Practicing social distancing, while important, has left me with more free time than I am used to. I decided to take advantage of my free time by watching as many movies as I can get my hands on, so I have compiled a list of reviews for some of my new favorites. These reviews are mostly spoiler-free, so you can still watch the movies after reading! Please keep in mind, the movies below are intended for older audiences. Stay tuned for a review of movies intended for younger audiences.
Inception (2010) (PG-13)
Somehow, I managed to get through the last ten years without hearing any spoilers for this critically acclaimed sci-fi thriller. I didn’t even know that Leonardo DiCaprio starred in it. Still, I think going into this movie completely blind was the best way that I could have done it. It follows the story of Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a thief who doesn’t break into banks or homes, but into peoples’ minds. He is able to extract information from people through shared dreams and is planning on pulling one final heist before retiring for good.
“Inception” is highly regarded for good reason. Director Christopher Nolan really breaks down what is expected from a movie. Take, for instance, the scene where Cobb is speaking with an accomplice in his final heist, Ariadne (Ellen Page). They are sitting and talking in a cafe, and Cobb says that one of the best ways for a person to realize they are dreaming is for them to think about how they arrived where they are. Ariadne considers this, and she realizes she cannot remember how she got to the cafe. The revelation that this scene was a dream the entire time not only catches Ariadne by surprise, but the audience as well. As viewers, we often don’t take the time to consider how characters get from one place to another between scenes. For the audience, it just happens. Nolan is able to take advantage of this to completely catch us off guard when it is revealed that Cobb and Ariadne are, in fact, sharing a dream and not in the “real” world.
If you have somehow managed to avoid seeing this movie, I cannot recommend it enough. It has a countless number of possible interpretations and analyses and has quickly become one of my favorite movies of all time.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) (R)
I have a bit of a confession to make. Despite being a bit of a self-proclaimed cinephile, I had not yet seen a Quentin Tarantino film before this break. I decided to take advantage of my ample free time to finally watch my first one. And let me say, it did not disappoint. The movie follows fading television actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime friend and stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who are both struggling to come to terms with the changing entertainment industry and the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age. At the same time, Charles Manson is also at the beginning of his rise to infamy.
This movie really shows the directing that Tarantino is so famous for, but it also tells a really interesting story that shows how the entertainment industry changed during the early 70s’. It also boasts plenty of hilarious moments that break up the tension that is slowly building during each scene. One thing I would recommend to anyone interested in viewing it is to have a least a cursory understanding of the Tate-LaBianca murders, otherwise, the ending may be a little confusing. But overall, this movie blew me away. This movie is rated R, because some scenes do get violent. If you are under 17, watch this movie with a parent or guardian.
Seven (1995) (R)
There’s nothing I love more than a good crime thriller, and “Seven” perfectly combines a methodical detective story with a more than sinister murderer to make for an incredibly eerie story. “Seven” tells the story of a soon-to-retire detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) as he takes on one last case. He is assisted by the idealistic David Mills (Brad Pitt), who has recently moved to the city. The case that they are trying to solve is a string of murders that are all linked by their symbolic relation to the seven deadly sins.
Right out of the gate I found the story itself to be absolutely enthralling. The murder scenes are gruesome, but not just for the sake of shocking the viewers. Each gory killing further builds up the outline of a terrifying murderer and builds tension for the final showdown. But the movie also takes time to develop a friendship between Somerset and Mills and shows the mental strain that this line of work can result in. And the ending, although shocking and heart-wrenching, really cemented the impact of the story. Since it is rated R, watch this movie with a parent or guardian if you are under 17.