Trailer for The Interview

James Franco and Seth Rogen take on Kim Jong-un in ‘The Interview’

In the action-comedy The Interview, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un. Continue reading

Orange Is the New Black - season 2

Guilty of loving ‘Orange Is the New Black’ season 2

Orange is the New Black - season 2

On a beautiful summer day, there are a million things we could all be doing, but some of us may choose to be in lockdown for the second season of Orange Is The New Black.  Sorry friends and family, but season one made me a junkie for this show, and Netflix just brought me my drug of choice! Continue reading

John Oliver - host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO

Looking forward to ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO

When I heard that Stephen Colbert would be taking over for David Letterman, I was both happy for him and completely devastated. I live for The Colbert Report. The nightly block of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report has become a staple for me. I can’t live with just one satirical news show! Thankfully, HBO handed us a little gift in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Continue reading

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 YEARS A SLAVE

For your consideration: 12 Years a Slave

Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 YEARS A SLAVE

12 Years A Slave will be a must-see film, not just in 2013, but for many years to come. You can expect this film to be shown in classes and universities from now on, not only for its historic value, but also for its excellence in the art of story telling and filmmaking. Is it brutal?  Yes, but much like Schindler’s List, it is a film that opens the uneasy door into history, and as they say, “you don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been.”  Consider this film essential viewing. Continue reading

Robert Reich in  Inequality for All

For your consideration: Inequality for All

Robert Reich in  Inequality for All

Inequality For All is a documentary, but it feels more like a college lecture. A lecture well worth sitting through! Do you remember back in college when you would have one professor whose lectures you looked forward to? A professor that would not only enlighten you, but empower you? Well if politics, labor, and the economy are of interest to you, then Robert Reich, may be your favorite professor. Continue reading

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips

For your consideration: Captain Phillips

Barkhad Abdi shines in Captain Phillips

You know the old saying, “There are three sides to every story. Yours, theirs, and the truth.” Well, we may need to add one. Yours, theirs, the truth, and the Hollywood version.  There has been a lot of controversy over the portrayal of Captain Richard Phillips as a hero. Many of his actual crewmembers heavily dispute the depiction of Captain Phillips’ actions during the pirate take over of their vessel.  Sadly, all the variations of the story by the crew, or in the book by Phillips and Stephan Talty, ‘A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea’, take away from an otherwise brilliantly acted, action thriller, that has you glued to your seat, after the first few minutes.

Barkhad Abdi stands out in Captain Phillips

The action starts early on in this film, which I appreciated.  The pirates are approaching and there is little the crew can do once they board the ship. Now it is on the Captain and his crew to keep the situation from getting any worse. Captain Phillips has his radio on, so the crew can hear what is going on when the pirates enter the bridge. This allows the crew to hide and to disable the ship.  Phillips keeps calm while the pirates are trigger happy and full of adrenaline, but the lead pirate (Barkhad Abdi) remains calculating and clear in his objective. He doesn’t want the mere $30,000 Phillips offers him from the safe. He wants the bigger fish…$10 million ransom.

Tom Hanks is stellar in this role, and his acting abilities are taken to an even higher level during his final scene in the film.  Another stand out performance comes from Abdi, who makes his first film debut as Abduwali Muse, the pirate leader.  Abdi’s gives the “bad guy” character such depth.  We are able to understand why he does what he does. We see his desperation as well as his logic. Abdi’s performance blew me away and I believe it took Hanks’s acting to that next level.

Captain Phillips is full of action and suspense.  The film gives you a hero you cheer for as well as the unpredictable villain you fear.  So, if you can put all the truth controversy on the back burner and see this film as the action thriller it is, you will greatly appreciate this film.

Rating-4.5 stars

Forest Whitaker in the Butler

For your consideration: Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in The Butler

Forest Whitaker stars as Cecil Gaines, who for 34 years served as a butler in the White House. The film is loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, who I’m sure was a much more interesting man than the character Cecil Gaines. Lee Daniels’ The Butler tries to cover entirely too much in the 132 minute run time and lacks the impact the film should have conveyed. Continue reading

Robert Redford in All is Lost

For your consideration: All Is Lost

All is Lost

All Is Lost is a survival story of one man, played by Robert Redford, who encounters some big trouble on the Indian Ocean and must struggle to survive. The premise may be interesting, a la Cast Away, but I was lost and unimpressed with All Is Lost.

There is a good reason why feature-length films have dialogue. Dialogue not only moves the story along, but also tells us perhaps a backstory, allowing us to assess the character’s motivation.  I would have loved a backstory on Redford’s character. I would have even settled for a dialogue-free montage, just to let me know why he is in the ocean and why he has any desire to live.  I am left with only questions by the time the story ends. Continue reading

Noriko Shinohara and Ushio Shinohara in 'Cutie and the Boxer'

For your consideration: Cutie and the Boxer

Ushio Shinohara in 'Cutie and the Boxer'

This documentary shares the love and life of an unusual artistic couple, Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko.  They first met in 1969.  Ushio was a 41-year-old avant-garde artist in New York City. Noriko was a 19-year-old art student who idolized Ushio’s art and passion for his work. Ushio’s work often gained notoriety, appearing in numerous prestigious institutions, but rarely sold. Noriko was content assisting him in the studio, being his wife and raising their son, Alex. Noriko’s art was never the focus until recently when she finally felt free of the assistant role and once again began creating her own works.  They’re life together has not been easy. Ushio’s life, much like his art, is bold, messy, impactful, exciting, and loving. Ushio is an eccentric character who for a period of time, struggled with alcoholism and partied as much as he painted.  Noriko was the one who struggled to maintain a sense of stability in their household and raised their son.  Clearly in the past Ushio was the dominant one, the teacher, but before our eyes we see Noriko finding her self, and her passion.

If you know the art world, you may enjoy this movie on that level, but if not, you can enjoy it for the love story it is. The very real struggles for both art and love.  In a moment when Ushio is relaxing in a pool, he reflects saying, “Art is a demon…a demon that drags you along. It’s not something you can stop, even if you should. Maybe you go insane. Your wife leaves, your kid runs away. You throw yourself away to be an artist.”

An interesting, beautiful true story about two very artistic souls.

Rating- 4 stars

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