Movie Hopping Reviews

Sunday evenings are a great time to go to the movie theater. Why? Because when your social life isn’t as active as you’d like it to be, movies are a way to great escape before the weekend ends. This past weekend, I was able to combine three of my favorite things: a movie, another movie and one more movie. This was possible because I finished all of my exams which left me with a lot of time on my hands. If you soon find yourself done with consecutive test-taking, celebrate with the consecutive movie-watching of these three, highly-anticipated blockbuster hits.

By Nancy Huang

Burnt

Starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, Burnt is a food-laden, fast-paced restaurant thriller. Cooper plays Adam Jones, a highly-trained chef who ruined his chances to get famous when he developed a drug addiction and acted out at all his peers in Paris. Newly sober and thirsting for redemption that comes in the form of running a triple-Michelin star restaurant, he goes to London and convinces his old colleague/enemy Tony (Daniel Bruhl) to let him cook in his restaurant. A high-stakes deal is struck: as long as Jones is able to stay sober, Tony will allow him to stay.

Jones, determined to get that third star, assembles a crack team of sous chefs and cooks, picking the most talented in London. Of those people is Helena (Sienna Miller), a struggling single mom who cranks out beautiful pasta and updates Jones’ kitchen with modern appliances. The restaurant gets off to a shaky start, and throughout the movie the audiences’ entertainment hinges on the expectation that Jones and his team will get that third star, because Jones plays the classic underdog: brilliant but misunderstood.

There are a lot of subplots, too: Jones’ rivalry with fellow chef and former friend Reese (Matthew Rhys), Jones’ past coming to haunt him, Tony’s feelings for Jones, Jones’ feelings for Helena, Jones’ feelings for another woman, Jones’ diva attitude and raging temper in the kitchen.His obsession with flawlessness in every dish — meat cooked to perfection within the second, vegetables measured and cut with militaristic accuracy — makes him a visionary to work with, but also a villain.

Out of 5 stars, Burnt deserves a 3. The movie is piled with an amazing cast and brilliantly acted, but the addict plot is predictable and ultimately doesn’t really resolve anything. The cinematography is amazing — almost half the movie is just Cooper plating delicious-looking meats and vegetables on white plates in a fast, whip-like blur — but the scenes lack dialogue with emotion. Whenever anyone speaks, it’s to move the plot forward, provide exposition, or describe a recipe.

Burnt is entertaining enough, and Bradley Cooper plays the part of a stressed-out perfectionist well, but make sure you have food sitting next to you when you watch this film. This movie will give you the munchies.

Spectre

Daniel Craig’s penultimate Bond film, Spectre is a lethal combination of brute-but-clean violence, fast-paced storytelling, and philosophical questions about democracy. Fresh from the events after Skyfall when Bond swears allegiance to a new, unauthorized mission it ends in a fiasco, and the new head of the secret intelligence service, M (Ralph Fiennes) reprimands him, tells him he’s grounded like an indignant father (verbatim: “I have no choice but to ground you”), and informs Bond that he has now provided world governments the perfect ammunition to cut the double-0 program.

Of course, Bond shrugs this off and does what he always does: whatever the hell he wants. With the help of M’s secretary, Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) and intelligence researcher, Q (Ben Wishaw), he continues tracking a villainous terrorist organization, a journey that takes him to Rome, Austria, and Tangier.

Bond hops countries, seduces women, crashes his car, and ultimately meets the main villain of the movie: Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), a brother-figure from his shadowy past. Oberhauser is the leader of Spectre, an underground criminal organization spanning several countries and loyalties, plotting terrorist attacks and human trafficking markets.

While tracing Spectre, 007 meets Dr. Madeleine Swann.Together they travel and try to find out what Spectre’s next move is. Bond, predictably, is immediately drawn to Swann as a love interest, but initially she refuses his advances. Despite that, it’s clear that they hit it off very well, and she is his complete equal: able to hold her own and take care of herself with the kind of ruthless independence that Bond is typically known for.

Out of all of Craig’s other Bond films, what is striking is that for once, Bond actual depends on other people for help.

Throughout the movie, bond's acquaintances act as his sidekicks, even when he’s halfway around the world. They track his location, lie for him, provide him with necessary information, and stay fiercely loyal to him. Bond, in a sense, has a team behind him--people he trusts, colleagues that are more friends than coworkers. Bond & Co. are the superhero team you never knew you wanted until now.

Out of 5 stars, Spectre deserves a 4. It may not be as big of a blockbuster hit as Skyfall, but it’s still worth watching to catch multiple fascinating villains, Lea Seydoux kicking ass, and Bond actually having friends for once.

Our Brand is Crisis

Starring Sandra Bullock as “Calamity Jane” Bodine and Billy Bob Thornton as Pat Candy, Our Brand is Crisis is a political comedy-satire that delves into the behind-the-scenes theater act of presidential elections, the morality of puppet governments and how easily susceptible the public are to mass media. After four disastrous losses in the political game, political campaign strategist Jane Bodine (Bullock) has retired, gone completely sober and subsists completely on herbal recipes and a Zen mindset. She is dragged back into the chaos by Nell (Ann Dowd) and Ben (Anthony Mackie), Greenberg Carville Shrum (GSC) workers who are trying to make self-made millionaire and experienced politician Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) the new president of Bolivia, a country full of political unrest.

Bodine takes the job offer after learning that her rival who had beaten her in the last four elections, Pat Candy (Thornton), is running the opposing campaign for Rivera. The two regularly deuce it out throughout the movie: Their back-and-forth is hilarious, infuriating and thrumming with sexual tension on Candy’s part. The striking thing about this movie is that its protagonist, Bodine, is not a likeable figure but an admirable one. The same could be said for every character in this film. Nobody is on the right side, and nobody is altruistic enough to see how corrupt they are, trying to cheat the system. Bullock is fantastic at playing a selfish, arrogant and sometimes needlessly cruel strategist. She never truly sheds her cynicism, except perhaps at the end, when she is given a shot at redemption. When Eddie becomes disappointed, Bodine tells him the truth about her job: although she can make someone a president, she can’t make them a good man. Another remarkable thing about this film is that all the men immediately default to trusting her judgement and leadership, a rare thing in politics.


Out of 5 stars, Our Brand is Crisis deserves a 3.5. The movie is funny, smart and trusts its audience to work out the complexities and corruption of politically-staged elections. Bullock is a star, and the dialogue keeps the movie realistic and entertaining.