Category Archives: Film Crew

Wonder

That first day of school can be a real doozy!

Wonder

With the recent success of child casts with hits like “Stranger Things” or “IT”, director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) took advantage of the huge wave and delivered a heart-tugging gem with Wonder.

This is a film that stares back into the face of hatred, bullying, and contempt for all things different. This is a beautiful story of a young man that tackles the haters and bullies head on and shines a much-needed light on love friendship and acceptance.

Wonder 2

Chbosky, in only his third directing credit, was able to bring out performances ripe with heart and compassion from well established adult cast and a green and growing group of youngsters.

Jacob Trembly (“Room”), as August “Auggie” Pullman was unforgettable and drew me into his world with no regrets. It was a world that he embraced with what seemed to be his very fiber. Couple that with solid performances by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson and you have the makings of a great family that almost anyone can easily root for. Wilson, most known for his comedic turns in classics like “Wedding Crashers” and “Meet the Parents”, added some much needed levity to the emotional and tender story. Roberts did the majority of the emotional heavy lifting and she did not disappoint. Izabela Vidovic’s portrayal of Auggie’s sister Via, was almost as memorable and she is clearly on the precipice of a strong acting career.

This is an uplifting tale that will have you reflecting back on your days of middle and high school, but it will also serve as an escape from your comfort zone. We can all think back to a time when someone came into our individual worlds that was a little different, someone who made us look in the mirror and judge our own souls. This is a story that captures that idea perfectly and will have you questioning how you really treat people.

I would recommend this movie to anyone that has ever experienced being new, being different or being the outcast. For everyone else, I recommend it as well. If the room or theater doesn’t get a little dusty then you need to check to make sure your heart is still in tact.

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Detroit

Why?

Kathryn Bigelow, the director that has blessed movie fans with Point Break, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty, has added Detroit to her profile. This particular effort would have been better suited as a documentary.

Bigelow has wrangled a who’s who of hot young actors (John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Will Porter and Algee Smith) to name a few. All are strong actors, but I felt they were misused in this film.

Will Porter of The Revenant and Maze Runner fame, portrayed the main police antagonist. While he is a fine actor, he looked and seemed far too young for the role. John Boyega, was completely wasted and did not add anything to the story. While I understand this is a true event and the character he was portraying really existed, I think a lesser actor could have done the exact same thing. Mr. Mackie, who seems to find his way onto wonderful movie sets, was strong but was overshadowed by the persistent hatred and morally inhumane violence.

The film left me asking a few questions. Why was this movie made? What was the point? How does this push the racial injustice narrative along? Was Bigelow more interested in exploiting one of the many horrific injustices involving white police and black civilians? Did she envision people leaving this film feeling a sense of cause and progress?

I immediately went to Fruitvale Station (2013), Selma (2014) or even Schindler’s List (1993). These films put historical events on the big screen and left audiences with answers. I did not leave the theater wondering if I had just witnessed exploitation. I left feeling uplifted and inspired to never see these atrocities happen again, and with a sense of hope.

After consuming Detroit, I felt dirty. I felt as if I just watched a movie that threw racial injustice directly in my face and said, “Oh well, such is life.” Maybe it is the climate that we live in, but it seemed to prove that this has been going on for years and there is nothing that can be done about it. The same things that happened in 1967 are still taking place today.

Clocking in at a heavy two and half hours, the final act seemed to drag on, especially after such an emotional second act. I was mentally drained, and looking for a hasty exit.

Is there a next step? Or will this movie further prove that we as a country are okay with exploiting these events without actually learning from them? Was Bigelow laughing at us? Was she empathetic? Does this film make her feel better about herself?

Visually, the film was stunning and really brought you into the hotel lobby with the characters. But this proved to be both a blessing and a curse.

I recommend seeing this movie but prepare for some tough moments.

My rating:     

Lion

In India, 180 children go missing daily, most are never heard from again, and even fewer are able to tell their story. Saroo Brierley, however, has been heard from again and his story is both incredibly heart wrenching and heart warming.

The deservingly scrutinized and much maligned Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences certainly got it right when it nominated Lion for Best Picture in 2016.

Not only was the story compelling, but the acting was superb. Sunny Pawar, who portrayed young Saroo, was fantastic. He was able to take the audience along on his journey. I found myself as frightened as Saroo was; I found myself as confused as Saroo was – most notably when he found himself in a foreign part of India where the natives spoke Bengali while he only knew Hindi. It was very easy to place yourself in this situation, and understand that a child of five years old would be in a panicked state of mind. Just imagine being lost in Penn Station and not speaking English.

Once in Australia, Dev Patel took the lead as the older Saroo, and did not skip a beat. The underlying angst that he felt resonated through the screen. The chemistry with both Nicole Kidman (adoptive mother) and Rooney Mara (girlfriend) was undeniable.

While the acting was superb, it could only be outdone by the beauty and terror that was the landscape of the film. The cinematic references were second to none. Whether on the train through the countryside or on a desolate bridge all alone, the pictures were breathtaking.

 

In the end, Lion is a film that understands the depth of Saroo’s story and takes every precaution to make sure the audience understands it as well. You will find it very difficult to watch this film and not be awed by its tenderness and heroism.

 

If you are looking for a film that will capture your emotions from the first scene Lion is certainly worth watching!

 

My rating:     

 

Marvel wins again!

Ant Man Poster

Marvel seems to have the formula.

First Marvel dazzled audiences with The Avengers, but that was expected. Then they took us to the cosmic Marvel Universe with the little known Guardians of the Galaxy and scored big. Now they have tested their secret formula with another lesser-known character, Ant-Man.

The shoot they score!

Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)

Director Peyton Reed, who has brought audiences such comedy hits as Yes Man and The Break Up, has thrown his hat into the comic book movie-fold. He not only threw his hat in, but he developed a strong origin story that will keep audiences laughing while immersing them into the story.

While it takes a little while to get going, Ant Man culminates with a strong story and delightful characters. Paul Rudd takes a page out of the Chris Pratt playbook and tackles a comic book character with both charisma and witty humor maybe not quite as strong as Pratt’s Peter Quill, but certainly in the same arena.

Chris Pratt

Ant-Man is a fun romp with the feel of Honey I Shrunk the Kids on steroids. The technical aspects were clean and exciting and made up for any storyline shortcomings.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is an unwitting hero recruited by an aging scientist (Michael Douglas) to curtail his mentee’s (Corey Stoll) villainous plan to take over the world. It is a simple and effective plot that keeps the audience engaged. Once the action gets started, it does not let up and is interspersed with humor from a rag tag group of friends portrayed by T.I., Michael Pena and David Dastmalchian.

Ant-Man is a clean, fun movie that is not overloaded with the convoluted plot twists and deep thinking that tend to leave audiences confused. If you are a fan of the Marvel Universe, then you should leave this film excited for this miniature insect’s inevitable sequel.

Ant-Man Rating: