Saturday, September 3, 2016

Review: Clint Eastwood's "Sully"

Image result for sully movie review

Clint Eastwood's "Sully," stands a good shot at giving Tom Hanks his sixth Oscar nomination of his career, he's that good. Eastwood, now 86, had an Oscar nominated film with "American Sniper" last we heard from him, oh and it was also the most financially success film of his career at the box office. Forget all about the Left vs Right debate that surrounded the movie, that was just a damn fine movie about war and the PTSD effects on the soldiers.

The story of American pilot "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed the troubled US Airways Flight 1549 full of passengers on the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, is well known and was one of those feel-good stories that really just made you happy that something good actually happened in the news for once. Sully was depicted as a hero because, well, he was. He saved many lives on that day, 155 to be more precise, but is it enough to make a feature-length movie out his story?  The answer, after watching "Sully" is a complicated one to pin down.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Even Jackie Chan’s Energy Can’t Save Renny Harlin’s "Skiptrace" With Johnny Knoxville [Review]



I caught this one at Fantasia this past July. It's always comforting seeing both Johnny Knoxville and Jackie Chan at the movies, they leave me in a nostalgic feeling. I grew up with these guys. Ah, yes the 90s. Anyways, I need to snap out of it because their latest effort is actually quite marginal.

My ThePlaylist review can be found HERE

Derek Cianfrance's "The Light Between the Oceans" disappoints, but why?


"A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat." That is how IMDB describes Derek Cianfrance's "The Light Between the Oceans," an adaptation of M.L. Stedman's best selling novel. A soapy, dragging and -ultimately- messy film that doesn't do justce to the talent involved. The above IMDB description also does not reveal a crucial twist that happens around the one hour mark.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Venice: "Arrival" gets good reviews, "La La Land" gets raves

Well, can we say it officially? Fall movie season is upon us. Venice kicks it all off with two titles that we'll be keeping close attention to at Telluride and TIFF, which I will be attending from September 8th to the 18th.

First off, there's Denis Villeneuve's "Arrival" getting the kind of reviews I thought it would be getting: solid, thoughtful entertainment that doesn't necessarily rise above being very good. I'm fine with that. This could crack my top ten list because, well, I'm just a big Vileneuve nerd, especially his three French Canadian films "Maelstrom," "Incendies" and "Polytechnique." He showed a lot of promise with his American films and is being a kind of Hollywood auteur. "Sicario" definitely had some tightly-knit sequences that would not have been possible with cinematographer Roger Deakins, but Villeneuve shot that film magnificently as well.


Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" is where things get very interesting. The reviews are raves and it looks like many Oscar nominations are awaiting the latest film from Chazelle, who completely floored me at TIFF 2 years ago with "Whiplash." This one is a movie musical ode to the 1950s MGM, the trailer looked like it had a "Punch-Drunk Love" type of vibe. Reading these reviews it seems like it only hints at a surrealism that I wish it had more of. One thing's for sure, Chazelle has some kind of particular eye for musical numbers, maybe that's what he will build his career as a director on.

Check out that 9.2 rating. Yowsers. It is supposed to be screening here in advance on Tuesday, but I will not be in town, which saddens me because I will be catching "La La Land" at TIFF after practically every single big name critic has seen it.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The 10 Great Movies of Summer 2016

Ah, summer. The time when movies are promoted for hormonal teenage boys and adult males that seem to have grown up for their childhood obsessions with Superman or Captain America. This primarily male demographic is ready to drool over next superhero movie or unnecesary remake. They are the ones that keep pushing the industry to the brink of creative collapse. That's life now at the movies. "Captain America: Civil War" is a good movie, in fact the best of all the barrage of superhero movies we have gotten all of this year. But it feels like it's from a different cinematic universe, one where product placement is key to achieving long-term worldwide success, that feels robotic and untouched by human hands ditto "Finding Dory" the other well-reviewed hollywood film this summer. I'm not down for that. Instead the best movies of summer 2016 came from the small studio system. There were no special effects in these 8 above-average films, nor were there any artistic concessions for high box-office draws.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sex, drugs and white privilege: "White Girl"


White Girl - Actress Morgan Saylor as Leah

Elizabeth Wood's White Girl was a little perplexing for some people back at Sundance, but I dug it all the same. Think Larry Clark's Kids directed by a woman and starring Homeland's Morgan Saylor as a New York City girl that falls hard in love for a street thug and embarks in the most harrowing of sexual and drug-infused journey's ever seen on film. The wild extremes Saylor goes through are bound to disturb parents all around the country, but once you find out that all the events depicted in the film were based on Wood's actual past, then you're left speechless. This is as feminist a film for 2016 as any I have seen so far this year. But not just that, its also a pertinent and resonant depiction of race in America as you have never wanted to see before. It goes to extremes on gender roles and race and in ways that would be deemed too taboo or hardcore for the mainstream or even indie audiences. You are bound to hear very divisive takes on White Girl in the weeks to come, but Kudos to Wood and Saylor on their singular achievement A-

Thoughts on HBO's "The Night of" finale.

HBO's "The Night of" finale was sheer brilliance! At the end of the day the show was always more about the characters than the actual case. Also I don't think I've ever seen a more thorough, in-depth and informative movie or TV show about the legal system than this.

At the end of the day this show was unlike any I had ever seen. It is easily one of the very best things I have seen on TV this year, right up there with "Made In America: OJ Simpson", "Better Call Saul" and "The Americans."

I was almost dead-on last WEEK when I said there would be no resolution. That would have been the true letdown, if there ever was one. And so, Steve Zaillan has earned some great numbers in my books with this new mini-series. John Turturro has single-handedly proved he can be the lead in a movie and Riz Ahmed has had a career breathrough as Naz. I got a feeling we will remember this series for many years to come. Zaillan and Richard Price should work together more often.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Oscar Predix 8.29.16

With Telluride, TIFF and Venice looming ever so closely it is time to assess the race. Not much has happened in terms of actual films that came out in theaters, but Festivals such as Sundance and Cannes have kicked off the race in unexpected ways. Never too early to predict what will go down, but I will be updating these every few weeks.

We will start with the four major categories:


Best Picture
(1) Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk
(2) Manchester by The Sea
(3) Silence
(4) Loving
(5) Moonlight
(6) Sully
(7) La La Land
(8) Arrival
(9) Patriot's Day
(10) The Birth of a Nation

Best Actor
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Tom Hanks, Sully
Michael Keaton, The Founder
Joel Edgerton, Loving
Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Actress
Viola Davis, Fences
Ruth Negga, Loving
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Director
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Ang Kee, Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk
Martin Scorsese, Silence
Damian Chazelle, La La Land
Cliny Eastwood, Sully

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