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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Foxcatcher

Steve Carrell plays John Du Pont, of the Du Pont fortune, who dreams of creating a US wrestling team and take it to the Olympics. Tatum Channing plays Mark Schultz, and Mark Ruffalo plays his brother David, both of whom were wrestling Olympians. The movie is based on the rather bizarre true life story of Foxcatcher and the relationship between Du Pont and the Schultz brothers. The highlight of this film is the acting. Steve Carrell is almost unrecognizable as John DuPont; it looked as though Carrell studied every nuance of John DuPont and became him. I thought this was …

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Pride

Based on a true story about a group of gay men and lesbians in England in the 1980’s who form LGSM – Lesbians and Gays Support Miners – to support miners in their huge and well-known strike during Margaret Thatcher’s rule. The group raises money and tries to make contact with the union; unsuccessful at that, they get in a bus and find a town in Wales to give the money in person. The move is about how the miners and members of the LGSM formed a long-lasting friendship. This is such a wonderful movie about a partnership that seems …

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A Scanner Darkly

The story is set in the near future in a society in which drugs seem to flow freely and political corruption exists. The film appears to take a cynical view on the war on drugs – it is confined to undercover agents, many of whom are hooked on D, a drug that causes people to develop split personalities, in order to hunt drug suppliers undercover. Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor, one of the undercover officers who appears in pubic in special suits that constantly change the wearer’s physical appearance. He lives with Jim Barris, played by Robert Downey Jr. Bob …

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American Sniper

Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle, the real life war veteran credited as the most lethal sniper in US history with something like 160 kills that happened over 4 tours of duty in Iraq. The good things: (a) Bradley Cooper turns in a pretty amazing performance as Kyle – after a short time you don’t know it is Bradley Cooper any longer; and (b) the effect of combat and the depiction of the adjustment required after returning from combat seemed very real. Given the good things, I just didn’t like the film very much (and I tend to like war …

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Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the person I recall in so many of my history of psychology readings as the builder of the first computer. He was brought together with a strange group of intelligent people to crack the Nazi Enigma code and built a machine that eventually did it. I really, really enjoyed this movie for many reasons. While the cast all around provided excellent acting, Cumberbatch and Knightley stand out in their performances. The writing is excellent, and the film has all of the suspense of a race-against-the clock story. The way the film is constructed in its …

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Tape

Richard Linklater film with three characters. Vin (Ethan Hawke), (Jon) Robert Sean Leonard, and Amy (Uma Thurman) play people who knew each other in high school who are brought together by Ethan Hawke character to deal with an incident that happened at the end of their senior year. As typical of a Linklater, this film is really about the dialog; probably less typical is that there is actually a story with a plot here that unfolds slowly and in interesting and unexpected ways as the film evolves. Hawke is especially good as XX; you never know from scene to scene …

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Undefeated

True story of a Memphis high school football team that, after years of terrible stats, has a truly great season. The film focuses on three of the players – Chavis, who had been just released from jail; Money, and XX – and their relationship with the coach, a man who loves football and volunteers every year to coach the team. What could have been another, “all-Black team lead to victory by a White coach,” really turned out to be a quite special inside view into the personal, academic, and athletic lives of three players who come from very disadvantaged circumstances. …

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Big Eyes

Story about the artist Keane whose paintings of the children with the big eyes became quite popular in the 1960’s. Christoph Waltz plays Walter Keane, a San Francisco artist who meets Margaret, played by Amy Adams, at a sidewalk art show. Very quickly, both are married, and through a quick sequence of events, Walter is mistaken for the artist, and he does not correct the error. The movie is the story of how the Keanes, and the art they created, became popular. I found the story to be rather interesting; I remember two of these prints hanging in our house …

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Fury

Fury – World War II picture starring Brad Pitt as Wardaddy, a staff sergeant who leads a 5-man tank crew in a war in which German tanks were much superior; the newest member of the crew is Norman (played by Logan Lerman, who seemed pretty well suited for the role), an office clerk who is sent to Wardaddy’s crew to replace one of the lookout shooters. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised; I really enjoyed the movie. It is gritty and realistic action, similar to the portrayal of battle in Saving Private Ryan; I really liked the camaraderie …

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