Archive | October, 2015

99 Homes Review

27 Oct


99 Homes is a scathing thriller that kicks off with an intensity unmatched by the rest of the film. The early eviction of Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield, in a role that is thankfully not Spiderman) is brilliantly done, the frustration, embarrassment, and eventual acceptance of the situation captured perfectly by Garfield and Laura Dern; on the other side, Michael Shannon establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with right off the bat, and his character–Rick Carver–is the most fun to watch throughout. As for director Ramin Bahrani, he keeps the camera moving, doubling down on certain beats in order to hit us hard with the story. “How would you act in this situation?” he asks.

Continue reading

The Leftovers “Orange Sticker” Review (2×04)

25 Oct


“There are no miracles in Miracle.”

Once again, The Leftovers tackles the desire to explain the unexplainable, to feel 100% about various beliefs, actions, or events. “Orange Sticker” takes a look at people who believe one way, but ultimately crumble under the weight of the world they live in now. It’s an interesting episode both plot-wise and theme-wise, and it features an absolutely stellar Carrie Coon performance throughout.

Continue reading

Room Review

19 Oct


Note: This review deals with minor spoilers revealed during the trailer (regarding the structure of the film). If you’ve watched the trailer or know the story, feel free to read. If you want to go in completely cold, don’t read ahead.

Their world is Room. Ma and Jack live their lives in this windowless prison, pushing through the difficult nights with their captor and passing time with each other during the days. Light shines through a skylight above, a constant reminder that the world doesn’t end with this claustrophobic space, that there’s so much to be learned and explored outside the confines of Room, of innocence, of childhood. This is a movie about the emotional trauma of imprisonment, but it’s also a fascinating look at what it means to grow up and to be a parent.

Continue reading

The Leftovers “Off Ramp” Review (2×03)

18 Oct


“Well, let’s give them something.”

What’s great about The Leftovers is its ability to acknowledge the complexities of the systems we’ve put into place over the years, the systems that make up society as a whole. From a slightly more cynical viewpoint, believing in something can also be seen as buying into something. However, the key point here is: belief tethers us to something tangible or metaphorical or both, and there can certainly be value in a support group around us. The show isn’t so much concerned with critiquing belief systems like religion as it is explaining why they exist in the first place, and a telling encapsulation of this idea comes in this episode’s “THEY MAKE SENSE!” (in reference to the Guilty Remnant). It’s easier to have something to believe in, after all.

Continue reading

Truth Review

17 Oct


“We’re the gold standard,” Cate Blanchett’s Mary Mapes insists midway through Truth, a detail-oriented look at the 60 Minutes Killian documents controversy in 2004. It’s nowhere near as polished or compelling as James Vanderbilt’s script for Zodiac–then again, not much is–but it’s driven by some solid performances and an interesting real-life story. Cate Blanchett in particular is a fiery presence here, her character having to deal with the mounting pressure from all sides as she watches her story crumble. Even when the material isn’t quite so strong, Blanchett has a good handle on what’s needed for her character.

Continue reading

Bridge of Spies Review

16 Oct


The opening to Bridge of Spies consists of the film’s most riveting scenes. Largely wordless and scoreless, they introduce us to Soviet spy Rudolf Abel as he goes about his secret nickel-opening, coded message-receiving ways. He’s immediately an intriguing presence, Mark Rylance utilizing a bit of restraint in his great performance in order to subtly unearth layers. Rylance and Hanks–playing attorney James Donovan–are the one-two punch of the movie, their characters creating the central dynamic upon which Spielberg builds the story. Abel and Donovan are on two sides of the same coin, and the way we look at the two of them can be expanded to how we look at the Soviet Union and the United States or at the Cold War era and present day. There are connections galore.

Continue reading

Steve Jobs Review

12 Oct

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.40.25 PM

The first act of Steve Jobs is an extremely entertaining half hour, with rapid-fire dialogue throwing us straight into the backstage flurry prior to Jobs’s 1984 Macintosh launch. It’s a great way to set up the movie’s tone and characters and conflicts, and its extremely kinetic nature brings Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle crashing together from the outset. Unlike with Fincher, however, the director takes a backseat to the writer here, and all of Sorkin’s precious babies–walking and talking, explaining, lack of time for breathing during dialogue–are at the forefront. That’s not a bad thing for the first act, however, which is definitely the tightest and most propulsive of the three. There’s a ton of energy here, and the movie’s setup and backstage settings are reminiscent of Birdman (whether that’s a good or bad thing is your call).

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: