The stories of great people, particularly the great thinkers, have been source material for a number of acclaimed and awarded biopics, a sub-genre that has evolved a lot in the last decade. You can tell just by comparing two of 2014’s best, each focused on one of the greatest British minds of the 20th century. […]
Slavery is rightfully considered the darkest mark on America’s 237-year history. It was the issue that defined 19th Century America, and one of many examples in humanity’s narrative of the oppression of one people at the hands of another. “12 Years a Slave” is a brutal but necessary reminder of that evil. It is a […]
In telling chapters of history, films have the benefit of hindsight. As obvious as that statement sounds, Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland takes advantage of almost 70 years of history in writing/directing “42,” to the point where he can set the stage with the perfect emotional tone for telling the story of Jackie Robinson, one of […]
Man vs. nature is an ever-occurring theme in literature and film, but few dare tag on “vs. God.” Although to be fair, “Life of Pi” implies a certain connection between God and nature, that they aren’t exactly separate entities. Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s celebrated and oft-considered “unfilmable” novel tackles this crisis of faith […]
The timeless narrative of people who do bad things getting what they deserve has become so entrenched in the way we look at books, movies, television and more. For that reason, many who finish “Arbitrage” will find themselves rather bewildered.
If you think it’s tough to think or talk about old people having sex, try being one of said old people. “Hope Springs” pairs two Oscar-winning and well-aging talents in Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as Kay and Arnold, who endure the ups and downs of couples counseling with the main goal of rekindling […]
Look around Hollywood and you get the feeling that the art of the romance movie is either dying or has been dead for some time. Romance as a genre term has practically been replaced by the phrase “rom-com,” and the only alternatives are gooey teen-geared fare (“Twilight” or a Nicholas Sparks adaptation) or the occasional […]
Abraham Lincoln. Steven Spielberg. Daniel Day-Lewis. Any of these words alone commands a lot of attention and respect; put them together, and you have an almost inconceivable amount of reverence. “Lincoln” is reminiscent of the powerhouse Oscar biopics of the ‘90s and early 2000s, but unlike other recent biopics, it mostly measures up to the […]
Steven Soderbergh and a movie about male dancers are two things most commonly found on opposite sides of a video store (or completely different categories on your Netflix recommendations, if we’re being modern), but behold “Magic Mike,” a film that is both, and a film that works surprisingly well.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s films have a tendency to take you by the shoulders and shake you rigorously, to leave you with an unforgettable scene, moment or quote (“I drink your milkshake!”, anyone?). “The Master” short-changes none of us on lasting images, but the fearless director’s long-awaited return to film after six years is less visceral; […]
Grief is a process. Psychology books and personal experience will tell you that. Perhaps not all of us experience someone being ripped from our lives in an instant, but the process is always the same. Why then, is it so challenging to watch 9-year-old Oskar (Thomas Horn), whose father (Tom Hanks) dies in the 9/11 […]
Few of us can truly grasp the economic fundamentals of the 2008 stock market crash—how it happened, why it happened. Most of what we understand are the after effects, the human consequences. Rookie filmmaker J.C. Chandor’s “Margin Call” attempts to merge those two understandings: the economics and the executive-level decision-making with the real-life impact and […]
Historical fiction espionage thrillers have a devoted fan base, as do the novels of John le Carré. These folks are an intellectual lot, stimulated by the secret dealings of the world’s intelligence agencies, which during the Cold War were at an all-time high. And they can keep “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” a film that despite […]
It might not be an election year, but politics never take a break from being cutthroat. “The Ides of March” peels back the curtain on election campaigns, in this case those of two Democrats vying for their party’s nomination. Based on the play “Farragut North” by Beau Willimon, who had a hand in the screenplay, “Ides” […]
Most movies don’t know how to handle cancer. Heck, most people don’t know how to handle cancer — and I’m not talking about the patients. Cancer, or any other terminal illness for that matter, almost always plays some kind x-factor in a film — that is when a film even dares to enter a realm […]