REVIEW: A Compelling Look At A Historic Tragedy In ‘the Promise’ Held Back By Romantic Subplot

“The Promise” is a picture that acts as both a historical period piece and a romantic drama. Unfortunately, the latter becomes a weakness to the overall film.

The movie sets itself up at the onset of the first World War in the Ottoman Empire and mainly follows three characters, a medical student named Mikael (Oscar Isaac), an American reporter with the Associated Press named Chris (Christian Bale) and his fiance Ana (Charlotte Le Bon). After the three meet, a romantic triangle begins to develop between them causing some expected friction.

However, the real drama of the film comes as the war deepens and the Armenian Genocide begins. This poses immediate danger to Mikael and Ana as they both have Armenian backgrounds and are forced out of their normal lives. Meanwhile, Chris begins to document both the war and the genocide for the AP.

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Oscar Docs: A Look At The Front-Runners “13th” And “Made In America”

The Academy Award for Best Documentary has five nominees, but the competition has more or less narrowed to two.

The pair of candidates includes “13th” and “O.J.: Made in America.” In both films, race is a central matter that’s deeply explored and well connected to their respective core subjects.

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Trumbo movie review

Director:

  • Jay Roach

Cast:

  • Bryan Cranston
  • Diane Lane
  • Helen Mirren
  • Louis C.K.
  • Roger Bart
  • John Goodman
  • Rated: R

Bryan Cranston plays the title character and legendary Oscar winning screenwriter in “Trumbo” which picks up with the lives of the protagonists just as the Red Scare is starting to pick up.

The fear of communism is on full display in the movie and one of the targets of that fear is Dalton Trumbo as well as other Hollywood writers. The film documents this struggle with the Red Scare, mainly through Trumbo’s perspective, featuring how they had to go to jail and were even blacklisted from working in the film industry.

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Our Brand is Crisis review

Director:
David Gordon Green
Cast:
Sandra Bullock
Billy Bob Thornton
Anthony Mackie
Joaquim de Almeida
Ann Dowd
Rated: R

“Our Brand is Crisis” is based off a documentary of the same name and tells the story of an election in Bolivia in the early 2000s. Sandra Bullock plays Jane in the film, an experienced political strategist who has been tasked with helping a specific candidate win.

The film explores the different tactics that were used in the election and shows the game that is played for voters.

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Bridge of Spies review

Director:
Steven Spielberg
Cast:
Tom Hanks
Mark Rylance
Domenick Lombardozzi
Rated: PG-13

Tom Hanks is insurance lawyer James B. Donovan in “Bridge of Spies,” a film which takes place in the late 1950s when the Cold War started to intensify. Donovan is a family person and is for most purposes, an every-man. This changes when U.S. agents arrest a suspected Soviet spy named Rudolf Abel (Rylance) and request Donovan to defend the operative in court to show that the country provides fair justice.

While a bit reluctant, Donovan decides to take up the case which subsequently presents challenges for his day to day life. For example he gets firsthand experience with the Red Scare and begins conversing with officials from agencies such as the CIA.

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Sicario review

Director:
Denis Villeneuve
Cast:
Emily Blunt
Benicio Del Toro
Josh Brolin
Victor Garber
Rated: R

“Sicario” is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who helmed my favorite picture of 2013 “Prisoners.” The director returns for another dark film with “Sicario,” which follows an FBI agent named Kate Macer (Blunt) who joins up with an elite government task force to fight the drug war on the southern U.S. border.

Kate quickly finds out that the team, led by agent Matt Graver (Brolin) and an expert hired by the government named Alejandro (Del Toro) don’t exactly operate within all the boundaries of the law.

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Selma review

Director:
Ava DuVernay
Cast:
David Oyelowo
Carmen Ejogo
Tom Wilkinson
Dylan Baker
Tim Roth
Rated: PG-13

As the title suggests, “Selma” tells the story of Martin Luther King’s (Oyelowo) leadership during the Civil Rights Movement during the march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama. The film starts off by showing why the movement comes to Selma and chronicles all of the events leading to the march through the state.

While the movie is focused on King’s journey in leading the movement, it also gives time to show the reactions of prominent figures such as President Lyndon B. Johnson (Wilkinson) and Alabama Governor George Wallace (Roth), as well as how the entire civil rights movement weighs on King’s family life.

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Rosewater review

Director:
Jon Stewart
Cast:
Gael Garcia Bernal
Haluk Bilginer
Dimitri Leonidas
Rated: R

Based on true story, “Rosewater” follows the story of Newsweek magazine journalist Maziar Bahari (Garcia Bernal) as he goes on location in Iran to report on the 2009 election.

While covering the election, Bahari captures footage of riots after the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and is spotted doing so by security cameras. Because of this, Bahari is arrested and held in prison for over 100 days, having to endure constant interrogation and psychological torture.

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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom review

“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” turns out to be a very long movie as it encompasses a huge portion of the political figure’s life.

The movie begins with Nelson Mandela, played by Idris Elba, as a young attorney and follows his path to becoming an idealist and eventually a revolutionary leader. The movie also chronicles his personal life, including his marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who was played by Naomie Harris.

Eventually, the movie also goes into detail about the 27 years Mandela spent in prison which was followed by his election as president of South Africa.

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Dallas Buyers Club review

Director:
Jean-Marc Vallee
Cast:
Matthew McConaughey
Jared Leto
Jennifer Garner
Rated: R

Matthew McConaughey continues his great streak of movies lately with “Dallas Buyers Club.”

In the movie, McConaugey plays Ron Woodroof. An electrician living in Texas in the late 1980s. Woodroof lives a life full of doing drugs, having unprotected sex and not having much of a plan for the future. His world is flipped upside down, though, when he goes to the doctor and discovers he is HIV positive.

As Woodroof begins to come to terms that he does have the illness, he learns that the FDA and pharmaceutical companies don’t allow certain medications into the United States and that an unproven drug is being sold to the masses. Woodroof begins to travel out of the country to get new, better, medication at first to just make money, however, over time he learns it effects an entire community.

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