Posts Tagged ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

Movies For A Rainy Day

Unseasonably cool weather has taken over the Midwest the last few days and with rain Friday night and for much of Saturday, here are a few movies suggestions if you’re in the mood to rent movies and just listen to the falling rain.

“THE IMITATION GAME”

“The Imitation Game” was a fantastic lesson of one of the true heroes of World War 2 that few know.

It’s tragic how pathetic British laws were back in the 1950s persecuting people for just being themselves. Benedict Cumberbatch was very touching as a tormented genius that helped to bring the Germans down.

While definitely an Oscar worthy performance from Cumberbatch because I couldn’t take my eyes off him, I still think that Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything” deserved the Best Actor Oscar and I’ve seen 4-of-the-5 performances.

GRADE: A

“THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING”

Speaking of the Oscars and Eddie Redmayne, I’ve seen four of the five Best Actor nominees from last year.

Without seeing Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper” and as much as I love Cumberbatch, Eddie deserved his Oscars hands down playing ALS-stricken theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

Eddie was so believable as Hawking as he met the love of his life that would become his wife and then find out that the debilitating disease would, in just years, take his life.

The most heartbreaking scene in the movie for me was a dinner scene with Hawking, his wife, and close friends, but I won’t spoil it for you by describing it.

Redmayne succeeds and Hawking was a winner in real life.

GRADE:  A-

“BEYOND THE LIGHTS”

When this musical drama came out in theaters late last year, I didn’t have any desire to movie house prices to see it.  I guess America didn’t either.  The $7 million dollar movie earned only $14.6 million at the box office.

However, I definitely wanted to see it on DVD and what a pleasurable movie it is.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who earned rave reviews in the 2013 period piece, “Belle”, was excellent as pop star Noni Jean, who just won a Billboard Music Award and is getting ready to release her debut album.

But, an incident on a hotel balcony railroads her path to success.

“Beyond The Lights” has great music, a good storyline, a hot love interest played by hunky Nate Parker, and an incredible performance by Minnie Driver as an obsessive stage mom.

If you’re like me, it’ll be hard to watch some of the movie and not see Rihanna (and Chris Brown).

GRADE:  B

“MAPS TO THE STARS”

2014 was a great year for Julianne Moore.

She won rave reviews, her first Oscar, and a Golden Globes award for “Still Alice”.  She also won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for another Golden Globes award for “Maps To The Stars”.

In this satirical drama (although Moore was nominated in the “comedy” category for the Golden Globes) from acclaimed director David Cronenberg, Moore plays an aging actress, who’s trying to win the dream role of playing her late mother (a famous actress) in a movie remake.

Needless to say, Moore’s Havana Segrand is messed up and out of touch with real life.  I’m not saying all in Hollywood are. 🙂

But, she’s calm and collected compared to Agatha Weiss, played with perfection by Mia Wasikowska (who also played Moore’s daughter in 2010’s “The Kids Are All Right”).  She has many issues, as does most everyone in this movie.

“Maps To The Stars” is a very strange, but riveting movie.

GRADE:  B

“A MOST VIOLENT YEAR”

New Year’s Eve may not be the best time to release a movie if you want people to see it.

This drama takes place in early 1981 New York City during a very violent period when several oil trucks were being hijacked.

Oscar Isaac, who was amazing in the much better “Inside Llewyn Davis” that I wrote about earlier this year, is the owner of Standard Oil, an up and coming oil company.  Several of his trucks are taken and one of his drivers is almost beaten to death.

The movie follows his quest to find out who’s behind the violence.  At the same time, he’s being investigated for price-fixing, tax evasion, and other charges by the city’s assistant district attorney.

Academy Award nominee and Golden Globes winner Jessica Chastain, played his powerful, domineering, and heartless wife, Anna, the daughter of a mob boss.  She’s incredible and needed to be in the movie more.

GRADE:  B-

“INTO THE WOODS”

My 13-year-old daughter has seen this Disney musical, from the man who brought us the Oscar-winning 2002 musical, “Chicago”, several times and she loves it.

I, on the other hand, did not care for it.

It was too long and tried to serve too many children’s stories without much cohesiveness.

When Meryl Streep was on-screen as “The Witch”, the movie soared.

But, I don’t know everything.  The $50 million production has now grossed more than $204 million worldwide.

GRADE:  C

“NIGHTCRAWLER”

I was excited to see “Nightcrawler” with Jake Gyllenhaal, but I had to suspend belief while watching it since I’m in the news business.

A casual viewer would rate the movie higher.

However, I know it’s IMPOSSIBLE to just walk into the news studio of the #2 market in the country saying you have video and seeing the news director working with the editor on how to put a story together.

The movie paints the news business as very unscrupulous (and some stations and networks are, hi Fox News!).

Gyllenhaal is so creepy in the movie, it could have been called “NightCreeper” or “CreepyCrawler”.

GRADE: C- (to a non-news person: C+)

“RABBIT HOLE”

Here’s a fantastic flashback if you can find it.  It only took me more than four years to finally see it.

This little seen 2010 movie directed by the incredible John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Shortbus”) stars Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, and a younger Miles Teller (“Whiplash”).

The drama follows the lives of husband and wife, Howie and Becca (Eckhart and Kidman) after their 4-year-old son was struck and killed by a car when he ran out into the street chasing their dog.

Kidman earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her sad and incredible performance.

Not a happy movie, but very powerful.

GRADE:  B+

Enjoy your weekend!

Anthony

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Movie Rental Suggestions

The February chill is sticking around through next week.

If you’re thinking of renting movies to avoid getting out in the cold, here are some that I recently saw.  With my reviews, if you’re on the fence about a movie, I might encourage or discourage you from renting them.

“THE JUDGE”

“The Judge” — fantastic storytelling and excellent acting (Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, and Vera Farmiga).

Duvall is definitely worthy of another Oscar if the buzz for Supporting Actor wasn’t so strong for J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash”.

Before this movie, I’ve never really paid that much attention to Downey Jr.’s acting, but he was flawless. And, he looks amazing for turning 50 this April.

GRADE: A

“CHEF”

A very funny and heartwarming story about a boy wanting to bond with his dad after his parents divorced.

It stars my chick crush, Sofia Vergara, but the standout is 11-year-old Emjay Anthony. His wit and puppy dog looks make you root for him and his dad to get close again.

From a culinary standpoint, pure food porn!

And, you have to watch Amy Sedaris in the deleted scenes. She had me laughing out loud.

GRADE: A

“INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS”

Oscar Isaac plays a Greenwich Village folk singer in the early-1960s.  The movie follows the ups and downs of his life over a week.

Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan co-star.

The soundtrack is incredible.  The interesting, fun tune “Please Mr. Kennedy” was nominated last year for a Golden Globe award.

And, there’s a cat in the movie that steals the show. 🙂

GRADE:  B+

“THE INTERVIEW”

After all of the fuss and Sony’s major screw-up in cancelling the movie’s Christmas Day 2014 release and then releasing it, “The Interview” is finally out on DVD.

While I enjoyed the movie and its juvenile humor, many of the funniest parts were in the “red band” trailer.  However, that would cheat you out of some very funny scenes in the 90-minute movie.

James Franco and Seth Rogen are a great team and after seeing some almost nudity in the movie, I’m more inspired than ever to eat healthier and lose weight this spring!

My favorite scene climaxes with Rogen’s character asking Franco’s, “what kind of porn do you watch?”

Here’s the more viewer friendly trailer for the movie.  However, while it’s very raunchy, I’d prefer you watch the red-band trailer if you’re grown up or open-minded!

GRADE:  B

“WHAT IF”

This quirky romantic comedy stars a grown-up Daniel Radcliffe (“Harry Potter”).

This is a movie that our 14-year-old daughter, Gretel, wanted to watch.  After seeing it, we told her not to date so casually like Chantry (Zoe Kazan) in the movie.

Ironically, I’ve never noticed Adam Driver (“Girls”) before in movies and now I’ve seen him in three in just the first two months of this year.  He was also in “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “This Is Where I Leave You”.

GRADE:  C+

“SPACE STATION 76”

If you like retro looking space movies that will take you back to your childhood (if you’re of a certain age), the cheesy “Space Station 76” is for you.

It made me laugh several times, but if you want modern-day CGI, you’ll be disappointed.

GRADE: C+

“THE SKELETON TWINS”

Okay, I didn’t see this movie recently, I saw it at the end of 2015, but I’m featuring it again here because it was simply amazing and one of my favorites from last year.

Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, both of “Saturday Night Live” fame, are incredible as a brother and sister brought together again after not being in contact for ten years.

The movie is funny, sad, and thought-provoking and when Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” is featured, I bet it’ll make your “best of” list, too.

Okay, this is not a spoiler, but you still may not want to watch this until you see the movie. 🙂  This is for those of you that have already seen it.

GRADE:  A

Anthony