“Foxcatcher”, “St. Vincent”, “Dear White People” & More

It’s time to share a few more reviews of recent DVD releases in case you’re caught up on your television viewing or you want suggestions for movie night.

“ST. VINCENT”

I’ve never been of “Saturday Night Live”, so I never followed Bill Murray’s movie career.

As a teenager, I saw “Meatballs” and I enjoyed it.  I also loved “Tootsie” and “Zombieland”, but not so much for Murray.  And, I’ve also seen Murray in “Groundhog Day” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and I’m indifferent about both.

So, I rented “St. Vincent” with reservations.

I’m so glad I checked it out!  While his character was severely flawed, he played the lousy neighbor with precision.

I’m also not a fan of Melissa McCarthy, but her straight performance in this dramatic role as a divorced parent trying to make a new life for her and her son was refreshing.

The real standout in the movie is Jaeden Lieberher, who played the 12-year-old neighbor that Murray’s alcoholic Vincent MacKenna was responsible for watching after school.

Two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (“The Impossible”) was also funny as Vincent’s pregnant, pole-dancing/prostitute girlfriend, Daka.

A very touching movie that’ll make you laugh and cry.

GRADE:  A-

“FOXCATCHER”

While captivating, “Foxcatcher” was more than two hours of pure creepiness and awkwardness.

“Best Actor” Oscar nominee Steve Carell was incredible behind his prosthetic nose and teeth. His portrayal of John du Pont’s loneliness was sad to watch, but you couldn’t turn away.

And, I believe that Oscar gave the “Best Supporting Actor” nominee to the wrong person.

I love Mark Ruffalo as an actor, but Channing Tatum was the real star with the most pain expressed on-screen.

The movie could have been about thirty minutes shorter!

GRADE: B

“THE DROP”

This little seen Brooklyn crime drama marked the final movie appearance by the late James Gandolfini.

Gandolfini played Marv, the former owner of a neighborhood bar called “Cousin Marv’s”.  He had turned over ownership years earlier to a Chechen mob and is still making payments to them — by laundering money that the bar makes each day.

Tom Hardy was fantastic as slightly challenged bartender, Bob, who rescues a pit bull puppy from a trash can in Nadia’s yard.  Nadia is played by Noomi Rapace (from the Swedish “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” movie series).

While an enjoyable movie that kept you guessing, it was pretty cookie cutter as a crime caper.

GRADE:  B-

“BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP”

You’d think a mystery thriller with Academy Award winners Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth would be incredible.

While the performances were great, the story of a woman who forgets everything about her life each night when she goes to sleep tired quickly.

Kidman’s Christine Lucas memory loss is the result of a brain injury she suffered ten years ago in a car accident.  Or, is it?

She gets a mysterious call from a doctor that informs her to start recording her thoughts each day.  That way, when she wakes the next day, she’ll have somewhere to start in piecing together who she was and if she was really injured in a car accident.

There is a dramatic scene between Kidman and Firth toward the end of the movie that redeemed it from a failing grade to average.

GRADE:  C

“COLD IN JULY”

I’m a huge Michael C. Hall fan.

Dexter-michael-c-hall

I could watch all eight seasons of “Dexter” on repeat.  He was mesmerizing and insanely sexy as everyone’s favorite serial killer on the Showtime series.

I even traveled to New York City in January to see him on Broadway in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, in which he plays fame-seeking East German transgender rocker, Hedwig.

While he’s a Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild winner and an Emmy nominee, movie stardom has eluded him.

That trend continues with “Cold In July”, which only made less than one-half million dollars last year in theatrical release.

Hall plays a Texas man who shoots an intruder in his house in the middle of night.  While the police say it’s an open and shut case, the victim’s father comes back for answers and revenge after being released from prison.

It turns out there’s more to the story of who the victim is and why police closed the case so quickly.

While I only watched the movie to see Hall, it was great to see Don Johnson (“Miami Vice”) again in a comedic/dramatic role.

GRADE:  C

“DEAR WHITE PEOPLE”

In a perfect world, a movie about racism would be something that would take you back to pre-1960s America.

However, the world is not perfect and this satirical dramedy is very poignant in pointing that out.

Samantha (“Sam”) White is a mixed race student in a predominantly white college that uses her radio show to criticize white people and their racism and the school administration.

There’s a scene in the movie where the school president’s son is behind a very racist-themed party to retaliate against Sam’s views and her radio show.

In light of the recent racist video that surfaced from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma, maybe more people should see this movie and hopefully learn from it.

“Dear White People” stars Tyler James Williams, who’s on the current season of “The Walking Dead”.

GRADE:  B

Soon, I’ll post a blog of three movies that I just watched years after their release that definitely deserve a second look since not many people checked them out the first time in theaters.

Anthony

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