Category: Film Reviews

5 Favorites Redux #47: Winger, Trejo, Coon, Jenkins, Messina

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

This week has an embarrassment of riches in terms of the actors with new films out. Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins, Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Danny Trejo, and Chris Messina have new movies coming out along with a handful of actors best known for their TV work. Jude Law works a lot and I suspect I will have an opportunity to tackle him in the future, but these others may not have as many frontline options in the future, so I thought I would pick out one film from each filmography to highlight.

Winger and Jenkins co-star as parents of the main character in this week’s Kajillionaire, director Miranda July’s latest film about a criminal family who begins to splinter when a newcomer is brought into the ranks. Coon stars alongside Law in The Nest as a couple in Sean Durkin’s film about an entrepreneur (Law) and his American family as they move into an isolated English manor. Trejo is an incredibly busy man who appears in numerous films each year, but this weekend’s release is THE PREY about a team of soldiers hunting Taliban in Afghanistan who are trapped in a cave where they are slowly picked off by a monster. Finally, Messina plays a beleaguered husband to Noomi Rapace as she kidnaps and tortures her German neighbor believing that he was responsible for heinous crimes against her during World War II.

Highlighting either the best work for the actor (Winger & Coon) or my favorite films featuring the actor (Jenkins, Trejo & Messina), these actors have appeared in some impressive efforts, but also a lot of terrible ones. After the break, a look at my favorite films for each actor.

Click here to continue reading this article

Review: Steve Jobs (2015)

Steve Jobs

Rating

Director

Danny Boyle

Screenplay

Aaron Sorkin (Book by Walter Isaacson)

Length

122 min.

Starring

Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston

MPAA Rating

R for language.

Original Preview

Click Here
Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites Redux #46: Favorite Romantic Comedies

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

The Broken Hearts Gallery is this coming weekend’s only wide release. The romantic comedy stars Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers) and Dacre Montgomery (Power Rangers (2017)) and is from first-time director/screenwriter Natalie Krinsky about an art gallery assistant (Viswanathan) who has collected souvenirs from every relationship she’s ever been in while a new flame yields promise for a longterm relationship.

The underlying story is inventive, but the film isn’t likely to take off at the box office. With the relative newness of its stars, there aren’t a lot of choices for a 5 Favorites article. So, I’m going a bit broader looking at my favorite romantic comedies.

Click here to continue reading this article

Review: Spectre (2015)

Spectre

Rating

Director

Sam Mendes

Screenplay

John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth

Length

148 min.

Starring

Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Belucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear

MPAA Rating

PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and language

Original Preview

Click Here
Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites Redux #45: Favorite Michael Caine Films

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Michael Caine has earned six Oscar nominations in his career, winning the award twice. Outside of the 1990s, Caine has earned nominations in each of four decades, no small feat for an actor who got his acting debut as a boy in the TV movie Morning Departure. Since then, he’s starred in some stellar films and worked with numerous different directors. The first film I can remember seeing him in was Dirty Rotten Scoundrels opposite Steve Martin. For younger audiences, he will forever be recognized for his supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of films based on the Batman comics (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises).

That trilogy was the first time he ever worked with Nolan as a director, but it’s a partnership that has persisted from Batman Begins straight through to his most recent effort, Tenet, which opens wide this coming weekend. Of the eight films he’s appeared in for Nolan, only his vocal work in Dunkirk sticks out as being a thoroughly minor effort. In celebration of an eight-decade-plus career, I’m looking at five of my favorite films featuring Caine.

Click here to continue reading this article

Review: Anomalisa (2015)

Anomalisa

Rating

Director

Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson

Screenplay

Charlie Kaufman (Play by Charlie Kaufman)

Length

90 min.

Starring

David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan

MPAA Rating

R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language

Original Preview

Click Here
Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites Redux #44: Favorite Marvel Movies

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

This weekend, New Mutants finally sees wide release after two years of delays thanks in large part to the Disney acquisition of Fox and the dismantling of everything that made the once-great studio what it was. Being unceremoniously dumped on the second weekend of national cinema re-openings, Disney definitely wants the film to fail. Regardless, this is one of my most anticipated films of the last few years, a picture that was supposed to continue down the R-rated route Fox had found success in with the Logan and two Deadpool movies.

With the final Fox-produced X-Men film finding release, I thought I would take a look back at everything that has been produced based on Marvel comics. Although the first film produced from a Marvel comic was 1944’s Captain America, which no one remembers, it wasn’t until Blade in 1998, X-Men in 2000, and Spider-Man in 2002 that the promise of Marvel properties was seen as a potentially fruitful one. The Marvel properties had been split between three separate studios with Fox owning the rights to the X-Men-related properties and the Fantastic Four comics, Sony having rights to the Spider-verse, and Disney owning just about everything else. Apart from a couple of films, I have seen everything Marvel-related since 2000, so I have no issue selecting the absolute best of the bunch.

Some of the titles I didn’t choose to highlight in detail are The Amazing Spider-Man, an attempt by Sony to reboot Spider-Man with the best rendition of the character portrayed by Andrew Garfield with Emma Stone sterling as Gwen Stacy. Guardians of the Galaxy was a fun and hilarious effort as was Deadpool. I might have also selected the original X-Men if the second film weren’t so much better, which also just barely fell outside the top 5 (I would rank X2: X-Men United as the seventh best Marvel film ever produced). The same is true of X-Men: First Class, which also rebooted the X-Men films, but was surpassed by the second film in that series, which did ultimately make my list. Additionally, Spider-Man 2 was better than Spider-Man and the former sits sixth on my list of favorite Marvel films. And then there were five. Here are my choices for the best Marvel films, two from Fox, two from Disney, and one from Sony.

Click here to continue reading this article

Review: The Good Dinosaur (2015)

The Good Dinosaur

Rating

Director

Peter Sohn

Screenplay

Bob Peterson, Peter Sohn, Erik Benson, Meg LeFauve, Kelsey Mann

Length

93 min.

Starring

Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner, Jack Bright, Peter Sohn, Anna Paquin, AJ Buckley, Sam Elliott

MPAA Rating

PG for peril, action and thematic elements

Original Preview

Click Here
Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites Redux #43: Films from Actors With Weekend Releases

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

This week, rather than highlight one specific actor with a film in release, I figured I’d pick up five actors with new movies coming out over the weekend. In Unhinged, Oscar winner Russell Crowe terrorizes a young woman who cuts him off in traffic as he harasses and pursues her on the roads. Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver leads the cast of Stage Mother, a film about a conservative mother discovering that her dead son has a drag bar that needs to be run. She is supported by Lucy Liu as her son’s best friend. Finally, we have Ethan Hawke starring in Tesla, a film about the legendary inventor and electrical engineer whose ideas were stolen and repurposed for profit by Thomas Edison, the well known patent thief of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Kyle McLachlan plays Edison.

These five actors while not having sufficient titles between them to make a full list in my opinion, each have at least one noteworthy film worth celebrating.

Click here to continue reading this article

Review: Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)

Far from the Madding Crowd

Rating

Director

Thomas Vinterberg

Screenplay

David Nicholls (Novel by Thomas Hardy)

Length

119 min.

Starring

Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge, Michael Sheen, June Temple, Bradley Hall, Hilton McRae, Jessica Barden

MPAA Rating

PG-13 for some sexuality and violence

Original Preview

Click Here
Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites Redux #42: Favorite Bruce Dern Films

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Having worked on several westerns and suspense thrillers in his early career throughout the 1960s and 1970s, his first Oscar nomination came for his supporting performance in 1978’s Coming Home, a Vietnam War era romantic drama where he plays the deployed husband of Jane Fonda’s character as she falls in love with a paraplegic played by Jon Voight.

At home in both drama and comedy, Dern worked under legendary directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Sydney Pollack, Roger Corman, Sam Peckinpah, and John Frankenheimer as well as modern icons who will be considered legends in cinema’s future (if they aren’t already) such as Quentin Tarantino and Alexander Payne, the latter of whom directed the film that brought him his second Oscar nomination: Nebraska.

This weekend, Dern plays a supporting role in Ravage, a film about a nature photographer who had suffered through a harrowing event that the police refuse to take seriously. The film has been up and down the release schedule with one source saying it opens this weekend and another saying it won’t open until May of next year. If it doesn’t release this weekend, that really isn’t a problem as it won’t change my decision to highlight his career and my favorite films of his below.
Click here to continue reading this article

Review: Spotlight (2015)

Spotlight

Rating

Director

Tom McCarthy

Screenplay

Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy

Length

128 min.

Starring

Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schrieber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Elena Wohl, Billy Crudup

MPAA Rating

R for some language including sexual references

Original Preview

Click Here
Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites Redux #41: Favorite Donald Sutherland Films

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

85-year-old actor Donald Sutherland has shown no sign of slowing down. Before we tell you about his latest role or my favorite films, let’s start at the beginning. Sutherland’s first credited screen role came in 1964 horror feature Castle of the Living Dead. He then went on to star in a handful of Hammer horror films before landing a role as Vernon Pinkley in The Dirty Dozen. From there, he went on to star in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, which elevated his career, leading to numerous important roles throughout the 1970s.

After his Golden Globe-nominated performance in Ordinary People, his ability to draw top tier scripts faded and outside of the occasional film like A Dry White Season, he didn’t have a major starring role until his supporting turn in Oliver Stone’s JFK. From there, he’s had a fairly solid career ever since.

Sutherland co-stars in this weekend’s release The Burnt Orange Heresy as a celebrated painter who becomes the subject of a high-stakes art theft. Of the myriad films I’ve seen of Sutherland’s, I chose the following five to highlight, not because they were his best performances (some could argue for Klute or a number of other films), but because they were films that stayed with me longer.

Click here to continue reading this article

Review: Sicario (2015)

Sicario

Rating

Director

Denis Villeneuve

Screenplay

Taylor Sheridan

Length

121 min.

Starring

Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Jeffrey Donovan

MPAA Rating

R for strong violence, grisly images, and language

Original Preview

Click Here
Click here to continue reading this article

5 Favorites Redux #40: Favorite Clive Owen Films

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

English actor Clive Owen spent most of the 1990s as a regular figure on stage and television in the United Kingdom. Although his first Hollywood feature came in 1996, it wasn’t until the early 2000s, that he became more familiar to American and worldwide audiences with appearances in Gosford Park and The Bourne Identity. From there, his star rose briefly with an Oscar-nominated supporting role in 2004’s Closer and a leading turn in Children of Men before blending back into the background with minor roles and films that hardly played to his strengths.

This coming weekend, Owen has a supporting role in The Informer, a film with a release date that keeps shifting, not just because of the pandemic. In recognition of his career, I chose five of my favorite films that he’s been in.

Click here to continue reading this article