- Your Voice
From U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s position atop decrepit buildings in Iraq, his hidden presence seemed like anything but unknown to those in his close proximity. U.S. ground troops, going door-to-door searching for insurgents, gained confidence knowing that America’s best-ever sniper was providing them over-watch protection from high above. Enemy forces also grew to know of Kyle’s legendary marksmanship skills and close whereabouts, witnessing their al-Qaeda in Iraq members dropping dead after each single shot from Chris’ rifle. No one, however, was more aware of Chris Kyle’s presence and four tours of duty in Iraq than his wife, Taya Kyle, left behind in San Diego. It’s that marriage and relationship between Chris and Taya Kyle that “American Sniper” steadies upon, takes aim at, and, ultimately scores a direct hit for viewers. Between sighting in terrorist targets and actually pulling the trigger as Kyle, Oscar-nominated actor Bradley Cooper must control his breathing—the same task moviegoers must master in this heart-pounding, emotional true story.
This film provides the perfect mix of music and relationships, blending both with equal parts of raw emotion thrown in for good measure. Viewers looking for a splendid date night movie or an up-close view of the music industry’s research and development side of the house will find “Begin Again” a very satisfying summer soundtrack and film experience.
In India, a very unique system exists for delivering hot, home-cooked lunches to 130,000 workers in the city of Mumbai. Six days per week, these lunch boxes arrive at the offices of loved ones within 6 hours of being made by family members. By midmorning, these personal dishes are handed over to the “dabbawallahs” - the delivery people charged with this mind-boggling task. These lunches must make over 260,000 transitions during the day to get the right food to the right person. Adding to the complexity of the task is that each lunchbox is nondescript, sporting no return address labels, and all must be given back to the proper family later that afternoon.
This comedy oozes girl power from the first scene and continues until the final credits roll. “The Other Woman” will surprise viewers with its higher-than-expected entertainment value and well-timed slapstick humor. From the director of “The Notebook” and “The Hangover: Part II’” comes a comedy about women and delivered by women. The two guys with diminished roles consist of the nice, older brother of the humiliated wife, and the schmoozing pig of a husband, who cheats on that guy’s sister. This villain is perfectly cast by none other than Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, whom many will recognize as the “Kingslayer” Jaime Lannister from the “Game of Thrones” HBO series.
Disneynature’s latest production takes moviegoers on a splendid Alaskan adventure tracking a grizzly bear single mother and her two newborn cubs. The pair who brought us “African Cats” in 2011, Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, team up again to educate and mesmerize viewers. “Bears” provides a fascinating inside look at survival along the Alaskan peninsula’s snow capped mountains and valleys. The spectacular up-close views and vivid film footage documents the lives of these three bears over the course of one-year, as they forage for food and attempt to avoid the dangers lurking along their journey to find salmon.
The comparisons between this newly released “Draft Day” film and the successful 1996 Tom Cruise football comedy-drama ‘Jerry Maguire’ is both compelling and natural. Both films take viewers behind-the-scenes to accurately portray life in the National Football League (NFL); “Jerry Maguire” from the cold-hearted sports agent perspective and now “Draft Day,” depicting NFL war rooms evaluating talent prior to selection time. In “Draft Day”, Kevin Costner plays Browns’ General Manager Sonny Weaver, who must make the most of his team’s draft selections to secure his job and attempt to bring NFL respectability back to Cleveland.
This ninth installment of the Marvel collection delivers an action-packed, suspense-filled thriller that rivals Stark Industries’ big-screen success in the original ‘Iron Man’ from 2008. The film’s accomplishments result from its combination of staying true to the faith of comic book readers using a diverse cast of characters, as well as, bringing in casual, first-time Avenger audiences with solid acting and twisting plot-lines. Great care was taken to keep the focus of the film on Captain America and those closest to him. This approach really sold the story. Viewers will appreciate the telling of the superhero’s tale on a personal level--which created a new, edgy and exciting Marvel comic book film adventure.
Even before the release of this movie, faith-based groups and the filmmakers were up in arms disputing and defending the Biblical accuracy of “Noah” and the message it sends to moviegoers. Film directors, particularly those making movies on subjects in which audiences already have prior knowledge of an event or book, face the difficult task of either producing a movie that will have few surprises and twists, or detouring the story off the expected plot path using creative liberties. In “Noah”, director Darron Aronofsky (Oscar-nominated in 2010 for ‘Black Swan’) appears to have tried to generate both interest and controversy about this epic tale; regrettably, Aronofsky’s latest work only succeeded at the latter.
This story of five single mothers struggling to balance work, parenthood and new relationships had the potential to be a very good movie. Unfortunately, rather than focus on each of these single parents’ courage, determination and strength the film instead chose to play it safe with easy laughs, below average subplots, and stereotypical, old fashion male-bashing. The end result is a painful display of five very shallow, weak and needy women that despite their new circle of trust clique still can’t treat others with empathy and respect.
It was ancient Chinese general and military strategist, Sun Tzu, who believed back in 500 B.C. that; “All warfare is based on deception.” It’s this philosophy and other timeless gems found in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” that have made his battlefield tactics and techniques marveled by military planners and tacticians ever since. In “300: Rise of an Empire”, the true Battle of Artemisium takes place on the sea in 480 B.C., pitting the invading Persian navy led by Artemisia (played masterfully by Eva Green) against the overmatched, smaller Greek forces led by General Themistocles.
The “Son of God” movie is difficult to describe because it offers something different to each individual. It cannot be measured by laughs from the audience, a well-developed surprise ending, or even by the culmination of a relationship between two leading cast members...no, “Son of God” is a much more personal film and will resonate differently and specifically with each viewer. Moviegoers will get out of “Son of God” what they put into it - audience members can make it as introspective as they’re willing to endure.
A Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a stock broker who learns not only why the financial game is played but how to take others’ money for the sole purpose of lining one’s own pocket. The “Wolf” mentality is that you can never have enough money. Ever. The movie’s level of excessiveness is almost unfathomable at first; the sex orgies, the use of drugs as ‘go-pills’, and the game of separating money from others out of the madness produced by greed. Although the graphic sex scenes and drug usage runs rampant throughout the movie, it’s all imperative to DiCaprio’s journey.
This Sunday night’s 86th Academy Awards show on ABC should be one of the most exciting in recent years. Last year’s awkward host Seth MacFarlane has been replaced by daytime talker Ellen DeGeneres, making her second appearance. This year, we also have at least a handful of great films all competing for the 8.5- pound golden statuette.
The space movie “Gravity” will provide a huge splashdown at next month’s 86th Academy Awards on March 2. With 10 Academy Award nominations, including the big three for Best Picture, Best Director (Alfonso Cuaron) and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Sandra Bullock), look for “Gravity” to bring favorites “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” back to Earth on Oscar Night. Director Cuaron stands an excellent chance to win for Best Director giving his film an outside shot at Best Picture.
Everything about the film ‘American Hustle’ is over-the-top; the ensemble cast of Hollywood heavyweights, disco music, the wardrobes - even the hairstyles. Viewers get another exceptional comedy-drama from Director David O. Russell (‘The Fighter’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’). The script provides a complex storyline and is about much more than just a shell game played by con artists in 1978. ‘American Hustle’ is about characters, control and relationships draped under comb overs, behind tinted glasses and inside polyester suits. With 10 Oscar nominations (tied with ‘Gravity’ for the most), including all four acting categories, look for ‘American Hustle’ to have a big Oscar Night.
“Nebraska” embarks on an arduous journey that moviegoers will find unflinchingly honest, yet depressing, on the subject of growing old. Oscar-nominated director Alexander Payne (‘Sideways’, ‘The Descendants’) once again throws one of life’s most challenging periods on the big-screen to show us how little prepared we are for the adversity. This black & white film presents the confusion, forgetfulness, loss of hearing and mobility common to many seniors and unabashedly illustrates a family’s frustrations with those imperfections. The result is a shallow look at what life looks like in our golden years when there’s nothing left to look forward to.
“Philomena” is a wonderfully told true story starring the stalwart Judi Dench, as a grown mother of a boy she hasn’t seen since giving up the toddler 50 years earlier. This Oscar nominated film in the ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’ category didn’t garner the acclaim for the excellence it deserves when it hit the theaters last fall. ‘Philomena’ is one of my Top 10 movies of 2013.
his true story takes viewers back to the life of an electrician and rodeo cowboy, Ron Woodroof, in 1985. Woodroof, thinking he’s got life by the horns, suddenly tests HIV-positive and is diagnosed with AIDS. This drama and my 2013 ‘Movie of the Year’, shakes audiences with its realistic portrayal of disbelief, shame and hatred towards those infected by AIDS. “The Dallas Buyers Club” illustrates a time when education and information about the AIDS disease, and the antivirals needed to fight it, was tenuous at best. Perhaps no one was less knowledgable or prepared for this global fight than Ron Woodroof--at least initially.
It doesn’t take long watching this film to see that Director Steve McQueen isn’t going to pull punches on graphic language and brutal scenes telling this painful, but true story. The audible gasps from the audience throughout the movie are proof that McQueen succeeded in capturing the injustice, inequality, human suffering, and death that remains the darkest chapter of our nation’s past.
In this Oscar-nominated thriller for ‘Best Motion Picture’, Tom Hanks plays the skipper of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama that was hijacked in 2009 off the coast of Somalia. Knowing the bookends to this piracy incident on the high-seas beforehand--how it started and dramatically ended--I didn’t quite expect this movie to keep my rapt attention like it did.
This Academy Award nominee for ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’ provides a very fresh and unique storyline about relationships. The always-interesting Joaquin Phoenix (Oscar-nominated for ‘”Gladiator”, ‘”Walk the Line” and “The Master”) effortlessly portrays the lonely Theodore Twombly, whose life is dramatically changed with the computerized download of an artificial intelligence operating system. Quickly, Twombly finds this new software App involved in every part of his life; from close friends, conversations, emails, inside the workplace, and even in the bedroom.
The latest film from Writer/Director Peter Berg provides an intense, heart-pounding look into the 2005 true story of four U.S. Navy SEALs fighting for their lives in Afghanistan. ‘Lone Survivor’ takes place in the high mountains of the Hindu Kush region, as part of Operation Red Wings behind enemy lines, and is based upon the memoirs of Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson for the book with the same title as this movie.