Monthly Archives: September 2016

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Movie Trailer – Paterson

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani

Release: December 28th, 2016

Someone called this a movie for everyone?  I would say the exact opposite.  Who is this movie appealing to, people who like poetry and slow movies, but who also like Adam Driver?  I don’t know, this looks like a complete over-pretentious flop at first glance, and I’d have to hear some pretty convincing evidence to the contrary in order to get excited to see it.


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Movie Review – Deepwater Horizon

Category : Movie Review

Director: Peter Berg

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez

Year: 2016

Until 2013, Peter Berg was just a d-list actor, an episodic TV director, and a fledgling filmmaker whose movies were Hancock and Battleship.  Not much to write home about, but I guess he’s working, many in the industry can’t claim the same.  But in the last few years that has all changed.  If Lone Survivor was good, Deepwater Horizon is great, and Patriot’s Day has the chance to be award-worthy.  He’s trending in the right direction and working hard to improve a craft that he seems to have some skill at.  It doesn’t hurt that all three of his past, current, and future successes star Marky Mark, an actor who lends credit to any film in which he appears.  But Wahlberg isn’t the only reason this film succeeds.  Thank Mark, sure, but thank Kurt Russell too, and pat Berg on the back for a job well done, a project that not everyone could have pulled off and a movie that will surprise you with its flirtation with perfection,

Electrical Technician Mike Williams works on board America’s southern oil rigs, keeping the lights on & the alarms chirping in the places that bring our oil out of the seabeds and into our refineries.  For the next three weeks, he’ll be stationed on the Deepwater Horizon, a rig rented by BP to drill the hole that will soon be pumping millions of barrels of crude oil out of the earth.  But a quick & shoddy job laying the cement foundations for the pumps has left the entire project on the verge of collapse, something that could be exposed by certain tests, if the tests had been run.  The crew of the driller can feel that something isn’t right, but they can’t prove it, putting the BP executives in the position to begin work right away, ignoring the instability of the project.  Mike Williams will become a witness to the greatest oil tragedy in American history, watching the horror of the burning of the Deepwater Horizon firsthand.

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Shockingly, Deepwater Horizon is among the best film’s of 2016, rivaling a movie like The Nice Guys, which falls into the same category if not the same genre; an excellent & enjoyable flick that doesn’t quite fit into the Oscar season parameters.  It’s actually better than it needs to be, in a strange way, going above & beyond what was required to entertain & please older audiences who like their stories patriotic and their action simple.  Baby boomers and dad’s everywhere were already lining up to love this movie; the fact that it’s actually well-made is just an added bonus.  Critics like me who are looking for mistakes will find very few here, as the film is an all-around success on the level that it ought to be judged.  It bests Sully as a true story adventure, it one-ups Lone Survivor as Berg’s strongest film, and it should leave happy audiences wherever it goes.

The film has an attention to detail that’s quite refreshing, giving it the ability to educate as well as entertain.  But even the informational subtitles were added in smoothly, letting the movie still be a movie, a Marky Mark action film, something to both enjoy and find fascinating.  Speaking of Wahlberg, he was excellent here, which should be expected perhaps, but which is always appreciated.  Kurt Russell was awesome in his patented Kurt Russell way, although I wish he could have interacted with Kate Hudson, who he has a real life connection with and who did a fine job, although she was a comical choice for the role when you see the real Felicia Williams; it must have made her day for one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood to play her.  John Malkovich was a great villain, Dylan O’Brien was passable, but I’ve always hated Ethan Suplee, who is a terrible actor.  Overall though, Deepwater Horizon was everything you could wish for from an end-of-the-summer blockbuster, with the added attraction of actually being a well-made stand-alone film.  Take your parents because they’ll want to see it, but expect to respect it yourself as well.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

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Movie Trailer – 20th Century Women

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Mike Mills

Starring: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Billy Crudup

Release: October 8th 2016

I just don’t see Oscar-caliber here, despite what the buzz surrounding this film is saying.  I dig the 70s groove, I love Billy Crudup, but I just can’t see the rest working in the way it would need to if it wants to enter the Academy Award conversation.


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Sports – NFL Picks 2016, Week 4

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 4 Picks

(8-8 last week, 24-24 for the season)

Bye teams: Packers, Eagles

 

cinbengalsMia @ Cin – A Thursday Night Color Rush matchup of two 1-2 teams with a penchant for pale orange isn’t exactly what I call a dream game, but when you love football you take what you can get.  Miami comes into Cincinnati having just won its first game, albeit an embarrassing one against Cleveland’s 3rd-string QB.  But, a win’s a win, and at least they have one, unlike the Browns.  The Dolphins can’t be counted on to pick up many more though, not if their current level of play continues.  They allow as much as they score, don’t win on the road, and already have their head coach threatening them with benchings & cuts.  Not good, but if there’s one positive it’s that the Bengals aren’t doing much better.  Cinci just lost at home to Denver, a team that shouldn’t have been able to put up as many points as they did.  The Bungles are bad on all sides of the ball, and actually score less & allow more than Miami does.  Marvin Lewis can’t lead this team on too many more disappointing seasons before he gets fired, right?  A change has to be made eventually, right?  Well, let’s see if they can win this one; 2-2 isn’t exactly terrible.

 

jaxjaguarsInd @ Jax – I’ve about given up on my predictions this year; I steadily pick 2 out of 3 correct over the course of the season, in 2016 I’ve only gotten half right.  And it’s teams like these that, like the Bengals, keep under-performing for some unknown reason.  Well, with the Colts I guess we know the reason, and it’s defense.  Indy is a very bad team with a very good quarterback.  They implode without Luck, or when he isn’t playing magical football, showing that they are a team of major weaknesses & few strengths.  Their defense allows 32 points per game, the third worst in the league, and they just can’t score often or consistently enough to keep up, hence the 1-2 record.  And the Jags are worse, they’re 0-3, failing to do anything that most knowledgeable football fans thought that they could this year.  The Jags allow only slightly fewer  points, but score a ton less, making their offense their weak point, surprisingly.  But what do you need to wake up a slumping yet talented offense?  A terrible defensive opponent of course, and here come the Colts rolling into town.  If ever there was a time for Jacksonville to wake up, it’d be now.

 

Car @ Atl – Need another example of things being unpredictably weird this year?  Look no further than the NFC South.  The Panthers come limping out of the gate, are 1-2, and aren’t playing the defense or offense that we’re used to seeing.  Super Bowl hangover, sure, so a small step back is expected, but not this.  So far this season has been a disaster, and while it’s still young, a 1-3 start would be unthinkable.  It just might happen though, remember last season’s game when Carolina visited Atlanta and Cam Newton, who was on fire, was shut completely down.  That game won me a fantasy championship, my opponent had Cam, so I’m thankful & I remember it well.  Can the Falcons do the same this year?  Maybe, just maybe.  They are 2-1 with two road wins, and their last game in New Orleans was really impressive.  The Saints have a bad defense, a shootout was expected, and we got what we paid to see.  The problem with Atlanta is their defense though, it’s almost as bad as the Saints’, and if you can’t keep teams from scoring, you force your offense to take chances.  This game will be revealing, either way.

 

balravensOak @ Bal – The theme continues; no one has any idea what they hell is going on this year.  Actually, I’m speaking more on the Ravens, because the Raiders are actually performing pretty much as we thought they would.  They can score behind their young QB, they win upset road games because that’s what they do, and their defense isn’t that great.  Sounds about right, they’re 2-1, and they’ll have a mediocre record when it’s all over, though they’ll probably miss the playoffs.  What’s shocking right now is the way that Baltimore is playing.  They were once a tough team, even a Super Bowl one, but they seemed to have fallen on hard times.  Have they recaptured the magic?  Well, maybe.  They have beaten three bad teams (Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville), but while last week I was sure they would get exposed eventually, I’m starting to doubt myself on that.  Maybe they figured out what was going wrong, maybe they fixed their mistakes, maybe they’re for real.  The defense is anyway, only allowing 15 points per game, though the offense still remains a weak spot.  I guess it’s time to predict some wins for Baltimore.

 

detlionsDet @ Chi – Two big cats for the first two wins, two fierce birds for the next two; it’s time to break the tie.  Enter the Lions, who are a disappointing 1-2, but aren’t among the worst teams on the league.  They, at least, can score at will, even though their defense isn’t playing up to the offense’s level.  Sounds about right for recent years, so Detroit fans won’t be shocked.  Marvin Jones has become a solid weapon, Stafford is playing well, now if the defense could just step up a tad everything would be OK.  There’s a chance they do this very week, and so I’ll pick another big cat to win a big game, and I’ll pick my first road team victor of the week.  The Bears are feeble.  They’ve been racked my injury, their coaching is, let’s be honest, among the worst in the league, and they are dead last in net points scored, coming in at an embarrassing -38 after three games.  That means they’re being beaten by an average of 13 points per game; that actually seems low, it appears even worse than that to the naked eye.  The Bears have no answer of offense, no standouts on defense, and look foolish for taking all of the Broncos’ leftovers, thinking they were stars.

 

houtexansTen @ Hou – The Titans should be better than this, what with a nice, solid defense and some big names on offense.  Mariota, Murray, Henry; why aren’t these guys scoring any points?  With their defense, not much would be needed to make every game a winnable one, although actually Tennessee’s problem is that they keep losing close matchups, they just can’t put anyone away or finish when it matters.  It’s a disappointing year for the Titans; they should be better than this.  Now over to the Texans, who got ripped apart by the Patriots and by critics after last Thursday’s loss.  But I think people are panicking too soon.  I’m a Broncos fan, I’m rooting for Osweiler to fail, but all is not lost just yet for the Texans.  They’re still winning a weak division, still play good defense other than that one game, are still undefeated at home.  If they can just score a few more points they’ll be just fine.  New England just forced them away from the run, but everyone is bested by Belichick at some point, I wouldn’t panic just yet.  They win this easy game, even without J.J. Watt, and they’ll be 3-1; nothing to sneeze at.

 

nepatriotsBuf @ NE – What’s up with the Bills?  They are perhaps the most erratic team in the league, losing in a shootout to the Jets and then dominating the Cardinals in one the very next week.  This offense is extremely unpredictable as to when they are going to show up, and this defense just isn’t as good as the name ‘Rex Ryan’ would make you believe.  The guy is a failed coach, can we say that and move on?  You know who isn’t, though?  Bill Belichick.  The guy cheats, sure, but he takes his slaps on the wrists and just comes out winning even more games.  Spies, balls, advantages; he wins at whatever the cost, and since the cost is never a forfeit of a game, what does it matter?  Take a little money away, take a Draft pick, who cares.  Belichick will combine his unethical methods with some great gameplanning to find a way to beat you.  You know how the Broncos used to beat the Patriots when no one else could while Mike Shannahan was coach?  By being the team with the most security, especially at practices, so no one could spy.  The Patriots win, but they cheat as well, something that shouldn’t be forgotten.

 

seaseahawksSea @ NYJ – After a shaky first few weeks, and with injured players all over the field, the Seahawks seem to have settled down.  Wilson is still hurt, but he’ll play, and with Graham & Michael stepping up their game, the pressure if off of him a bit.  The defense is as good as ever, I think that’s been overlooked, but the offense is still trying to find their footing.  We saw a flash of potential last week, and I think we could see another flash of that here in Week 4, when Seattle travels to New York to face the reeling Jets.  I’m sure you’ve seen the stats, but Fitzpatrick’s 6 interceptions are something that deserve repeating, because that’s not only embarrassing but it’s killer as well.  He destroyed his team’s chances time & time again, something that must have felt terrible for him, sure, but also terrible for his teammates, especially the defensive ones.  And the defense hasn’t been playing well at all anyway, they can’t stand to be on the field more than usual after their offensive turns the ball over constantly.  The Jets need a regrouping game, but unfortunately this isn’t it, this is a challenge they might not be ready for.

 

wasredskinsCle @ Was – It’s been well-documented how sad the Browns are, and I’m not sure there’s anything left to say on the matter.  Now even their FA kicker seems cursed, missing 3 out of 6 FGs in last week’s winnable game, letting his new team down.  Pryor was all over the field, he was trying his best, he put the team on his shoulders, it just wasn’t enough.  And I don’t know what will be, what will be the turning point for this team, what will get them out of their funk.  I would say they need to start all over again, but they already tried that, so perhaps it’s time to just quit.  I was pretty shocked last week that the Redskins were able to win that game vs the Giants; I really didn’t think they had it in them.  I think the Giants squandered that opportunity, and I still don’t see the Redskins as a viable division champion, especially with the Eagles playing so well.  But hey, they got a win, albeit their first, and it was against a bitter rival.  Are more wins in the future?  Maybe some, but I can’t predict many.  Any team that faces Cleveland right now should be expected to win though, especially at home coming off a big victory.

 

denbroncosDen @ TB – It’s time to stop doubting the Broncos.  The key argument all offseason was that their offense wouldn’t be any good, so the team wouldn’t do as well as last season.  Umm, do you remember our offense from last season?  Peyton Manning seemed determined to give games away, we won despite him not because of him, and often on the shoulders of Brock Osweiler instead.  This year’s team was always going to be better, not worse, because they offense, though young, was definitely going to be improved.  It took a couple weeks to get going, but Siemian had a record-setting coming out party in Cinci, showing the league that Denver is for real.  And coming off a tough road game, the team can be confident that they can win more, especially vs a bad team like Tampa Bay.  I don’t think Denver is cocky enough to fall into a trap game, but they had better keep that in the back of their minds, since on paper they should dominate the Bucs in every way.  Tampa has the league’s worst defense, and Jameis shouldn’t be able to move the ball against Denver’s, so I predict another Bronco win, as long as they stay focused.

 

LA @ Ari – I refuse to jump on the LA bandwagon, even after they won two games following an embarrassing start to the season.  They did finally get Gurley running, which was a good sign, but I have absolutely no faith in Keenum or in Fisher, and I think the Rams ultimately find themselves at the bottom of the division with the Niners.  LA just isn’t scoring enough, and while their defense is fine, they aren’t playing elitely.  Neither are the Cardinals, as a team, but I have much more faith in them, and I refuse to give up on Arizona as strongly as I refuse to trust LA.  The Cards are better than what they have shown, I almost guarantee it.  A step back from last year was expected, Palmer is no spring chicken, but this big a step backward has been surprising.  Regardless, I think they steady themselves sooner rather than later and begin to find ways to win ballgames.  Especially after a beatdown last week, the Cardinals will be playing hard and with the knowledge that they’re the better team, despite what the record shows.  Don’t expect Arizona to fall to 1-3; that would shock & appall me & make me very, very sad.

 

sdchargersNO @ SD – I have Drew Brees on my fantasy team, so I’m fine with a shootout every game, that means points for me, but the Saints have got to be very tired of losing high scoring games.  That has to feel very old, like something you’ve done a million times and were told you wouldn’t have to do any more.  They’ve been through their fair share of defensive coordinators, but no one seems to be able to fix the problem, they keep allowing points in buckets every single week.  Brees can only do so much, even with the emergence of Coby Fleener.  For fantasy, New Orleans is great, but in every other sense they’re a disaster.  San Diego, where Brees used to play before his injury, isn’t much better, but at least they can win at home and at least their net point differential is a little better.  I still don’t trust Phillip Rivers as far as I can throw him, and believe me, I want to throw him very far.  This team is just not a winning team, they’re not winners, and that intangible aspect of the game can’t be denied.  Can they win this week at home vs an awful defense?  Sure they can, but don’t look for a ton of victories in the future.

 

dalcowboysDal @ SF – A renewing of an old rivalry, though neither of these teams have been living their former glory.  For the Cowboys, it’s been a changing of the guard of sorts, and so far it’s worked out. Dak, Dez, & Zeke are a trio to be reckoned with, Dak getting better every week.  He’ll get a porous defense in Week 4, so he should be able to continue his improvement, giving Dallas fans pause as to if they really want Romo to come back to this team.  Dak is the future, and a bright one at that; I don’t see why they’d want Romo to take command back, assuming that Prescott is still playing at a high level.  Rumors are that San Francisco is contemplating changes of their own at quarterback, as Gabbert has failed to impress (duh) and Kaepernick is about over his injury.  Can Colin give the Niners the spark they need to succeed?  Maybe, and at least he’s a better fit for Kelly’s offense, a fast-paced attack that just hasn’t been working yet.  I hate Chip Kelly, honestly, think he’s bad for the NFL, and so I hope SF fails so that he can return to the college ranks.  I think the Niners lose to the Cowboys here, so hey, fingers crossed.

 

pitsteelersKC @ Pit – The Chiefs are mediocre at best, even after demolishing the Jets, which was really more Fitzpatrick’s fault then it was Kansas City’s doing.  The Chiefs almost always win at home, they play solid defense, but they’re a boring team that can’t quite seem to get over the hump, a level perpetuated by the talent of the head coach.  Reid is fine, nothing special, and neither is this team.  They might get Jamaal Charles back this week though, which is something, but he’s sure to be rusty, even though he’s had plenty of time to get over his injury.  I just don’t think that will be quite enough to beat the Steelers, especially in Pittsburgh, and he may not come back anyway.  I was shocked when the Steel Curtain was destroyed by Philadelphia last week, that was the last thing I saw coming.  The Steelers are better than that, although it’s looking like the Eagles are better than I’ve been giving them credit for, so there’s also that.  I just can’t see Pittsburgh remaining down for long, I think they jump right back up to win this game.  They get an RB back as well, Le’Veon Bell, so we’ll see what kind of impact he has right away.

 

minvikingsNYG @ Min – And the Monday Night matchup, Eli vs the Vikings D.  If you’ve read any of my prediction so far this season, you know I’m big on Manning, think he’ll have a great year and that the G-Men will win the NFC East.  I was shocked that they were beaten by the Redskins, and I’m also surprised at how well the Eagles have done this year.  Like I said earlier, this has been a wild year for predictions, a lot less of mine coming true than usually do.  But I’m sticking by Eli, I think he & his team can rebound, I just don’t feel like I can pick them here.  I feel a defensive battle coming on, and predict a low-scoring affair here.  The Vikings, behind great defensive play and the surprising resurgence of Sam Bradford, have remained undefeated, somehow winning despite all odds.  I don’t think Bradford has grown into a superstar overnight, I think this team is a great fit for him, and I also think he ultimately fails; he’s done it far too often to think otherwise, either in play or in injury.  But I think Minnesota has what it takes right now to win a close, tough game vs a good team, especially at home on MNF in front of an excited crowd.

 

 

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Movie Trailer – Fences

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Denzel Washington

Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson

Release: December 25th, 2016

There will be Oscars attached to this film, or my initials aren’t OMC, how bizarre.  Based on the play and directed by Washington, the Fences screenplay was written by the author of the stage work, so there should be nothing lost in translation there.  Denzel hasn’t done much directing, only Antwone Fisher and The Great Debaters, actually, but I wouldn’t put it past him to get it right here.  He & Davis together, this heavy drama, a solid background; awards are coming.


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DVD Review – Sunset Song

Category : DVD Review

Director: Terence Davies

Starring: Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan, Kevin Guthrie

Year: 2015

Being a movie guy rather than a TV guy, I’ve always been a little behind the trend when it comes to hit shows.  I don’t mean the old brand of sitcoms or hospital dramas, I mean the new wave of high-quality, well-acted, adult-themed original series that seem to force audiences into weekend binges.  Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Orange Is the New Black; shows that like, and although I accept that they are good, I’m always too busy watching movies to get on board.  I was one of the first on the Stranger Things train though, I am all caught up with OITNB, and recently I’ve been falling in love with Downton Abbey, a series that should be added to the ever-growing list of must-sees.  It’s much more a soap opera or melodrama then these others, and its time placement keeps it original as well.  The reason I bring it up is its relevance to Sunset Song, a movie from the same period, dealing with some of the same themes, but told through the eyes of the working woman instead of the wealthy man.

The Movie

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This is the life of a young woman named Chris Guthrie, a girl growing up at the turn of the century in Scottish farm country, trying to make her way as tradition crashes into modernity and some small villages fight to hold on to the old ways.  Chris worked alongside her brother on her father’s land, while her mother took care of the two small boys and two baby girls.  They were a close family, drawn tighter by their father’s sudden bursts of anger and generally sullen manner.  But you didn’t complain, you took your beating, you turned your head, you did your work, and you dreamed of the day that you would become an adult; free to make your own choices, free to go where you wished, free to become whoever you wanted to be.

For Chris, death & tragedy would appear around every corner, limiting her options to a very simple one; stay on the farm.  As she grew into a woman with a youth’s curiosity and a grownup’s sense of duty, she would establish herself as part of the land itself, as a Scot who lived & died by the traditions of her people.  Eventually, Chris would fall in love, get married, and begin a family, but death was never far away, and as WWI began, it would creep closer with every passing month.  Scotland would not remain isolated, and neither would the Guthries, as the war in Europe spread and patriotism showed its uglier side.  Sacrifices & choices; they made her life, and Chris quickly became a spectator to the results of her own decisions.

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I doubt I’m the only one who is fascinated by this time period, a turning of the clock but also a transition to a modern world.  Sunset Song captures the last years of simplicity before the world joins together not only to fight but to modernize, to prepare for a new age.  Cars, electricity, farm equipment; these things were spreading during this time, disrupting old routines but offering new chances.  This film shows a country grasping at its traditions, all the while preparing for change.  Chris is that theme personified, a girl connected to the earth she tills but also dreaming of a world in which anything is possible.  The old ways make her feel safe, but nothing gold can stay, and in every life there are times when disaster forges a new & unexpected path.

As far as the film itself goes, you aren’t going to see something more beautiful this year or probably next, the scenery becoming a continuous painting, one that you can’t take your eyes off of.  The Scottish countryside is idyllic, the cinematographer capturing every misty morning image & breathtaking sunset perfectly.  The house in which Chris lives, the clothes of all the characters, the farm itself; this film it something special, visually.  Beyond that, there’s a simple story of a girl, the deeper metaphor beneath it, and the music of the land, all of which are to the movie’s credit.  But the acting and the pace won’t stun you, they’d be much more likely to lull you into a hazy sleep.  The film is a bit slow, led my a capable but not brilliant Agyness Deyn, and plods along at times, with some underscoring poetry the may be beautiful, but isn’t captivating.  That’s Sunset Song in a nutshell; lovely but a bit heavy, good but not magical.

The DVD

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 2:39:1 (Widescreen), the video quality of this DVD disc is probably the highlight of the film.  It was shot using an Arri Alexa XT studio camera with  Zeiss Master Anamorphic lenses, and also an Arriflex 765 camera with Zeiss 765 lenses.  The cinematography in stunning, the locale wonderful, and the visuals there to please the eye in every scene.  The color, the clarity, the precision; all outstanding.

Audio – The DVD was done in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, with subtitle choices in English Theatrical, English SDH, Spanish, or French.  The sound quality was high, with a nice background track throughout and clear audio.  If you aren’t used to these accents though, you might be in for a surprise, the characters can be hard to understand at times.

Extras – There are no special features on this disc.

Final Thoughts

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Recommended.  There’s more here experientially than there is contextually, resulting in a film that’s nice to see but not that fun to watch.  Well, of course it’s not fun, the story is heavy, dramatic, sad at times, and very real.  What I mean is that there isn’t much for audiences to enjoy, to grab on to, to remember the next day.  It’s a fine film, looks great, sets a serious tone, but fails to reach the next level, a place where we might love it rather than just like it.  The video quality is excellent, the audio fine, the extras nonexistent.  Sunset Song is a slow-burner that never quite catches fire, a smouldering drama that fizzles into smoke just when you hope it might burst into something grand.

☆ ☆ ☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ ☆ – Replay

 

 

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Movie Trailer – Christine

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Antonio Campos

Starring: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts

Release: October 14th, 2016

Can I call it?  Has anyone else called it?  Rebecca Hall wins the Best Actress Academy Award for this film.  There, called it.  Jokes aside, this movie looks incredible, like we’re watching the actual events take place right before our eyes.  If you don’t know the story already, I don’t know if I’d recommend that you look it up or not.  The end already happened, and you can probably guess it by the trailer, so make up your own mind.  But regardless, I want to see how Hall plays this part, and I just assume she’ll play it perfectly.


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Movie Review – Winter’s Bone

Category : Movie Review

Director: Debra Granik

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt

Year: 2010

It’s easy to get cynical about someone who is widely agreed upon as America’s #2 sweetheart, and it’s easy to give credit to her unearthly good looks rather than her incredible talent.  And to go back for a second, just in case you didn’t know who America’s #1 sweetheart was, that would be Anna Kendrick, because, I mean, come on.  Anyway, back to JLaw.  She’s a franchise these days, gets her own moniker, could choose any film and any accommodation to her on-set trailer.  But her super-star status doesn’t diminish her raw talent, and shouldn’t make us, as audiences members, jaded plebs, forgetting that her early, pre-fame work was pretty damn good.  Case in point, Winter’s Bone, the film that launched her career and began the process of cementing Jennifer Lawrence as a household name.

Deep in the Ozarks of Missouri live a clan of Scotch-English immigrants from southern Appalachia who apparently needed more mountains to sprawl out into, more wilderness that reminded them of home.  A culture emerged there of deep-seeded individualism, domed over by a net of bloodlines that connected them as a specific people in an isolated land.  In our story, one of these families, the Dolly’s, comes upon some hard times.  The patriarch, Jessup, cooks meth, and has landed himself in trouble with the law.  A bail that includes his homestead has kept him from jail, but his recent disappearance means that his bondsman can soon collect the house and the land.  Ree Dolly, a seventeen-year-old high school girl, knows that her non-verbal mother and two siblings rely on her & on the house for survival, something she can’t let her MIA father threaten.  So Ree treks the woods, knocking on every door she knows, searching for her dad, a man who may very well already be dead.

Other than The Poker House, which no one saw, and The Burning Plain, which will be remembered for Kim Basinger & Charlize Theron, Winter’s Bone was Jennifer Lawrence’s first real starring role, her big chance to shine, and boy did she.  The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Screenplay; not bad for a little movie by an amateur director starring a no-name actress.  Well, we know her name now, and this is the film that launched her.  She would of course go on to The Hunger Games, which was her vehicle, but Winter’s Bone is how she caught our attention first.  Lawrence is incredible as Ree, the perfect character, strong & afraid, mature & so very young.  The director used real townsfolk to fill out the cast, which was genius, creating an Ozark mood that can’t be beat.  It’s a simple story told starkly, with no chance to turn your head away from the brutality of the lifestyle Ree & her family live through.  Hawkes is a great supporting man, every piece of this film feels perfectly real, and you won’t forget Lawrence’s performance, the impressive feat that began it all.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Trespass Against Us

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Adam Smith

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson

Release: November 24th, 2016

It’s nice to see Michael Fassbender be Irish.  The guy’s a chameleon, can play anything, but was raised in Ireland by an Irish mother and a German father.  One of the best parts of Inglorious Basterds is Fassbender passing as a German, and here he gets to pass as Brad Pitt, or Mickey ‘One Punch Machine Gun’.  Anyway, I digress, now back to the movie.  It looks solid, I trust Gleeson as well, and I look forward to this being a fine film.


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Movie Review – ARQ

Category : Movie Review

Director: Tony Elliott

Starring: Robbie Amell, Rachel Taylor

Year: 2016

Time-travel films are a dime a dozen, and yet we are constantly thirsty for more.  Well, at least sci-fi nerds are, and that’s who I assume I’m speaking to with a review of ARQ, Netflix’s newest original film.  So if you, like me, dig sci-fi and find yourself drawn to those of the genre that play with time itself, then ARQ is something you are going to want to see.  Not only does it feature Edge of Tomorrow time looping and Matrix futurism, but it also displays a heavy dose of horror, with a little romance thrown in for good measure.  That’s a ton of styles to be supported by one small, semi-amateur film that was produced by a fledgling distribution company, but somehow the trick triumphs, and we’re left simply to enjoy.

A great war will soon ravage the world, with an evil corporation called Torus being the main player.  A resistance called the Bloc will fight against Torus’ complete domination, but as food & power become scarce, humanity’s only option is to submit.  Foragers search for any money or edibles they can find, all while the doomed underground movement continues to survive, if just barely.  Renton, who used to work for Torus, is the keeper of a machine that will either save the world or become the weapon that destroys it, a power source that renews itself, free energy for Earth.  But Renton and his long-ago love Hannah wake up to find armed men in their house, a morning that seems to repeat itself each time one of them dies.  The couple is stuck in a circle of time that restarts itself, fed by the ARQ, posing unanswerable questions, and opening up unimaginable opportunities.

Neither as smart as Primer nor as twisted as Timecrimes, ARQ is still a time-travel film worth your, well, time.  Its simple plot and closed-circuit set are the perfect breeding ground for chaos, producing a story that gets more complicated each time the main characters wake up and have to die again.  The film takes the time to go over the details, squashing plot holes, and keeping audiences interested.  It also feeds us background information by slow leak, letting us in on the current world one reference at a time, something that can be infuriatingly challenging but also much appreciated by the end.  Part sci-fi part horror, ARQ is quick, exciting, intriguing, and should be pleasing to those who love this genre and want to love its lesser-known members.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆