Movie Review: Sully (2016)

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Plot:The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight’s passengers and crew.

Situations where airplanes malfunction rarely have a happy ending. It’s either disappearances or crashes and morbidity is synonymous with these events. So when Captain Chelsea “Sully” Sullenberger sent out a mayday signal on the 15th of January 2009 after birds took out both of the engines on the Airbus 320 on Flight 1549 which Captain Sullenberger was the pilot of, no one believed it possible that Sullenberger could put down the plane on the Hudson River successfully. In doing so, he saved the lives of his 154 co-passengers. The successful landing was a combined result of a lifetime of experience and a man that not only excelled at his job but was born to do it. I followed this story obsessively when it came out, and recently checked again the technical difficulty this landing required. I love stories about human courage and defeating unimaginable odds (who doesn’t?), and the event kept me glued to the screen for weeks.

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That said, I’ve burned my fingers the last few months with real life events turned into movie adaptions. It’s a seemingly difficult task for directors to tell these stories accurately and keep the inspirational levels as well as the truth intact. However, with Sully, director Clint Eastwood made a film that wasn’t only true and inspirational, it is Oscar worthy.

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Tom Hanks plays veteran pilot Chelsey Sullenberger. He does so by portraying a pilot who had the correct level of confidence in his abilities, which he combined with good sense and humility. Hanks shows you all the sides – the PTSD, the stress he and his family is shouldering, the fatigue and overpowering sense of media frenzy. Aaron Eckhart is the lighter of heart Co-pilot Jeff Skiles. His importance to the success of the landing is paramount, as he did not, as I would have, started yelling “what the fuck” at the top of his lungs.

The passengers get their moments too – a woman with her elderly mother, a mother with her infant daughter, business men and women, a father and his sons rushing to make the gates for the flight – real people with real lives all just planning a quick trip. It adds a human element, and the chanting of the passengers as they braced for landing is heartbreaking to listen to.

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I was engrossed by Sully. It is chilling and inspiring and I will definitely watch it again. Eastwood and Hanks are a power combination that should be explored further. If you need to feel inspired, watch this. It is a story about thinking on your feet, being insanely courageous and calm, and using the experience life has given you to fulfill your life’s work.

Have you seen Sully? What did you think?

Rating: 8/10

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Movie Review: The Intern (2015)

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Plot: 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.

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The Intern was touching, sweet and a kind movie. It is a feel good film, the characters are set up to succeed, and really, don’t expect any plot twists. What made this film stand out for me is the warmth of Robert De Niro’s Ben – a retired 70 year old who applies in a senior intern program at Jules’ (Anne Hathaway) wildly successful but very new company. Anne Hathaway is really also quite wonderful in her role as Jules, and it manages to bring up so many things that successful women have to face – the guilt of working long hours when you have a young child, the judgement you face from other mothers with less ambition, the questions you need to endure as a CEO which a male CEO would never have to face, the emasculation your husband is doomed to feel because his fragile ego can’t deal with your success, and the scary feeling that you are employing hundreds of people who depend on you making good choices.

But The Intern doesn’t stop there. It is about making older people feel relevant and important, how important it is for retired people to feel that they still have a cause – that is something that sits very close to my heart – and also a reminder that older people have knowledge and skills that we would do well to pay attention to.

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The cast, lead by Hathaway and De Niro, really contribute to the heart that makes this film work. I would love to have the style and class Rene Russo has when I’m all grown up, Adam DeVine is there for some funny laughs – this guy has the best facial expressions – and Andrew Rannellis, Christina Scherer, Nat Wollf, Jason Orley and Zack Perlman as more colleagues bring a variety of dramas and meltdowns and adventure to the film. JoJo Kushner is such an adorable little girl – like if I can be guaranteed I’d have such a cute child I would maybe even consider having one. Anders Holm has the unfortunate task of playing the emasculated husband, and he was for the most part really sweet and I was impressed by how well Matt was dealing with having a successful wife until he was a douchebag and I was revolted – but he was cute at least.

The Intern has some problem with pacing at some times, not all the scenes are shot very well and there is a ridiculously positive tone to all the events – so not really the perfect movie, but  I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it sweet, strong messaged and fun to watch.

Have you seen this? What did you think?

Rating: 6.5/10

Movie Review: Dunkirk (2017)

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Plot: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

When will it stop?That was what I thought most frequently during the duration of Dunkirk. The endless bombing, the endless attacks, the lack of hope and the unseen enemy made Dunkirk anything but comfortable to sit through. The masterful score by Hans Zimmer heightens the dread. Every time a bomb went off it felt like a vibration in my heart. The correct use of young men for the majority of the army served to highlight that World War II was fought by young, scared men. Dunkirk doesn’t make them heroes – it makes them human. The cast is excellent – from the weathered and powerful lines of Kenneth Branagh to the stoic and impeccable (as usual) performance by Tom Hardy, the movie has an ensemble cast that will leave you impressed. Harry Styles takes on his first role as an actor and he does so remarkably well. I had a moment when I heard that he’d been cast in a Christopher Nolan film, but rest assured, not only did Nolan state he had no idea who Styles was when he was cast; Christopher Nolan would never cast a subpar actor no matter who he was. Styles impressed me – he is authentic and talented and I will probably like him much more as an actor as I ever liked him as a boy band performer.

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Another mention should be given to Jack Lowden, the other pilot in Air, alongside Tom Hardy. It takes significant amount of effort to divert my attention from the talented and gorgeous Hardy, but Jack Lowden managed to keep his own. He had one of the most intense scenes in the film, trying to get out of his slowly sinking aircraft. I will hope that this is not the last time I see this actor in a film, he was talented and worth the watch.

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As for the rest? It is too much to mention. It is about young, imperfect men fighting a seemingly hopeless war. Don’t expect too many acts of heroism – the only definable act can be that of the ordinary British people who got into their little boats to head to Dunkirk and evacuate 300 000 men from imminent death. The majority of the film was intense and scary, but that moment where Commander Bolton sees the tiny ships approaching had me sniffling back tears. The moment wasn’t the often used emotional manipulation in movies – Nolan is above that and is well capable of crafting a powerful scene that hits you in the feels without having to manipulate you to get you there.

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Dunkirk is haunting. It is typically Nolan. I wouldn’t name it as my favorite Nolan or war movie, but it is excellent in both categories. It serves as a reminder of the greatness of the human spirit, and sounds a clear warning to a state this world should never enter into again. I will readily admit I am a sucker for war heroes and get pulled into it every time, and this had the same result. I highly recommend it for movie lovers.

Have you seen Dunkirk?

Rating: 8.5/10

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Blindspot 2017: Seven (1995)

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Plot: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.

Rating: 8.5/10

Set in a dark and dreary city, homicide detectives Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt must investigate what is turning into a serial killer’s mad spree through town, emulating the 7 deadly sins in the most horrific of ways. Detective Freeman is retiring and after years of witnessing the horrors a decaying city can provide, he’s not too keen about taking up another job. But he somehow can’t pull away – he’s forced to worked with the new young detective and solve this last crime.

I enjoyed how dark and dreary the city was. The constant torrential downpour makes England look like a sunny palace. It’s so heavy, and combined with the decay of the city a sense of hopelessness lies in the air.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s character is a sharp contrast to the city. She’s everything the city isn’t – fresh and sweet and kind. I really liked her, how she balanced her husband out and wasn’t everywhere in the story and somehow remained so important in it.

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A thing that stands out sharply is the difference between the two detectives. Both are good men but so much difference in character. The younger detective is impulsive, perhaps because of his age. He’s by no means unintelligent but is far less cerebral than his older counterpart, who is often reflective and studies the crime and reasoning behind it well. The dynamic between the detectives shift – initially Freeman is cold shouldering his colleague (I think mostly due to impending retirement) but he begins to warm to Pitt with the case developing.

What is it about Kevin Spacey that he is so well capable to play such derange characters? It is creepy. He is creepy. So calm with an underlying menace. Madness coated in quiet demeanor. That flat of his. His belief in his work. A subtle creep. Sheesh.

How intense was the ending?! Edge of your seat business. John Doe concocted everything to make his plan infallible. I was horrified and entertained, because sheesh, what a nail biter.

Serial killers always have this dark glamour about them. It is wrong, but I have been interested in their mind games for years now – how they justify, what motivates them and how carefully they pick their victims. Seven is a film that follows one such killer in his demented ways in the best method I’ve ever seen. The film is backed by solid performances, directing, score and story to bring a thriller that will remain with you well after the end.

If you are looking for a film that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, Seven is definitely NOT for you. It is scary and gross and relentless and keeps you nailed to your seat, but come prepared because scary man. Scary.

 

Movie review: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

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Plot: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

Rating: 7.5/10

I was only too happy when I finally had some time free and could head out and see a film in an actual cinema with actual popcorn. My choice was between Kong and Logan, and I might get shot for this but Wolverine has never been my first choice (although I hear from multiple sources that it is well worth the watch). I set out to see the gargantuan monster and my decision was rewarded for an enticing film.

My most predominant thought about Skull Island is that it is Avatar, sans blue people. I checked the inspiration that director John Vogt-Roberts pulled from and Avatar isn’t listed as one of them, but:  Beautiful untainted area without known human habitation? Check. American army swinging guns and bombs in unprovoked attacks? Check. Outrage when indigenous life revolts? Also check.

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The star studded cast carries the movie when it might have been boring with less capable actors. From Samuel L. Jackson who plays a war veteran who just doesn’t want to admit defeat to Brie Larson as the photographer with a conscious, John Goodman as the researcher who is more invested in the discovery that might be healthy and Tom Hiddleston as a tracker and ex British army officer, they are capable enough to entertain us for the hefty watching time this film demands. I also thought John C. Reilly was appropriate comic relief while also providing some wrenching moments where you wish for him to be granted every wish he has after the life he’s had. I only really highlighted the major cast but a shout out has to be given as well to everyone who is sent along on the expedition, they were all well cast.

Tom Hiddleston proves he is more than Loki. After seeing this I am definitely on board with seeing him in more films. I have to say, this adventurer look suits him really well, I was much appreciative for science reasons. It was also a really cool character to root for, and he had the world weary attitude down to a T.

In all honesty, it took me about three minutes to be on #TeamKong. Stupid Americans thinking they have the right to enter untouched areas and bomb it? Typical and the world is weary. The events of Skull Island immediately occurs after the Vietnam War, and we all know how that went down. The political messaging is very strong and we have to wonder whether it is some jabs at the current administration in America. The expedition team is certainly more diverse than anything that is being pushed by POTUS right now, and it is all the stronger for it.

Brie Larson might be the only female cast member that gets actual lines, but she does her job well and carries the girl power flag with excellence. I liked her, I liked her character and she is definitely an actress I’d like to see more of.

Some beautiful cinematography and directing impresses as well. The indigenous folk are terrifying and oddly beautiful in an untouched way. I’d naturally never return to sanity after meeting them. The massive animals alternate between jaw dropping and vomit inducing. They serve as a not so subtle reminder about the glory of nature untouched.
Kong: Skull Island is definitely worth the watch, although heavy on the political agenda. I also felt that some of the fighting scenes were a bit drawn out and over the top, but that is crowd pleasing to the majority of watchers. I enjoyed it thoroughly as it provided a good variety of actors with an important story and great effects.
Have you seen Kong? What did you think?

Movie Review: Annie (2014)

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Plot: A foster kid, who lives with her mean foster mom, sees her life change when business tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks makes a thinly-veiled campaign move and takes her in.

Rating: 6/10

The very low rating I gave might suggest that I disliked Annie. I really didn’t though. I certainly thought that it was really very, very optimistic and that literally no one had an ounce of rhythm except Jamie Foxx. Cameron Diaz and Rose Byrne were the epitome of white girls dancing and I wanted to hide when they were subjected to singing and dancing and I was subjected to watching them do it. I thought Quvenzhane Wallis (what a name) was pretty cute as Annie. It seems quite deranged to make films about singing orphans, but the film (and probably theater production) manages to be upbeat and sweet and inspirational and one of those situations where the villains aren’t even villains at the end of the day. I watched Annie with my mom and she really liked it, and for her to really like a movie is almost impossible. There really isn’t much else to say about this – for a musical full of people who aren’t really musically gifted it didn’t go that bad. I wouldn’t claim that the film restored my faith in humanity because there is no way humanity is that good, but I did like it and thought it was sweet.

Have you seen Annie? What did you think?

Movie Review: 10 Things I Hate about You (1999)

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Plot: Adapted from William Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew,” 10 Things I Hate About You starts off with Cameron, new student at Padua High, sitting in the office of the quirky guidance counselor Ms. Perky. He is then shown around the school by Michael, who will become his best friend. During his tour is when Cameron first sees Bianca Stratford, a beautiful sophomore with one problem: she isn’t allowed to date. And neither is her “shrew” sister, Katarina, a senior who loves indie rock and feminist prose and hates conformity. But Kat and Bianca’s father alters his house rule: now, Bianca can date… as long as Kat has a date, too. Now, in order for Cameron to date Bianca, he has to find someone to date Kat. So Michael helps him enlist the help of pretty-boy/jerk/model Joey Donner, tricking him into thinking that *he* will get to take Bianca out if he pays someone to take out Kat. His choice: Patrick Verona, a bad-boy with a mysterious reputation–some say he ate a live duck once, others that he lit a state trooper on fire, and even more claim that he had a brief porn career. Will Patrick win Kat’s heart? Will Cameron win Bianca’s? Or will everything hit the fan…?

Rating: 8.5/10

10 things I like about this film

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  1. The deep philosophies of Bianca Stratford

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2. Julia Stiles and her attitude

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3. Heath Ledger and his smile

10things-heath24. This iconic scene

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5. Joey’s amazing self confidence

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6. Joseph Gordon Levit

10things-dad7. And this scene – this is every single dad

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8. Kat’s sonnet

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9. This sneaky little love story

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10. And last but not least, let’s not forget the teachers in this film

I am crazy about this film. It isfeel good, it is hilarious, it is a typical teen film. I think I could watch it once a week for the rest of my life and be totally okay with it. It is everything the 90’s rocked at, and just the typical and perfect high school film in my mind. It always hurts just a little bit to see Heath Ledger so young, alive and beautiful. He was such a charming and talented man and his death to this day remains one that consistently hurts significantly. He has such good chemistry with Julia Stiles, who does the defiant and sulky teenager on point. Bianca Stratford and JGL are so sweet together. Joey Donner? I’m not sure WHO would find him attractive, ick. Though the character was hilarious and the perfect villain for this film, you have to marvel at teenage hormones because that is the only explanation I could have for anyone finding him attractive. Mr. Stratford is probably all of parents – determined to keep his teenage daughters unpregnated and he’s not afraid to use his experience as a gynecologist as a tool. This staple chick flick is just that – a staple. I think a lot of men probably love this too, because it isn’t soppy or stupid and has some pretty damn hilarious moments in. Comment below and tell me your thoughts on this!

Movie Review: The Maze Runner (2014)

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Plot: Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they’re all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow “runners” for a shot at escape.

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Rating: 6.5/10

My younger sister nagged me to watch The Maze Runner, so recently on a day off I sat down with her and watched it. I didn’t really love it, but it was okay. The most lacking thing is definitely the storyline – I get that things are supposed to be a puzzle and mysterious, but come on, at least reveal things that would make your movie make sense. Dylan O’Brien is the main character. He’s totally adorable, and I liked him as this main although can we please just all get to a point where a 25 year old male is not cast as a teenage boy? I also liked Ki Hong Lee – his role wasn’t all that clear and I didn’t understand why he was running in the Maze, but I liked him. I really don’t get why Will Poulter is popping up everywhere. I have hated this actor since We’re the Millers, which everyone knows was the worst movie of 2013.Eugh. He was obviously destined to be a pain in the ass in The Maze Runner, and he achieved it quite well because he was a pain in the ass. There were also a lot of male leads and only one female. They are probably doing this for #PLOTREASONS but it was kinda stupid. Also, like I mentioned, the plot is shrouded in mystery. I’m guessing if you read the book it would make more sense, but it seems to be a movie about a maze and some Dystopian drama and feelings. It also felt rather Divergent-ish, but it seems to be the norm that Dystopian authors “borrow” ideas here and there.  So in the spirit of not moaning too much about this, I really enjoyed O’Brien and Thomas Brodie-Sangster. When they finally let us know why these kiddos were in a Maze, it was quite interesting. I liked the images of the desert stricken earth – it was so dystopic dystopian. I am planning to watch the second film, and then the third as soon as cutie pie recovers from his on-set injury. Definitely not as good as The Hunger Games, but luckily not as awful as the Divergent films.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Movie Review: The Wedding Planner (2001)

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Plot: Mary Fiore is San Francisco’s most successful supplier of romance and glamor. She knows all the tricks. She knows all the rules. But then she breaks the most important rule of all: she falls in love with the groom.

Rating: 5/10

A long time ago before Mathhew McConaughey starred in critically acclaimed projects like True Detective and that other horse movie everyone liked, he was involved in some romantic comedies, which, for a lack of a better phrase, sucked. The Wedding Planner is quite bad. I’m talking plot, I’m talking acting. I knew what would happen when Steven saved Mary – it was so damn obvious that he would be the fiancé of Fran. I really hate any movie where there is justified cheating involved. The Wedding planner at least didn’t stoop that low, and points to them for not writing Fran as a terrible woman, which somehow is enough reason in a film to justify her future spouse to cheat on her. What I mean to say is that at least The Wedding Planner did not stoop that low, because I would have not been impressed. For all his dubious actions, at least Steven only made his move after breaking it off with Fran (to be clear, only because Mary told him NO). There were a few scenes where Massimo was deliberately dumbed down, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit irritated – a different nationality and accent does not make you worthy of ridicule, American story writers! I also don’t want to say “Poor Judi Greer is Judi Greer again”, but it is true, and she’s so young here it was probably the first film where she was cast as the supportive best friend with a touch of ditzy. She will be my first choice to cast as a lead female if I ever get to write and produce a movie, because the woman has earned it. Her acting is most certainly better than that of Jennifer Lopez. I’m glad she left behind the urge she had in the early 2000s to be an actress, because while she’s impressive in her music genre, her talent certainly doesn’t pull through to acting.

Mostly, The Wedding Planner is a movie that makes you understand why its’ genre gets hated so much. Predictable, a little bit sexist and completely unbelievable, this film is better suited for the Dark Ages than it is for today

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Movie Review: Rock n Rolla (2008)

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Plot: Lenny Cole, a London mob boss, puts the bite on all local real estate transactions. For substantial fees, he’s helping Uri Omovich, a Russian developer. As a sign of good faith, Omovich loans Cole a valuable painting, promptly stolen off Cole’s wall. While Cole’s men, led by the dependable Archie, look for the canvas, three local petty criminals, the Wild Bunch, steal money from the Russian using inside information from his accountant, the lovely Stella. Meanwhile, a local drug-addled rocker, Johnny Quid, is reported drowned, and his connection to Cole is the key to unraveling the deceits and double crosses of life in the underworld.

Rating: 7/10

I enjoyed this film. A Guy Ritchie film remains a Guy Ritchie film and he generally brings the goods to the table. Rock n Rolla has a specific tailored feel that I spotted in Ritchie’s recent The Man from U.N.C.L.E as well. The dynamic between One Two (Gerard Butler), Tom Hardy (Handsome Rob) and Mumbles (Idris Elba) is great, and when Handsome Rob’s sexuality is revealed, things get really hilarious. Thandie Newton manages to be a cold hearted bitch and still work it throughout. She was amazing to watch. I also love some Mark Strong anywhere. He was so much fun. The plot was a bit vague to me – the painting is definitely at the center of everyone’s problems and the drama its’ disappearance causes. It is a good film, rather lighthearted and if you prefer some class and sass in one film, give it a go. I much prefer The Man from U.N.C.L.E to this, but RnR was a pretty decent watch.

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