Mud-A Movie Review

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Jul 312013

mud-poster-jpg_222918Two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, who find a man named Mud hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud describes fantastic scenarios — he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper, who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. It isn’t long until Mud’s visions come true and their small town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of bounty hunters in tow.

In Theaters: April 26, 2013; MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some violence, sexual references, language, thematic elements and smoking); Genres: Drama; Run Time: 2 hours 10 minutes;

Distributors: Roadside Attractions

Directed by: Jeff Nichols

Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson

The Mississippi River dominates this film as it dominates the lives of the main characters in this film. There is a small town, where everyone knows everyone, but most of the action takes place out of town, out on the river. The two fourteen year old boys and their families, are river people, making a precarious living from the river. Life is hard, and the poverty is pretty crushing. The people are hard-working and resourceful, but can let their circumstances get the best of them, and the film does an outstanding job of capturing it. The film does pay homage to Mark Twain; Huckleberry Finn was based on a childhood friend of Mark Twain’s called Tom Blankenship, the name of a character in this film. This film then, essentially, is a modern up-date of that genre. Continue reading »

Nov 022009

monstersvsaliens_smallposterWhen California girl Susan Murphy is unwittingly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk on her wedding day, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall. Alerted to the threat of this new monster, the military jumps into action and Susan is captured and secreted away to a covert government compound. There, she is renamed Ginormica and placed in confinement with a ragtag group of other monsters: the brilliant but insect-headed Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D.; the macho half-ape, half-fish The Missing Link; the gelatinous and indestructible B.O.B.; and the 350-foot grub called Insectosaurus. Their confinement is cut short, however, when a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth and begins storming the country. In a moment of desperation, The President is persuaded by General W.R. Monger to enlist the motley crew of Monsters to combat the Alien Robot and save the world from imminent destruction.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy and Animation, Running Time: 1 hr. 34 min.; Release Date: March 27th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG for sci-fi action, some crude humor and mild language.

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd, Stephen Colbert

Directors: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon

I rented this on DVD last weekend, but we didn’t get around to watching it until this weekend.

It stars the usual big Hollywood names in the trendy fashion that is voicing a CGI kids film. This time we had the talents of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogan (who is more than everywhere these days), a British Hugh Laurie as one of the Monsters and Keifer Sutherland hamming it up voice style as General W. R. Monger. I don’t know what it was, maybe because I actually liked the actors voicing the characters but I thought they were all great. Reese Witherspoon did a great job as Susan (Ginormica) and Seth Rogan is apparently just as funny doing voice work (and gaining most of the laughs) as the literally brainless B.O.B.

The story is as basic as it gets. Monsters are imprisoned. Aliens attack. Monsters fight Aliens and are accepted into the world. Although the story is basic that isn’t a criticism. It was simple enough for the young kids to follow but it is the telling of the story and all the little side scenes such as those involving the President of the United States and all the daft clichés were for the adults.

The animation was fantastic to look at. It had all the polish of Pixar without the over schmaltzy Disney-ness that usually accompanies it and was just as funny as the rough and ready Ice Age series. There were some very funny set pieces and the action was fast and exciting. There was nothing too scary for very young children but there is enough action that the older kids (and adults!) will be impressed. I will admit to laughing out loud more than once especially at the “global warming – convenient truth” quip.

I would give the movie 7/10. It is an animated movie that you can actually volunteer to take your kids to and enjoy it just as much as they can.

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Walk the Line

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Nov 302005

Walk the Line (2005)

A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash’s life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Directed by
James Mangold

Biography, Drama, Music

Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Dallas Roberts, Dan John Miller, Larry Bagby, Shelby Lynne, Tyler Hilton, Waylon Payne, Shooter Jennings, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Dan Beene, Clay Steakley, Johnathan Rice

Lay and I went to see this film Wednesday night before Thanksgiving up in North Carolina. Lay was too excited about, but I thought it was very well done.

First, this is an excellent film. Second, it is formulaic, but not to a fault. The film is two great performances. Luckily, they’re the right two. Phoenix has done an excellent job capturing Cash, the man. Not the legend and not what everyone thought he would be. What made Johnny Cash such an icon was that he was an “everyman” and Phoenix gives his all to not only capture every subtle nuance but also to make him believable as a flawed human being. Watch, in particular, the performance sequences, and I’d argue that it’s equal to Foxx’s Ray Charles without nearly as much caricature.

There’s no attempts on behalf of the filmmakers at the predestination of Cash as a superstar. They simply show how he learned to sing with a radio and a hymnal. The back story given before his career started is essential to the way his life unfolds and, for the most part, is kept in well-shot and brief sequences. There are few attempts to over-glamourize or over-dramatize the events that shaped Cash’s life and career.

Reese Witherspoon’s performance, as well, is surprisingly good. There are precious few points in the film where you remember she was in Legally Blonde, and her vocals and live performances are stronger than many I’ve seen from Hollywood actresses in recent years.

So, with all this greatness, what could be wrong? Nothing, really. This is a solid film, but it is completely conventional. It doesn’t go for the weepy Oscar moments that drown many films and it doesn’t try to cover too much of the man’s life focusing mostly on his years between his Sun Records contract and his “At Folsom Prison” album. If you have no love for the man himself, or his music, you may walk away underwhelmed, but otherwise you’ll be pleased.

“Walk the Line” is a well-made movie. Mangold’s direction is capable, and the script stays fairly true to the biographies upon which it was based. It does have excellent performances, but barring a groundswell of support for Cash’s legacy (which could arise) I don’t see it running away with any awards. It will contend for some due to excellent performances. Considering “Ray” was about a half-hour too long, I’d even go so far as to say it has an excellent shot at a Best Picture nomination. But a win may be difficult.

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