Showing posts from 2015

The Greatest War Movies

Hollywood has created a wealth of rich, entertaining, thought-provoking, and wonderful war movies over the years. Military, or war, movies are their own genre. America has been so heavily shaped by war that writers, directors, actors, and everyone else in the movie making world has been inspired to show reflections of American heroism on the big screen.

I'll admit, military and war movies are not my forte. However, I've seen plenty, and many of them
have made a heavy impression on me. Here's my favorite ones:

American Sniper (2014)
Don't ignore this one just because it's the most recent movie on the list. American Sniper sets itself apart from other war movies about Iraq and our most recent wars in the middle east by focusing on the real-life story of Chris Kyle. Absolutely gripping from the first scene, American Sniper is heroic, modern, tragic, and violent.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
Directed by Katheryn Bigelow, who also directed modern war movie The Hurt Lo…

Top 10 Thanksgiving Movies - 2015

Thanksgiving can be a special, wondrous, and stressful time. After gorging on turkey, watching football, and settling in for the evening, many families want to enjoy some family-friendly entertainment together. It can be difficult to find movies that satisfy both 7 year old Jimmy and 65 year old Aunt Gretchen. That's why I've done the hard work for you, and sifted through thousands of movies to hand-pick the best movies to watch on Thanksgiving.

These movies are not only (mostly) family-friendly, but they capture the warmth and spirit of the Thanksgiving season while providing much needed escapism.

1. Wizard of Oz
This 1939 classic deserves to be passed down to new generations. Nostalgic for adults and fun for kids.

2. Jurassic World
New on Dvd / Blu Ray, this dinosaur blockbuster adventure is exciting for adults and kids alike.

3. The Help
This drama / comedy takes place in the racially turbulent 1960s. Even though this movie tackles race issues, there is enough levity and comed…

St. Vincent

St. Vincent is good. I recommend it. Bill Murray, unsurprisingly, keeps this movie afloat and alive with his lively performance as Vincent. Murray is legend for his amazing movies, performances, and whacky lifestyle. He often encounters fans in public and shows up to random events. (Like bachelor parties, weddings, etc.) In the special features section on the DVD of St. Vincent, Murray tells a story about getting a cab driver to get his saxophone out of the trunk and practiced in the back seat while Murray drove the cab. He's the anchor of this movie, and it's beautiful.

There are some dramatic scenes, funny, and many touching sentimental moments. It's a weird soup of emotions that works fairly well.

Maggie (McCarthy), a single mother, moves into a new home in Brooklyn with her 12-year old son, Oliver (Lieberher). Forced to work long hours, she has no choice but to leave Oliver in the care of their new neighbor, Vincent (Murray), a retired curmudgeon with a pencha…

Big Eyes

Big Eyes is the unusual true story of painter Margaret Keane and her husband Walter rising to notoriaty in the art world. Margaret painted, but Walter took credit for it in order to "market" and sell the paintings. This works great, for a while, until things inevitably snowball out of control.

This movie is directed by Tim Burton and stars Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams in the leads.

Big Eyes has charm. The visual style is very vivid, bright, and colorful. It echoes the sensibilities of the 50's and 60's, when the story takes place. I liked some of Tim Burton's visual choices, like when some of the television shows the characters watch are in an obvious black-and-white with an exaggerated fish eye lens effect. It doesn't detract, but adds to the personality of this movie.

It is also fun to see Margaret Keane's strange big eyes paintings and Tim Burton's fondness for them is obvious.  I particularly enjoyed one scene in a grocery store. ( I won't sp…

While We're Young

While We're Young is an art film drama / comedy from writer / director Noah Baumbach. It stars Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried.

Noah Baumbach is a New York based director known for The Squid and the Whale (2005), Margot at the Wedding (2007), and Greenberg (2010). He has a new comedy called Mistress America coming out August 2015.

Since Baumbach wrote and directed While We're Young, is it good?

1. The Good
While We're Young is full of great ideas. Ben Stiller and Namoi Watts play a 40 something couple with no children who are coming to terms with their increasing age. This is what interested me. I'm in my mid 30's and my wife and I don't have any kids. This made me curious about the movie, and this is where the title is derived, "while we're young." This is a compelling and interesting idea that has lots of potential for comedy and drama.

Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) befriend a 20 something couple and quic…

Love in the Time of Monsters: the pinnacle of all human achievement

Love in the Time of Monsters is absolutely incredible. In fact, it may go down in cinema history as one of the best films ever created. Now that I think about it, it could become recognized as one of the hallmarks of all human achievement. But, I could be biased.

"Two sisters travel to a cheesy tourist trap where they battle toxic monsters dressed in bigfoot costumes in order to save the ones they love."

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me backpedal and explain where the journey of this movie began for me personally. Imagine a 20 something guy in 2004, somewhere in North Hollywood, CA, wandering into Odyssey Video and discovering a giant collection of incredible 70's and 80's horror movies on VHS.  I was only there for the 99 cent Tuesday rentals, as suggested to me by one of my roommates, Andy Gunn. 

We spent many late night hours laughing, gawking, wincing, and discussing some of the most bizarre and obscure 80's horror movies ever made in the confines of…

What If

A medical-school dropout (Daniel Radcliffe) tries to hide his attraction to his new friend (Zoe Kazan), a bubbly artist who already has a boyfriend. What If is criminally underrated and deserves to be seen and enjoyed. It stars an eager young Daniel Radcliffe who fits the role of romantic semi-leading man nicely. He has an energy and youth that pulls you into his character and makes you forget all about Harry Whatsizname.

Zoe Kazan is also excellent as the love interest. She hits notes of cool and hip that accurately represent the 20 something generation while remaining likable.

What If is a relatable story to me, too, because as a young guy I was often relegated to the dreaded friend zone. This meant that I befriended girls and dwelled in that confusing place between friendship, and something possibly romantic. In this story, Daniel's character (Wallace) gets friend zoned hard and must difficultly navigate this confusing relationship.

If you like old-fashioned 90's romantic com…

movies for easter 2015

1. The Jesus Film (1979) - "Jesus of Nazareth,the son of God raised by a Jewish carpenter. Based on the gospel of Luke in the New Testament,here is the life of Jesus from the miraculous virgin birth to the calling of his disciples, public miracles and ministry, ending with his death by crucifixion at the hands of the Roman empire and resurrection on the third day." - film summary 

Apart from its 70's charm, this film has been passed around for decades the world over. It was shot in the holy land and retains a beautiful simplicity to it. It's natural to compare this movie to many modern counterparts, the most recent being Passion of the Christ from 2004. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to Passion, but The Jesus Film has a light touch missing in many films about Jesus. It's fantastic for everyone, including families, on Easter.

2. Sleeping Beauty (1959) - Gorgeous colors and ambitious artistry adorn this legendary and charming Disney classic. According to…