Category Archives: Movies

Mini Movie Review: Foxcatcher (2014)

Foxcatcher 2014 Photo

Foxcatcher (2014)
Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller

If there’s a missing link between director Bennett Miller’s Capote (2005) and his very different follow-up Moneyball (2011), Foxcatcher could more or less function as a cinematic bridge for those films. Like Moneyball, Foxcatcher is a compelling sports-based biographical pic but it’s more akin to Capote in that it’s a psychological drama based on a true story about a peculiar and ultimately disturbing relationship.

Three years after U.S. Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) won a gold medal at the 1984 games, he and eventually his older brother Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) are recruited by multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) to operate a training complex at Foxcatcher estate.  As the story progresses, the initial question of why would the heir to the Du Pont family fortune would want to be involved with amateur wrestling evolves into a darker examination of the human psyche.

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Whiplash (2014) Movie Review

Whiplash 2014 Movie

Whiplash (2014)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist

Miles Teller is on a roll. A year after his critically acclaimed performance in The Spectacular Now, Teller’s latest film Whiplash is one of my personal favourite indie movies of 2014.

Whiplash is throughly engaging and entertaining. There’s genuine dramatic tension between characters, lines of dialogue that’ll either make you laugh out loud or marvel at its razor-sharp cruelty and an exhilarating ending.

Director Damien Chazell’s jazz music drama centers on a highly driven nineteen year old drummer named Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) and his music conductor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) whose bully like tactics can either make or break Neyman’s dreams for greatness.

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Community Links & News: Most Anticipated Movies

Jake Gyllenhaal Nightcrawler Movie Poster

A number of blogs are covering their local film festivals, giving us a first look at some movies I’m highly anticipating when they get a wider release (or depending on where you live, it might already be in theatres).

Here are several movies that might interest you:

The biographic flick The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a WWII code breaker looks to be a gem. Here’s a great review over at Cinekatz.com.

To the dark underbelly of LA, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a photographer arriving at crimes scenes before the police, turning his photos into quick money. Here’s a spoiler free review of Nightcrawler from The Review Club.

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The Flash Series Premiere Review

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CW’s The Flash 2014 TV Series: Spoiler Free Pilot Review

The opening scene to The Flash (8 pm, Tuesdays on CW) tells us exactly the kind of television show it is. It’s a fun, contemporary super hero series that asks the audience to believe that the impossible can be possible, if only for the next hour.

The Flash doesn’t set out to redefine the genre which is not a bad thing at all. The show embraces its comic book origins in a way that is accessible to new and old fans alike.

What sets The Flash apart from other comic book based shows such as Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and even Arrow is that its lead character has super powers. It’s refreshing that while the amazing feats of The Flash aka Barry Allen are not grounded in realism, his personality and emotional reactions feel genuine.

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13 Sins (2014) Movie Review

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13 Sins (2014) Movie Review

Director: Daniel Stamm
Starring: Mark Webber, Devon Graye, Rutina Wesley, Ron Perlman

13 Sins is an American remake of a Thai psychological thriller/horror movie, taking elements from David Fincher’s The Game and some bits & pieces so to speak from Saw with varying degrees of success. Here is the synopsis:

 A cryptic phone call sets off a dangerous game of risks for Elliot, a down-on-his luck salesman. The game promises increasing rewards for completing 13 tasks, each more sinister than the last. (Source: IMDB)

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Battle Of The Movies: Captain America: The Winter Soldier vs Guardians Of The Galaxy (Spoiler Free)

Time to kick back and put on your favourite superhero pajamas! It’s the battle of Marvel Studios’ blockbusters Captain America: The Winter Soldier versus Guardians Of The Galaxy. After going head to head in several categories such as Story, Characters and Overall Awesomeness, we’ll turn the floor over to the all important people’s decision (that’s you!) for your pick for the best Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two movie of the year.


 Story

Captain America: The Winter Soldier avoids the trappings of a mindless spectacle of fights and explosions because at its core it’s a clever espionage thriller wrapped up in superhero awesomeness. As with many great spy-genre movies, a lot of tension comes from not knowing who to trust. Trust, loyalty and betrayal are big themes which are explored on the personal and political front. Because Captain America is more grounded in the real world, it’s easier to make a connection to the broader ideas of the film, in particular to people’s trust/distrust in their government. Story wise, the rug gets pulled out from under the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a spectacular manner and it’ll have lasting implications in future movies.

Only several months after The Winter Soldier hit theatres Marvel Studios premiered Guardians Of The Galaxy. If you’re not familiar with this movie, check out Guardians Of The Galaxy: Everything You Need To Know for the synopsis and why Marvel is expanding into the cosmic universe. It’s a compliment to say that Guardians feels less like a typical comic book movie and more like a Star Wars meets Indiana Jones type of sci-fi action adventure film on steroids. The story shares a common thread with Marvel’s Avengers, it’s essentially about larger than life individuals who butt heads before coming together as a team although there’s nothing generic about Guardians. Director James Gunn’s vision is bold, lots of fun and manic.  Buckle in your seatbelts because the story quickly immerses you in another galaxy, far far away, yet it’s the same universe inhabited by Captain America. Driving the story is the macguffin but what’s makes the movie entertaining are the likeable characters and how dangerous situations are subverted with humour.

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Mini Movie Review: Shame (2011)

Michael-Fassbender-in-Shame-2011-Movie-Image

Shame (2011)
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale and Nicole Beharie

Shame didn’t hold my attention until about the 15 minute mark when Brandon’s (Michael Fassbender) sister played by Carey Mulligan unexpectedly shows up at his New York apartment and throws a wrench into his cycle of sex addiction. Up until then, the movie is a vignette of emotionally numbing sex acts and shameless shots of Fassbender’s dangling member. My renewed interest wasn’t because of Mulligan’s performance either, she’s not nearly as captivating as the lingering camera shots would suggest. But her character’s off kilter presence is an inadvertent catalyst for Brandon to confront his inner demons, giving this movie a compelling, worthwhile direction. Having said that some of the strongest scenes didn’t involve Mulligan but with Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow). To a certain extent, Beharie’s character sees through the cracks in Brandon’s dysfunctional façade and calls him out on his bullshit in a way that he can respect. She could be the healthiest if not, least destructive relationship in his life if he can only overcome his debilitating aversion to real intimacy.

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Genre Grandeur: Constantine (2005) Movie Review

Constantine Keanu Reeves 2005 Movie

Hope everyone’s summer is off to a rocking start! For this month’s Genre Grandeur at movierob.wordpress.com, it’s comic book / superhero movies. If you would like to share your thoughts on a comic related movie, it’s not too late. You have until the 25th to submit your entry. So far, there’s been many great reviews including Iron Man, Dredd (2012), The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Man Of Steel and The Punisher.

There’s a whole bunch of new comic based television shows coming this fall. NBC’s Constantine is one that I’m not familiar with so I thought I’d check out the movie version for the first time.

Head on over to movierob’s site for my take on 2005’s Constantine. Thanks to Rob for being a gracious host and remember to follow his great blog!

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Question of the Month: Worst Comic Book Movie

sidekickreviews:

What’s the Worst Comic Book Movie? Check out another great edition of Oracle Of Film’s Question Of The Month! Terrific answers from everyone!

Originally posted on Oracle of Film:

It’s a tough life for a comic book movie. While they might be surpassing all expectations, they don’t have too much choice. Even before Marvel set the bar terrifyingly high with Avengers Assemble, the stakes were high. These characters have become myths, legends to their fans. Most superhero comics were created as a form of escapism during the Great Depression, so they have a special place in our hearts. These movies have the tough job of living up to that, so it stands to reason that some superhero movies are going to fail miserably. Below, you guys, have been given a chance to rant about the worst of those movies.

I have also included a sub-category, where each of you described Joffrey in three words. Be warned, I have permitted very strong language to be used, seeing as we are talking about everyone’s favourite Game of Thrones character. I personally…

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Movie Roundup: Which of this month’s Blockbusters are Studs and which are Duds?

Godzilla 2014 Movie Poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier more than whet my appetite for the onslaught of blockbusters in the month of May. The Godzilla trailer had me excited if it could be this summer’s apex predator while I was cautiously skeptical if Days of Future Past could be X-Men’s equivalent of the Avengers.

There are also some older films that I watched this past month, some of them I wouldn’t have heard of it wasn’t for recommendations from movie bloggers. I’ve included excerpts from the best blogger reviews I came across on all of these movies. Check out the full write up by clicking on the link and remember to follow those awesome blogs.

What do you think of this summer’s blockbusters so far? What is your favorite movie, new or old, you watched in May?


Amazing Spider-Man 2

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Sidekick Reviews: While the sequel is anything but amazing, there are some positives to take away. The chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone comes across really well on-screen.  I also liked how ASM2 embraced its comic-book roots, including Spidey retooling his web slinger to get the edge over the villain. ASM2 could have benefited from streamlining the number of plot threads and villains. The studio has it’s eye on setting up the Sinister Six spin-off but neglected to fully develop these villains into engaging, complex antagonists in this movie. The Average Spider-Man doesn’t have the same ring to it.


 Neighbors

Neighbors_(2014)_Poster

Sidekick Reviews: A raunchy, obscene, frat-boy comedy. If you’ve never been a fan of Seth Rogen’s brand of humour, Neighbors won’t change your opinion. But if you’re a fan like me, this comedy delivers some big laughs as the war between neighbours escalates into the absurd and the amusingly inane. Neighbors is about being afraid to grow up and avoiding adult responsibilities, something that perhaps many can identify with, even if everything else in the movie is fun, far-fetched silliness.

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