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BIG BUDGET FILMS
Posted by Kam at 4:35 AM
Posted by Kam at 2:51 PM
Posted by Kam at 1:58 PM
DVD Review by Kam Willams
Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) hears from her estranged, ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) for the first time in almost 20 years when he mails her an advance copy of his upcoming novel, "Nocturnal Animals." Not only is she surprised to discover that he's dedicated the book to her, but that he'd like to get together for dinner the next time he's in Los Angeles.
Far more unsettling is Edward's semi-autobiographical manuscript which seems to be making thinly-veiled references to their failed marriage. While Susan had managed to move on with her life, it is suddenly apparent to her that he'd remained stuck in the past and might now be rehashing their relationship as a literary form of therapy.
After all, back when they were dating, Susan had been warned by her imperious, well-heeled mother (Laura Linney) that she'd regret tying the knot with a romantic, aspiring writer from a relatively-humble background. Sure enough, the family matriarch knew best, as the mismatched couple did eventually divorce.
However, while Susan went on to become a celebrated art curator and to remarry a businessman (Armie Hammer) who could afford to keep her living in the lap of luxury, Edward has yet to achieve anything approaching their level of success. Instead, the emotionally-stunted scribe has ostensibly been venting all of his angst in an opus that truly frightens his former wife.
It is abundantly clear that the novel's unstable protagonist, Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal), is based on Edward, and that the salacious series of events chronicled in the oft-gruesome text are the product of a terribly troubled mind. The only reason Susan might even entertain the idea of a rendezvous with a man she hasn't even spoken to in a couple of decades, against her better judgment, is the fact that she's just learned that her second hubby is having an affair.
So unfolds Nocturnal Animals, a cerebral suspense thriller directed and adapted by Tom Ford from the Austin Wright best seller, "Tony and Susan." The movie's only Oscar nomination was landed by veteran thespian Michael Shannon in the Best Supporting Actor category.
The film revolves around a sublime deconstruction of Susan's shifting mental state, from her present-day predicament, to flashbacks of her relationship with Edward, to her perspective of disturbing scenes from his unpublished novel. A haunting deconstruction, worthy of Hitchcock, of a vulnerable socialite's very fragile psyche.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for menacing, violence, profanity and graphic nudity
Running time: 116 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Three Making of Nocturnal Animals featurettes: Building the Story; The Look of Nocturnal Animals; and The Filmmaker's Eye: Tom Ford.
Posted by Kam at 3:49 PM
Posted by Kam at 1:35 PM
Posted by Kam at 11:57 AM
Posted by Kam at 8:55 AM
DVD Review by Kam Williams
Best Picture Nominated WWII Biopic Arriving on DVD
Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains where he was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist. Devoutly religious, he followed his faith's literal interpretation of the 10 Commandments, including the 5th's dictate that "Thou shalt not kill." So, when he rushed to enlisted in the Army right after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, he did so as a Conscientious Objector.
But because he was unwilling to touch, let alone carry a weapon, Desmond was teased mercilessly by other members of his platoon. In fact, he was not only beaten to a pulp by a bully (Luke Bracey), but court-martialed for failing to complete the weapons part of basic training.
However, the military tribunal ruled in Desmond's favor after his World War I veteran father (Hugo Weaving) showed up to testify on his behalf. Still, his fellow G.I.s remained reluctant to embrace a comrade they suspected to be a coward, since they had just been taught by hard-nosed Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) that a unit was no stronger than its weakest link.
Nevertheless, Desmond was commissioned as a medic with the 307th Infantry with whom he would more than prove his mettle on the island of Okinawa in the bloodiest battle of World War II. For, he exhibited extraordinary courage over the course of a month spent dodging bullets and bombs to attend to the wounded during the siege of Hacksaw Ridge.
Desmond would save the lives of 75 grateful soldiers, and his selfless exploits would be appreciated by both grateful buddies and the Pentagon. And the heroic medic eventually became the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
All of the above is recounted in riveting fashion in Hacksaw Ridge, a gripping biopic directed by Mel Gibson. The critically-acclaimed docudrama was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director and Lead Actor (Andrew Garfield). The action-oriented flick features very graphic battlefield tableaux reminiscent of the gory D-Day reenactments found in Saving Private Ryan (1998).
When not devoting its attention to recreating gruesome war scenes, the flashback flick focuses on Desmond's formative years , as well as to his whirlwind romance with Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer), the pretty nurse he fell in love with at first sight and married shortly before shipping out for the Pacific Theater of Operations. The film fittingly brings down the curtain with archival newsreels and stills of the real-life Desmond and Dorothy to ensure there won't be a dry eye in the house following the closing credits.
A moving portrait of an unorthodox war hero who contributed considerably to the effort without ever wielding a weapon against the enemy.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for graphic violence, gruesome images and ethnic slurs
Running time: 131 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Deleted scenes, Veterans Day greeting from director Mel Gibson; and The Soul of War: Making Hacksaw Ridge documentary.
To see a trailer for Hacksaw Ridge, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2-1hz1juBI
Posted by Kam at 1:07 PM
Posted by Kam at 9:15 AM
Film Review by Kam Williams
Temperamental Teacher Challenges Nerdy Colleague to Duel in Kitchen Sink Comedy
Do you remember how, when you were growing up, if a couple of classmates came to blows on the schoolyard, they would be quickly separated to the suggestion that they settle their differences off campus at the end of the day? That was the point of departure of Three O'Clock High, a 1987 comedy about a bully with a short fuse who challenges a mild-mannered milquetoast to a duel after school.
Ostensibly inspired by that teensploitation classic, Fist Fight is a slight variation on the theme which flips the script by having a couple of teachers squaring-off instead of students. Otherwise, the basic idea remains intact.
The movie co-stars Ice Cube and Charlie Day as Ron Strickland and Andy Campbell, respectively, colleagues at Roosevelt High. Intimidating history teacher Ron cuts a sharp contrast to nerdy English teacher Andy, and much of the humor revolves around their difference in temperament.
The action unfolds on the last day of.school which is when we find seniors running a muck and pulling a variety of outrageous pranks like kicking the spout off a water cooler and rocking the ineffective security guard's (Kumail Nanjiani) golf cart while he's still sitting in it. Despite the insanity, the faculty is doing its best to maintain decorum.
Nevertheless, Mr. Campbell's lesson on why words matter is interrupted by the antics of class clowns. He's able to handle the disruption far better than Mr. Strickland who proceeds to blow his cork.
The plight thickens when both teachers are summoned to Principal Tyler's (Dean Norris) office to explain why Ron chopped a disrespectful pupil's desk in half with an ax. The upshot of the meeting is that Ron loses his job because of Andy, so he challenges him to a fight after school. Consequently, fraidy cat Campbell spends the rest of the afternoon trying to find a way to avoid the confrontation.
Too bad, the ensuing buildup to the big showdown between the adversaries proves to be less entertaining than the promising premise. For, the two share few funny moments following the setup. Luckily, this kitchen sink comedy continues to deliver courtesy of such student stunts as the mariachi band hired to follow the principal around.
The movie marks the feature film debut of actor-turned-director Richie Keen, who also makes a cameo appearance as a computer store employee. And the support cast includes the scene-stealing Tracy Morgan whose quirky trademark mannerisms are put on full display.
Note, Fist Fight is a relentlessly-profane romp which might have set a record for the use of the F-word. Since the closing tableau sets up the sequel, might I suggest that the next installment cut down on the curses and replace them with more jokes.
Good (2 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, drug use and pervasive profanity
Running time: 91 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures
To see a trailer for Fist Fight, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aIzXYo6VCE
Posted by Kam at 4:35 PM