My Review: Boyhood (10/10)

"You don't want the bumpers, life doesn't give you bumpers."

Anyone who has read my reviews in the past will know that I have a soft spot for coming of age films, and Boyhood has just become one of my favorite films in this genre. I haven't seen any other film that captures life as authentically as Richard Linklater's Boyhood does as we literally see these characters grow up right before our eyes during the course of 12 years. You know how we're always saying that life goes by so fast and that it only felt like yesterday we were graduating from school? Well Boyhood is an excellent example of this, as we see the journey of this 6 year old boy as he begins school and we follow him for 12 years until he graduates from High School. Linklater filmed short scenes with the same actors during the course of 12 years and later edited them together to create this masterpiece which consists of well developed characters and a powerful narrative that is beautifully paced. You never really feel its two and a half hours because the narrative captures you from the very opening scene. It is a unique experience for the audience because we get to witness the passage of time for this family and become attached to them. It genuinely captures the moments in the life of this family as the mother struggles to raise her two children on her own while she goes through a couple of unsuccessful marriages leaving marks on her and her children, but it does so in such a way that it never hits a false note and always feels authentic and true to life. It could easily have entered into familiar territory, but it never does because the film avoids cliches and relies heavily on Richard Linklater's brilliant script (which deserves at least an Academy Award nomination). Boyhood is one of those rare unique films that inspires and reminds you to enjoy every moment of life. It's an experimental movie that will be difficult to match due to the monumental effort it took to direct a film like this for more than a decade, but it really pays off and becomes a rewarding experience. A film that captures the essence of life as well as this only comes in extremely rare occasions so this is one you won't want to miss. We will hear a lot about Boyhood during Award season. 

Richard Linklater has made another splash in film history adding to an already rich legacy after his experimental work with the romantic Before trilogy. Teaming up with Ethan Hawke once again, Linklater allows us to witness another cinematic achievement, although the true star of this film is newcomer Ellar Coltrane who grows as an actor right before our eyes and shines on screen. The soundtrack also plays a key role in this film and Linklater knows a thing or two about music. The way in which he incorporated it during each stage of life was moving and only added to the underlying message Linklater was getting across of art imitating life. We see this through Coltrane's performance as he grows up, falls in and out of love, feels joy and despair, while friends come and go in and out of his life. While we visually experience how quick times passes through the physical changes in the children, it is in a late scene where Patricia Arquette is having a conversation with her son that we truly understand the emotional impact that the passage of time takes on us and how these moments sometimes become just a blink. Linklater's dedication for this film really pays off and it is such a rewarding experience for the viewer. This is my first 5 star review for a 2014 film and it will be very hard for another film to equal this experience. Richard Linklater has directed several great films, but I think Boyhood is his best and most complete film because it reaches out and touches audiences everywhere. It is a universal film with universal themes. It is the purest example of art imitating life. It reminds us to stop for a moment and remember that life isn't just about getting to our destination, but more about enjoying the journey and living the moment. Boyhood is an exceptional and groundbreaking film, a must see, and a modern classic.


My Review: Draft Day (6/10)

"How is it that the ultimate prize in the most macho sport invented is a piece of jewelry?"

Draft Day seems like a film aimed towards a specific target audience considering it takes place during one of the most important days for NFL fans. However, it actually spells out everything in such detail (Cleveland home of the Browns, and so on) that it seems its trying to attract audiences who aren't really familiar with the NFL draft or what it all means. Why they decided to take this approach I don't know. Perhaps they were aiming to attract Kevin Costner fans around the globe and hoping that the American Football theme wouldn't be too heavy handed. That explains why the screenwriters tried to introduce familiar dramatic elements such as giving Costner a love interest and having him go through the struggle of dealing with the loss of his father a few days ago. I wish they would have focused this exclusively to NFL fans and didn't spend so much time trying to spell out the rules of the league in order to attract a wider audience. I mean why go through all the trouble of acquiring the rights to use the NFL franchise players and names if you are later going to aim it towards a wider audience that may not know the difference. As a follower of the NFL I would have enjoyed it if they didn't spell everything out, but it was just a minor issue I had with this enjoyable film. Despite not liking the subplot surrounding Costner's character and his relationship with Jennifer Garner's Ali, I really enjoyed the premise revolving around the draft and the tension created as the clock was winding down and a decision had to be made. I think I'm just a bit biased towards sport movies, but I actually had a good time with this film despite all its major flaws. 

Kevin Costner comes through in his role as his character has to come to a crossroad in his professional and personal life in less than 24 hours. His charisma comes through and saves a premise that may turn viewers off. With a stronger subplot this film could have been great, but it was just too generic and predictable. Jennifer Garner's character had no depth and she could have been given a stronger role. The film basically relies on Costner's lead performance and he manages to make this movie enjoyable enough for a mild recommendation. The few attempts at comedy involving the intern (played by Griffin Newman) also failed. Draft Day may not rank amongst director Ivan Reitman's best work, but it is an improvement from his recent films. Don't get me wrong, this isn't the football version of Moneyball, it isn't even close, but it's still a small enjoyable film and an opportunity for Kevin Costner fans to see him shine again in a sport film (with which he's had success in the past). Reitman overuses some technical shots at times, like the split screens which had a novel feel to them at first but he repeats them over and over again. The build up surrounding the events of the draft is very intriguing, but the subplot involving the family drama is what pulls Draft Day down. 


My Review: 20 Feet From Stardom (7/10)

"Their songs are legendary, but they are 20 feet from stardom"

If someone were to ask you if you know who Merry Clayton, Darlene Love, Claudia Lennear, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, or Judith Hill are you would probably have no clue, but I can guarantee you that you have heard their voices and hummed their music many times (and if you are too young to recall these songs, I guarantee you that the artists you listen to now have been highly influenced by their music). These talented ladies have spent most their lives singing in the background for such talented artists as Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Ray, Michael Jackson, and so on. Director, Morgan Neville, gives these ladies the opportunity to finally take center stage and share their testimonies and experiences with the audience in this fascinating and engaging documentary. There is just something uplifting about being able to listen to what they have to say and finally receiving some credit for their major contribution in helping shape music across the globe (beginning in the 50's with the Motown revolution). They may have never made it as leading singers, but the passion these women have for music transcends the camera and listening to their testimonies almost becomes a religious experience in itself. The film has some compelling interviews and uses archives really well to set the tone and take us through a history lesson in music. I also enjoyed the interviews with the famous artists like Stevie Wonder, Sting, and Mick Jagger who spoke very fondly of these women who have played an instrumental part in their music. It is hard to resist a documentary like this with such uplifting music.

Getting to hear the testimonies of some of these talented ladies was probably the highlight of this documentary, although at times some of the interviews really didn't seem to be going anywhere. At other times they raised questions that they sort of left out in the air and only scratched the surface instead of delving deep. The documentary was a bit uneven in that sense, but every time I thought I was going to get irritated by it, the music and the passion these people have for it brought me right back in. I can see how this film attracted Academy voters as it won for best documentary feature, but by no means do I think it was the best documentary of the year. It is good to give these ladies credit for their contribution to the music industry, but the documentary never feels groundbreaking. After Searching for Sugarman's Oscar win last year, this marks the second year in a row in which a music themed documentary wins the Academy's votes, and there has sort of been a shift in the voters from political themes aiming towards the artistic side.  It was an entertaining and uplifting documentary and I am glad I got to know a little more about these women and understand the passion they share for music. The 90 minute documentary succeeds in giving these ladies a voice of their own and making the audience appreciate the work and sacrifice it takes to be a backup singer. 


My Review: Stuart: A Life Backwards (7/10)

"My name is Psycho but you can call me Stuart if you want."

Before his breakout role in Bronson, Tom Hardy showed his true potential in a small made for TV film, Stuart A Life Backwards. He co-stared along another relatively unknown at the time, Benedict Cumberbatch (at least outside of Great Britain). These are two huge A-list actors today who have starred as villains in blockbusters like Star Trek Into Darkness and The Dark Knight Rises among many other great films. So I was immediately attracted to this film when I heard it starred these two actors. It is a biography of a troubled alcoholic and homeless man named Stuart(Tom Hardy) who establishes a friendship with a writer and charity worker named Alexander (Benedict Cumberbatch). We've seen these dramatic films exploring similar issues of unlikely friendships done before, but Stuart gives it a unique twist by telling the story beginning from the back. Because lets face it when we first meet someone like Stuart we are shocked at their current condition and we take little time to try to figure out what may have caused this strange behavior. We see who the person is at the present and by establishing a relationship we slowly begin to uncover things about their past, and that is exactly how Alexander presents Stuart to the audience. Stuart is a rather unconventional character, and Tom Hardy plays him brilliantly. He is an alcoholic who suffers from violent outbreaks. He also has suicide tendencies and suffers from muscular dystrophy which has taken its toll on him. But most of the time Stuart is a kind man with a dry sense of humor. He tells his story in a rather funny way adding a tragicomic touch to this film. Despite the strong performances from Cumberbatch and Hardy the film works mostly because of the way the film is narrated. As we learn more about Stuarts past we begin to sympathize with him and realize where he is coming from. It isn't a great film, but it is solid and it showed the true potential these lead actors had. 

The film does feel a bit rushed at times and it suffers from trying to add a lot of information in only 90 minutes, making some scenes feel chopped and forced. Director David Attwood benefits mostly from this emotional true story and these two actors, who happened to be the main attraction for me and the reason why this film is getting some distribution currently on HBO. It isn't a perfect film, but it has a masterful physical performance delivered by Hardy who was just getting warmed up for his upcoming and breakout role in Bronson. I really loved the quirky approach the film took in telling this true story (which was actually based on the successful biography written by Alexander Masters), but it's far from being a perfect and memorable film. The animated scenes that Attwood decided to introduce to tell some parts of the story were a bit disturbing and took me out of the movie at times. But every time I was let down by these scenes, Tom Hardy showed up with another impressive scene and brought me right back in. It is a masterful performance and one that shows his unique talent as an actor. I am also thankful I watched this film with subtitles because sometimes it was difficult to understand what he was mumbling about, but it was still great voice work from his part. Cumberbatch played a more restricted character, but he also has some emotional scenes near the end where he proves he's a talented actor. It is a film worth checking out if you are a fan of these actors. 


My Review: Palo Alto (4/10)

"Try not to hang around Fred."

I'm not sure what attracted me to Gia Coppola's directorial debut, Palo Alto, but I do know that 10 minutes into it I was already regretting my decision. Gia is trying to accomplish something similar to what her aunt Sofia did with Lost in Translation and Somewhere. In Palo Alto we also are introduced to the boring lives of the rich although instead of focusing on successful actors this time the focus is on High School teenagers trying to find their purpose in life. Not that I'm not interested in these explorations, because I really enjoyed Lost in Translation, but I just didn't find any of these characters interesting. The entire story seemed pointless kind of like the lives of these characters which was probably the whole point of the movie, but it simply bored and disengaged me completely. I felt like Gia was desperately trying to tell us something through the beautiful cinematography and soulless characters which were portrayed rather authentically, but it just didn't mean anything to me. I couldn't help but feel that I had seen Emma Roberts play a similar character in the past in films which I actually enjoyed more (It's Kind of a Funny Story and The Art of Getting By came to mind). Perhaps I wasn't the intended target audience, but it's hard for me to picture who they really were. I have heard some positive comments about how authentic these characters were and how well the teenagers captured that similar atmosphere they went through in High School, but it really didn't connect with me. The film seems to suffer from a slow pacing and an uneven story considering it struggles to balance the different story lines that the main characters are dealing with. I do have to give this film credit for not falling into the familiar conventions of the teenage romantic genre, but I also felt the lack of a heavier and more dramatic storyline hurt this film because it didn't seem to go anywhere at times.

Francis Ford Coppola's granddaughter, Gia, has impressed critics with her debut film, and there are several similarities with her aunt Sofia's work (which are explored through the similar cinematography and indie soundtrack). Gia not only directed this film, but she also adapted the screenplay based on James Franco's short stories so her dedication to this film was complete. The performances were also pretty strong and as I mentioned before these characters felt authentic and believable. They fight their boredom by searching for love, getting high or drunk, and partying all the time. I didn't really have a problem with the performances, but what really hurt this film was the uneven story and the lack of a tighter narrative. Many scenes felt forced and the story didn't seem to go anywhere at times. There were a lot of things that just never led anywhere. I really enjoyed Jack Kilmer's performance as Teddy, the kind teen who has a crush on April (Emma Roberts) but is too shy to express his feelings. He also seems to hang around the wrong crowd. Nat Wolff plays Fred, the self destructive teenager who is always getting his friend Teddy into trouble. Fred also has a destructive relationship with Emily (Zoe Levin) who he simply uses when he feels like it and pushes her away when not. April is also shy and torn between what she feels for Teddy and her soccer coach (played by James Franco) whose son she babysits during her free time. Franco plays himself really, but Emma Roberts has received most praise for her role. However for me the stand out was Val Kilmer's son Jack, who really proved to have depth and charisma. The performances are earnest and authentic, but the story simply doesn't go anywhere and feels incomplete. It was hard to sympathize with these shallow and overprivileged kids as well, and I haven't even mentioned the lack of a respectable adult figure in the entire film. 


My Review: Sabotage (5/10)

"Some of us are getting paid, the rest of us are just getting dead."

Two thirds through Sabotage I was actually enjoying this action film thanks to some authentic performances and a decent cast, but the final third act messed up really bad by following generic conventions and feeling a bit too choppy. I was actually enjoying the direction in which this mystery thriller was going, but somehow it lost its way in the end and simply became another familiar action film with conventional characters. The film centers on an elite DEA squad that seems believable at first considering these are undercover agents that have their own unique macho language. They are not sympathetic characters or people we would really like to meet, but somehow their behavior seemed authentic for an underground world in which they were part of. The film seems to be going into an interesting direction and I was engaged with the mystery behind the opening act, but the resolution of the film is incredibly generic and it kind of ruined the entire experience for me. David Ayer is a director whose films I have enjoyed for the most part so I really had some expectations for Sabotage despite the weak word of mouth it was receiving. I believe the failure of this film relies on the studio who decided to cut Ayer's film in order for it to follow basic generic conventions because several scenes do feel forced and chopped. Ayer's version of the film was meant to be almost 3 hours long, but this film is less than two hours long. I can't help but feel there was a much more interesting film underneath the surface despite the fact that these characters aren't people we would like to be around with for too long. End of Watch was one of my favorite films of 2012 so I was really disappointed with Sabotage despite enjoying the first half of the film. I am still looking forward to Fury and hoping the studio doesn't interfere too much with Ayer's work this time. The other thing that hurt this film was the screenplay co-written by Ayer and Skip Woods. Woods hasn't really written a satisfying screenplay, his work in A Good Day to Die Hard being an example of this claim. The film also seems to struggle with its identity whether they want to portray the characters as villains or anti-heroes. 

The film does seem to have its own unique style at first with some gruesome and bloody action sequences and an interesting mystery going on. Unfortunately the mystery doesn't have a good resolution and the twist fails to deliver any surprises. Some of the action scenes do suffer from shaky camera movements and quick edits as well. It is a gritty film, but somehow it loses its identity halfway through and erases that gritty edge Ayer was establishing at the beginning. Ayer has written some interesting films dealing with a similar subject matter in Training Day and End of Watch, but somehow this film never quite reaches that same quality. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made some decent films during his post-governor stage, and this seemed to be another one, but things got out of hand and his performance wasn't enough to save this film. Sam Worthington was almost unrecognizable in this film and the rest of the DEA team including Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard, and Mireille Enos really go out of there way to make these characters unlikable. I actually thought their risk was paying off as I was interested in the mystery involving the stolen money and how they were being eliminated one by one. These weren't your typical characters from an ordinary action film. The film really had potential to go to new places, but it ended up navigating in familiar territory and never managing to come to a satisfying or believable conclusion. This loss of identity ultimately hurt this film which  wasted its potential and gave the violence no sense of purpose whatsoever. It doesn't reward the audience either for sticking with these unlikable characters.


My Review: The Expendables 3 (5/10)

"How hard can it be to kill ten men?"

The third time is the charm, right? Wrong! By now we already know what we are going to get from an Expendables movie. We know it is going to have generic action scenes, very little going on plot wise, and a lack of character development. We've even learned not to expect much from the crowded 90's A-list cast because they are mostly all reduced to caricatures. But if you enjoyed the first two films in this franchise then you are guaranteed to enjoy this as well because it pretty much gives you what you expect. There are plenty of old school action scenes, lots of explosions, and several cheesy one-liners. The nostalgia factor is a key element to these movies, but the problem is that we have seen plenty from these actors recently with a few exceptions. The attracting thing about these films was being able to watch these guys together, but that kind of rubbed off us in the first film.  There is no novelty left and only true fans of the genre will be satisfied. The thing that The Expendables has going for it is that it knows who its target audience is and they focus on them exclusively without even attempting to reach a more mainstream audience. They give fans exactly what they want. I even think this was an improvement from the second film, despite the fact that it was overlong and it became tedious at times. The final climactic scene was also a disappointment and it really doesn't get more generic than that. Plot wise I always forget what these films are about, I can honestly not remember what they were fighting for in the first two films and I imagine I will forget everything about this film in a few days. The main attraction is getting to see these guys working together and all I remember from the second film was the cameo from Chuck Norris and that Van Damme was a satisfying villain. This third film has some interesting cameos, but there is nothing much more to it.

Expendables 3 was directed by Patrick Hughes, who directed the little known but warmly received Red Hill in 2010. The story is basically the same as the previous two films in the franchise with some new additions and a new villain. This time the Expendables have to face a former founder of the team, Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who has turned into a dangerous arm dealer. We are first introduced to Barney (Stallone) and his crew as they are freeing a former partner named Doc (played by Wesley Snipes). Together they embark on a mission to try to stop Stonebanks and along the way Barney signs up a younger crew with the recruiting help of Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammar). Other than Mel Gibson and Wesley Snipes the other new faces in this film are Antonio Banderas who plays a comical Spanish character named Galgo and Harrison Ford who has replaced Bruce Willis' Church as one of the directors who hires Barney's team. So there is a lot of testosterone in this film with scenes of these buffed up guys carrying weapons on one hand and a beer on the other. It is the ultimate definition of macho men from the 90's. It is even comical at times so I found it hard to keep a straight face, especially with all the cheesy dialogue. I did enjoy Snipes performance as I hadn't seen him in over a decade. Antonio Banderas was a bit too comical and Mel Gibson really didn't present a real threat as the villain. The film really suffers from a poor screenplay and it wastes the talented cast perhaps because there are just too many characters and so little time for a decent and engaging story. We never really care for any of these characters and I'm surprised I even remembered some of their names despite having seen them in 3 films already.


My Review: Chef (7/10)

"I may not do everything great in my life, but I'm good at this."

Oh please don't be so humble Jon Favreau, you do everything pretty much great, and you proved it once again by directing, starring, and writing this charming and feel good family film. If there were ever a time where the term food porn could be applied to a film review, this is it because everything looked so tempting and delicious. Please don't watch this film on an empty stomach because you will be tortured by every single scene where Favreau is preparing food, whether it be a complicated dish for his fancy restaurant or a plain cuban sandwich from his food truck. But this isn't just a film glorifying food, it uses this passion people have for it and metaphorically shows us how it's never late to reinvent and discover ourselves. It is quite a change of pace for Favreau whose latest films were big budget productions (Cowboys & Aliens and the first two Iron Man movies), but this small family road trip film served its purpose in its own way for Favreau to reinvent himself once again and go back to his origins. Chef was an improvement from his last two films, but I still think Iron Man and Elf are Favreau's best ones. What Chef has going for it despite a pretty simple premise is how charismatic and natural the characters are in this film. The family drama feels authentic and it's never forced like so many films in the genre are. The film takes its time to introduce each character and doesn't simply rush things to the fun parts (the road trip). It's a feel food film but one that avoids cliches and forced situations and simply takes us along for a reinventing and natural ride. 

The premise is pretty simple, but the way in which Favreau presents each character is refreshing in its own way. He is likable in the lead role despite being a flawed character who remains friends with his ex-wife (played by Sofia Vergara) and is trying to balance out his time working in a respected restaurant while trying to connect with his young son, Percy (Emjay Anthony). He seems to have lost his creative freedom and is restrained by the owner (Dustin Hoffman) to continue serving the same dishes that have given the restaurant its fame (nice nod to the movie industry in Hollywood which restrains the creative instincts from its talented directors so that they continue to serve their audience the same dishes). But when a famous food critic (Oliver Platt) criticizes his dishes an online twitter war breaks out between them. Favreau decides it's time to move on and following his ex-wife's advice he travels with his son to Miami and buys a food truck. This is where their road trip begins and the two begin bonding. John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale play Favreau's assistants, and they both are the reason why the film is so charming. I was surprised with Anthony's performance as well. Having seen a couple of old films recently I can't help but realize how child acting has improved over the years. You never get the feeling that Anthony is ever acting or reading out his lines because every word and reaction felt completely natural. There were also plenty of funny and warm moments throughout the film. It was good to see Robert Downey Jr. and Favreau reunited once again although it was only for a couple of minutes. There was nothing groundbreaking about Chef, but it was so authentic and charming that it was hard to resist. The cast plays a key role in the success of this film and so does the food.


My Review: Locke (6/10)

"I want to know that I'm not driving in one direction."

Director Steven Knight has left me in sort of a dilemma with his sophomore film, Locke. On the one hand the movie lacked the suspense that the trailers promised so I can't give it a higher rating. However, for minimalist cinema this might just be one of the best and most unique examples so it deserves a much higher rating. It ranks up there with the likes of Buried which was also basically a one man show starring Ryan Reynolds confined in a small space. The only difference was that in that film there was much more at stake. Locke isn't a film for everyone because some audiences might get bored with the entire premise considering it centers on one man (played by Tom Hardy) driving across the freeway in the course of one night while he is talking to different people on a hands-free mobile device. The main reason why I wanted to watch Locke despite not being attracted by the premise was the fact that it starred Tom Hardy and I basically will watch anything this guy stars in. Hardy didn't disappoint and he is the main reason why this film even worked in the first place. His performance felt authentic and natural making the audience forget for a moment that we were watching a super star as we followed a simple construction manager driving his BMW while trying to solve his issues involving his family and business. Hardy really delivers and impresses despite not having much to work with considering that this film would have never worked if it weren't for his powerful performance. Despite not having such an intriguing premise the pacing of the story worked just fine considering it clocked out at about 80 minutes. If Knight would have stretched this film out a little more than the pacing could've become an issue, but fortunately he didn't and I ended up enjoying it mostly thanks to Hardy's solid performance. 

Considering the film was minimalist I would also like to keep my review rather short and concise. The film gets points for originality and for Hardy's great performance. By only using dialogue through phone calls we really got to know this character and see how he tried to balance the different events that were unfolding before him in the course of one night. As a successful construction manager who tries to keep everything in order he sort of applies the same philosophy to his life and tries to do the right thing despite having made a mistake in the past. He is a fixer and that is what he tries to do as he deals with the specific events during each one of his conversations. Despite being a one man show, we hear other characters through the mobile phone and I was surprised at how each one really had their own unique personality despite never really seeing them. So I also have to give a lot of credit to Knight for his writing as well. The film succeeds in these aspects, but I still felt that the lack of suspense hurt this movie. In the end, Locke is a film about a man who is paying for his one mistake and seeing how everything is unraveling before him in the course of one night. That is all there is to it. 

My Review: The Birds (7/10)

"Have you ever seen so many gulls? What do you suppose it is?"

After having surprised and shocked audiences with Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock followed it up with another horror film, The Birds, which is more straightforward and generic than the rest of his films, but he still did experiment quite a bit with some elements here. There are no surprises or unexpected twists in The Birds and it pretty much plays out as a standard thriller slowly building the suspense by introducing us to the characters so we can identify with them. He didn't use psychological suspense either like he did in so many of his films, he just let the narrative unfold gradually. This may sound like a standard horror film, but what Hitchcock experiments with here is the lack of a musical score to accompany the film. Most thrillers rely on eerie scores to help set the mood, and we know Hitchcock included them often such as in films like Vertigo and Psycho, but here rather than introducing music he uses the sound of birds to scare audiences. Many people complain that the effects are outdated, but it didn't bother me at all, I thought they were really well done and I felt the tension during some of these scenes that have become classic by now (such as the scene where Tippi Hedren's character is trapped inside a phone booth as the birds are attacking the town, and the climatic scene where the birds are surrounding Rod Taylor's home). Those were memorable scenes full of tension, but I did have some issues with the pacing of the story. 

Hitchcock made sure we cared for the characters and during the first hour of the film he spends time building a possible romantic relationship between Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren. This is where I wished the main characters were played by more charismatic actors such as James Stewart and Kim Novak where the chemistry between them would seem stronger, and that would have engaged me more with a story I kind of felt was silly otherwise. The premise is kind of out there since I really never believed the threat of the birds nor felt their presence haunting, but Hitchcock still managed to build in a few scares despite it all. The bay near San Francisco where this film mostly takes place was a perfect setting and I actually enjoyed the fact that it took place in an enclosed space like this. It sort of made the audience believe these characters were enclosed and surrounded by the birds. Hitchcock can build suspense out of nearly anything and despite my disbelief of the birds being a real threat there were times I did feel that tension. The way in which he exchanges shots from one scene to the next like he did in the phone booth with exterior shots exchanged with interior ones really helps build the suspense and create a tense atmosphere. The Birds may not have much psychological depth, but it plays out quite well as a generic disaster film and slowly builds its way up to a rather interesting climatic scene (I mean switch the birds for zombies and you realize where George A. Romero may have got his ideas for Night of the Living Dead). The Birds isn't amongst my favorite Hitchcock films, but I still had a fun time with it.