#37 – Knight of Cups – by Nick Andersen

Knight of Cups pic review

Knight of Cups is a 2015 R-rated experimental film written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Freida Pinto and Natalie Portman. Basically, it’s about a man (Bale) trying to find his place in the world going through the strange events happening around him. While successful in his career, he feels empty inside and surrounds himself with women and the Hollywood scene that become a temporary distraction from depressing family issues and his ongoing questioning existence. You know how you watch one video on YouTube and then another and so on in the Related Videos sidebar? That’s how I stumbled upon Knight of Cups. The trailer intrigued me with its many different unsteady shots and interesting imagery. The whole air of it told me that this was no ordinary film and that you’d have to pay close attention to it, to understand its deeper meaning, and that fascinated me and I challenged myself to watch the almost two-hour film with the hope of coming up with my own interpretation. Sadly no such thing happened.

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#35 – A Walk In The Woods – by Nick Andersen

A Walk In The Woods pic review

A Walk In The Woods is 2015 R-rated adventure comedy biographical film, directed by Ken Kwapis based on the memoir by the same name by Bill Bryson. The film stars Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. It follows Bill Bryson, a successful writer in his 60s deciding to hike the Appalachian trail, with his rotund friend Stephen Katz whom unexpectedly contacted him after many years without seeing each other, asking to tag along. The last film that I laughed so much out loud, must have been Ted (2012) and before that it was Pineapple Express (2008). With Ted it was because the humor was for the first time outrageous, and with Pineapple Express, it was hilarious watching two dumb stoners which James Franco and Seth Rogen nailed. A Walk In The Woods’ comedy is nothing like that. It’s honest and doesn’t force absurd or unlikely situations, which I believe has been the mistake many comedy films have made in the past. Reading and thinking now after watching it that it’s a biography, makes it that much funnier. Robert Redford himself said he had never laughed so much from reading a book.

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The film is a fun treat. The long-lost friendship between Redford and Nolte is great and Nolte’s character adds a lot to the story. He is so out of shape and his face is red almost throughout the entire film looking like he’s about to drop dead. He is the opposite type of person to try and hike a 2,000+ mile stretch. The screenplay is the winner here as it is hilariously good! Especially Katz’s remarks and comments to the small moments in each scene. At one point my face literally hurt from laughing so much. This is definitely a feel-good film. Besides the hilarity, the cinematography was stunning. So much forest and for so many miles all over. It was beautiful to see and learn about the Appalachian trail. I will certainly read the book and hope to get a good laugh out of the read as well. I highly recommend this one to anybody who’s looking for a good hour of fun. This biopic film will NOT waste your time.

Thanks for reading my short review!

– Nick Andersen

#34 – We Are Your Friends – by Nick Andersen

We Are Your Friends pic review

We Are Your Friends is a 2015 R-rated musical drama directed by Max Joseph in his directorial debut and written by himself and Meaghan Oppenheimer, based on a story by Richard Silverman. The film stars Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, and Jonny Weston. The film follows Cole Carter, a struggling 23-year-old DJ in the (EDM) electronic dance music scene, who meets and becomes the apprentice of an older DJ, simultaneously falling in love with his mentor’s girlfriend. Being the psytrance lover that I am, this film was fun to watch and see the process into building a track and a name for yourself, since there aren’t many DJ films out there; but for a Hollywood version, I have to say I’m impressed. When it comes to EDM you’d expect a European take on it, so when I read it was going to be American I immediately thought about all the comercialism that it could go through (like the title), but it’s not so present. Go watch the first trailer they released. It’s pretty good; and like the trailer, so is the film.

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#31 – Meru – by Nick Andersen

Meru-pic-review

Meru is an R-rated 2015 documentary about three professional climbers and their journey as they attempt to climb Mount Meru, one of the most dangerous and never-before-reached summits of the Himalayas. Directed by one of the climbers, Jimmy Chin, with Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk as the other two. Meru is no ordinary climbing documentary; it isn’t a reenacted version of a climb that has already happened. Strapped with GoPro cameras, we get to see and experience firsthand the journey these three men take both physically and mentally, as they prepare and struggle on a mountain that has no conqueror. While most of the film is off of the mountain, it is nevertheless an exciting and impressive story, with glimpses into the obsession of these three famous climbers and their personal battles. Three years in the making, Meru delivers breathtaking visual proof of what we non-climbers can only dream of. Unless you’re a climber, you will never get this close to experiencing the thrill, pain and fears that these extreme athletes go through all for the love of the sport.

Thanks for reading my short review!

– Nick Andersen

#29 – The Last Stand – by Nick Andersen

The Last Stand-pic-review

The Last Stand is an R-rated 2013 action film directed by South Korean Kim Jee-woon in his American directorial debut, and written by Andrew Knauer. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Rodrigo Santoro and Eduardo Noriega. The film follows a small town tough sheriff and his inexperienced deputies who must stop a dangerous drug lord from escaping to Mexico. This was Arnold’s comeback after 10 years since Terminator 3 (2003) and it wouldn’t be an Arnie film without his one liners! This is a great example of a fun, feel-good, action-packed 90-minute film and I highly enjoyed it!

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#27 – American Ultra – by Nick Andersen

American Ultra-pic-review

American Ultra is an R-rated 2015 action comedy film directed by Nima Nourizadeh and written by Max Landis. This is the director’s second film, his first being Project X. American Ultra stars Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace and Connie Britton. It tells the story of a pathetic stoner who is in fact a CIA agent but had his memories of one, erased. When marked as a liability and targeted for extermination, Mike Howell gets “activated” and unleashes his deadly skills on those who try to end him. This idea has been played with before like the Jason Bourne trilogy (not that garbage The Bourne Legacy), except the concept of a comedic twist to it sounds interesting and the trailer itself looked good. Unfortunately, that was it; the whole film felt like it could have been much better.

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#20 – Ex Machina – by Nick Andersen

Ex Machina-pic-review

Ex Machina is an R-rated 2015 science fiction thriller film written and directed by Alex Garland. It stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Sonoya Mizuno and Oscar Isaac. It tells the story of a programmer who is invited by his employer to perform the Turing test to a humanoid android with artificial intelligence. This is Alex Garland’s first film as a director and after watching it you could say that he struck gold, so to speak. It’s brilliant, clever and psychological. Some say it’s a masterpiece. I say it’s one of the top best of 2015.

Spoilers at the end of the post

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#17 – The Men Who Stare At Goats – by Nick Andersen

TMWSAG-pic-review

The Men Who Stare At Goats is a 2009 R-rated drama comedy directed by Grant Heslov inspired by Jon Ronson’s book of the same title. Both Jon and Peter Straughan are the writers for this film. The war parody of the true story behind the New Earth Army, an experimental US army unit of “Warrior Monks” with unparalleled psychic powers. It’s funny at times and entertaining but feels like it stretches or has you lose interest once in a while but then brings you back. Although a good cast, it’s a slightly weird film but with a funny touch.

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