Friday, January 30, 2015

A Most Violent Year

My View:  A Most Violent Year (2014)  R  The winter of 1981 was the most violent year in the history of New York City.  Under that backdrop, a businessman (Oscar Isaac) and his wife (Jessica Chastain) struggle to keep their business against all the odds. This is a gangster film about a man who isn't a gangster but is forced to do what he must do for his family and his business to survive. Isaac gives a memorable and believable performance of a man who gets pulled further and further into the seamy world of New York City. Chastain, as usual, is perfect as the woman who knows how the gangster life works and helps her husband in his quest. I didn't enjoy this movie as I was watching it but, after further thought, I have changed my mind and now think this film works on all levels.   My Rating: Full Price   A Most Violent Year Website

My View:  Black or White  (2014)  PG-13  A grieving widower (Kevin Costner) is drawn into a custody battle over his granddaughter in Black or White.  Costner plays Elliot, a father whose daughter died in childbirth. He and his wife were raising dead mom's daughter when his wife suddenly dies.  The father of the young girl is a drug addict.  His mother (whose mother? (Octavia Spencer) wants her granddaughter to spend more time with her side of the family and, after several incidents with Elliot, she decides to file for custody. I like Costner in this role as he gives a very nuanced performance as the grandfather who can't get over the losses of his wife and daughter. The young, talented Jillian Estell is the best part of this film, giving a winning and touching performance as the granddaughter and focus of the custody battle. I didn't like Octavia Spencer as the fiery matriarch who bullies her family to get what she wants. She just kind of missed the mark for me as I never believed her in the part. It's not a bad (better word?) film, and Costner is excellent in it, but I just never got the big emotional moment that I wanted from this type of film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Black or White Website
Indiefest:  Black Sea  (2015) R  A submarine captain (Jude Law) takes a job to find a World War II Soviet sub that may be full of gold at the bottom of the Black Sea.  I really liked this taut suspense film that is a new take on the classic submarine film. Law, in a strong performance that is fun to watch, really commands the screen as the rough and tumble sub commander who has always placed his work over his family. The film has some vibrant and fascinating underwater sequences and has very few special effects shots, making the film feel realistic and slightly claustrophobic. Besides Law, I loved Ben Mendelsohn in the role of the menacing sailor who challenges Law's command decisions at every turn. This film is enjoyable for both its performances and strong storyline.   My Rating: Full Price  Black Sea Website

Indiefest:  Two Days, One Night  (2014)  PG-13  A young Belgian mother (Marion Cotillard) has a weekend to convince her fellow workers to give up a bonus so that she can remain with the company.  This film features a brilliant performance by Cotillard, who has become one of the best actors out there. She is perfect in the role, and we root for her to succeed right from the start. It's an outstanding story that slowly builds the tension until the end of the film. Cotillard could be a dark horse to win Best Actress at this year's Academy Awards. Her portrayal is just that good.   My Rating: Full Price   Two Days, One Night Info

Indiefest:  Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action and Animated  (2015)     The Academy Award nominated shorts, both Live Action and Animated films for this year’s Oscars. This year's nominees are an outstanding group of films from around the world. Highlights include:  Aya, a fantastic live action film about strangers connecting on a car ride discussing their lives. The Single Life, the most fun animated film of the bunch, about a woman who discovers a record that allows her to travel through time. The Dam Keeper, a brilliant and touching animated film about a young pig in charge of a windmill that keeps pollution from reaching his town. The Phone Call, a live action short where Sally Hawkins plays a crisis center worker who receives a phone call from a man who is trying to kill himself and won't give his name or location.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See It Again   Oscar Shorts Website
Forgotten Film:  Fearless  (1993)   Max (Jeff Bridges) is on an airplane that has lost its hydraulics and is going to crash. He spends what he thinks will be his last moments comforting a little boy.  Against the odds, Max survives the crash and now has to deal with the after-effects.  This is an moving film, with outstanding performances by Bridges and Rosie Perez, who plays a fellow survivor who seems to be the only person who knows how Max is thinking and feeling. This film also has one of the strongest supporting casts, including Tom Hulce, John Turturro, Benicio Del Toro and Isabella Rossellini. This is a magical film that has one of the truly greatest endings.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Fearless Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Black Sea:  underwater best boy

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  What We Do in the Shadows  (2015)    I am hearing great things about this comedy.  It’s about three vampires trying to live in modern society.  I mean, how do you keep up with your appearance when you can’t look in the mirror?   What We Do In the Shadows Info

Until Next Time!

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