Archive for the ‘ Reviews ’ Category

Another Happy Day

Relatives circling around the table may evoke a time of  love for some but for other families it represents a struggle to make it through the meal.  The more than dysfunctional family of Another Happy Day gather in suburban Maryland for what should be a blissful marriage.  The mother of the groom, Lynn (Ellen Barkin) loathes the upcoming nuptials because it calls for a family reunion.  The ailing health of her father,  the return of her ex husband and his new wife along with the torment of her children have Lynn already halfway in tears.  Another Happy Day is ingeniously released around the time that our own family unite for the holiday season.

It seems that no one in this family is unscathed from hardship. Continue reading

Martha Marcy May Marlene

It was not until after the credits and my short walk to the car that I started to understand what I just saw.  The tongue twister title, Martha Marcy May Marlene, deals a heavy dose of psychological abuse.  The young, twenty-something protagonist, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) starts the film by running away from her Catskills home that she shares with a miscellaneous group of people.  Not knowing where she is or where to go she reaches out to her estranged sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson) for help.

The title’s string of names is played by a new girl to the scene with a very famous name.  Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the famous Olsen twins, play the abused Martha.  In one of her first features outside the Olsen family film business,  Elizabeth shines as a girl struggling to find herself. Continue reading

The Ides of March

In the next year, our country will be engrossed with politics.  Candidates will crisscross the nation rallying the crowd and pledging to make bold action. Despite the well groomed faces and tailored suits, we won’t see the backstabbing and promises that candidates need to get elected.  George Clooney’s new film, The Ides of March, takes aim at politicians and the treachery behind the scenes.  This loosely true life political drama was adapted from a play, Farragut North, scripted by a former Howard Dean aid.

Ides, marks Ryan Gosling’s third staring role of the year.  Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, a young but experienced junior campaign manager for Mike Morris (George Clooney). While campaigning in the battle ground state of Ohio, problems begin to arise.  Morris’ senior campaign manger, Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) tries to secure a crucial delegate vote in Senator Pullman (Jeffery Wright) but can only do so if Morris offers him a cabinet position.  It becomes clear early on that the candidate Clooney is portraying had been shaped by his own political ideologies.  Continue reading

Drive

The driver is usually the unknown hero of the heist film.  In Drive, that hero name remains unknown but acts as the lead of the film.  Ryan Gosling plays the unnamed Driver in a season full of leading roles.  Drive finds itself between Crazy, Stupid Love and The Ides of March as a season full of Gosling’s toned, serious but calm characters.

The driver lives a surprisingly quite life for a Hollywood stunt car slash getaway driver.   His lifestyle and soft spoken personality creates an image of a loner, tinkering away on motors late into the night.  Soft spoken is an exaggeration. In fact, Gosling has hardly any lines.  In lieu of words, the driver’s personality is manifested in the caring attitude towards a neighboring family and the savage brutality towards those who cross him. Continue reading

Crazy, Stupid, Love

It is not an unlikely story in Hollywood.  Ailing relationship suffers from a lack of excitement results in an affair.  Crazy, Stupid, Love deviates from this path when Cal Weaver (Steve Carrell) finds himself humiliated and lonely at a singles bar.  Cal’s complete opposite, an outgoing ladies man named Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), takes pity and pulls Cal under his wing.  Jacob refines Cal and guides him in his relationships with his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore) and his one night stand, Kate (Marisa Tomei).  Along the way Cal struggles with his lovestruck son while Jacob falls in love for the first time.

The off brand type of comedy found in Crazy, Stupid, Love has extended moments of burst out loud laughing but was laced with very bizarre and cringe worthy awkwardness.  One scene comes to mind when Cal is wooing a women.  Using his personal type of humor found in The Office and 40 Year Old Virgin, Cal makes less than romantic passes at Kate.  When they finally get home to his apartment their dynamic shifts from strange couple to kinky weirdness. Continue reading

Page One: Inside The New York Times

Breaking news in the media landscape over the course of a year was captured on film for the documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times.  With unprecedented access to the newsroom at The New York Times newsroom, the audience is given a rare experience into the day-to-day workings of the paper of record.  With every major scandal of the past few years touched upon, Page One is both a historic narrative of scandal in print as well as a report on the new media landscape threatening the newspaper industry.  Following reporters, the stories and new news outlets, Page One is a captured moment in the transition of media.

From WikiLeaks, Gawker and the iPad, Page One’s dominant question is whether or not The New York Times can go out of business.  Touching on the bankruptcy of the Tribune Company and countless conferences stressing the topic, the movie takes a dark turn focusing on the decline of advertising and the closure of countless newspapers across the country in the wake of the current recession. But instead of following the decline Page One leaves a hopeful message of how the ‘Grey Lady’ will survive. Continue reading

Captain America, The First Avenger

The summer of the superhero is still in full swing and this week we Captain America takes the lead in Captain America, The First Avenger.  Instead of skyscrapers and technology, Captain America fights evil during World War II.  As a product of science, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) becomes the first of an army of ‘super-soldier’ designed by the United States Army to fight the Nazis.  When the scientist instrumental in transforming Rogers into Captain America is murdered by an agent of the mysterious Hydra, Captain America turns the war into a personal battle. He finds help along the way in a loyal band of misfit soldiers. Captain America takes on Red Skull, the leader of Hydra, in a battle not just for America but to save the world.

Inherent in superhero movies is character recognition.  While the name may be recognizable the story may not.  Captain America starts off on the wrong foot because it fails to provide enough backstory in order to understand his world.  Steve Rogers receives a unexplained serum that bulks him up while his archenemy is searching for a glowy magical cube with untold powers.  Neither are explained to the point where you can buy into their effectiveness. Continue reading