Lion – Review Feb28

Lion – Review

Are you someone who misses getting a good cry in at the end of an episode of Parenthood each week? This is Us not getting your tear ducts working properly anymore? You need to watch Lion. If you saw Lion and didn’t have a hard time reading the credits through your welled-up eyes, then please remember to plug yourself into your USB port and recharge during the remainder of this review, you robot. This review contains spoilers. If you didn’t have Lion’s plot spoiled for you by Google’s Oscar night commercial, please stop reading and come back after you’ve seen the film. Also, Google, I’m still a bit annoyed about that commercial spoiling the movie for me. Every year before the Oscars, I have a mad dash to see as many Best Picture nominees as I can before the ceremony. This year, I only managed to see four of the eight movies nominated for Best Picture before the Oscars ceremony aired. Usually what happens each year is I’m hyper-invested in seeing these movies pre-Oscars, and unless I missed the Best Picture winner, they fade from my mind just as quickly so that I can focus on more fun fare, like say, Lego Batman. Lion is a movie that would usually fall off my radar after the Oscars. It didn’t take home any awards and was completely overlooked despite all its nominations on a night that focused mainly on La La Land vs. Moonlight. Ignoring Lion would be a mistake. It is a great movie. I found it to be genuinely enjoyable from beginning to end. I usually do not get on board with children being nominated for Oscars, but I truly believe that Sunny Pawar deserved a Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor nomination. His pre-Tasmania scenes were not in English and not subtitled, and I had no issue understanding what...

Oscars Pool Cheat Sheet 2014 Mar02

Oscars Pool Cheat Sheet 2014...

Need help filling out your Oscars pool ballot? Tuesday Night Movies has you covered! Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years a Slave pulls a win over Jennifer Lawrence. Supporting Actor: I feel like Jared Leto has a lock on this one. Actor: See what I wrote about Leto for Supporting Actor, but replace his name with Matthew McConoughey. Actress: Oscars 101: Never bet against Meryl Streep. Except this year. Bet against Meryl Streep. August: Osage County has been panned, and everyone seems to adore Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. Cate Blanchett with the win as the David to Streep’s Goliath. Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years A Slave, though I’d personally like to see Philomena take it. Original Screenplay: Her. This seems to be as much a lock as the male acting categories. Director: Cross out all choices except for Cuaron and McQueen. Now flip a coin. Or go with Cuaron. I’m going with Cuaron. Best Picture: Again, I think it’s Gravity vs 12 Years a Slave. While I think Cuaron will beat out McQueen in the directing category, I think 12 Years a Slave will take home Best Picture. As long as American Hustle doesn’t win, I’m happy. Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezski – Gravity Editing: This is another one that I think will come down to either 12 Years a Slave or Gravity. Like Director, I think this one will fall to Gravity’s side. Score: Gravity Song: I LOVE Pharrell’s Happy, but Let it Go from Frozen is a juggernaught that can’t be stopped. Let it Go – Frozen. Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty – Italy. Documentary Feature: 20 Feet from Stardom Animated Feature: Frozen with a lock. Documentary Short: The Lady in Number 6 Live Action Short: Just Before Losing Everything Animated Short: Get a Horse! – More like get a broom; Disney sweeps animation this year. Make-Up: Dallas Buyer’s...

Philomena – Review Feb26

Philomena – Review...

Out of all the movies nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, Philomena may be the most charming. At first look, you might not expect that. Philomena is the real life story of an Irish woman forced by nuns to give up her infant son to adoption, and her quest 50 years later to find him. It’s a story full of heartbreak, but screenwriters  Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope encase that story in a screenplay full of wit and wry humor. The seriousness of the subject matter is never in doubt, but Pope and Coogan’s humor provides a much needed pressure valve on a heart-wrenching story that could sink into despair in the hands of less capable writers.  Philomena is my pick for Best Adapted Screenplay at this year’s Academy Awards. Coogan also stars in the movie as Martin Sixsmith, the real life BBC journalist who reported the story that this movie is base on, “The Lost Child on Philomena Lee”. Sixsmith is flawed, but he’s driven. And when it comes time for a reconciliation between the protagonists and the church, it’s Sixsmith that boils over with the outrage felt by probably everyone in the audience over Philomena’s plight. Hint: Forcibly taking her baby and putting him up for adoption is just the first in a list of trespasses by the church against Philomena. Dame Judi Dench plays Philomena with a subtle grace. Philomena comes across the way your grandmother probably would if they made a movie about her. As Sixsmith describes her in one scene, she’s like a walking issue of Reader’s Digest. She comes across both intentionally and unintentionally funny, and I can’t decide which scenes I like better. But it’s Philomena’s grace that really comes through when it’s time...

Dallas Buyers Club – Review Feb07

Dallas Buyers Club – Review...

Like almost every other Best Picture nominee this year, Dallas Buyers club is a very dark movie. Also like many of the other of this year’s Best Picture nominees, this movie is based on true events. Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of Ron Woodroof, a good ole boy from Texas. Ron is one hard partying homophobe. When he’s not hustling at the rodeo, he’s busy having sex, drinking and doing drugs. Unfortunately, his party boy lifestyle lands him with HIV. Ron contracted HIV at a time when it was still widely misunderstood to be a disease that only infected homosexuals. Ron even flies off on his doctor, taking his HIV diagnosis as an affront to his manhood, which Ron really ties with his heterosexuality. Given a 30 day death prediction from his doctor, Ron’s hustler instinct takes over, as he bribes his way into stolen AZT, a then experimental drug. When his AZT supply dries up, Ron makes a trip to Mexico that alters his life and sets him on a new direction of supplying medication to HIV patients (for a tidy profit, of course). It’s amazing how much weight Matthew McConoughey lost to play Ron Woodruff. The man is gaunt! It’s jarring to see McConoughey this skinny. McConoughey really disappears into the role of Woodruff. McConoughey was fantastic in The Wolf of Wall Street, but that was McConoughey being McConoughey being someone else. But here, he seems like a completely different person. I know McConoughey seems to be the favorite for Best Actor heading into the Oscars, but after watching Dallas Buyers Club, I’d give the award to Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave. That”s not a knock against McConoughey at all. I just liked Ejiofor so much in 12 Years...

The Wolf of Wall Street – Review Feb06

The Wolf of Wall Street – Review...

In my review for American Hustle, I said that it seemed like David O. Russell was attempting to do his best Martin Scorsese. The Wolf of Wall Street almost feels like this is Martin Scorsese’s answer back. “No, this is how you do Martin Scorsese.” Mr. Scorsese does Martin Scorsese to 11 with The Wolf of Wall Street. This movie is the most over the top project directed by Mr. Scorsese since the video for Michael Jackson’s Bad. It’s The Wolf of Wall Street’s over the top tone that keeps it so entertaining for it’s exactly three hour running time. Yes, that’s right, 180 minutes. The Wolf of Wall Street is two minutes longer than the theatrical release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.  Thankfully, Terrence Winter’s screenplay combined with Scorsese’s directing made for a much faster moving movie than it’s three hour run time would suggest. At no point was I looking at my watch, wondering how much more we had to go. Following what I would call the classic Martin Scorsese story arc, Jordan Belfort gets really good at doing something bad, is handsomely rewarded for it and then comes crashing down to earth in the end. It’s almost like Goodfellas on steroids. The money that Jordan Belfort makes in The Wolf of Wall Street puts Henry Hill’s biggest heist to shame. Though when the rug gets pulled out from under him, Jordan has a much easier fall than Henry did. They both lose the lives they had, but Jordan’s bounce into his new life seems to have bounced a lot higher than Hill’s, at least in the way that the ending of The Wolf of Wall Street depicts it. The acting in The Wolf of Wall...

Nebraska – Review Jan24

Nebraska – Review...

Like two of Alexander Payne’s previous films, Sideways and The Descendants, Nebraska involves a journey of self discovery through travel. It’s more like Sideways than The Descendants, in that like Sideways, Nebraska centers around two men taking the most American of journeys, a long car drive. In Nebraska, a son drives his father from Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska so that the father can collect on lottery winnings. It’s set up early on that the son, David, does not think the father actually won anything. But David uses the excuse of taking this trip with his dad Woody to have a father-son bonding experience that never happened in their relationship previously. I feel like Nebraska has one of, if not the most honest looks at alcoholism out of any movie I’ve seen in recent years. Bruce Dern’s character, Woody Grant, is almost like a Ghost of Christmas Future for younger people with drinking problems.  Woody is a letdown as a husband and father. Decades of drinking have taken a toll on his personal relationships, his body and his mind. Will Forte plays David very well. It’s cool to see Forte, who I love as a comedic actor (MacGruber!), take on a serious role. If David has inherited anything from his father, it’s his alcoholism. Unlike his father though, David has put drinking behind him before the start of the movie. Nebraska is a bleak movie, as bleak as the black and white dusty landscape that encompasses most of the movie. Old age isn’t shown as a desirable goal in this movie. With the exception of Peg at the town paper and the nice elderly couple that the funniest scene in the movie centers around (and that I won’t spoil here), the old folks in Nebraska...

12 Years A Slave – Review Jan22

12 Years A Slave – Review...

Before I saw 12 Years a Slave, I did not know that it was based on a true story, and I’m suspecting I’m not alone. Because of this, this movie is doing the American public a service, bringing to light once more a terrible story that needs to be told. Chietwel Ejiofor is simply amazing in 12 Years a Slave. He brings gravitas to every scene. His vocal inflection in every line of dialog carries so much meaning. He is my pick for the Best Actor Oscar. 12 Years a Slave is a great movie, though it can be very hard to watch at points. I physically winced during Eliza’s whipping. At the same time, it was such a great scene. Epps can’t bring himself to whip Eliza, so he forces Solomon to do it. It turns Epps into a weakling and a monster all in the same scene. Michael Fassbender should win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar on the strength of this scene alone. My favorite scene in the entire movie is when Solomon has to talk his way out of being killed by Epps in the middle of the night. Solomon is ratted out on a plan to escape to freedom, but instead of fighting or fleeing, he uses his wits to stay alive. He even turns the table on his accuser, causing Epps to mistrust that man. Part of the strength of the scene came from the proximity of the actors. Fassbender literally has his arm around Ejiofor for the length of the scene. Solomon is a turn of the knife away from being in the grave the entire time he’s pleading his case. I think part of what makes 12 Years a Slave works so well is that it humanizes...