Serena (2014)

serena

  • Directed by: Susanne Bier
  • With: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Toby Jones
  • 109 Minutes

“After two great hits, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper team up as a couple in a promising new movie that… Oh wait it wasn’t directed by David O. Russell. Well, I don’t know what to expect so I will give it a shot…”

A couple of hours before watching Serena my thoughts were mixed… I didn’t know what to expect because of several reasons… In the two previous times I saw Jennifer Lawrence alongside with Bradley Cooper I enjoyed a lot their chemistry and I still think they are a great power couple and I usually tend to enjoy historical romances which gave me hope for what I was about to see but then I saw the initial reviews and they didn’t look good at all and when it comes to movies like this one in particular bad reviews usually mean terrible things. Either way I give it a shot and after watching the movie I want to start this review by saying how sad I am for seeing my worst thoughts becoming true…

In the middle of North Carolina’s mountains during the 1920s, a love story between George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) and a young and good looking woman named Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) begins. As a baron in the wood business, George has all the reasons to believe that Serena is the love of his life since she has some background on the business and doesn’t see any issues with moving from the city to the country. Serena’s presence is at first seen with some mistrust among the hard-working man but as soon as she displays her strength and her leadership skills everything changes and the company starts growing while George fights against the Government to keep his lands instead of selling them to the National Parks. But when Serena has a sudden abortion and after knowing that she can’t have another kid, the love story turns into a tragedy and there’s nothing George can do to avoid Serena from committing something crazy.

Like most love stories, Serena has drama, emotion, predestined love and tragedy with some historical background that I actually found to be quite interesting but even when there’s some tension in the story I remained indifferent towards the events. The love story is too predictable and it’s really hard to find anything interesting in it since most of the plot is basically arguments between the couple, sex scenes, business scenes and some repetitions of the traditional “I love you.” dialogue. When they see things going the way they expected they have sex with each other and when things aren’t going that well they try to comfort each other by saying “I love you” many times and remaining silent the rest of the time. So even if the couple as chemistry the probability of success is not that big. I am a big fan of Cooper/Lawrence charismatic couple and I think that David O. Russell saw in them a mini golden egg chicken but this time, no matter how hard they tried, there was nothing they could do to prevent the story from going into a bad direction.

Jennifer Lawrence is a fine lady who is a victim of the quickest proposal I’ve ever seen (It was like proposal at first sight) and she never shows innocence and emotional weakness. Most of the times she appears to be a strong woman that every man would ever want to meet but when things go wrong she becomes into some sort of sociopath. This transformation was probably one of the few things  I enjoyed the most about the movie because Serena displays her love in a very twisted way near the end and suddenly the amount of “I love you” speeches I’ve heard before didn’t matter one single bit. She is powerful, strong, and ruthless and a great character when compared with the static George who is guilty of making the worst proposal I’ve seen in a movie (love at first sight got a new meaning in my mind after watching this movie). He is a strong man but sometimes his bad decisions and the way he dealt with his problems kind of annoyed me. Besides these two we have a wicked sheriff who wants to take control of George’s lands and a gunslinger who senses things and who had been in jail for killing a man.

So we have interesting characters and a weak plot that gave me no reasons to feel attached to the story. While Lawrence and Cooper maintain some of their reputation because they didn’t had any fault in all of this, I saw my worst thoughts coming true with a story that lacks interesting elements to keep up. The historical aspects are not bad at all but the drama and the tension of this love story is too boring and painful to watch. For those of you who don’t know, Susanne Bier is mostly known for romances and was the woman chosen to direct the movie after changing the initial plan of picking Darren Aronofsky as the director.

Overall, the soundtrack is well placed between those beautiful mountains in North Carolina and the historical aspects of the 1920’s captured some of my attention but when it comes to the main plot there were some serious flaws. The story is predictable… I felt a lack of empathy during the movie and I think that the movie’s pace is a bit irregular with more attention given to arguments than to the really interesting details. Thanks to dynamic duo, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, Serena ends up being not impressive at all. Again moviegoers have a chance to see this two great actors shining together on the screen, just like they did before, but with a story far from being good.

See it in: IMAX | Dolby ATMOS | 3D Theaters | 2D Theaters | Rental

★½

Nightcrawler (2014)

nightcrawler

  • Directed by: Dan Gilroy
  • With:Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton
  • 117 Minutes

Nightcrawler was a defying experience that I enjoyed so badly I couldn’t help but smile when it was all over… A thrilling journey through the world of journalism that shows how the city shines brightest at night…”

Nightcrawler is one hell of a movie and I can’t find the right words to express how much I enjoyed it… The arrogance, the cruelness and the style of Louis Cooper define one of the most intriguing movies I’ve seen this year. By one side, we have a weird guy who’s unemployed and who suddenly finds a way to win money by becoming a crime journalist fascinated with the evilness surrounding each crime scene and by the other we have a look on the ethics of journalism which gives us a clear picture of how things might work just to maximize ratings. The two situations match perfectly and with Jake Gyllenhaal added to the picture there’s no way for you to feel indifferent about this movie.

Unemployed and without any means to earn some money, Louis Cooper (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds lady luck in a crash when he notices a guy filming the incident with the objective to sell the news to any interested TV network. Jake decides to learn some things about the world of journalism and he decides to buy a camera in order to start his first business. His first attempts weren’t going that well but I must say I laughed really hard with his effort… Because, let’s face it, filming conversations between policeman and drivers is not quality material to sell. After a couple more attempts, Louis finds again lady luck when he captures a great image of a victim of a crash, which he decides to sell to one local network and that’s when he meets the woman who is going to change his life forever… Nina. As a TV-news veteran, she sees lots of potential in Louis’ work and decides to take advantage of that fact to increase the ratings with shocking news. However, what would seem like the beginning of another partnership between a TV network and a freelancer ends up being the revelation of a passion for crime and investigation that will change Louis behavior forever.

The whole movie is centered in Gyllenhaal’s performance, which is great since he has done an amazing job with a really complex character. There’s no happiness or sadness in his eyes… It’s like we’re watching a senseless human being taking advantage of other people’s misfortunes to reach his goals. Watch Nightcrawler it’s like witnessing the rise of a sociopath who sees no rules and no limits for his new job. Capable of preforming crazy and not ethic acts, Louis wants to be in control of every single situation which places him in a messy place since a freelancer has to deal with lots of competition that he has no regrets to take down. However when the business starts going really well, it’s interesting to see the way Louis deals with the difficulties… He starts changing crime scenes to obtain the best possible footage and I becomes obsessed with the idea of creating the best possible news by following tips he searched online. With the help of his sidekick who is probably the most ingenious person I’ve ever seen, Louis travels through the world of crime and starts winning lots of money until one night, he arrives before the cops to a house where a triple murder happened and by breaking in he is able to film everything, from the criminals to the victims. From this point, Nightcrawler starts focusing more on the investigation instead of giving attention to Louis’ journalistic skills. With the help of Nina, Louis almost achieves the top of the world and it’s funny to see his path from the bottom to the top. Nina and Louis are basically only care about ratings and great news and are constantly forgetting the ethics surrounding the subjects, so they are an interesting combination that contributes positively to the story.

Gyllenhaal’s performance is amazing in every sense of the word and he was capable to make Nightcrawler look like a one man show. The way he represents a sociopath who looks at no means to achieve his goals is almost unbelievable. His character is constantly intriguing and it’s always ready to surprise the viewer with another shocking thing. As for the rest of the cast, they all did good jobs… Rene Russo as Nina was ruthless woman who simply wanted to increase the ratings, without caring about the ethics and people’s thoughts. For her, if it was legal to broadcast the footages, everything was fine. With these two characters, the movie got me so badly… My eyes were stuck on the screen and I couldn’t help but notice the ridiculousness of all the things that were happening there. The way their deals were made, the lack of feelings and the clear interest Louis had for crime made me enjoy everything even more than I was expecting. Nightcrawler is amazing from the beginning to the end, with a very characteristic style and pace that is constantly changing which kind of makes everything look a bit more dynamic.

For the fans of dark stories and for those who like intriguing thrillers, Nightcrawler is innovative and powerful. A movie that could easily become a great Halloween pick for the way the story evolves, from a sad beginning to a twisted ending, with a great soundtrack and an amazing performance by Jake Gyllenhaal (damn this was really a one-man show). Surprising, effective and dark, Nightcrawler is an interesting movie that represents in its own way and style, the world of journalism nowadays. Crazy, addictive and capable of impress its viewers, Nightcrawler deserves to be seen.

See it in: IMAX | Dolby ATMOS | 3D Theaters | 2D Theaters | Rental

★★★★½

Adam Lester.

Giving both the right and wrong answer.

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