REVIEW: ‘Richard Jewell’ is a strong entry in Eastwood’s filmography

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”

REVIEW: Strong lead performance doesn’t sustain ‘Harriet’ biopic

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”

REVIEW: Film art legends deliver a powerful American odyssey

Now, we all know Jimmy Hoffa’s body was taken from beneath a stadium into a UFO by aliens, but I suppose it’s worth checking out what this film’s take is on what happened.

“The Irishman” refers to a nickname given to Frank Sheeran, played here by Robert De Niro. At the start of Director Martin Scorsese’s latest feature film, Sheeran is working as a truck driver in Philadelphia, who delivers meat and earns an honest living. However, after some time, he begins making some shipments to a local gangster, and from there he gets involved with mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci). Sheeran begins doing jobs for Russell and eventually becomes an enforcer for the crime syndicate.

Eventually, because of the ties between certain organized crime factions and some unions, Frank comes into contact with Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The powerful Teamsters President takes a liking to Frank and eventually the two start working together. The work he does, though, is deadly and corrupt. As a result Frank’s life never really settles down.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Film art legends deliver a powerful American odyssey”

REVIEW: Driver’s lead performance powers ‘The Report’

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’”

REVIEW: ‘Ford v Ferrari’ has fine tuned performances, but is also formulaic

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”

REVIEW: While cliched, ‘Basis of Sex’ is still inspiring

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”

REVIEW: A walk in ‘Beale Street’ is worth taking

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”

REVIEW: Inconsistencies are a detriment to ‘Vice’

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’”

REVIEW: ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ provides a meaningful vision of a great artist

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”

REVIEW: ‘The Favourite’ is an incredible dramatic comedy

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”