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Category Archives: Drama Movie Reviews

The Post (2017)


The Post (2017)

Steven Spielberg directing Hanks, Streep, Odenkirk, Greenwood, Plemons, and Brie should make a lot of money and be a high quality movie, right?

The film is about The Washington Post Newspaper it 1971.  It chronicles how the press defies the government as they want to release loads of classified documents pertaining to the Vietnam War.

The movie was directed by Steven Spielberg and the noteworthy cast includes Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Greenwood, Jesse Plemons, Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, David Cross, Zach Woods, and Michael Stuhlberg.

The Post is dry as the desert sand.  Bright, but also burned out.

The movie was a little hard to follow in the beginning.  It has a slow start.  Almost every scene seemed drawn out.  Because some of the scenes drag on, it takes away from the storyline.  You either lose interest and it makes it harder to remember small details that do not matter until later on.

Like many political dramas, the stars come out to play.  However, often there are too many stars in the sky, so to speak.  There is not enough movie to go around.  That is exactly the case with this film.  There was this kind of detachment from the main characters.

Odenkirk was probably the most entertaining part of the film and it felt like he was hardly in it.  Hanks was likable, but his performance was nothing special.  Streep’s character started to develop about halfway through.  I feel like the movie had plenty of time for us to become attached to the characters, but it just never gets there.

The entertainment value that we have come to expect from a Spielberg directed film, was hard to find.  The spark was just was not present.  The scenery was great.  It felt like the right time and place that it was depicting.  There was not a shortage of acting ability.  The Post just falls short of all expectations.

It is a likable overrated, underachieving, sluggish, and detached film.  It is worth a one-time rental.

 

I rate this movie a 6 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Lincoln (2012)

Bobby (2006)

Doubt (2008)

Lions for Lambs (2007)

JFK (1991)

All the President’s Men (1976)

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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)

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)

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)

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)


A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Poster

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)

I had never even heard of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints until I rented Charlie Countryman (2013) at the Redbox.  When you rent Charlie Countryman, you get A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints as a bonus movie.  They give you a two-for-one, a double sided disc for the price of one movie.  It’s a Shia LaBeouf double feature.  They are both indie films.  This was all the more intriguing to me, so I watched each movie the other night.  You can guess what one of my next reviews will be.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Group

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was based on the book with the same title.  Surprisingly enough, the man who wrote the book, Dito Montiel, also directed the movie.  The movie is a film adaptation of Dito Montiel’s life growing up in Astoria, New York in the 1980s.  The story is a look into a messed up childhood in a rough part of the city.  It follows the struggles of inner city teenagers, Dito (Shia LaBeouf plays young Dito, and Robert Downey Jr. plays grown up Dito) and his friends as they are becoming adults.  The circle of friends are pitted against drugs, violence, sex, love, hate, loss, and hardship.  All the while, Dito wants to escape New York and try to make a better life for himself somewhere else.

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Channing Tatum, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, Rosario Dawson, Melonie Diaz, Martin Compston, Scott Michael Campbell, Anthony DeSando, Adam Scarimbolo, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Laila Liliana Garro, and Eric Roberts.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Downey Jr. Dawson

I’m surprised that this movie got past me 8 years ago, because the cast is excellent.  I should have been aware of this film earlier.  It’s another low-budget independent film that slipped through the cracks.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was hard to watch, at times, but it was also hard to stop watching.  The film was an excellent depiction of how rundown certain areas of the country can be and how it affects the people living there.  It’s indeed unfortunate, but it’s in-your-face honesty.  Some people won’t be able to handle the honesty of this movie.  The trashy characters, obscene language and other vulgarity, along with the sex, nudity, and mindless violence, among other things, will be too much for some.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints LaBeouf

But, you have to take the sweet from the sour.  There is indeed a silver lining in this story.  The headlining actors in this film are exceptional.  The movie makes you feel like you are in the slums with the characters experiencing it all.  The actors portray a remarkable friendship and camaraderie that helps you come back to the reality that people often try to be good even if they are bad.

The story is rigid and rocky, but the writing and acting make it all worthwhile.  Here is an unknown gem for those who are willing to give it a chance.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Tatum Palminteri

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

If you liked A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, you might also enjoy the following movies:

White House Down (2013)

The Company You Keep (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

Out of the Furnace (2013)

The Big Wedding (2013)

Stuck in Love (2012)

Flight (2012)

Prisoners (2013)

Wrecked (2010)

Mud (2012)

The Iceman (2012)

American Hustle (2013)


American Hustle Poster

American Hustle (2013)

Back in August of 2013, when I first heard about American Hustle, this was my viewpoint on it:

David O. Russell has taken 3 stars from his film Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and 2 stars from his film The Fighter (2010), and brought all 5 of them together to make a movie.  If The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook had a baby, it would be named American Hustle.

Not only is this film a guaranteed Oscar contender, but it will likely be amazing.

I have been excited about seeing American Hustle ever since.

American Hustle Cooper Adams Bale

What do you get when you cross two conniving con artists, a crazy FBI agent, corrupt politicians and the mob?  The answer, American Hustle.  Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) have developed an excellent partnership of swindling desperate people out of their money.  Everything is going great until one day, a power hungry FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) catches the couple in his web.  In order to keep from going to prison, Irving and Sydney are forced to work with the FBI to try to help bring down other criminals.  One thing leads to another and they find themselves butting heads with the mafia.  The beauty of it all is that you can’t tell who is conning who.

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Pena, Alessandro Nivola, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Robert De Niro, and Paul Herman.

I have to say that I loved the trailer for this movie.  It tells you what the movie is about without telling you much about the movie at all.  They leave a lot to the imagination.  It was refreshing.  You get excited to see the movie because of the cast of characters and how they are acting, but you are dying to know what the movie is really about.  In this day and age, this is a risky concept because there are multiple movies out there that appear like they are about nothing because their trailer does not tell you much, and when you go to watch them they are pointless.  Their secrecy sucks you in, but in reality they weren’t keeping a secret.  They just really suck and you just wasted your time.  American Hustle is not like that, at all.  There is far more to this film than the trailer leads you to believe.

I did not expect there to be as much humor as there was.  The movie was laugh-out-loud hilarious.  It was very smart, well thought out dark humor.

American Hustle Cooper Bale

The film oozed with elegance.  Everything about the movie seemed classy.  It was clean and crisp.  The colors were so clear and bright.  From a filmmaking aspect alone, the movie was perfection.  Picture that, but then throw in some of the best actors in the business into a flawlessly put together movie.

So, now you have a diamond of a movie with a cast that is worth its weight in gold.  What do you get now?  Fireworks.  American Hustle recreates the 70s believably and the soundtrack is there to prove it.  The actors play the game like the all-stars that they are.  The chemistry was electrifying between everybody.  The actors kept one-upping each other.

Chistian Bale, with a porky belly and the cheapest comb over imaginable stood out among the rest.  His performance was not surprising, but it was every bit as good as anything he has ever done before.  His performance was not surprising because he has been acting at such a high level for such a long time, that it’s hard to expect anything less out of him.  His acting was power and precision.  For a long time now, Johnny Depp has been my favorite actor and Bale has been my second favorite.  I think Bale just surpassed Depp.  Dare I say, lately he is more consistently in better movies.  Bale is capable of almost any role and he proves it time and time again.  I have not seen all of the movies that are up for Academy Awards, but as of right now, Bale gets my vote for Best Actor, and he should be competing against himself for Out of the Furnace (2013)(that movie was snubbed), as well.

American Hustle Adams Bale

Speaking of Academy Awards, Amy Adams.  She was absolutely wonderful in American Hustle.  She was stylish and sophisticated.  Instead of being dressed down, like she was in The Fighter, her beauty was really able to shine through to her core.  She played a woman who was always in control and it was the best performance by an actress that I have seen since perhaps, Hilary Swank in the film Million Dollar Baby (2004).  It certainly was Amy’s best film that I have seen to date.  It was even better than her performance in The Fighter.

Bradley Cooper had more curlers in his hair than Amy Adams.  He pulled it off though and it was funny.  He brought a level of insanity to his role in American Hustle that showed similarities to Silver Linings Playbook.  He was allowed his moments to shine, but you could tell he was along for the ride in the back seat behind Bale.  Amy Adams was riding shotgun and Jennifer Lawrence was in the back seat behind her, sitting next to Cooper.

Jennifer Lawrence seemed to pick up right where she left off in Silver Linings Playbook.  She was the broken housewife with an attitude and an appetite for wreaking havoc and turmoil.  I thought she played the part about as well as she did in Silver Linings Playbook.

American Hustle Lawrence

David O. Russell has come a long way since Flirting With Disaster (1996) and I Heart Huckabees (2004).  He took a page right out of Martin Scorsese’s book by having multiple narrators in American Hustle.  The movie actually was very Scorsese-esque.  Russell’s last three films have all been Oscar contenders and American Hustle is as deserving of an Oscar as either of the other two.  My only concern is that this movie gets screwed out of the Academy Awards that it rightfully deserves for the sake of diversity.

This film was like the acting all-star game of 2013.

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Note: I usually do not rate a movie a 10 after the first showing, but I could not find anything wrong with this movie.  I thought that it might drag on a little bit because of the 138 minutes running time, but it didn’t.  It was just an exercise in excellence.  I am often reluctant to give a movie a 10 rating right away because I think that it should prove the test of time.  I think this one already did.

If you liked American Hustle, then you will most likely enjoy the following films:

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Out of the Furnace (2013)

The Machinist (2004)

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

Prisoners (2013)

Broken City (2013)

The Counselor (2013)

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Wrecked (2010)


Wrecked Poster

Wrecked (2010)

Wrecked is a low budget independent film that may have exceeded expectations if given the proper opportunity.

Before watching this movie, I knew nothing about it except for the fact that Adrien Brody was the main character.  I have been a big fan of Brody ever since I saw the film The Pianist (2002).  He acted his heart out in that movie and I quickly came to find out that he usually does in all of his films.  It’s no wonder that he received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Pianist.

Wrecked Brody Bloody Face

Wrecked is about a man (Adrien Brody) who awakes to find himself badly injured in a mangled car wreck in the middle of a densely wooded area at the base of a mountain in the middle of nowhere.  He has no memory of how he got there, who he is, or who the dead passengers nearby are.  He is stuck inside of the car and is forced to try to survive as he contemplates his past and how he got into his current situation.

The film was directed by Michael Greenspan and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Caroline Dhavernas, Ryan Robbins, Adrian G. Griffiths, Adrian Holmes, and Jacob Blair.

I listed the rest of the noteworthy cast, but in reality Wrecked is a one-man show.  The vast majority of the movie is Adrien Brody acting alone.  The movie has some similarities to 127 Hours (2010), All is Lost (2013), The Edge (1997) and Unknown (2006).

It takes a highly talented actor to make a film like this watchable, let alone entertaining.  Brody was up for the challenge and he was a superb choice for this role.  The pain that his character felt in in the movie appeared genuine in every way.  You feel for his character as if the events that are happening to him on screen are actually happening.

The film is pretty gruesome and intense.  There is a bit of language throughout, but it all serves to make the story more realistic.

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Unfortunately, I think that this movie is underrated and under watched.  It didn’t get the chance that it deserved in theatres.

The movie grabs on to you in the very beginning and keeps you guessing what will happen next.  It is slow at times, but that is to be expected when there is basically only one person in the film.  The suspense holds your attention throughout as Adrien Brody’s character is injured in the wild and facing what the wilderness has in store for him.

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

If you liked Wrecked, then you will probably enjoy the following films:

127 Hours (2010)

All is Lost (2013)

Trance (2013)

The Edge (1997)

Unknown (2006)

Buried (2010)

Brake (2012)

The Book Thief (2013)


The Book Thief Poster

The Book Thief (2013)

 

 

The Book Thief is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story of innocence, stolen.

I’ve always been drawn to stories about World War II.  Movies about WWII have a tendency to be very powerful films if done correctly.  I think that this is because it was such a hard and troubling time in the world when Hitler was in power.

The Book Thief Rush Watson Girl

The movie is based off of the novel with the same name by Markus Zusak.  The film is about Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), a young girl without a family in Nazi Germany during WWII.  She gets taken in and adopted by a couple who also hide a Jewish boy under their stairs.  With all of the terrible things going on around her, Liesel takes comfort in learning how to read.  She begins to read whatever books that are available to her.  Eventually she starts stealing books and sharing them with her new family.

The film was directed by Brian Percival and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Joachim Paul Assbock, Kirsten Block, Roger Allam, Nico Liersch and Sandra Nedeleff.

The film was slower, but a true drama.  It depended solely on acting and story to get its point across.  Don’t expect an action-packed war movie.  However, a story about Nazi Germany during WWII is intense enough.  Although the story is pretty serious, I liked how there was a bit of humor thrown in to cut the tension and make it more enjoyable.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief had some similarities to the movie The Pianist (2002), except that it was not as intense.

I will admit, the touching story made me shed a few tears.  The movie does a great job of making you care about the characters.  The acting draws you into the story.

Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse both deliver genuinely heartfelt performances.  The presence of Rush was what was needed to make everyone act on a higher level.  He was the glue that held the movie together.

The set was a work of art.  Germany during the late 30s and early 40s was duplicated very believably.  That task could not have been a simple one.

The only thing that I thought was a little weird about the movie was the way that it was narrated.  The only explanation that I can think of as to why it was done the way that it was is maybe that was how it was narrated in the book.  Regardless, it comes off as a little odd.  The narration style does not seem to fit the type of film that The Book Thief is.

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I applaud the filmmakers for getting a movie like this one made.  In a movie world so consumed with special effects, action, sequels, superheroes, and unoriginality, The Book Thief is the type of film that we need more of.  It’s a genuinely refreshing story that takes plenty of risks.

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Lone Survivor (2013)


Lone Survivor Poster

Lone Survivor (2013)

 

You will laugh, and you will cry.  They live, they fight, and they die.

I was very excited to see Lone Survivor.  When I learned of the movie months ago, I knew it would be one that I had to see.  Recently, I heard from numerous people that the film was amazing, and that just made me want to see it more.  These days, if Mark Wahlberg is in a movie, you can basically expect gold.

Film Title: Lone Survivor

The film is based on the book with the same title which was written by Marcus Luttrell and is based on his true story.  It’s about a group of Navy SEALS on a covert operation in Afghanistan that goes horribly wrong.  Four SEALS are left severely outnumbered and outgunned and behind enemy lines.  Unable to make radio contact, they are forced to stand together as one and try desperately to fight the local Taliban for their survival.

The movie was directed by Peter Berg and the noteworthy cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch, Yousif Azami, Ali Suliman, Alexander Ludwig, and Jerry Ferrara.

I had vaguely heard of the mission that was portrayed in Lone Survivor, but ultimately, I hardly new any of the details before watching the film.  I’m not sure how much of the story went by the book, and what was fictionalized for pure entertainment purposes.  I have not read the book, but it would be interesting to see how it differs from the movie.

Lone Survivor is a superb depiction of the camaraderie and brotherhood that is commonly found in the Navy SEALS.  The actors walked the walk, and talked the talk.  They were large, bulky instruments that were trained to kill and trained to survive.  They fight like soldiers and they curse like soldiers.  This film does not edit itself for a lighter rating.  It’s as real as I’ve ever seen.  Prepare yourself to be shocked.

Lone Survivor Barracks

This movie has some of the most insanely realistic and severely intense battle scenes that I have ever seen in a film.  Although I knew that I was in a theatre watching a film, it was as if I was watching real footage of actual soldiers at war, and not actors pretending for a camera.

Lone Survivor is a trip into hostile territory.  The movie reminded me of how I felt about Saving Private Ryan (1998) when I saw it for the first time.  It’s an epic achievement.  The film changes the way that you look at the war movie genre.  It raises the bar and leaves huge shoes to fill for any future war movie.  It’s a game changer.  I have a feeling that this movie will be hard to beat for years to come.  The genre has now been reestablished.

The cast was a force to be reckoned with.  Everyone was awesome.  Wahlberg stood out above the rest and he continues to add to the arsenal of reasons why I like him.  He has become one of my favorite actors.  He is a consistent entertainer in the movie world and that is a rare thing in this day and age.

Lone Survivor Wahlberg

This movie should be an Oscar contender.  It would be a crime if it didn’t win something.  It would be an excellent way to honor all of the Navy SEALS that fought for their brothers standing next to them.

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Note: Lone Survivor could deserve a higher rating, but it has to live up to the test of time before it gets one from me.

There was a bit of a disturbance in the densely populated theatre where I watched this film.  A man in the same row as mine was yelling obscenities during the first half of the movie.  He started to violently strike the seats in front of him before he was finally removed from the premises.  I was unable to give my full attention to the first part of the movie because of this distraction.  It was unfortunate, but when I watch the movie for a second time, my rating could possibly change.

Miller’s Crossing (1990)


Miller's Crossing Poster

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

 

The Coen brothers (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen) really started to get noticed after writing and directing Fargo (1996).  The popularity of the indie writers and directors continued to increase with each movie that they made together.  However, when most people look back on the Coen brothers’ career as filmmakers, they usually don’t look further back than FargoMiller’s Crossing seems to fall between the cracks.

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I was 4 years old when this movie was released, but I watched it for the first time when I was 13 years old.  It was the first Coen brothers’ movie that I had seen and it was the beginning of a new friendship.

Miller’s Crossing is a gangster film about Tom Regan (Gabriel Byrne), a heavy gambler and trusted confidant to two rival mob bosses during the 1920s.  Regan finds himself caught in the middle of a power struggle and all out gangland war while trying to manipulate both sides against each other.

The movie was written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Albert Finney, Jon Polito, John Turturro, Marcia Gay Harden, Steve Buscemi, J.E. Freeman, Mike Starr, Olek Krupa, and Michael Jeter.

Miller's Crossing Finney Tommy Gun

The film is an excellent homage to the James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart gangster movies of old.  The writing and directing is flawless.  The Coen brothers resurrected the 1920s gangster era all the way down to the soda bottles, pocket watches, fedora hats, tommy guns, rotary phones, pinky rings, dirty coppers, smoking jackets, robes, stogies, custom three piece suits, and of course, the model T.  The costumes and set designs were perfect.

Miller's Crossing Polito

The movie has an R rating, but I don’t think that rating would live up to today’s standards.  There is hardly any swearing, and the sex is insinuated.  There is violence, but it is not extremely graphic.  One scene shows a girl topless, but she is wearing nipple tassels.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s frontal side-boob.  I don’t think that alone is enough to garner an R rating.  In other words, the movie is basically PG-13.

Miller's Crossing Byrne Harden

My oldest brother once pointed out to me how the Coen brothers love having big guys sitting behind desks arguing or yelling at people sitting across from them.  He was right.  Watch almost any Coen brothers’ movie and you will get just that.  I think the reason behind this is that usually the dialogue in their movies is so very well-written.  An office setting is a good place to get the point across.  People tend to pay more attention to you if you are behind a podium or desk, especially if you are yelling or arguing a point.  Just look at Barack Obama, or Hitler.  Don’t get me wrong, both men are opposites, but both men could definitely deliver a speech.  As bad as Hitler was, people eat up what he said like it was candy.  They did the same for Obama.  Well thought out dialogue delivered to an audience with explosive vigor while standing behind a podium or desk is enough to get people to listen.  It certainly has worked for the Coen brothers and Miller’s Crossing is a classic example of that.

The Coen brothers were lucky enough early on to be able to get great actors to act in their movies.  This is harder to do for independent filmmakers.  Miller’s Crossing is one of my favorite Gabriel Byrne films.  He gives a slick performance and it must have been contagious because in my opinion, this is Albert Finney’s best movie.  Marcia Gay Harden easily transforms into a 1920s dame and does a likable job.  This is the first movie that I really liked John Turturro in.  Jon Polito gives his best performance channeling the likes of Edward G. Robinson.  Steve Buscemi spits his dialogue like a pro.  It was as if J.E. Freeman was plucked right out of a 1920s gangster movie.  He played his role that well.  These actors have all worn many different hats.  This one fit them all like it was tailor made just for them.

Miller's Crossing Hat

Like fine wine, Miller’s Crossing gets better with age.  If you are a Coen brothers fan already, you will most likely enjoy this movie.  It is one of my favorite Coen brothers’ movies.  It’s a classy gangster film.

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.