Netflix Review: Philip Seymour Hoffman transforms into “Capote”

There are great performances and there are performances where an actor completely becomes their character. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Truman Capote was exactly that. Capote can be so easily caricatured and difficult to seriously imitate convincingly. Hoffman’s portrayal of Capote was not over the top, and more importantly, human. However, he wasn’t the only one to do this in “Capote.”

There’s this one guy that you may have seen in past movies, enjoyed his role but then forgot about him once the movie was over. His name is Clifton Collins Jr. He disappears into his roles consistently and he hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention as he deserves. In “Capote”, he plays Perry Smith who felt so unstable and unpredictable that I found myself feeling both sympathy for him and fear for Capote’s safety. That sounds simple, but seriously, it’s hard to emanate two conflicting natures in a character with few words.

I was especially interested in Nelle Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Harper Lee and Capote were childhood friends, so I was curious to see how their characters got along together in “Capote.” Catherine Keener played Lee and it was exactly how I imagined it. Keener wasn’t over-dramatic and her chemistry with Hoffman fed the childhood friends vibe.

One last thing I liked was the movie’s focus. Often, stories either put the focus in the right place or just completely lack one. “Capote” had a target and kept to it. Truman Capote sums it up saying “It’s the hardest when someone has a notion about you and it’s impossible to convince them otherwise.” This was true even for Capote with his own notions about Perry Smith. It was a well done film about judgement, sympathy, reflection, and guilt.

“Sleeping With The Enemy” Has You Looking Over Your Shoulder


I started this movie with low expectations even though Julia Roberts was the star of the film. It didn’t take me long to realize how much of a fool I really was. Very little needed to happen to make me paranoid as the story progressed.

Julia Roberts plays Laura Burney who’s husband, Martin Burney played by Patrick Bergin, is possessive and abusive. To make things worse, he has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder giving his temper more of a hair trigger than the average angry Joe. Laura goes through with an elaborate plan to disappear from Martin and start fresh far away from him. However, we can all predict that the story does not end with her running away.

Julia Roberts, as usual, plays her part very convincingly and you won’t be able to help but feel paranoid for her. Surprisingly, the little known actor, Patrick Bergin steals the show in this movie. You’ll find yourself both absolutely hating this guy and completely terrified of him. My favorite type of creepy is calm and quiet while still intimidating. In this aspect, Bergin definitely knows what he’s doing. Along with this, the fact that few would be familiar with him makes his role much easier to believe.

If you’re bored and looking for a movie to pass the time, I would recommend watching this movie. It’s just plain and simple fun.

A Reviewer Makes a Movie

I know we are advertised as reviewers, but I felt the urge to share with you my latest creation. I am a slightly paranoid fellow and once my dad left his keys in the unlocked front door for me to find at 3 in the morning a few years ago, I’m never sure about the door being locked. I figure that if my dad is that forgetful, I’ve got a good chance that my ADHD mind will be just as forgetful.

As my past posts may have suggested, I am in love with the horror genre. So it is no surprise that my short film will lean toward that type of mood. I am most certainly still a novice when it comes to making a seamless and compelling piece of cinematic fiction, but I like to think that practice makes perfect.

To be honest, I’m just always excited to show off my progress in my favorite activity which I hope to one day have a career in. I am, of course, eager to share it with readers here on WordPress because I have been greeted with a constructive and warm audience. I would love to hear what you guys have to say about this. I am always open for advice.

Sequels Sometimes A Bad Thing

I wanted to vent about the problem with sequels. We get excited when we find out an awesome movie’s story is going to be continued in a sequel, but, more often than not, we leave the theater feeling disappointed. If the sequel is not disappointing, it may spawn a franchise which just starts to get more annoying as it grows bigger and bigger.

After posting my review of Scream, I watched the next two movies in the series and only found myself wanting to watch the first one again. Watching the Scream 3 especially made me miss the characters from the original. Yes, Scream 2 and Scream 3  add interesting storylines to the series, especially the third one, but I can’t help but think the original would have been just fine as a standalone film. Some things don’t need to be answered and just left up for discussion amongst the audience.

The Saw franchise is a perfect example of this. As the director, James Wan, points out, there was minimal gore in the first one with a focus on the plot and the way it was presented to create the high tension a viewer feels when first watching the movie. It was original and thought provoking. The sequels only seemed to try and repeat what the first had done and that’s an impossible feat for any sequel. Like Scream, it was a refreshing, new, instant classic that was fine as a standalone film.

While there are some sequels that became rare exceptions, most filmmakers should consider taking the short story approach to their movies: leave some questions unanswered. Some questions in the original go unanswered because only the most talented writers can answer those questions well. Even so, a movie is much more interesting with questions left to be answered by the viewer.

Scream Has What Modern Horror Movies Lack

Most horror movies these days are either remakes, sequels or movies made solely to cash in on the Halloween-Scary-Movie craze every year. Scream is an original story with a vibe of excitement and reverence for the history of the horror genre and it’s hard not to start feeding off of that vibe.

Scream is directed by the legend Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, whose love for the classics surfaces in the references to Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and more in the dialogue. While most movies these days, and even 17 years ago, were making the killer some unstoppable force, Williamson made the source of murder in Scream memorable with the way they behaved. He made them creepy, clever and someone you may find yourself liking by the end.

While I won’t give away who is responsible for the blood and mayhem of Scream I will say that they’re probably my favorite of any slasher film killer I’ve seen. Their phone calls, especially to their first victim, are just classic. They love terrorizing their victims emotionally just as much as they do physically. They’re much more interesting to watch than a quiet, superhuman Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Their reveal at the end is just a perfectly executed moment.

While Neve Campbell plays a great protagonist in Sidney Prescott, her supporting cast gets more of my praise, especially Jamie Kennedy as Randy Meeks. When he discusses who the killer may be in the video-rental store while using past horror movies as reasoning, I am hooked the entire time. Kennedy’s acting in this scene is so entertaining and is topped off with his yelling, “Everyone is a suspect!” in the middle of the store.

I demand that you watch this movie for Halloween.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Luke Glanton and Avery Cross (played by Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper respectively) live on opposite sides of the law in this well written drama centered around love, loss, and lineage.

The Place Beyond the Pines is one of the better movies I have seen in the past year. I’m not going to give away any main plot points in my review because this movie is a solid original screenplay about two men whose paths cross in an incredibly shocking way and the ripple effect it has on those around them. This movie draws you in and keeps you guessing throughout.

When Luke Glanton, a motorcycle stunt rider in a traveling carnival, finds out he has a son, he decides it’s his responsibility to take care of him. Glanton leaves his life as a stunt rider and gets a job at an auto shop. Shortly after, he goes on a spree of bank robberies with his boss throughout the town of Schenectady, New York, in which he uses his motorcycle as his getaway vehicle.

Avery Cross is a first year Schenectady police officer with a law degree and plans to rise fast through the ranks of the department. Cross is out on patrol when he sees Glanton, now dubbed “The Moto-Bandit,” fleeing the scene of his most recent bank robbery. When the two meet, it changes both of their lives along with the lives of those closest to them, for the worse.

the Place Beyond the Pines is a great example of a movie that they just got right. It appeals to most audiences because it has a little bit of everything: guns, drama, high-speed chases, drugs, love, revenge and corruption. . If you have 2 hours and 20 minutes to spare, I highly recommend this one.

End of Watch

When you’re pulled over for a speeding ticket, all you feel toward a cop is some form of anxiety. It’s hard to take your focus away from getting a ticket and realize that this cop is just another human being doing their job. That’s one of the great things about End of Watch. It brings you a newfound respect for the life of a cop.

The story is presented in a partially “found footage” style filmed by Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Brian Taylor, and his partner, Mike Zavala, played by Michael Pena. These guys are why you should watch the movie. Gyllenhaal and Pena have such a chemistry together that I wouldn’t be surprised if some of their conversations were improvised.

While Gyllenhaal is consistently great in his performances, Pena is the one you should take note of. He’s not in the limelight like Gyllenhaal, but he should be. He shows that it doesn’t take explosive emotional scenes for an actor to make you remember them.

As you progress through the story, you come to really care about these two characters and their loved ones. Knowing what Taylor and Zavala are exposed to every day, you can’t help but start to predict that the good in their lives can’t last. Even when they aren’t trying to find trouble on the job, they are discovering more blood and more emotional trauma to add to their lives. The attachment you have with Taylor and Zavala is much more apparent at the end of the movie when you find yourself feeling the way their wives may be feeling.

The only problem I had with the movie is the confusion I got when they used the “found footage” style filming with characters other than Taylor.

Be prepared to get emotional watching this.


Clerks is for all the people out there who spend a good portion of their days working at a job where they’re barely appreciated. You guys will easily relate to the life of Dante, the main character. You understand to the frustration of dealing with difficult customers, getting called in to work on your days off and those especially bad days where nothing seems to go right. For anyone else who hasn’t enjoyed a career in fast food or convenience stores, this movie gives you a better understanding of the other side of the counter.

This is one of the very first movies made by Kevin Smith and, at times, it shows that he is still developing his skills. At times, the camera is made to behave like the eyes of someone who’s there watching as the current situation goes down, but the back and forth movements of the camera between characters becomes distracting. This choice works in one scene where Dante is arguing with his girlfriend near the end of the movie as the movement was frantic and made the scene feel funnier than it would without the movement.

This movie was also filmed on a low budget which was also easy to guess. That comes with the territory when you’re early on in your career, though, and Smith definitely got his money’s worth. For the most part, the acting was great, but the dialogue was perfect. You find yourself so in to the sometimes disgusting things they’re talking about that you almost find yourself replying to the characters.

Clerks shows you that there is a non-romantic part of the world where people are imperfect, weird and normal.

Movies Are Meant to be Enjoyed

These days, too many people are finding every flaw they can in the movies they watch. They pick apart the logic and they steal away our enjoyment of the movie.

What happened to suspension of disbelief? What happened to reverting to your childhood-caliber imagination when you are told a story?

I think a lot of people have forgotten what the point of movies is. The point is not to accurately imitate life to the detail, it’s to take you away from your everyday life and introduce you to something new. The creative minds behind a movie are allowing you to indirectly become intimate with them. They’re letting you enter their minds for a brief two hours so they can share with you something they are so proud of that it’s being shared with millions.

Sure, if the movie wasn’t very enjoyable, that’s one thing. No one’s going to like every movie they watch, but actively searching for holes in logic or plot is pointless and depressing.

I want to make it clear right now that no one automatically becomes an expert on film by nitpicking a movie.

I do not claim to be an expert myself, but I know that a large number of people like me who just want to kick back, relax, and be distracted from everyday life for at least a couple of hours every once in a while. Here at Reviews from an Undergrad, we plan on providing you with as many opportunities to do that as possible.

Personally, I also like to voice my feelings on a movie with other people and I am eager to hear feedback from readers over the movies we review and just bounce opinions off each other in the comments. Movie suggestions are also encouraged.