“1917:” (Or, the unexpected virtue of one continuous take).
This World War I film, directed by Sam Mendes, tells the story of Corporals Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay), who’re sent on a mission to call off a major attack on retreating German soldiers. The two protagonists are ordered to do so because the German forces are actually baiting the Allies into a trap.
To deliver the message, Blake and Schofield must cross a still active war-zone and the areas of France turned into a wasteland by the heavy trench warfare. The film is shot with one continuous take, following the characters all the way on their journey.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘1917’ takes viewers on a harrowing tour of World War I”
News travels fast, and unfortunately it can lead to mishaps, mistakes and early announcements that are later debunked. That’s exactly what happened in “Richard Jewell,” and an innocent person was forced to deal with the negative results.
The movie follows the story of the title character, played here by Paul Walter Hauser. After some introduction scenes, the movie picks up with Jewell working security for AT&T events at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Jewell aspires to one day have a steady job in law enforcement, so he takes his work very seriously, much more so even than his colleagues in the security business. While he receives some jokes about his commitment to a seemingly safe concert area, his concerns, unfortunately, turn out to be valid.
One night during his shift, he comes across a suspicious backpack that happens to contain an explosive device that had been left there by a terrorist. The film captures the moment the bomb goes off after its discovery and how Jewell was initially seen as a hero for calling it in and reporting it to officers.
Sadly, as history tells us, Jewell was then made a suspect by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and a media firestorm erupts. In an effort to defend himself, Jewell hires a friend and lawyer from a former job, Watson Bryant (Sam Rockwell) and tries to survive as his life is investigated.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Richard Jewell’ is a strong entry in Eastwood’s filmography”
The story of Harriet Tubman deserves to be told in an award caliber, fantastic movie. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.
As the title implies, the film follows the adult life of Tubman. Beginning with her time as a slave, the movie introduces the protagonist as Araminta, or Minty as she’s been nicknamed.
After finding out her slave owner won’t free her based on a previous agreement, Araminta opts to leave her current life behind and escape north. Her journey is dangerous and filled with hardship, but eventually, she crosses into the free state of Pennsylvania and finds her way to Philadelphia, where an anti-slavery organization is headquartered.
Upon her arrival, she’s able to choose a new name, and she selects Harriet Tubman. In the ensuing days, Tubman finds employment, a home and a free life. However, knowing that her family and others are still in the slave system of the south, she decides to help them come north. As history tells us, Tubman succeeded and continued her efforts, freeing more slaves from the south. Her work in doing so is shown on screen here.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Strong lead performance doesn’t sustain ‘Harriet’ biopic”
When there are waves, it usually means the waters aren’t calm, and that certainly becomes the case in this movie.
Directed by Trey Edward Shults, “Waves” is a film taking place in south Florida that follows a family of four. More specifically, though, the movie centers on the son, Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Tyler, at the movie’s onset, has a lot going for him. He’s a star athlete in the midst of the wrestling season, he has a loving family and he’s in a good relationship with his girlfriend.
However, as the movie gets going, cracks begin to form in Tyler’s life and these cracks eventually lead to the proverbial dam breaking. The film follows the issues the family goes through in the events that follow.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Despite great potential, ‘Waves’ sinks because of story execution issues”
Actor Mark Ruffalo trades in his green look for a nice suit in his latest film.
In “Dark Waters,” Ruffalo plays Robert Bilott, a corporate defense attorney who works at an office in Cincinnati. At the movie’s beginning, Bilott and the firm he works for has established a solid working relationship with the DuPont company. That good working relationship begins to strain, though, when Bilott meets with a farmer in West Virginia, based on a referral from a family member, and uncovers an environmental disaster threatening livestock.
Upon the discovery, Bilott launches a case against the DuPont company with the hope that he can win a lawsuit and help the farmer, Wilbur (Bill Camp). However, the lawyer uncovers more and more details about DuPont’s “forever” chemicals and learns that the environmental disaster is much worse than initially thought.
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One of the darkest periods of recent American history comes to light in rather convincing fashion in “The Report.”
The movie stars Adam Driver as Daniel Jones, a staff worker for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (Annette Bening) office, who’s tasked with scoping out the Central Intelligence Agency’s enhanced interrogation program and filing a report that can be made public. Over the course of several years, Jones uncovers much of the CIA’s torture program and brings his findings back to Feinstein.
However, the process isn’t made all too easy because of senior leadership in the CIA, who want to keep the program that was used in the years after Sept. 11 classified. The movie tracks Jones’ efforts as he tries to get the report out, and navigate the politics in the process.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Driver’s lead performance powers ‘The Report’”
The characters didn’t go to all 21 bridges. 1 out of 5.
This film is a sophomore feature effort by director Brian Kirk, who in the past helmed 2006’s “Middletown.” His latest film stars Chadwick Boseman as Andre Davis, a detective with roughly a decade of experience with the New York City Police Department. While he’s a good detective, though, he’s also gained a negative reputation of being too quick on the trigger.
His expertise is called upon, though, when a drug incident turns into a blood bath, with several police officers dead and the two responsible going on the run. To capture the two and bring them to justice, Andre and another investigator, Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) launch a city-wide manhunt and shut down all 21 bridges out of New York.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ’21 Bridges’ isn’t sensational, but it is streamable”
In back-to-back years, audiences have been treated to two films about the well known children’s television icon Fred Rogers. After watching both, “Won’t You Be my Neighbor” from 2018 is the clear winner.
In the other film of the two, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Matthew Rhys stars as Lloyd Vogel. An Esquire magazine reporter, Vogel carries a reputation as a very thorough journalist, often upsetting sources for his commitment to telling the truth and holding people accountable. The movie picks up with him being assigned a lighter piece, though, as he’s told to write a story about Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks), and explore why he’s a hero to people.
Considering it’s more of a fluff profile than a hard hitting piece, Vogel isn’t too thrilled with the assignment. Plus his personal life has hit a rough patch as he’s a new parent who still has some anxieties about being a dad, and his relationship with his own father is poor. Meeting Mr. Rogers, though, begins to change him.
Continue reading “REVIEW: This ‘Day in the Neighborhood’ is just OK”
The most glaring thing about “The Good Liar” is that it’s not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.
“The Good Liar” stars Ian McKellen as Roy Courtnay, an elderly longtime con artist who happens to meet a wealthy widow named Betty (Helen Mirren). Seeing an opportunity to make cash on another job, Roy initiates a new operation to start a relationship with Betty and be with her until he can get her to share her bank accounts and he can make the robbery happen.
Roy has to really commit to the role, though, as the job in convincing Betty isn’t entirely easy. Plus, Betty’s grandson, Stephen (Russell Tovey), doesn’t trust Roy from the very start. The result is a con job that’s more difficult than initially expected.
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I walked into the theater blind with this one. I never watched an episode of the television series “Downton Abbey,” and despite my attempts at research, I was still a bit lost. With that said, though, it was a pretty enjoyable time.
From what I could pick up, the film takes place following the events of the show, featuring stories of both the Crawley family and those who work at their estate. In this film, the family is welcoming King George and Queen Mary to stay at Downton Abbey as part of a royal tour along the country-side.
Over the course of the visit, the Crawleys have moments of inter-family drama mixed with trying to make a good impression for the Royal Family. The staff, meanwhile, have their own sub-plot where they compete to maintain their service in spite of being pushed aside by the Royal Family’s staff.
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