The Coens Visit Old Hollywood
No director(s) in Hollywood so easily transition from drama to comedy and back again as the Coen Brothers. The writing and directing duo take on old Hollywood in their latest comedy entitled Hail, Caesar! It is a fascinating concept and there are individual scenes throughout the movie that are fantastic on their own, but the whole, unfortunately, does not quite live up to the sum of its parts. Even though it falls a little short of its promise upon initial viewing, however, I look forward to revisiting it in the future.
High Seas Rescue
Less than a month into 2016 and we have already gotten two movies with the word “hours” in the title that each tell stories about men who put their own lives in danger to save the lives of others. The first was Michael Bay’s 13 Hours, which told the story of the men who defended a U.S. Diplomatic Mission when it was attacked in Benghazi. The Finest Hours goes back further in time to tell the story that to this day is considered the greatest small-boat rescue in United States Coast Guard history. Again, you will find yourself having great respect for these men who voluntarily endanger their lives just by going to work.
The Story the Politics Overshadowed
Michael Bay certainly has a talent for directing action. But his movies have always been more popcorn-flavored, so taking on a sensitive subject like Benghazi seems like a risky move. The director has tackled real-life stories before with both Pearl Harbor and Pain & Gain. The latter was a story about dumb criminals that didn’t need to be taken too seriously, but Pearl Harbor certainly covered an event that required a level of respect for the events that took place… and Bay failed to deliver on that. Fortunately, with 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, the director does manage to tell an intense action thriller while giving the real-life persons involved the respect they deserve.
Will Smith vs. the NFL
Professional football is not just a sport, it is an industry. And the National Football League is so big that, as explained by Dr. Cyril Wecht in Concussion, they “own a day of the week… the same day the church used to own.” Few individuals would ever have the gumption to take on a corporation so large, but Concussion, inspired by a GQ article called “Game Brain,” is the story of one such individual.
A Comedic View of a True Drama
When adapting a novel about a serious topic like the housing-bubble collapse in the mid-2000s, Adam McKay might not be the first director on your short list. The filmmaker who is best known as Will Ferrell’s producing partner and the director of the Anchorman movies seems like an unnatural fit for a movie about a subject that completely changed the American economy and affected millions of lives. As it turns out, though, McKay was the perfect choice to direct The Big Short.
The Real Moby-Dick
The last time star Chris Hemsworth and director Ron Howard collaborated, the result was the thrilling racing drama Rush, one of the best movies of 2013. They leave behind the racecars in favor of whaling ships for their next film together, the epic-feeling adventure-cum-survival drama In the Heart of the Sea. It’s the true story of the ill-fated 1820 whaling expedition that inspired the classic novel Moby Dick. The result may not be a timeless classic on par with the novel, but it is still quite entertaining.
Adapting young adult novels into big screen franchises has been popular in Hollywood for more than ten years now. The Harry Potter movies really started it, while the so-called “craze” really started with 2008’s Twilight. Many of the attempts to take advantage of this craze have failed to find a wide audience, but a few have broken out from the pack to become legitimate blockbuster franchises. The queen jewel of the heap is certainly The Hunger Games franchise, which now concludes with Mockingjay Part 2.
All the Cardinal’s Men
This modern era of cinema is dominated by special effects-laden stories of fictional superheroes saving the world from destruction, but what about the real heroes in this world? They may not have superpowers or wear colorful costumes, but they are heroes because they do their jobs and they do what is right. Fortunately, the movies still find time to tell these stories and because they are about real people and real events, they are often even more fascinating than those big-budget action spectacles.
A story about campaign strategists and the lengths that they will go to get their candidate elected could not come out at a much better time. Although the presidential race in the U.S. won’t conclude until next year, the race for the party nominations are currently in full swing. Unfortunately for the candidates, Our Brand Is Crisis is not going to do any favors for them when it comes to inspiring confidence that everything we read and hear about our candidates is on the up and up.
A Locked-In Drama
The new kidnapping drama Room starts out just like most of those enclosed space thrillers that take place almost entirely in a single location, but it quickly becomes so much more. Thanks largely to the terrific lead performances by Brie Larson and 9-year-old Jacob Tremblay, Room becomes a powerful emotional drama that hits all the right beats. It won’t be for everyone, though. It is a hard-hitting drama that never tries to be a crowd-pleaser.
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