Check out both reviews!
Madison Monroe (She Said) gave it four stars and Alyn Darnay (He Said) gave it five out of five!
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Madison Monroe (She Said) gave it four stars and Alyn Darnay (He Said) gave it five out of five!
Written and Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Sam Shepard, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon, and Joe Don Baker
It starts with a boat in a tree, on an island in a lake, inhabited temporarily by a mysterious stranger, who will forever change the lives of two young boys out on an adventure. Itâs a story of obsessive love, of first love, of women who are unworthy of love, of divorce, of men and boys caught up in the throws of it all, and most certainly a âcoming of age at every ageâ parable. Itâs a sweet southern fairytale; a âGumboâ if you will, that has all the earmarks of being an adapted classic novel, yet itâs an original story.
The movie wants to take its background from Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” but it feels more like âWinterâs Bone.” It is a complex tale told in a sly quiet way that forces itself into your mind, because youâre compelled to find out what the characters are really all about below the surface.
Yes, the movie is that good. Iâm not going to tell you anymore about the plot, Iâve already said too much. You need to experience Mud for yourself, let it charm you just as it did the audiences at Sundance, South By Southwest, and Cannes.
I will however, talk about the acting, because itâs so outstanding that no one personâs presence towers over the others. It is the perfect ensemble. The acting is consummate throughout. McConaughey, grubby and adrift in his life as Mud, turns in one of his greatest performances to date. Tye Sheridan (remember his name) as young Ellis is a special find as is his buddy NeckBone played by Jacob Lofiand. Sam Shepard, who appears to be born for this role, is above his usual high standard, and Reese Witherspoon is excellent playing against type in a pivotal cameo. Everyone in this film seems so real youâll forget they are actors playing a part in a movie.
Indie Director Jeff Nichols, on his third outing here (Take Shelter, Shotgun Stories) has written a fable that is ageless while still being current with the times, quite a feat. And as a director he was able to bring all the elements together in a style uniquely his own, wrapped up in some of the most beautiful cinematography of rural Arkansas youâre ever likely to see, because itâs fast vanishing.
I had to think about Mud for a day or two before I could write this, I wanted to be sure of my feeling about the movie. Itâs different. I mean the themes are familiar; they are just dealt with differently, excellently. So hereâs my take; there are a lot of films worth seeing in the theaters right now, and I know a small film like this gets overlooked easily; however, if youâre looking for a great drama with tremendous soul, donât overlook this one!
Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev
Script By: J.H.Wyman
Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard
I have to admit I had trouble understanding the title. After the film ended I still didnât get it. But then again, after the film ended, I didnât really get the film either. What we seem to have here is a revenge thriller that aspires to be more than your average revenge thriller. Unfortunately the film never jells into anything but a big moody shootâum up with one of the most convoluted plots Iâve seen in years.
Does that mean I hated the film? No, I didnât, and Iâll tell you why in one name, Colin Farrell. I first became aware of Mr. Farrell in Steven Spielbergâs film âMinority Reportâ. Thought his performance in that film was terrific and I was looking forward to seeing more work from him. It wasnât forthcoming; he drifted into mediocre roles that he appeared to be just walking through and aside from his wonderfully strange turn last year as one of the âHorrible Bossesâ he just wasnât worth my time to watch. Now up he pops in DEAD MAN DOWN, and his performance makes the film work for me. Subdued, believable, haunting, and vulnerable, his Victor is a tortured shell of a person trying to make sense of his life through revenge. Itâs everything I always thought he could pull off as an actor and more.
Hereâs The Storyline:
Victor (Farrell), appears to be a rising gangland hood, he has infiltrated the crime empire run by ruthless kingpin Alphonse (Howard), with the sole purpose of making him pay for destroying his wife and daughter. As he meticulously orchestrates his vengeance from his high-rise apartment, he watches and is watched by Beatrice (Rapace), a disfigured young woman who lives in the apartment across from his. When she uncovers Victor’s dark secrets from afar, she threatens to expose him unless he helps her carry out her own retribution. Together, they begin to carry out their intricate plans, but the odds are stacked against them.
Danish director Niels Arden Oplev, who created the original âThe Girl with the Dragon Tattooâ, makes his American theatrical debut with this film. That debut is the problem here; his wonderful Scandinavian sensibility does not work in his favor inside a big American Film. Had this movie been made away from the Hollywood machine, say in Europe for instance, it would have been better, easier to believe, less confusing. Along with Oplev on this journey is the brilliant Swedish actress Noomi Rapace he used in âDragonâ. Usually a sure performance, this time she lacks the story and character to let her talent fly. Hard to believe that Farrell is able to upstage her at every turn, but there it is.
The film is a strange brew of violent vengeance and deep felt heartache, located in a place where death is constantly at hand and love is a hard commodity to come by. Wait for the DVD.
Rated R for violence, language throughout and a scene of sexuality – 110 minutes
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt, Edgar Ramirez, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong
âZero Dark Thirtyâ (Military Jargon for Half Past Midnight) is a film about the decade long search by an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted to a single goal; to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden, the world’s most dangerous man.
CIA Agent Maya: âThere are two narratives about the location of Osama bin Laden. The one that you’re most familiar with is that UBL is hiding in a cave in the tribal areas, that he’s surrounded by a large contingent of loyal fighters. But that narrative is pre-9/11 understanding of UBL. The second narrative is that he’s living in a city, living in a city with multiple points of egress and entry, access to communications, so that he can keep in touch with the organization. You can’t run a global network of interconnected cells from a cave.â
And so our doggedly determined heroine played brilliantly by Jessica Chastain (Lawless, The Help) begins her obsessive 10-year search for the most wanted terrorist in the world amid harsh interrogations, spotty information, repeated setbacks, and heavy bouts of political in-fighting.
Youâll find âZero Dark Thirtyâ to be much more than a hunt him down and kill him film; itâs actually a hybrid. Though thereâs lots of action and danger for the characters at every turn, in ways both brutal and engrossing, this is more a procedural film about methods and process, stumbling blocks and blind alleys, death and survival. A fascinating journey of tactics and obsessionâŚand sudden death.
Even though we know the outcome of the film, Kathryn Bigelowâs (The Hurt Locker) direction and vision for this film combined with Mark Boalâs superb screenplay succeeds in generating enormous tension as it layers on story element after story element until it truly captures the context of the situation and the times they fit into. The film asks no questions of the audience or of itself, makes no conclusions about the actions taken, and yet still manages to make us feel what we and the hunters must have felt at that climactic moment in historyâŚrelief. That is the brilliance of this movie.
The film is almost three hours long, yet to me it felt fast. The climactic scene, that of S.E.A.L. Team Sixâs raid on Osama bin Ladenâs compound; a pinpoint-honed logistical operation, and his subsequent assassination is played out in meticulous detail. I felt I was actually seeing events as they happened, just like I imagine Maya did, on a screen from a distance. Iâd hate to have someone like her on my trail, but knowing that there are people like her watching over the country, makes me feel just a little safer.
This is a must see film, but be warned, the action is brutal and disturbing, just like real life.
Directed By: Nikolaj Arcel
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander, Mikkel Boe FĂ¸lsgaard
I donât usually like big historical dramas, especially foreign ones, which I find rather tedious and predictable. However, Iâd heard some great things about âA Royal Affairâ, Denmark’s official submission to the Foreign Language Film category of the 85th Academy Awards, and I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. I also knew that the director was the screenwriter of the Swedish version of âThe Girl With the Dragon Tattooâ, which I just loved, so why not give it a look?
I went into the screening a skeptic, I came out a believer. This is a beautiful, sad and touching story; a profoundly moving historical piece comparable to such majestic screen epics as âAmadeusâ and âElizabethâ, just dripping with palace intrigue, social reform, and a good old-fashioned forbidden romance. But wait, the best part of it all is that 250 years ago this all actually happened.
Hereâs the storyline:
During the Age of Enlightenment, a young princess, Caroline Matilda (youngest daughter of Frederick, Prince of Wales) is married off to the young, but quite insane King Christen VII of Denmark. She falls secretly in love with the royal physician, a man of enlightenment and idealism, and together they start a revolution that changed the fate of the nation forever. At its core itâs a tale of brave idealists who risk everything in their pursuit of securing freedom for an oppressed people. On its surface, itâs a powerful, complex, compelling, harrowing love triangle about an ordinary man who wins the hearts of both king and queen and starts a revolution of ideas and laws. Four years in the making, the film is a sumptuous period drama awash in big ideas, great loves, dangerous plots, and some of the most believable performances of any year.
Danish actor Mads Mikkelson plays the German physician Doctor Struensee to absolute perfection. Not a moment of his performance rings false. Heâs all brooding lover and political power player with quivering lips, lustful looks and sly magnetism.
As the young queen, talented Swedish actress Alicia Vikander brings a profound innocence to her seductively nuanced portrayal and as she explains how the events have affected everyoneâs life we hang on her every word. Then thereâs the King, played by Mikkel Boe FĂ¸lsgaard, whose characterization of Christian all but steals the film. Altogether a dream cast doing their best work.
Directed with great creativity and style by Nikolaj Arcel, this film about a little-known chapter of European history proves to be engrossing, elegant, compelling and highly affecting. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey this film took me on; itâs a treat for the eyes as well as the mind. You may have to look around to find a theater where itâs playing, but itâs certainly worth the search.
Directed & Written By: Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) Lana & Andy Wachowski (The Matrix)
Cast: Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), Halle Berry (X-Men), Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady), Hugo Weaving (Captain America), Jim Sturgess (21), Susan Sarandon (Arbitrage), Hugh Grant (Love Actually)
A few years ago my son turned me on to an astonishing book called “Cloud Atlas”, the third novel by British author David Mitchell. Last night I saw a screening of the film. It is as astonishing as the book, and the difficult transition from novel to screen was handled with great understanding and finesse! Additionally, there are Brilliant Performances by a stellar cast each of who play multiple roles, and it’s all lead by TOM HANKS, who will remind you again, that he’s one of the greatest actors of our time.
As with the book, Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave dramatically through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future. Each member of the ensemble appears in multiple roles as the movie moves through time.
The filmâs storyline begins in the Pacific Islands of 1849 and winds its way through eras old and new as far forward as the beautifully imagined eye-popping Neo Seoul of circa 2144. The cast is big, hugely talented, and amazing as they each slip into a variety of character skins. Youâll find men playing women, women playing men, even African-Americans playing Caucasians. Itâs a fun and exciting whoâs who guessing game that youâll sometimes figure out, but most times, youâll just wonder. Fear not though, all is revealed in the credits.
Iâm sure this film will find its critics, but for me itâs definitely one of the best films of the year. It has also set the record as the most expensive independently financed feature of all time, at approximately $100 million, and it shows everywhere you look on the screen. I believe that Tykwer and the Wachowskis have created a true work of filmic art, that they dared to take big chances, and have fashioned a true cinematic eye-opening blockbuster of a movie. Its grand style, in both scope and ambition, will challenge you as it entertains you and transports you to other times and places. Itâs a true movie going experience not to be missed.
A word of caution, walk into this film with an open mind and try not to read or listen to too much about it beforehand. A good deal of the fun of the film is in your discovery of its themes and characters. To miss that, is to miss much of the fun.
Directed by:Â John Hillcoat (The Road)
The Cast:Â Shia LaBeouf (Transformer Films), Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises), Jason Clarke (Texas Killing Fields), Guy Pearce (Prometheus), Jessica Chastain (Texas Killing Fields), Mia Wasikowska (Albert Nobbs), Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises)
This much anticipated film arrives about as half-baked as a roadside peach pie. You have to admire the film’s craftsmanship and acting, but it fails to rise above its aimless and overlong length, and ultimately becomes an uneasy mix of backwoods âaw shucksâ and Prohibition-era gangster cool. I donât know why I expected more from the director of 2009âs oppressive, unrelenting, boring, and depressing film âThe Road.”Â The same thing that happened there happens here, great performances all around, but lacking as a satisfying tale.
Hereâs the storyline:
Set in 1931 Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, the three Bondurant brothers run a bootlegging operation up in the mountains. Crooked Special Deputy Charles Rakes (Pearce) is after a share of the brothers’ profits. Compounding the brotherâs problems, the local competition is elbowing in on their activities, they want part of the brotherâs local monopoly. When oldest brother Forrest (Hardy) is wounded, tension with Rakes escalates into all out war. While all this is going on, Jack (LaBeouf), initially the timid younger brother, must prove his worth against gangster Floyd Banner’s (Oldman) mob, while attempting to woo the preacher’s daughter, Bertha (Mia Wasikowska). Itâs all based on the true-life story of the three brothers, as written by family member Matt Bondurant.
Iâm a LaBeouf fan and I like watching what he does on film. Here he gives a mature, well-crafted performance that has a steady metered growth throughout the tale, itâs painful to watch, but fun, just like real life.Â However, itâs actually Tom Hardy playing older brother, Forrest, in a role loosely reminiscent of Warren Beatty in “Bonnie & Clyde,” who comes off as the most interesting character; well meaning and protective, but scary dangerous and completely indestructible. Kudos also go to Jessica Chastain who brings a beautifully strong but vulnerable presence to her role. Unfortunately, Gary Oldman, the best bad guy on film today, is totally underused, and Guy Pearceâs performance is so over the top, he becomes nothing more than a cartoon.
The film work is really beautiful here, recreating its rural setting during the days of Prohibition perfectly, but be warned the action comes quick and as compelling as it is, itâs nothing less than gruesome. More or less I see the film as average, if you like this kind of tale, head to the theaters, if not, itâll be out on disk soon, catch it there.
Directed by: Jake Schreier
Cast: Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Susan Sarandon (Jeff, Who lives At Home), James Marsden (Straw Dogs), Liv Tyler (The Ledge), Rachael Ma (A Novel Romance)
I first became aware of actor Frank Langella in 1979 when he reprized his brilliant and steamy Broadway performance of DRACULA on screen. It was certainly not the best Dracula film around, but as a young leading man his performance created a character that was unquestionably the screenâs first really sexy bloodsucker.Â Since then, Iâve watched him age, not so gracefully, and mature into one of the worldâs greatest character actors. Never a bad performance and always careful with the roles he chose. So when I heard he was staring in a small Indie Film I figured it might be choice. And It Was!
âRobot & Frankâ, turns out to be an endearing, bittersweet, and sometimes hilarious âbuddy caperâ about an aging retired cat burglar and his new robot buddy, and the chemistry between the two of them is as fascinating as it is palpable. Langella is so masterful in his performance as a lonely curmudgeon and Rachael Ma so engaging and mechanically perfect in the Robot suit that the two completely steal the screen, and leave you waiting for their return in the brief moments they are off camera. The film is irresistible. It truly makes us believe that a tranquil automaton and a ruffled shell of a human being can long for one anotherâs company.
Hereâs the plot, just to wet your whistle:
Set in the near future, Frank Weld, an ex-jewel thief with memory problems, is not doing well, he isn’t up to cleaning his home; the food in his fridge is going bad; and the restaurants in town he thinks about patronizing have all gone out of business. The only bright spot in Frank’s routine are visits to the local library, where he flirts with Jennifer (Sarandon), the establishment’s last remaining flesh- and-blood librarian.
To keep himself out of a retirement home he is forced to accept a gift from his son; a robot butler programmed to look after him. He rejects the Robot at first, but before you know it the two companions are working as a heist team.
Jake Schreier, directing his first feature, has given us a gem; a small film where the story and every single performance is measured, nuanced and pitch perfect. How often does that happen? Although the film appears to be aimed at an older audience, I found the younger people in the theater just as charmed by the magic of the story. So, my recommendation, grab your nearest Robot and take him to see the movie, heâll take better care of you for doing it!