Quite an undertaking with a very good result the movie Tanna tells a touching Romeo and Juliet story in the most striking way. Filmed on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific using tribes that still inhabit the volcanic isle, Directors Martin Butler and Bentley Dean fashion a story based on a true happening. Not the ordinary staged Shakespearean presentation, but one that has all the substance of the tale of forbidden love. Read more
Turning up the heat for a stab at the Oscars Deepwater Horizon opens this weekend. The fast moving disaster thriller tells the 2010 story of the fatal eruption of the floating drill rig in the Gulf of Mexico by the survivors. The film offers the account of what had happened that disastrous day but does not allude to the millions of gallons of oil that damaged the wildlife and fishing trade along the Gulf Coast. The destruction looks very real and the acting magnificent. Read more
Hitch up your “hoss” to the nearest tie post, take your saddle into the nearest movie house and treat yourself to a hum dinger of a good time with The Magnificent Seven. It’s not the old 1960 rerun, but a spanking new show with memories of the original. Branded with Antoine Fuqua direction this wild west ditty has some mighty woop ass scenes that can rival the likes of Tombstone and Silverado. Read more
The heartfelt story Max Rose showcases the amazing talent of Jerry Lewis. His performance here just may earn him a nomination of high honors in a leading role, it’s that good. Pleasantly surprised at his ability to show his vitality and pathos the remarkable actor puts on a show that will be remembered way after you leave the movie theater. Add to this a delightful scenes with the magnificent Claire Bloom and you have a fine evening of movie-going. It’s an older crowd’s film that’s not to be missed. Read more
This wild and wacky documentary on the life of author Laura Albert, Author: The JT LeRoy Story, gets complicated, showy, impudent and irreverent and that just the first half. But, that’s the beauty of this offbeat, nonsensical biography told by Laura Albert herself. Unless you travel in book writing circles, you may not know the celebrity of the writer who earned her fame using multiple impostors and through a stroke of luck. In fact, she’s even accused of a mental multiple personality disorder in her quest to pull off one of the biggest hoax’s in the literary business. Read more
Taking a closer look at the effects of WWII on the German “final solution”, the film The People vs. Fritz Bauer adds another true story for all to see. Intriguing and convincing the film’s not a documentary but more of a biography of a man who helped to insure that his beloved country would never take the despotic road to ruin again. Read more
Moody, brooding and mysterious the film The Vessel takes you on a journey to a town that has stood still. Nicely acted with a fine cast that includes Martin Sheen in a role that’s touching and bold, the movie prods at your heartstrings and digs into your soul. It’s the kind of rare film that offers a skewed look at tragic events. Read more
There have been several real life events that Hollywood has brought to the screen and the movie Sully happens to be one of the most amazing. Seven years ago US Airways flight 1579 had to ditch in the Hudson River and TV had a heyday with the crash and rescue of all 155 passengers on board. Even more recent was the replay of the documentary “Hudson Plane Crash: What Really Happened” on American Heroes Channel cable TV that was very poignant with actual passengers and crew members giving interviews. Heroism personified. Read more
The film Mia Madre has its moments, but the bleak story is a matter of taste. A true indie in every sense of the word, the movie becomes a trite look at the inside of movie making through the eyes of a director who’s dealing with her mother’s illness. Admittedly not based on a true story, the subject matter should appeal to those who have found themselves in similar situations with the main character. If you like films that work their magic through dramatic moments and hard to cope with situations, then this little gem will work nicely for you. Read more
Heartfelt, inspiring and compelling the documentary Life, Animated takes you into the world of Autism in a positive way. Not to be missed, this amazing production involves relationships as you have never experienced unless you are a parent, psychologist, or a member of the medical field directly associated with children with this unusual affliction. It’s so touching and emotional that the film should bring tears of joy from this rare coming-of-age story. Read more
The film Equity Directed by Meera Menon brings movie goers a unique story written by Amy Fox, Sarah Megan Thomas, and Alysia Reiner. It shows a woman’s view of Wall Street and the effects it can have on them. Carefully organized, well written, and presented, the scrupulous film is perfect for the over twenty audience. Menon develops this story with a deep look into the process it takes to have a private company go public and the negative and positive effects on its founders. Read more
A surprisingly enjoyable action flick, In Order of Disappearance unites Fargoesque elements with Dirty Harry street justice, piling up bodies faster than snow off a road plow. Hans Petter Moland’s gritty thriller draws on an everyman protagonist to work his way up the crime tree of dirt-bag criminals and sequentially dispense justice with Old Testament ferocity.
After some bottom-of-food chain bad guys rig the death of his son, Ingvar, to look like an overdose, mild mannered Nils Dickman (Stellan Skarsgard) initially takes the blame and nearly offs himself with a rifle. But most viewers know better than to expect a protagonist to die so quickly, which is why it’s no surprise when we learn that Ingvar was murdered. And why the ostensibly docile Nils embarks on “digging two graves” for his son’s murder, uprooting the heretofore-cerebral crime paradigm of Scandinavian cinema. Among the mob soldiers Nils dispenses (with the help of his huge snowplow) is the likeable Strike (Game of Thrones Kristofer Hivju). It’s a bit more than a cameo, and there’s a good-guy-bad-guy camaraderie moment that gives the scene a bit of moral balance.
Nils clearing the Norwegian backwater with a giant yellow snowplow becomes an arresting metaphor for his life, removing obstructions in a physically cold, cruel world. And what better obstruction to remove than a crime family bent on expansion? With tongue-in-cheek tombstone solemnity, Nils’ enemies are dispatched and recorded on black screen—a nice, subtle comedic touch. During a visit to Nils’ estranged brother, Egil (Peter Andersson)—his former “wingman”—we learn that in his misspent youth, Nils picked up a few street survival “talents.” It’s a History of Violence moment that underscores Nils’ ability to dispatch goons with such lean efficiency.
Nils’ nemesis is a young ponytailed crime boss known simply as “the Count” (Pal Sverre Hagen). The second-generation mobster inherited the business from papa, but his hot temper and impatience eventually cause him to underestimate Nils. The Count seems to have his hands full in areas that extend beyond running the family business. A B-story that underscores his “husband/father of the year” persona is the Count’s ongoing fight with his ex-wife (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) over custody of their son.
Square pegged into crime boss status, the Count is repeatedly outwitted by Nils’ blue-collar tactics. Outmatched by a rival gang of Serbians, he unwittingly responds to “an insult” with the wrong “message.” Doing an admirable job as the Serbian’s avuncular capo di tutt’i capi is “Papa” (Bruno Ganz), a likeable sort and heavy counter weight to the impulsive Count. The final, shell-casing-littered standoff dovetails the Good, the Bad and the Ugly and is as satisfying as a gulp of ice-cold soda after a bucket of salty popcorn.
The movie Hands of Stone follows the life of world champion boxer Roberto Duran. Well-acted by a fine cast, the film plays out much like the movie Ali where the top boxer stunned the world capturing the heavyweight crown. With Duran, the story gets a glazing of white wash, turns bullish and then a bit too sentimental for my taste. That said, I did enjoy the production value and the boxing action that looked very realistic. Read more
Billed as a comedy with drama and based on a true story, War Dogs takes you into the world of selling guns during wartime. The film delves into profit making from the military and the risks the gun sellers take for chances of making millions. While a lot of Hollywood goes into the film, it does happen and it did happen this way, mostly. What adds high entertainment value to the movie comes from the acting by two of America’s better actors, Oscar nominated Jonah Hill and rising star Miles Teller. Read more
One of the better dramas this year, Hell or High Water comes from an indie filmmaker and could possibly enter the race for an Oscar, it’s that good. Working on a premise that may be a little over the top makes it a bit dubious however, but most people did like the tempestuous Bonnie and Clyde. Whether you cheer for the two characters in this wild and offbeat film or not, the acting’s so good I’m going back for another look. Read more