Feb 162015

American_SniperChris Kyle was nothing more than a Texan man who wanted to become a cowboy, but in his thirties he found out that maybe his life needed something different, something where he could express his real talent, something that could help America in its fight against terrorism. So he joined the SEALs in order to become a sniper. After marrying, Kyle and the other members of the team are called for their first tour of Iraq. Kyle’s struggle isn’t with his missions, but about his relationship with the reality of the war and, once returned at home, how he manages to handle it with his urban life, his wife and kids.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Jason Hall, Chris Kyle (book), Scott McEwen (book), James Defelice (book)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Kyle Gallner, Cole Konis, Ben Reed
Runtime: 132 min; Rated: R; Genre: Action, Biography, Drama; Released: 16 Jan 2015

We watched this one in the theater a couple of weekends ago. I’m sorry to just now be getting around to writing my review. Me and Lay both thought this movie was OK. I suspect he liked it a bit more. I had some trouble separating the politics, the biography, and the movie. Continue reading »

Invictus – A Movie Review

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Jul 032010

The true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team, Francois Pienaar, to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match.

Genres: Drama, Adaptation, Biopic and Sports; Running Time: 2 hrs, 14 mins.; Release Date: December 11th, 2009; MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Tony Kgoroge, Patrick Mofokeng, Matt Stern, Julilian Lewis Jones and Bonnie Henna

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

We watched this as a download a couple of weekends ago. (I know, I’m behind.)

This is set in the early ’90s, and covers the first year of Nelson Mandela’s presidency and how he pushed the nation’s rugby team, led by captain Francois Pienaar, to achieve World Cup glory. You have to remember that most of the players on the team were white, and the “Sprinboks” were still seen by many as a symbol of apartheid. This meant Mandela was risking the very base that pushed him into office.

Morgan Freeman completely immerses himself into the role of Mandela, and gives one of the best performances of the year. Not only are his accent and tone of voice quite good, but he brings a true 3-dimensionality to the role. Compare, for example, him having tea with Francois, to talking with his family, and to making a political speech. Freeman nailed every facet of Mandela’s life.

Damon also excels as Pienaar, the solid enough rugby player who must do more than just lead by example for his team. The screenplay, adapted by Anthony Peckham, doesn’t offer many narrative surprises, but it does do a good job examining not only the strife South Africa was in when Mandela was elected, but also the value of the team to the entire nation.

Eastwood wisely plays the material straight. Though the material may seem familiar, the performances by Damon and especially Freeman are what elevate this tale into a solid and even uplifting drama. There’s enough suspense to get things interesting, even though we know the outcome. All-in-all, a pretty good movie.

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Gran Torino – A Movie Review

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Feb 092009

Gran Torino Movie PosterWalt Kowalski is a widower, grumpy, tough-minded, borderline-hateful, unhappy old man who can’t get along with either his kids or his neighbors, a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1973 Gran Torino he keeps in cherry condition. When his neighbor Tao, a young Hmong teenager, tries to steal his Gran Torino, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth. Drawn against his will into the life of Tao’s family, Kowalski is soon taking steps to protect them form the gangs that foul their neighborhood.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama and Thriller; Running Time: 1 hr. 56 min.; Release Date: December 12th, 2008 (limited), January 16th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some violence.

Starring: Cory Hardrict, Bee Vang, Clint Eastwood, Ahney Her, Brian Haley

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

I wanted to see this movie, so we went Saturday night. It wasn’t the worst movie we’ve seen, but I was disappointed. As Ty Burr of the Boston Globe put it, “In the context of Clint Eastwood’s career as a star, an actor, and a filmmaker, “Gran Torino” is an endlessly fascinating movie. If only it were a good one.”

It was kind of an Archie Bunker meets Dirty Harry. I think a valiant attempt was made to tell a real story, and have an impact on how people think about each other. Unfortunately, it missed the mark. Eastwood’s dialogue goes way over the top in attempting to show what a bigot he is. Even when he’s in the home of his new neighbors eating with them, the insults continue to flow non-stop. I respect that the film was unabashed in showing this bigotry, it just went too far in trying to set it up.

If the performances by the supporting cast, mainly the young Asian boy, were stronger this could have made the movie a little better. Vang’s performance really held the movie back, especially during the parts where he and Eastwood share screen time. The young priest in the movie was also pretty weak.

It’s worth seeing, just wait until it is out on video.

Now click on the stars below to let us how you rate the movie, and then use the comments section to tell us what you think.

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