“American Hustle” Review

Posted by    |    December 20th, 2013 at 10:28 am

A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. - Credit: IMDB and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Now in theaters, “American Hustle” focuses on interesting characters, a well written script, humorous, clever dialogue and much more as it presents one of the better old school-type films that I’ve seen in a long time. The film is a bit disorganized, but that is another element that makes this crime drama appealing as the A-list cast appears to have a great deal of fun playing out a thrilling, complex con story. There is also a great soundtrack to accompany this entertaining movie. “American Hustle” is debatably on par with this year’s best films, so don’t miss out on the chance to see this crowd pleasing presentation.

“American Hustle” is rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence. Running time is 2 hours and 18 minutes.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Click here to view my full review for “American Hustle” on WFAA.com

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen and More Reviews of Recent Films

Posted by    |    December 16th, 2013 at 5:57 pm

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The three films tell a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings,” which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the Company continues East, encountering along the way the skin-changer Beorn and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood.  After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves, the Dwarves journey to Lake-town, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all—a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself—the Dragon Smaug. (more…)

Dallas Buyers Club Review: A Dramatic, Unsettling Bio Pic

Posted by    |    November 17th, 2013 at 6:51 am

“The story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed with HIV-postive in 1986, and his search for alternative treatments that helped established a way in which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies.” (Courtesy of Focus Features, IMDB)

Released at the beginning of November and opening in select theaters throughout the month in Dallas, Dallas Buyers Club is an unsettling, dramatic biography about one man’s fight for survival against AIDS and his vast impact on the HIV+ community. This film is a different kind of heroic tale as a smart, yet homophobic and vulgar man (Woodroof) does everything he can to stay alive after abusing his body for so long, and in the process, prolongs many lives and helps a vast amount of the homosexual community. As far as acting goes, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, playing Ron Woodroof and Rayon, a homosexual transvestite, respectively, give impressive performances.

On a deeper level, Dallas Buyers Club involves a sensitive, intense issue in the accusation that the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies are bullying those who are sick and cannot afford the proper medication or treatment. This is played out in a dark, graphic way as we see Woodroof’s lifestyle leading up to and after being diagnosed with AIDS. The content may be a bit rough for some, but that being said, this film is definitely worth seeing.

3.8 out of 5 stars.

Dallas Buyers Club is rated R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, nudity and drug use. Running time is 1 hour and 57 minutes.

Check out my full review for Dallas Buyers Club on WFAA.com

Click here for more info on IMDB

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…)

“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…)

Bad Grandpa

Posted by    |    September 26th, 2013 at 5:23 pm

 

 

 

“Prisoners” Review: An Intense Dramatic Thriller

Posted by    |    September 23rd, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Walking into the theater to see the new movie, Prisoners, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d seen multiple trailers on TV, but the only thing I took away from them was the sense that this film looked a bit dark and that it featured a well-known cast. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find an intense, complex, and at times disturbing movie about a father who will do whatever it takes to find his lost child. Prisoners is an emotional, suspenseful, and dramatic thriller about two young girls who go missing, and the nightmare the families and local police experience trying to solve this mystery.

Photo of Hugh Jackman in "Prisoners"

Photo of Hugh Jackman in “Prisoners”

This film wastes no time in kicking off the intensity by having the girls disappear within the first few minutes. When two families get together to celebrate Thanksgiving, the two daughters of the families’ wander off in the neighborhood and are soon nowhere to be found. When the families begin to panic and search for the girls, the only lead is an old RV that the girls were playing on earlier that day. The police quickly discover the RV in a parking lot near the woods and arrest the driver – a quiet, odd boy, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), who appears to have mental issues. Unfortunately, the interrogation and evidence do not yield any results and the police are forced to let Jones go. The days continue to move on with the girls still missing, and finally one of the fathers, Keller Dove (Hugh Jackman), decides he must take matters into his own hands if there is any chance of saving his daughter. This is where the level of disturbing and eerie content is raised to a higher level. (more…)

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Review: Historical and Moving

Posted by    |    August 16th, 2013 at 11:16 am

Director, Lee Daniels (Precious), proves once again that he can tackle a violent, emotional, civil rights issue as he tells the story of the African-American’s struggle for equal rights through the unique perspective of a White House butler. Lee Daniels’ The Butler features an entertaining, star-filled cast, a series of engaging historical points, countless amusing moments and much more. This film is an inspiring story about an eager-to-work, selfless man who spends his entire life following the rules and staying silent in the background, while always wanting more for those around him.

Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines in "Lee Daniels' The Butler"

Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

Based on true events, Lee Daniels’ The Butler tells the eyewitness account of an African-American, White House butler who served eight presidents over three decades in the 19th and 20th century during a crucial time in U.S. history. The main theme of this film is the struggle for equal rights for blacks during this volatile time, depicted through numerous well-known historical events showing the violence, sit-ins, protests, the Black Panther Party, Freedom Riders, the Ku Klux Klan, Martin Luther King Jr., and more. Strong and rich in Black History, this film paints a vivid picture of what African-Americans went through, the struggles and conditions they faced, and the ultimate payoff they receive as they are finally granted equal rights and see the first black President of the United States in office. (more…)

“We’re The Millers” Review: One of the Funniest Movies of the Year

Posted by    |    August 8th, 2013 at 4:40 pm

We’re The Millers is a comedic crime adventure for adults coming out this week in theaters. This film stars Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, and Ed Helms. We’re The Millers is a vulgar, aggressive, exciting experience filled with shocking and over-the-top nonstop hilarity.

Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Will Poulter, and Jason Sudeikis in "We're The Millers"

Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Will Poulter, and Jason Sudeikis in “We’re The Millers”

When minor-league pot dealer, David Burke (Sudeikis), stumbles upon a couple of teenagers getting bullied around outside his apartment, he decides to step in and help, only to have his bag of drugs stolen, leaving him in debt to his eccentric supplier, Brad Gurdlinger (Helms). Gurdlinger soon proposes a scenario where David can pay off his debt and make a little extra by traveling across the Mexican border and bringing back a new shipment of drugs. David quickly comes up with a plan and recruits a local stripper named Rose (Aniston), an awkward, sexually inexperienced teenager, Kenny (Poulter), and a dirty-mouthed runaway, Casey (Roberts), to accompany him on the trip and pose as a fake family for cover. This film is basically one ridiculous or hilarious event/mishap after another as the “Millers” try to smuggle an RV full of drugs back into the U.S. and deal with the consequences. (more…)