5 On Top: Nicolas Cage Movies

attends a screening of Summit Entertainment's "Drive Angry 3D" at ArcLight Cinemas on February 22, 2011 in Hollywood, California.

Nicolas Cage has gotten a bad rap over the years, be it for his questionable role choices, or for his dry, monotone delivery. I once saw a short cartoon that pokes fun at Cage for his apparent inability to turn down much of anything that comes his way. In the cartoon, you see an animated version of Cage sitting in a chair, with text on the screen reading something to the effect of “Nicolas Cage After Reading Any Movie Script.” He looks up from the script and simply says, in his signature drawl, “Sure.” What is not questionable, however, is that the man has had some gems peppered about his resume throughout his long tenure in Hollywood. Here, five of his best movies (in my not-so-humble opinion) will be discussed. It’s not that these movies would be nothing without him, but Cage brings a quirky charm to these obvious selections (no, Raising Arizona did not make the list). So, without further adieu, I present in no particular order, five must-see Nicolas Cage movies… Continue reading

Mini Movie Reviews: No Escape

no_escape_ver7_xxlg

When I first saw the trailer for No Escape, I was intrigued enough to say “That’ll be one for RedBox,” and that’s precisely how I’m watching it as I write this. An action movie set on foreign soil, featuring Owen Wilson as the unlikely hero admittedly comes from more than a little out of left field, but I was still drawn to it. I rented the movie thinking it was going to be one of those turn-your-brain-off, over-the-top action flicks with a clear protagonist and villain, but it was more complex and actually packed a heavy message.  Continue reading

Mini Movie Reviews: The Secret Life of Pets

the-secret-life-of-pets-56378a2078351

I have a soft spot for adorable animated movies, so I was excited about The Secret Life of Pets from the moment I first saw the trailer. What better way to hook an audience than with a trailer that makes pet owners of all kinds shake with laughter and nod in agreement when they see pixelated depictions of the shenanigans (albeit greatly exaggerated ones) in which they imagine their non-human companions participate when those pets are left to their own devices. Pets is the story of Max (voiced by comedian Louis C.K.), a loyal pup whose world is turned upside down when his dog-loving owner brings home a large and graceless mongrel, with whom he is forced to share their Manhattan flat. Continue reading

Mini Movie Reviews: London Has Fallen

27698b1e6589f8bba63ae6c89858ac95

Welcome to the first edition of “Mini Movie Reviews” at The No Seatbelt Blog! I love movies more than most things in life, and when I write about them, I tend to be longwinded. I’m starting this series to present small, digestible reviews of movies that I enjoyed, but on which I don’t feel the need to compose a novel. I’m kicking the series off with London Has Fallen, the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, which was one of two 2013 flicks that revolved around a terrorist attack on The White House (the other being White House Down). Continue reading

Film Analysis: Amélie

amelie-film-poster

Editing, one of the most essential aspects of filmmaking, is the combination of techniques that combine elements such as visuals, sound and special effects, to create a complete cinematic product. The French film Amélie exhibits a variety of editing techniques that are employed by the filmmakers to convey its story. For the most part, the film’s main storyline uses continuity editing, which is the prevailing method for piecing together shots in modern filmmaking at large. Continuity editing exists for the purpose of creating a logical and smooth flow of shots throughout a film, keeping the plot in line and moving in a particular direction. Continue reading

Film Review: The Gift

MV5BMTQzMjM2NjM1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDM1MjQyNTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Last week, I finally got to watch The Gift, a thriller that I had heard mostly good things about and was eagerly awaiting. The directorial debut of Joel Edgerton (who also wrote and starred in the movie), The Gift revolves around Simon and Robyn (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall), a young couple whose lives seem to be coming together as they move into a new home, Simon gets a significant promotion at work, and they work on starting a family. This ultimate happiness comes crashing down when they run into Gordo (Edgerton), a former classmate of Simon’s who harbors a dark secret. Continue reading

Film Analysis: Citizen Kane

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present ÒLinwood Dunn: Celebrating a Visual Effects Pioneer,Ó a program exploring the contributions of Linwood Dunn and the techniques he used in creating optical effects for Orson WellesÕs ÒCitizen Kane,Ó on Friday, October 9, at 8 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. The evening also will feature a screening of a newly struck print of ÒCitizen KaneÓ from the Academy Film Archive. This event is sold out, but standby tickets may become available. Pictured: CITIZEN KANE, 1941.

Released in 1941, the film Citizen Kane, often hailed as “the greatest movie of all time” was groundbreaking for its time. The film was directed by Orson Welles, and because of the controversy it caused, it both made him a star and effectively blacklisted him in Hollywood. Citizen Kane undoubtedly laid the groundwork for many films to come, with its brilliant understanding of the elements of design, as well as of the concept of mise-en-scène, which is a French term that is roughly translated as “what is put into the scene.” Welles clearly understood that the way a scene is set up – the placement of props, the use of lighting and shadows, the movements of the camera, and the positioning of the actors within the frame – can reach out to the audience in a way that dialog alone cannot. Citizen Kane is a fantastic film to use as a template in the exploration of the crucial aspects of filmmaking that go beyond what is explicitly said on screen.  Continue reading