movie reviews

Driver (2011)

DRIVE

A  nameless Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who also works as getaway driver. He meets his neighbour, Irene (Carrey Mulligan), a woman who has a young son, and instantly finds himself falling for her. When Irene’s ex-con husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) returns from prison the driver finds himself getting drawn into a violent world of crime. In order to protect Irene and her little boy from dangerous gangsters who Standard has a score to settle with,  the driver agrees to be part of a heist.

Drive is a violent, dark, action-packed thriller with a romantic twist. The cool soundtrack features a beautiful song called “Real Hero” by College & Electric Youth.

The cast includes: Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman.

Director:  Nicolas Winding Refn (Bleeder)
Screenplay: Hossein Amini  (The Four Feathers , Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin)    – Based on the book by James Sallis .
Running time:  1h40 min
Release: 2011 (USA)
Rated: R 

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movie reviews

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

star-wars-last-jedi-poster

General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is dealing with losses and commanding the Resistance. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), with BB-8 by his side, is out fighting in Resistance and meets up with Finn (John Boyega).  Rey (Daisy Ridley) is training with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamil) and learning to use her abilities.  Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is full of bitterness and Snoke (Andy Serkis) is trying to unleash the full potential of his young apprentice. Things are about to get real.

The cast also includes: Lupita Nyong’o,  Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Daniels and Frank Oz (voice of Yoda)… among many others.

I like these new sequel trilogy characters. There are so many strong female characters as well (I love Rey, Rose and Leia). The Last Jedi has many awesome little moments. There was a moment where  I actually found myself saying “Oh yes.”, aloud. There are many laughs, especially a cute little scene involving Chewbacca.

The Last Jedi is packed with: Some of your old favourite characters, some great new characters,  creatures,  people with serious issues, droids, girl power,  friendship, betrayal and also love.  You can also see:  Space. Lots of action and adventure. Magnificent scenery, space ships, battles and light saber fights. The film has a great score which includes the familiar Star Wars fanfare.

It was also svery touching to see the dedication to the late Carrie Fisher (who plays Leia in the franchise) in the credits.

See it in cinema? Yes.

Writer and Director: Rian Johnson
Based on characters by George Lucas.
Running Time: 2 h 32 min
Release: 2017 (USA)
Rating PG-13

 

©2018

movie reviews

Baby Driver (2017)

babydriver

The eponymous character Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver who listens to music all the time to drown out his tinnitus. He is a sweet guy who due to circumstance gets sucked into a life of crime. He meets, Debora (Lily James) a waitress in a diner and they immediately hit it off. Baby tries to get out of the getaway driver business and tells himself he is just going to do one more job…

I’d describe this movie as sleek, action-packed (with a good dose of violence and some awesome driving scenes), funny, a little sexy and with a sweet hipster love story.Fantastic editing.  The soundtrack is brilliant and suits the vibe of the movie beautifully. The screenplay is well written, with great dialogue.  The amazing cast includes:  Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Micah Howard,  Eliza González and Jamie Foxx.

Director and  Writer:  Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The World’s End)
Running Time:1 h 52 min 

Rating: R

Release 2017 (USA)

(c) 2017

movie reviews

Rebel in the Rye (2017)

Rating: PG-13.  Release: 2017 (USA)

rebel_in_the_rye_movie_poster

Rebel in the Rye is an biographical film based on the biography “JD Salinger: A Life” by Kenneth Slawenski.  The plot follows the life and career of American author, JD Salinger, especially his iconic novel The Cather in the Rye.  Sharp, witty and with a jazzy vibe, the plot deals with Salinger’s struggles with getting published, his romantic failures and his sense of detachment. Director Danny Strong did an excellent job bring this story to life and wrote the screenplay, which is pretty great.

The movie is well-cast and stars Nicholas Hoult  (About a Boy, Skins) as J.D. Salinger and Kevin Spacey as his writing professor and mentor Whit Burnett. The cast includes Sarah Paulson, Zooey Deutch and Hope Davis.

Like countless readers could see themselves as Holden Caufield  (the main character of Catcher in The Rye), I think many a writer will find themselves identifying with Salinger.  Of all the films I’ve seen recently, Rebel in the Rye resonated the most with me. It made me want to reread Catcher in the Rye.  I’d recommend it to anyone who has ever for five minutes fancied themselves a writer.


©2017

movie reviews

Justice League (2017)

jl2017

I didn’t grow up reading comic books (though I was a regular viewer of  Batman: The Animated Series )…  and I still don’t read comic books (though thanks to the recent Wonder Woman movie as well as the biopic Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, I w will) … but I do love super hero movies. Okay, let’s just move a long.

Justice League is based on DC comics characters Batman (Ben Affleck),  Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Flash (Ezra Miller),  Aqua Man (Jason Samoa),  Cyborg (Ray Fisher)  and Superman (Henry Cavil) .

Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) , a supernatural super-villain, is threatening life on planet earth.  An aging millionaire, Bruce Wayne (aka Batman), decides to assemble a team of with special abilities.  There is a slight problem though… Superman is dead.

Like with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I kind of liked it. (Though like I said, I’m not a purist). It’s a violent spectacle of super-hero action,  best enjoyed on the big screen.

The theme song rendition of The Beatles’ “Come Together”  by Gary Clark Jr. & Junkie XL will probably be stuck in your head for a few days at least.

Cast includes:  Diane Lane, Amy Adams Jeremy Irons, Connie Nielson, Amber Heard, Joe Morton and  J.K. Simmons.
Director:  Zack Snyder

Screenplay: Chris Terrio & Joss Whedon  (see imdb.com for full story & character credits)
Running Time: 2 hours
PG-13

movie reviews

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

larsrealgirl

A weird young man has a sex doll for a girlfriend –  at a glance it seems like a crazy gross-out comedy, but it’s not.

Lars( Ryan Gosling) is an award introvert living in a a  small town. He stays alone in a cottage on the property where his brother and sister-in-law ( Emily Mortimer) reside.  After several several inquiries about his romantic life from townspeople, he orders a realistic looking sex doll online and introduces her to his family as Bianca, his girlfriend.Concerned they take him to a doctor/psychologist, Dagmar  (Patricia Clarkson), who recommends that they all go along with his delusion, until he is able to work things out for himself. The whole town plays along and accepts Bianca as his girlfriend.and as part of their town.

Lars and the Real Girl is a beautiful and quirky portrait of love, family, friendship and community. This movie is so well crafted and is brilliantly scripted. It is boasts an amazing cast, with  stellar performances from Gosling and Mortimer.
 
Rnning time: 106 min
Rated: PG-13
Writer: Nancy Oliver
Director; Craig Gillespie 
©lowercase v 2017
movie reviews

Wonder Woman (2017)

wonderwoman
Based on the DC Comic book,  Wonder Woman, created by William Moulton Marston. Diana (Gal Gadot),  daughter of Hippolyta, the Amazon Queen,  lives among the Amazons (a special race created by Zeus to protect mankind from the god of war, Aries)  in a world populated only by women.

One day Diana rescues Steve (Chris Pine), an American soldier, from the ocean after his plane was shot down by Germans.  After learning about the terrible world war Diana decides to leave her home to put a stop to the destruction. Steve needs to stop the evil German commander Ludendorff (Danny Huston)  from destroying the the world.  With Steve  and their band of misfits by her side, she finds herself drawn into a the war and assumes her identity as warrior princess, Wonder Women.

The movie is packed with action, special effects, epic battle scenes and a bit of romance. I’ve never read any of the Wonder Women comic books I really enjoyed watching the movie.  Gal Gadot did an amazing job as Wonder Woman and the chemistry between her and Chris Pine is pretty good.

See it if you like action movies, comic book adaptations or seeing women kick butt. I’d recommend seeing this film on the big screen.

Cast also includes:   Connie Nielson, Robin Wright, Ewan Bremmer, Elena Anaya, Saïd Taghmaoui, David Thewlis,  etc

Director:  Patty Jenkins
Screenplay: Allan Heinberg

Story:  Zack Snyder,  Allan Heinberg,  Jason Fuchs

Running time: 141 mins
Rated: PG-13

©lowercase v  2017

movie reviews

The Wrestler (2008)

wrestler

Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) is an aging professional wrestler. He struggles to make rent and has to pick up extra shifts at his day job.  The years of beatings to his body, steroid abuse and hair bleaching is taking its toll.  He seems to be pretty lonely.  He has regularly visits a stripper, Cassidy (Marissa Tomei), whom he develops an interest in.  His doctor recommends that he quits wrestling and Randy makes an effort to adjust to “normal” life. He tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), but she’s not too keen.  As things go awry, Randy finds himself being drawn back into wrestling.

The Wrestler was a big comeback for Mickey Rourke (actually his comeback was in 2005’s Sin City, but The Wrestler is a bigger role) who was quite popular in the 1980s (see 9½ Weeks and Angel Heart).  Rourke won best actor Golden Globe, BAFTA , Screen Actors Guild Award, etc and was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Randy.  The lovely Marissa Tomei was nominated for and/or won several awards for her performance as Cassidy.

I’m not really into wrestling, but I thought the movie is quite brilliant. Like other films from director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan), The Wrestler is a portrait of human obsession and habit. It’s not a feel-good movie.  Randy’s world is pretty bleak. It is gritty and feels very real.

I would recommend this movie if you’re into serious human drama.


Written by: Robert Siegel
Directed by: Darren Aronofski
Release: 2008
Rating: R
Running time: 1h 49min.

©lowercase v  2017 

movie reviews

School of Rock (2003)

Running Time: 108 min    Rated: PG-13

school of rock

Director: Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise,  Waking Life, Fast Food Nation,  Boyhood)
Writer: Mike White (Orange County, Nacho Libre.  Episodes of: Dawson’s Creek, Freaks and Geeks)

 

“Dude, I service society by rocking, OK? I’m out there on the front lines liberating people with my music!” – Dewey Finn

Dewey Finn (Jack Black)  is a unemployed wannabe rock star.  His best friend,  Ned’s (Mike White)  girlfriend, Patti (Sarah Silverman), wants to kick him out of their shared apartment, unless he can pay his part of the rent. His band mates has replaced him with another guitarist and kicked him out of the band.  Things look pretty grim.  Ms Mullins (Joan Cusack), the principal of a fancy prep school, calls regarding a substitute teacher job for Ned. When Dewey hears what the job pays, he decides to take “the gig”. At first Dewey sees his new job as paid nap time and has little interest in the bunch of 4th graders. After hearing the kids play in orchestra class, Dewey has a brilliant idea. He announces a new class project called “Project Rock Band”,  with the plan of entering them in the “Battle of the Bands”.   Of course, this has to be a “secret class project”. The kids are very excited about their new project and everyone is assigned a special role.  As he spend more time with the kids he forms a special bond with them.


School of Rock
 is a hilarious, feel-good movie (unless you end up feeling old and untalented).  It is well directed, shot and edited.  This is probably director Richard Linklater’s  most mainstream film.

Jack Black plays yet another wacky  goofball. If you enjoy his other movies you will enjoy this one. Jack Black and Mike White often act together in movies written by White.  This is probably my favourite Jack Black movie (I loved Orange County a lot, though he plays a minor role in it).

The child actors in this movie are both adorable and very talented. The young cast include (among many other talented performers): Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly, Dispicable Me),  Aleisha Allen (Are We There Yet?,  Are We Done Yet?), Cole Hawkins (Bid Daddy, Changing Lanes, Meet the Parents),  Angelo Massagli (Cosby, The Sopranos, Stuart Little 2)  and Zachary Infante (acted  in and produced a short film called The Black Experience) . 

The soundtrack features several classic rock anthem. Some of the artist featured on the soundtrack include: AC/DC,  Led Zeplin,  The Who, Cream, T.Rex, The Doors, etc.

The Special Collector’s Edition DVD includes commentary by Richard Linklater & Jack Black,  kid’s commentary, a music video, the theatrical trailer and several other bonus materials.

 

©lowercase v   2017

 

movie reviews

Excess Baggage (1997)

Running time: 101 min      Rated: PG-13

Excess Baggage was released 20 years ago…

excess baggage

To get her father’s attention, a spoiled rich teenager, Emily (Alicia Silverstone), fakes her own kidnapping.  While she is hiding out in the trunk of her car, Vincent (Bencio Del Toro), a car thief steals her car and inadvertently becomes a kidnapper. There are sparks between them and they form a bond as they spend more time together.  In the meanwhile her father has sent his associate,  “Uncle Ray” (Christopher Walken) to retrieve Emily.

I saw this movies as a teenager. I definitely wanted to have Alicia Silverstone’s outfit, which I thought was very cool.  The soundtrack is enjoyable and features the song “All Mixed Up” by Red House Painters . Benicio Del Toro gives a very sweet performance as Vincent. Alica Silverstone is very cute and was extremely popular at the time of this film, due to her movie Clueless (1996).

The whole poor little rich girl thing is a bit of cliché. Excess Baggage is not exactly a cinematic classic, but it is  very entertaining and a easy watch.

Director: Marco Brambilla
Writer:  Max. D Adams (story & screenplay), Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais.
Cast also includes:  Harry Connick Jr., Jack Thompson, Nicholas Turturro.

*A film with a similar premise, A Life Less Ordinary was released also released in 1997. Look out for my review and my comparison of the two films.

©lowercase v   2017