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’”
Ingenuity can be daring sometimes and often requires pushing boundaries. That’s what the main characters in “Ford v Ferrari” must do in this movie, and fortunately the film documenting their work is above average.
Matt Damon stars as Carrol Shelby here, a former race car driver who puts his expertise into designing cars. In an effort to boost sales and to prove Ford can compete with international vehicles, the company drafts him to create a car faster than a Ferrari.
In order to test the car and help point out the flaws, Shelby enlists the help of Ken Miles (Christian Bale), an elite driver who can race with the best of them. The process is made difficult, though, because of corporate interference.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Ford v Ferrari’ has fine tuned performances, but is also formulaic”
A Supreme Court justice now has a superhero origin story.
“On the Basis of Sex” tells the story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) entered the world of law and began a career focused on equal rights. That career, of course, would lead to her becoming a justice on the United States Supreme Court.
“Basis” begins with Ginsburg attending Harvard University’s law school and follows this up with her time as a professor at Rutgers University. The latter is where she would take on a case where the nation’s tax code discriminated on the basis of sex.
Continue reading “REVIEW: While cliched, ‘Basis of Sex’ is still inspiring”
No matter what neighborhood you grew up in, you will leave this movie knowing how it feels to live on Beale Street.
“If Beale Street Could Talk” follows the story of a young woman named Tish (Kiki Layne) and her boyfriend Alonzo (Stephan James), who’s sitting in jail because a police officer suspected him as the assailant in a rape case.
As the movie goes on, Tish is coming to terms with the fact that Alonzo was wrongly accused while also learning that she’s become pregnant. Over the course of the picture, Tish goes through the stages of her pregnancy while also trying to clear Alonzo’s name, with the help of her family.
Continue reading “REVIEW: A walk in ‘Beale Street’ is worth taking”
Director Adam McKay had a few comedies under his belt before hitting the award circuit in a major way with “The Big Short” in 2015. In that film, McKay took on the 2008 housing crisis and Great Recession with brilliant humor, while still exploring the serious subject matter. McKay tries to do the same thing here with “Vice,” but the results are much more mixed.
The movie is about the rise of former Vice President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), who served alongside former President George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) from 2001-2008. The picture explores how Cheney went from a Congressional aide, to a House member, then to having seats in the White House staff, and finally, assuming the vice presidential position. Over the course of its runtime, “Vice” shows Cheney’s relationship to his wife Lynne (Amy Adams), his daughters, and his political allies, such as Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell).
Continue reading “REVIEW: Inconsistencies are a detriment to ‘Vice’”
The life and times of Vincent Van Gogh are uniquely portrayed in this feature from director Julian Schnabel.
“At Eternity’s Gate” tells the story of Van Gogh (Willem Dafoe), picking up with him as a struggling artist in France and following his career when he lives in a smaller community.
Along with the work he did on the canvas, “Gate” also takes time to explore and address some of Van Gogh struggles with his mental illnesses.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ provides a meaningful vision of a great artist”
This movie features not one, not two, but three women who are worthy of winning Best Actress awards this season.
“The Favourite” is the latest film from director Yorgos Lanthimos and it tells the story of Sarah (Rachel Weisz), the adviser and assistant to Queen Anne of England (Olivia Colman). The movie gets started with Sarah’s cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) coming to the castle seeking work as a maid. Abigail quickly shows her value as a staff member and manages to work her way up in the hierarchy, eventually falling into favor with the queen herself.
As she does this, something of a rivalry develops between Sarah and Abigail over who’s best at serving Queen Anne. As all of this is taking place, there is also the fact that England is at war and politicians are trying to pull the queen in various ways to fit their agendas. Both the rivalry between the two women and the ongoing political debate end up crossing over in this dark comedy with phenomenal results.
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Favourite’ is an incredible dramatic comedy”
I really, really wanted to like this one more.
As the name implies, “Mary Queen of Scots” tells the story of Queen Mary of Scotland (Saoirse Ronan), who for much of her adult life, was a rival to England’s Queen Elizabeth (Margot Robbie). The film follows Mary returning to Scotland after some years away and assuming her responsibilities on the throne.
With time passing, Mary and her advisers see a legitimate claim to the English throne as well and decide to take action, with the idea of Mary replacing Elizabeth. Along with heritage, the situation is also driven by religion, with Mary being a Catholic and Elizabeth ruling as a Protestant.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Plot issues cause ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ to stumble”
I knew Peter Farrelly directed this picture going in, but it still seemed strange seeing the name of the person who helmed movies like “The Heartbreak Kid” and “Hall Pass” attached during the end credits.
“Green Book” is titled after a sort of brochure used decades ago in the Jim Crow era which listed hospitality businesses that were safe and/or open to African Americans, mainly in the southeastern United States. The movie follows a lower-middle class Italian nightclub bouncer-turned driver named Tony (Viggo Mortensen), whose latest job is driving Dr. Don Shirley (Maherhsala Ali), an African American pianist.
Continue reading “REVIEW: While its heart is in the right place, ‘Green Book’ is largely average”
Political capital, time, money and lives. All of these were spent and sacrificed to push mankind out of the atmosphere and travel to the Moon. In “First Man,” all of these sacrifices weigh on Neil Armstrong, played here by Ryan Gosling.
As the name and the main real life character implies, “First Man” is about the lead up and mission by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to successfully land on the Moon. Director Damien Chazelle, known for his work helming “Whiplash” and “La La Land” takes audiences on a biographical tour this time around, documenting Armstrong’s training and following the astronaut’s journey to becoming the lead man on Apollo 11.
The picture covers both the continuous work at NASA, while also showcasing the lives of the agency’s workers in their home life. Specifically, the movie documents Armstrong’s relationship with his family, including his wife Janet (Claire Foy).
Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘First Man’ provides incredible snapshots of history and humanity”