‘1917’: A Bold World War I Film That Cannot Break Out of its Own Chamber

1917 is an incredibly crafted war film that offers nothing past the surface of its impeccable technical merits.

CREDIT: Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures

1917 is the new World War I film directed by Sam Mendes written by him and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. The picture stars George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman as two soldiers who journey to relay a message to hold off an ambush at the frontlines during the height of The Great War. Roger E. Deakins also reunites with Sam Mandes as cinematographer since 2012’s Skyfall.

The film is masterfully crafted, the sound design is exquisite, production design is superb, and of course the cinematography by Deakins is absolutely jaw dropping amazing. It feels like a single one take except for one instance in the movie but other than that it truly flowed like Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance to recount another film that has done the same. The sound design and mixing stood out to me the most, the explosives, reloading of the rifles, and planes coming in truly make you feel like you are right there on the war front of the picture.

Sadly, that is all that the movie could offer. The technical characteristics feel like they are the one and only important part of this movie throughout its very dragged out paced runtime. I never felt captivated or interested by the story because I felt as if the story was of little importance. 1917 just feels like there’s all these incredible chances for storytelling but it never makes it past the surface. Don’t get me wrong, this is an anxiety inducing movie and really does work if you want to see the isolating brutality of war. I was just disappointed that the story was not executed as well as it could have been.

I am still very interested to see what else Sam Mendes does in his next movie. Make sure to watch 1917 when it launches in the United States on December 25th, 2019 and January 10th, 2020 in the United Kingdom.

‘The Irishman’: Another Martin Scorsese Mobster Epic That Breaks Through the Mold

Martin Scorsese comes back with a bonafide mobster picture starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino to make one of the best films in his filmography.

CREDIT: Netflix

Martin Scorsese is back with his newest picture since 2016’s Silence. The three hour and 30 minute tour de force film from Scorsese stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci (yes, you read that right) in this mobster epic. The film is an adaptation of the 2004 book, “I Heard You Paint Houses.” It is no secret that this has been a passion project of Scorsese, and in 2019 it has landed on Netflix with a limited theatrical release in time for Oscar consideration.

Martin Scorsese directs an incredible story about Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) and the mobster Russel Bufalino (Joe Pesci) as they employ Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) as a mafia hitman. It is easy to look at this as just another mobster movie from Scorsese, but this was one of his most different takes on the genre. The Irishman makes for a very somber, melancholic, and epic story to add to this incredible year of movies.

Robert De Niro’s aging mobster is an incredible performance that really adds weight and depth to the atmosphere of the picture. Joe Pesci plays a very cool, calm and collected mobster which is a little out of place from what we are used to seeing from him. Either way Pesci does an incredible job with Russel Bufalino that makes the list of my favorite performances this year. Of courser, Al Pacino is on a roll with playing Jimmy Hoffa and gives a once in a lifetime performance. The fact that this is the first time that these three are working together with Scorsese makes me sad that this might be the one and only time this gets to happen.

Martin Scorsese adds a lot of depth to this story about isolation and truly taking secrets to the grave. It’s one of his most intimately crafted films that is beautiful to look at. The editing is once again another achievement for Thelma Schoonmaker that is hopefully to be awarded during the Oscars next year. The length of the film never weighs on you as the story is always hitting every beat to make this story worth watching. This might not be on the level of Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, or Raging Bull but it is a Scorsese beast of its own that blew me away.

Make sure to watch The Irishman in theaters or on Netflix.

‘Honey Boy’: A Raw and Therapeutic Story Made From Real Life

In Honey Boy, writer and actor Shia LeBeouf traces back to his childhood to tell an intimate and reflective story about trauma.

CREDIT: Amazon Studios

Alma Har’el directs a script written by Shia LeBeouf starring himself playing the father of a child actor opposite Noah Jupe’s Ottis. The story is based on LeBeouf’s life growing up with his father and how it parallels with his life after his incident with the police as portrayed by Lucas Hedges. The script was written during Shia LeBeouf’s time in rehab and translated to the silver screen this year to tell one of the most intimate stories of 2019.

I truly have no idea how to even start elaborating on my thoughts on this film. The best way I can actually describe this movie is as something that I felt I should not be seeing, but I felt so grateful to be watching. Shia LeBeouf is so brave to have written such an incredibly detailed and personal story. The fact that he trusted Alma Har’el to direct instead of him shows the level of maturity in Shia to tell this story. There are movies where I mention them as cinema in its purest form and this is definitely one of those examples.

Some more standouts other than the beautiful cinematography and exquisite production design are the performances. Shia LeBeouf gives a once in a lifetime performance as his father that feels therapeutic throughout the picture. You can truly feel every inch of emotion being poured out of every word spoken by him in every scene he is in. My biggest takeaway was actually Noah Jupe’s stunning performance as Ottis. He is an incredible talent throughout the movie and is always on the level of Shia never missing a single beat. Not much to say that is not already known about Lucas Hedges but he once again does an impeccable job at playing present time Ottis.

As the year winds down Honey Boy is one of the best that has been released. This is one to watch as soon as possible. I will say this too, Shia LeBeouf deserves to be nominated for his performance and writing such a profound picture. Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, Honey Boy surprises you and makes a case for one of the best of the year.

The Cinema of Martin Scorsese

As we wrap up our month on the acclaimed Italian American director on The Nerd Corps we take a look at the films of Martin Scorsese.

PHOTO CREDIT: Stephane Cardinals Corbis

Up until this year the only two films we have discussed from Martin Scorsese’s critically acclaimed filmography were Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980). Scorsese and I both share a lot of things in common, we both have 2001: A Space Odyssey in our top 10 movies of all time, we are both big fans of the master filmmaker Federico Fellini, and both of us enjoy some homemade spaghetti and meatballs.

The son of Charles and Catherine Scorsese started his career with his directorial debut in 1967 with Who’s That Knocking at My Door. Soon after he would go on to create some of the most incredible films of three decades with Taxi Driver in 1976, Raging Bull in 1980, and Goodfellas in 1990. He is known as the man who has perfected the mobster film. His filmography consists of amazing mobster films but films like The Last Temptation of Christ, The King of Comedy, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Silence truly prove his talent to not just be chained to one genre.

Scorsese’s cinematic language consists of brutality, faith, identity, fear, and much more. An incredibly talented director that has kept his relevancy throughout the years of his career. One cannot watch a single film by Scorsese without feeling the raw authenticity of his work. The level of intimacy that he brings to the director chair is unmatched even though he is no stranger to controversy.

You cannot mention this man without bringing up the impeccable editor he works with, Thelma Schoonmaker. Two creative minds are not more made for each other the way that Scorsese and Schoonmaker are. It is hard to imagine a Martin Scorsese picture without it being edited by Schoonmaker.

Wrapping up our month on Scorsese I have reinvented my love for him. Watch out for a review of his 2019 film The Irishman coming soon to The Nerd Corps podcast, YouTube channel, and website right here!

A Storm of Madness Is Brewing

Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse is a deep dive into madness created by the isolation of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.

CREDIT: Eric Chakeen

In order to actually talk about this movie I feel that we need to go back to the year 2015. The world would be subjected to the incredible directorial debut of Robert Eggers, The Witch. Now The Lighthouse is no The Witch because it is a completely different movie breed of its own. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson play these two sailors who are stuck working on this island as Dafoe maintains the lighthouse which seems to have some weird powers. Here is the catch, these two men are slowly going mad and it all happens in an incredibly crafted way.

Now I understand at first glance this probably looks like the most pretentious film of 2019 because it is filmed on 35mm black and white film along with an immersive 4:3 aspect ratio. The thing is that there are films that seem to take these types of aspects and make it more important than the story. That is definitely not the case for this picture. Throughout the film it never feels like Eggers is sacrificing style for substance.

Robert Eggers crafts an incredible piece of art that is heavily supported by two one of a kind performances. The cinematography and creation of the atmosphere amplifies the sense of uneasiness throughout the film. Eggers truly creates a one of a kind film that was not easy to watch to say the least, but leaves you with shivers down your spine until the end. Pattinson absolutely loses himself in this role and along with some disturbing visuals left me speechless. Dafoe also does an incredible job with the several monologues and line delivery.

When I continue thinking about this movie I think about the fact that Eggers really stylized this picture and made it his own by taking influences from Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick to name a few. I cannot wait to see what Eggers does next and how this shapes up at next year’s Academy Awards.

10/10 or 5/5