Monthly Archives: April 2015

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Movie Trailer – Closer to the Moon

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Nae Caranfil

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Mark Strong, Harry Lloyd

Release: April 2015

What an incredibly odd premise for a movie.  WWII freedom fighters, Romanians, Jews, bank robbers, film makers, all mixed up into one strange plot;  I’m intrigued at the very least.  I wouldn’t guess that either Farmiga or Strong could support a film based on their talent alone, but perhaps the story will be both interesting & strange enough to carry the torch if they happen to stumble.


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Sports – 2015 NFL Draft

Category : Sports

Football is almost here!  It’s just a matter of time before the season begins.  The first step was Free Agency, the second was the schedule.  And now the Draft!  This Thursday @ 8:00 pm the 1st Round of the Draft will be on in prime time and I’ll be glued to the television.  This is a very interesting draft class and it’s hard to predict who each team will pick, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun trying.  So, based on the opinions of experts and my own uneducated musings (and barring any draft spot trades) here it is, Olie’s 2015 Mock Draft:

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston, QB FSU

tbbuccaneersNCAA Football: Florida State-Spring Game

2. Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota, QB Oregon

tentitansOregon v Stanford

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dante Fowler Jr, LB Florida

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4. Oakland Raiders – Amari Cooper, WR Alabama

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5. Washington Redskins – Leonard Williams, DE USC

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6. New York Jets – Bud Dupree, LB Kentucky

7. Chicago Bears – Kevin White, WR WVU

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8. Atlanta Falcons – Vic Beasley, LB Clemson

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9. New York Giants – Danny Shelton, DT Washington

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10. St Louis Rams – Brandon Scherff, OG Iowa

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11. Minnesota Vikings – Trae Waynes, CB MSU

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12. Cleveland Browns – DeVante Parker, WR Louisville

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13. New Orleans Saints – Randy Gregory, LB Nebraska

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14. Miami Dolphins – La’el Collins, OT LSU

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15. San Francisco 49ers – Arik Armstead, DT Oregon

NCAA Football: Wyoming at Oregon

16. Houston Texans – Breshad Perriman, WR UCF

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17. San Diego Chargers – Todd Gurley, RB Georgia

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18. Kansas City Chiefs – Andrus Peat, OT Stanford

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19. Cleveland Browns – Malcom Brown, DT Texas

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20. Philadelphia Eagles – Landon Collins, S Alabama

phieaglesAlabama v Auburn

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Shane Ray, DE Missouri

22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Marcus Peters, CB Washington

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23. Detroit Lions – Jordan Phillips, DT Oklahoma

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24. Arizona Cardinals – Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin

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25. Carolina Panthers – DJ Humphries, OT Florida

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26. Baltimore Ravens – Phillip Dorsett, WR Miami

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27. Dallas Cowboys – Kevin Johnson, CB Wake Forest

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28. Denver Broncos – TJ Clemmings, OT Pittsburgh

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29. Indianapolis Colts – Ereck Flowers, OT Miami

indcoltsMiami v Boston College

30. Green Bay Packers – Jalen Collins, CB LSU

gbpackersNCAA Football: Texas A&M at Louisiana State

31. New Orleans Saints – Nelson Agholor, WR USC

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32. New England Patriots – Eddie Goldman, DT FSU

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Best of the rest: Michael Bennett DT OSU, Tevin Coleman RB Indiana, Eli Harold LB Virginia, Carl Davis DT Iowa, Ronald Darby CB FSU, Cedric Ogbuehi OT TA&M, Jaelen Strong WR ASU, Paul Dawson LB TCU, Benardrick McKinney LB Miss St, Tre’ Jackson OG FSU, Jay Ajayi RB Boise St, AJ Cann OG SC, Eric Kendricks LB UCLA.

Notes: Cleveland has two 1st Round picks, one from Buffalo for the Sammy Watkins deal in last year’s Draft.  New Orleans also has two first rounders after trading TE Jimmy Graham to Seattle last season. Consequently, neither Buffalo nor Seattle have a 1st Round pick.

Also: I think a team will trade up into the #2 spot to draft Marcus Mariota.  Whether that’s the Jets, the Bears, the Eagles, the Chargers, or the Browns, we’ll just have to wait and see.  Regardless, I see him going second overall, but it may not be to the Tennessee Titans.  One last addendum; I think Gurley & Gordon could easily flip draft slots, depending on how teams rank the RBs and how concerned they are about Gurley’s injury.


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Movie Trailer – Aurora

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Robert Kouba

Starring: Julian Schaffner, Jeannine Wacker, Carmen Argenziano

Release: July 7th, 2015

This story is awesome.  When I looked it up, I thought I’d find that it was a teen dystopian novel like so many others, bound to be a bad trilogy that would make a ton of money.  But it’s not at all, it’s just a screenplay written by the director, probably based on one of Asimov’s ideas and highly influenced by the modern post-apocalyptic robot film.  So the concept is strong, the idea of an A.I. that decides humans are the problem and so begins eliminating us, that’s cool.  But this is a Swiss movie starring people you’ve never heard of, directed by some guy who’s never done a feature-length before, and will probably have more holes & flubs than critical audiences can stand.  I’m intrigued, very intrigued, but I think I’d rather have this plot in book form, perhaps written by Gardner Dozois.


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DVD Review – The Last Five Years

Category : DVD Review

Director: Richard LaGravenese

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan

Year: 2014

It’s unfortunate that not everyone loves movie musicals.  Or stage musicals for that matter, but that’s a topic for another day.  When I was preparing to watch The Last Five Years I noticed that the reviews & ratings on IMDb were just mediocre.  For that matter, so are the reviews & ratings for Into the WoodsA Little Night Music is seen as sub par, Les Miserables was a moderate hit, and I can only assume that Johnny Depp’s star role is the main reason that Sweeney Todd is thought of so highly.  Movie musicals just aren’t for everyone it appears.  Thought it begs the question; who’s watching them?  If you aren’t a theatre geek you probably won’t love Sondheim on screen.  And if we assume that your average audience member doesn’t desperately love Broadway, then the majority of users rating these movies just aren’t going to think they’re phenomenal.  But a few of us grew up around the stage, performed perhaps at an amateur level, actually listen to theatrical soundtracks, and love the movie versions of what the stage has brought to life.  The Last Five Years is one of the best movie musicals you’ll watch, assuming that you’re primed & ready.

The Movie

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The Last Five Years is a musical written by Jason Robert Brown; the music, the lyrics, and the book.  It debuted in Chicago, has been performed off-Broadway, and then became an international hit.  It tells the story of Cathy & Jamie, a young married couple who exemplify the ups & downs that are possible in a passionate relationship.  The story is told from two simultaneous perspectives and from two opposite chronological orders.  With each some Cathy sings, she tells the couple’s story from end to beginning, starting with their breakup and moving backward toward their genesis with each song.  Jamie, on the other hand, tells the story from beginning to end, with each song a step forward in time.  The pair take turns singing, with their stories intersecting in the middle at their wedding, and then barreling on toward separate ends of the story as a whole.

Cathy is an actress, or wants to be, a girl who left her home in New Jersey behind a long time ago.  She moved to the city, went on a million auditions, but can’t seem to get over the hump.  Maybe she’s not young enough, not skinny enough, not blond enough, but whatever the reason she’s beginning to think about giving up.  The only job she can consistently land is at a summer theatre in Ohio, where no one respects her talent and the atmosphere is nothing like New York City.  Jamie is a writer, or is trying to be, a Jewish boy whose family wants him to marry a good Jewish girl.  He’s very talented, and when Random House shows an interest is his newest manuscript, the calls from excited agents come rolling in.  He’s on his way up, she’s on her way down, but together they make a nearly perfect pair.  Their love carries them along, at least until times get too tough, when its strength is tested more than they ever thought it would be.

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What’s not to love?  For the theatre crowd who also love the cinema, this is a match made in heaven.  The concept of the show is just original enough to pique your interest, but not so gimmicky that it distracts from the story.  The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby was too much of a trick and didn’t have a strong enough base; not a problem here.  The plot is simple enough (boy meets girl, love ensues, trouble comes along) that it was able to slide well into a little chronological shift, a bit of a switch in the order that only made the delivery stronger.  And, really, it didn’t need any help.  This is a phenomenal musical, with songs that demand that you get the soundtrack immediately.  Well written, never dull, always honest, catchy, modern, singable, and not melodically complicated like a Sondheim show, which does throw some people off a bit.  This is a mass market play, not to discredit its quality, but it just comes across with too much ease not to comment on its wonderful & smarty crafted simplicity.

Anna Kendrick & Jeremy Jordan are the only characters in the show, and support the plot single-handedly.  In the stage version they don’t even interact at all, singing separately except for the wedding at the middle and the end of the show.  In the movie, they act out their scenes with a small amount of dialogue, but mostly the action is operatic, with the songs telling the story.  Kendrick is spectacular, playing Cathy with heart & realism.  Jordan is a fresh new face who we’ll see again in many more movie musicals over the next few years.  The pair had great chemistry, creating a sexy feel in the happy moments, a terribly saddening feel on the down beats, and always seemed connected with each other.  If I were looking for something to critique I would point to the music and Kendrick not always being in sync.  Not in timing, but emotion, as sometimes the power of her vocal wasn’t being portrayed on her face.  That’s the negative of dubbing and not singing live I guess, and can’t be totally avoided unless you perform on set the way Les Miserables did.  But, that detail aside, this is as good a dramatic musical as you are likely to watch, though I assume it will still be rated lowly.  The Last Five Years is better than you might think, though perhaps only if you’re in the musical minority.

The Blu-ray

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 Widescreen presentation, the video quality of the Blu-ray is spotless.  The color, the clarity, the balance, the light & dark; all filmed with an eye to detail and transferred to the disc seamlessly.  The picture quality is as good as you can expect from a high-definition disc, allowing the visuals to shine and the images to remain beautifully in mind.

Audio – The disc was done in 5.1 DTSHD Master Audio.  There are no language options, but the film can be viewed with either English for the Hearing Impaired or Spanish subtitles.  The audio quality was high, with precedence given to the clarity of the vocal performances.  The sound was clear, controlled, balanced, never heavy, allowing the songs to become the highlight of the film.

Extras – There are only two extras on the disc.  The film can be watched with Sing-Along Subtitles, basically the standard movie but with lyrics at the bottom of the screen whenever an actor sings a musical number.  Also, A Conversation with Composer/Lyricist Jason Robert Brown is just that, a 4-minute featurette with the writer of the stage version.

Final Thoughts

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Highly Recommended.  Count me among those who love musicals, both on stage & on screen.  If that’s not you, then watching movie versions of Broadway plays may not be the best use of your time.  Not that The Last Five Years is The Music Man, a classic stage show that modern movie-watchers might not enjoy.  On the contrary, it’s an updated version of a classic love story, set to excellent music, and performed wonderfully.  But still, the genre as a whole might not be for you, and so I’d advise you to watch something else.  For those who loved Into the Woods, this film should find a place in your heart.  The video is stunning, the audio no less so, but there are not many extras available on the disc.  I’m curious about the original play, whether I’d enjoy it as much as I enjoyed this, and perhaps someday I’ll find out.  Until then, I’ll make do with one of the best non-epic movie musicals I have had to pleasure to watch.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Dope

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Rick Famuyiwa

Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Zoe Kravitz

Release: June 19th, 2015

It’s like someone took the typical American high school comedy of errors film and turned it completely on its head.  I love it.  This movie looks fresh, cool, a modern take on a beaten horse concept that will blow you away with laughs and heart.  That last scene on the trailer where the characters discuss the “N-word” might be the only red flag.  Not because of the topic, but because that joke has been done to death, let it lay.  Other than that; perfection.


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DVD Review – The Gambler

Category : DVD Review

Director: Rupert Wyatt

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Brie Larson, John Goodman

Year: 2014

For my money, Rounders is the best modern gambling movie.  The cast by itself is a home run and could have supported any plot thrown its way: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Martin Landau.  That said, the plot can’t be ignored; a high stakes poker thriller filled with savants & idiots, cool guys & total basket cases.  It’s a film that came at a perfect time, packed a punch, was clever to the core, and had the actors to pull off whatever was asked of them.  The Gambler is a movie that attempted to fill the shoes of those that had come before, trying desperately to be an awesome adventure, a dark introspection, a desert drama, a casino throwback.  And while it didn’t fail miserably in any one category, it fell short of each goal, becoming good at pieces of everything but great at nothing.

The Movie

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Jim Bennett is screwed up.  He teaches English at a local college, but hates his job.  He’s a failed writer, a mediocre talent, and can’t keep his personal shortcomings from affecting his classroom.  He’s brutally honest, pushes his students, reminds them daily that they will never be famous, and can barely get his shit together long enough to pretend that he’s interested in their futures.  On top of all that, Jim comes from a wealthy family that he’s alienated, with his mother only good enough for him to borrow money from and a big shot grandfather who just passed away.  And, oh yeah, Bennett is a compulsive gambler, a frequenter of illegal, underground casinos, and a man who’s so far in debt that his body is about to pay the check his talent couldn’t cash.  Things are going worse than usual for our main character, and it’s not about to get better.

Two groups of bad company want money from Jim.  Well, money or his mangled corpse, either one.  First, a group of Korean mafia led by the powerful Mister Lee.  He owes them 200,000 thousand and has no idea how he’s going to get that kind of money.  Second, Neville Baraka, a cool cat who likes to loan money and then leave you tied to a chair when you can’t pay it back.  Between the two groups, Jim is in way over his head and must turn to a third party to cover his debts.  This would be the almighty Frank, a man whose cold-hearted wisdom is only equaled by his enormous appetite for leverage.  Add in a few other players to the game (a college basketball player looking for guidance, a tennis pro about to become a star, a beautiful English major with real talent) and you have a cast of characters about to put it all on the line, hoping less for a payout and more for survival.

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There is surprisingly little gambling in this film for what is advertised as a gambling movie.  Or, perhaps more precisely, since it’s called The Gambler, there is surprisingly little gambling in this film for a movie about a man who’s addicted to gambling.  But in a way, the story is not about the game but the man, focusing on his problems and not his preferred method of self abuse.  Rounders is more about the process, the art, and the people who live the life.  This plot is centered on one person, his issues, as they support his addiction but also his crappy life.  So, Marky Mark is the star in all ways, even more so than Matt Damon was, and takes the entire project on his shoulders.  He does well enough as the troubled man, especially in the classroom scenes where he was surprisingly vivacious and captivating.  He shuts down a little in the gambling parts, perhaps showing us how automatic and without pleasure his character’s actions had become, neither enjoying the wins or detesting the losses.

And speaking of wins & losses, that could be an appropriate way to describe the ups & downs of the film as a whole.  Wahlberg as the teacher was believable & strong.  Goodman as Frank was both hilarious and poignant, with a certain “FU” speech having the potential to be a memorable movie moment for years to come. But as good as the goods were, the bads were just as bad.  Actually, every single other actor in the film was awful.  Larson the girl, Jessica Lange the mom, Anthony Kelley the bball player, Emory Cohen the tennis guy, Michael Kenneth Williams the bookie; it was hard to tell whether none of them had any talent or whether their characters were just horribly written.  Regardless, there were too many side stories, to much clutter, when a much darker & haunting version of this tale would have come across much better.  Wahlberg is a great actor, give him more moments to show us what’s going on, give us less of the actual goings on around the perimeter.  Tighten up a little and try again next time; it wasn’t all bad.

The Blu-ray

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 1080p HD, the video quality of the Blu-ray disc is exceptional.  The film was shot using an Arri Alexa XT camera with Panavision C- and E-Series Lenses.  The visuals of the film are excellent, with much time given to shot selection, location, and color.  The picture quality was exactly what you’d expect from a high-definition disc, with a clarity of picture and balance of color that makes every scene fun to view.  This is a two disc set, with a Blu-ray and a DVD, the DVD being presented in 16:9 Widescreen and coming across with an excellent video quality as well.

Audio – Disc 1, the Blu-ray, features many audio options.  The film can be heard in English 5.1 Dolby Digital DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, or with English Audio Description.  Subtitles can also be chosen in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, or Portuguese.  Disc 2, the DVD, features English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, or with English Audio Description.  Subtitles can but selected in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese.  The audio quality of the discs is top-notch, with clear sound, a nice balance, and key music placed thoughtfully as both background noise and embedded content.

Extras – There are many extras on the Blu-ray disc, while the DVD is solely the feature film.  Mr. Self Destruct: Inside The Gambler is a 14-minute behind the scenes segment, looking at the making of the film and introducing audiences to the 1974 James Caan movie of the same name on which this film was based.  Dark Before Dawn: The Descent of The Gambler is a 17-minute discussion of the bones of the project: sets, characters, mood, colors.  Changing the Game: Adaptation is a 9-minute look at transforming the original into the modern forty years later.  In the City: Locations is a 9-minute trip through the various locales used in the film.  Dressing the Players is an 8-minute collaborative between the director and the costume designer.  And lastly, Deleted/Extended Scenes features two extended scenes (Jim’s Lecture – EXT, A Born Teacher – EXT) and four deleted scenes (Big Ernie, Taxi Ride, Jim’s Ex-Wife, Larry Jones).

Final Thoughts

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Rent It.  I’ve never seen the original The Gambler, but the IMDb ratings are higher than for this one and, being a fan of 70s movies, I can only imagine that I would enjoy it more.  While the film succeeded in being an introspective look at a self-destructive man, it failed to keep the periphery as interesting, resulting in a movie that’s not as good as its best moment and not as bad as its worst.  Mark Wahlberg has the chops to carry the part, John Goodman was a tremendous side character, and the mood matched the content.  But the side actors, the lack of a dark, slow storyline, the comparisons I naturally made between this film & Rounders; these things led to more mediocre moments than stellar.  The video quality of the Blu-ray is very high, as is the audio quality, and there are a ton of extras if you’re interested in the details behind the scenes.  But The Gambler is only OK, didn’t live up to the original Oscar buzz it produced this past winter, and ultimately deserves the lack of love it has received so far.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Learning to Drive

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Isabel Coixet

Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley

Release: August 21st, 2015

This movie has the potential to surprise.  Now, I’m usually against any type of sap, especially when it’s a heart-warming story about growing old and finding yourself.  And I know there’s the stereotypes thrown in for good measure, the wise Indian cab driver, the angry, lost older lady.  But I’m telling you, I feel something from this film that I can’t put my finger on.  If I had to bet money I’d say that it will be better than we expect, make us tear up when we don’t want to, and honestly surprise.


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Movie Review – Into the Storm

Category : Movie Review

Director: Steven Quale

Starring: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Max Deacon

Year: 2014

I was thirteen when Twister came out in 1996, just the right age to enjoy such a dumb movie.  And dumb it inarguably is.  With horrible acting, unbelievable special effects, and a plot that’s about as likely as my computer sprouting wings, it’s a film that relies on the ridiculous to succeed.  But succeed it did, raking in millions and ultimately becoming something of a cult classic.  The cast is what makes it, a bunch of stars that, at the time, often got together to make terrible disaster movies, like Dante’s Peak, Volcano, Deep Impact, and The Perfect Storm.  Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, Cary Elwes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Ruck, Jeremy Davies; you don’t see casts like this for this genre of movie these days.  Into the Storm is basically a Twister remake, kicked up a notch, but failing to secure the actors or publicity needed to become something with a cult following.  Too bad, since it’s actually better.

School’s almost out and it’s graduation time in Silverton.  Donnie & his brother Trey are working on a video time capsule, capturing moments that they & others can look back on years from now.  Also filming the town, but for a completely different reason, are documentary filmmakers Pete, Allison, and their crew.  They’re storm chasers and hope to capture a tornado on camera before their funding runs out.  If just so happens, on graduation ceremony day, that a storm system develops with the power to create tornadoes that no one has ever seen before.  So while the crew drive around in their weather van & tornado tank, the rest of the town seeks shelter from what might become the most ferocious storm in American history.  Donnie, Trey, & their dad Gary go on the adventure of a lifetime, trying to survive & to help others, all while spending one terrible day inside the fury  of this massive storm.

It might be hard to believe, especially if you’re a fan, but this movie is better than Twister.  An almost exact copy, sure, but an improvement.  You’ve got the adult love story, the weather research mission, the douche bags, the locals, and a place that’s about to be wiped off the map.  It might sound the same, but this movie takes everything up a step, becoming something bigger & better.  Cooler tornadoes, epic camera angles, awesome effects, excellent deaths; it’s a disaster movie that does the genre justice.  But it’s only kinda corny, only a little over the top, making it different from Twister or even, to a much more ridiculous degree, Sharknado.  Both are bad, but save themselves by being tongue-in-cheek.  Into the Storm might rub people the wrong way by not admitting that it’s crap, by trying to be something greater.  The acting isn’t greater, that’s for sure; Richard Armitage & crew were all absolutely dead inside for the entirety of the film.  But, again, they didn’t go so far over the top as some have done before, tried to keep the story more level, and succeeded in a little higher quality show.  It’s not the farce you might expect, neither is it a perfect drama, but something watchable in between that you just might enjoy.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Suffragette

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Sarah Gavron

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep

Release: October 23rd, 2015

This looks more like a political ad then a movie, and I assume that’s the way it’ll play on screen.  That said, Carey Mulligan is a terrific actress, not to mention Carter & Streep.  I have faith that the trio can pull off a movie with a plot that could get cheesy, that they can keep it level when it begins to tip.  And hey, I like their hats.


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Movie Review – Tracks

Category : Movie Review

Director: John Curran

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver

Year: 2013

Mia Wasikowska isn’t my favorite.  She so often comes off as so ice-cold, so emotionless, so stoic.  And so when she’s called upon to be ultra-dramatic, it can feel a little forced.  If you don’t recognize the name, you may have seen her in Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, Albert Nobbs, Stoker, The Double, or Maps to the Stars, with Madame Bovary and Crimson Peak upcoming.  She’s classically beautiful, fits the period piece role very well, and has talent, she just has never really won me over.  Well that’s all about to change.  Apparently what she needed was to be paired up with John Curran, the director of We Don’t Live Here Anymore, Stone, and The Painted Veil.  Because he was able to bring something out of her, and to her credit she was able to bring something out of herself, that had perhaps been laying dormant, waiting for a great role to help it emerge.  Consider this to be it.

This is the true story of Robyn Davidson, the Australian woman who trekked alone across the continent with only camels & a dog for company.  In 1977, Robyn decided to begin the treacherous journey, learning to train wild camels, preparing herself for the conditions, and ultimately looking forward to the many months away from humanity.  At a young age, Robyn’s mother had died, her father had sent her away when he was unable to care for her, and her sister had been placed in another home.  For Robyn, the world revolved around her animals and the planet that she felt so connected to.  So she left civilization behind and began her pilgrimage with her trusty black dog, four camels, and the sometime companionship of a photographer named Rick, who was producing a story for National Geographic, the magazine that funded Robyn’s trip.  Over the course of the next 1,700 miles, Davidson would learn much about herself, the land, the native Aboriginal people, and this place that we all call home.

So Mia Wasikowska was really good.  It was a nice role, a well-directed film, and a perfect spot for her to shine.  The true story element allowed her study up on the actual person; Davidson was featured in the National Geographic article and would go on to write a book.  So Wasikowska was set up for success, but she flourished and pulled off perhaps her best performance to date.  It was so much like Reese Witherspoon’s role in Wild, with a similar story but much less dark, a journey plot set in the Australian outback instead of the Pacific wilderness.  Wild might have been better received, but it & Tracks have a lot in common, separated by the intensity of content perhaps but not by talent.  And speaking of, Adam Driver was also excellent in his small role, small though basically the only other real character in the film, if you don’t count the camels.  It takes a special effort to give personalities to animals in movies and not make it cheesy, a feat accomplished perfectly here.  I didn’t know that the movie would be about camels & nature & animals & the planet as much as it was, but the message was clear by the end.  Tracks is a solid film, very enjoyable while also containing depth, a true story never lacking in excitement & heart.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆