Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club Review

Over the last few years Matthew McConaughey has resurrected his acting career with strong turns in "Magic Mike," "The Lincoln Lawyer," "Bernie," "Killer Joe," and "Mud." There is a ton of anticipation over his turn in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," but his best performance of the year is arguably in "Dallas Buyers Club." The film has already made a ton of headlines after pictures of McConaughey's weight loss were posted over the Internet. The act of losing so much weight is only one example of how committed McConaughey's performance in the film is as he delivers one of the finest turns of th year.
Based on a true story, the film tells the story of Ron Woodroof, a man who finds out he has AIDS and seeks out different medical solutions to extend his life. Along the way, he sets up a business in which he deals alternative medicine and finds himself in a fight with the FDA. Continue Reading 


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bastards Review

File:Bastards poster.jpgOnce in a while film directors decide to challenge the audience by providing a movie out-of-sequence. The viewer is asked to put the pieces and clues together by the end of the journey with the disjointed structure illuminating the viewer on the themes and ideas of the film. Claire Denis' latest film "Bastards (Les Salauds)" takes a stab at this structural experimentation but winds up becoming an incomprehensible mess that slowly falls into tedium.

The movie tells the story Marco (Vincent Lindon) who must investigate the disappearance of his niece Justine (Lola Creton). During his investigation he falls for the Raphaelle (Chiara Martoianni), who is married to the prime suspect Eduard Laporte (Michael Subor).
The film begins during a rainy night when a man commits suicide and a naked female, later revealed to be Justine, walks around the streets bleeding severely.  The opening sequence creates the mystery of the film as nothing is revealed about the characters and there is an ambiguity to what is going on. Continue Reading 

Blue is the Warmest Color Review

Sexual identity has been explored in a number of LGBT films in which a young man and woman tries find his/her place in society. For Abdellatif Kechiche's fourth feature film, "Blue is the Warmest Color," the director creates a fascinating portrait of a girl discovering herself.

The film tells the story of Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) who forms a relationship with Emma (Lea Seydoux), a lesbian she meets at a bar. The film is divided into two chapters; the early high school years when the couple first meets and the later years when they begin to live together. Continue Reading


The Counselor Review

With a star-studded cast that includes the likes of Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt, Ridley Scott's "The Counselor" is one of the most anticipated films of the year. Throw in the authorship of Cormac McCarthy and there should be no doubt that this film is slated to be one of the best that 2013 has to offer, right? While the individual talent cannot be denied, the pieces never quite come together in one of the most disappointing films in years.
Fassbender plays the title character, a legal advisor who is looking to get into the drug business to overcome what he briefly refers to as "money issues." He is madly in love with Laura (Cruz) and is close friends with a drug kingpin Reiner (Bardem) and is constantly warned of the dangers coming his way if the deal fails. The story also introduces Malkina (Diaz), Reiner's crazy girlfriend, and Westray (Pitt), the Counselor's murky associate. When the deal goes wrong, the Counselor is forced to try and find a way to save his life and that of his beloved Laura. Continue Reading


Thursday, October 24, 2013

12 Years A Slave Leads Gotham Nominations

This morning the Gotham Awards announced the nominations for this years best films with 12 Years a Slave garnering three more than any other film. The nominations continued the film's growing buzz and will most likely win the award out of the five films nominated alongside it. The Gothams will be held on Dec. 2 making it the first batch of nominations for the awards season.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

All is Lost Review

This past weekend, Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" hit cinemas. At its core, the film is notable for the fact that it centers on one character battling to survive in space alone. The concept of survival on one's own is getting a significantly different treatment in another October release - J.C. Chandor's "All is Lost" starring Robert Redford.
The film is one of the most difficult to review for this writer as it is impossible to be indifferent toward the work, but it is equally difficult to completely embrace it.
As the film opens up, the viewer is shown a mysterious floating object in the middle of the sea that is counterbalanced with a cryptic monologue from Redford's character. The monologue hints at a character apologizing to an unknown reader and also gives off subtle indications of why he is at sea in the first place. Moments later, the sound of the water rushes at the viewer and the film gets going. Throughout its 107 minute running time, Redford's character will be thrust from one obstacle to the next as he battles to survive in the expansive and empty ocean. This is the epitome of "Murphy's Law" (everything that could go wrong will go wrong) and the character is constantly faced with storms, sharks, lack of food supplies, broken equipment, etc. With the exception of a few calls for help and one powerful moment punctuated by an expletive, Redford's performance is speechless and internal. Continue Reading

12 Years A Slave NYFF

This review comes from the New York Film Festival Which Dave and I attended:

2013 has slowly shaped up to be the year of the "Civil Rights" film with such works as "Fruitvale Station" and "Lee Daniel's The Butler" gracing screens around the world. However, undoubtedly the greatest and biggest of the pack is Steve McQueen's hotly anticipated "12 Years a Slave."
The film is based on the true life story of Solomon Northup, a free man living in New York who gets kidnapped and sold back into slavery. The film chronicles his life with two radically different masters and his quest to survive. Continued Readings

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Captain Phillips Review

In 2009, the world was left in suspense as the US Navy conducted a rescue mission for an American cargo ship that had been boarded by Somalian pirates and held hostage. That story is now being brought to lilm by filmmaker Paul Greengrass, a director known for such works as "The Bourne Supremacy," "The Bourne Ultimatum," and "United 93" amongst others. His latest film "Captain Phillips," which stars Tom Hanks in the lead role, is undoubtedly one of the most hotly anticipated of the year and has been receiving a tremendous amount of awards buzz. But does it deliver?
Richard Phillips (Hanks) is the captain of a cargo ship that is set to take a route through the dangerous waters of the African coast. On the Somalian coast lives Muse (newcomer Barkhad Abdi), a local fisherman that decides to join in pirating due to the financial chaos he is enduring. Muse and his crew of four eventually board Phillips' ship and a fight for survival ensues. Continue Reading


Monday, October 7, 2013

Awards Tallies Updates

Awards season is back so I have started updating the tally counts. The Hollywood Film Awards are seen as important precursors as they help generate buzz. As a result they have been included in the tallies. Check it out.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

All is Bright Review

This review was published when the film was known as Almost Christmas when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. 

The holiday season is nowhere near, but Phil Morrison's "Almost Christmas" hopes that success at the Tribeca Film Festival will eventually turn into some nice numbers come Christmas time. As one might surmise from the title (and this introduction), the film attempts to recreate the good feelings surrounding the yearly celebration; thanks to solid performances from Sally Hawkins, Paul Giamatti, and Paul Rudd, it almost succeeds.
Set in Canada, Dennis (Giamatti) has just gotten out of jail after several years behind bars for theft. As the opening credits roll, the viewer is shown the long journey that he must endure by foot to get home to his wife Therese and daughter Michi. When he gets home he is told by his wife (through written notes) that she told his daughter that he has died of cancer. Eventually Dennis finds out that the problem is deeper than that. Therese is set to get married to Rene, another former thief who quit on Dennis and was the direct reason for his landing in jail. Dennis confronts Rene and eventually convinces him to allow him to work with him. The two set out for New York to sell Christmas trees and initiate the development of a friendship. Continue Reading


Rush Review

2008 was the last time director Ron Howard got a positive reception from critics on one of his films.  Since making the Best Picture-nominated "Frost/Nixon," the director has gone on to make such critical bombs as "Angels & Demons" and "The Dilemma;" both films also failed to cash with fans at the box office. However, those past missteps have seemingly proven to be the exceptions and not the norm for the direct. With his latest effort "Rush," Howard has not only returned to form, but has also created what may very well be the best film he has ever directed.

Set in the 1970s, the film tells the real-life story of the rivalry between Formula One drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). The film starts at a crucial juncture in the story and the viewer hears a voiceover by Lauda regarding his rivalry with Hunt. Moments later, the film flashes back several years to a time when both men were Formula Three racers and had no real chances of making their dream of reaching the top division come true. Lauda has just been thrown out by his father while Hunt is an eternal ladies man and drinker who has no stability in his life and no seeming concern to get himself together. The two men meet in a third division race that sparks their rivalry and provides the main impetus for what is to follow. No sooner has this taken place that Lauda figures out a way to move into the top division; this prompts Hunt to do the same. From there, Howard showcases crucial races between the two men and how their egotistical behavior affects them in the private realm. Continue Reading