Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wild: Movie Review


   


A simple and beautiful journey through the wilds of California and the mind.
Wild is an apt title for the film and Cheryl Strayed's memoirs that it is based on about her journey from depression through drug addiction to an actual physical 1,100-mile journey along the Pacific Coast Trail to find herself. The title applies to both Cheryl's wild past including drugs, alcohol, more drugs, and even more men, and the unforgiving wild terrain from the deserts of southern California to the snow-covered mountains of northern California and the hippies in Oregon. 2014

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée

Screenplay by: Nick Hornby
Based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed

Starring: Reese Witherspoon

Friday, December 19, 2014

Foxcatcher: Movie Review


   


A cold atmosphere for a heartless act.
Murder is a dark and cold act, so the story that leads up to it might as well be as dark and cold as you can make it. Such seems to be the thought that goes into the crafting of Foxcatcher. It is meticulously crafted, but also as austere and void of warmth that most films would dare to be. This one goes further. It presents the true story of ornithologist, philatelist and philanthropist John E. du Pont (Steve Carell) who persuades wrestling champion Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and brother David (Mark Ruffalo) to join his team. 2014

Directed by: Bennett Miller

Screenplay by: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman

Starring: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Take Care: Movie Review


Taking their sweet time to get to a charming romantic comedy.

Leslie Bibb stars as Frannie, a young woman immobilized by a car accident and finds that independent living is significantly more difficult without the ability to walk around. Her friends and family abandon her in her time of need, so Frannie decides to turn to her ex-boyfriend Devon (Thomas Sadoski) for help. Take Care is indeed a romantic comedy; sometimes light on the comedy, sometimes light on the romance, but it all comes together in the end. 2014

Directed by: Liz Tuccillo

Screenplay by: Liz Tuccillo

Starring: Leslie Bibb, Thomas Sadoski

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Imitation Game: Movie Review


   


Codes, war and homosexuality in an interesting balancing act.
A bio-pic of English Mathematician Alan Turing (played here by Benedict Cumberbatch),  The Imitation Game  has to juggle his extreme ego (probably played up for the purposes of entertainment), his achievements of solving the Enigma code and winning World War II for the Allies, and his homosexuality – a crucial element that makes the interesting film engaging and emotionally-affecting. Focusing on the war years, the film achieved the critical balance. 2014

Directed by: Morten Tyldum

Screenplay by: Graham Moore
Based on the book by Andrew Hodges

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Murder of a Cat: Movie Review


   


A deceptively clever and very funny murder mystery.
Fran Kranz is Clinton - a young man who lives in his mother's basement, wears a robe all day long, has his mother drive him around town, laughs at  Who's the Boss re-runs, and refers to his cat Mouser as his best friend. The comedy angle is clear and it works. Kranz's ability to portray a comedic every-man lends Clinton a perfect amount of familiarity but mixed with an over-the-top ridiculousness that allows the film to take us wherever it wants to go. 2014

Directed by: Gillian Greene

Screenplay by: Christian Magalhaes, Robert Snow

Starring: Fran Kranz, J.K. Simmons, Greg Kinnear and Nikki Reed

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Laggies: Movie Review


   


Comedy and romance and adults growing up.
Megan (Keira Knightley) is approaching 30, but doesn't seem to have her life figured out the way her friends do – but that's because her friends are naming their baby girl Juppiter and her boyfriend think it's okay to propose at her friend's wedding. In addition, her father's having an affair, and everybody's encouraging her to attend a career seminar where the most important part of professional success is figuring out what animal you are. 2014

Directed by: Lynn Shelton

Screenplay by: Andrea Seigel

Starring: Keira Knightley, Sam Rocwell, and Chloe Grace Moretz

Friday, November 28, 2014

Horrible Bosses 2: Movie Review


The same funny employees plus more horrible bosses.

The boys are back and they're gonna be in trouble. Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have decided to go into business for themselves and live the American dream. But their idealism goes up against a spoiled billionaire (Chris Pine) and a pompous multibillionaire (Christoph Waltz), father to the spoiled billionaire, and the results are hilarious. Horrible Bosses 2  has a hard task: make it just as funny without copying the original. For the most part, it succeeds. 2014

Directed by: Sean Anders

Screenplay by: Sean Anders, John Morris

Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Chris Pine

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Theory of Everything: Movie Review


   


The dramatic and turbulent life of Stephen Hawking.
Celebrated scientist Stephen Hawking is the subject of the weepy romantic drama biopic The Theory of Everything. In what is presumably a good choice for the film, as it attempts to appeal to everyone, it focuses on his personal life as opposed to his scientific life. Allowing Jane Hawking (Felicity Jones) to be just as important a character as Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne). The two young Brits give star-making performances as husband and wife. 2014

Directed by: James Marsh

Screenplay by: Anthony McCarten
Based on the book by Jane Hawking

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Merry Friggin' Christmas: Movie Review


Has the star power but lacks the comedy.

A Merry Friggin' Christmas stars Joel McHale as Boyd Mitchler, a successful lawyer living in an affluent suburb of Chicago and trying to raise his family as best he can and opposite to how he was raised. Robin Williams stars as Virgil Mitchler, Boyd's hard-drinking, hard-talking father who will never complement his son no matter how well he does. That's because the film is a dysfunctional family dark comedy. 2014

Directed by: Tristram Shapeero

Screenplay by: Michael Brown

Starring: Joel McHale, Robin Williams

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Horns: Movie Review


   


Original blending of genres wears too thin.
The story of a young man determined to get to the truth behind his girlfriend's murder, Horns adds elements of fantasy, comedy and horror to the mystery. Daniel Radcliffe stars as Ig Parrish. Ig was hopelessly in love until the death of girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). And then he was instantly pegged as the prime suspect, thrust into the media spotlight and banished into the hells of reality as an evil-doer. 2013

Directed by: Alexandre Aja

Screenplay by: Keith Bunin
Based on the novel by Joe Hill

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Max Minghella

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Whiplash: Movie Review


   


Each drum beat raises the intensity and the stakes of achieving greatness.
Whiplash stars Miles Teller as Andrew Nieman, a promising young drummer attending a prestigious music school in New York City. He's an earnest, hard-working guy determined to achieve greatness. And that's exactly where the film first shows how unique and different this is going to be. While Andrew appears to be a sweet but shy guy deserving of our sympathies, his drive for greatness is going to drive the audience to edge of their seat and the edge of sanity. 2014

Directed by: Damien Chazelle

Screenplay by: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pride: Movie Review


   


Cheering along with a film full of passion.
Set in the 1980s when gays and lesbians struggled to gain acceptance and equality in society, Pride manages to find another segment of society undergoing similar hostility from the police, Margaret Thatcher and the government. Book-ended by the 1984 and 1985 gay pride parades in London, the time in between was marked by the major miner’s strike – causing massive turmoil for everyone involved. 2014

Directed by: Matthew Warcus

Screenplay by: Stephen Beresford

Starring: Ben Schnetzer, Dominic West, Jessica Gunning, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Birdman: Movie Review


   


Flying away from the weight of ego, success and celebrity with humour, intelligence and ambition.
Birdman the incredibly ambitious film about celebrity, fame, popularity, acting, creating, fatherhood, relationships, death, media and the overwhelming weight of ego is indeed about all of that. Micheal Keaton as Riggan Thomson is the titular Birdman, a popular fictional superhero in the vain of Batman, Spiderman or Iron Man, but that was decades ago and now Riggan is a washed up former superhero hanging onto to the last vestiges of celebrity and who he knows himself as. 2014

Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Screenplay by: Alejandro Gonzales Inarrituo, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis and Emma Stone

Friday, November 7, 2014

Nightcrawler: Movie Review


   


Immorality drives this tale of crime journalism to the end.
Nightcrawler is what Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is. He’s a thief, a beggar, a student of life, a journalist, a wannabe business man, and a man driven for work. He’s lured into the business of nighttime crime journalism and learns how to make a quick buck, and more importantly to him, respect. The fact that he’s making money off of other people’s death and misery (and in essence undermining the police) doesn’t faze him in the slightest. 2014

Directed by: Dan Gilroy

Screenplay by: Dan Gilroy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Maps to the Stars: Movie Review


   


Lost in a world of fame, tragedy, celebrity and incest.
Maps to the Stars Or: How To Turn Personal Tragedy Into Fame, Money and Celebrity is how I would title this thoroughly disturbing tale about the Hollywood lifestyle by director David Cronenberg and writer Bruce Wagner. Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) is new in LA, ready for a tour of stars’ homes, chasing the celebrity dream and determined to cash in on her twitter friendship with Carrie Fisher. Oh, and she might have ulterior motives. 2014

Directed by: David Cronenberg

Screenplay by: Bruce Wagner

Starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Evan Bird and Robert Pattinson

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Heart Machine: Movie Review


Romantic drama that's running on empty.

The Heart Machine is a romantic drama thriller. One that is entirely driven by one thought; one part of a plot where characters are minimal and supporting characters and storylines are nonexistent. Cody (John Gallagher Jr.) is an awkward love-struck man in Brooklyn who’s in a long-distance relationship. Virginia (Kate Lyn Sheil) is his Skype girlfriend living in Berlin. Or so she says. She might be lying and Cody’s starting to suspect that she’s actually in New York. 2014

Directed by: Zachary Wigon

Screenplay by: Zachary Wigon

Starring: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Lyn Sheil

Friday, October 24, 2014

St. Vincent: Movie Review


   


Predictability outweighs the comedy and drama of “St. Vincent”.
St. Vincent stars Bill Murray as Vincent, a man who on the surface appears to be anything but a saint. He spends his days drinking and gambling and grumbling throughout life. But it’s fair to say that there’s more to him than meets the eye and the son of his next door neighbor starts to see Vincent as a real-life, everyday saint. It’s an uplifting story with plenty of humour and drama alike, and it’s also tediously predictable. 2014

Directed by: Theodore Melfi

Screenplay by: Theodore Melfi

Starring: Bill Murray, Jaeden Lieberher and Melissa McCarthy

Thursday, October 23, 2014

#Stuck: Movie Review


Stuck with characters, dialogue and comedy that all work.

#Stuck starts the morning after a one night stand for Guy (Joel David Moore) and Holly (Madeline Zima), and as one of the lines in the film points out, it’s called the morning after for a reason. Holly is stuck without a car, Guy graciously agrees to drive her back to the bar where they met, and on the way there they get stuck in traffic. The film is about their non-relationship as they are forced to spend approximately one hour in Guy’s car in LA traffic. 2014

Directed by: Stuart Acher

Screenplay by: Stuart Acher

Starring: Madeline Zima, Joel David Moore

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Best of Me: Movie Review





 The worst of Nicholas Sparks.
Ten years ago, Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook (2004) was released. Its long simmering success has made “the Nicholas Sparks romantic drama” its own brand, helped launch the careers of Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, and it’s a frequent punch-line in popular movies and shows. It also starred James Marsden in a small role as the man McAdams’ was supposed to marry. This year’s The Best of Me owes a lot to its predecessor, and not just its leading man. 2014

Directed by: Michael Hoffman

Screenplay by: J. Mills Goodloe, Will Fetters
Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks

Starring: James Marsden, Luke Bracey, Michelle Monaghan and Liana Liberato

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stretch: Movie Review


A wild ride but couldn't put a story together.

Stretch starts with a drunk, coked-out gambling addict getting launched through a car window and then before he lands on the pavement, meets a girl and falls in love. And then the movie just gets crazier after that. The lead character, who calls himself Stretch, gets a job as a limo driver after hitting what he perceives as rock bottom, and then getting clean, getting sober and intending to pay back gambling debts. 2014

Directed by: Joe Carnahan

Screenplay by: Joe Carnahan

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Jessica Alba

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Judge: Movie Review


A stoic drama about fathers, sons and murder.

Robert Duvall is the titular judge. He’s a hardened man who has worked 42 years as a judge in the small town of Carlinville, Indiana. Robert Downey Jr. plays the cynical and successful lawyer son who left for the big city of Chicago, Illinois. The Judge focuses on their relationship when the prodigal son returns home for the funeral of his mother. The movie then steps up its game when it also becomes a murder mystery. 2014

Directed by: David Dobkin

Screenplay by: Nick Schenk, Bill Dubuque

Starring: Robert Duvall, Robert Downey Jr.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Men, Women & Children: Movie Review


   


A drama about the dangers of modern life failed to create engaging characters.
Men, Women & Children is Jason Reitman’s newest film and yet he has descended even further from the heights of Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air. In this drama, he explores the effects the online world has on human relationships and sex in modern times. It’s a concept that has been covered and will be covered countless more times. But it’s a lackluster affair despite the star-studded cast because the characters are all so unappealing. 2014

Directed by: Jason Reitman

Screenplay by: Jason Reitman, Erin Cressida Wilson; Based on the novel by Chad Kultgen

Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer and Ansel Elgort

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Gone Girl: Movie Review


   


Implores you to not take appearances at face value as the characters cut a dark tale of marriage.
The titular gone girl is Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike), wife of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) and he’s the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance. Not just because it’s always the husband, but also because their marriage is failing, she’s kept a diary detailing all the horrible things he’s done and all clues lead back to him. The great thing about Gone Girl the thriller is that these clues aren’t meant to deceive but to lead the audience. It’s simply a story of what happened, but with twists aplenty. 2014

Directed by: David Fincher

Screenplay by: Gillian Flynn
Based on novel by Gillian Flynn

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Skeleton Twins: Movie Review


   


Establishing selfishness before their more interesting layers, the despondent skeleton twins are more lifeless than they should be.
In a movie marketed as a comedy, stars Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig should have no problem carrying it no matter what kind of difficulties the film may have. But The Skeleton Twins is not a comedy. It’s a very sullen drama that throws in a few scenes of comedy either because Hader and Wiig deserve the chance to make the audience laugh, or because the film wanted to prove how edgy they can be. 2014

Directed by: Craig Johnson

Screenplay by: Mark Heyman, and Craig Johnson

Starring: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig

Saturday, September 27, 2014

That Burning Feeling: Movie Review


Familiar romantic comedy clichés drag down the fresh and funny start.

A romantic comedy about sexually transmitted diseases sounds off-beat enough that it just might work, and it almost does. That Burning Feeling starts off funny enough. Adam Murphy (Paulo Costanzo) is the right-hand man for an unscrupulous real estate mogul, played by John Cho. Their complete lack of ethics coupled with the belief that who they are and what they do is so important is funny. 2013

Directed by: Jason James

Screenplay by: Nick Citton

Starring: Paulo Costanzo, John Cho

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Night Moves: Movie Review


Dark and gripping atmosphere filled with guilt and paranoia permeate this tale of activism.

Josh (Jesse Eisenberg) and Dena (Dakota Fanning) are two young environmentalists. They’re activists who want to change the world with one big plan. But Night Moves presents that big plan in a small way, focusing entirely on the characters and their actions and becomes so much bigger than an “environmental movie.” This is more universal than being about eco-terrorists. This is about anybody who commits a crime and thinks they’re righteous. 2013

Directed by: Kelly Reichardt

Screenplay by: Jon Raymond, Kelly Reichardt

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard

Thursday, September 11, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You: Movie Review


Too many family clichés can leave the comedy and emotion behind.

This Is Where I Leave You is about a family coming together after the death of the patriarch. It’s a family drama with comedy that likes to cross the line. It’s a non-religious family with a mother that has decided the father was Jewish and in honor of his passing, they’re all going to sit shiva for seven days. Each family member has their own issues and the mother likes over-sharing personal details. 2014

Directed by: Shawn Levy

Screenplay by: Jonathan Tropper

Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Life After Beth: Movie Review


   


Life, death, Beth and funny zombies.
Some films blur the lines between good and evil, right and wrong, or friends and lovers. Life After Beth blurs the line between life and death. Even Beth herself explains that there’s alive and then there’s dead, and you can’t be both. If you could be both, things would get pretty bad, and weird. Especially weird. 2014

Directed by: Jeff Baena

Screenplay by: Jeff Baena

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Captive: Movie Review


   


Not captivating enough for a crime thriller.
Atom Egoyan’s second thriller this year and another one about crimes against children. The Captive starts with the kidnapped Cassandra being held captive by the perpetrator himself. It’s an odd way to start the film with the audience knowing who did it. The why he did it is pretty clear too, he’s a creep. It’s hard to create suspense when the audience knows who the authorities are trying to catch. 2014

Directed by: Atom Egoyan

Screenplay by: Atom Egoyan, David Fraser

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, and Rosario Dawson

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Calvary: Movie Review


   


The dark past of the Catholic Church turned into a darkly comedic tale of morality.
Calvary starts dark and never lightens up, but gives you plenty of humour and food for thought along the way. Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a Catholic priest in a small village in Ireland. The opening confessional has one of his parishioners telling him they’re going to kill him in exchange for the molestation that he experienced at the hands of a priest when he was a young boy. Father James is innocent, but does that make him a good person? 2014

Directed by: John Michael McDonagh

Screenplay by: John Michael McDonagh

Starring: Brendan Gleeson