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It has many rights!
I vote "Yes" for "Selma" as a quality biographical movie, and that is my cinematic civil right to do so. Now I will try to be civil as much as possible, but I liked this movie better when it was called "Lincoln". I am kidding! Please don't start the protest. All kidding aside, "Selma" is an important piece of filmmaking that chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King's campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Like "Lincoln", "Selma" is the kind of movie that should be shown to every high school student in their American History class. Director Ava DuVernay might just be marching on to more directorial gigs with her accurate orchestration of the picture. Paul Webb's screenplay of "Selma" marched on to the applicable verbal beat of the story it was telling. Oye esto, David Oyelowo was majorly snubbed of a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his triumphant performance as Dr. King. I don't want to get too political but Tom Wilkinson and Tim Roth pitched in with solid supporting performances, respectively as President Lyndon B. Johnson and Governor George Wallace. Now, "Selma" is not a "I have a dream of a perfect movie" type of film, but I still think you should march on to it.
Liked this movie better when it was called "Rescue Dawn", and that was a much better movie!
"Punbroken" is the story of how I got pun writer's block!! Wait, Wait don't leave! Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" is based on the incredible true story of Olympian track runner Louis Zamperini. Louie Louie won full medal in the 1936 Olympics, and then went full metal by joining the armed forces. During his tour duty in World War II, Louie was involved in a plane crash that left him and two of his fellow patriotas in a life boat for close to two months. Louie was rescued from death on the lifeboat, but the bad news is that it was the enemy Japanese who did it; consequently, Louie was a prisoner of war in two concentration camps. Jolie directed "Unbroken" by mostly concentrating on the concentration camp, and lacked character development of her protagonist. The infamous Coen Brothers wrote the film's screenplay, and surprisingly so it was an "uncoen"-like script that lacked ingenuity. Jack O' Connell did deliver a bravo performance as Zamperini. Also, there was some solid cinematography by the cine steady Roger Deakins. But those pluses were not enough to fully salvage and rescue "Unbroken" from the mediocre cinema concentration camp. *** Average
Now whip it! Into shape, shape it up, looks great! Whip it real good!!! I just had the Devo inside in that intro for my movie review of the fabulous movie "Whiplash". What a gem!! "Whiplash" stars Miles Teller as first year music student Andrew Neiman. Andrew is a student drummer who is more than just a little drummer boy in his pursuit to excel at his beat craft. However, he has to prove his skills to the extremely rigid music school instructor/conductor Terrence Fletcher. Let's just say that Fletcher is trying to make a newman out of Neiman. As Andrew tries to excel in the battery, Fletcher's own authoritarian battery charge is always on full in pushing Andrew to the edge. Damien Chazzelle orchestrates "Whiplash" with a magnetic flow that hits all the right beats in his direction of the picture; and his screenplay also hit all the write verbal notes. Miles Teller delivers yet another stellar performance in his rising career; here as Neiman. J.K. Simmons was terrible as Fletcher! Wait, wait! I was J.K. (just kidding!) Simmons' work as Fletcher might just be the best delivered by any actor or actress this year. Paul Reiser also delivered an impressive supporting performance as Andrew's supporting dad; but I was not as mad about his performance as I was in Simmons' classic masterpiece thespian conduction. So here is my final drum roll of this picture.......... "Whiplash" is one of the best movies of 2014! ***** Excellent
American Sniper (2014)
"American Sniper" sure hits with surefire accuracy in many cinematic categories. Clint Eastwood's picture depicts the story of real life NAVY Seals Sniper Chris Kyle; Eastwood does deliver the good, the bad, and the ugly about patriotic duty and gritty warfare in the movie. Kyle was called the "legend", as Eastwood himself is and Clint has directed another solid offering in the twilight of his career. Now, "American Sniper" is not a a perfect movie; Jason Hall's academy award nominated screenplay was a bit overrated and it did have its sporadic misses with one too many formulaic lines in a war picture. Bradley Cooper was mesmerizing as Kyle and is worthy of his Best Actor Oscar nomination. Sienna Miller showed yet again this year that it's "Miller" time with her impressive work as Kyle's wife Taya; Sienna fit the right "taya" for her role. So your tour of duty in the next few days is to target on to "American Sniper". **** Good
Life Itself (2014)
Thumbs Up, Ring Finger Up, in fact all fingers (except the middle one) all enthusiastically up!!!
The documentary "Life Itself" which chronicles the life of the late, great film critic Roger Ebert gets a gargantuan thumbs up. It is the most heartfelt documentary I have ever seen. Director Steve James shows Ebert in the hospital & rehab centers during his final days. But at the same time also proficiently presents Ebert's entire personal & professional biography; including his childhood, his professional rise as a talented journalist, his move into the film criticism realm, his past struggles with alcohol addiction, his professional partnership with fellow movie critic Gene Siskel, his romance with his wife Chaz, and sadly his death; pretty much his "life itself". Ebert was and still is my favorite film critic of all time. Starting as a young teen, my favorite television programs were the Siskel & Ebert film criticism shows. I would have done 1000 "thumbs ups" just to watch the show on a weekly basis; thank God I didn't have to, that would have had a drastic effect on my manual dexterity; which would be needed for vital functions as using the television remote control. Anyways, "Life Itself" also includes interviews with Ebert lifelong friends, Siskel & Ebert television producers, his wife Chaz, the legendary movie director Martin Scorsese, Independent film directors Ava DuVernay & Ramin Bahrani, documentary film directors Werner Herzog & Errol Morris, Gene Siskel's widow, and fellow movie critics Richard Corliss & A.O. Scott. Now yes, "Life Itself" is a tearjerker but at the same time beautifully celebrates life. So head into the Thumberdome and "ebert" your eyes & heart to a "Life Itself" viewing. OK, that' s the end of my review. The pun balcony is closed. *****Excellent
Eagles soaring high here!
Despunrado! Why I don't come to my senses and stop the pun plethora in my reviews! I can't tell you why! Wait!! Take it Easy! Don't leave! Because I can tell you is that "History of the Eagles" is the best rockumentary I have ever seen with my lying eyes; I mean staring eyes. Director Alison Ellwood's documentary focused on the entire Eagles history; and Ellwood effectively took it to the limit on chronicling the full cycle of the Eagles story. Don Henley and Glenn Frey are the hybrids that created the genesis of the Eagles; and they provide their experiences on being Eagles; from the band's formation in the early 70's, to the band's bitter breakup in 1980, to their Eagle reunion in the 90's, to how they function as Eagles today; pretty much their life as Eagles recording artists and their lives in the fast lane and sporadically the slow lane. But the documentary also showed the perspectives of other new kids & old kids in Eagles town with interviews with other present & past Eagles including: Timothy B. Schmit, Don Felder, Joe Walsh, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner. Even if you are not an Eagles fan, I would still highly recommend "A History of the Eagles" because of its expert depiction of life in a rock & roll band; which sure has its highs but at the same time those peaceful & easy feelings were far & few in between because of all the interpersonal friction between the band members. OK, I am about to be already gone. Now its for you to view this perfect piece of documentary filmmaking one of these nights; or days for that matter. Such a lovely place..... ***** Excellent
Out of the Furnace (2013)
More ins than outs here!
Director Scott Cooper's "Out of the Furnace" is a dark but powerful movie about a big brother's determination to seek vengeance on those that hurt his younger brother. It is set in a working-class steel town in Western Pennsylvania. Christian Bale stars as Russell Baze, the steel worker big brother who does time in jail and upon his release, he discovers that his more rebellious younger brother Rodney is in hot water. Casey Affleck portrays Rodney as a hard-edge who has returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan and gets caught up in the underground fight game. Rodney, unlike Russell, does like to tussle but sometimes too hard, and his determination to make money ends up being his downfall. Did I say too much? Oops! Sorry! Didn't mean to shoot a spoiler out of my linguistic furnace. Woody Harrelson co-stars as the villainous Halan DeGroat, who is involved in illegal setups of the underground fight circuit; not to mention hard drugs, domestic violence, assault & battery, and murder; so yea Harlan is a model "the goat" of any town with his evil ways. I credit Cooper for giving the film it's murky but realistic perspective of a steel town and its citizens. Bale was fantastic as usual, and Affleck provided some good punches in his supporting role. And let's not forget the Woody; Harrelson continues his impressive career with another solid performance. So yea, the furnace is hot here; so get of your furniture and into the streaming or Netflix furnace, and get into "Out of the Furnace". **** Good
Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013)
Nice doc pipes in this one!
The Oscar-winning documentary "20 Feet from Stardom" does a credible job in depicting the highs & lows of past & present background singers. And while non-music fans might think "20 Feet from Stardom" is more like "20 scenes of Boredom", it still authentically highlights the much underrated role of the background singer. There are many heavy-hitting recording artists that speak of their background singers; those artists include Mick Jagger, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen and others; not too shabby of a lineup. But the real voice of "20 Feet From Stardom" is when Writer-Director Morgan Neville interviews the background singers and they reveal their incredible elevator rides in their careers. OK, that was my high pitch for "20 Feet From Stardom". **** Good
The Interview (2014)
Not a funny regime in charge here!
Please don't ban my "The Interview" review because of too many pun missiles thrown at you, it's how I roll. The filmmakers of "The Interview" should have been questioned a few times during the post-production process of the movie, because there were a few action-oriented preposterous (especially during the film's final act) scenes that should have been nuked. Anyways, just in case you have been living in Planet Mars, "The Interview" is about a dumb-witted sensational TV host and his bumbling producer who visit North Korea to interview its ruthless dictator Kim Jon-un. James Franco stars as Dave Skylark, the narcissistic TV show host and Seth Rogen co-stars Aaron Rapaport, the Skylark show's producer. Unfortunately, "The Interview" did not produce enough laughs for me to recommend it. Rogen and longtime collaborator Evan Goldberg directed the movie. While they were able to successfully incorporate some relative pop culture in some of the film's best comedic scenes, it was just not enough for me to answer back to "The Interview" with positive raves. Franco and Rogen were both in "over-the-top" mode, and the film's supporting cast were in the same zone. Now, I don't think you should definitely flee "The Interview", but I would not suggest for you to definitely view "The Interview" either. **** Average
Still Alice (2014)
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest actresses of the last twenty years is the multi-faceted Julianne Moore. And Moore is coming back for more, with the role that might finally land her a Best Actress Academy Award. In "Still Alice", Moore stars as Dr. Alice Howland, a successful college professor who is unexpectedly diagnosed with an early onset case of Alzheimer's Disease. Alice is supported by her loving husband John, and her three adult children. Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westomoreland orchestrate a slow moving film in "Still Alice", that might not be for the impatient viewer. But they do a solid, but not spectacular job, in depicting Alice's progressively downward spiral due to her Alzheimers. But the role of Alice needed a home run performance to authentically demonstrate the personal and health effects of Alzheimers; and Moore did even more what was asked her to do in her role as Alice. I would be shocked if she does not win a Best Actress Oscar. "Still Alice" still had some other good acting performances; including Alec Baldwin playing Alice's sympathetic husband John. And we also get some pretty decent work from Kristen Stewart playing Alice's youngest daughter Lydia; glad her twilight days are over. Yes, "Still Alice" does require for you to be suited up with a handkerchief upon watching, but it will still be worth your time. And, did I say Moore? **** Good