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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Cop Car

Cop Car has a nasty sense of humor. Rarely does a film put itself in these situations where there’s a twisted balance between laughing and cringing, especially when it involves children. But director Jon Watts thrives on it. He generates a dark comedy but with creepiness that is always lingering from scene to scene causing confusion on how the audience chooses to react. He’s a real trickster which is why it’s a shame he can’t keep it up throughout the entirety of his story. The bar is set too high in its savagely luring opening act for Watts to maintain or get back to that level.

We are left in the dark about most of the characters’ past, adding more machinations to an otherwise simple premise and it works in the film’s favor. It’s up to us to fill in the gaps, but there’s no denying trouble is following in their footsteps. However, we do know Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford) are best friends who are running away from home. While naïve and clueless about the way the world works, they sure as hell aren’t timid. So when they see an abandoned cop car in the middle of nowhere, they have to take it for a spin. Kids their age have no choice. If only they knew who they stole from.

Kevin Bacon (with a sultry mustache) gives a forbidding, remorseless performance as a small town sheriff who thinks he’s smarter than he actually is. But to his credit, he appears to have gotten away successfully with quite a bit in his life. As his search for the two kids in his stolen cop car intensifies, he begins to untwine from the inside out.

Why go to hell and back for just a government-owned car you ask?

Let’s just say the sheriff left something in the trunk that he really needs to get rid of. And through it all, Bacon is having way too much fun. Good for him.

Cop Car is an unembellished, low-budget throwback thriller that leaves you with impressions of true potential, specifically when it comes to Watts. By putting center focus on the kids, he captures pure diverting, comedic moments from two young, rebellious souls. Unfortunately, these moments just aren’t meant to last. Surrounded by the violence and mayhem is an enthralling story that concludes by losing its fierceness while hanging on to its childlike innocence and sense of adventure. Undoubtedly a wild ride with a few bumps in the road, but it’s worth it.


Twitter: @SirBrandonV

Best of the Month: July 2015

Best Films


The Connection

Mission:Impossible-Rogue Nation



Best Actor

Jean Dujardin- The Connection

Tom Cruise- Mission:Impossible-Rogue Nation

Jake Gyllenhaal- Southpaw

Paul Rudd- Ant-Man

Ian McKellen- Mr. Holmes

Gilles Lellouche- The Connection

Mark Ruffalo- Infinitely Polar Bear


Best Actress

Amy Schumer- Trainwreck

Zoe Saldana- Infinitely Polar Bear

Rachel McAdams- Southpaw

Rebecca Ferguson- Mission:Impossible- Rogue Nation


Best Director

Judd Apatow- Trainwreck

Cedric Jimenez- The Connection

Asif Kapadia- Amy

Christopher McQuarrie- Mission:Impossible- Rogue Nation


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The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment will make you question an individual’s choices when given a uniform, power, and authority. Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez forces you inside the “prison” where the boundaries are not just pushed but shoved. The mental and physical torment that occurs throughout the film can certainly be draining, but through all of the disgust, there is a fascination in what is unfolding before your eyes. College kids are stripped of their identities and dehumanized, and it’s shocking to witness the transformation of their behavior and what becomes acceptable. You may have read and are familiar about this infamous experiment that was supposed to last two weeks, but instead ended after just six days. There’s a reason for that. After seeing this for yourself, you’ll understand why.

On August 14, 1971, Dr. Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) turns a Stanford University hallway in to a prison for a study on the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard and the conflict between the two sides. Out of 75 students, 24 were selected and with a flip of a coin are chosen to either be a guard or prisoner for $15 a day. The guards get a uniform, sunglasses, and a baton while the prisoners are stripped of their clothes and names and given a dress with a number on it.

Let the mind games begin.

Quickly the realization sets in that this experiment is much more than that and being taken to the extreme. Zimbardo and his team sit back and watch the humiliation being endured while the madness slowly takes its toll. Even the doctor himself doesn’t realize that he has become part of his own research about the scary, unnerving side of human nature. Crudup’s portrayal as Zimbardo is packed with intimidation. He is in over his head, but never wants to admit it. What he is willing to let happen inside his “prison” for the sake of his work is what makes him so damn formidable. Not until the damage is already done does he realize what he’s become.

Ezra Miller (Perks of Being a Wallflower) plays Daniel but is mainly referred to as 8612, and he’s the rebel of the group. As things begin to intensify, he wants to fight back, but the rest of the inmates can’t see the danger of the guards’ power. Not yet anyway. On the other side, there is Chris (Michael Angarano), the overlord who first plants the fear before the other guards run rampant with it. Miller and Angarano give relentless performances, and for two very different reasons, make you feel their wrath. Those are the standout performances, but Alvarez gathered up a stunning young cast with each of them being electric in every scene. It’s mind-blowing the vulnerability that is shown by this cast, but perhaps expected given the harsh environment where everything you took for granted is ripped away.

After 40 years, this controversial yet thought-provoking study remains relevant. It speaks to us in undoubtedly disturbing volumes about the exploration of having control over an individual and how far you’re willing to go to find their breaking point. Alvarez keeps the audience claustrophobic and on lock-down throughout, letting every uncomfortable moment crawl over you.

The Stanford Prison Experiment is an insightful, visceral viewing experience that makes you wonder what a person is truly capable of. Deep down, I don’t think we want to know.


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I know who Amy Schumer is and also know her humor may not be for everyone. With that said, I don’t watch her show on Comedy Central so trust me when I tell you I had no idea what she was capable of. But I sure as hell do now. Trainwreck gives her all of the anecdotes that’s necessary to create something that while nastily bitter, stays honest and funny. Get through the mean-spirited nature and you will find a heart of gold. The script in which she wrote and the stunning performance she gives, whether you like her jokes or not, there’s no way you will not take notice and embrace Schumer for what she has accomplished in this film.

Trainwreck is a first for director Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, This Is 40). There’s no Seth Rogen or Paul Rudd in sight. He is letting a female tell the story and guess what? She can be a lovable asshole too. The role reversal is undeniably vitalizing for the story. Schumer plays Amy, a woman who is taught at a very early age by her father (terrifically offensive Colin Quinn) that monogamy does not exist. She works for a sleazy magazine and since she despises sports, her editor (an unrecognizable and bitchy Tilda Swinton) chooses her to interview Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), a shining sports doctor who just happens to be best buds with LeBron James. Unexpectedly, sparks fly between the two, and they are going out more than once and staying over at each other’s places. Amy’s worst nightmare is becoming a reality. It’s called a relationship.

Brie Larson plays Amy’s sister who is living the “perfect” life. She’s married with kids and seems to have her shit together. These are things that Amy is unfamiliar with so she makes snarky comments, but you can sense a small scent of jealousy with every cutting word. Hader plays Aaron almost like a saint. His love and patience could win anyone over. He seems too good to be true which terrifies Amy. She cannot accept that she quite possibly found a good guy. In a drunken, twisted kind of way, she is going to have to face her fears.

While the spotlight is undoubtedly on Schumer, it’s the athletes in the movie that almost steal it away. Amar’e Stoudemire is a charming guy who actually plays a significant part involving surgery on his knee in order to make a grand return to the court. WWE superstar John Cena plays one of Amy’s lovers (can’t really call him a boyfriend) whose one ridiculous sex scene and many outbursts will shock and awe. And James plays a very heightened version of himself. An overly sensitive, needy basketball player who tries to save a buck wherever he goes. I know it feels like these dudes have no right being in a movie, but you will be surprised and impressed with how much they bring to the table.

What Bridesmaids did for Melissa McCarthy, Trainwreck will do for Schumer. In all of her glory, she never looks back and fully commits to her character. She is a beautiful disaster with a unique voice that flourishes in a film about growing up and willing to take a risk at getting your heart broken. This is one of Apatow’s very best with a hilariously raunchy leading lady. They make a perfect fit.


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