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LEE DANIEL’S THE BUTLER serves a up sentimental story

27 Jan

the-butler

The most striking aspect of Lee Daniel’s The Butler is Forest Whitaker’s (Cecil Gaines) in the title role. It was a beautiful performance about a man, a father, and a husband attempting to provide for his family while attempting to come to turns with his role in life and his place in history. At the center of the film is a story about a father and a son at odds with one another about what actions should be taken to make a positive difference in the world. The film begins with the embarrassing truth of America’s most shameful behavior and follows Mr. Gaines as he becomes a butler at the White House, while his son, Louis grows up to become an activist fighting for African-Americans’ civil rights at most of the major points in history. It is a sentimental story that takes on too much at once, but Whitaker should not have been ignored by the Academy Awards.

WORD COUNT: 158

Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: N/A

DRINKING BUDDIES is brewed with care

20 Jan

DRINKING-BUDDIES

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.

WORD COUNT: 150

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

I am glad I spent time with HER

16 Jan

HER-FILM

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.

WORD COUNT: 156

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

LOVELACE doesn’t go deep enough

8 Jan

LOVELACE-FILM

The life of Linda Boreman is dramatized in the biographical film, Lovelace starring Amanda Seyfried in the title role.  Her performance along with Peter Sarsgaard as her abusive husband, Chuck Traynor and Sharon Stone as her mother are outstanding. At first, audiences are invited to witness the events that lead to Linda becoming an overnight sensation in America, but the film concludes with events that went on behind her 15 minutes of fame. The strategy works and forces audiences to realize the darkness that pollutes this industry built on sex, drugs, and abuse. However, the rest of the moving parts are mediocre because the film is unable to delve deep enough into any particular event. The film moves quickly, but since it plays the same story twice it seems like it stands still in time like a record skipping on a scratch.

WORD COUNT : 141

Chuck’s Grade: B-

Adam’s Grade: C

OLD BOY (2013) has some new tricks

1 Jan

OLD-BOY-2013

Spike Lee’s desire to re-interpret the critically acclaimed 2003 South Korean film, Old Boy for domestic audiences was a bold move because of the amount of criticism he would receive from audiences familiar with the original. I was eager to see how he would negotiate certain scenes and particular parts of the story that have made Old Boy a memorable, but uncomfortable film to watch. Technically, everything is in the movie, but done in a way that is more like a jazz musician riffing on a familiar melody than a replay of an old song. Some things worked really well, while others things did not. This version had more of back story, which made it easier for American audiences to understand, but it was too much because those moments of discomfort did not have the same impact. However, I enjoyed this movie and the choice to cast Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen as the principal characters was a strong choice.

WORD COUNT: 158

Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Breaking Away does nothing for me

18 Oct

BREAKING-AWAY

Obviously, life was much different in 1979 when Breaking Away was filmed because I was shocked to learn it won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture.  Even more shocking was that it beat out, Manhattan and All that Jazz. I remember watching it as a kid and not being impressed. Today, it still doesn’t do much for me. The lack of self-worth by the teens is over the top, the Italians cheating was ridiculous, the ambiguous relationship between Dennis Christopher and Robyn Douglass was frustrating, and the prejudice against non-American life is so heavy-handed that you want to change the channel every time Paul Dooley opens his mouth.  However, this film does pave the way for the onslaught of 1980s teen films about social and class differences, but the formula sport story and the performances do not hold up over the test of time.

WORD COUNT: 150

Chuck’s Grade: C

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Upside Down stays in the middle

11 Oct

UPSIDE-DOWN-FILM

I loved the premise of the sci-fi film, Upside Down from writer/director Juan Diego Solanas, but the film gets stuck in a middle ground because it does not have an identifiable antagonist for the hero character, Adam(Jim Sturgess) to overcome. Instead, a predictable love story unfolds amongst a backdrop of amazing circumstances. His love interest Eden (Kirsten Dunst) is pleasant and their relationship is nice, but it seems insignificant compared to the dominating visual effectS. I think it was a valiant attempt at something great. The idea of two planets with opposing gravitational forces was exciting, even though I needed a quick science lesson at the beginning of the film to answer the obvious questions an audience would have after 15 minutes. However, the main story, like gravity pulls the film down.

WORD COUNT: 131

Chuck’s Grade: C+

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Gravity is out of this world

7 Oct

GRAVITY-FILM

The most anticipated film for me this year was Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity.” With his first film since the 2006 sci-fi drama “Children of Men,” Cuaron has broken new ground here, creating an experience unlike anything audiences have seen before. When a routine repair job on the Hubble telescope goes awry, a medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and a mission commander, Lt. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), must work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.

Believe the hype, this is one of the most visually stunning films ever, with its groundbreaking CGI that features jaw-dropping single-shot sequences. Clocking in at 90 minutes, Cuaron wastes no time in moving the story along. Bullock ventures outside of her normal orbit of roles and gives an amazing performance while Clooney is great in his supporting role. This is masterful technical achievement with Cuaron, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and Visual-Effects Tim Webber creating a movie going experience worthy of Oscar consideration.

WORD COUNT: 159

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Rush is exhilarating from start to finish

3 Oct

RUSH-2013-film

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.

WORD COUNT: 159

Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Prisoners won’t let you go

2 Oct

PRISONERS-FILM
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.

WORD COUNT: 158

Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A