An enjoyable if very flawed vehicle concerning an everyday man (Dwyane… MoreAn enjoyable if very flawed vehicle concerning an everyday man (Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson) and how his son (Rafi Gavron) is arrested after being set-up by his best friend in a drug sting, even though he had no intent to sell or obtain as much as he did by accident. After he is sentenced to the law's minimum requirement, ten years in prison, his father decides to cut a deal with the federal government and try to capture a big fish in the cartel drug market, which would dramatically reduce his son's sentence. Although it has some big, big problems, mostly the believability of this kind of situation, this movie is clearly made to be entertaining, and for that it largely succeeds. It does try to take a tough stance on the drug war in our country, but sadly this is not the kind of movie in which this serious perspective makes a lot of sense to make any sort of impact. "The Rock" is great like he always is in films like this, and the ending chase scene brings the goods, with a terrific supporting turn from Jon Bernthal as one of his workers who decides to help him out not knowing what he is getting himself into. Overall, decent, but nothing outstanding.
A hard to follow, if not entertaining and very well acted story of con… MoreA hard to follow, if not entertaining and very well acted story of con artists, cops, mobsters, and politicians all taking place in the state of New Jersey concerning two criminals (Christian Bale, Amy Adams) who are forced to work with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) who wants to take down bigger fish in the state, including an emotional mayor (Jeremy Renner). This movie is sure to garner a lot of Oscar nominations given the names involved, especially in the acting department. However, I still came away not totally in love with it, notably due to its convoluted plot line which sometimes threatens to lose the viewer completely. Also, as fantastic as Jennifer Lawrence is as Bale's alienated wife, she looks way too young to play the part, which is an unfortunate distraction. Overall, an average movie that unfortunately comes across as a poor man's "Goodfellas" at the end of the day.
A supremely entertaining adrenaline charged film about two rival… MoreA supremely entertaining adrenaline charged film about two rival Formula One racers (Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl), and how each battled each other in the mid 70's for the title of world champion of their sport. Director Ron Howard shows plenty of muscle in the flash department, and deserves a ton of credit for putting together some startling, awesome race sequences. The acting is also phenomenal, and although Hemsworth might get top billing due to his movie-star persona, it is Bruhl who shows just how talented and great an actor he is, in an Oscar-caliber performance. This film does a great job borrowing from the "Warrior" style of how to tell a sports story, where you go back and forth from pulling and sympathizing from these two characters. This is a special sports film, and one that effortlessly moves through its two-hour time frame.
A heart-wrenching, truly saddening documentary which concerns the… MoreA heart-wrenching, truly saddening documentary which concerns the corrupt practices of SeaWorld, notably how they put the well-being of their trainers on the line in the name of money and profits. This film is geared to get the viewer angry, and it does that by giving many examples of how SeaWorld knew what they were doing was wrong, but still lied about it to cover their own tracks. The death of Dawn Brancheau and how they have the gaul to blame her for her demise instead of the killer whale that viciously murdered her. It is a heavy film, at times threatening to pummel the viewer down into submission, but ultimately is an effective one that will not leave you quickly.
A touching, deceptively hilarious story about a delusional, alcohol… MoreA touching, deceptively hilarious story about a delusional, alcohol ridden man (Bruce Dern) and how he is convinced he must go to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect one million dollars he won in a sweepstakes. His sympathetic son (Will Forte), although knowing his father is wrong, decides to accompany him as sort of one last adventure to get to know his father and family better. Director Alexander Payne handsomely paints this story through black-and-white lenses, while also providing some hysterical dialogue delivered by his actors, notably June Squibb who plays Dern's wife, who almost steals the entire show herself. Forte is surprisingly effective and solid as their son, and the story veers from funny to moving in an organic way that is both refreshing and memorable. A beautiful finale caps off one of Payne's best works yet.
A classic, influential movie concerning the legendary "Tramp"… MoreA classic, influential movie concerning the legendary "Tramp" character (Charlie Chaplin) and how he struggles to keep up in a modern day world of advances in the work force, which sadly makes going to jail seem like an appealing option. Despite mostly being a farce, this treasure of a film has a ton to say about society, and gives some different, touching looks on a few characters who are doing their best to make it in this world despite being at disadvantages financially and not having a real set of skills. The factory scenes with Chaplin are priceless, but it is the creatively constructed and moving finale that makes this film so special. This is an absolutely timeless comedy featuring one of the most iconic characters in all of film.
A fantastic comedy about a divorced masseuse (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)… MoreA fantastic comedy about a divorced masseuse (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) looking for love, who begins dating a kind man (James Gandolfini), before awkwardly discovers that he is the hated ex-husband of one of her new clients (Catherine Keener). Director Nicole Holofcener has a strong sense of dialogue and character development, and is able to convince her audience that these coincidences can occur when said characters are trapped in a small town with even smaller social circles. Louis-Dreyfus is solid, but it is Gandolfini who takes the cake in one of his final performances before his tragic death. It is a shame because this kind of role could have propelled him to leading-man status in films, because he is so convincing and phenomenal in this turn. Ultimately, this is just a really well done movie that does not overstep its bounds in terms of running time and believability, all wrapped up nicely with a beautifully constructed ending that feels organic to the story telling.
A phenomenal, unforgettable little film about a kind, loving man (Mads… MoreA phenomenal, unforgettable little film about a kind, loving man (Mads Mikkelsen) who is wrongly accused of pedophilia by one of his students who is in Kindergarten, and how the community goes after him in a mean, violent fashion. Mikklesen, in the performance of the year and the turn of his career, is lights-out in a role that requires a lot from him, namely just convincing the audience that he can pull this character off after playing psychopaths for so many years. He carries the film, and the subject matter is heartbreaking, realistically portrayed, and ultimately very sad. The way the film ends is surprising and fitting given the title of the movie, and Mikkelsen's confused, shaken glare will not leave you quickly. This is a near-masterpiece and one of the finest movies from 2013.
An exceptional, near-masterstroke of a movie detailing the struggles… MoreAn exceptional, near-masterstroke of a movie detailing the struggles of an old sailor (Robert Redford) and his efforts to survive after his ship is severely damages by a freight container and rough storms. Redford, in his finest performance in years, is completely arresting as a figure who we know nothing about, not even his name, but who has the audience's support given his tough-as-nails demeanor despite all the hardships he continually faces. Director J.C. Chandor does a terrific job casting the likelihood of survival for his lone character very much in doubt, with an ending masked in dread with a faint light at the end of the tunnel. It is one of the best films from 2013, another fantastic turn from Redford, and a movie that should be put into the same category as "Gravity" given the subject material.
An impressive debut feature from Alexandre Moors concerning the… MoreAn impressive debut feature from Alexandre Moors concerning the relationship of the 2002 D.C. Beltway shooters, and how a young, confused boy (Tequan Richmond) is brainwashed by a charismatic, self-righteous father figure (Isaiah Washington), who slowly but surely turns him into the monster he wants him to be. An atmospheric drama that is paced very slowly, but the amount of dread in the air is very present throughout the entire viewing. Washington is fantastically creepy, while Richmond absolutely nails his performance as well. Imagine a Terrance Malick film from hell, stripped completely of positivity. This is an eerie little movie that serves as a realistic portrayal of evil and how the slow burn that takes place eventually warps ones mindset and perspective on the world.