Tag Archives: Joaquin Phoenix


2 Jan

After looking back on last year, and with the Sundance Film Festival right around the corner, it’s time to look ahead and see what stuff is on the horizon helping to establish 2018 as another great year in cinema. Here are the top ten films that I’m looking forward to seeing. You can check out last year’s list here.

10 – Untitled Suspiria remake/sequel 

Why? As an avid fan of the original I was one of many who rolled their eyes at the idea of yet another classic horror being remade (you can thank 2012’s The Thing, 2013’s Evil Dead and Carrie, 2015’s Poltergeist, among others). But then I heard the new project was being directed by Italian arthouse favorite Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, A Bigger Splash) and it’s allegedly not so much a direct remake as it is a new take on something “inspired by the same story”. Color me intrigued.

Principal Cast: Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Mia Goth

Release Date:  TBA 

9 –  The Nightingale 

Why? After terrorizing audiences with the surprisingly-great Babadook, director Jennifer Kent is back with another horror thriller up her sleeves. This one is supposedly a revenge tale set in 18th century Tasmania.

Principal Cast: Aisling Franciosi and Sam Claflin

Release Date: August 10

8 – Isle of Dogs 

Why? Everyone and their dog loves Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore) and based on the trailer, we can expect another bone-fide crowd pleaser. Get ready for a barking good time.

Principal Cast: Greta Gerwig, Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray probably.

Release Date: March 23

7 – Piercing 

Why? Just when I thought I had become desensitized and jaded towards genre films, Nicolas Pesce comes along with the beautifully haunting Eyes of My Mother. While on paper this looks like another great entry into the 2018 horror slate, my gut tells me this might end up being more on the artsy side. Both Mia Wasikowska and Chris Abbot have a solid repertoire with these types of indie films and the fact it’s playing in Sundance’s Midnight section gives me solid hope.

Principal Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Chris Abbot, Laia Costa

Release Date: Sundance

6 – The Irishman

Why? Netflix is hosting the long-awaited reunion of Scorsese and De Niro (It’s been 20+ years!). While the streaming giant doesn’t have the greatest reputation of quality when it comes to original movies (looking at you Bright and War Machine), this mob drama looks like it has all the neccisary ingredients to become a major awards contender.

Principal Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannevale and other associated wiseguys

Release Date: Late 2018 or early 2019

5 – Widows 

Why? After directing one of the most powerful films of the decade (12 Years a slavebritish auteur Steve McQueen is back with a script co-written by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl).

Principal cast: Liam Neeson, Viola Davis, Robert DuVall, Colin Farrell

Release date: An awards-friendly November 16

4 – The House That Jack Built 

Why? Because it’s a Lars Von Trier (Melancholia, Dogville) film about serial killer(s?). Count me in.

Principal Cast: Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Riley Keough

Release Date: TBA 

3 – Hold the Dark 

Why? Because Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) and Macon Blair (I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore) have proven to be THE most badass team of genre filmmakers working today.

Principal Cast: Riley Keough, Alexander Skarsgard, Jeffery Wright, James Badge Dale

Release Date: TBA

2 – You Were Never Really Here 

Why? After seeing We Need To Talk About Kevin and having my soul sucked out, I was convinced Lynne Ramsay was one of the best and boldest in a new wave of dramatic directors (along with Denis Villeneuve, Michael Haneke, Steve McQueen and Paul Thomas Anderson) whose sensibilities lie somewhere in the uncomfortable middle of European neo-realism and arthouse psychodrama. Her latest received nothing but rave reviews out of Cannes where it premiered and it’s always refreshing to Joaquin Phoenix in his post-hip-hop-career.

Principal Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola

Release Date: Sundance, and then everywhere April 6

1 – Annihilation 

Why? Ex Machina became the surprise sci-fi mindmelter and one of my favorite films of 2015, and so I’ve been eagerly waiting for whatever director Alex Garland does next.  A stellar cast and intriguing premise make this an absolute must see.

Principal Cast: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Release Date: Feb 23

Of course, 2018 will likely be filled with surprises and many great unknown films I’ve yet to hear about.  Let me know what you are looking forward to seeing this year in the comments.


Inherent Vice (2014)

8 Jan

Paul Thomas Anderson, known for his recent exploration of introspective personalities with films like There Will Be Blood or The Master, returns to creating ensemble work with Inherent Vice, the first filmic adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel. Pynchon is known for his complex narratives with dizzying amounts of characters and Anderson does a great job letting that complexity come to the surface here. In fact it’s too great.

The convoluted story starts with a private investigator named Doc (played by Joaquin Phoenix) having a conversation with his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterson) about a Los Angeles real estate mogul named Wolfman. This evolves into a kidnapping conspiracy where Shasta plots to have Wolfman’s wife’s lover committed to an insane asylum in an attempt to take his money. And that train of thought dissolves into dope-riddled and paranoia fuelled investigation when Doc and his lawyer (Benicio Del Toro) cross paths with a determined cop named Bigfoot (Josh Brolin), an FBI drug junkie/informant (Owen Wilson) and his wife (Jenna Malone) and Doc’s DA girlfriend Penny (Reese Witherspoon) and her involvement in a sketchy dentist operation led by Dr. Blatnoid (Martin Short) and his 18-year old lover Japonica (Shasha Pieterse) and how her dad might have a connection with Bigfoot’s former partner, and something about a ship called the Golden Fang and lots and lots of hallucinogens. All the while, Doc’s experiences are being narrated to us by a character named Sortlilege (Joanna Newsom) who may or may not just be a figment of Doc’s odd imagination. I couldn’t spoil this film if I wanted to because I’m still not sure what happens.

Anderson’s seventh film really gives us a lot to chew on. Right from the offset, Inherent Vice never takes a break from characters spouting out information to each other in classic noir fashion. So and so has gone missing; so and so is protected by the aryan brotherhood; so and so has the cops watching their back. The movie makes a point to tell us we should be caring about what’s going on, but the quick pacing and sprawling stream-of-consciousness the film proudly demonstrates makes it so damn hard to actually pay attention. In his dedication to staying true to Pynchon’s signature narrative style and tone, Anderson has made us lose track of why we should even care. At a massive 148 minutes, the films far too long, even though the audience barely gets time to think about what’s taking place between the scenes of loaded dialogue.  The many bizarre characters give us something to giggle about from time to time, but Inherent Vice is far from a crowd-pleasing comedy and the narrative is composed of little puzzles stacked against each other.

The biggest puzzle of all might be that this is directed by the same man who gave us Punch-Drunk Love and Magnolia – two of the best examples of character examinations in modern cinema. Why then does everyone in Inherent Vice seem so distant an unrelatable? Perhaps in his uncompromising attempt to capture the multiple details of Pynchon’s web (that works so well in literally form) Anderson forgot his most important role is to please his audience.

It might be a misfire from the man Ben Affleck praised as “a modern day Orson Welles“, but there is still something entrancing about Anderson’s wacked-out period piece. Maybe it’s the groovy free-flowing style or stellar production design or the many sexy-but-subtle performances that make Inherent Vice worth the watch – just don’t expect to make sense of what you are actually watching.

Rating – 6/10 

Similar to: Boogie Nights, The Big Sleep, The Big Lebowski


Top 10 Anticipated films of 2014

5 Jan

Well hats off to a new year. In the midst of all this awards season talk (you can catch my top 15 list of 2013 here) I’d like to present the films I’m most looking forward to seeing this next year. If available, I’ve provided the trailers and release dates. Make sure to let me know what films you are looking forward to seeing and if there are any I missed.

10 – Knight of Cups

This one is still a bit of a mystery as director Terrence Malick hasn’t officially said anything about Knight of Cups (or much else about his other projects). What we do know is that is stars Christian Bale, Imogen Poots, Joel Kinnaman, Cate Blanchet, Natalie Portman, Jason Clarke, Wes Bentley, and Antonio Banderas (wow!!). If the cast isn’t enough to get you excited, rumor is that Malick has a few additional films planned (though these are most likely to be pushed back to 2015 and beyond).  No release date yet.

9 – Foxcatcher

Director Bennett Miller made waves a while back with his Oscar-winning film Capote and 2011’s Moneyball. Next year he returns with a film based on Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz. Originally intended for 2013 (there was even a trailer released last fall), the film was pushed back due to editing issues and concern the awards season would be too crowded. Channing Tatum and Steve Carell (supposedly playing against type) star alongside Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, and Tara Subkoff.  Foxcatcher is rumored to be released in the spring, but could be pushed back to fall.

8 – Boyhood

This mysterious project from Richard Linklater supposedly has been in production for the last 12 years, chronicling the life of Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette’s son. As a huge fan of his Before trilogy, I can’t wait to see what frequent collaborators Linklater and Hawke have in store. No release date yet.

7- Transcendence

Wally Pfister, who is mostly known for his cinematography work with Christopher Nolan, makes his directorial debut next year with a mind-bending sci-fi about artificial intelligence. This looks like it has all the right ingredients to be the next Minority Report, and I’m excited to see Johnny Depp actually using his talent. Depp stars alongside Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall. In theaters April 14.

6 – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Boasting an amazing all-star lineup of Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, Jude Law, Edwards Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, and Harvey Keitel (!!!), the film from Wes Anderson promises mystery, laughs, drama, superb music and Helvetica font. In theaters March 7.

5 – Enemy

After filming the Oscar-nominated Incendies, and last years incredible Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve is making a name for himself and this year he agian reunited with Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy. The thriller is supposedly about a man who goes after his look-alike after seeing him in a movie. I’m intrigued. In theaters March 14.

4 – Gone Girl

One of my favorite directors, David Fincher, gives us a film about a man whose wife mysteriously disappears while on honeymoon, starring Ben Affleck. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Gone Girl could become this year’s Girl With The Dragon Tatoo. In theaters October 8.

3 – Noah

Yes, you are familiar with the biblical story, but director Darren Aronofsky is sure to put a new spin on the tale. Staring Russel Crowe, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins, and supposedly boasting some of the best digital effects ever to be done by Industrial Light and Magic, Noah arrives March 28.

2 – Interstellar

Christopher Nolan is back in action with a story about wormholes, space travel, and corn shortages. Yup. Staring Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, and Ellen Burstyn, the film is out November 7.

1 – Inherent Vice

My most anticipated film of 2014 brings back Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson into a thriller/comedy/crime story about a detective investigating the disappearance of an ex-lover.  Jena Malone, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Maya Rudolph star. No release date yet.


2012 film categories

27 Dec

here are my votes for this year in film (films that had their widespread theatrical run from jan-dec 2012) 


Best Achievement in Directing:

Lynne Ramsey, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner Up: Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom


Best Lead Performance by an Actor:

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Runner Up: Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook


Best Lead Performance by an Actress:

Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner Up: Noomi Rapace, Prometheus


Best Supporting Performance by an Actor:

Emile Hirsch, Killer Joe

Runner Up: Leonardo Dicaprio, Django Unchained


Best Supporting Performance by an Actress:

Ann Dowd, Compliance

Runner Up: Amy Adams, The Master


Best Original Screenplay:

Moonrise Kingdom

Runner up: Silver Linings Playbook


Best Adapted Screenplay:

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner Up: Killer Joe


Best Cinematography:

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Runner up: The Master


Best Film Editing:

Cloud Atlas

Runner Up: We Need To Talk About Kevin


Best Make-up and Hairstyling:

Cloud Atlas

Runner Up: Hitchcock


Best Sound Mixing & Editing:


Runner Up: Looper


Best Score:

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Runner Up: Moonrise Kingdom


Best Production Design:

Moonrise Kingdom

Runner Up: Prometheus



Best Non-English Film:

Holy Motors

Runner Up: Headhunters


Best Documentary:

The Imposter

Runner Up: Chasing Ice


Best Visual Effects:


Runner Up: The Dark Knight Rises


Best films of 2012

27 Dec

2012 was a great year for film-lovers.

With a slew of veteran directors including Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson, Ridley Scott, Ang Lee, Peter Jackson, Robert Zemeckis, Tom Tykwer, The Wachowski siblings, Rian Johnson, P.T. Anderson, Ben Affleck, Sam Mendes, David O. Russell, and Tom Hooper all releasing films this year, there was no shortage of high-quality movies to choose from. Heck Steven Soderbergh, Tim Burton, and Joss Whedon each had two 2012 films.

This is why making a “best-of” list was no easy task, but after some thought here are my personal picks for the top 25 films of 2012 (meaning they had a widespread theatrical release from jan-dec).

25- Cabin In The Woods 

As cliche’ as it might seem, there is a subtle mix of playfulness and horror throughout Cabin In The Woods that makes it such a fun ride ride to see over and over again.

24 – Les Miserables 

The music, acting, and look of the film all work nicely together to create one of the most powerful musical adaptations I have seen in recent years.

23- The Dark Knight Rises

While it doesn’t quite have the thrills of it’s predecessor, Christopher Nolan’s third and final installment into the Dark Knight franchise is emotionally satisfying and clever with all the twists and turns that make the franchise unique among super-hero films. Even if they don’t make any logical sense.


22 – Cloud Atlas 

From the costumes to the cast to the six interwoven stories, everything about Cloud Atlas begs to be called epic.  While the first third of the film is a confusing mess of ideas and characters, things get straightened out nicely in the end once you figure out who is playing who and what planet they are on.  With such an ambitious project as this, it is really, really easy for things to go wrong. Miraculously, Cloud Atlas gets everything right.

21 – Skyfall 

Bond is back and better than ever in this wonderful addition to the 007 franchise.  Hopefully Daniel Craig will not hang up the suit quite yet…

21 – Compliance  

A simple concept brought to life with amazing performances with an even better nail-biter of a script.  This is the stuff great indie flicks are made from.

20- Chasing Ice 

The single most gorgeous-looking documentary I have ever seen.

19- Argo 

Great screenwriting and cinematography create a well-balanced political thriller. The great cast was the icing on the cake.

18- Carnage 

Four people arguing in a living room for hours might not seem like much, but when those four people are John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster, and Kate Winslet…….   things get interesting and dramatically hilarious.

17- Looper

Good movies are usually either intellectually, sensually or emotionally stimulating.  Looper manages to be all three at the same time.

End of Watch

While it might seem like a feature film about the TV show COPS, End of Watch is actually one of the most emotional movies I have seen all year.  Great chemistry from Gyllenhaal and Pena.

16- Seven Psychopaths 

An amazing cast mixed with an ever-unpredictable story makes for an offensively wild film. From the writer/director of the cult-favourite In Bruges.

15- Prometheus 

The epic and visually stunning prequel to Alien, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus proves you can reach the end of a journey looking for answers, only to have more questions that when you first started. The film’s many mysteries had Alien fans scratching their heads for ages, and left me wanting a sequel.


14- Headhunters 

Part heist-flick, part survival-drama, Headhunters tells the story of one man’s quest to steal a million-dollar painting. And what ultimately happens when things go sour.  If you are a fan of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, don’t miss out on this.

13- The Master 

P.T. Anderson’s sprawling epic about the life of a  very peculiar WWII veteran. Both Phillip S. Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix give amazing performances and the cinematography is stunning.

12 – The Imposter 

The bizzare-but-true story about a missing Texas boy who winds up in Spain over three years later. This is the WTF documentary everyone will be talking about.

10 – Django Unchained 

Tarantino returns with a revenge/western/drama/shoot-em-up set in the South 2 years prior to the Civil War. It’s long and overly playful, but Django Unchained somehow manages to be one of the year’s most entertaining films (if you can get past the hefty amount of racial slurs and fake blood).


9-  The Hunt

8- Holy Motors 

Obscure and senseless, Holy Motors is a collage of surreal scenarios and situations that make up a thought-provoking and mesmerizing piece of cinema.

7 – Frances Ha 

6 – Silver Linings Playbook 

David O Russel cleverly mixes bi-polar disorders with the Philadelphia Eagle’s in this witty romantic comedy.  Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, and Jennifer Lawrence are great, but the real treasure is seeing a chic-flick that is this entertaining without being cliche’.

5 – Killer Joe 

A low-budget crime thriller that hits all the right spots, and then some. Killer Joe boasts some of the best acting of the year, and a script that leaves you on the edge on your seat. You will never look at KFC the same way again.

4 – Moonrise Kingdom 

Wes Anderson’s magnificent drama about a boy and a girl who leave the world behind and set out together for adventure. Not only does the film look amazing, but Anderson has really outdone himself (again) with the set pieces, characters, use of music and brilliant screenplay.  Though it has an all-star cast, Moonrise never lets celebrity get in the way of it’s story and splendor.

3- Beasts of the Southern Wild 

A simple low-budget film that captures the innocence and curiosity of childhood, mixed with the drama and emotion of an entire community. This movie is brilliant, well directed and breathtakingly beautiful from start to finish.


2-  We Need To Talk About Kevin 

A powerfully gripping psychological thriller about a child who is…. different. This is one you will want to see a second time around.

1- It’s Such A Beautiful Day 

So there ya go. An honorable mention goes to 21 Jump Street for being the funniest movie of the year.

My picks for film categories can be seen HERE.

Feel free to disagree as there were so many other great films that I didn’t mention, and  if you want to take a look at what i’m most excited about in 2013, click HERE


The Master (2012)

27 Sep

P.T. Anderson‘s latest drama The Master, hit theaters nationwide this past weekend.  After receiving numerous awards at this years Toronto Film Festival, the film is now being discussed as an obvious contender for next years  Best Picture oscar.  When I found out it would be starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the Best Leading Actor winner, and Oscar nominees Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams, I was thrilled.  Being in the hands of a director with such great skills that P.T. Anderson has, there was no way this film could go wrong. Right?

Well, lets put is this way: The Master is Anderson’s least accessible film thus far, and is definitely not for everyone.  I’m not even sure who this film is for.

The Master starts out with us getting acquainted with Phoenix’s character, Freddie Quell. Freddie enjoys women and booze among many other things, but has never really adjusted to civilian life post WWII.  Ever since I saw the wonderful Walk The Line, I knew Phoenix could act, but WOW- he gives one jaw-dropping performance here.   Hoffman’s role is also very good as the cult leader of a group known as “The Cause”.  What exactly The Cause is, the movie never really says.  Instead it focuses on the relationship between these two men as they draw intimately close to one another.

Not only is the acting some of the best I have ever seen, but this film looks absolutely beautiful. Anderson got the production design spot on and the cinematography is pristine.  Every shot is stunning and framed in such a way it reminded me of some of Kubrick’s films.  Which means I would have been completely satisfied just watching this on mute with no subtitles.

But then we come to the most important aspect of any film: its story. I won’t say The Master has a bad story – because it doesn’t – but it is extremely illogical and perplexing.  There is not nearly enough explanation to what is happening on-screen, nonetheless why things are happening.  The entire thing feels more like a dreamy memory of a film rather than a cohesive one, with only bits and pieces standing out on the surface.  I felt like there was so much left out that I didn’t get, but whats even worse, there was so much that was unnecessarily added.

The Master could have been such a great film if only its story wasn’t swallowed up by its actors and visuals.

I think this is one of those films that is better appreciated the second time around, but at a dragging 137 minutes, I’m not sure I want to see this again – at least not any time soon.


rating 7/10