Big Eyes*

big-eyes-5
A. Adams as Margaret, and C. Waltz as Walter/image: variety.com

 Amy Adams is a very gifted actor with lots of little nuances about her technique which keeps her acting fresh. She can keep the audience invested even if the role she’s playing is somewhat weak, withdrawn, non confrontational, and lacks confidence. And in this movie she articulates this beautifully. She’s hesitant, restrained, and yet, somehow in your face all at the same time and makes this role Oscar worthy. It’s interesting when an actor can pull all this off, while convincing you she’s not acting. 

The Premise…

Margaret Keane's work/image: writtenignition.com
Margaret Keane’s work/image: writtenignition.com

Centered on Margaret, Adams, a young woman with a daughter that she takes with her, leaves her first husband in the early 50’s something that wasn’t very popular or looked very highly on if the woman was the was the one leaving. So in desperation she moves to San Francisco near her single girlfriend, DeeAnn, Krysten Ritter, for moral support. There she meets a man, Walter Keane, Christoph Waltz who is very chipper and a fast talking fellow artist. And as she seeks to reinvent herself they become fast friends and she begins to gain confidence to pursue her painting talents, by his urging. Then Walter asks her to marry him and begins selling her work, as he tries to sell his own, but the problem is he’s a fly in the ointment and not after her best interests but his own.

With the ubiquitous chauvinistic 50’s women felt pressure to have a man define them. And it’s intriguing to note how wolves know a sheep when they see one and pounce on it, and in this scenario, Margaret is the sheep and her future husband is the wolf. Which is a sad commentary on the 50’s since women were even more burdened down when they were a divorc­ée. So with that the story took off from there.

The Sum Up…

The real Margaret Keane now/image: usatoday.com
The real Margaret Keane now with Amy Adams to the right/image: usatoday.com

It was refreshing knowing that Tim Burton directed this movie and Johnny Depp wasn’t in it. It was unusual to not see special effects and eclectic costumes, which made you forget you were watching a Burton film, and I appreciated his restraint and maturity in his directing style. Keane, Waltz, was somewhat convincing as the fast talking, con man. But this movie was all Adams, she played this role in such a way that all you could think of was, less is definitely more. So my score for this film is, B ~ NOTE WORTHY, see either in theaters or on DVD but see it. The reason I didn’t give it an A is because, Waltz was too over the top and he seemed like he was acting and Tim should have used a different actor to play the single girlfriend, DeeAnn, Ritter was terrible, and thank goodness her scenes where short and few. No Safety Alerts here, but this movie is not for kids under 12. With good directing, and decent writing it’s a go see. This movie is rated PG13.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

exodus-gods-and-kings-movie-poster-9
The chase scene/image: apnatimepass.com

The last few movies I’ve seen, like Birdman, and Horrible Bosses 2, seemed like such a chore to review, because of the silliness of the movies, so I didn’t. Unlike this movie which was a chore because it was so bad. With its huge budget, spectacular costumes, and special effects, and my too high of expectations, the movie gave very little for the $5 I spent to see it and thankfully this is all I spent.

The Premise…

Since most know the story of Moses, Christian Bale, and his humble beginning, this film picks up at the pinnacle of the story, where we see Moses as a very successful second to the newly reigning king of Egypt, Ramesses 2, Joel Edgerton. Since Ramesses is a hardened prideful Egyptian man, he’s easily influenced by and trusts Moses’ loyalty completely, as Moses on the other hand, is fast becoming a man of God and is finding he loves the people of God more and is disdainfully aware that his allegiance lies with those enslaved by Pharaoh. So as he becomes more of an ally to the Jews, he escapes Pharaoh and is the catalyst to freeing the Jews and leading them out of Egypt.

The base story was all there and should have been strong enough to make for a good movie but unfortunately nothing could help this movie. Not the actors, with the lackluster hodge podge of a cast, some British, some Australian and some American, but all wrong. It made a big hot mess, even the messenger of God a young boy, Isaac Andrews, who was a good actor, just seemed mean and angry.

The Sum Up…

An uninspired 2½ hour messy mess. There however were some moments of brilliance, the breathtaking cinematography and beautiful horses. The horses acting was exceptional and more interesting to watch. As were all the scenes with Ramesses, riding in his chariot. I will say the most interesting actor to watch was Edgarton, but the writing was really bad, and I’m getting a bit bored with Bale, he’s starting to play the same guy in every role. So my film score is, D ~ DON’T EVEN BOTHER, not worth the time and effort to even put the DVD in the player; or click to stream on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smart phone!! This movie is rated PG13

Black Mirror, Netflix Original

Black Mirror
T. Kebbell as Liam in The Entire History of You, series 1 episode 3/image: vulturehound.co.uk

Black Mirror a British TV series I stumbled upon on Netflix. Something I kept seeing pictured and finally decided to give a try, as I’ve also in the past enjoyed watching the actor Toby Kebbell pictured above. I also like the synopsis because it had the words sci-fi, and The Twilight Zone, in the description, two-word phrases that could make any TV watching experience more clever, and interesting. Also, in my opinion, since British acting, and writing is some of the very best, I thought, “yep this series could be worth my time.” And it was!!!

The Premise…

With its six episodes, three in 2011 and three in 2013, the show does have a Twilight Zone vibe to it, minus the narrator. The stories are futuristic and focus on social media and how it could affect us in our interaction with one another. It takes some clever liberties with what might be our lot in the future and shows us some cautionary scenarios that could be terrifying in a “what if,” kind of way, and shows how important it is to pause, and think about how far we could take this whole social media thing and how easily it could stunt our lives.

black mirror 3
Liam in Black Mirror/image: spin.com

For instance, in series 1 episode 3, The Entire History of You, we see how having a memory chip installed in our brain, can make it very difficult to get away with lying to each other. Especially since the chip allows you to download, rewind, fast forward, and re-watch your memories. Memories of what just happened a few moments before or a very long time ago, on a screen which pulls up in any square frame so anyone can view with you with your permission, or if looking at memories inside your head on your own, you don’t need a screen your eyes just go cloudy. The device is something a parent can have installed in the child as a baby and something you can only opt out of with surgery. Which can cause you to be treated like an outcast because you don’t have the chip, not to mention it’s a painful difficult surgery to remove.

The Sum Up…

With cleverly themed episodes, the series really had legs, using very familiar British faces, and great writing, and directing, you are kind of bummed when you’ve watched all the episodes, wanting to see more. The creator Charlie Booker has his stamp on each episode reminiscent of Rod Sterling, and shows us how easily this fast social media blitz can get out of hand. This show also has, a huge SAFETY ALERT warning, because as I’ve mentioned in other posts, British TV doesn’t have the same parental advisories as American TV, so their’s a lot of language, sexual content, and adult themes being exposed here! Which means, take heed parents when letting your children watch Netflix! I give this show a score of A for creative TV writing, acting, and directing, this show is not rated.

Big Hero 6** 2014

BIG HERO 6
The full line up: Wasabi, Go Go, Honey Lemon, Fred, Hiro, Baymax, Cass, Tadashi, Robert Callaghan and unnamed villain/image: http://www.belifenet.com

Since the empty nest syndrome has taken place in my immediate family, kid movies have all but ceased, except on occasion. However any animated Disney movie is worth going to see with or without a little one and wow, this one did not disappoint! I really enjoyed this movie, not because it had a great unusual story but because the characters were very likable and the way the character’s were introduced helped the story stay interesting. As well as the voice actor’s being very good at what they do.

The Premise…

Hiro, Ryan Potteris a 14-year-old gifted wiz kid who is going through puberty as he is moody, uninspired, and starting to get into trouble since already completing high school. At, his older brother Tadashi’s, Daniel Henney, bidding, he decides to apply to the same nerd university his brother goes too. And to be admitted in, he has to come up with an interesting innovative invention. So as Hiro attempts to create a prototype, he accidentally stumbles upon his brother’s cool invention named, Baymax.

So as we get to know Baymax and what he’s all about, Hiro, is busy concocting his own invention for his hopeful admittance to school. Which is where we meet the rest of the gang of misfit nerds who go on an adventure with Baymax leading the way. The cast of misfits: Baymax (Voiced by Scott Adsit), Go Go Tomago (Voiced by Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Voiced by Damon Wayans Jr.), Fred (Voiced by T.J. Miller), Honey Lemon (Voiced by Genesis Rodriguez). 

The Sum Up…

This story really had legs, mostly because the voice acting was exceptional. Also with really good animation and great character development of Baymax, you really got to connect with the main characters. This movie had everything from a good non annoying music score to funny humor, with very clever dialog and a good story, the movie ends with you wanting more. Especially more Baymax, so my score for this flick is A ~ THEATER WORTHY, see this in theaters it’s that good. Kids, 4 and up can see this one and will love it. With only a slight SAFETY ALERT, for one scary villian mask, and a little violence. This movie is rated PG and great family fun.

Nightcrawler** 2014

J. Gyllenhaal as L. Bloom/image: huffingtonpost.com
J. Gyllenhaal as L. Bloom/image: huffingtonpost.com

Jake Gyllenhaal has been type cast to play creepy withdrawn characters, and for the last several years he’s been predictable and uninspiring. Until this creepy withdrawn character, where his acting scale has gone up double fold and has shown off why they keep giving him leading roles. Finally, he got a role of a life time up to now since he’s fairly young and not only was he exceptional in the film but every cast member was, right down to the newscasters!!!

The Premise…

Louis Bloom, Gyllenhaal, is an awkward loner who is a thief and a con man, but recently decides to go somewhat legit and looks to reinvent himself and his career choices. He also appears to have a mental disorder, that’s never mentioned in the movie by name but resembles a mild case of autism. Louis also does a lot of internet surfing and has educated himself about this new-found profession he’s fixated on and decides to buy a camera and become a freelance news cameraman. So with his already questionable moral compass, the story takes off with a bang and never looks back.

Most movies with the writer and director as the same person gives a movie a definite edge and makes a movie better and translates to the audience clearly. And here is the perfect example of this. Gyllenhaal’s character was clearly defined, you knew right away he wasn’t the warmest fella in Los Angeles, as he get’s progressively colder and more detached as the story develops. Gyllenhaal, is flawless here, with his very slim frame, and big sunken in eyes, so he looks the part, and he’s very convincing as a man with a mental issue. There is no question about why he’s a loner and what that means to people who he comes into contact with.

With his skewed philosophy, he does make a lot of sense about certain things, but it doesn’t help you empathize with him, and Gyllenhaal’s acting never lets the audience get in Louis’ corner. As there is something else very clear, the TV news business is a very dirty business, and morally what people do to get breaking news is extremely crass, and nasty, from the producer right down to the cameramen.

The Sum Up…

What I really loved about this movie was how well it articulated the story. Here’s a guy with a problem, which escalates him into a monster, who are all over the place, with very little morality and don’t care who is affected by what they do. And it’s really like this, right now in our society. Lot’s of sociopathic, unscrupulous people, who are then driven by money, what a terrible mix. So, this movie gets an A+ ~ THEATER WORTHY, see this in theaters it’s that good, for writing, directing, and acting. With a SAFETY ALERT for language, subject matter, and content. With an honorable mention of Rene Russo who’s character goes from one person to another by movies end. This movie is rated R.

As, The Raven, and The Pearl…Are AMAZING!!!

By Heart ~ You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind?


the pearl
Characters from the short story, The Pearl/image: glogstar.com

The first song that comes to my mind is As, By Stevie Wonder 1976, and the poem that comes to mind is The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe 1845, and the story is the short story by John Steinbeck, called The Pearl 1947. These three classics made me as child catch my breath and effected me deeply. So much so that when I think about them now I get goose bumps. The poem, just seemed so sad, and yet so emotional, and the short story seemed like I was watching a movie as I listened to the teacher in 10th grade English read it. With each, it really shaped my life about what art was, and how important the written word is to the mind and how it affects us as we read or listen to someone sing it. These three, make me happy to be an American because all three are by very gifted American men from very different times.

Dear White People* 2014

dear white people
T. Thompson, M. Richardson and Black Activist cast/image: hollywood.com

Well, this movie was an interesting piece. It was very reminiscent of  Spike Lee‘s style of film making, but with a fresher and a more balanced viewpoint about the white and black sides of the issue of race among young people in American college/culture today. As it didn’t divide the audience like Lee’s movies tended to do. Have race relations changed much from the Spike Lee days of the 80’s? Perhaps, which is good but there are issues which still prevail in our society here in the US and Justin Simien addresses them with more humor and less anger which was refreshing and entertaining.

The Premise…

Sam White, Tessa Thompson, is a mixed race black activist and radio host for a talk show called “Dear White People.” Sam does the show from her college campus and as she speaks to different stereotypes white people might have about black people she calls them out about it on the radio. Sam also by the urging of her black activist friends and dorm mates, decides to run for dorm president. In the mean time she has secrets, secrets that are contrary to her activist radio show and new candidacy for office. And if the secrets were to come out she would be called out and discredited herself. 

The Ivy League cast/image: Ivy-style.com
The Ivy League cast/image: Ivy-style.com

Since Sam likes to call others out, she’s about to get her own comeuppance as some of the other black students are about to get their’s too. Then, with human contradictions running rampant everywhere like in life all the character’s have their own brand of hypocrisy going on. The acting here was top-notch and everyone in the movie was spot on for their specific archetypal characters. For instance, there was a black girl Colandrea ‘Coco’ Conners, Teyonah Parriswho was somewhat of a wannabe white girl with dark skin, straight hair weave, and blue contact lenses. Then there’s the white guy, Mitch, Keith Myers who tries to speak like a black guy but lives in a privileged ivy league fraternity house and is rivaling with Sam’s activist dorm and radio program.

The Sum Up…

With very funny one liners, and a good soundtrack, and strong story, the movie manages midway through to become a better movie than it starts out being. The dialog is fast and spoken in current young people dialect so I admit, I missed or didn’t understand everything being said. (Wow, since I’m an early gen X’r, I don’t understand young people anymore or pop culture, and that’s unfortunate). The actors were very compelling and fresh and for the most part new faces to the movie scene. With a few older generation faces like,  Dean Fairbanks, Dennis Haysbert, to give the movie some weight so us oldies wouldn’t feel left out. The movie get’s a B ~ NOTE WORTHY, see either in theaters or on DVD but see it, as it also gets a SAFETY ALERT, for language, sex scenes, drug use, 2 dubious relationships, and subject matter. The movie started off kind of confusing and slow but sped up once the first act was over, and for that I would say it’s a movie to see twice just to catch all the dialog, especially if you have a comprehension problem like I guess I do. This movie isn’t for kids under 17, and this movie is rated R (limited release). 

 

 

Fury** 2014

B. Pitt as Wardaddy/image: moviedownloadsfree.com
B. Pitt as Wardaddy/image: moviedownloadsfree.com

Brad Pitthas become one of the actors I really look forward to seeing in movies these days. He’s matured into a middle-aged father figure type and nice guy. Almost every movie I’ve seen him in since World War Z, he’s played a tender, sweet, caring character and here he’s no different. Although a little more gruff, and scary in this one but still his humanity comes through as well as his fan wear, bare-chested fine chest muscles.

The Premise…

In World War II, Wardaddy, Pitt is the Army Sergeant of his 5 man tank team and they are an eclectic bunch. Having just lost one of their guys in a battle, they need a replacement for the team and Norman, Logan Lerman, is their new man. Since the team have been together in battle for three years, Norman’s initiated in since he’s the newbie, and part of his initiation is to clean out the remains of their fallen fifth man as he’s still in the tank.

M. Pena, L. Lerhman, B. Pitt, J. Bernthal, S. LeBeouf/image: hdmovietrailers.eu
M. Peña, L. Lerman, B. Pitt, J. Bernthal, S. LeBeouf/image: hdmovietrailers.eu

Their new mission is to ride ahead of the troops who are on foot and take out as many Nazi’s as possible. The problem, there are only 4 tanks and as they try to keep the Germans at bay, one by one the tanks are getting taken out. The other issue, the German’s have better stronger tanks and bringing the fight to the American’s. So as we get to know these 5 guys, Bible, Shia LaBeouf, Gordo, Michael Peña, and Coon-ass, Jon Bernthal, we also see the comradery of the group. 

Pitt’s acting is convincing here, actually all the acting is top-notch. Everyone in the film seemed on the verge of tears from Wardaddy to Norman. Bible, LaBeouf, had big crocodile tears in his eyes for most of the film. It was nice to see actor’s really give an intense performance as it was clear they took the subject matter seriously. David Ayer, director and writer of the film, did a great job of giving the story cohesiveness. This war movie was reminiscent of old war movies from the 50’s and 60’s about World War II.

 The Sum Up…

With the story focusing on the tight-knit group of 5 men, the film didn’t get side tracked and wasn’t confusing. It also gave the movie legs and even though some scenes were very graphic, it wasn’t over done. All seemed necessary to push the story along. It also was nice to see the characters evolve over time. With a SAFETY ALERT, for graphic scenes of violence, language, and subject matter this movie gets a B+ ~ NOTE WORTHY, see either in theaters or on DVD but see it. Not everyone is into war flicks so I can’t give it an A. This movie is rated R.

Gone Girl** 2014

R. Pike, Amy and B. Affleck, Nick/image: screenrant.com
R. Pike, as Amy and B. Affleck, as Nick/image: screenrant.com

Wow, I just saw this movie and my mouth dropped open from beginning to end. Talk about a man being objectified by a woman. I can’t say too much about it or I will give it away. This is one of those reviews that will be very short. 

The Premise…

Nick Dunne, Ben Affleck, has a problem. His wife is gone and he’s accused of killing her. As he tries to clear his name, the evidence is piling up against him. He’s concerned for his wife and also about not going to jail for a murder he says he didn’t commit. His wife, Amy Dunne, Rosamund Pike, is the narrator of the story and the movie is told from her perspective at first. But as the story unfolds it is then switched to Nick’s perspective and narrated by him, which gave the film an interesting spin. 

Pike’s acting was exceptional here, a very unusual role for her. Affleck, also plays against type but not as much as Pike, which made it very fun to watch. It’s interesting when leading actor’s play against type it gives the audience more to look at and surprises you. Also, the co-starring roles were exceptional too. Nick’s twin sister Margo Dunne, Carrie Coon, played a very attentive sister, who cared a lot about her brother and wanted him cleared of the crime. Then Tanner Bolt, Tyler Perry, who almost seemed miscast at first was very entertaining playing the hotshot lawyer for Nick. His acting was surprisingly good, and gave the film a lighter tone, not funny but light-hearted, because this film was very dark otherwise. 

The Sum Up…

This film had a slow start but sped up quickly and became something unpredictable. With lot’s of twists and turns, and surprises, this thriller was very well written, directed, and acted. All the cast members were compelling and really conveyed the story well. With it’s very good dialog and directing style David Fincher kept the audience on edge as to what would happen next. I really like Fincher’s directing it’s usually top-notch and here was more of the same. The score is, A ~ THEATER WORTHY, see this in theaters it’s that good. With a SAFETY ALERT, for nudity, subject matter, and graphic scenes of violence, this movie is rated R.

 

The Equalizer* 2014

D. Washington as Robert/image: hitflix.com
D. Washington as Robert/image: hitflix.com

Denzel Washington, has never been my favorite actor but I’ve mostly enjoyed his movies, umm, expect for Training Day , that was a NO. Anyway, as he’s matured in age I’ve come to appreciate him even more as an actor and most of his choices of roles. (The reason I went to see this one is because of the trailer and one amazing scene I saw.) Except when he plays the guy who dates a woman half his age. That’s such a boring storyline and overused cliché I can’t watch ANY old male actor in this redundant movie troupe, it’s creepy to me. But I digressed, anyway this role he plays in The Equalizer was very multi dimensional and entertaining. Not to mention this is my favorite movie genre, I LOVE HIT MAN MOVIES!!!Read More »