Arrival — A Movie Review

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Dec 072016
 

arrivalmovieposterWhen mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team – led by expert linguist Louise Banks – is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Ted Chiang (based on the short story “Story of Your Life” written by)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Forest Whitaker

Runtime: 116 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi; Released: 11 Nov 2016

Veteran’s Day was a holiday for me, but not Lay, so I went to watch this movie. It was well worth the ticket price. Continue reading »

Oct 182016
 

Tuskegee Airmen Movie PosterDuring the Second World War, a special project is begun by the US Army Air Corps to integrate African-American pilots into the Fighter Pilot Program. Known as the “Tuskegee Airman” for the name of the airbase at which they were trained, these men were forced to constantly endure harassment, prejudice, and much behind the scenes politics until at last they were able to prove themselves in combat.

Director: Robert Markowitz
Writer: Paris Qualles (teleplay), Trey Ellis (teleplay), Ron Hutchinson (teleplay), Robert Williams (story), T.S. Cook (story)
Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Allen Payne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Courtney B. Vance
Runtime: 106 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama, History, War; Released: 26 Aug 1995

We watched this movie Sunday night. I know it’s been out forever, and we’d intended to watch it back when released, but just never did. It was on Amazon Prime, so I pulled it up. Continue reading »

Bridge of Spies – A Movie Review

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Oct 172016
 

Bridge of Spies Movie PosterDuring the cold war, a lawyer, James B. Donovan is recruited by the CIA and involved in an intense negotiation mission to release and exchange a CIA U-2 spy-plane pilot, Francis G. Powers. The pilot was arrested alive after his plane was shot down by the Soviet Union during a mission and stays in the company of a KGB intelligence officer, Rudolf Abel, who was arrested for espionage in the US.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Tom Hanks, Alan Alda, Mark Rylance, Domenick Lombardozzi, Victor Verhaeghe, Mark Fichera
Runtime: 142 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Drama, History, Thriller; Released: 16 Oct 2015

Lay wasn’t feeling great, so after going out to grab a bite, we came home and watched this from Amazon, and we both enjoyed the movie a great deal. Continue reading »

Star Wars: The Force Awakens–A Movie Review

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Jun 042016
 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Movie PosterA scavenger (Daisy Ridley) and a renegade stormtrooper (John Boyega) enlist the help of legendary smugglers/freedom fighters Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca to transport a droid carrying information regarding the whereabouts of long-lost Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to General Leia Organa of the Resistance before it falls into the hands of Kylo Ren and the First Order.

Director: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt

Cast: Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, and Daisy Ridley

Lay was working today, Saturday, so I finally watched this on Amazon. Continue reading »

The Martian – A Movie Review

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Feb 292016
 

The_Martian_PosterDuring a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crew-mates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.

Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard (screenplay), Andy Weir (book)
Stars: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Vincent Kapoor, Benedict Wong
Runtime: 144 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi; Released: 02 Oct 2015

We watched this Saturday evening. I’d been wanting to see it for a while. Overall impressions, it was OK at best, but not nearly as good as I expected. Lay didn’t like it at all, but he’s never very keen on sci-fi. Continue reading »

Lady in The Van – A Movie Review

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Feb 202016
 

The Lady In The Van Movie PosterAn eccentric (and decidedly grubby) aged lady parks her decrepit old van (which appears to contain her entire world goods) outside writer Alan Bennett’s house in Camden. When the Council threatens to have it towed away, Bennett’s diffidence leads to it being parked in his drive, to the consternation of his neighbors, where it – and she – stay for 15 years. As time passes, an odd relationship develops between them, and he begins to discover elements of her past.

Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: Alan Bennett
Stars: Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Clare Hammond, George Fenton
Runtime: 104 min; Rated: PG-13; Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama; Released: 15 Jan 2016

Based on a 1970s biographical drama of the same name by noted British playwright Alan Bennett, The Lady in the Van is a “mostly true story” as mentioned at the beginning of the film. That’s because Bennett had to put up with an old homeless woman for 15 years by allowing her to live in her van in his driveway. Then in 1999, Bennett cast Maggie Smith as the titular hobo in his own play. Ironically, Smith plays the same character on screen little over 15 years later. Continue reading »

Beasts of No Nation-A Movie Review

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Dec 152015
 

BeastsofnonationFollows the journey of a young boy, Agu, who is forced to join a group of soldiers in an unnamed West African country. While Agu fears his commander and many of the men around him, his fledgling childhood has been brutally shattered by the war raging through his country, and he is at first torn between conflicting revulsion and fascination Depicts the mechanics of war and does not shy away from explicit, visceral detail, and paints a complex, difficult picture of Agu as a child soldier.

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writer: Cary Joji Fukunaga (screenplay), Uzodinma Iweala (based on the novel by)
Stars: Abraham Attah, Emmanuel Affadzi, Ricky Adelayitor, Andrew Adote

Runtime: 137 min; Rated: NOT RATED; Genre: Drama, War; Released: 16 Oct 2015

We heard about this movie being on Netflix after hearing an interview with Cary Fukunaga on NPR’s Fresh Air. We started a little late last evening, and I didn’t expect to finish watching it before going to bed, but I couldn’t stop watching. While based on a novel, it was, from all I’ve read, a realistic portrayal of the life of child soldiers, and it is a sad life. Continue reading »

Spotlight – A Movie Review

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Dec 102015
 

Spotlight Movie PosterStarring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian d’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci, SPOTLIGHT tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. Directed by Academy Award-nominee Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, tracing the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times.

Director: Tom McCarthy
Writer: Tom McCarthy (screenplay), Josh Singer (screenplay)
Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber
Runtime: 128 min; Rated: R; Genre: Biography, Drama, History; Released: 31 Dec 2015 Continue reading »

Movie Review – Fox Catcher

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Jun 072015
 

Foxcatcher Movie PosterBased on true events, Foxcatcher tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. When Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is invited by wealthy heir John du Pont (Steve Carell) to move on to the du Pont estate and help form a team to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics at his new state-of-the-art training facility, Schultz jumps at the opportunity, hoping to focus on his training and finally step out of the shadow of his revered brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo). Driven by hidden needs, du Pont sees backing Schultz’s bid for Gold and the chance to “coach” a world-class wrestling team as an opportunity to gain the elusive respect of his peers and, more importantly, his disapproving mother (Vanessa Redgrave). Flattered by the attention and entranced by du Pont’s majestic world, Mark comes to see his benefactor as a father figure and grows increasingly dependent on him for approval. Though initially supportive, du Pont’s mercurial personality turns and he begins to lure Mark into an unhealthy lifestyle that threatens to undermine his training. Soon du Pont’s erratic behavior and cruel psychological game-play begin to erode the athlete’s already shaky self-esteem. Meanwhile du Pont becomes fixated on Dave, who exudes the confidence both he and Mark lack, knowing that these are things even his money cannot buy. Fueled by du Pont’s increasing paranoia and alienation from the brothers, the trio is propelled towards a tragedy no one could have foreseen.

Director: Bennett Miller
Writer: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
Stars: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller
Runtime: 134 min, Rated: R, Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport, Released: 16 Jan 2015

Yes, I am still catching up writing my reviews. Me and Lay watched this on Amazon Streaming over a month ago. Well worth watching. There’s not much to criticize. Continue reading »

Movie Review – Ex Machini

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Jun 062015
 

Ex Machini Movie PosterCaleb, a 26 year old coder at the world’s largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world’s first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.

Director: Alex Garland
Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Corey Johnson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
Runtime: 108 min, Rated: R, Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Released: 24 Apr 2015

Me and Lay saw this at AMC at Westshore Mall about two weeks ago. It was kind of a last minute decision, but was well worth watching. We both found the movie intriguing and thought-provoking. Continue reading »

Whiplash – A Movie Review

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Mar 152015
 

Whiplash_Movie_PosterAndrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his élite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability-and his sanity.

Director: Damien Chazelle; Writer: Damien Chazelle; Stars: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist; Runtime: 107 min; Rated: R; Genre: Drama, Music; Released: 2014-10-15

We actually went to see this a couple of weeks ago at Veteran’s 24 theater. My expectations were not too high, and I was surprised that Lay was interested at all. I was in the band in high school, a great band at that, with a tough (but nothing like the J.K. Simmons character, Terence Fletcher) band director. I just didn’t see how it could be that compelling. Boy, was I wrong. Everything about this film was stellar; casting, writing, acting, directing, music and cinematography all came together to just tell an incredible story.

Nineteen year old Andrew Nieman wants to be the greatest jazz drummer in the world, in a league with Buddy Rich. Andrew is starting his first year at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, the best music school in the United States. At Shaffer, being the best means being accepted to study under Terence Fletcher, and being asked to play in his studio band. Based on their less than positive first meeting, Andrew is surprised that Fletcher asks him to join the band, albeit in the alternate drummer position which he is more than happy to do initially. Andrew quickly learns that Fletcher operates on fear and intimidation, never settling for what he considers less than the best each and every time.

I don’t know who impressed me more Miles Teller in the lead as Andrew Nieman or Simmons playing Band teacher Terence Fletcher. Both did so great that had either been a lesser actor they would have been out shined by the other. Simmons’ character could have easily been cartoonish and 2 dimensional but Simmons gave him such depth that through the whole film I kept feeling wisps of compassion for him, and even understood his motives before he lays them out for Nieman in the third act. For a younger actor, Miles Teller,  who I haven’t seen in much, played his role like a seasoned actor. His performance just wrapped me up, and to find out he did much of the drumming himself is insane. Whilst watching some of the intense scenes I felt like I was watching him be executed, and other times it feels like the fight in Rocky, you feel like you are just watching him get demolished, except all of this is emotional and not  physical. Whether it is the discouragement, the social awkwardness, the single parent household, the internal conflict, the hubris, the arrogance, and at times the mental torture that he put himself through, all just blew me away. Teller had the charisma and electricity to connect to the audience.

The writing was outstanding. Often you kind of know where a movie is headed, but this movie stayed very unpredictable. Just when you think for certain how a scene or sequence of scenes will play out they take a hard left, and it keeps you off-balance (in a good way). It was so refreshing, a few times I thought the ending was near, but then something disrupts how “it should go or end”.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 9.00 out of 10)
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