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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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Out of the Furnace (2013)


Out of the Furnace poster

Out of the Furnace (2013)

There are certain movies that appear to be destined for greatness and Out of the Furnace looked like one of them.

Out of the Furnace Bale

Christian Bale is one of the most versatile actors of our time.  I’ve been a fan of his ever since I watched Newsies (1992) for the first when I was a little kid.  Bale has become such a great actor that I eagerly await all of his new movies.  Out of the Furnace especially sparked my interest after I learned how many other big names are in the cast.

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) goes looking for his younger brother, Rodney, (Casey Affleck) after he goes missing.  Russell will stop at nothing to get his brother back and release his own form of justice on whoever is responsible for taking him.

Out of the Furnace Affleck Bale

The film was directed by Scott Cooper and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Woody Harrelson, Willem DafoeForest WhitakerZoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, and Tom Bower.

As the title suggests, the movie is rough and only gets more severe.  It’s out of the furnace and into the fire.  The title did, in fact, suit the film quite well.  The movie was injected with pain and anger.  Eventually the intensity boiled over and the film sizzled.  Out of the Furnace stirs up the emotions and lights them on fire.  It’s easily the most powerful movie of the year.

Out of the Furnace Harrelson Affleck

Christian Bale does not cease to impress.  Nobody could have done a better job in his role, and the only thing better than Bale’s performance was the fact that the rest of the film was filled to the brim with extraordinary talent working alongside him.  The entire cast was firing on all cylinders.

This movie is not for anyone with a weak stomach.  The violence is brutal and the language is harsh.  The filmmakers’ gloves came off in order to make a film so sharp that the jagged edges will cut into your mind and all sorts of emotions will come leaking out.  Out of the Furnace will stick with you long after it ends.

Out of the Furnace Bale Saldana

The movie deserves to be nominated for an Academy Award in just about every category available.  It gets my vote for Best Picture of the Year and Bale deserves the Best Actor award, hands down.

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

If you liked Out of the Furnace, then you will probably enjoy the following films:

The Machinist (2004)

American Hustle (2013)

Prisoners (2013)

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)


The Hunger Games Catching Fire Poster

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

As I mentioned in my review of The Hunger Games (2012), I told my friend that I would see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with him, even though I was not very interested in either of the films.  I’m not going to watch a sequel to a film without first watching the original, so I watched The Hunger Games at home before going out to the theatre.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games, and this made me excited to see the sequel.  I would certainly not recommend watching The Hunger Games: Catching Fire without first watching The Hunger Games.  It is pretty much essential to watch the movies in order.

I would advise against reading the rest of this review if you have not yet seen The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games Catching Fire Harrelson Hutcherson Lawrence

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire picks up where the first film left off.  Through an act of defiance, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) were the winners of the 74th annual Hunger Games.  Their public defiance was enough for the government to want to make an example out of them by punishing them in hopes of preventing a revolution.

The film was directed by Francis Lawrence and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Lenny Kravitz, Liam Hemsworth, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Jena Malone, and Toby Jones.

The Hunger Games Catching Fire Hutcherson Banks Lawrence

Like most sequels, I expected this movie to be a step down from the first film.  My expectations were wrong once again.  It’s a rare thing that a sequel is better than its predecessor, but this is exactly the case with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  It’s as if the filmmakers ironed out all of the kinks from the first movie in order to make the sequel.

Everything that I liked and disliked about The Hunger Games was improved upon in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  It was another welcomed surprise.  The acting was more passionate, the special effects were sharper, the story was more interesting, and the quality of the film as a whole was just plain better.

The Hunger Games Catching Fire Lawrence Hutcherson

Fans of The Hunger Games will undoubtedly like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire even more.  The film is a higher caliber and therefore delivers a stronger potency.

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

The Hunger Games (2012)


The Hunger Games Poster

The Hunger Games (2012)

I’m not usually the type of guy to rush out and see a movie like The Hunger Games in theatres.  I guess that is why I had not seen the film, until now.  I probably would have put off seeing this movie even longer, but since a friend of mine wanted to see the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) in theatres, I thought it best that I see the films in order.

People have raved about this movie, but it just wasn’t a must-see for me, even though, for the most part, it has a very solid cast.  I don’t know if it is the PG-13 rating or what, but it just appeared to me like it would be a teenie-bopper film of sorts.

The Hunger Games Banks Lawrence

The movie takes place in the future where a society is split up into twelve districts.  Once a year a lottery takes place in order to select a young man and a young woman from each of the twelve districts to take part in a televised battle to the death called The Hunger Games.  The latest Hunger Games gets its first volunteer, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence).  Katniss volunteers in order to protect her younger sister from almost certain death.  Now, Katniss is facing the same odds.

The film was directed by Gary Ross and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz, Liam Hemsworth, and Toby Jones.

The Hunger Games Lawrence Bow

I’m not sure that I buy into the concept of a society that would force a few of its residents to battle in a fight to the death.  The idea was a little bit of a stretch.  However, it did remind me a little bit of gladiators being forced to fight in an arena.  It’s a backwards advanced warped society that would be a sick world to live in.  Maybe I just hope that it could never get that bad, but given the world that we live in, maybe I’m just in denial.  After all, if the holocaust can happen, maybe something like this could too.  A movie like this that takes place in the future can get away with a concept like this one, because nobody knows what the future holds.

The film was a cross between The Most Dangerous Game (1932), Death Race (2008), and Gladiator (2000).

The Hunger Games was certainly better than I anticipated it would be. The big name actors in the movie all played their parts well.  However, it was ultimately Jennifer Lawrence’s film.  It was an intensely engaging, heartfelt movie with lots of cool visuals and a good soundtrack.

The Hunger Games Hutcherson

At times, the graphics were a bit overdone and almost too colorful.  Some of the costumes were far out.  The technology in the film seemed a little too advanced for a poor society.  All of these things temporarily took away from the story along with a touch of lower quality acting from the lesser known supporting cast members.

Overall, The Hunger Games was a big surprise to me.  It far exceeded my expectations and I wish I had given it a chance sooner, because I didn’t give it the credit that it deserves.

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Trailer for Out of the Furnace (2013)


Out of the Furnace Poster

Out of the Furnace (2013) (Click on the title for my full review.)

A Man (Christian Bale) goes looking for his younger brother (Casey Affleck) after he goes missing.  He will stop at nothing to get his brother back and release his own form of justice on whoever is responsible for taking him.

The film is directed by Scott Cooper.  Who is Scott Cooper?  I had to look him up too.  The only other movie that Cooper directed is Crazy Heart (2009).  Jeff Bridges won an Academy Award for Best Actor for Crazy Heart.  Cooper has received a lot of critical acclaim for that film.  It appears like Cooper just might have another Oscar contender on his hands with this new film Out of the Furnace.

The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Dendrie Taylor, and Tom Bower.

If you get a group of actors like that together to make a movie, it’s hard to expect anything less than excellence.

The film is set to release on 12/06/13.

I’ll be in the theatre in December to let you know if this film meets my expectations.

Now You See Me (2013)


Now You See Me Poster 2

Now You See Me (2013)

Now You See Me is a film about a group of 4 magicians brought together by an unknown person.  They are convinced to become a team and eventually they land their own show in Las Vegas.  When one of their tricks involves stealing a large amount of money, they become part of a cat and mouse chase with the FBI.

Now You See Me Group doorway

The film was directed by Louis Leterrier.  The cast includes Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher, Melanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Michael Kelly, Common, and David Warshofsky.

Now You See Me hypnotized me with its excitement.  It was certain to amaze.  The cast of characters were all clever and quite entertaining. For a while I was caught up in the illusion of the promise of something great.  Eventually I was let down.  The ride was a thrill.  The destination however, was a disappointment.

Now You See Me Eisenberg

I enjoyed seeing Eisenberg and Harrelson teamed up together again for the first time since Zombieland (2009). 

NOW YOU SEE ME

This is the 4th time that Freeman and Caine have been in the same film.  The previous 3 films were The Dark Knight Trilogy.

Now You See Me Caine Freeman

Now You See Me could be Dave Franco’s best performance to date.

Now You See Me Franco

It was nice to see Laurent in another American made movie.  This is the first film that I have seen her in anything since Inglourious Basterds (2009).

Now You See Me Laurent Ruffalo

The story was unfinished and sort of lacked a point.  The movie became dependent on sleight of hand in order to entertain.  You can only one-up a magic trick so many times before it starts to get a little worn out.

The ending of the film acted like it was a big grand conclusion when in reality it just fizzled.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie was fun and amusing.  It was worth seeing, just not in the theatre.  The film is like any magic trick, once you know the secret behind it, it is no longer exciting.

I rate this movie a 7 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Rent.

Zombieland (2009)


Zombieland Poster

Zombieland (2009)

When I saw Zombieland for the first time, I was absolutely shocked at how much I loved it.  A friend had recommended it and I watched it shortly after it came out on DVD.  I went into it knowing nothing at all about the movie and it caught me completely by surprise.

Zombieland car escape

After a zombie apocalypse, there are few human survivors remaining.  Zombieland follows Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) as they fight their way through zombie-ridden America in search of safety, solace, and Twinkies.  They run into Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) along the way and their journey gets bumpy.

Zombieland Group

Zombieland put Jesse Eisenberg on the map.  The only other movie that I had seen him in before was The Village (2004) and at that time I had no idea who he was.  His performance in the film blew me away.  He proved that he had the power to carry a movie by himself and when he teamed up with Woody Harrelson, it was priceless.

A year after Zombieland, Eisenberg was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing the part of Mark Zuckerberg in the film The Social Network (2010).  He has since been popping up all over the place with Now You See Me (2013) (also with Harrelson) coming out later this year.

Harrelson was tremendous.  He played a great tough-guy and yet he was hysterical.  Not many people can pull off that combination.  On screen you could really tell that he had a lot of fun with his character.

Zombieland Harrelson Banjo

My friend who recommended the movie to me actually dressed up like Tallahassee for Halloween because he loved the character so much.

Zombieland also served as a big stepping stone for Emma Stone.  She was very likable in the movie.  Like Eisenberg, she became super popular after Zombieland came out.  The only difference is that she was already a little popular from a few previous roles.

Abigail Breslin didn’t need a stepping stone.  The youngest of the group, she had already earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Little Miss Sunshine (2006).  Zombieland served simply as a tool to further her acting career.  She was only 13 when she made the movie, but she held her own along with the rest of the cast.

Zombieland Stone Breslin Ride

Bill Murray has one of the best cameo appearances that I have ever seen in a movie.  It was completely random and hilarious.

Amber Heard also has a small part in the film.

The film was directed by Ruben Fleischer.  Fleischer has since directed Eisenberg in 30 Minutes or less (2011) and Stone in Gangster Squad (2013).

Zombieland is a comical masterpiece.  It has already become a cult classic and has recently spawned a TV show.  It is a movie that I could watch over and over again.  The film is not so much about zombies as it is about the camaraderie between the main characters as they try to survive among the living dead.  It is a hilarious thrill ride that will keep you laughing all the way to the end.

Zombieland zombies

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

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Trailer for Now You See Me (2013)


now you see me poster

Now You See Me (2013) (click on the title for my full review)

The movie is about a group of famous magicians turned bank robbers.  It appears that the sleight of hand in the film will mess with your mind and keep you entertained just like real magicians are supposed to do.

The casting is a reunion of sorts.  Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson are together again for the first time since they were teamed up in Zombieland (2009).  Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are reunited for the first times since the Dark Knight Trilogy.  The film also has Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Melanie Laurent, Michael Kelly, Elias Koteas, rapper/actor: Common, and James Franco’s little brother Dave Franco (proved himself in 21 Jump Street (2012).

It looks like a cross between Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and The Prestige (2006).  Looks like it could be missing something, but maybe we will be pleasantly surprised.