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Monthly Archives: December 2015

Trumbo

Bryan Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter who, along with many others in Hollywood in the late 1940’s, was blacklisted due to his communist beliefs. The movie is the story of his life from when he was first blacklisted through the next 30 years or so during which he penned a number of scripts, some of them going on to win Oscars, under pseudonyms. While the acting overall is rather uneven, Bryan Cranston is great and very funny in his role; his performance (Oscar-worthy) is really what keeps the movie going. Helen Mirren as Hedda Hopper is perfectly vile …

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Carol

This is yet another outstanding film from Todd Haynes. The film is an adaptation of a lesbian fiction novel from the 1950’s. Cate Blanchette plays Carol, a wife and mother who meets Therese (played by Rooney Mara) at the department store at which Therese works. The depth and implications of their attraction is explored over the course of the film. The film works beautifully for several reasons. Similar to his work in Far From Heaven, Haynes captures the look and feel of a film set in the 1950’s but that has a message that feels very contemporary – to be …

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Concussion

Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy that results from frequent head trauma in football players. The topic of the movie is very interesting and one that I did not know much about; apparently, several relatively young retired football players having similar symptoms died, most frequently to suicide. Unfortunately, the film left me with more questions than answers. The acting was rather uneven, although Will Smith gives a pretty good performance. The movie felt way to “safe”; many of the controversial aspects were “glossed over” with very little depth. I was left wondering if the movie …

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Anomalisa

I saw this movie right after Christmas and have struggled with how to write about it. First, I highly recommend seeing it, as the effect is hard to describe. Some highlights: Michael, a husband, father, and author of a best selling book on customer service is tired and has become disconnected from life around him (picture mid-life crisis). Everyone around him literally has exactly the same voice. He travels to a convention to speak about his book and meets Lisa, a big fan (Michael’s book has helped improve their customer service by 90%!). The director uses stop motion animation of …

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The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a fur trapper, who is severely attacked by a grizzly and is almost dead. A greedy trapper, John Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy, kills Hugh’s son, buries Hugh alive, and disappears. The movie is about Hugh’s story and his revenge against John. There are many things to like about the movie. The cinematography is stunning – the movie was filmed in Canada and Argentina in short daylight conditions, so the natural muted lighting creates a pretty mesmerizing effect. The story is inspired by true events, making what we see truly remarkable. For me, the movie …

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The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino’s new western. Eight vile characters on their way to Red Rock Junction are together in Millie’s Habadashery in the middle of a blizzard. The story is about how they ended up in the Habadashery and their fates during the course of their day together. I start by qualifying that I am a very huge Tarantino fan, so with that, I say that this movie is amazing, over the top, and totally characteristic Tarantino. Why is it great: a) it is shot in 70mm (and I was fortunate be at a place that used a 70mm projector), allowing for …

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The film picks up with Luke Skywalker having gone into hiding, a droid with a celestial map of his location, a member of the Resistance, a defector from the First Order, and a young lady who happens upon the droid. No more for fear that someone will call me a spoiler of some sort. I had a great time at the movies. I indulged myself with a rare buttered popcorn (extra small), grabbed my bottle of water, put on my 3D glasses, and found myself completely entertained for the two plus hours. My fear that I would not “get it” …

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

The second part of the two-part movie of the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy that should have been from the beginning, as I am now totally convinced, a single movie.   The film overall is much darker than the other installments, which I think highlights more than in the others the important themes of power and media influence. Otherwise, I personally found the movie to be rather flat and not as interesting as it should / could have been. This was disappointing to me, as I really enjoyed the books and the first 2 films of the series. I …

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The Big Short

A film based in fact about 4 different people who predicted the housing bubble collapse and who profited on the collapse through short selling collateralized debt obligations (which the film explains). The film is a lot of things: (a) it is great satire; (b) it plays in many places like a documentary, bouncing back and forth between the 4 key movers in this market; (c) it is really “hip” – the way it is shot, as well as the score, give the film a very contemporary edge; and (d) most importantly, it is a lay-friendly explanation of how the housing …

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Spotlight

Spotlight: Based on the true story of the Spotlight team from the Boston Globe who broke the story about the sexual abuses committed to children by over 70 priests in the Catholic Church in Boston and the systematic cover-up of those abuses by the church. This was a wonderful film, although it can be a bit angering at times as well. It is a great story of detective journalism and the work it takes to break stories of this magnitude. The pace of the film is quick; it presents various angles of the investigation in a way that gives insight …

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