The directing duo team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris played a nice game of doubles in helming the true-based story "Battle of the Sexes" into cinematic screens. The film is based on the infamous tennis match in the early 70's between sweetheart female lib tennis great Billie Jean King and the male chauvinistic retired Hall-of-Famer Bobby Riggs. But the movie is much more than that, it also stages themes of gender equal rights, estranged marriages, sports management, and scores as a LOVE letter to the early 70's. Emma Stone serves up another ace performance, here as King. Steve Carell was a bit outlandish, but still returned serve with a sound performance. The film also had an advantage of very good supporting performances from Elisabeth Shue as Riggs' wife, Sarah Silverman as King's manager, and Andrea Riseborough as King's lesbian lover. "Battle of the Sexes" matches up quite right, and was not "rigged". Give it a try! **** Good
Mother! (2017)WTF in full gear!
16 September 2017
Hey, I am always up for some daring & strange movies; but never did I expect the mother f**king rapid-fire lunacy of Darren Aronofsky's "Mother!". It's like if Darren took all the drugs he showcased in his classic "Requiem for a Dream" while writing and directing "Mother!"' OK, maybe it's not that crazy; wait, it is that crazy. Love it or hate it, the main tagline for this movie's ads are correct; there is no other movie like it, which it does not necessarily mean it's a good thing. This is the no-name defense I mean movie. There are no character names in the movie. "Mother!" stars Jennifer Lawrence as Mother. She is married to Him, as in Javier Bardem's character. Him and Mother live in a countryside solitary two story house. Him is a poet; Mother is a housewife; still with me? Him is like twenty years older than Mother; that sounds strange. Him and Mother start getting visits from zany strangers; primarily in particular a dying man named Man; but of course; and his rude wife named (you guessed it) Woman. Man and Woman are played by Ed Harris and Michele Pfeiffer. Then all of a sudden, "Mother!" goes into rapid fire "cray cray" mode with more strangers visiting Mother and Him. Listen, I do credit Aronofsky in his daring direction, but this was waaaay too much. It just gets bombarded and overflown with ludicrous scenes. Jennifer Lawrence, whose character gets quite a beating, was strong as Mother. And Michele Pfeiffer is always quite the Woman, and she acted the part also quite right as Woman. Bardem and Harris were modest, but I think they were outshined by their female counterparts. I do recommend quite a motherload of alcoholic beverages before experiencing "Mother!"; to say the least. *** Average
The Big Sick (2017)Don't call in sick for this one!
16 September 2017
The latest Judd Apatow produced comedic offering is sick! OK, maybe not that sick great, but it is pretty good. I am referring to "The Big Sick" which stars Kumail Nanjiani (spell check, was that right?) as Kumail, a Muslim standup comic who moonlights as a Uber Driver. Kumail meets the perky Emily, wonderfully played by Zoe Kazan; and a romance blossoms. The problem is that Kumail's family (most notably his mother) pressures him to marry a Muslim woman; consequently Kumail breaks up with Emily cause of the Muslim fix thang. O yea, there is another problem; Emily gets a serious viral organ infection and ends up in a coma. Kumail feels guilty and becomes a visitor fixture in the hospital where Emily is comatosed. Enter Emily's parents, Terry & Beth; perfectly played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. And yes, awkward happens for Kumail! The incredible thing is that this really did occur to the real Kumail Nanjiani. Director Michael Showalter put on a good show in helming "The Big Sick" with various subtle comedic and tender moments. Nanjiani does play the part right; well, I guess he had to, it happened to him. But I think the scene stealers of the movie are Romano and Hunter. The scene where Terry is complaining about medical google searches all leading to a cancer diagnosis was a riot. I hope you were not too sickened with my review of "The Big Sick", so it's time to get your cinematic health up & rising by checking this flick out. **** Good
Atomic Blonde (2017)Great to look at! And the film was pretty good too! Yea baby, Chaaarlize!
25 August 2017
I liked it better when the action spy thriller "Atomic Blonde" was called "Juana Wick". OK, that was a wicked pun! And I am kidding, because Director David Leitch's "Atomic Blonde" was very much fun, especially if you are an aficionado of late 80's New Wave electronic music; which present company is included. The movie stars the "still stunning" Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton, an undercover MI6 agent who is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. The movie is filled with intoxicating music from New Wave giants Depeche Mode, New Order, Reflexx, David Bowie, After the Fire, Peter Schilling, and more. But hello! Why wasn't there no Berlin music in a movie set in Berlin! Anyways, Agent Broughton is brought to Berlin to pair up with an insider David Percival to help with her mission. Leitch does not bring an apex of gravitas to the picture and Kurt Johnstad's screenplay does muddle at times, but Leitch does encompass the film with a very stylish look and again sensational music which glued me in. Theron has never looked better and does deliver the "fem badass" goods as Lorraine. James McAvoy was solid as the sketchy Percival, and John Goodman continues to prove that he is a good man to see act with his work as a CIA Supervisor. So it's time for you to get "behind the wheel" get over your "blue Monday or whatever day" blues and get atomized to experience this "Atomic Blonde". **** Good
Café Society (2016)Good enough Cafe, though not great
18 August 2017
Woody Allen's latest showcase "Cafe Society" gets the Woody nostalgic fever again and travels back to Los Angeles in the 1930's. Jesse Eisenberg stars as Bobby, a young Jewish New Yorkan who moves to Los Angeles in hopes of finding success. Bobby reaches out to his estranged Hollywood mogul uncle named Phil Stern played by Steve Carell. Initially, Phil is very stern in helping Bobby get a foot in the door, but then he obliges to Bobby's request. There, Bobby falls for the beautiful Stern assistant Vonnie played by Kristen Stewart. Eventually, Bobby then gets caught up in "bizarre love triangle" that doesn't necessarily follow a "new order". Allen does a modest job in helming and scribing the picture, but this not in his elite of his film society bio. None of the performances were striking, but I must say that Stewart does the best work in her career here as Vonnie. I would get in the "Cafe Society" if I were you, but I would not trample anyone in doing so. **** Good
Detroit (2017)As gripping as they come!
6 August 2017
The super cinematic duo of Director Kathryn Bigelow and Writer Mark Boal have constructed an impactful, passionate project in the film "Detroit". Rev up your Detroit Pistons, because this one is riveting. It is based on the true story of the 1967 Detroit riots centered on the police brutality travesty that happened in the city's Algiers Motel. Bigelow helms the movie in a masterful manner that magnetizes the viewer into the action, especially in the film's brawny second act. Boal scribes up a script as sturdy as a Detroit Tiger. The film's acting ensemble assembled roaring performances as loud as a Detroit Lion; including John Boyega, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Jack Reynor, Ben O'Toole, Anthony Mackie, Hannah Murray, and Kaitlyn Dever. But it was Will Poulter as the savage, racist cop Krauss that was the standout here and should be "red winging" it to a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. "Detroit" is one of the best films of 2017, and should be seen as soon as possible in your motown. ***** Excellent
Swiss Army Man (2016)Radcliffe great, the rest of the movie not so much....
1 August 2017
The bizarre but semi-boring independent movie "Swiss Army Man" was not as multi-useful as I thought it was gonna be. In this swiss cheesy flick, Paul Dano stars as Hank; who is stranded in a deserted island and about to commit suicide. But before you take out your hankies for Hank, let me inform you (not spoiler alert, its in the trailer) as he is about to commit the suicidal act, he sees a dead man stranded on the shore of the island beach; this man is called Manny. Hank tries to resuscitate Manny, but to no avail. Then Manny starts to have some gaseous combustion that farts him back to life. OK, that is where I said, maybe this "Swiss Army Man" did not switch it up for me. The film was written and directed by a couple of Dans; Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert; and though I credit the Dans for their effort in the originality of the premise, I do have to say that they did not insert enough pizazz to liven up the "Swiss Army Man" for me. I do have to credit the film's score and the stupendous performance from Daniel Radcliffe as Manny. I don't know what kind of "potter" Radcliffe was on (Potter pun intended), but I must state that his performance was revolutionary. However, it was still not enough for me to recommend for you to visit the "Swiss Army Man". *** Average
Dunkirk (2017)Nolan is the man!
23 July 2017
The great auteur Christopher Nolan has just orchestrated his most mature and visceral picture in his esteemed career. I am referring to the true World War II story "Dunkirk". It is based during the early part of the war when French and British allies where stuck in the Dunkirk beach as they are attacked by the German nemesis. British civilians with their ferry boats put on their heroic hats and went on a mission to save the British soldiers. Nolan integrates the viewer right into the dungeons of "Dunkirk"; either by sea, land, and air. The narrative is presented into these three segments; sea in a day, land in a week, and air in an hour. And they come all together masterfully due to Nolan's firepower. "Dunkirk" is Nolan's show. I have never seen a war movie depicted in a fashion where one never sees the enemies and there is such little bloodshed, but works so astoundingly. It is mostly a profound evacuation picture. Now there are actors here that due solid work; Mark Rylance as the civilian seaman, Cillian Murphy as a rescued pilot, Tom Hardy as an air force pilot; and also some young actors that really pulled their acting landing in Fionn Whithead, Damien Bonnard, and Harry Styles; yes I went that direction, that Harry Styles. Hans Zimmer's score is riveting and propels the movie in a very gripping manner. The cinematography, art direction, and production design all allied to perfection. But I go back to Nolan, because this was Nolan's land. And if Sir Nolan does not get nominated for a Best Director Oscar, I will be have to be evacuated from watching next year's Academy Awards. "Dunkirk" is the best film I have seen so far in 2017. ***** Excellent
Not as great as Dawn, but still good to go to war!
15 July 2017
Waaaar! What is it good for!! Absolutely, numerous things! The war I am referring to is the final chapter of the prequel series of the "Planet of the Apes" franchise entitled "War for the Planet of the Apes". In this chapter, Ape Leader Caesar is on a vengeance quest against a domineering Colonel who uses the Apes for slavery, but there is more on why Caesar wants the Colonel fried as Colonel Sanders. Writer- Director Mark Reeves does orchestrate "War for the Planet of the Apes" quite admirably, even though I did go a tad "ape crazy" with a few scenes that could have been shortened. The film's cinematography, production design, and score were fabulous; and so was the performance capture extraordinaire work from Andy Serkis as Ceasar. The Serkis show of phenomenal performance capture efforts continues for Andy. Even though Woody Harrelson was just being Woody as the Colonel, he still delivered Wood strong once more. "War for the Planet of the Apes" was not in the same excel status as "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:, but it is still a cinematic planet you should still travel to. **** Good
Patriots Day (2016)On track as one of the best of 2016!
13 July 2017
I am going to run this by you from the start, Director Peter Berg has masterminded an excellent procedural film in "Patriots Day"; which is not based on dates that the New England Patriots have won Super Bowls in the last 20 years. Seriously, it is based on the bombing that occurred in the Boston Marathon in 2013 which suffered some fatalities and many injuries. We all do know the happenings from that day and after, but Berg executes the direction of "Patriots Day" in such a multi-layered precise fashion that makes viewers be infused within the tragedies & triumphs of this unforgettable occurrence. Berg favorite Mark Wahlberg stars as Boston PD Sergeant Tommy Saunders; why wasn't he a Colonel? Sorry, my mind is a bit Kentucky Pun Fried. Anyways, Wahlber's Saunders is a representation of a Boston Police official who was both involved in the marathon bombing and the capture of one of the suspects. Berg alongside co-writers Matt Cook and Joshua Zetumer developed a multifaceted screenplay that incorporates many figures and happenings which occurred before and during the bombing; and also the days following during the hunt of the brother suspects. The film is not an actor's showcase it is more Berg's run; but we do get admirable performances from Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, and J.K. Simmons; also notable were the performances from Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze who play the terrorist brothers Dzohkhar and Tamerian Tsarnaev. I have to consider myself a cinematic patriot by lining up "Patriots Day" as one of the most gripping films of 2016. ***** Excellent
Get Out (I) (2017)Get Out!!! That good, ha! Yes, sireeee!
7 July 2017
Writer-Director Jordan Peele has just made a mark as another Great Jordan! Peele's masterful orchestration (directorial and scribe like) of his movie "Get Out" will probably be getting in my future "Top 10 Movies of 2017" list. This horror/comedy/drama/unique movie stars Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams as Chris Washington and Rose Armitage. Chris and Rose are a biracial couple (Chris being black, Rose being white) who go on a trip to suburbia so Chris can meet Rose's parents; but "Meet the Parents" this is not. There Chris sees himself in a plethora of surreal & strange situations, which I won't divulge because I don't want you to "get out" of reading my review if I reveal spoilers. Peele not only presents the narrative as unpredictable, perplexing, and magnetic, but he also incorporates various social themes on class distinctions within the picture. A big Kaluuya shot, I mean Kaluuya shout-out goes to Daniel for his excellent performance as Chris. Williams also delivered as Rose. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener nailed their performances as Rose's parents, Dean and Missy. I was especially hypnotized with Keener's work. Other phenom supporting work was gotten out of Caleb Landry Jones as Rose's brother Jeremy; and Betty Gabriel as Georgina, the Armitage's housekeeper. Not its time for you to stop reading this, and get out and experience "Get Out. ***** Excellent
20th Century Women (2016)Greeeeeeeta!!!
29 June 2017
Writer-Director Mike Mills has crafted yet another genuine personal story to the screen in "20th Century Women". Mills who directed "Beginners" about his relationship with his gay father, now turns to women; one specifically being his mom. The film is set in 1979. Annette Benign stars as Dorothea Fields, a free-thinking single mother of a 15-year-old teen named Jamie. Dorothea is having a bit of a rocky time in raising Jamie, so he asks her bohemian punky tenant Abbie and Jamie's childhood female friend Julie to help raise Jamie. So oh oh oh Jamie's crying!! Sorry Van Halen. Actually, Jamie is not crying so much and takes the opportunity to reinvent himself and be more risqué in his choices; so it eventually becomes a Jamie "coming of age" experience. Mills' personal touch on his direction and scribe of the film was tender but a few times it did its bit of dragging; but not enough to hurt the film's overall narrative. Bening was sensational as Dorothea. Elle Fanning continues her hot young streak with a crafty performance as Julie. Billy Crudup was solid as Dorothea's male tenant William. But the 20th century woman which was the great thespian queen of the bunch was Greta Gerwig for her standout performance as Abbie. So go and hit on those "20th Century Women". **** Good
Catfight (I) (2016)Oh no, what a Heche of a fight!
22 June 2017
Raaaaaaaooooh! Yes, there is a "Catfight" going on (even more than one), and it lasts a long time. The black & blue comedy "Catfight" stars Sandra Oh and Anne Heche as two former college frenemies who reunite and end up knocking the lights out of each other. Sandra Oh plays Veronica, a trophy wife who is against her teenage son's wishes of becoming an artist. Anne Heche plays Ashley, a struggling lesbian artist who moonlights as a caterer. When Veronica and Ashley unexpectedly see each other at Veronica's husband business party, the claws come out and they both end up in some sort of violent punch drunk love; OK, maybe not love. Consequently, there is a punch domino effect of their brawl and brawls that turn each others life completely around; which I won't spoil cause you will punch me in the face. Writer-Director Onel Turkel pulls no punches in directing the movie with "over the top" farce; which sometimes pleasures your guilty bones while at other times it's too much to take. Nevertheless, I strangely was compelled by the antics of "Catfight"; especially with one particular scene with Veronica's looney aunt who names trees. Both Oh and Heche were excellent in their energetic roles. However, Alicia Silverstone as Ashley's lesbian lover seemed clueless to me. "Catfight" will not make it to 9 lives of reinvention but it's still worth the punch. **** Good
Chronic (2015)Very tough chronic watch!
15 June 2017
Could I be Franco with you? Writer-Director Michel Franco has probably developed one of the most melancholy films I have ever seen in "Chronic"; and I don't mean in a "bring your hankie" kind of way, I am referring to an environment where there is a colossal field of hopelessness. "Chronic" stars Tim Roth as David, a hospice nurse who cares for dying cancer patients. The film centers around David's interactions with his "near death" patients, but also on a dark secret of his own past. Franco nurses "Chronic" with an immensely slow burn; which at times emphasizes the narrative, but at times it's too much of a torturous viewing. Not to say that there is not authenticity within the film of dying cancer patients, but its just a tough pill to swallow; especially if one of your loved ones has or has had fallen to the same health horror. Franco's screenplay is underplayed here as the actual images have more of a striking impact to the picture. Tim Roth does marvel in an understated but gripping performance as David. "Chronic" is the epitome of a "bad feel" movie, but there is no denying its chronic hard truth about the devastation of cancer. Cancer sucks! *** Average
Weiner (2016)A wineing doc!
11 June 2017
Anthony Weiner was a passionate New York congressman who fiercely fought to help the middle class and advocated health care. But then he went from helping the middle class, to becoming low class. If you have been hiding under a c*ck, I mean a rock, you know that the married Weiner disgraced himself repeatedly by his sexting and sex calls with other women. And yes, you can say it's all in the name, but the man not only did it once, he did it several times. Consequently, he resigned as Congressman. However, two years later, he courageously decided to run for the seat of Mayor of New York. The documentary primarily highlights all the P.R. and human challenges Weiner faced during his New York Mayor campaign, and also his "sext fall of the wagon" as he was repeatedly caught having sexual communication with other women. This documentary does not hold back, and fully exposes Weiner for who he is; a sharp politician of government, but a reckless human being which cost him his downward spiral not only with his career but with his public perception. "Weiner" bares all (sort of speak) on every aspect of Anthony Weiner, and even though you might think he is a despicable human being, I still think you should give this dickimentary, I mean documentary a try. **** Good
Big Man! Big Documentary! Loved it!
4 June 2017
Open Sesame cause you Spinney me round round, baby round round in a BIG way. I am referring to Carroll Spinney, the master puppeteer who has longtime played the infamous Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. "I Am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story" is a masterful documentary that takes a look at Spinney's life; from his almost fifty years playing Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch, his rough childhood, his near losses of life, his friendship with his legendary late boss Jim Henson, to his beautiful longstanding relationship with his wife Debbie. But it's his love passion for the Big Bird that highlights this touching documentary. Directors Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker direct the movie with a layered auteur touch. My letter of the day for "I am Big Bird: The Carroll Spinney Story" is a big "A". ***** Excellent
Southside with You (2016)Speaks well!
26 May 2017
It's time to go to the punside with me, because there will be some corny puns in my review of The Obamas "first date" flick "Southside With You"; even though I have a feeling you might find them so corny that they will be in the grounds of pun impeachment. Anyways, "Southside With You" is a splendid, dialogue-orientated film that focuses on Barrack and Michelle's first date on a hot, summer Chicago day in 1989. Writer-Director Richard Tanne nicely handles the movie on the verbal interaction within our main protagonists, and foreshadows the communicative talents of who would be the future President and First Lady. Sure, you can call "Southside With You", "Before Sunrise: The Obama Moon" but there is nothing wrong with that; even though "Before Sunrise" is a much better movie. Parker Sawyers gives a presidential first-rate performance as the young Barack, and Tika Sumpter will make you think "She is Michelle" from the start in her turn as the future Mrs. Obama. So I think the popular vote will side with "Southside With You" if you give it a chance. **** Good
22 May 2017
Director Kim Snyder's documentary "Newtown" is a gripping film about the aftermath of the largest mass school shooting in U.S. history which took place at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conneticut on December 14, 2012. The documentary follows three Newtown families who lost their sons in the tragedy, and another family who had a son survive the tragedy but still left them with much grief. Snyder does an admirable job in highlighting the documentary around how life has immensely altered for these families, and she cerebrally avoids the the pitfalls of making it into a sensational, political agenda documentary; even though "gun control" policy has to be a requisite to be part of the feature. This is not for the weak hearted; as you can imagine, there are definitely moments of profound sorrow in featuring the families discussing how their sons were like. No one will ever forget the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, and this documentary is just a subtle reminder, yet effective one, how this can never be put aside in our memory. **** Good
Hands of Stone (2016)Don't need to be stoned to enjoy this one!
19 May 2017
You have been warned. There will be plenty of pun jabs in this review, but please don't count me out yet. Roberto Duran, the legendary Panamanian boxer, is in the center ring in Writer-Director Jonathan Jakobuwicz' bio pic "Hands of Stone". Jakobuwicz features Duran Duran, and more of Duran; I just did that so I could include one of my favorite bands of all time in this review. Anyways, Edgar Ramirez stars as Duran in a bit over-the-top performance but still had a few uppercuts in his work. The film features Duran as a child living in the Panamanian slums, and then as a young man who loved the boxing game, next his eventual rise into the ring, and lastly his legendary battles with boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard. Jakobuwicz also presents Duran's personal life in his relationship with his girlfriend and then wife Felicidad. But this movie is very much also about Duran's seasoned trainer Ray Arcel, who is played with plenty of punch by the great Robert DeNiro. Arcel had a wealth of experience training champion boxers, but ran into a mob squad that physically & mentally forced him out of boxing. Years later, Arcel discovers Duran, and thought it was time to get back in. There is no doubt that Jakobuwicz does get a bit showy in several of the film's scenes; but you know what, I found them to be in the ropes of "guilty pleasure" watching. DeNiro, who needs no training in the thespian world, was brilliant as Arcel. I also enjoyed the first card supporting work from John Turturro as a mobster, Ruben Blades as Duran's manager, and Usher (yes, that Usher) as Sugar Ray Leonard. Sure, there lots of cheesy stuff in "Hands of Stone" that have a familiar ring to it, and yes I do think many will be sparring partners of mine by disagreeing with me on that it was an entertaining bio flick; but I don't see why you should not go head to head and eye to eye with "Hands of Stone". **** Good
Irrational Man (2015)Solid Woody rational offering!
8 May 2017
Woody! Woody! Woody! Not the most rational humanoid that ever existed, but one thing about legendary filmmaker Woody Allen you have to admit is that his ratio of movies per year is phenomenal- 1/1; yes, one movie per year. Allen's "Irrational Man" stars the not-so-rational actor himself Joaquin Phoenix as Abe Lucas, an alcoholic Philosophy professor who joins up as an adjunct professor at a Connecticut university. Abe has lost lust for life and is very uninspired. At the university, he meets several key players including a Science professor colleague named Rita Richards who lusts for Abe even though she is married. Abe also befriends one of his students named Jill Pollard who admires Abe and this Pollard also wants to pollute Abe's college morals, or lack there of. Allen directs and scribes "Irrational Man" quite well with infamous Woodyisms such as insecurity, jealousy, anxiety, and delirium. And even though it is not one of his classic movies, "Irrational Man" rationalizes itself as a pleasant, quirky viewing. Phoenix shines as Abe. Emma Stone was very good as Pollard, and the very underrated Parker Posey stuck her pleasant thespian pose as Richards. So come one man, give that "Irrational Man" a try. **** Good
It Follows (2014)Follow through this one!
26 April 2017
"It Follows"! Yes, it does! My grandiose corny puns in my movie reviews, and this one is no different! OK, OK. Please don't leave and I beg you to continue to follow me in my review of the horror independent flick "It Follows". Writer-Director David Robert Mitchell has formulated a very inventive horror movie about an unknown supernatural force that follows some of those who have sexual encounters. Our protagonist here is the blonde beauty Jay Height. Jay reaches her own new heights when she starts dating the all-American sporto Hugh. But Hugh will not guess what happens with that encounter, because then if I spill the beans, it will be a Hugh disappointment, and spoilers will follow. Sorry, but I can't resist. Hugh ends up giving Jay the supernatural force that causes weary characters to slowly follow; hence "It Follows". It might sound like "It Follows" is not it, but it is actually a very engaging movie, that does not mimic most of the formulaic hum-drum horror movies of these days. And it does have its scary moments, including a breakthrough beginning. So I think we should start following the career of David Robert Mitchell because he was it in crafting this feature. I also liked the leading performance of Maika Monroe as Jay. The rest of the cast was moderate but nothing to follow through profusely. OK, that is pretty much it. Now follow "It Follows". **** Good
Anomalisa (2015)A for Anomalisa
21 April 2017
Acclaimed Writer-Director Charlie Kaufman's films might not be for everyone, and they are an acquired taste; but one thing for sure is that Kaufman is an anomaly in so many filmmaking ways. Kaufman goes for the stop-motion animation in his movie "Anomalisa", which he co-directed with animation Director Duke Johnson. Anomalisa's protagonist is Michael Stone, a middle-aged motivational business speaker & author who travels to Cincinnati for a gig as a keynote speaker at a conference. Stone finds people and life in general very monotonous and with much sameness. But things go anomalistic when he meets Lisa, a depressed telemarketing representative who is attending the conference. Michael sees Lisa as a vibrant, standout woman and falls for her. His "hands of Stone" even get in Lisa's private parts. OK, that is enough. I will let you figure it out. But I do highly recommend to visit this eccentric, visionary film that had me quite engaged throughout its narrative. There is spectacular voice work from David Thewlis who voices Stone, Jennifer Jason-Leigh who voices Lisa, and Tom Noonan who voices everyone else. The animation was divine, and the score was right on. Kaufman's screenplay was a simplistic but original tour-de-force. And Johnson and him directed the hell out of "Anomalisa". Anomalisa! Anomalisa! Men have loved you!!! Hope women love it too, because it is in motion as a "must see" stop-motion animation treat. ***** Excellent
Son of Saul (2015)No Saul I mean Sell for me here!
10 April 2017
The Oscar-winning Hungarian Holocaust movie "Son of Saul" has received a bountiful of critical and award love. I don't wanna sound like a sour grape, but this sour movie did not move me at all; you want more Saul on your entertainment taste, "Better Call Saul" instead. In all seriousness, "Son of Saul" stars Geza Rohrig as Saul, a 1944 Auschwitz Jewish prisoner who is forced to burn corpses of his own people. Saul is presented with a dilemma when he sees his son is in the group next in line to be incinerated. Saul then goes on a conquest for his son not to be one of them. He takes heavy risks, connives his allies, all the works really for his son not to be put in flames. Director Lazlo Nemes shoots the picture in close proximity with the lead character, which I found it to be very irritating instead of capturing. I was trying to be Finding Nemes in Nemes' chronological work, but it seems this was his first real picture; and it showed. I am sorry to say nothing struck me profoundly in "Son of Saul"; not the directing, the writing, nor the acting. And yes, I do think it's extremely overrated. But maybe, me who is the Son of Jose (dad's name) just did not see "Son of Saul" the way others did. ** Needs Improvement
The Girl on the Train (2016)Blunt power!
7 April 2017
Director Tate Taylor went down a taylor-made cinematic arena and took an auteur ride with "The Girl on the Train". The movie stars a fantastic Emily Blunt as Rachel; a lonely, depressed, and alcoholic woman who rides a train everyday that passes by the house she used to reside with her ex-husband Tom. A few houses down, there is another house Rachel fixates with, it's one of a blonde woman named Megan who appears to be happily married to her husband. But Rachel is literally a trainwreck due to her lushing ways, and when she sees one day (obviously from the train) that Megan might be having an affair, Rachel goes more off her rockers but not off her Johnnie Walkers. What follows on "The Girl from The Train" I will leave for you to get on track with. Taylor does provide some twists & turns in this psychological thriller, but nothing that will shock you. The up-and-coming Haley Bennett does impressive work as Megan, and Rachel Ferguson was quite steady as Tom's new wife Anna. The rest of the supporting cast including Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, and Allison Janney needed more "train"ing for this one. But to put it bluntly, it was Emily Blunt's "on the right track" performance that made this movie watchable. So don't miss your stop for "The Girl on the Train", but if you do, it's not the end of the world. *** Average
Woman in Gold (2015)I give it a Bronze!
2 April 2017
The true-story based drama "Woman in Gold" did not deserve any gold medals, but was bronzely deserved as solid cinematic offering. Helen Mirren stars as Maria Altmann, an older woman who was a Jewish refugee in her homeland of Austria. Her aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer sang the original version of Adele's "Hello"; not even Lionel Richie sang it better! Hello! Hello! Are you still there? Please don't say goodbye yet to my review of "Woman in Gold". In all seriousness, Adele Bloch- Bauer was the subject of an infamous painting during the 1940's. However, that painting and much artwork of Maria's family was seized by the Nazis in Germany-occupied Austria. During the late 1990's after a few occurrences including a deep letter from her deceased aunt Adele, Maria decides that it's time to get what is rightfully hers; most notably the startling "Woman in Gold" painting, in that time displayed in an Austrian museum. So Maria hires a nice young Jewish lawyer named Randy Schoenberg, and their fight for art-recovery justice is in full plight as they tackle many obstacles, most notably the Austrian government, to recover to Maria what is rightfully hers. Director Simon Curtis does hold par in his orchestration of the picture, even though Simon says way too many times what is obvious. Alexi Kaye Campbell's screenplay was moderate at best, but shined brightly within Maria's charismatic dialogue. Helen Mirren did shine with a golden performance as Maria, and Ryan Reynolds deserved a silver-thespian medal with his work as Randy Schoenberg. "Woman in Gold" does paint a pretty picture on art justice, and though not perfect, still deserves a look. *** Average