Archive for the 'Features' Category

Concussion
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.


The Big Short
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.


In the Heart of the Sea
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.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Game Over

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.


Spotlight
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.


Room
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.


Steve Jobs
Fast-Moving, Fast-Talking Biopic

The screenplay for the new biopic Steve Jobs was written by Aaron Sorkin, so it will instantly draw comparisons to 2010’s The Social Network, another movie written by Sorkin about a major personality in the world of computers and the Internet. In fact, Social Network director David Fincher was originally attached to the project that was eventually taken on by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle. The comparisons between the two movies are warranted for more than just their shared screenwriter and similar subject matter, though.


The Martian
Castaway on a Deserted Planet

Author Andy Weir first self-published his novel The Martian as a free online blog, before creating an Amazon Kindle version at the request of his fans. The Kindle version instantly became a best-seller and before long, Hollywood came calling. The book has been described as something of a cross between Apollo 13 and Castaway and that comparison is even more readily apparent when it comes to the film version. Don’t mistake that for meaning that the movie feels like a retread, because it doesn’t; far from it, actually. The Martian definitely stands out as an exhilarating experience on its own and is easily one of the best movies of 2015.


The Intern
Experience Pays Off

After a long and storied career made up mostly of dramatic roles, Robert De Niro has found some success in his later career with comedic roles. He played on his history of playing gangster roles with the big hit Analyze This and then followed that up with the even more successful Meet the Parents series, but The Intern might be his best work in a comedy since Midnight Run came out in the eighties. And De Niro is the star of the show. The actor is perfect as the retired businessman with a lifetime of experience he can share with his new younger co-workers.


Everest
An IMAX Experience

A lot of blockbusters recently have built themselves up as “an IMAX experience,” but they are not necessarily the cinematic experiences for which the IMAX format was originally designed. In fact, it was not that long ago when IMAX theaters played host mostly to documentary and travelogue films that took the viewer to amazing places around the world. Perhaps the new film Everest is the best of both worlds as it takes viewers to the highest place on Earth and showcases some incredible visuals, all while telling a dramatic narrative story based on real-life events. In fact, the movie briefly references the IMAX film crew that was creating a documentary film of the same story (and same name) when the events portrayed actually happened… a film that we were told prior to our screening was the one that opened the very IMAX cinema where we sat.


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