Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Joe

I used to like Nicolas Cage a lot, but hadn't been that impressed with the movies he's made the last few years.  I would say he impressed me in this one.  He plays an ex-con named Joe who wants to be a good man and is trying to stay out of trouble.  You can tell he has a good heart, but sometimes has issues controlling his inner demons.  He comes across a 15-year old drifter named Gary (played by Tye Sheridan from Mud) that has an alcoholic father who abuses him, and Joe eventually hires Gary to work for him.  Joe actually becomes kind of a role model for him and they are both able to help each other find some direction in their lives through the friendship they forge.  But, being the kind of movie this is, everything cannot be all rainbows and butterflies - Joe's past will always haunt him, Gary has a dad that's just getting worse and will do almost anything to obtain alcohol or money, and you know it's all going to come to a head in this small town sooner or later!  I wouldn't call this film "enjoyable" - I liked it, but it wasn't always easy to watch.  There was a lot of physical violence, quite a bit of language, and it just felt like a dark, depressing time for everyone in the movie highlighted by a few good moments.  It felt real and raw to me.  Joe and Gary both made me think about how things may not always turn out the way you want, but you have to keep trying and keep fighting and never give up, even if it seems like there is no way out of a situation.  I'm going to remember Joe for a long time...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lone Survivor


I wrote this blog after seeing this movie in the theater.  It is now out on DVD and  my thoughts are still the same. There are no words to really express what a powerful, emotional, brutal, raw and heartbreaking film this is!  If you don’t know about it – it’s the story of the failed 2005 mission in Afghanistan of four Navy SEALS whose mission it was to find and capture a Taliban leader.  Things go horribly wrong when goat herders cross their paths and they have to choose what to do with them.  Also, the radio contacts with the base failed and they were left alone to face the Taliban by themselves.  As the title suggests, only one of them makes it out alive, barely, and that was Leading Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell.  This is his story of the fight for their lives and the death of his fellow SEAL mates and friends.  This movie is larger than life on the big screen and you witness the most extreme brutalness of the rugged country in which they were fighting in and what they endured.  It is heartbreaking to see the deaths of his fellow friends, Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz and Matt “Axe” Axelson.  As this movie ended, not one person in the theater said anything- there was a revered silence for the men who lost their lives serving their country.  I believe this is an important film to see for what it stands for.  For more detailed information; you can also read the book with the same title. 

Lone Survivor

This movie puts you right in the middle of the action with a group of four Navy SEALs while they are on a mission trying to capture a Taliban leader.  Besides getting caught in rugged terrain and in unfamiliar territory, they begin having radio and communication problems that make their situation worse.  It was very engaging and I found myself “forgetting” to breathe and trying to stay calm and quiet during tense moments.  It really makes you appreciate what our military does for us and the sacrifices they make for us every day.  It’s easy to second-guess some of the decisions they made, but there was a lot of wondering what I would do in the same situations, too.  I really don’t know.  I was exhausted after viewing this film.  When the movie finished, I just sat there…  I’m STILL thinking about it all…

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Monuments Men


I’m always enticed by movies that are “true” stories.  When I saw the previews for “The Monuments Men” starring George Clooney and Matt Damon – I knew I wanted to see the movie not for the big name actors, but for a story I knew nothing about.  I’m not a history buff, so I was really surprised to learn about The Monuments Men and to know why they risked their lives for art.  The movie told the story of a group of men, who believed in saving the masterpieces from the countries which Hitler had ravaged, for the generations to come and for the people that had lived and died.  These men, portrayed by Clooney, Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, and Hugh Bonneville are curators and historians of art who have been tasked with the unfathomable job of finding missing pieces that Hitler has stolen to use in a museum he was to create after the war.  To be honest, there were parts of the movie that dragged on, that weren’t needed, and sometimes the action was rushed, but, the story itself of the self-sacrificing commitment these men had was what really moved the movie along.  The end of the movie was very interesting as they told how many pieces of artwork were stolen and the incredible places they hid most of it. The more I read about this story, the more I appreciate what they did and how they saved historical pieces that are still in museums today.  (The more in-depth story can be found in the book with the same title as the movie by Robert Edsel).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Her

This movie was different.  I should have known with Joaquin Phoenix, you never quite know what you’re going to get.  I’m not sure if it was a look into our future, if it was a desperate, heartbroken man looking for some companionship, or if it was just weird and creepy.  It may be all of them!  Phoenix plays a lonely man whose long relationship has just ended.  He makes his living writing caring, personal letters for others and sees a new computer operating system that says it’s unique and learns from you and is its own unique entity.  When he starts it up, he meets “Samantha” – who seemed like a futuristic, high-tech version of Apple’s Siri.  She talked exactly like a human, had feelings, and understood his jokes – she just didn’t have a body – since she’s a computer!  The more they talked, the more she learned, and the closer they became – so close that she became his “girlfriend” and he considered it an exclusive relationship.  That’s when it started getting weird for me!  It was nice that he was able to find something to make him happy and help him move on in his life, but it just felt almost uncomfortable to me at times – but hey, maybe that’s where we’re heading???  You would definitely have to be in the mood for this one…

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nebraska

I loved this movie!  It’s about an old man who is sure he has won a million dollar prize and is going to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his winnings, even though he has some dementia and shouldn’t be making a trip like that alone.  He’s a little out of touch and doesn’t realize it’s just a magazine marketing letter, so in order to try to get to know his dad better and spend some time with him, one of his sons offers take him there.  I don’t know if it was meant to be as funny as it seemed to me – I was laughing the whole movie – but it was just that I could recognize people I know in almost every character and they were hilarious!  It could change from one moment to the next and be incredibly serious and thought-provoking, too.  It's quietly poignant and still very powerful.  I laughed, I cried, I was worn out, yet still exhilarated when I was finished with this one.  I don’t know if everyone would connect with it the way I did, either.  Not sure what else I can say about this film - it was just one of the best movies I’ve seen in a very, very long time.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I don’t know that I can even do this movie justice with my words.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the previews I’d seen – maybe a little goofy and quirky and different than a normal movie.  And it was!  For such a simple story, it just felt like such a breathtaking, powerful work of art.  Ben Stiller plays an anonymous photo negative archiver at LIFE Magazine and is always finding himself zoning out and daydreaming about things instead of actually doing them.  When his job is threatened, he finally takes a chance in the real world when he needs to travel to Greenland to try to track down a legendary photographer, played by Sean Penn.  After being there and following the trail to Iceland (in any manner he can) and climbing the Himalayas, he finally realizes how much of “life” he has been missing out on.  It was like some “magical” transformation, but in reality, he just started actually doing things instead of daydreaming and wishing he had.  It seems so simple.  It's funny, it’s thought provoking, it’s touching, and dare I say “life-changing."