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 →
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.
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.
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 →
Most would call this a coming of age drama, but Mud is much more than that!
Matthew McConaughey stars as Mud, a fugitive who is hiding out on a small island in the Mississippi river. Mud is hopelessly in love with Juniper, played by Reese Witherspoon, and bounty hunters have made it impossible for the two to be together.
In a very Stand by Me sort of way, two young boys, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), discover Mud on the island, befriend him, and help him out—but not without putting themselves in danger as well.
I’m a huge McConaughey fan, and when he lets that southern drawl flow, I’m on board, but Sheridan is the stand out!
Mud is full of suspense, drama, love, friendship, action, with a little coming of age story thrown in.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof in this biographical drama set in the mid 80’s. Ron is a rodeo bull riding, hellraising, hustler, who thrives in a high-risk world. He takes his chances in with the bulls, the girls, the drugs, and the gambling, and manages to stay ahead of the consequences, until he goes to the hospital for a work injury, only to find out he is HIV positive and given just 30 days to live. Continue reading →
When a college student loses everything playing online poker, he believes he’s been cheated and hunts down the man responsible. That’s the just the start of Brad Furman‘s Runner Runner, which stars Justin Timberlake in the student role and Ben Affleck as the cheater. The two men team up, and before you know it, Timberlake’s character is in way over his head with the F.B.I. breathing down his neck.
If you come home to discover your wife in the shower with another man, don’t beat the guy up until he’s inches from death. That’s what Pat (Bradley Cooper) does in Silver Linings Playbook and it results in him spending eight months in a mental institution. Continue reading →
Brighton Rock is not just another English gangster flick. Sure it seems like that at the go, but as we get deeper into the story the film reveals more about people and society. In this feature we pick up on Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley) out to scare a rival mob member named Fred. After a brief chase and fight, Pinkie ends up murdering Fred. Pinkie would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for a young waitress named Rose (Andrea Riseborough) who had a ticket for a photo that showed Pinkie with his victim moments before the murder. If you don’t have the ticket you can’t get the photo. The plot of the film follows Pinkie as he courts Rose in an attempt to keep her from sharing his murderous secret. Continue reading →
Imagine being best friends with a rich, famous guy who throws the best parties and gets all the hot girls. Sounds like an episode of Entourage, except that this famous guy isn’t Vinny Chase, he’s Uday Hussein and he’s also a psychotic, arrogant maniac. Continue reading →
Mel Gibson has lost his mind. At least his character, Walter Black, has lost his mind in the film The Beaver. Walter has been battling severe depression and has lost his will to live. After a failed suicide attempt, he stumbles upon a beaver puppet in a dumpster and begins to live vicariously through his new buck-toothed friend.
His wife, Merideth (played by Jodie Foster, who also directs) thinks he’s gone crazy, but begins to accept his new form of expression when Walter seems to become a better person. Porter (Anton Yelchin), Walter’s oldest son, thinks his dad is the worst person in the world and vows to never be like him. Walter’s youngest, Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart), thinks his dad is just playing a fun game and enjoys bonding with him through The Beaver. Continue reading →
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