Ex Machina – Film Review

Harry Dalian Film

This movie was quite compelling because it’s set in the not-so-far-out future. A young, possibly naive, computer programmer named Caleb Smith works at the world’s largest search engine company called Blue Book. The company’s reclusive CEO invites him to his abode in the mountains – only accessible by helicopter – after Caleb won a “competition”.

Caleb arrives at the alcoholic CEO’s getaway home and is surprised to find out a few answers to his many questions: Why is Caleb there? What is really going on in this house? And who can Caleb trust?

The film wavers between humanity and robots, all while blurring the lines of reality. Even the audience is fooled between the two in regards to a few “quiet” characters. The main three characters of the film perform an outstanding work of art in Ex Machina. Each role is played extremely well and realistically.

The movie proves itself right when all hell breaks loose – leaving the audience with an interesting idea: If you create a robot that is so close to human (or more human than you, if that’s possible) you can’t keep the being locked up. Humans retaliate and have a survival instinct, when that is passed onto a robot, consciousness is born. The film tests this hypothesis and leaves people with an interesting taste in their mouths.

The whole point of Caleb is to test out the Artificial Intelligence to see if he is convinced that Ava, the A.I. has consciousness. The film undoubtedly proves this, as things get quite messy and complicated towards the end. Definitely worth seeing, it’s one of the smartest and realistic Sci-Fi films out there at the moment.


Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance features actor Michael Keaton as a former movie star Riggan Thomson who is most remembered for his comic book hero Birdman on the big screen, which is implied to be in the 1990s. Two decades later, Thomson is no longer a well-esteemed or popular Hollywood commodity. Thomson is broke, separated from his wife, and estranged from his daughter, as well as forgotten by his fans. He sets out to prove that he’s not worthless and opts to write, direct and star in Broadway show. Harry Dalian

Thomson is upset with one the actors in his production and makes a last minute replacement. Impressed by the new actor’s sincerity and authenticity, Thomson hires the new actor within 24 hours to the first preview performance of his play. This doesn’t seem to be the best idea when the new actor in the play throws a fit and inevitably throws Thomson into a spiral of self-doubt, worry, and fear.

Birdman was written and directed by filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The main cast is incredibly strong throughout the film and ever single actor or actress receives their moment to shine within the film. Keaton’s performance leads the team of actors with a performance that is made all the more intriguing given his own former A-list superhero past. Keaton’s sincerity and talent are the true foundations for his memorable performance. The actor has had a long and successful career with several iconic roles, but Birdman features some of his best and most powerful work to date.

Costars Edward Norton and Emma Stone are both given rich, complex characters to unravel. Norton’s role is an especially fun endeavor as he is cast as the secondary actor in Thomson’s play. Norton has some genuinely brazen scenes and a thoroughly thoughtful platform to reflect on the art of acting. Sam, played by Emma Stone, isn’t much of a stretch for the actress, however provides a grand opportunity to play off of a supporting cast of Hollywood veterans. Stone absolutely shines in an especially intense monologue which is performed in a single take.

Other actors that are prominently feature are: Lindsay Duncan, Amy Ryan, Naomi Watts, and Zach Galifianakis. Each actor provides a quality performance and also sharp commentary on themes int he film. Some key themes include different aspirations for love and acceptance. The cast serves its primary function, however a few story lines are left unresolved as some moviegoers may find frustrating.

Overall, Inarritu has given a mesmerizing tale of art and love in a time of fast-paced gossip and viral internet news and videos. Bird man is not going to be for everyone, however potential viewers who are hoping for a lighthearted comic book movie culture feel will probably be surprised and possibly put-off. Those open to the film’s experimental style will find Birdman provides an inventive exploration of family, artistry, power, and prestige, and most importantly about when we talk about love.

Review: The Imitation Game

Harry Dalian

Benedict Cumberbatch cracks the code in this film about cryptology during WWII in support of the Allies.

The Imitation Game is an immersive true story that incorporates tension and raw emotion together. Benedict Cumberbatch, the Emmy award-winning Sherlock Holmes star, turns not he brain power to play Alan Turing, a genius mathematician and social misfit during World War II. Alan Turing teamed up with a group of cryptanalysis at London’s Bletchley Park to crack the Nazis’ naval code and help in the war. Turing and his group were successful, only to have his achievements buried in government secrecy and to end his own life in 1954 after being persecuted for being a homosexual. The queen actually pardoned him posthumously last year.

The Imitation Game doesn’t waste any time on the social treachery of the situation, but instead alleviates the emotionsin the piece during the stale period. Norwegian filmmaker Morton Tyldym (Headhunters) directs the movie with masterly assurance as he fuses suspense and character to create a movie that emanates energy.

The star of the film, Cumberbatch, is a great actor whose talents shine bright in The Imitation. The film is an explosive, emotionally complex arrangement of characters and events.

The story itself is quite interesting and scientific, however, the movie does rely mostly on action and emotion to illustrate this time and these events. It has been a long time since intellectual aspiring create such excitement on the big screen.

The movie is a classic representation of struggle, perseverance, emotion with retro themes and elements. Overall, it is a great film to watch as the actors present an amazing performance.

Exodus: A Solid Retelling of Moses’ Story

“Exodus: Gods and Kings,” is the retelling of an infamous story—the tale of Moses, the exodus from Egypt, the burning bush, the frogs, the boils, the hail, the commandments and the Red Sea crossing. To review this rendition of the well-known tale, a critic completed an article for The Chicago Tribune, detailing the high and low points of the progression of the film.

The movie was directed by Ridley Scott, who the reviewer notes did an excellent job of keeping everyone on the screen grounded—clearly working hard and earnestly, with a sense of seriousness towards the purpose of the film. The script was completed in shifts and phases by a number of people, including Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian. However, despite the number of sheer contributors, the critic often found the writer to be more expedient than inspired.

In terms of acting, Christian Bale plays Moses. Bale starts the film displaying a mid-Atlantic/British combination of a dialect but morphs over the course of the movie to sound and act more as traditionally favored Moses’ have, such as Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments,” and even Mel Brooks in “History of the World—Part I.” This could be the direct result of viewing “History of the World,” as Bale has acknowledged that he viewed the film as part of his research for the part. The supporting cast receives some note from the reviewer as well. John Turturro and Sigourney Weaver receive compliments on the attire they wear in their roles as Ramses’ parents. Ben Kingsley plays Nun, the Hebrew scholar and slave leader and, in the process, brings his patented, slightly unhinged gravitas to the character. Aaron Paul lends a multitude of support as he serves as Joshua, Moses’ right-hand man. The only bit of casting to be seen relatively negatively is Isaac Andrews as God; the actor and director worked to bring about a God as played by a preteen British boy, who is found of scowling and issuing rhetorical and spiritual challenges to His go-to human. Some Biblical literalists do not approve of the representation.
The plagues are, perhaps, what had the reviewer most intrigued, as twenty-first century technology could bring these troubles to life in a completely new way. Not only do the plagues look fitting to modern moviemaking, there is an accompanying explanation with each, which adds a plausible aspect to the plagues.
Ultimately, the reviewer believes individual audience reactions to the piece will correspond with Scott’s previous epic—“Robin Hood.” The reviewer found each to be square and rather heavy on its feet. However, both films easily held his attention, even when its bigness trumped its goodness.

Harry Dalian

Top 10 Movies Of All Time

Based on a selection of voting entries from IMDB’s Top 250, and determined by an equation weighting the average rating of the movie, the number of votes for the movie (volume), minimum number of votes to be included in the list, and the mean rating number across the whole number of entries analyzed. The equation used is:  (WR) = (V / (V + M)) * R + (M / (V + M)) * C

Top 5 Movies of All Time

1: The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Based on the 1982 novella by Steven King, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” in his collection “Different Seasons”, The Shawshank Redemption is the greatly loved adaptation that Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins, and Bob Gunton turned into a stand alone piece to be remembered by generations hereafter. Director Frank Darabont, who directed The Green Mile five years later, added a voice to this film that made this story of believe, persistance, brotherhood, and smarts, a truly unforgettable film.

2: The Godfather (1972)Harry Dalian, The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola’s notorious film could stand alone as the archetypical crime, mafia movie. The film became initially recognized for its steps away from Hollywood, which including a graceful, gentlemanly approach to crime and violence, and some never before seen on such a wide scale mood lighting by recently deceased Director of Photography Gordon Willis. There is no question that the film is fantastic, while its renown seems built on acclaim compounded over years,

3: The Godfather: Part II (1974)

Coming in right behind the original, The Godfather: Part II chronicles the Don’s war hero son Michael Corleone’s journey further into a life embracing death and darkness as he expands his father’s crime empire farther to Las Vegas and Cuba. The film continues the original’s civil demeanor toward crime and violence, and eloquently extends the charm and thrill of the first. In many lists, Part II is accredited as the best of the two.

4: The Dark Knight (2008)The Dark Knight Movie Poster, Harry Dalian

The Dark Knight showed darkness to audiences in a psychological and cinematic way audiences have never seen before. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was seductive and psychological, captivating to the point where audiences could not take their eyes off of him, no matter how contorted his mind, or disturbing his actions. Another benefit of Christopher Nolan’s second film in the trilogy is a wonderful script and moral quandaries for each character, including the competing philosophies of Batman, The Joker, and Harvey Dent.

5: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Just as Harvey Weinstein had found success creating his filmmaking empire bringing “independent” type films to Hollywood, stuff the studio system would have never touched, Quentin Tarantino came around. With his second big film after Reservoir Dogs, this smash hit won the De Palma Award and was picked up for distribution with a binding contract with the Weinstein’s company, Miramax. Pulp Fiction will be a cult and mainstream favorite for as long as we are there to watch.

Neighbors Movie Review

Seth Rogen Movie Neighbors

Neighbors – Frat vs. Family

Bill Wine Neighbors Movie Review

According to a review written by Bill Wine, the upcoming film Neighbors by director Nicholas Stoller (of Get Him to the Greek and Fun with Dick and Jane), starring Seth Rogen and Zack Efron, is just a little too similar to the fraternity parties. The film seems as though it could truly be an enduring success—it’s loud, energetic, chaotic and, most importantly, though it might in actuality be a lot less fun than it sounds.

Neighbors Movie Plot

The plot of Neighbors is rather simple: the film sets up a revenge scenario that continually escalates until it goes beyond control. Battle commences between Teddy Sanders—played by Zac Efron as the president of the Delta Psy Kappa fraternity, and a local family, the Radnors who are played by Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne. The Radnors are the quiet family next door just settling into the suburbs to raise their first child.  The Radnors introduce themselves and establish a disclaimer that their own party days are not so far in the past; they assure Sanders they will not begrudge him his good time.

Neighbors Movie Tone

Their tone changes at the first all night party that results in no sleep for them or their infant.  The cops are called and war quickly starts and escalates steadily forward.  From there, battles continually erupt; no prank is too cruel or crude.

While Wine says that a paper-thin plot is to be expected in this genre, that doesn’t mean the characters must be as well.  The actions and measures taken by the characters in the increasingly ridiculous pranks leads the film to feel as if the characters are in some form of an alternative universe, where characters serve to nothing other than fulfill tropes and generic movie roles instead of portraying three dimensional, relatable human beings.

Neighbors Movie Script

The script, constructed by Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, is also an issue for Wine, who declares it definitively raunchy, relying far too much on slapstick humor and gross-out gags to be considered a feature.  While these components may succeed in the likes of The Three Stooges and Tom and Jerry, it isn’t fit the bill for a Hollywood Blockbuster.  Instead, Wine believes it will be most suited as background noise, residing on the television screens at fraternity parties in a cruel sense of irony and sense of disappointment.

Themes in The Big Lebowski

The Coen Brothers’ film The Big Lebowski is no doubt a cult favorite and generally a stellar film that will go down Harry Dalian, The Big Lewbowskiin history as one of the most memorable and unique. One of its greatest pleasures is that The Big Lebowski is one of those films you can watch over and over again because you love it, and at the same time, it is one of those films you can, and should, watch over and over again to pick up on more subtle themes and “easter eggs”.

If you’re one of the ones who’s watched it over and over again, excellent. Check out this list and let me know what you think. If you’re not, here are a few themes in The Big Lebowski you might have missed:

Castration as a ThemeHarry Dalian, Scissors Big Lebowski

Throughout the film you’ll realize that the male characters the story follows are not the impressive or enviable protagonists one would normally encounter in a hollywood film. The men in the film are portrayed as incompetent and even physically disabled. In contrast, the female characters were written to be more powerful than the men, or out of their control, in the case of bunny.

Imagery that illustrates the theme of castration in The Big Lebowski can be found in multiple places. When we first meet Maude Lebowski, the dude enters her studio, and before we see her hoisted up to the ceiling “painting” from above, held up by two men with pulleys, we see a giant painting of scissors. The introduction to scissors as an image of castration is here, and also recurs in Lebowski’s drea sequence when he is chased by a man with giant scissors. The three thugs after Lebowski also threaten to castrate him (humorously) if he doesn’t comply with their plan.

Ringing Phone

Throughout the film, The Dude’s phone is almost constantly ringing. What you’ll notice, though, is that he doesn’t answer it. The dude, perhaps, knows he’ll learn whatever it is eventually, and this is shown when the police are at his house and Maude calls him, “I am the one who took your rug”.

Tumbleweed and BowlingHarry Dalian, Tumbleweed

There’s no secret that tumbleweed makes an appearance, as it is the image that guides us into the film: we follow a blowing tumbleweed across the dessert finally toward a large reveal of the extensively lit city of Los Angeles. Remember, though, that Lebowski is essentially of the same character of the tumbleweed: without aim, just rolling with the wind wherever it takes him.

When Lebowski and his Bowling team discuss going to “roll”, their big obsession with bowling may pay homage and draw comparison to the life of a tumbleweed.