The Best Offer Is One Of 2014’s Best New Movies

Courtesy:  IFC Films

Courtesy: IFC Films

IFC Films’ new drama The Best Offer is one of the most original stories to be released this year. The movie, which stars Geoffrey Rush (The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, The King’s Speech) and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games, The Dirty Dozen, Backdraft) sees Rush as a devious art appraiser and auctioneer. The film, which was written and directed by legendary director Giuseppe Tornatore, is another masterful work from a master filmmaker. In an era in which Hollywwood’s major studios are relying almost one hundred percent on prequels, sequels and remakes to bring audiences into theaters, Tornatore has crafted a work that is original. That is the foundation of why any true movie buff should take the time to see this movie at least once. The original script is the foundation of this film’s success. Resting comfortably on that originality is the story’s pacing…at least to a point. Rounding things out for the reasons for the movie’s overall success is the acting on the part of the cast. Rush is the true star of the story. Though co-star Sylvia Hoeks deserves her own kudos for a job well done, too. The pair’s acting will keep viewers mesmerized through the course of the movie’s near two and a half hour run time. All things considered, this drama proves to be one of the year’s most original works and one of the year’s best movies overall.

The Best Offer is more than deserving of being called not just one of the most original works, but also one of the best movies of the year. The very first reason for this is the story’s originality. It is not a prequel. It is not a sequel. And it is not a remake. On another level, it isn’t even another of the seemingly countless overly embellished movies based on actual events. It is an original drama centered on an art appraiser and auctioneer named Virgil Oldman (Rush) who has spent the better part of his life secretly deceiving others. Writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore deserves a standing ovation for having crafted the story. That’s because every time that viewers think they have everything figured out, Tornatore throws in a twist that leaves them guessing in the best way possible. Not to reveal too much for the sake of those who have yet to see this masterwork, but by the story’s final minutes, audiences will find themselves torn as to how to feel about what happens to Virgil. The only downside to the entire story is that (again not to reveal too much) it could easily have been shortened. And that leads to the next aspect of The Best Offer worth discussing. That aspect is the story’s pacing.

The run time on The Best Offer just barely tops the two hour mark. To be more precise, it comes in at roughly two hours and eleven minutes long. Over the course of that two-hour plus mark, Tornatore manages to keep the story’s pace relatively solid. At least that is to a point. It would have been so easy to let this story drag considering everything that occurs throughout the story in terms of character development and relationships. But much as with fellow legendary director Martin Scorsese, Tornatore manages to make that run time pass by almost effortlessly. The only time that the pacing suffers is the movie’s final act. It suffers because again as audiences will see, that final sequence is unnecessary. Other than that though, the movie’s overall pacing is spot on and will keep viewers fully engaged. To that extent, the story’s overall pacing becomes another positive to the presentation. It’s flanked by one final positive—the acting on the part of the entire cast.

Writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore’s original script and the story’s pacing both play important roles in the overall success of The Best Offer. The very fact that this movie is neither a prequel nor a sequel, and not even a remake or a piece based on actual events is a major plus. That instantly pulls in any viewer looking for something original. The story’s pacing helps keep viewers engaged. The acting on the part of the cast—specifically that of co-stars Geoffrey Rush and Sylvia Hoeks—makes this work even more worth the watch. Rush breezes through the story. He makes viewers believe in Virgil’s growth, thus leading viewers to be so torn at his final outcome. On the other hand, Hoeks is just as believable as the rather emotionally unstable Claire. There is such chemistry between the pair. It’s obvious considering the believability of the character development between the pair as its relationship grows. That development is another part of what makes the story’s final outcome so surprising in turn leaving viewers torn in the absolutely best way. That feeling of being torn will lead to quite a bit of discussion. And that it could generate more discussion than any major motion picture just goes to prove once more why The Best Offer is one of the best independent movies of 2014 and one of the best movies of 2014 overall.

The Best Offer is available now on DVD in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Best-Offer-Geoffrey-Rush/dp/B00GS08Y3Q/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1400892448&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Best+Offer. More information on this and other releases from IFC Films is available online at http://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial and http://www.IFCFilms.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Thank Goodness For This House

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

While it may not be the most original of stories, House at the End of the Street is a story that will keep audiences watching right to its conclusion.  That is thanks in large part to scriptwriters David Loucka and Jonathan Mostow.  What Loucka and Mostow have done with House at the End of the Street is taken a time honored story and updated it for a new generation.  There’s no denying that as predictable as it is, it does do an impressive job of keeping audiences’ attention.  It does this by throwing in just enough plot twists to keep audiences thinking they know what’s going on, only to have their minds twisted.  As the near two-hour story proceeds, audiences find that everything they thought they knew was wrong.  That even applies to the story’s conclusion.  Loucka and Mostow leaving audiences guessing right up to the end, wondering about Ryan (Max Theriot) and his sister, Carrie Ann.

Perhaps part of the reason that the story manages to keep audiences engaged and wondering–as predicatable as it seems–is that unlike so many movies in today’s horror/suspense/thriller genre, it doesn’t rely on blood and gore to call itself a horror.  It’s really more of a psychological horror in the vein of classic Hitchcock and King stories.  Audiences get a slightly better understanding of this in watching the movie’s sole bonus feature, “Journey Into Terror: Inside House at the End of the Street.”  Star Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) makes a brief mention of this.  But it isn’t until she makes mention of it that audiences might catch onto it.  As the old adage states, hindsight is 20/20.  And in an era when so many horror movies are more bloodshed than story, it’s nice to have a movie within the genre that takes the road less travelled.  It’s that same road hat any true horror purist will want to watch at least once.

House at the End of the Street is available now in stores and online.  It can be purchased online at the 20th Century Fox online store, http://www.foxconnect.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Hunger Games Will Feed Any Movie Lover’s “Appetite”

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The Hunger Games is quite the interesting work.  It’s one more work that has greatly divided audiences.  It’s one of those movies which audiences and critics alike have either loved or hated.  It has been most closely compared to the Japanese flick, Battle Royale (2000).  But in its deepest roots, The Hunger Games lifts very liberally from Greek mythology.  Keeping this in mind, it would be wrong for any one person to come down on the movie for essentially telling an updated version of that story.  So many of modern Hollywood’s most well known movies have been little more than liftings from classic Shakespeare plays.  This being the case, a more fair way to analyze The Hunger Games would be to look at it purely from a standpoint of film making, rather than storytelling alone.

On the positive side, once the movie does get going, the action sequences in the battle are more than enough to keep audiences’ attention.  The backdrop of North Carolina’s Henry River Mill Village and the DuPont State Park made for quite the contradiction to the dystopian world of The Hunger Games.  Here are these young combatants fighting for their own survival in a violent and bloody contest.  Yet all around them is what would otherwise be an entirely peaceful and serene setting.  The juxtaposition of the two is really quite interesting 

On a more mixed positive and negative side, the writing on which The Hunger Games is based is problematic, but very good in its own right.  The downside to the story’s writing is that it does take far too long in leading up to the actual competition.  The actual back story and setup takes at least an hour, if not more, of the movie’s near three hour run time.  Most of that time is spent focusing on the pomp and circumstance around the Hunger Games’ opening ceremony and Katniss’ own personal drama.  A good portion of all the pomp and circumstance could have been cut out, saving a least half an hour. 

The positive side to the writing for this script is that while it does spend an inordinate amount of time on back story, the story itself is one that is entirely relatable today.  Having the “games” televised the country over hints at our country’s growing love affair with reality television and with violence on television.  In relation, audiences’ blood lust could be argued to be pointed out here, too.  Forcing young adults into the games could be argued to be linked to America’s obsession with youth.  Except in this case, that obsession is twisted to say the least.  One could also argue that what The Hunger Games does is it points out young adults’ increasing exposure to high levels of violence in the media today, and the resultant desensitization to said violence, and the consequences therein.

Whether for its beautiful scenery or for its messages (intended or not), The Hunger games has a lot going for it.  Yes it does get off to a rather slow start.  But looking at it from a much deeper, more analytical vantage point, it has the ability to create so many discussions.  That alone is the sign of a very good movie.  And The Hunger Games is just that; a good movie.

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