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DRINKING BUDDIES is brewed with care

20 Jan


Sometimes love is all about timing, Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers at Chicago brewery. They are best friends that like to drink and flirt with one another, but struggle with romantic feelings because they are dating other people. Writer and director by Joe Swanberg gives a different, but realistic look at relationships that go on in the restaurant industry. Their connection resonated with me, even though I spend my time on the other side of the bar. The actors’ portrayal becomes dynamic when alcohol becomes part of the equation. It looses the characters up and blurs the emotional reactions in the process.  Actions speak louder than words, and this film’s best scenes are those moments of silence. Like most bar relationships, I am left with wishing there was more to it.  Drinking Buddies is brewed with care, but I did not want to order another round.


Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

I am glad I spent time with HER

16 Jan


Spike Jonze’s latest film ‘Her’, set in the not-too-distant future, tells the story of writer Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who finds himself falling in love with Samantha, an advanced operating system (Scarlett Johansson), while he is dealing with a divorce from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara). The film emits warmth and intelligence with its exceptional production design, cinematography, and performances. There is a charming quality to Jonze’s dialogue with both of the characters being tormented by loneliness. Her does not shy away from topical subject material, such as modern society’s dependence on technology. If it has not happened yet, it will in the near future, unless people are to compartmentalize and measure technologies contribution to a better life. Phoenix tops his performance in The Master with this grounded performance while Johansson, captivates our senses with her sultry voice. Her reminds audiences to appreciate the moments with our loved one. I am glad I spent time with Her.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Rush is exhilarating from start to finish

3 Oct


Director Ron Howard is back in the driver seat with both hands on the steering will his adrenaline fueled film, Rush. Based on the true story of the Formula 1 racing rivalry between English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian professional Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). The film reveals their contrasting personalities and styles, as well as their obsession for becoming world champions.

Howard teams up with writer Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) who is becoming a master at creating dynamic relationships between opposing character rivals. It truly is the driving force that gets everything going.

Howard put together the perfect vehicle this time. A thrilling score by Hans Zimmers and expert camerawork by Anthony Dod Mantle. Equally important is Hemsworth’s acting. He is maturing into something much more than eye candy and muscles. However, Bruhl’s steals the checker flag and finishes off with a signature performance. Rush is full of life, color, risk and it is exhilarating from start to finish.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Prisoners won’t let you go

2 Oct

The award season is quickly approaching and Prisoners sets the tone for early considerations. The Dover family (Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello) and Birch Family (Terrence Howard, Viola Davis) are facing every parent’s worst nightmare. Their daughters are missing, and as minutes turn to hours, panic and desperation engulf their emotions. Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) searches for the girls, but his only lead is released due to lack of evidence. Keller Dover takes matters into his own hands.

Prisoners is a thriller that takes audiences through a gamut of emotions and doubt. Working with the gifted Roger Deakins, Director Denis Villeneuve creates a nightmare environment that sends shivers down audiences’ spines. The subject matter has a become a popular topic in horror/thriller films, but Prisoners attempts to do something much different. The cast is unbelievable with Jackman and Gyllenhaal leading the way. Even at a running time of 153 minutes, Prisoners holds you tight and will not let you go.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Oblivion is a mixed bag

22 Sep


Oblivion is a mixed bag that is going to receive a mixed review from On the one hand, Adam found the film to be unoriginal and disappointing on many levels. His major criticism is the story and its predictable twists, as well as the under utilized characters, Malcolm Beach (Morgan Freeman) and Julia Rusakova (Olga Kurylenko). Anytime a film has to rely on flashbacks it is in trouble and Oblivion finds itself pressing rewind in many places. On the other hand, Chuck did not mind the story and doesn’t think it clones other films. Joseph Kosinski’s riffing on common sci-fi subjects is not a big deal. Oblivion is noticeably slow-moving and Chuck agrees with Adam about the supporting cast. However, he did not see the twist coming, which has him liking the film much more than Adam, although Chuck was disappointed with the final product. Both agree the visual effects are amazing and Claudio Miranda’s cinematography is gorgeous.


Adam’s Grade: C+

Chuck’s Grade: B

Insidious: Chapter 2 is lost in the after life

17 Sep


James Wan may have now established himself as the King of modern horror with SAW, Insidious and The Conjuring under his belt. He knows how to keep his audiences on edge and screaming for more. The sequel to the 2011 surprise horror hit brings back the cast and pick up right where they left off at. The Lambert family (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) seek to uncover the secret that has them attached to the supernatural.

The film does give some better scares than the first one, but also makes some predictable choices that would bore the avid horror fan. Writers Wan and Leigh Whannell bring some welcomed creativity to the story but at the same time overreaches and leaves too many unanswered questions. John Leonetti deserves some recognition for his brilliant camerawork as he frames the film’s haunting atmosphere. Insidious: Chapter 2  will frighten audiences, but the story does not live on in the “after life” of Chapter 1.


Adam’s Grade: C+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Short Term 12 should not be overlooked this summer

6 Sep


Filmmaker Destin Cretton draws from his personal experiences from working at a foster care facility to create a thoughtful and powerful film, Short Term 12. The plot revolves around a group home for troubled teens where a supervising staff member, Grace (Brie Larson) attempts to negotiate and navigate her way through her personal and professional problems.

Cretton artfully presents a difficult subject and backs it up with authentic dialogue that resonate for a long time after the end credits. The acting is wonderful across the board with Larson and Gallagher Jr. leading the way with award worthy performances. Their characters are flawed which makes for a much more interesting film. Cretton’s script is sound and the documentary-like shot direction adds to the story’s authenticity. Short Term 12 balances hope and despair in a way most independent films cannot. It is a valuable gem that should not be overlooked this summer.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

The World’s End goes down like a good beer

26 Aug


Fans of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz will enjoy the hilarious and heartfelt, The World’s End. It concludes the Cornetto Trilogy, which refers to the color and flavor of ice cream in the film. Obviously, very important stuff and I will have to get a triple scoop with each flavor because Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s third installment ends the trilogy on a high note.

Twenty years after a failed attempt of a pub crawl called the ‘Golden Mile’ – 12 pubs, 12 pints, Gary King (Pegg) drags his childhood friends along to complete the hedonistic task. Not even aliens will deter them from this great achievement.

I was impressed with the film’s ability to mix genres and still spend the time developing each of these characters. Unfortunately, I did feel overwhelmed at times with the story’s sci-fi/action sequences and ending, but with repeated viewings I am sure I will grow to appreciate it like a good beer.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Kick-Ass 2 gets its ass kicked

19 Aug


The original Kick-Ass surprised audience with its funny story, gratuitous violence, and vulgar language from a cute cast of kids. Three years later, the kids are not as cute and the violence is cartoonish, and the language seems appropriate for your typical high school teenager.

Dave aka Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson) joins forces with a group of costumed vigilantes led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), while Mindy aka Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) attempts to live a normal life. Elsewhere, Chris D’Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), seeks revenge against Kick-Ass.

The film mainly lacks a good story. The script tries to set up emotional moment after another and fails miserably. However, the action is entertaining and like the first film, Hit-Girl steals every scene she is in. Kick-Ass 2 gets its ass kicked by the original because it cannot defeat the expectations of its fans and ends up like most sequels, which is not much.


Adam’s Grade: C+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

The Spectacular Now shook me

15 Aug


Eight months into 2013 and The Spectacular Now is the best film I have seen so far. It features a young cast that brings Tim Tharpe’s novel to life. The film follows Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior that refuses to live beyond the moment. He has no plans and his interests have led him to a life of hard partying, but after being dumped by his girlfriend he wakes up to something much more.

The film exceeded my expectations because of the performances by Teller and Shailene Woodley. Their chemistry and charisma are charming and pulls you in. This is not your normal coming of age film. Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber defy the formula and create an unpredictable story that goes to all the right places. I believe it is the most authentic picture of adolescence since John Hughes. The Spectacular Now shook me and took me back to a place I had forgotten about


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A