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Miracles from Heaven (2016)
Focusing On Motherhood And A Child's Struggling With A Fatal Disease
Jennifer Garner stars in this film entitled Miracles From Heaven that was based on the memoirs of Christy Beam that tells the story of how her daughter Annabel got miraculously cured from a fatal stomach disease when she accidentally fell head first thirty feet from a tree.Director Patricia Riggen gives us both an interesting and entertaining story that would probably touch many people especially mothers whether they maybe classified either as religious,non-religious,non-Christians,antagonistic non-God believers alike.
The screenplay by Randy Brown starts the movie with focus on the Beam family - Christy and husband Kevin together with Annabel and sisters Adelynn and Abbie - living a well-to-do life at Texas and exhibiting characteristics of a great Christian family.Later,we get to see Annabel become gravely ill which was later discovered as pseudo-obstruction motility disorder.We witness Christy's ordeal as a mother as well as the pains and sufferings that Annabel has to go through from her disease being unable to be discovered by Texan doctors until she gets taken under care of Dr. Samuel Nurko of Boston Children's Hospital.Then the miracle takes place when Annabel and Abbie climbs thirty feet high in a tree in the backyard with the former meeting an accident by falling head first and later being discovered to be free of broken bones and scratches as well as her motility disorder.
Just like what I have stated in the first paragraph,the film was definitely touching film regardless of how one identifies his/her belief towards God or Christianity.Garner did a wonderful job of portraying the mother Christy as the viewer will definitely cheer for her character as she goes through many struggles in helping her Annabel go through them and finding the best cure for her. Added to that,we also get to feel happy for her in the end after her daughter's miraculous healing. Although I must say that there were some parts of the film that was preachy about faith in God and Jesus as well as melodramatic moments with the amount of tears that Garner had to shed,I felt that they were done in good taste and were less manipulative unlike a typical Christian film or a Hallmark TV movie. Riggen did a good job of highlighting the issue of motherhood as well as the child's fearful experiences having a fatal disease.Finally,it tells us to never lose hope and always remain optimistic no matter what situation one is dealing with in life as "miracles are everywhere" and goodness is everywhere in life.What made it work is the fact that it never truly gives all the credit to God is behind all these things.Instead,it leaves the question for the viewer to answer.
Truly,an inspiring movie!!!
The Longest Ride (2015)
Just Another Fair Nicholas Sparks Film Adaptation
After watching The Choice,I gave another new Nicholas Sparks movie a try with The Longest Ride. It stars the diminutive but lovely Britt Robertson and Dirty Harry's good-looking son,Scott Eastwood.It tells a story about a romance between a professional bull rider and a college art student and how their romantic story was further developed when they save an old man from an accident. Alan Alda, Lolita Davidovich and Oona Chaplin co-stars.
Luke Wilson got injured in bull riding.As he was about to recover at North Carolina,he meets Sophia Danko and romance starts to develop.Their love story becomes interesting as they save Ira Levinson from an accident while they were on the road going home from their first date.Both get to know more about Ira as he was recovering from the hospital and they get to learn about his story particularly the romance between him and his late wife,Ruth. Both stories are being told simultaneously as the film progresses.
Screenwriter Craig Bolotin makes an effort to provide an interesting story but to no avail especially for movie viewers aren't fans for romance stories.It was obvious that the story was far from original as we have seen them in other movies before.Too bad that the stories of Luke and Sophia as well as Ira and Ruth have a lot of contrivances that one may find it silly and annoying.No question that it was emotionally manipulative particularly as Luke and Sophia manages to make life-changing decisions for the sake of their relationship.Do I need to mention the ending wherein Luke bids on a simple portrait where nobody is interested in?Too bad that even the bull riding aspect of the story did not provide any interest at all.The characters were also simply one-dimensional as well that they don't provide any interest in the film.In the end,it was simply another typical Nicholas Sparks story that were seen in the previous films that were adapted particularly The Notebook.Only people who are into romantic films would find this enjoyable and entertaining no matter how many times they have seen the same story in previous romantic films before whether they were written by Sparks or not.
Jesse Owens' Story Deserve A Better Telling Than This
Race,which have themes that refer to its dual meaning - sprint contest and racial ethnicity, is a biographical film about American Olympic icon,Jesse Owens.Stephan James takes on the lead role of the African-American sprinter that won 4 gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics at a time when racism was at its peak in both the United States and Germany.Director Stephen Hopkins takes us into many themes to provide us a look at the world during the 1930's particularly about racial inequality that was prevalent and how Owens captures his well-known glory at the track amid these circumstances.
The screenplay of Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse allows the film to take us from various points of Owens' life from his collegiate years representing Ohio State at the track that focuses on the coach-and-sprinter relationship of him and his coach,Larry Snyder and his excellence at the NCAA championships.We are also taken to the life experiences of Owens like having a young daughter with his girlfriend Ruth,his affair with another woman,his consideration of non-participation on the Games as recommended by the NAACP, his Olympic glory that includes his unlikely friendship with German track star,Carl "Luz"Long and being snubbed by Adolph Hitler after winning a gold medal.In addition to all these,it also allows us to take a look at the segregation and anti-Semitism that exist in the United States and Germany respectively.Also included in the film are the political battles Olympic committees of the United States and Germany as influenced by their dislike for each other.Finally,we are also treated to the struggles and exploits of German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl of filming the Olympics.
With all these things mentioned from the previous paragraph,the viewer is treated to a by-the-numbers movie that would seem tad too long as we are presented with many things that could probably be somehow told better by the screenwriters in terms of cohesion and given a better treatment in terms of the characters presented.While the major characters like Stephan James provided us a great performance of Owens as his portrayal made the viewer cheer for the him as he undergoes many trials and proud moments,the other minor characters felt like they are lacking as they felt more like one- dimensional types.We get to see Germans as simply anti-Semitics with only Carice Van Houten's portrayal of Riefenstahl as redemption as well as Caucasians in America as simply hating African-Americans with only Jason Sudeikis's first dramatic role of Larry Snyder redeeming them as well.Despite the presence of Jeremy Irons and William Hurt,the Olympic committee members simply were just lacking in terms of character and there is nothing much being told nor their similar attitudes towards race aren't at all being explored.It played everything safe to avoid controversy.It even have the clichéd scene which many have been debating for years now: Hitler snubbed Owens as expected.
While I may not be really be complaining about this film as I still would consider it a good one as it was still recommended by the Owens family particularly the late sprinter's sisters,it could still have been a great movie if it wasn't told in a strategic and simplistic fashion.As many Americans would agree,Owens' story deserve a great and classic movie.
Secret in Their Eyes (2015)
Dream Cast Fails To Elevate The Film Into Greatness
Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman have yet to appear together in a film and this remake of the Argentinian thriller entitled "Secret In Their Eyes" provides us that treat of having the two of these Academy Award winning actresses star in it.
Together with Chiwetel Ejiofor,they all star in a thriller about a team of rising investigators - FBI counter-terrorism investigator Ray Kasten, district attorney's investigator Jess Cobb, and District Attorney Claire Sloan - whose relationship are torn apart after the daughter - Carolyn Cobb - of one of its member - Jess - was found murdered.The screenplay also written by director Billy Ray spans thirteen years wherein Ray left the badge and became passionate in solving the case and the rise of Claire from being a DA assistant to her current position and Jess from becoming an investigator to the DA's chief investigator.Added to that, we also get to witness Ray's obsession of locating the primary suspect Marzin in order to find closure to the case which apparently is different from the direction that Claire's office is headed;the pain and suffering of Jess upon losing her daughter; and the attraction between Claire and Ray.
No question that it had a wonderful,astonishing and surprising ending wherein Claire,Ray and Jess are able to resolve their differences after Jess admits killing Marzin and later Ray prove otherwise after finding Marzin locked up in the cage by Jess in her home at Moorpark instead for the past 13 years.But the conclusion nor the dream cast are not enough to elevate this film into greatness considering that the film was somewhat boring in the middle part for nothing much happens as the viewer is subjected too much on Ray's passion for searching Marzin and the psychological impact it has had on him with no little or no development happening at the story told back and forth progresses but it will only be brought to an end at the conclusion of the film.Added to that,nothing really happens much in the attraction between Ray and Claire expect that we are treated to a "what if" romance and nothing more.Also,it failed to focus on what message it wants to portray particularly about the justice and legal system in the country particularly the life sentence and the death penalty.
The performances of the cast were absolutely delightful but the comparison it will make to the Argentinian original will definitely be unfair considering it definitely is not at par with it.In the end,one would conclude that American remake missed an opportunity of becoming a great film just like the original.
Deep Throat (1972)
The Porn Film That Started It All
Deep Throat is pornographic film that definitely started it all.It basically was the iconic and classic porn film that started the Golden Age of Pornography during the 1970's. It stars Harry Reems,Linda Lovelace,Dolly Sharp and Carol Connors.The story involves a sexually frustrated woman who is unable to experience orgasm. It has themes of sexual freedom and liberation.
Watching it now, one would definitely realize how porn films came to be in the years to come.This provided guidelines on how these films should be done. That is why many years after, we get a clue on how porn stars perform in front of the camera when performing different sexual acts.Too bad that with the advent of the internet which provided easy access to these types of films and with more people willing to perform sexual acts in front of a camera, these so-called porn films will never ever duplicate the success it garnered considering it made $600 million within a budget of only $47,000.And any porn film release today will never match its iconic status which makes it special.
Absolutely One Of The Best Sports Documentary
No question about it.This is definitely one of the best sports documentaries ever shown at HBO.Or better yet,the best documentary that tackles NBA legends and hall-of-famers Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics respectively.It gives the sports viewer tremendous information about the players' rivalry that started in college until their careers in the NBA as well as background on the players' humble beginnings from their hometowns until they found success in the NBA that included championships and MVP awards.Erstwhile,it also provides us some history of how these two greats helped the NBA survive the 70's when it was at the brink of its abolition as well as the leagues merger with the ABA.
The sports doc started with the 1979 NCAA Championship between the Indiana State University or ISU Sycamores and the Michigan State University or MSU Spartans that featured Bird and Magic respectively.It highlighted the two college superstars particularly their race and their talent.After the Spartans won over the Sycamores,the rivalry between the two stars carried into the NBA when both got drafted with Bird going to the Celtics and Magic going to the L.A. Lakers.The league capitalized on their said talent and race as well as the renewing of the rivalry between the said teams that occurred mostly on the 1960's and 70's.We get to witness Bird and Magic winning championships on their own like in the 1981 and 1982 season respectively and their meeting in the 1984 NBA Finals where the Celtics won as well as the 1985 and 1987 NBA Finals where the Lakers won.It also addressed on both players helped the league survive the 1970's when it was diminishing popularity before Michael Jordan came and solidified its status of being the most popular pro basketball league in the world. Finally,it brought into the end wherein Magic's career is cut short after being infected by the HIV virus and Bird retiring due to injuries in 1991 and 1992 respectively.
Aside from Magic and Bird,there were a lot of interesting interviews made from the likes of family members such as Magic's sister Evelyn and Bird's brother Mark; sportscasters Steve Springer and Charlie Pierce;and former NBA players such as Kevin McHale, Cedric Maxwell, Michael Cooper and former NBA coach and current Miami Heat President Pat Riley.All of them provided a lot of insights about the players featured.
This is definitely a great sports doc that one should not miss from an NBA fan whether they were old enough to witness these players or young enough not to see them at all.It will provide better appreciation of what they did to the league,the sport of basketball in terms of their greatness and how they revolutionized the game.Added to that,it also will give us better knowledge about them and the fact that the NBA does not consist of Air Jordan alone.Check this one out either on Amazon, YouTube or a DVD.
The Perfect Guy (2015)
A Pretty Good B-Movie
The Perfect Guy is a thriller about a female lobbyist who starts a relationship with stranger who seems to have all the perfect qualities that a woman is looking for after she finds a lot of unhappiness with her present relationship. Sanaa Lathan,Michael Ealy and Morris Chestnut stars in this film whose screenplay is written by Tyger Williams and whose direction is held by David M. Rosenthal.
Leah Vaughn,a successful lobbyist, has been displeased by her boyfriend,Dave King once again.She is frustrated by the fact that Dave does not want to commit to her fully in relationship through marriage and start a family.She then decides to break up with him. After two months,she meets a charming man who is working in an Information Technology company in Carter Duncan.They become close and start a relationship after Leah seem to find her the so-called "the perfect guy".But as the relationship progresses,Leah discovers some shocking violent qualities that Carter has in the gas station which led her to break up the relationship. Then Dave resurfaces in Leah's life and they decide to reunite. But things become scary as Carter became a threat to their peaceful life and personal space.
No question that this movie earned a lot in the box office despite the fact that it was trashed by a lot of critics.Although it was evidently a B-movie in terms of story and performances,it managed to deliver efficiently.I know that was far from original,high on melodrama and it was definitely predictable especially at the point when Carter started haunting Leah and Dave,I felt that it tried its best being what it is.A viewer should not expect a classic from it like The Godfather nor The Taxi Driver.Evidently,it was influenced by Fatal Attraction with only the man playing a villain instead of a woman.But for what it is,I think that it was a pretty good.A B-movie nevertheless if only we are to categorize it accordingly.The performances,the costumes and the pacing of the story made it a pretty good B-movie.
The Intern (2015)
De Niro And Hathaway Have Great Performances
Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway stars in this film about a 70-year old widower and retired executive of a phone company who got hired in the senior internship program of a fashion company in this film entitled The Intern.Renee Russo co-stars in this movie written,produced and directed by Nancy Meyers.
After retirement has become boring for Ben Whitaker,he applies at At The Fit,a e-commerce fashion startup that employs old people particularly retirees as interns.The office was headed by CEO/founder Jules Ostin.With fortunate luck,Ben is one of the four hired.Ben and Jules struggle to agree at first but eventually develop a relationship as friends wherein they help each other with respect to their careers and family relationships.
While the story is something that is not really original nor something really interesting as it was somehow clichéd and predictable and a bit melodramatic,I admire the performances of De Niro and Hathaway. Cross-generational viewers will definitely appreciate the film focused on them as they have great chemistry together.Young and old people will surely enjoy their characters.
Watch Tootsie For Hoffman Alone
Dustin Hoffman remains popular among movie fans especially when it comes to portraying difficult roles such as the autistic brother of Tom Cruise in the "Rain Man" and that being a woman in this film entitled "Tootsie".
The late Sydney Pollack directed this film about Michael Dorsey,an unemployed actor who is unable to get a job due to being difficult to work with despite the fact that he is extremely talented. When he could no longer find any work,he decided to disguise as Dorothy Michaels,an actress who lands a role in a popular soap opera.Here is where the fun begins.....
No question that the viewer will definitely be amazed by Hoffman's performance considering anyone who does not know would surely never doubt him at all as a drag.Even his voice which is of a Southern accent is pitch perfect.Aside from it, we also are treated to an intelligent comedic screenplay that revolves around Michael/Dorothy from his relationships with his friends Jeff and Sandy as well as his cast mates Les and April.We also get to see how Dorothy's career takes off and how he finally reveals in the end who he really ends. Finally, the development of the relationship between Michael and April was definitely worth watching.
It was a big hit when it was released back in '82.But despite the fact that a lot of things have changed since then particularly when it comes to many themes it made fun with such as the increase of women in workplace together with the limited acceptance of LGBT's which are no longer issues today,it remains one of the most popular comedies at present. Watching Hoffman alone is a big delight.
An Interesting Theme
Ashley Benson starts in a film called Ratter which gives focus on society's effect of our so-called internet-connected or wired lives that may inherently invade our very own private lives. Branden Kramer directed a film that features Benson,who plays the role of Emma,a graduate who moves to New York.In it,we get to see her being hacked by an unknown computer expert who is able to see her all the time through electronic devices such as her phone,computer and video camera.We the story unfold from the point-of-view of the hacker.
It was obvious that the movie had a great theme since our interconnected electronic devices have become a big part of our lives.While it has given us tremendous amount of comfort and convenience, it has also dug deep through our personal space and private lives as well which the film has shown could be extremely dangerous.It did this as the viewer got through the life of Emma especially with the daily activities that she is involved it.It could have been a better film had it provided us better assessment how things have become particularly the evolution of society.Too bad that it just used the theme to provide us a simplistic horror and suspense thriller that ended abruptly without a clear resolution at all leaving viewer confused and practically wondering of the events that transpired in the end.