Fall Film Preview: Our Boys & Joy

imgresBurnt
“Maybe I just wanted it really badly, that when I got it, I didn’t know how to hold on to it…” –Adam Jones

Bradley Cooper returns to the kitchen in his latest film, Burnt, about the redemption of talented Chef Adam Jones.  A man once on top of his game, loses everything due to his drug addiction, now he fights for both redemption and that elusive third Michelin star. This film reunites Cooper with his American Sniper co-star Sienna Miller, who plays Helene, his sous chef in the movie. Both Cooper and Miller have to share their screen time with all of the food porn shots, that the trailer promises will be included in the film.

imagesCooper has been nominated for an Academy Award for the past three years and in 2015 he may receive his fourth nomination. If not, for Burnt, then maybe for his performance alongside Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell’s latest film titled Joy. The film chronicles Joy’s (Lawrence) rise to become the founder and matriarch of a business dynasty. Cooper plays an executive at the home shopping network who helps Joy sell her products.  At least, this year, Cooper has doubled his chances to receive his fourth consecutive nomination. Burnt will hit theaters on October 23rd, 2015, while Joy is set to be released on December 25th, 2015.

To watch the Burnt trailer click here
To watch the Joy trailer click here

Legend
“Me and my brother, we’re going to rule London.” –Ronnie Krayimgres-1

Director Brian Helegland depicts the glamorous, but at times ultra violent London underground scene in the 1960s. Tom Hardy stars as two of the most notorious criminals in British history, identical twins Reggie and Ronnie Kray.   Yes, we get twice the Tom Hardy for the price of one admission ticket. Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) co-stars as Reggie Kray’s wife, Frances “Frankie” Shea, and narrates the entire film.   The love affair between Frankie and Reggie is used as a device to contrast the twins from one another. Audience members should sympathize with Reggie as he deals with his brother’s insanity, even though by doing so the film treads more towards fiction than fact.

imgres-2Based on the trailer, the movie seems to reference American gangster films such as Goodfellas and Mean Streets, under the guise of a cockney accent. In addition the film possesses a quirky, offbeat, dark comedy tonal feel as seen in the cult-classic Snatch. Now the real question is if Tom Hardy will receive critical acclaim and recognition for both roles come award season. We have seen him as the charming, gentleman, con-artist Eames in Inception; and recently as the psychotic, offbeat, Jewish gangster, Alfie Solomons, on Netflix’s Peaky Blinders season two. Now we are able to see him play both character types simultaneously, with the cockney accents, this could be legendary.

In limited release on November 20th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

The Revenant
“I aign’t afraid to die anymore…I done it already.” –Hugh Glassimages-2

Revenant refers to someone who has returned from the dead. Hugh Glass (Leonardo Dicaprio) is a 19th century frontiersman; left for dead, by fellow hunters and fur trappers, after a brutal bear attack. Just, when we thought we had seen Leonardo Dicaprio play everything, he brings us his portrayal as Hugh Glass; a fighter, survivor, but most importantly a quieter man in comparison to Dicaprio’s previous roles. The film follows Glass’ three hundred mile trek for vengeance across Perkins County (now South Dakota). Throughout his journey Glass deals with the grief of being betrayed by his best friend, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Glass’ thirst for revenge fuels his will to survive against all odds.

The is Academy Award winning director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s follow up to last images-1year’s best picture winner, Birdman. Inarritu’s determination to truly capture the harsh reality of Glass’ survival story, lead his cast and crew to some of the most remote places to shoot in the Canadian interior. In the trailer we begin to understand Inarritu’s vision to tell an epic adventure story through the perspective of one man’s isolation. There is a magnetic mixture between quiet tension and abrupt action in the trailer. I don’t want to jinx it, but I really hope that all Leo needed to do was return from the dead, to finally receive an oscar.

In theaters on December 25th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

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Fall Film Preview: Independent Films Knock at the Door

Beasts of No Nation
 “I will always protect you, because you’re my son and a son always protects a       images-2   father.” –Commandant

Emmy winner Cary Fukunaga follows up his True Detective (season one) run with this new Netflix original movie. Based Uzodinma Iweala’s 2005 novel, the story follows a young West African boy named Agu (Abraham Attah). After mercenaries kill his family, Agu finds himself under the tutelage of the African warlord, known as the Commandant, played by Idris Elba. The brutality of Agu’s circumstance mirrors Hushpuppy’s trials in the 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild. While Hushpuppy retained her sense of wonder about the world, viewers will observe the deterioration of Agu’s innocence.

Beasts of No Nation will certainly be making headlines even before award seasonimages begins. On October 6th, 2015 Netflix will release the film simultaneously on their streaming service and in select theaters. Hopefully, this unprecedented release schedule will not overshadow Fukunaga, Attah, or Elba’s critically acclaimed work in the film. Attah has already won the Venice Film Festival award for best young actor. Time will tell if this young actor from Ghana will be in attendance at the next Oscars ceremony.

To watch the trailer click here

The Danish Girl
There was a moment when I wasn’t just me…there was a moment when I images-6          was Lilli.” –Lili Elbe

Academy Award winning director Tom Hopper (The King’s Speech) brings to life another period piece about one of the first known recipients of gender reassignment surgery. Set in Copenhagen during the 1920s the film stars Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) as Gerda Wegener. The film focuses on the marriage between Gerda and Einar, before, during, and after Einar transforms into Lili. Based on the trailer it appears that Hopper tells this remarkable love story through a feminine gaze lens, with a captivating transgender nuance.

images-4Critics have already screened the film at the Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Many predict that Redmayne could be the first performer since Tom Hanks to win two consecutive Oscars for acting. More notably though has been the critics’ reaction to Vikander’s performance in the film. Collider’s Adam Chitwood explains, “Redmayne is excellent, but this is Vikander’s movie.” Overall the film was received at TIFF similarly to Redmayne’s previous film, The Theory of Everything, praised primarily for its actors.

In theaters on November 27th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

Trumbo
images-8“That’s the perfect combination…the radical may fight the purity of Jesus…but the rich guy wins with the cunning of Satan.” –Trumbo

Remember, Bryan Cranston is, “the one who knocks,” and he is knocking on the Adademy’s door with his turn as blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. The film tells the true story about how he became a ghostwriter for various movies after testifying in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. Dalton Trumbo would later be publicly credited for writing such films as Spartacus, Exodus, and Roman Holiday. Based on the trailer, it appears that director Jay Roach splashes comedic color across this period piece, set during the black and white era of McCarthyism. Cranston’s performance is supported by a great ensemble cast that includes Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, John Goodman, and Diane Lane.

Anyone else thinking award season déjà vu? Last year, Michael Keaton (Birdman)images-9 ran a close race against Eddie Redmayne, who ultimately walked away with the golden statue. Will Redmayne be able to beat out possible contender Bryan Cranston this year? Like I said earlier, Cranston is the “one who knocks.”

In theaters on November 6th, 2015
To watch the trailer click here

By Sarah Belmont
Featured Writer
@sjbelmont

“Man of Steel” soars into the summer movie season!

man-of-steel
Henry Cavill as Superman

By Pete Benavides

Let me just start off by saying this, Richard Donner did a great job with Superman way back in 1978. Christopher Reeve did a great job of portraying Superman/Clark Kent and made us believe that a man could fly. They were fun stories to enjoy when we were all kids. But times have changed and sadly those films don’t hold up over time. So we need a new Superman, one that relates to our current generation and one that will be fun to watch. Bryan Singer attempted this back in 2006 but to little success. He held true to the Donner vision, but sadly just took crucial plots, altered them, added a few twists and gave us an unsuccessful Superman movie.

Enter, Zack Snyder (Director), David Goyer (Writer) and Christopher Nolan (Producer) and their new take on Superman. It’s gritty, action packed, emotional and beautiful. In my opinion, it’s the Superman we’ve always wanted to see on screen and a fully realized and successful reboot.

jor-el
Russell Crowe as Jor-El

I really enjoyed how the filmmakers explored Krypton more in this movie and the way it’s portrayed. Russell Crowe does an amazing job as Kal-El’s father, Jor-El. He almost steals the show every time he’s in a scene. His interactions with Michael Shannon’s Zod are some of the best in the movie. They were once on the same side, and you feel that not only in the dialogue but in the way they aggressively respond to each other. This all leads to Jor-el and his wife Lara (played by Ayelet Zurer) launching their son off to Earth and away from the doomed planet. What makes these scenes so strong are the emotions of these characters and it’s all executed extremely well.

Watching the film go straight to Clark as an adult helped push the story and his character. There’s no need to rehash his story of growing up on a farm in Smallville. This is where I really like what they did with the story. As Clark journeys in search of who he is he flashes back to certain points in his childhood when he was an outcast, learning and getting advice from Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) or, as a child, being set as ease by Ma Kent (Diane Lane). It helps the audience get a sense of where he came from, the life lessons he received and why he must learn about where he came from.

The scene in which Clark learns about himself is quite moving. When Clark learns of his name and says “Kal, that’s my name”, in response, we’re pulled in that moment in such an emotional way. Here’s someone who didn’t know if he’d ever learn about where he came from and you feel the joy in the discovery that he’s made. It’s after learning about his family and planet that we see him dawn his Kryptonian suit. The next scene, which is my personal favorite, is done to almost perfection. man-of-steel-poster-bannerHe begins jumping and pushing himself to the point where he is flying, for the very first time. Cavill’s reaction to this is what really sells this scene. We watch Kal-El fly over oceans, through mountains and out to space. Powered by an extremely strong Hans Zimmer track the scene is a thing of beauty.

Zod
Michael Shannon as Zod

The final hour of the film bleeds action, in a good way. Not in any past Superman film have we seen him dish out as much punishment as he takes. The fight scenes are done well all starting with Supes taking on Faora, Zod’s second in command. While many expected the Supes/Zod showdown to own the movie, his fight with Faora was a very close second. I like that Superman faces some heavy adversity in the form of other powerful beings. Quite simply, these fights put the icing on the cake.

A lot of negative reviews on Man of Steel have been very nitpicky. As far as story goes, I felt as though the setup of Zod going after Superman for a particular reason, and not just to kill him, was clearly stated. He’s doing everything he can to serve and protect his people, finding and dealing with Kal-el just becomes a big speed bump during his quest. Character development, this was probably my only gripe with the film. I would have liked to of seen a few more scenes help establish the relationship between Lois and Clark.

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Superman (Cavill) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams)

But one reason I gave this issue a pass was because the chemistry between Cavill and Amy Adams, Lois, was solid. I bought it and I think the audience did too. With the strong chemistry now built between the two it sets up for them to build upon this in future Superman movies and I have no doubt that it will only get better.

All the performances were very well done. Amy Adams is terrific as Lois Lane and portrays, perhaps, the strongest performance of the character we’ve ever seen. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane were great choices as Ma and Pa Kent and Lawrence Fishburn was a good new take on Perry White.

It took a long time for Warner Bros. and DC comics to get here but I feel like they finally got it right and in the process a new legacy of Superman has been born. In the process of this successful reboot a whole new, comic book, cinematic universe has been opened. We can only be excited to see what comes next.

Rating: 9/10

Follow me on twitter: @PacingPete