.

The cast of Oscar winners and nominees that director George Clooney has assembled is the strongest pillar of the film. Gosling gives one of the strongest performances of his critically-acclaimed career as a charismatic and ambitious man with everything to lose. Gosling has a particular knack for conveying disbelief and intensity with wide-eyed stares. Hoffman gives the strongest of the supporting roles. His scenes with Gosling contain some of the best interaction seen in a film this year. The interplay between these two commanding actors is the most obvious reminder that the film is based on a play, as one can easily imagine these scenes taking place on a Broadway stage.  Strong performances from Giamatti, Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood are seen, as well as from Clooney who takes a much smaller role in the film in exchange for his work on the script and behind the camera.

While the story is that of a pretty standard political thriller, “The Ides of March” sets itself apart in its execution. The script is sharp, with plenty of devastating and often hilarious quips.  The movie navigates through a potentially redundant concept by maintaining a constant tension and more than enough twists and turns to keep viewers interested.  As the stakes become greater and things spiral out of control, it is fascinating to watch Gosling’s character struggle between what is right and what the implications are for his career.

It might be a tad cliché for a film to depict politics as a dirty profession that can cause even the most ambitious and hardworking individual to become jaded, but the narrative works and feels like an accurate depiction of how a campaign would control a scandal.  With brilliant acting from its stellar cast, “The Ides of March” separates itself from an often-unimaginative genre with powerhouse performances and authentic details.

Drive

September 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn (“Bronson”)
Written by: Hossein Amini (“Killshot”)

As the final frame faded and the credits rolled, the silence in the theater was deafening.  An almost palpable sense of confusion hung in the auditorium as moviegoers tried to comprehend what they just saw. Where was the adrenaline filled heist movie that all of the trailers and TV spots promised? What happened to the quiet and sweet Ryan Gosling from the first half of the movie? How many ways can a human head be split into pieces, and did we have to see all of them? In many ways, “Drive” almost feels like two movies, as it takes a pretty innocent, by-the-numbers first half and then catches you off guard with some of the most graphic violence seen this year.

Gosling plays an unnamedHollywoodstunt-driver who moonlights as a getaway driver. His mechanic friend Shannon (Bryan Cranston) decides to go to mobsters Nino (Ron Pearlman) and Bernie (Albert Brooks) to secure their investment in a racecar team headed by Gosling. As “the driver” forges a relationship with neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, their bond is quickly threatened when her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from jail. In order to protect Irene and Benicio, Gosling agrees to help Standard with one last job. After the robbery is botched, Gosling is finds himself on the run from the mob, entangling all of the characters in a bloody mess along the way.

Ryan Gosling’s performance as “the driver” is a difficult one to evaluate. For the first half of the movie, he is a soft-spoken man of few words who can’t seem to stop smiling at the girl he is crushing on. But midway through, he exchanges his smiles for piercing stares as he morphs into a very familiar revenge-driven tough guy. The character comes off as shallow, as most of Gosling’s performance relies on emoting with his eyes rather than true character development, which is more of a fault of the script than his. Carey Mulligan isn’t given much to work with, but her beauty commands the screen and there is decent chemistry between her and Gosling. As for the other supporting roles, Albert Brooks and Ron Pearlman prove to be unmemorable as a pair of mobsters, with Pearlman being almost comical in his delivery at times.

One absolute positive about “Drive” is the skillful direction by Nicolas Winding Refn. His deliberate style is marked by perfectly-constructed shots with fantastic camera work and well-composed scenery. In a single scene, and in some cases a single shot, Refn shows beautiful images juxtaposed with brutal violence in ways that are completely unique to his style. The pacing of the film is purposely very slow and matched with plenty of lingering shots, sometimes of people just gazing at each other. The script itself is filled with clichés from several film genres, however Refn infuses stylized violence to break them up, a move that is executed well from a technical standpoint, but is perhaps better in theory than in the context of the film. One thing that is clear is that Refn was able to achieve his exact vision for the film, even if its results vary in success.

For a movie that boasts one of the most popular young actors inHollywood, and has a marketing campaign that implies a car-chase filled thrill ride, the unorthodox presentation of “Drive” leaves it with such minimal mainstream appeal. While Refn should be applauded and respected for attempting such a bold film, this strange and unique art-house take on a heist movie lacks the substance and character strength to match the level of quality of the direction.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

July 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra (“I Love You Phillip Morris”) and John Requa (“I Love You Phillip Morris”)
Written by: Dan Fogelman (“Tangled”)

Forget marriage counseling. If you really want to know the status of your relationship, pay attention to what’s happening under the dinner table during a romantic evening out. Playing footsies means there’s still some spark. Flatfooted and aloof? You might as well start drawing up those divorce papers.

At least that’s where loving husband and father Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) finds himself during the opening scenes of the surprisingly pleasant albeit conventional and ineffectively titled romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” There’s no footwork here. In fact, his wife and high school sweetheart Emily (Julianne Moore) fesses up to an affair and pulls the plug on 25 years of marriage. Screenwriter Dan Fogelman (“Tangled”) doesn’t give much explanation as to how their marital problems have reached criticality, but you know things are extremely broken.

Drowning his sorrows at a posh local bar,Calbecomes the pet project of smooth-talking ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who takes pity on him and his middle-aged lameness. Their goal (besides referencing “The Karate Kid” and inventing the verb “Miyagied”): to rediscover Cal’s manhood and – most importantly – get him laid.

Fogelman doesn’t end his matchmaking venture with Cal. As in 2003’s British rom-com “Love Actually,” the narrative in “CSL” is layered with smitten characters and sometimes-underwritten secondary storylines. Here, Cal’s 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) is infatuated with his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) who actually has a crush on Cal; aspiring lawyer Hannah (Emma Stone) hopes her nerdy boyfriend (Josh Groban) will pop the big question before she falls prey to Jacob’s charm.

While clichés are no stranger to “CSL,” the all-star cast is able to class up the situations to make them feel as funny and original as possible. Most of the film’s emotion hinges on Carell’s dramatic turn now that he’s proven he can be both hilarious and poignant in dramedies like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Dan in Real Life.” In CSL, Carell trades barbs with Gosling and tears withMoore, but through subtle dialogue and gesture.

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (the team behind the gay jailhouse romantic comedy “I Love You Phillip Morris”), “CSL” doesn’t offer anything on the marital front we wouldn’t have learned from watching a rerun of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” But like Cal, there’s something genuinely refreshing about its soft heart, honesty, and squareness, even while our hero mismatches tennis shoes and khakis with a straight face.

Blue Valentine

January 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance (“Brother Tied”)
Written by: Derek Cianfrance (“Brother Tied”), Cami Delavigne (debut), Joey Curtis (“Brother Tied”)

As difficult as it is to watch at times, the contemporary relationship drama “Blue Valentine” doesn’t come without reward.

In “Blue Valentine,” Academy Award nominees Ryan Gosling (“Half Nelson”) and Michelle Williams (“Brokeback Mountain”) play Dean and Cindy, a hopeless couple on marital life support. The lack of intimacy between husband and wife is uncomfortable. Even taking a shower together is a searing reminder that there’s nothing left to salvage.

Written as an uncompromising nonlinear narrative (think “500 Days of Summer” with a mean streak), director/screenwriter Derek Cianfrance puts emphasis on the dysfunctional interaction between its emotionally-depleted characters. By doing this, he allows Gosling and Williams to lumber through this loveless marriage with so much attention to detail in every move and expression they make.

“Blue Valentine” features characters at their emotional low points. It’s almost as if they are addicted to each other’s unhappiness. Watching this unfold is both depressing and gripping. With heart-wrenching performances by the leads and an intensely affecting script, “Blue Valentine” proves that misery truly does love company.