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Exceptional. Very unusual romance.
When I first heard of the premise of HER, I thought why would I want to see this film. I am so glad I changed my mind. Written, directed and produced by Spike Jones, HER is a science fiction romantic drama. Not many people on the Joaquin Phoenix bandwagon anymore; but he is excellent as Theodore, a professional letter writer in an emotional world of hurt due to a failed marriage. Lonely Theodore purchases a brand new artificially intelligent operating system, the OS1...its the first of its kind and destined to change Theodore's life. The system works through his cell phone via his computer. The OS1 has a name, Samantha; and Samantha has a voice(Scarlett Johansson). Theodore starts spending most of his waking hours in a vibrant relationship with his new companion. Strange, but true; he is a lonely man no more...he is a man in love again. And I tell you right now...damn, I fell in love with Samantha too! And it has been a very long time since I have been drawn into a movie to this extent. But how long can this one-of-a-kind love affair last? Forget the cold drink and popcorn, I was feeling every emotion there was to feel. And I blame it all on Samantha.
This film is critically acclaimed and has received honors on top of honors; and nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture, and won the award for Best Writing-Original Screenplay. Kudos, Mr. Jones. HER also features Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara and Kristen Wiig. You don't just watch HER...you feel it!
Son of God (2014)
For those of faith...spirit lifter.
SON OF GOD seems to be a pared down version of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's cable classic THE BIBLE. This movie explores the life of Jesus Christ from birth to resurrection. Diogo Morgado plays Jesus, as he did in THE BIBLE. His striking good looks help to command his scenes. And I really can't think of someone else playing the demanding role better. The movie is filmed entirely in Morocco and the wide angle scenes are fantastic. You watch Jesus teaching and healing and of course the heartfelt scenes of dragging His cross to be crucified. You feel the agony and pain as he is severely beaten. The big AH moment is of course, when Jesus appears at the entrance of the tomb. The audience's mixed reaction was applause to opening crying. This film runs 138 minutes and is rated PG13, due to the graphic violence depicted during the beating and being nailed to the cross. People of faith will have their spirits lifted; but for those of less religious persuasion and just wanted to see a movie have described SON OF GOD as dull and heavy-handed. Of notice are Amber Rose Revah playing Mary Magdalene, Darwin Shaw as Peter and Roma Downey as Mary, the mother of Christ. Also featured are Greg Hicks, Simon Kunz, Sebastian Knapp and Joe Wredden as Judas. Before being too critical, check the Bible.
Katniss Everdeen is caught in a trap.
What can I say besides CATCHING FIRE is nothing less than an upgrade on a grander scale of the first installment of Suzanne Collin's trilogy. Katniss(Jeniffer Lawrence), the winner and darling of the previous years Hunger Games, has lost favor of Panum's President Snow(Donald Sutherland),as he suspects her to be in the middle of a uprising against his heavy-handed totalitarian rule. Being the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games, Snow can call for a Quarter Quell, calling back past winning tributes from the 12 districts to participate in a ramped up game of televised human hunting. For publicity-sake, Katniss must continue her romance with co-winner Peeta(Josh Hutcherson). Repeat scenery and situations; and many characters, but this time more lavious and over-the-top. This sequel, as expected, comes across as even better than our first trip to the exaggerated world of the "Hunger Games". A brilliant cast that also features:Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Sam Claflin and Stanley Tucci, as the self-centered, cheeky broadcast emcee. This movie is everything I thought it would be and Miss Lawrence is magnificent, as she is beautiful.
You're Next (2011)
Family reunion is site of berserk killings.
Ghastly, graphic violence is filtered with tension, horror and a bit of comedy. The Davidson family is getting together to celebrate mom and dad's 35th wedding anniversary in their vacation home, in the woods or course. It has been a while since the three brothers and daughter have gathered together...this family's dysfunction is not well hidden. They all bring girlfriends/close friends. Director and screenwriter, Adam Wingard and Simon Barett, start the bloody, blatant butchering with the Dwight Twilley Band's "Looking For The Magic" put in the CD player and set on repeat. Before the gathering can start to make merry, one by one the family and guests are attacked by black-suited assailants wearing animal masks. Crossbows and machetes serve the attacker's purpose of ruthless murder well; but the monstrous slaying is interrupted by one house-guest(Sharni Vinson)that is well trained to fight back. If you like your violence bloody, you've got it! One method of killing is quite humorous. Twilley's haunting tune is featured throughout with a few sight gags laced in as the once-predators become the prey! This is home invasion on steroids. Filmed in and around Columbia, Missouri. Yes, there is some nudity/sexuality to help make an R rating. The Australian beauty, Vinson, is outstanding. Others in the cast: AJ Bowen, Nicolas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, Amy Seimetz and Rob Moran.
Denzel Washington may just be better than the movie.
Many say that this is Denzel Washington at the top of his game; I tend to agree. Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a senior airline pilot that on a wing and a prayer makes a miraculous. albeit, crash landing on the way to Atlanta. Nearly everyone aboard is saved, as Whitaker's training and skills help him avoid a mid-air catastrophe. Waking in the hospital, Whip finds out that he is a hero, but as the crash is investigated it comes to light that his lab work reveals alcohol use. His future and reputation are at risk. As more government scrutiny unfolds, Whitaker is forced to not only face his demons, but the honest truth as well. Compassionate as it is compelling. Washington brings realism to the forefront and is helped with fine performances from co-stars Nadine Velazquez, Don Cheadle and Tamara Tunie.You don't realize the movie is well over two hours long. Drug and alcohol use along with some nudity and intense action makes FLIGHT rated R.
You can always count on 007!
Not too hard to realize that for half a century, we have shared ups and downs, and survived crisis after crisis with Agent 007. This is the 23 James Bond installment and third starring Daniel Craig, as that beloved cool and captivating super spy. Say too much, say too little; SKYFALL has a different feel for some reason. Everyone can find their own reason for dissing and hissing at this one. Bond is vulnerable and yet dynamic and again the man you can depend on. M16 comes under attack and so does the credibility of M(Judi Dench), as she must relocate the agency. Her past creeps in to haunt her and this new dilemma has her putting her only hope in 007 to uncover its origins. Bond will have the aid of agency field agent Eve(Naomi Harris)to challenge a new Chairman of Intelligence(Ralph Fiennes)and follow a treacherous trail of a mysterious madman(Javier Bardem). Explosion after explosion is typical, but having M playing a more active role is not. Somehow of course, the old saying proves true...there IS a reason for everything. I really found the use of "Boom Boom" by The Animals fitting. And you can't ignore the wonderful theme by Adele, that I feel will be memorable for a long time. Also in the cast: Rory Kinnear, Bill Buckhurst, Ben Whishaw, Berenice Marlohe and Ian Bonar.
Its not easy writing about crime.
Ellison Oswalt(Eathan Hawke)is a true-crime writer that moves his family to a new town in order to garner information for his new crime novel. His previous books sold enough to have a following; but he is determined this new book will be the big ticket to fame and riches. His family doesn't realize than the house he picked out to buy is the scene of a horrific crime; where a family was found hanging from a tree in the backyard. The police don't welcome Ellison, because he has accused police departments of not being very bright in his books. In his investigations, he has found minor details that were overlooked and that info helped sell his real crime stories. The writer finds a chest of old home movies in the attic; and when he starts watching them, he tries to solve the mystery behind the killings in his new home that also seem to be a link to other crimes. Each of those crimes involve missing children. The strange noises in the house and the fact his son is having stronger "night terrors", Ellison begins fearing for his family's life. Rounding out the cast: Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thomson, Clare Foley, Michael Hall D'Addrio and James Ransone. Some real tense and scary scenes. Disturbing and violent images makes SINISTER rated R.
Horrible Bosses (2011)
Hasn't everyone wished harm to a horrible boss?
Three disgruntled buddies Nick(Jason Bateman), Dale(Charlie Day) and Kurt(Jason Sudelkis)enter an interesting conversation while drinking maybe too many. The topic being eliminating their horrible bosses. But can they really go that far? One boss won't accept being a minute or two late. Another takes over after the death of his father and is just a mindless moron running the business into the ground. The there is the other boss, Dr. Julia Harris(Jennifer Aniston), that is obsessive with her sexual activities. Now can you imagine a dentist putting the move on her assistant. Borrowing from Elvis, "Lord, all mighty; I feel my temperature rising". The more serious the three friends get, they are given some advice from a con artist(Jamie Foxx); and when plots go into action...the wheels fly off. Lewd and crude sometimes go a long way. Others in this dark comedy are:Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland, Lindsay Sloane and Colin Farrel. One disappointment is the laughs are spread too far apart.
Secretary tries hard to please.
Strange, but enjoyable. Recently released from a mental ward, a twenty-something Lee Holloway(Maggie Gyllenhaal), tries to finally make a go at life, while trying to erase her oppressive childhood. Lee takes a job working as a secretary for an introverted, but egotistical attorney. Mr. Grey(James Spader)is not the easiest man to work for and he has strange sexual preferences. Pushing a nerdy boyfriend aside, Lee begins an obsessive crush on her slightly bizarre boss. The two soon forge a unique relationship that borders sadomasochism. I just can't help but enjoy the nude bathtub scene and those when Miss Holloway is bent over her boss' desk. This can qualify as black comedy and some will find it just plain quirky and deserving of an R rating. Others in the cast: Lesley Ann Warren, Jeremy Davies, Jessica Tuck and Amy Locane. I could easily be smitten with Gyllenhaal and Spader couldn't be much better in his role. SECRETARY would fit well in a double feature with HORRIBLE BOSSES.
Tape 407 (2012)
Another found footage film.
Also known as FILM 407; either title doesn't change any opinion of this movie. The sub-genre of found footage has hardly died. Be ready for obnoxious characters and endless chances of motion sickness. Not exactly THE BLAIR WITCH; this film is about survivors of a plane crash between NYC and Los Angeles on New Years Eve. Two teen sisters capture that horrifying flight and night on video. Of course crash survivors suffer shock, but there is always some level heads among them. A devoted stewardess and a female Air Marshall manage to keep a strange mix of personalities together before being killed one by one by an unrecognizable monster in the darkness. The shakiness of the camera matches the storyline of being filmed by an amateur and along with the horrible dialogue and almost endless bitchin' and moanin' among survivors makes the viewer prone to a buzzing headache. But then on the other hand, this type of tension may be the right setting the director was looking for. You may find the flick more irritating than just plan bad. No doubt about it, the climax grabs you. Players include: Abigail Schrader, Melanie Lyons, Samantha Lester, Brendan Patrick Connor and Jimmy Lyons.