Monthly Archives: April 2016
It is a strange creature that can stick with you for years. For some people it is a positive thing; but not so much for others. The sneaky part is that you may not have done anything for it to latch on and become part of you. What I am talking about is a person’s reputation. I have the reputation of being a lover of chocolate; oh wait, that is not a good example. There was a girl in my elementary school who was the first female I ever heard use a curse word. Not that I am making a judgment or saying it is okay for males to swear but not females; it was just an observation I made at that time. Well from that quick utterance this girl got the reputation for being a “bad” girl, if you know what I mean. Among my friends I am known for being direct; I tend not to sugarcoat things. Now this is part of my reputation and I own it. There are some people who get a reputation due to a rumor being started about them or one time they did something out of character. If someone observes the uncharacteristic action and makes a snap judgment about the person, the seeds of a reputation are immediately planted and will flourish. It surprises me how these false reputations can spread like a flash fire. I will say there are times where having a false reputation can work to a person’s advantage. AFTER being away from home for so many years there were some townsfolk who did not believe, based on his reputation, that John Henry Clayton, played by Kiefer Sutherland (Phone Booth, Mirrors), came back just to settle down at home. This film festival nominated western had some beautiful landscapes in many scenes. With actors Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games franchise, The Italian Job) as Reverend William Clayton, Brian Cox (Troy, Believe) as James McCurdy and Demi Moore (Ghost, Mr. Brooks) as Mary-Alice Watson; I thought the acting worked well in this drama. The story was not very original; it pretty much followed step by step instructions in creating a western. Just in case there are some of you who do not know what I mean, I will refrain from explaining it. But here is the thing, though I could see where the story was going I enjoyed watching the cast acting it out. The scenes between Kiefer and his father were interesting to me since they are father and son in real life that were now playing the same with their roles. It was good to see Demi getting back to acting; I thought she was fine in the role. For those of you who have the reputation of being a western movie lover, this would be a worthy watch. To those who may not be a fan of westerns, the acting and scenery is something worth seeing in this old fashioned film. There were scenes with blood and violence in them.
2 ½ stars
Slowly you remove yourself from the warmth you were lovingly lying next to, to give them a couple of extra minutes of sleep before the start of their day. You did not even think about the clothes you have at the dry cleaners because they will be hanging in your closet when you get home that night from work. When the two of you are out at a restaurant, you do not have to ask the waitstaff to remove the veggies you do not like from your salad; your significant other will take them without having to be asked. The two of you have an easy symbiotic relationship. Not that you take each other for granted, but the daily things that transpire between you two become their own type of routine. It is sad to say, but it is not until you no longer are a couple that you realize the extra wonderful things that made your relationship so special. I do not mean to paint this in a bad light; but I have found it is the small things that take place between two people that re-enforce the glue which keeps both in a relationship. It is part of the support system each one has created in unison and like anything that occurs on a constant schedule, it may appear less special and sweet as it fades into a routine. This is one of the reasons that I have always insisted on keeping up a date night so the two of us can break out of our daily routines to focus on each other. Not only do I understand but I have experienced what it feels like when that special love is no longer with you. SUCCESSFUL investment banker Davis, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Source Code, Nightcrawler), only began to realize what he was missing after his wife was killed in a tragic automobile accident. This film festival winning comedic drama also included Naomi Watts (While we’re Young, The Impossible) as Karen, Chris Cooper (Adaptation, American Beauty) as Davis’ father-in-law and Judah Lewis (Point Break) as Chris. Though the acting was good I found the script to be dismal though in a way this played to Jake’s strengths. I do not even know if I would classify this movie as part comedy. There was nothing in it that I found funny. Now there were several opportunities to create impressive dramatic scenes but they tended to fall short. Also, I usually do not notice but this time I thought Jake’s shower scenes were unnecessary and wondered if they were inserted for eye candy value. The other odd thing I found was the lack of time awareness. I became aware to the fact that he wasn’t working yet these different events were taking place with him over time. For some reason this stood out for me. The idea behind this story was interesting and the script had some valid points; however, I did not connect to this film, nor did I miss it after it was over.
1 ¾ stars
From the era where the video game Pong appeared to current times, video games have technically advanced by light years. I like most kids my age was swept up into this new form of entertainment, acquiring and trading game cartridges that my friends and I would play on our television screens. My favorite types of games were either based in science fiction or brain teasers. I was always excited to get a new space type of game where I would have to defend earth from hostile alien beings. With these types of games I did not have a problem shooting a ray gun or a cannon blaster. However, if a game used realistic guns in a real type of setting I was not a fan of the game. I did not care to pretend I was shooting humans in a war or criminal setting. As a little boy I loved playing with toy soldiers in battles; but as an adult I had no desire to put myself in a realistic fighting scenario. Now here is an interesting thought: do you think there is any correlation between violent video games and an increase in actual violence among us? It is not something I have actually thought about much until I saw this action movie. I have to tell you I always thought the more violence a person is exposed to the more numb they become to it. Even at the health clubs I chose not to teach any type of combat classes due to my beliefs. I wonder if this is why I felt I was not best suited to watch this adventure science fiction film. WAKING from unconsciousness with no memories, to a strange woman telling him she knows him, Henry had to quickly decide if he should believe her when she was kidnapped. This film festival winner had a unique idea by filming the entire picture through Henry’s eyes. This meant there was a lot of shaky and quick jerky looking scenes. By a lot I mean every scene. With a cast that included Sharito Copley (District 9, Chappie) as Jimmy, Danila Kozlovsky (Vampire Academy, The Spy) as Akan and Tim Roth (The Incredible Hulk, Reservoir Dogs) as Henry’s father; I cannot honestly say I enjoyed the acting because there really was no story. The little story there was made no sense to me. This entire film simply was a video game on a big screen, but none of the viewers could play it. I give the movie studio credit for trying such a novel approach to filming; however, sitting in my seat watching shooting and violence the entire time was extremely boring. Hopefully I am not stereotyping but the small predominantly male crowd sitting in the theater appeared to be gamers. If this is the future of both video games and movies I do not think I will be able to handle it. I would rather stick with those old games like Pong or Tetris.
1 1/2 stars
There is good and evil in every single person; this is what I believe. I did not come to this conclusion from some doctrine I was taught growing up; at a young age there were many people who showed me examples of both. Since that time whenever I have encountered someone acting in either a good or evil way I just have to wonder what happened in their childhood to make them act that way now. For me both qualities are a choice; however, I have to recognize outside factors. A person’s experiences during their formative years can sway them to one side or the other. I can see where someone who was constantly and severely punished for incidental things could start acting out in a violent way. And I believe there are studies showing people who abuse other people usually were abused themselves. Based on my experiences if every person who was abused in some type of way who became in turn an abuser, there would be a lot less kinder people in the world. The reason why I believe everyone has a choice is due to people I know who have had a hard life, yet remain positive and upbeat. I know someone who had years of hardships and struggles that affected their health; but no matter what they were going through, they always kept a smile on their face and I do not mean that in a phony type of way. They were genuinely happy and grateful. So you see, to me they made a choice. I feel the same about the main character in this comedy, they made a choice but was it the right one? AFTER being convicted for insider trading and doing time in prison Michelle Darnell, played by Melissa McCarthy (The Heat, Spy), thought she could pick up the pieces of her life and make it to the top of the business world again. The only thing stopping her were all the people she had stepped on as she was making her way to the top. This comedy that also included Kristen Bell (The Lifeguard, Veronica Mars-TV) as Claire and Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Game of Thrones-TV) as Renault, was lucky to have these 3 actors. I do not think anyone would deny that Melissa has incredible comedic timing. What surprised me however was Peter Dinklage; I thought he and Melissa were a great match. Now there were a few times I laughed during this film; however, a majority of the time was wasted on similar jokes and sight gags. For the most part the story was predictable where I was wishing the writers would have cut the crudeness and been a little more creative. The trailers basically shown the cleanest and best parts to this movie. I liked Melissa in this film; I just wished the writers had made a better choice in their words for the script. There were several extra short outtake scenes through part of the credits.
1 3/4 stars
Addiction is defined as an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something. When I hear the word addicted or addiction I immediately think of something harmful like drugs or alcohol. It would never occur to me to think of something that could be detrimental to a person. However, if I think about the above definition what would you say about a person who grew up only wanting to do one activity; let us say running or shopping. Now I knew someone who would get at least one package every day delivered to their house for things they would purchase online; can you imagine? There was one room of the house that you could barely see the walls because the boxes were stacked so high. Would you say this person was addicted to shopping? My answer would be yes. Maybe I am not the one to talk about this since some of my friends think I am addicted to movie watching; like that is a bad thing if it were true? But seriously, I wonder what takes place in an individual to sway them to a particular activity if they already have a predisposition to addiction. I do not know why but after seeing this movie I started thinking about different activities and you know, there are so many ways you can consider them being an addiction. If I remember correctly there was a news report about a person who was addicted to plastic surgery. They had gone through at least a dozen different procedures for different parts of their body and face. I cannot fathom it let alone what the cost must have been. It is a curious subject that plays out in this movie. THIS film festival nominated drama was about jazz musician Chet Baker, played by Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Good Kill). Also starring Carmen Ejogo (Selma, Pride and Glory) as Jane/Elaine and Callum Keith Rennie (The Butterfly Effect, Fifty Shades of Grey) as Dick, I thought the acting was quite good. I had no idea Ethan could sing or play the trumpet; but if not him, he certainly was convincing to me. Set in the 1960s this film had a real retro look for the era and I admired the way it was filmed. The script moved back and forth between different years of Chet’s life; since I am not familiar with him, I did not mind the switches. Also, I enjoyed listening to the soundtrack besides witnessing his place in music history. Due to the coincidence of this being my 2nd musical film this week, there is a tendency to compare the two. I have to say both films had excellent acting, but I felt more engaged to this film. Hopefully I am not biased because I am more familiar with jazz music then country. I think this story was more authentic and had a film style that better matched the music genre. You may not get addicted to the story or music but there was enough here to keep you interested about his life.
With the right side of my brain reigning over the left one I have always gravitated to creative achievements. I guess you could say I hold them at a higher status then other accomplishments one does in their life. It has always fascinated me how people express themselves in a creative way, whatever the medium or method may be. One year I bought a ticket package to a dance series, from ballet to modern. To see not only the dancers moving to the music but to watch how the choreography was created to blend with the sounds was amazing to me. Regarding the dancers, I knew what type of dedication they had to have to manage such control over their bodies. Just from what I have experienced by teaching aerobics I know I only covered a sliver of the energy that dancers produce in their craft. The same can be said for any of the artists who have their work on display somewhere. Some of the graffiti I have seen on walls has been wild; in fact, there was a town I visited where they encouraged graffiti artists to create work on the back of buildings in a block long alley. It really was an amazing spectacle. From my own experiences I know creative outlets can be the exit ramps for our emotions to come out from being buried inside of us. Whether it is doing origami or gardening to song writing or pottery making; anything that gives us a vehicle to express ourselves is a positive attribute in my opinion. WITH only a pen and a guitar country western singer Hank Williams, played by Tom Hiddleston (Thor franchise, Crimson Peak), was able to create songs that told real stories. I have had no exposure to Hank’s music so I was curious about this biographical drama. Another thing I wanted to see was how this British actor would handle a southern American accent in his speech and with his singing voice; I knew the film studio wanted him to sing Hank’s songs. I have to tell you he was excellent in the role along with Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla, Oldboy) as his wife Audrey. The strongest part to this music movie was the acting; even the supporting cast of Cherry Jones (The Village, The Perfect Storm) as Lillie Williams and Bradley Whitford (Saving Mr. Banks, The West Wing-TV) as Fred Rose was quite good. The biggest issue I had concerned the script. I felt I never understood what drove these characters. There were parts of the picture that ran slow which produced unevenness to the story telling. Actually I thought if the writers would have devoted more back story to the songs I would have enjoyed this film more; even exploring the mother/son relationship would have helped me stay more attuned to what was going on up on screen. There is no denying Hank Williams was a gifted and creative artist; I only had wished his story would have been conveyed in a more creative movie.
2 ½ stars
Being the recipient of unconditional love is one of the most extraordinary events to experience in one’s lifetime. To have a person who loves you, respects you and accepts you with all of your quirks and oddities is like always having a comforting warm hug around you. Most everybody assumes the first exposure to unconditional love comes from our parents and for the most part that is true. However I have seen examples where I had to wonder to myself why that person became a parent. This may sound harsh to some of you but I saw a parent during a team sporting event that spent the entire time yelling at their child, telling them everything they were doing wrong. It was horrifying and frankly disgusting to me. I cannot honestly say that parent loved their child unconditionally. Let me ask you what you think about a parent who informs their child they should have never become a parent; what does that say about them? In fact because they did not want to be bothered by their child they started giving them an allowance at a very early age to stay out of their hair. Unconditional love is not exclusive to one group of people; it goes for everyone. I have had discussions with friends who were in relationships with people who smoked cigarettes. Knowing they were non-smokers I asked how the two worked it out. They said an agreement was made that there would be no smoking in the house or car and they deal with it because they love their significant other. To me that is unconditional love and as I was moved by that statement I was just as moved by the unconditional love I saw in this adventure drama. WITH the government thinking his son could be a threat and a religious group thinking he was a savior, the only thing that mattered to Roy, played by Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, The Iceman), was figuring out how to keep his special little boy safe. This film festival nominee immediately grabbed me at the beginning of its original story, which is listed as science fiction by the way. With Joel Edgerton (Black Mass, The Gift) as Lucas, Adam Driver (Frances Ha, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Sevier and Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman franchise, Upside Down) as Sarah Tomlin; I thought the acting was wonderful, adding oomph to the already compelling script. The combination of Michael Shannon as the Dad and Jaeden Lieberher (Aloha, St. Vincent) as his son Alton was powerful enough for me to actually believe they were family. The acting took this story which was essentially a long chase scene and made the movie extra special for me. On another level the script allowed the viewer to come up with their own interpretation concerning the different factions staking out their claims. I feel if one can accept the story they will find this picture a fascinating study. This movie took me away despite falling off towards the end; but it was okay, I still loved watching this indie feeling film treat.
3 ¼ stars
I try very hard to keep a barrier in my daily life between the real world and my fantasy one. It can be hard to accomplish at times due partially to the vast amount of movies I have seen. One of the reasons is because there have been instances where my real life has mirrored something I have seen in a film. Before you say that sounds like a cool thing to experience I have to tell you, though it has felt that way at times, there have been moments where it was not a pleasant situation. There was the wedding I attended where the parents of the bride and groom had a fight at the reception causing the bride to run out of the room and go sit in a bathroom stall, crying her eyes out. Another time I was driving on a highway when I saw a car spin out of control that started a chain reaction of accidents. Of course for every negative experience I have encountered I also have found a pleasant one. I vividly remember the time while I was standing in a long line for an amusement park ride I spotted a stranger and as they turned around to look at me everyone else disappeared into the background just like the gymnasium scene from West Side Story. So you see there are pluses and minuses to living a life filled with movie excerpts. It would be special if I was able to pick and choose the film genres, wouldn’t it? I will tell you I certainly would not freely choose a horror story like the one that appeared in this comedy. LEAVING Chicago for Beverly Hills Carl Black, played by Mike Epps (The Hangover franchise, Resident Evil franchise), hoped to make a better life for his wife Lorena, played by Zulay Henao (Takers, Boy Wonder), and his children. Unfortunately once the family settled into their new place they soon would become part of a horror story. This comedy had a curious premise of incorporating a story line similar to a recent horror film franchise. I actually liked the idea however it was the script that was horrific. The repeat use of curse and derogatory words is something I have never found to be funny. As for the humor I found very little of it in this comedic spoof. It was weird for me to sit through this film because at first I thought the story was the same as an old television show called, “The Beverly Hillbillies.” It was about a poor family that struck oil on their land and moved to a mansion with a cement pond. But then the story shifted to horror and what I mean by horror were scenes of blood and violence. There was plenty of horror for me just by sitting in my seat through this whole picture so I could write my review. I hope you never find yourself in a situation similar to what took place with me in the theater and this movie.
1 1/2 stars
We were sitting around talking about our ideal place to live when we all reach retirement age. The answers went from coast to coast, with the majority set in warmer regions. But even with an ideal location there was a caveat to each of our answers, the fear of a natural catastrophe taking place. For those who chose the California area there was the fear of earthquakes. Going to the opposite coast of the United States the concerns were hurricanes or rising sea levels. I already have enough to worry about on a daily basis, besides the violent storms that take place in my area. The idea of living in an area prone to devastating events would put me on edge to say the least. I guess it is a trade-off for those who want to live in a beautiful if not exotic area. What I am curious about is how the people who live in such places where earthquakes or flooding occur handle it all. The pictures I have seen of homeowners returning to their flooded and broken homes, even demolished ones, are just heartbreaking. I do not know what I would do if I came home one day and saw my house destroyed by fire or tornadoes. One of the reasons I am not a fan of July 4th celebrations is because of all the people in my neighborhood who shoot off fireworks. Many homes are made of wood products besides all the trees; it does not make sense to me, but then again not many things these days make sense to me. Though the area looked unbelievable to me, I do not know how the people in this dramatic thriller could live there knowing what could happen one day. LIVING in the area by the Geiranger Fjord was idyllic for geologist Kristian, played by Kristoffer Joner (The Revenant, The Monitor), whose job was to monitor for seismic activity. One day he noticed something different. This film festival winning action movie had some of the most beautiful outdoor scenes I have ever seen in a movie, possibly because the area is so foreign to me. I was grateful the subtitles were not distracting so I could really watch the story unfold. With Ane Dahl Torp (Dead Snow, Cold Lunch) as Idun and Thomas Bo Larsen (The Hunt, The Celebration) as Phillip, I thought the acting was pretty good, considering the script was somewhat weak in parts. One of the things I liked about this picture was its old fashioned feel; it reminded me of those disaster films from the 1980s. The story was simple and despite it being a bit predictable I really did not mind. This may sound weird to say about this disaster movie but I found it fun to watch with the dramatic harrowing scenes shot in a retro low budget way. I would have said I wanted to vacation here someday but after seeing this film I think I would be afraid the whole time. Norwegian language was spoken with English subtitles.
2 ½ stars