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Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)


Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

Dark humor in an edgy looking story jammed packed with character actors galore.  Why wouldn’t I want to see this film?

The movie is about a broken woman whose daughter had been raped and murdered less than a year earlier and the crime is still unsolved.  She decides to purchase advertisements on three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri, essentially publically calling the police out for not doing their jobs.  This gets the attention of the police station and stirs things up around town.

The film was written and directed by Martin McDonagh and the noteworthy cast includes Frances Mcdormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Caleb Landry Jones, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Zeljko Ivanek, Christopher Berry, John Hawkes, Clarke Peters, and Darrell Brit-Gibson.

The casting is superb.  The characters are excellent.  Rockwell and Harrelson are likable jerks (as they often are).  They play their parts well.  Mcdormand steals the show with her best performance in years.

The multiple characters stories join together well in a web of darkness.  The movie allows its cast to take their time to develop their characters in an overly dysfunctional drama.  They really did not disappoint.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is a blunt force.  It has the right amount of dark humor carefully thrown into the mix to break up the brutal honesty of the film.

This film is a miserably twisted tale that goes to some dark places.  You can really feel the pain and anguish on screen.  However, it leaves those places leaving you feeling better about the whole thing afterwards.

There is more cussing in this film than I have heard in a newer film for a while.  The dialogue and writing are top notch.  I enjoyed how the film did not really edit itself.  It may not be much for the politically correct crowd.  If you cannot handle harsh language, this movie is not for you.  Given some of the horrible situations in this film, I feel that the language was justified and also more realistic.  It served as another tool to get the point across.

The movie pushes the boundaries on what you expect.  Lots of surprises keep you guessing throughout.  It’s witty and charming, but in a dysfunctional, hellish way.

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Fargo (1996)

North Country (2005)

The Way, Way Back (2013)

Mr. Right (2015)

Choke (2008)

Matchstick Men (2003)

Out of the Furnace (2013)

Triple 9 (2016)

Zombieland (2009)

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Emagine Willow Creek Theater in Plymouth, MN


Emagine Willow Creek Theater in Plymouth, MN

Gone are the days of the singing candy boxes dancing across the screen along with the trailers before the feature film.  Gone are the days of the Cineplex Odeon Cinema.  Muller Family no longer owns this theater.  Emagine has redefined what I call my “home theater.”  The Willow Creek Theater has come a long way, and I’ve been along for the whole ride.

This movie theater opened in 1989.  It is the first theater that I remember visiting as a child.

I visited the nearby General Cinemas Shelard Park Theater in St. Louis Park since I was in the womb up until near the time that theater closed.  However, I’ve kept coming back to Willow Creek.

Willow Creek has always been more memorable and it has stood the test of time.  The evolution of this theater has been a sight to see.  Emagine has made some very tasteful upgrades that has transformed this movie house into a new kind of awesome.

These days, theaters need the cushy recliners in order to compete.  A bar and restaurant is also becoming the norm.  Willow Creek has all of that and more.  The popular film themed paintings on the walls are a nice added touch.  It classes the joint up, along with the chandelier in the entryway and the weeping willows.

This place is almost a classic.  I have spent many a bag of popcorn exploring the movie world here.  The movies change, but this theater still feels like home.

The Best Movies of 2016


The Best Movies of 2016

 

Below is my list of the best movies that I have seen that were released in 2016 (even if some were made in 2015).  I have included trailers for each movie.  I would love to eventually write a review of each of these films and talk about why I enjoyed them so much.  But for now, just know that all of these movies were awesome in their own way.  I will continue to add to this list if I see any more movies from 2016 that are worthy of this list.

 

The Accountant (2016)

The Nice Guys (2016)

Deadpool (2016)

The Free State of Jones (2016)

Bleed for This (2016)

13 Hours (2016)

Passengers (2016)

Triple 9 (2016)

Demolition (2015)

Hardcore Henry (2015)

Arrival (2016)

Deepwater Horizon (2016)

Sully (2016)

Mr. Right (2015)

12 Strong (2018)


12 Strong (2018)

Besides what I saw in the trailer, I was not aware of the true story that this film depicts.  How was this not more widely publicized?

12 Strong is a true story about 12 Special Forces soldiers sent on a covert operation in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  They are the first boots on the ground.  The group teams up with an Afghan leader, and together on horseback, they try to take down the Taliban.

The movie is based on the book “Horse Soldiers” by Doug Stanton.  It is directed by Nicolai Fuglsig.

The noteworthy cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill, Austin Stowell, Rob Riggle, William Fichter, Fahim Fazli, Numan Acar, and Taylor Sheridan.

12 Strong is the best war movie that I have seen since American Sniper (2014).  It is done in a similar style as Lone Survivor (2013).  It is an amazing untold story that everyone should know about.  It tells the story about America’s immediate response after the 9/11 attacks.

This is easily Chris Hemsworth’s best film.  His role as a soldier was quite believable.

Michael Shannon and Michael Pena also give very likable performances.

The flow to the story was very fluid.  I credit the film quality to the unknown director Nicolai Fuglsig.  A film with such epic proportions cannot be easy to direct.  Especially one this good.

The convincing sets and realistic battle scenes make you feel like you are watching on the battlefield.  It is a war movie, so there is a lot of quality brutal violence.  The special effects are good, but not overdone.

The story itself, was what was most surprising to me.  The U.S. sends twelve men into Afghanistan to respond to the 19 terrorists that took out the World Trade Center.  The covert operation sees those twelve men joining forces with Afghan soldiers on horseback to try to systematically takedown the Taliban.  Horses against tanks, rockets, and other heavy artillery.  Who would’ve thought?

That is fascinating to me.  It’s the 21st century.  The greatest country in the world is attacked with their own planes.  And, their response is on horses in the desert.  Reading that out loud sounds pretty harsh.  But, that is why this is such an interesting and incredible story.  This is not me talking down about the story it all.  That is me praising it.  If you have not seen it and it sounds interesting to you, go see it now!

I rate this movie a on a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Lone Survivor (2013)

American Sniper (2014)

Fury (2014)

Unbroken (2014)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

The Pianist (2002)

We Were Soldiers (2002)

The 15:17 to Paris (2018)

The 15:17 to Paris (2018)


The 15:17 to Paris (2018)

The legendary Clint Eastwood took a big risk casting the actual people that his film is about to star in it.  This concept immediately sparked my interest enough for me to be really excited about seeing The 15:17 to Paris.

I intentionally did not watch much of the trailer for this film, nor did I read anything about it.  This is because I vaguely remembered hearing about this story, watching the news and reading about what happened after this event took place, not too long ago.  I did not remember a lot of what happened and I did not want to spoil the movie by knowing all about it beforehand.

With all of the vile stories of terrorism and mass-murder we hear happening all over the news in this crazy world that we live in, it’s nice to recognize the heroes that fight back against the evil that is unleashed around them.  That is what The 15:17 to Paris is.  It is a story about the ones that fought back to try to protect their fellow man because they were not about to go down without a fight.  This movie is the story of three friends who grew up together and how they happened to be on a train to Paris at the time of a gruesome terrorist attack aimed at everyone on board.

The movie was based on the book by Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Jeffrey E. Stern.  It was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood.

The cast includes the three men the film is about: Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos.  The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Judy Greer, Jenna Fischer, P.J. Byrne, Thomas Lennon, Tony Hale, Jaleel White, and Steve Coulter.

I heard that initially the MPAA rating system wanted to make the movie rated R.  This upset Eastwood and he had to raise a big fuss to win the PG-13 rating.  I’m not sure if any scenes were cut from the film to achieve the PG-13 rating, but I found no reason that there should’ve been an R rating.  There was hardly any swearing, no nudity, and only some violence.  The violence was not excessive and was very necessary to tell the story accurately.  Nothing else warranted an R rating.  Could it be a way of censoring Eastwood’s film so less people could see it?  That will likely never be revealed, but I wouldn’t put it past Hollywood for pulling a move like that.  Good old Clint!  Always fighting for what he thinks is right.  He doesn’t care if Hollywood doesn’t back him.  He has built an astounding career on getting his movies made no matter what.  In a lot of ways, he is that powerful protagonist character that he has portrayed on screen so many times.  I think he felt that this story needed to be told and he wanted the perspective of the real people to make it more accurate.

The film is not going to win any awards for its acting.  These three men are not actors.  These are real people.  Realizing this fact while watching the movie actually made it more powerful.  It made me approach my view of the movie in a different way.  It doesn’t matter that the dialogue was not delivered by seasoned actors.  This is an obvious detail in Eastwood’s vision.  It simply matters that their story was told.  Who better to tell it than the real people themselves?

The 15:17 to Paris depicts an incredible true story of heroism and courage.

The movie is not loaded with action and special effects.  It sheds light on a story that a lot of people didn’t pay much attention to.  It reminds us of the good in people.  Humanity in helping others because that is the right thing to do.  These men didn’t think twice about their own safety.  They just did what they had to do.

I watched this film two nights ago and I have thought about it since.  The more that I think about it, the more I like it.  You are not going to leave the movie in awe.  However, it will make you contemplate what you saw.  Maybe you will be more grateful for what you have.

 

I rate this movie a 7.5 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

American Sniper (2014)

Lone Survivor (2013)

World Trade Center (2006)

Captain Phillips (2013)

12 Strong (2018)

United 93 (2006)

MoviePass is it worth it?


MoviePass is it worth it?

 

If I had known about MoviePass a few years ago, I would have seen many more films in the theater.  Also, I would have saved a lot of money.  MoviePass takes the stress out of going to the theater.  No more worrying about if a film is going to be worth forking over your hard earned money, just to be disappointed.

MoviePass is absolutely worth it.  Especially if you purchase it through Costco for $30 less per year than what MoviePass usually charges.  $89.99 and you can see one movie in the theater per day for a year (Regular price $120 per year).  If you see at least 9 movies in a year, it pays for itself.

Take my word for it.  If you see more than 9 movies in a year, you are wasting your money by not having a MoviePass.  I’m not trying to sell or advertise for them.  I just love mine that much!

Going to the Movies in Paris


I went to the movies in Paris the other day…

I ventured to St. Michael Cinema 15 in St. Michael, Minnesota for the first time, finally. It’s a beautiful theater made up to look like Paris, France. The lobby is gorgeous!

Apparently, they have a 70 foot “Eiffel Screen” that is supposed to be pretty awesome. Hopefully I will be able to experience a film on that screen in the future, as I will certainly be returning to that theater in the near future.

They have free refills on any size soda and popcorn. They have a bar and restaurant on the second floor.

The front few rows inside of the theater that I was in had the cozy reclining seats.  The back half of the theater still had nice upright seats.  It was good to have the option, and I’m sure that way they are able to fit more people in each theater.  The big recliners take up a lot of space in theaters and cuts back on the amount of seats in each theater.

Overall, it was an impressive theater and I had fun checking it out. I should’ve taken more pictures. I just wanted to share this with you because I thought it was pretty cool.

The Battle of the Sexes (2017)


The Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Although I did not live during the time that this film is supposed to have taken place, I knew a little bit about the battle of the sexes.  OK, all I really knew was that men and women played tennis against each other in the 1970s to prove which sex was better at sports.  I did not know any specifics.  I knew nothing.

The movie is a true story about how the best women’s tennis player, Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and former men’s tennis champion, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) come to play an exhibition tennis match against each other for the battle of the sexes in 1973.

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Andrea Riseborough, Bill Pullman, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Jessica McNamee, Austin Stowell, Wallace Langham, Lewis Pullman (son of Bill Pullman), and James Mackay.

The movie was written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

The Battle of the Sexes was very formulaic and predictable.  However, it was a true story that I was truly unfamiliar with.  An exhibition tennis match suddenly becomes a fight for equal pay and equal rights.  It is a feel-good film about working to right a wrong in society.  The movie is an exploration in sexism and surprisingly, sexuality.

This would have been a great time to experience in American History.  To witness this symbolic tennis match (even just on TV), would’ve been witnessing an important time for women’s rights.

The movie does a good job showing just how slanted peoples’ views of men and women were back in the 1970s.  Even though lots of people believe that we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to equals rights for all, this film is definitely a big reminder that we have come a long way.

Emma Stone and Steve Carell were superb pitted against each other (as they were together in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011).  The costume design in the movie was excellent.  Stone and Carell looked very much like the people they were portraying.  So much so, that it was a little scary.  The 1970s was recreated very artistically down to every detail.

The movie had a nice recipe of goofy humor, and serious drama.  Like many sports films, it was quite predictable.  It is a formula that we have seen 100 times and it doesn’t get old.  We still enjoy watching the underdog.  It’s a David and Goliath story.  Danielle and Goliath, if you will.

 

I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Invincible (2006)

Rocky (1976)

The Natural (1984)

Rudy (1993)

Gangster Squad (2013)

Zombieland (2009)

The Best Movies of 2017


The Best Movies of 2017

 

Below is my list of the best movies that I have seen that were released in 2017 (even if some were made in 2016).  I have included trailers for each movie.  I hope to eventually write a review of each of these films and talk about why I enjoyed them so much.  But for now, just know that I highly recommend all of these movies.  I will continue to add to this list if I see any more movies from 2017 that are worthy of this list.

 

Patriots Day (2016)

Live by Night (2016)

John Wick 2 (2017)

The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)

American Made (2017)

Only the Brave (2017)

It (2017)

Sleepless (2017)

Atomic Blonde (2017)

Stronger (2017)

The Greatest Showman (2017)

The Founder (2016)

Have you seen all of these?

Are there any that you think I should add to the list?

Hostiles (2017)


Hostiles (2017)

I’m a big fan of the Western genre if it’s done right.  Christian Bale does not often disappoint.  So, naturally I was pretty excited to see this movie.

The film takes place in 1892.  It is about an army captain (Christian Bale) who is ordered to gather his men and transport a notorious Cheyenne Chief and his family back to their home land.  Along the way, they clash with a group of Apaches.

The film was written and directed by Scott Cooper.  The noteworthy cast includes Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Adam Beach, Jesse Plemons, Ben Foster, Stephen Lang, Scott Wilson, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tanaya Beatty, David Midthunder, Rory Cochrane, and Peter Mullan.

This is the second time that Cooper has directed Bale.  The first time being in the film Out of the Furnace (2013).  Cooper also previously directed Jesse Plemons and Rory Cochrane in Black Mass (2015).  This is the second western that Christian Bale and Ben Foster have been in together.  The first one was 3:10 to Yuma (2007).  Ben Foster and Jesse Plemons were also in the movie The Program (2015) together.

Hostiles does an excellent job recreating the late 1800s in the “Old West.”  The set and costume design are spot on.

The film swiftly grasps your focus like a gut-wrenching kick to the stomach.  It knocks the wind out of you before slowing down to allow the story to unfold.  Like most Westerns, Hostiles runs at a slower pace.  The movie pauses to allow you to take in its surroundings.  The soundtrack and scenery contribute nicely to the overall dark tone of the film.  The characters are permitted to develop naturally as the actors are able to take their time to actually act.  Nothing is rushed.  The precision in the details makes the movie feel convincingly more real.

It’s a breath of fresh air to watch a movie, in this day and age, that doesn’t solely rely on special effects and action to tell the story while leaving acting and writing in the back seat.  Occasionally, Hostiles does feel a little slow, but I think that is just because of all the fast paced action that we are used to Hollywood throwing at us.  In this case, the longer the film goes on, the more you appreciate it for what it is.

Bale imposed his will upon this film with an eerie presence.  The presence of a war-torn honorable man who had been dragged through hell and forced to do terrible things to survive.  His acting is impeccable and he is allowed to shine in Hostiles.

Rosamund Pike gave a good performance.  She was not treated like a set decoration like so many actresses are, these days.

This film is unique because the characters seem to be put in situations where they react more to their environment.  The rough road that they are on can be seen in the actors’ eyes and felt on screen.

I do feel like some of the actors in this film were not used enough.  However, at the pace that the film travels, it could’ve been a much longer road had they not cut their time short.  I can see how this might have taken away from the story.  So, I like the direction that it ultimately went.

Overall, Hostiles is a darker, worthwhile Western with substance.  Christian Bale carries the film, but it’s obvious that Scott Cooper wanted it that way.

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you enjoyed Hostiles, you might also like:

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

The Revenant (2015)

Dances with Wolves (1990)

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Out of the Furnace (2013)