Archive for October, 2013

What Movies Are In Theaters?

Posted by    |    October 31st, 2013 at 10:36 pm

It’s now the time of year when films are carefully marketed and strategically released into theaters in the hopes that they will be fresh on the minds of those making the big decisions come award season in the early part of 2014. To this point, there are large quantities of good quality films coming out every month, and it is often tough to review all of them. On top of my traditional full-length reviews, I’ve decided to change it up a bit and give you a brief rundown of what else is in theaters and a little bit of info about each. (NOTE: these films are available now or coming out this weekend – they are not all award quality…)

12 Years A Slave: 

Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an incredible performance as Solomon Northup, a free black man living in the pre-Civil War United States era, who is kidnapped near his home in the Northeast and sold into slavery in the South. In a twelve-year struggle to stay alive and find his way home, Solomon witnesses first hand the cruel and inhuman slave practices, as well as some unexpected compassion and sympathy from a few people he encounters while moving from plantation to plantation.

This film will make you feel ashamed and almost uncomfortable as it is heartbreaking to watch how slaves were treated – raped, beaten, killed, starved, forced to live in horrible conditions – all in such an abusive way for the mere pleasure of the white plantation owners.  Watching the mistreatment of these slaves, I found myself at times wanting to look away, and yet with no clue what to expect, the audience seemed to be holding their breath in anticipation of what would happen next. 12 Years A Slave gives you a wide range of emotions from sadness, to concern, to disgust, to angriness, all culminating in a heart warming scene as Solomon is returned to his family after a long and tiresome journey.

12 Years A Slave should warrant attention come award season and could potentially be one of the greatest historical pieces ever. This film makes you reflect hard on how slaves were treated, how people turned their backs on issues such as this, and what it was like for someone like Northup. Unlike the recent film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which is set in a similar period, talks about slavery and the fight for black equality, 12 Years A Slave is an edgy, bare bone, accurate account of one man’s hard fight for freedom and survival. The film also features notable performances from Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Brad Pitt.

12 Years A Slave is rated R for violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality. Running time is 2 hours and 14 minutes. Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars. (more…)

“Captain Phillips” Review: A Real Life Heroic Tale

Posted by    |    October 16th, 2013 at 10:24 am

Captain Phillips is more than worth a trip to the theaters as director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93) creates an intense, emotional film based on the book, “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea”. Featuring an incredible performance from Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips, this film dramatically tells the events of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. Maersk Alabama cargo ship and shows the brave actions of Phillips as he tries to keep himself and his crew alive during a dangerous crisis.

CP1The film begins on an ordinary morning in 2009 as Captain Richard Phillips prepares for a routine trip at sea aboard the MV Maersk Alabama cargo ship. Known to most of the boat workers, ships traveling through the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia can be susceptible to pirate attacks, and thus there are certain regulations and emergency instructions to follow in the case of an attack. While practicing a mock emergency drill, Phillips notices two small boats several miles behind the ship that seem to be quickly closing the gap between them and the cargo ship. Once the boats are close enough to see, Phillips realizes they are carrying armed, Somali pirates. Following their emergency protocols, the crew is able to hold off the first attack, and with nightfall approaching, the pirates are forced to abandon their pursuit for the time being. The next day, four of the pirates catch up to the ship, and this is where the intensity reaches a new level, as the crew must do their best to protect the ship while staying alive. (more…)

Dallas VideoFest 2013

Posted by    |    October 8th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

videofest! “The mission of the Video Association is to promote an understanding of video as a creative visual art medium and cultural force in our society, in addition to supporting and advancing the work of Texas artists working in video and the electronic arts.”

Since 1986 The Video Association of Dallas (VAD) has been working hard to fulfill this mission not only through programs and information services but also their annual VAD VideoFest. VideoFest specializes in independent, alternative and non-commercial media that is rarely seen on television or movie theaters despite its artistic quality and cultural/social relevance. VAD is also the largest and longest running video festival and continues to receive critical acclaim for the movies it has showcased, movies such as the Emmy-award winning documentary “Freedom Riders” and works from Michael Moore and Terry Gilliam.

Dallas Video Fest is back again to share with us the lesser known talent of the film world and they’ll be kicking off this  year’s festival with a bang! Tomorrow night at South Side Music Hall will mark the first night of VideoFest with the premier of True Tales. This AMS AMStruePictures production follows the story of Nancy Myers, aka “Tammi True” and her life as a headlining burlesque performer at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club in the early 1960’s. But it won’t be just the movie you’ll get to enjoy; the evening will begin with a performance by Texas’ premier burlesque and variety show Ruby Revue and end with a Q&A with Tammi True herself. In celebration of the movie and the era VAD invites patrons to come out dressed in their best early 1960’s/”Mad Men” attire,  so don’t be afraid to bust out that suit and hair gel or your favorite pillbox hat and go a little 60’s glam.

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“Gravity” Review: Experience the Thrills of Space

Posted by    |    October 5th, 2013 at 9:54 am

There are infinite ways to describe Alfonso Cuaron’s newest movie, Gravity: breath taking, thrilling, masterpiece, state-of-the-art, intense, and the list goes on and on. Any of these descriptions are fitting as Cuaron was able to create a visually stunning and astonishingly detailed, ground-breaking, dramatic action/sci-fi film that allows the audience to experience the magnificent features of space as well as some of the more terrifying elements of this vastly unknown region. And if there were ever a film made for 3D/IMAX theaters, Gravity would be it.

g1When a rookie medical engineer and a veteran astronaut are interrupted by disastrous flying debris, their shuttle is destroyed, leaving them floating in space without any communication to earth and no direct way of getting home. Using their skills, knowledge, and the few resources around them, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) must work together to find the closest space station, attempt to establish communication with “Control”, and find a way of reaching earth. (more…)