Movie Review: Room

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Once upon a time, before I came, you cried and cried and watched TV all day, until you were a zombie. But then I zoomed down from Heaven, through Skylight, into Room. And I was kicking you from the inside. Boom boom! And then I shot out onto Rug with my eyes wide open, and you cut the cord and said, Hello Jack!’”

Room is unquestionably one of the most thoroughly engrossing movies of the year. The screenplay, written by Emma Donoghue (who also wrote the novel on which the film is based), is terrific, and you will not be able to take your eyes of the stars Brie Larson, who won an Oscar for her performance, and terrific newcomer Jacob Tremblay. It is difficult to watch at times, but it is ultimately an incredibly uplifting film about the power of hope and the love between a mother and her son.read more

The Fall of the Krays

The Fall of the Krays

At the onset, let’s get it out there immediately that this is an epic story with some pretty major affairs to resolve, all of which are mafia and family related. The Fall of the Krays is the second film which charts the Kray brothers rise and fall within a 1950’s and 1960’s English backdrop.

As I hadn’t seen the first one (The Rise of the Krays) I worried that I might lose some of the storyline. For me, this type of movie isn’t the sort of thing I would rush to see at the cinema. But I had heard about a few of the actors and was keen to see their performances on the big screen. Luckily seeing it without having watched its prequel didn’t detract from the film, and the performances certainly didn’t disappoint.

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Movie Review: Anomalisa

Anomalisa

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Anomalisa is unlike anything else out there. Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s new film, based on Kaufman’s “sound play”, uses puppets and stop motion to tell a story about finding real human connection in a trivial and monotonously isolating world.  David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Noonan are terrific as the voices in the film, and the haunting and painstakingly intricate production design by John Joyce and Huy Vu gives the film a truly unforgettable quality.  While it may not win Best Animated Picture at the Academy Awards this year (it’s up against Pixar’s Inside Out, which has little to no chance of losing), Anomalisa is certainly the most unique animated film to come about in a long time.

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Movie Review: The Big Short

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Adam McKay’s new film The Big Short, based on the book by acclaimed Moneyball and The Blind Side author Michael Lewis, is a brutal and unapologetic look at the events that led to the housing market crash of 2007.  The film does an excellent job at taking some extraordinarily complicated principals and making them accessible, delivering the message with authority and clarity.  The entire cast is fantastic, particularly Steve Carell and Christian Bale, and you will leave the theater with a better, yet not necessarily hopeful, understanding of the financial issues that continue to face the United States today.

The film begins in 2005, as hedge fund manager Michael Burry (played with a transformational performance by Christian Bale) discovers that there is a bubble in the housing loan market and that an enormous crash is imminent.  Burry purchases over $1 billion worth of shorts on this market, which basically means he is betting against a market that had never failed up until this point.  Soon, a variety of investors catch wind and attempt to follow Burry’s lead.  These investors include Mark Baum (played by Steve Carell, a character based on real-life hedge fund manager Steve Eisman), Jared Vannett (played by Ryan Gosling, based on real-life trader Greg Lippman), and Ben Rickert (played with one of the only understated performances in the film by the progressively better-with-age Brad Pitt, and based on real-life banker Ben Hockett), the latter of whom is brought out of retirement for “one last job” (to borrow a heist cliché) by newbie investors Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley (played by John Magaro and Finn Wittrock, respectively).

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Movie Review

MV5BMzE4MDk5NzEyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDM4NDA3NjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Brooklyn

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“At first, you’ll feel so homesick that you’ll want to die.  Then one day, the sun will come out.  You’ll catch yourself thinking about something that has no connection with the past, and you’ll realize this is your life.”

This line, spoken by Eilis (played by Saoirse Ronan of Atonement and The Lovely Bones) sums up director John Crowley’s new film Brooklyn perfectly.  Ronan is spectacular, as is the rest of the cast.  The cinematography is beautiful, and the film is worth watching for the gorgeous shots of the Irish countryside alone.  Based on a novel by Irish author Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn will undoubtedly see some nominations in the upcoming awards season.

The film is about a young woman named Eilis Lacey who lives in Ireland with her mother (Jane Brennan) and older sister Rose (played by Fiona Glascott) in the early 1950s.  While Eilis loves her family, she is ready to do something bigger with her life, so with the help of a priest in New York (always excellent Jim Broadbent), she packs up her things and takes a ship to Brooklyn.  Eilis moves into a boarding house with several other young women and landlady Mrs. Kehoe (played by Julie Walters, who provides some of the biggest laughs in the often dreary film), and she begins working at fictional department store Bartocci’s while taking night classes in hopes of becoming an accountant.  Soon at a local dance, she meets and falls in love with Tony (played by Emory Cohen), a second-generation Italian who lives in an apartment with his parents and brothers.read more

Movie Review – Goosebumps

GOOSEBUMPS

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GERSBERMS!!!

Phew, sorry, I had to get that out of my system.  Goosebumps is part Jumanji, part Hocus Pocus, a little bit Pinocchio, and contains more CGI animals and ghouls than you can count.  Jack Black plays a fictionalized version of R.L. Stine, the creator of the popular book series that the film is based around, and he does a fine job reining in the chaos that surrounds the film.  While Goosebumps may not quite live up to the classic book series, it provides enough fun for kids and kids-at-heart to have a good time for 103 minutes.

The film tells the story of Zach (played by Dylan Minette), a new kid from the city moving to the small town of Madison, Delaware with his Mom (Amy Ryan), who is also the new Vice Principal at his new school.  Zach soon meets next door neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush), and he is clearly quite smitten with her from the outset.  His crush is temporarily put on hold when he meets her father (who turns out to be Goosebumps author R.L. Stine, played by the aforementioned Black) who yells at Zach through the window that he better stay away from his daughter if he knows what’s good for him.

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Movie Review

The Intern

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From the moment The Intern begins to the moment the end credits roll, you will have a smile on your face.  That smile will occasionally be punctuated with laughter (and a few tears).  Nancy Meyers’ newest film brings out the best in its stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, and it is a thoughtful examination of growing old, generational differences, and feminism.

Robert De Niro plays Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old retired widower.  Filling his days with  yoga, coffee shop visits, and other things to keep his mind occupied and to maintain a routine, he finds a flyer advertising an internship program for senior citizens at an online clothing retailer About the Fit.  Bright-eyed and instantly likable, Ben wins over everyone in the office, and easily secures one of the intern positions from the pool of, let’s just say, less bright-eyed applicants.

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STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON Review

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Straight Outta Compton is possibly the most important movie of 2015.  In terms of the topics it covers, including police brutality and racial inequality, it certainly shines a spotlight on how far we still have to go.  On top of this, the film stands as one of the best biopics to come out in years, and has some of the best performances of the year, as well (particularly from its relatively unknown stars).  Director F. Gary Gray delivers a highly entertaining and remarkably visceral telling about one of the most influential groups the music world has ever known.

The film opens in 1986, with Eric Wright, a.k.a Eazy-E (played by Jason Mitchell, in a breakout performance) as he sells drugs to a house full of dealers and addicts.  Things quickly escalate, and soon, guns are drawn and a cavalry of police come barreling through the doors.  Eazy-E is able to get away, the scene ends as the carnage in the house reaches its pinnacle, and “STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON” appears on the screen.  The scene is explosive, and right out of the gate, we know what kind of movie we are about to watch.read more

AMY Review

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We all know how Amy’s story ends but what of the major life events that led up to that tragic day on July  23rd, 2011?  The documentary film, Amy, takes you through the tumultuous life of Amy Winehouse where the audience is a welcome voyeur.

Director Asif Kapadia takes you on a journey through her short life in non-traditional documentary style, in the same vein as his last film Senna (2010). The film does not rely on the tradition of the talking head interviews to act as the narrative from those who knew her but instead relies on private and archive footage taken from TV and Radio appearances, mobile voicemails, photographs, and home movies to drive her story. Audio from family and friends is used throughout to form a picture of Amy for her fans; their narrative is brutally honest and it helps those watching form their own personal relationship with her by laying her personal life to bare on screen.

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Movie Review

ant man posterANT-MAN

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Did we really need another movie about an obscure Marvel superhero?  Well, maybe not, but Ant-Man still stands high above the pack (pun intended).  Paul Rudd turns out to be quite convincing in the title role, and the rest of the cast (including a steals-every-scene-he’s-in performance from Michael Peña) does a great job.  The visuals and the special effects are very effective, and the film’s pace is swift.  Marvel’s new film is one of their best to date.

Ant-Man tells the story of Scott Lang, a thief with a good heart, who is being released from the San Quentin State Prison for attempting a Robin Hood-esque robbery of a multi-billion dollar corporation that once employed him.  Now, he is coming back to society, moving in with another former prison inmate, Luis, who has been out now for a year (the aforementioned Peña), and hopes to become a presence in his daughter Cassie’s (Abby Ryder Fortson) life, much to the chagrin of ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her police officer husband/Scott’s foil Paxton (played by the omni-present Bobby Cannavale).  Scott, after being fired by his job at Baskin-Robbins, reluctantly returns to his life of crime to break into the safe of a millionaire.  It turns out that this safe belongs to Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) the inventor of the Ant-Man suit (the suit is actually the only item contained within the safe), and Pym had deliberately set up Scott to rob him, believing that Scott would be the perfect candidate to fill the Ant-Man suit.read more