Friday, April 26, 2013

Pain & Gain

My View:   Pain & Gain (2013) R  Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) works as a personal trainer. He’s a fairly happy guy, but he wants the good life and he wants it now. So Daniel comes up with a sure fire plan to make all his dreams come true; just kidnap Victor (Tony Shalhoub), a wealthy client, and extort money from him. He enlists two of his bodybuilding friends (Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) to help. So, what could go wrong? Uh, just about everything. I liked the first part of the film, which has a very stylized look, and Wahlberg can be very funny playing the earnest but somewhat dumb personal trainer.  Also, some of the scenes that set up why Lugo wants to do the kidnapping are funny. The scenes with Dwayne Johnson and Tony Shalhoub are well done and quite creative, but I hated the last third of the film where some very serious crimes are treated as though they are part of a cartoon plot. Michael Bay's (Transformers) over-the-top direction works for awhile in this film but after continually being blasted with the same images over and over, the film's style seems to get in the way of the storytelling.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Pain & Gain Website
My View:  Mud  (2013)  PG-13  Two teenage boys (Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland) encounter a fugitive (Matthew McConaughey) who persuades them to help him evade bounty hunters so he can get back his one true love (Reese Witherspoon). This was one of my favorite films of the 2013 Atlanta Film Festival, and Matthew McConaughey has another performance that will get him talked about for an Academy Award where he plays the slick-talking, likable Mud. But it's the performance of the two lead boys, Sheridan and Lofland that make this film so good. Sheridan has that presence on-screen that makes you think of the young performances of River Phoenix and Kevin Bacon as he has star quality and easy way that makes you want to follow his character anywhere he wants to go. Reese Witherspoon is somewhat wasted as the girl whom Mud wants so desperately to win back, though, her casting makes us instantly understand how she put such a spell on him. But it's Sheridan playing the troubled young man that you want to root for and hope that everything will turn out all right for him which makes Mud a film you should go see.     My Rating: Full Price    Mud Website

Indiefest:  The Company You Keep (2013)  R  Decades ago a radical student terrorist group named, “The Weather Underground,” set off bombs and robbed banks to try and force the American government to end the war in Vietnam. Some of the terrorists were caught, but others are still on the run. Now, a newspaper reporter (Shia LaBeouf) begins digging up the story after one of “The Weather Underground” members is caught. By the time the reporter is finished, a number of lives will have changed. I generally like Redford's films, but I felt almost as if the amount of stars in this film, such as Anna Kendrick, who plays an FBI agent, was a little like stunt casting, making it sort of a lets see how many stars want to work for Redford, and therefore prop up a script that has huge holes in it. The film moves along very slowly as if it doesn't want to reveal too much too soon. I enjoyed the scenes with Shia LaBeouf a little more than the scenes with Redford, as the LaBeouf scenes tended to have a lot more energy in them. But the film takes way too long to revel the real plot, and then the film creates a very unlikely ending which makes watching this film not the best of movie going experiences.    My Rating: Cable     The Company You Keep Website

Indiefest:  Arthur Newman (2013) R  Wallace Avery (Colin Firth) is not happy with his life. He’s lost a job he didn’t like, his ex-wife hates him, his son doesn’t want to do anything with him and his girlfriend (Anne Heche) isn’t crazy about him either. So, Wallace decides to go on a road trip to reinvent himself and start a new life as Arthur Newman. While on the road he meets Mike (Emily Blunt), who also wants to reinvent her life. It’s a trip that’s going to be a bumpy ride. I really enjoyed this film and loved the chemistry between Firth and Blunt, as we get to watch their friendship develop throughout the film. The films score really helps define the mood but doesn't go overboard in telling the audience just how they should feel. While this is a "road" picture, it's more about the people on the trip, not about where they are or where they are going. This is an enjoyable film and makes watching two actors worth the price of admission.    My Rating: Full Price   Arthur Newman Website

Forgotten Film:   Pumpkin (2002) R  Carolyn (Christina Ricci) is a vain, stuck up young woman who is obsessed with making sure that she and her sisters win Sorority of the Year. To impress the judges, she enlists her sorority to help train mentally and physically challenged athletes for the upcoming Challenged Games. Carolyn is teamed with Pumpkin (Hank Harris), a wheel chaired bound young man who may also be mentally challenged. Due to Pumpkin's compassion and humor, she finds herself falling for him, something that scares Carolyn, and she takes a long time to even contemplate a relationship with Pumpkin. Will she give up her family, friends and her sorority way of life to stay with him? The film has warmth and humor, and Ricci does a masterful job of at first being an unlikable character who changes into someone we can see has compassion and depth. While not a perfect film, this film's heart wins out in the end.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Pumpkin Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  The Impossible (2012)  PG-13  Based on a true story of a family who, while on vacation at a coastal resort in Thailand, are separated after a devastating Tsunami hits. Naomi Watts, in an Academy Award Nominated role, is breathtaking as the wife who risks everything to find her family under tragic circumstances. This film is heart breaking, at times, but is ultimately uplifting, as you see just how strong the human spirit is in times of unbelievable destruction.   My Rating: I Would Pay To See it Again    The Impossible Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Mud: Boat Captain (by my count there were 12 boat captains listed)

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Great Gatsby (2013)  PG-13  Based on one of my favorite books, I was incredibly let down by the 1974 Robert Redford, Mia Farrow film. Let's see what director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) can do. The great cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Isla Fisher, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire certainly is worth the price of admission.    The Great Gatsby Website
Until Next Time!

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