Jean-Marc Vallee's captivating true-life human drama about a homophobe… MoreJean-Marc Vallee's captivating true-life human drama about a homophobe Texas electrician and rodeo rider named Ron Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey in an extraordinary performance that is his best work to date. He has contracted AIDS in the early days of the crisis, circa 1985. The film chronicles Woodroof's establishing the "Dallas Buyers Club" that provided AIDS patients with antiviral drugs that were banned by the FDA, but were proven to be effective. Woodroof in the hospital meets another AIDS sufferer named Rayon, a transgendered, stunningly played by Jared Leto. Woodroof teams up with Rayon to fight the system. McConaughey's transformation from a self-centered, bigoted loner, to determined man of the people is truly inspired, he lost 40 pounds to play the role, but he sells you with his subtle, and sublime performance, and Leto's marvelous turn as Rayon, who is a delicate damaged soul, is both moving and heartbreaking. Astute direction by Jean-Marc Vallee, with superlative supporting performance by Jennifer Garner, Denis O' Hare, Steve Zahn, Griffin Dunne, and Dallas Roberts. But this film clearly belongs to McConaughey and Leto, who deliver two of the most impressive Oscar worthy performances of the year. Highly Recommended.
Kimberly Peirce's serviceable remake of Stephen King's careering… MoreKimberly Peirce's serviceable remake of Stephen King's careering making 1974 best-selling novel, and Brian De Palma's 1976 classic horror film masterpiece, in which Sissy Spacek gave an emotionally powerful Oscar nominated performance as the mistreated and tormented Carrie White, who was gifted with the power of telekinesis, and Piper Laurie who also received an Oscar nomination for her chilling turn as her maniacal, deeply religious mother, Margaret White. This time two wonderful actresses Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore play those two iconic roles. Chloe Grace Moretz is an intriguing young actress, who delivers a fine, sympathetic performance as Carrie White, the shy, bullied, outcast who unleashes her supernatural powers to exact a fiery vengeance against her tormenters at her high school senior prom, Julianne Moore delivers a quite effective performance as Carrie's religious, abusive, and unbalance mother, these two actresses are the best things in this film that is pretty effective, but somewhat disappointing because it just inmates the original film as best it can, and offers nothing new. Solid direction by Kimberly Peirce, with some impressive visual effects. Entertaining and worth a look, but the original De Palma classic remains the best screen adaptation of Stephen Kings novel "Carrie." Recommended.
James Mangold's engaging, character-driven sequel is significantly… MoreJames Mangold's engaging, character-driven sequel is significantly superior to the first solo film, it is an edge of your seat winner. Following the events in X-Men: The Last Stand which sets the tone for this film, Wolverine/Logan, played magnificently by Hugh Jackman who delivers his finest performance yet as the Wolverine at his most vulnerable and most savage. He is guilt-ridden over the death of his beloved Jean Grey, played terrifically again by Famke Janssen, who makes a few ghostly cameos here. Logan struggles to deal with his feelings and has once again run-off to fine peace and solitude in the woods, he is tracked down and summoned by a billionaire high-tech magnate, named Yashida, well-played by Haruhiko Yamanouchi who's life he saved during World War II, when the Atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. So the super-healing, adamantium-clawed mutant travels to Tokyo where he meets with the old and dying Yashida who promises to make he mortal again. Its not long before Logan gets embroiled with Yakuza gangsters and Ninja assassins all trying to kill him, as well as the film's only other mutant known as Viper, an evil she-snake with a slithery poison tongue, chillingly played by Svetlana Khodchenkova. The red-haired Kitana wielder Yukio, played wonderfully by Rita Fukushima, is spunky and a lot of fun. Astute direction by James Mangold, who delivers some expertly choreographed bone-cracking, kickass action and fight sequences, the centerpiece and most exhilarating of them being the amazing fight scene between Logan and some Yakuza henchman atop a bullet train traveling at 200 m.p.h., this sequence is sheer kineticism, and totally jaw-dropping. But it is Hugh Jackman that owns this film outright, with the commanding conviction he puts into his physically imposing performance, his perfect balancing of his character's tough exterior and existential anguish. Impressive imagery thanks to the brilliant cinematography of Ross Emery, and solid visual effects. Whatever you do stay until the end of this film's credits, because there is a major surprise that will be revealed. This is the definitive Wolverine film! Highly Recommended.
Writer-director David Twohy's well-crafted third installment of his… MoreWriter-director David Twohy's well-crafted third installment of his sci-fi franchise that began was 2000's brilliant "Pitch Black," This time the murderous escape convict and morally ambiguous antihero the infamous Richard B. Riddick, played terrifically by Vin Diesel, who's distinctive glowing silver colored eyes allow him to see in the dark, this time around he is betrayed and left for dead, marooned on a sun-scorched remote and highly dangerous planet, that is filled with lethal alien creatures that inhabit its hellish environment. The only way out for Riddick is to activate an emergency beacon and alert a gang of ruthless bounty hunters who quickly descend on the planet looking to get Reddick dead or alive, one fool among them thinks he can bring back Riddick's head in a box. The 11 bounty hunters in pursuit of their superior prey, are all well-played by a game supporting cast which includes the trash-talking, swaggering Spanish jerk Santana, played by Jordi Molla, the innocent young Bible-thumper Luna, played by Nolan Gerard Funk, the militarily efficient fatherly commander Boss John, played by Matt Nable, and the tough lesbian cutie, played by Katee Sackhoff. But this film is a showcase for Vin Diesel who is still magnetic and compelling in the role that made him a star, Diesel mixes vulnerability into his machismo, which only makes him more likable. The CGI visual effects are startlingly good, and there is wonderfully skillfully direction by David Twohy who makes this gem of sci-fi B-film into a surprisingly pleasurable entertainment. Highly Recommended.
Paul Greengrass's thrilling, brilliantly engrossing true-life… MorePaul Greengrass's thrilling, brilliantly engrossing true-life adventure of Captain Richard Phillips, played by Tom Hanks in a bravura, multi-layed performance of great dignity. Hanks plays the veteran commander of the Maersk Alabama, an enormous U.S. cargo ship that was captured in 2009, by some brutal, trigger-happy Somali pirates armed with automatic weapons, who are a quartet of poor, desperate fisherman, who are well played by Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M Ali, Barkhad Abdirahman, and Barkhad Abdi who is truly compelling and menacing as Muse, the intense leader of the group. These young men were all recruited onshore, and did not know each other, they frequently bicker as things get increasingly worse. Capt. Phillips must find a way to prevent bloodshed, and protect his crew from the hot-headed pirates, who want big money. There is only $30,000 aboard the ship, but Muse the ruthless leader wants millions. All this will lead to a highly explosive battle wills between Capt. Phillips and Muse and his men, as the U.S. Navy nears for a rescue with a SEAL Team. Masterful direction by Paul Greengrass, with extraordinary cinematography by Barry Ackroyd. Like Greengrass's other true-life film, the magnificent "United 93," it holds us in it's grip from beginning to end, despite the fact that viewers may already know the ending. One of the year's best films, with one of Tom Hank's finest performances. A must-see! Highly Recommended.
Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron's first film in seven years, after… MoreMexican director Alfonso Cuaron's first film in seven years, after blowing people's mind with his amazing acrobatic long takes in his brilliant dystopian fantasy "Children of Men," from 2006. Well this filmmaking genius has done it again, only this time he has outdone himself with a totally jaw-dropping and hypontic 17-minute opening segment that is captured in an unbroken shot that is absolutely a marvel of visual choreography. This is an overwhelmingly immersive film thanks to its technological innovations which are astonishing, its visual effects are some of the greatest and most realistic ever committed to celluloid, and its extraordinary use of 3D is the most essential since James Cameron's sci-fi epic "Avatar." This intimate, character-driven, harrowing thriller begins some 372 miles above the Earth, a scientist on her first space walk, Dr. Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock, who delivers a emotionally powerful bravura performance and her veteran mission commander Matt Kowalski on his final assignment, played by George Clooney, who is at his charismatic best here, in an exemplary performance are repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, when they are informed by NASA Mission Control, via the voice of Ed Harris that debris from a satellite shot down by the Russians is heading their way. At first they do not take the warning too seriously, letting a few small parts whiz by, but then disaster strikes when the violent debris storm from the destroyed satellite hits them, tragically killing the rest of the crew and hurtling them spinning into the emptiness of space. They must somehow try to propel themselves to the damaged International Space Station, in the hope that they can save themselves by using the station's escape pod. The horror of being marooned in space and the understandable deep fear that goes with it is brilliantly realized in this visceral, breathtaking film, that is masterfully directed by Alfonso Cuaron, with spellbinding cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki. This majestic motion picture is without a doubt, one of the front-runner for best picture of the year come Oscar time. Highly Recommended.
Zack Snyder's spectacular, visually stunning, epic re-imagining of the… MoreZack Snyder's spectacular, visually stunning, epic re-imagining of the iconic and beloved all-American comic book hero, Superman, is a phenomenal motion picture, that is thrilling, exceptionally well-acted, with tremendous visual effects, and even some truly moving moments. It also brilliantly puts a darker and more complex spin on the character and his origins, like no other Superman screen incarnation before it. The film opens in the awe-inspiring world of Krypton, where Jor-El, Krypton's leading scientist, played marvelously by a regal Russell Crowe, who is in top form here, is assisting his wife Lara, nicely played by Ayelet Zurer in the birth of their son Kal-El. After the birth Jor-El tries in vain to convince Krypton's leading counsel that their planet is dying and will soon face a devastating apocalyptic end. Krypton's fascist military leader General Zod, played sensationally by the hulking Michael Shannon, who brings a real brute menace to the character, unlike Terence Stamp who originally played the character in a campy, but fun performance. Shannon plays General Zod with an unnerving, no-nonsense intensity. The new born Kal-El is sent to Earth on a spacecraft as his parents die in the destruction of Krypton, but the spirt of Jor-El will make several reappearances to guide and help Kal-El on Earth. When we next see Kal-El, he is named Clark, a brooding, bearded drifter struggling with inner conflict, hiding his superhuman powers, Clark keeps helping people than moving on. He is played Magnificently by British actor Henry Cavill, in charismatic, star-making performance, the handsome Cavill with his chiseled jawline, and impressively powerful muscle-bound body, makes a striking Superman indeed. Lois Lane, played with fortitude and intelligence by Amy Adams, who is a hard-nosed reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper that is trying to find this mysterious man who keeps helping people and than disappearing, she will discover its Clark and aided him in whats to come. Clark's adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent of Smallville, Kansas, played superbly, and with a endearing charm by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, who bring a necessary gravitas to their roles. They have done everything possible to help prepare their son for the world, and Jonathan always warned Clark to restrict the use of his powers, because people fear what they cannot understand or control. But when the evil General Zod and his minions appear over the skies of Earth, and demand humanity to hand over Kal-El, or face the deadly consequences.Thats when this films goes into high gear, with some breathtaking action and battle sequences, that are truly exciting and are a visual effects marvel, such as the Smallville showdown with Zod's minions, and Superman's unforgettable climatic areal dogfight with General Zod in Metropolis, that levels most of the city, where we will see massive explosions, skyscrapers folding in upon themselves, streets buckling, and thousands citizens running for their lives. Masterful direction by Zach Synder, with gorgeous cinematography by Amir Mokri, and terrific score by Hans Zimmer that heightens the emotion in the film. The supporting cast all deliver stellar performances they include Laurence Fishburne, Harry Schiff, Christopher Meloni, and Richard Schiff. Special kudos must go to Antje Traue's compelling performance as Zod's Lieutenant, Faora-ui, she is a memorable badass. But it is Henry Cavill's earnest performance that dominates this film, and makes this epic his. One of this year's finest films, and the best Superman movie by far ever made. Highly Recommended.
Paul Greengrass's raw, powerful, emotionally shattering cinematic… MorePaul Greengrass's raw, powerful, emotionally shattering cinematic experience, that recreates the harrowing events aboard United Airlines, Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. When Arab terrorists hijacked that plane which they intended to use as a weapon to strike Washington D.C., after two planes have already struck the World Trade Center, in the greatest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. The brilliant direction by Peter Greengrass earned him a richly deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Director. He shows the bravery and self-sacrificing heroism of the passengers and crew on board Flight 93, who found the courage to fight against the ruthless terrorists and foil their plans at the cost of their lives. While on the ground military and civilian teams scrambled helplessly to make sense of the unfolding events. The ensemble cast of mostly unknown actors all deliver outstanding and realistic performances. I am please that the families related to the victims of this tragedy were supportive with this project. It is truly a tasteful memorial to their loved ones, and to that fateful day when our world changed forever. Highly Recommended.