Best of the Month: October 2015

Best Films

Steve Jobs

The Martian


99 Homes


Best Actor

Ryan Reynolds- Mississippi Grind

Matt Damon- The Martian

Mark Rylance- Bridge of Spies

Andrew Garfield- 99 Homes

Joseph Gordon-Levitt- The Walk

Ben Mendelsohn- Mississippi Grind

Abraham Attah- Beasts of No Nation

Tom Hiddleston- Crimson Peak

Michael Shannon- 99 Homes/Freeheld

Idris Elba- Beasts of No Nation

Michael Fassbender- Steve Jobs

Robert Redford- Truth

Tom Hanks- Bridge of Spies

Jacob Tremblay- Room


Best Actress

Mia Wasikowska- Crimson Peak

Ellen Page- Freeheld

Kate Winslet- Steve Jobs

Sandra Bullock- Our Brand Is Crisis

Cate Blanchett- Truth

Julianne Moore- Freeheld

Jessica Chastain- Crimson Peak


Best Director

Guillermo del Toro- Crimson Peak

Ramin Bahrani- 99 Homes

Ridley Scott- The Martian

Danny Boyle- Steve Jobs

Lenny Abrahamson- Room

Steven Spielberg- Bridge of Spies

Cary Joji Fukunaga- Beasts of No Nation


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Your life is stripped away in a moments notice. The life you are living, along with the family and friends you love, have vanished from their very existence. All that you are left with is a new home, a space no bigger than a small shed in someone’s backyard.

Sounds like a living hell right?

Now imagine being a five year old boy and that shed is the only world you have ever known. This is what Joy (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) are having to sustain in Room. Director Lenny Abrahamson gets up-close and personal in a beautifully tender though severely vehement story of survival. The characters find themselves picking up the pieces of their soul that are now unrecognizable, never quite seeming to fit back in to place.

Joy fantasizes about the house she use to live in along with her family that lived in it. She’s been in captivity for seven years thanks to Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), a truculent monster who can givith and taketh away at the snap of a finger. Each night he barges in and rapes her, which is how Jack is born in to this infernal environment. Jack cannot see beyond the four walls that surround him. Just like any child, his mind has been exploring what he sees, feels, and experiences in a naive yet virtuous wonder. Knowing he is growing up in an abusive, frightening place, it’s heartbreaking to witness how much trust he has in the reality he is living in. In spite of, Jack is Joy’s love and hope, and most importantly, their fighting chance for freedom.

Still, what happens if they accomplish it? What’s in store for them in the real world?

Room just isn’t about being trapped in a 10 x 10 shed. It is as well a state of mind an individual can allow themselves to be detained in. There is the physical damage that can be easily identified, but what is going on in the inside is perhaps even more catastrophic than on the outside. This is why apprehension and fascination collide when Abrahamson gives the audience a glimpse of Joy and Jacks’s liberty.

None of this would have nearly the impact it does if it was not for Larson and Tremblay, and their superior portrayals of a mother and son solely relying on each other to make it through each day. Larson is devoured in desperation and devotion with the young, budding Tremblay never being showy and incapable of fabricating any emotions whatsoever. Incredible performances by Larson and Tremblay display horrific suffering while astounding resilience breaks through. And while they unconditionally deserve to be praised, Joan Allen, who plays Joy’s mother and Jacks’ grandmother, uses every scene to be the woman that’s a necessity for this film. She’s strong, candid, and represents a different perspective of how their lives will be forever changed.

Room is a wrenching, harrowing psychological drama with an abundance of heart even if it’s drenched in darkness. Brilliantly, the director and his cast disclose a humane story in reply to the inhumanity that exists today implementing a thoughtful, devastating film about unlimited imagination and the unwavering bond between a mother and child.





How many times can a classic fairy tale be reinvented? Out of those times, how many are actually successful?

We know the answers to these questions because there’s a hatred in our hearts each time an individual tries to mess with our childhood stories. Peter Pan is no exception and director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna) scrabbles to find the enchantment and wonder of our imagination in Pan. Now in no way am I saying there isn’t a valiant effort being displayed. It’s a family friendly adventure providing a dose of magic in the air thanks to a beautifully breathtaking Neverland. Regrettably, Peter’s voyage to becoming the ageless, mythical Peter Pan is unable to enrapture, coming off as unnecessary.

Levi Miller plays Peter, a young orphan absconded to Neverland, who astonishes everyone when he shows he can fly. And no one takes more notice than Blackbeard (a bald Hugh Jackman having a delightful time). Blackbeard has made forgotten children his slaves, and with their forced abetting, he is sucking Neverland dry of fairy dust for immortality. Staying young is a big deal here. Obviously. Be that as it may, Peter’s flight threatens Blackbeard’s very reign and existence. With help from Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and Hook (Garrett Hedlund), Peter searches for where he came from and who he is destined to become. Yet believing is a big part of that which is easier said than done.

Wright elevates this lively prequel with hypnotizing colors and atmosphere. His camera keeps the fantasy alive and well. The same can’t be said for the cast. Jackman’s performance coheres with the film, but his talents are underused. Except his vocal chords. He’s allowed to sing Nirvana on his boat. Mara is there to jump and run while looking exotic. Mission accomplished on that one. Though most annoying is Hedlund’s Hook. His eccentric Jack Nicholson expressions and voice are off-putting, sparking nothing but confusion with his notorious character.

While Wright’s decision making can be questioned, his choice for Peter deserves to be applauded. Miller may be small, but he enfolds everything we love about this endearing tale. He is a gallant Peter Pan, and beyond question, the wind beneath Pan’s wings. If only there was some leftover fairy dust to throw over it’s miscasting and derivative story.

Best of the Month: September 2015

Best Films


Black Mass

Goodnight Mommy



Best Actor

Joel Edgerton- Black Mass

Chiwetel Ejiofor- Z for Zachariah 

Robert De Niro- The Intern

Johnny Depp- Black Mass

Jason Clarke- Everest

Benecio Del Toro- Sicario

Tobey Maguire- Pawn Sacrifice

Josh Brolin- Everest/Sicario


Best Actress

Nina Hoss- Phoenix

Lily Tomlin- Grandma

Kiera Knightley- Everest

Greta Gerwig- Mistress America

Anne Hathaway- The Intern

Margot Robbie- Z for Zachariah

Emily Blunt- Sicario

Lola Kirke- Mistress America

Emily Watson- Everest


Best Director

Denis Villeneuve- Sicario

Scott Cooper- Black Mass

Baltasar Kormakur- Everest

Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz- Goodnight Mommy


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Pride. Ego. Fear. Dignity.

These emotions make us do some crazy shit. They create something deep inside that drives a person to their limit, whether it’s mentally or physically, and immediately we find ourselves attempting the unthinkable. I cannot imagine this not being the case for the climbers who set out on an expedition to climb Everest: the majestically merciless beast of a mountain.

Everest is a relentless, unapologetic adventure that leaves your legs shaking while gasping for air. Director Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns) is brilliant in his usage of space and scale. He provides awe-inspiring panorama views from heights unlike any other. Though his struggles in capturing the quiet, intimate moments of the climbers and the lives they have left behind cannot be overlooked. The three people you get to know the most are Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), and Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin).

Hall is the leader and, undoubtedly, the most experienced climber of the group. Everest is nothing new for him. He’s made a living out of getting to the top while his view never gets old. There’s no reason you shouldn’t feel that you’re in the best of hands with him. His wife (Keira Knightley) cannot help but worry, especially when he is going to become a father, and a particular scene they share together on the phone will overcome anyone with a beating heart. Hansen is the ultimate underdog; a mailman who has attempted this climb before and got oh so close. He’s back for redemption and a purpose with an entire school full of kids, with their own hopes and dreams, rooting for him back home. Weathers is not like Hall or Hansen. He is selfishly climbing for himself and no one else. This probably explains why his marriage to his wife (Robin Wright) is deteriorating with every step he takes on his ascent.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Sam Worthington, and Emily Watson round out the impressive ensemble, but with too much talent on screen, Kormakur limits himself on the appropriate time needed to focus on each character. He is cursed with having to choose between the human element or the force of nature. Disappointingly, sacrifices were made leaving the real casualties of the film being an unvarnished premise with underutilized talent.

But when it’s all said and done, and you capture your breath, the performances from Clarke, Brolin, Watson, and Knightley will stay with you. Knightley pours with vehement while Watson conveys compassion while never succumbing to being too sentimental. And Clarke and Brolin bring the attitude and fight necessary to survive the impossible. We know who they are, what they stand for, and why they are hoping to make it back home. You sure as hell hope these two can prevail.

Everest is an epic that’s stirringly breathtaking and beautifully formulated. Kormakur knows who is boss, and it’s evident with his cameras flaunting God’s miraculous creation and it’s unpredictable imperilment. There’s no mistaking this grueling experience on an unforgiving mountain will give you everything you can handle. It’s absolutely guaranteed if you view it in all of its glory in IMAX 3D.

Brace yourself for a brutal showdown between man vs. nature.



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The Visit

M. Night Shyamalan is back with “an original thriller” that he wrote and directed. Not since The Happening has he attempted a return to his roots of providing us something chilling with a twist that changes everything. And the poor folks (I am one of them) who had to sit through that one may leave pissed off after becoming a victim of The Visit. Here’s a hint: When the audience is laughing as if it’s a comedy, something has gone awfully wrong somewhere in the transformation from the page to the big screen.

With that said, comedy does a play a part in the movie and that is smart on Shymalan’s part, however, where in the hell did all of the astute, hair-raising scenes go?! Surely, he wrote a few of them. The story is a simple one. A brother and sister go visit their grandparents who they’ve never had a relationship with. The sister (Olivia DeJonge) thinks this is the perfect premise for a documentary. She takes herself a little too seriously while her brother (Ed Oxenbould) is the only intentional comic relief. He also can rap on cue.

Before you know it, the kids start to see some weird stuff occur after their 9:30 pm bedtime. Nana (Deanna Dunagan) is running around the house trying to climb the walls and has a real obsession about cleaning the oven….with her grandchildren inside of it. Then there’s Pop-pop (Peter McRobbie). Let’s just say he spends a lot of time in the shed. Oh and on one occasion he is caught with a gun in his mouth. So there’s that. At this point, we can all agree you can’t really blame the kids for being a little freaked out. The best part of this nonsense is the only real defense that is used throughout the entire movie to explain why the grandparents are so nuts is because, well, they are old.

Of course! So logical! Everything makes sense!

Now to the part you are all waiting for. Is there that big signature M. Night twist?!

Well there is a scene showing an old woman’s ass and another involving a dirty diaper. Wait. Let’s start over.

There’s a surprise that stitches all the craziness together, but honestly, most of you either will have already figured it out or you won’t care at all. Pain is in my heart when I say M. Night may want to just stick to TV. This comes from a guy who loved The Sixth Sense all the way to Lady in the Water. That’s right! I highly enjoyed Lady in the Water! Years have passed and he simply is unable to surprise or entertain us anymore. The Visit is a second-rate attempt from a once determined, audacious filmmaker.

An original thriller? Not a chance. An unbelievably deplorable thriller is more like it.


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Best of the Month: August 2015

Best Films

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

The Gift

The End of the Tour


Best Actor

Joel Edgerton- The Gift

Jason Segel- The End of the Tour

Jason Mitchell- Straight Outta Compton

Jason Bateman- The Gift

Jesse Eisenberg- The End of the Tour/American Ultra

Corey Hawkins- Straight Outta Compton

Kevin Bacon- Cop Car

Joaquin Phoenix- Irrational Man

O’Shea Jackson Jr.- Straight Outta Compton


Best Actress

Bel Powley- The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Meryl Streep- Ricki and the Flash

Charlize Theron- Dark Places

Kristen Stewart- American Ultra

Emma Stone- Irrational Man



Best Director

Joel Edgerton- The Gift

F. Gary Gray- Straight Outta Compton

Marielle Heller- The Diary of a Teenage Girl

James Ponsoldt- The End of the Tour


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