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 »

The Kids are All Right – A Movie Review

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Aug 012010

Two teenaged children conceived by artificial insemination get the notion to seek out their birth father and introduce him into the family life that their two mothers have built for them. Once the donor is found, the household will never be the same, as family ties are defined, re-defined, and then re-re-defined.

Genres: Drama; Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.; Release Date: July 9th, 2010 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use.

Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson

Directed by
: Lisa Cholodenko
We went to see this movie last night out at Brandon. The theater wasn’t nearly packed, but there was a decent crowd. Unfortunately, two adult women sitting just behind us felt compelled to have a conversation throughout the entire movie. Besides that, we both felt this was a great movie, with one major criticism.

The critics seem to universally like this film, and they are right on this one! This movie is brilliantly written and beautifully acted/directed. Lay and me laughed so hard (together with all other audience members) most of the time but yet I teared up during the emotional moments. And leaving the theaters, I resonated a lot with the story and actually felt a bit more hopeful and positive and had a smile on my face. Performance wise, I just love love Bening’s performance!! But it is an ensemble piece and all cast members did a great job!

In Lisa Cholodenko’s heartwarming picture, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play Nic and Jules, a happily married couple. They have two kids, Joni and Laser, played by Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska and Zathura’s Josh Hutcherson. The two were born from artificial insemination, both coming from the same father. Joni has just turned 18, and therefore, is legally able to make the call to find out who their biological father is, something she is reluctant to do. She ends up making the call, and low and behold, their father is a mellowed-out, semi-hippie, organic farmer / restaurant owner named Paul, played with fantastic style by Mark Ruffalo. The audience instantly clings to Paul’s charm.

Things get complicated when the kids want to meet with Paul more than once and Paul begins to become a fixture in all of their lives, throwing off the balance. One thing leads to another to another, and all hell breaks loose, twisting and churning our emotions.

Bening and Moore were splendid in their roles, making their relationship feel very real and sympathetic. You couldn’t help but pull for them as the story unfolded. The bittersweet scenes with the kids played very real to me; especially one scene near the end where the sister leaves for college. That was supported marvelously by Mia Wasikowska (whose name is wonderfully, ethnically correct, BTW) who looks like she may be around for awhile; there’s talent in there. They didn’t give Josh Hutcherson a lot to do that would have been a challenge at all, but he didn’t disappoint. In the end, the real focus here was the pair of Bening and Be Moore. As many critics have pointed out, this story is a very real depiction of a family, and the makeup of that family isn’t the story.

The major complaint, shared by both of us, is there are several very graphic sexual scenes (not involving lesbian sex surprisingly). I’m no prude about it, but it distracted from the flow of the movie taking too much time, and just wasn’t necessary to advance the story. The sexual episodes were important to the story, but they could have been shown in the usual way of showing the beginning and the end of the sex, and moving on to the next scene.

Be forewarned about the sexual content, but otherwise, it’s a great movie.

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Mar 082009

blindness_poster.jpgWhen a sudden plague of blindness devastates a city, a small group of the afflicted band together to triumphantly overcome the horrific conditions of their imposed quarantine.

Genres: Art/Foreign, Drama, Thriller and Adaptation; Running Time: 2 hrs.; Release Date: October 3rd, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for violence including sexual assaults, language and sexuality/nudity.

Starring: Don McKellar, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Alice Braga

Directed by: Fernando Meirelles

I was struggling with myself while deciding if I wanted to watch this movie, so we rented it and watched it Sunday night. It wasn’t getting good reviews but I decided to go ahead and make up my own mind after seeing it. Most of the reviewers are right, this is something different. It makes us look at ourselves in a different way. Yes, at times it is intense, but maybe that’s why some people don’t like it. You have to be able to think of civilization in a different life.

The underlying story shows us just how tenuous is what we call “society/civilization,” and how quickly it could break down.

Now, its not perfect, it probably ran about 15-20 minutes too long and there were times where you lost a little focus. There were a lot of parts of the story that just didn’t seem to make any sense, and it seemed to resolve itself just a little to simplistically, but its was unique, and enjoyable in its own way. Don’t forget, if the whole world did go blind, it wouldn’t be very pretty. It’s not something to take the kids to, but not a bad choice for adults.

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 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Zodiac
Aug 022007

ZodiacA serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970’s case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case. Based on Robert Graysmith’s book, the movie’s focus is the lives and careers of the detectives and newspaper people.

David Fincher

Crime / Drama / Thriller

Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch, Richmond Arquette, Bob Stephenson, John Lacy, Chloë Sevigny, Ed Setrakian, John Getz, John Terry, Candy Clark, Elias Koteas

Usually when a film gets made about a media grabbing unsolved crime, the resulting movie tends to be overtly sensational and at only remotely connected to what really happened. But the director has given us a well argued thesis on the possible identity of the Zodiac. While there are some very intense scenes, Fincher takes a somewhat unexpected approach on the subject. All of the killings take place pretty early on in the movie, with the bulk of the story centering on the actual investigation into the killer by both the cops and a cartoonist who becomes obsessed with the case. In fact, the depictions of the murders are done in a manner that is fairly reverent towards the victims while still conveying the cruelty of them.

Some people may find themselves disappointed by this two and a half hour epic if they go in expecting the usual serial killer fare. But it’s a must see for anybody who likes a good detective story.

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