Tag Archives: drama

Interstellar Review

Interstellar CoverInterstellar

Released: November 7, 2014

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 169 Minutes

Interstellar is arguably the biggest movie of 2014. This sci-fi drama comes from the mind of director Christopher Nolan and is chock-full of huge stars such as Matthew McConaughey, who plays the lead role, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck and one notable and surprising appearance by someone in which I won’t spoil. The story follows Cooper, a former pilot and farmer, who is summoned by NASA to head to space and find a planet that is able to sustain life for the human race, with the Earth quickly deteriorating. So, Cooper and his team of four travel through a wormhole to search, while stumbling upon numerous problems with huge consequences on the way. Cooper must deal with circumstances seemingly out of his control which puts a strain on relationships with his daughter and son.

INTERSTELLAR

Matthew McConaughey is as brilliant as ever, while rest of the all-star cast does an excellent job as well. Hathaway plays a headstrong yet reserved biologist. Caine is a determined professor. David Gyasi is a strong-willed physicist and Wes Bentley is a straightforward geographer. Chastain is perfect as the older version of Cooper’s daughter, Murphy. I must also say that Mackenzie Foy as the young version of Murphy is superb. The “surprise” actor in the latter part of the film is one of the brightest spots as far as performances go, but you’ll expect that when you see who I’m talking about. There’s not much to complain about when it comes to the characters. You’ll genuinely feel for Cooper and want him to pull through and succeed. The emotional bonds established in the beginning of the film carry on to the end, making it quite a profound experience. There is another surprise performance in the form of a futuristic robot named TARS, who shares a special bond with Cooper.

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The script was handled with care, like fine china being transported from one side of the earth to the other. In other words, it’s fantastic. The story is rich with detail, fresh ideas and some far-reaching ideas too. Some may reach too far, but every moviegoer will have their own opinion, obviously. Science is at the forefront of the action, while characters discuss formulas, equations, methods and scientific terms most of us know nothing about. It shows how dedicated Nolan was at making this movie authentic. At times, especially near the end, we see the cogs in Nolan’s brain turning, but sometimes twisting. The plot is not short on ingenuity or surprises. If you didn’t think you could be fully engaged during the entirety of a 3-hour movie, think again. The smart writing and sharp dialogue keep you completely focused on the adventure.  Of course, those visuals help too.

Interstellar 5

Interstellar is a beautiful film, a breathtaking one actually. The special effects, CGI and cinematography are simply unrivaled. At times, you’ll be in awe of the ice-white frozen tundras, beautiful galaxies and intriguing aircrafts. To be blunt, Interstellar boasts some of the best CGI I have ever seen in film, because it genuinely makes you believe everything being shown is real. Wormholes, planets and black holes pop off the screen with unmatched realism and beauty. The sound design is impeccable, as Hans Zimmer delivers an awe-inspiring score. Many have complained about the sound being muffled and flawed in several scenes, but that may be an aberration. Nolan has stated his opinion on this very topic and claims it was deliberate. As a whole, the visuals and audio are impeccable.

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Interstellar may be the biggest movie of 2014 and for the most part, it lives up to the massive hype. It shows its brilliance in several forms, such as the writing, storytelling, plot twists, the science,  well fleshed-out characters and daring ideas. It has its flaws however, such as the “deliberate ” sound issues, lack of an expected emotional punch and the dangerous ideas presented. Nolan’s vision can be divisive, as many will love it while others will be left baffled. Overall, I loved Interstellar and think it’s one of the best movies in the last few years. Excellent work Christopher Nolan, excellent work.

Verdict:

4.5 out of 5

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Faith Advisory:

-Some profanity throughout.

-No sex or nudity.

-An intense explosion.

-Some violence and fighting.

-Frightening and intense scenes such as traveling through a black hole or wormhole and a gigantic tidal wave.

-Some mild drinking.

-A couple scenes of death, but nothing graphic is ever shown.

Faith Verdict:

3.5 out of 5

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Check out the trailer for Interstellar below:

What did you think of Interstellar? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The Wolf of Wall Street Review

Wolf Wall Street CoverThe Wolf of Wall Street

Released: December 25, 2013

Rated: R

Runtime: 180 Minutes

The Wolf of Wallstreet is a dark-comedy directed by Martin Scorsese based on Jordan Belfort’s novel of the same name. The film stars Leonardo Dicaprio, Jonah Hill, and Margot Robbie in the leading roles. The story takes place in the 90s and revolves around Jordan Belfort (Dicaprio) who is a stock broker running a firm participating in security fraud and corruption on Wall Street. I’m going to do this review a little differently than my other reviews. This film has received a lot of controversy due to its moral ambiguity. So I’m going to address my thoughts on the controversy as well as discuss whether or not the film is worth your time.

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It’s utterly amazing how corrupt someone can become through attaining a ridiculous amount of money. Jordan Belfort’s fall from grace is captured so perfectly and so viscerally that the film sparked tons of controversy. The film holds the record for most F-words used in a mainstream non-documentary film, but the horrible language is only the tip of the iceberg. The film contains gratuitous sexual content, I can name a couple scenes that made me think “am I supposed to be watching this?” I remember reading about the content of the movie on my phone’s “plugged in” app and on the internet movie database. I almost didn’t watch this movie because I was utterly disgusted with what I read, but I decided to give it a chance anyway.

 The Wolf of Wall Street - liquid lunchWhat the viewer might find relieving is the fact that most of the scenes don’t last but for a few seconds. Yes some are indeed graphic, but the majority of the scenes don’t last but for ten seconds maximum. Also, I didn’t think it took away from the plot like other explicit movies. You have to understand the film is trying to pay respect to the novel and the real story behind Jordan Belfort. I haven’t read the novel, but I saw a few interviews with the real “Wolf of Wall Street” and he claims everything in this movie actually happened with very few exceptions. The things these guys did were obscene, but the film uses its vulgarity to display a sense of realism and show you how far Mr. Belfort fell from grace. Some may disagree with me, but I thought the use of vulgarity was necessary for the story telling. I’m not saying I celebrate its use of vulgarity, but the film wouldn’t have the same effect on the viewer without it.

Wolf Wall Street 3Now that I’m off the subject of controversy, you might be asking yourself “how is the movie in general?” As I’ve said before, this is one of 2013’s best films. It was nominated for several Oscars, but won none…how dare the Academy let this happen. Leonardo Dicaprio is a force to be reckoned with and delivers an Oscar-worthy performance (which he was once again snubbed for). Scorsese also shines with his directorial style. He really knows what he’s doing behind a camera. Every single shot of this movie comes to life with vibrant colors and tons of energy. The script is where the film shines the most. The dialogue is clever, realistic and absolutely hilarious. Without spoiling anything, there’s a scene where someone tries to get high on Lemmon Qualude pills and the effects don’t kick in until later on. This scene made me laugh so hard, I might have cracked a rib or two.

     Bottom line, The Wolf of Wall Street is undoubtedly vulgar, but well worth your time if you aren’t bothered by those types of things. My only problems with this movie are a couple scenes that felt too drawn out. But this is one minor flaw in an otherwise flawless film. 

Verdict:

4.5 out of 5

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Faith Advisory:

-The film is rated R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence.

- There are many sex scenes as well as other scenes containing very perverse sexual content. Even though most are pretty brief, they are still very uncomfortable to watch and can get pretty graphic. Especially this one scene in the first ten minutes of the film combining sex and drugs.

-As I said in my review, the film holds the record for the most uses of the F-word in a mainstream, non-documentary film. To be exact, according to imdb, the word is used 569 times (18 times sexually). The film also contains many uses of other curse words.

-Quite a few scenes containing heavy drug use. A couple of these scenes are intended to be comical, but they can still potentially disturb some people.

-There are only a few scenes containing violence. Most are pretty brief and they aren’t gory. 

-As a film buff, this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. I can only name a handful of movies that have come out in the last few years that are better than this one. However, as a Christian, it’s very hard for me to recommend this to anyone due to the film’s vulgar content. 

-If you do decide to watch it, pray first, and view with an accountability partner.

Faith Verdict:

0 out of 5

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Check out the trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street below:

Nightcrawler Review

Nightcrawler CoverNightcrawler

Released: October 31, 2014

Rated: R

Runtime: 117 Minutes

Nightcrawler is crime drama/thriller written and directed by Dan Gilroy and stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a crime video journalist. Throughout the film, Lou becomes more and more infatuated with crime journalism, developing a no holds barred, relentless and ultimately psychotic approach. As his skills rapidly increase, he slyly works his way to the top of his respective field by forming relationships, performing unthinkable acts and pushing the furthest moral and legal boundaries. The film also stars Rene Russo as a veteran news director named Nina and Riz Ahmed as Rick, a desperate young man who works as Lou’s assistant.

Nightcrawler 4
There’s trouble around every corner.

Does anyone else see Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler? Because I can’t. His acting chops are so brilliant that you truly see Lou Bloom. This is where I say it’s the best performance of Jake Gyllenhaal’s career. Yes, he was impressive in Prisoners and Enemy, but he just outright owns this role. Looks like Jake is headed to the Oscars, because if he isn’t, the Academy needs to get their heads checked. Gyllenhaal is electric and utterly magnetic as Lou Bloom. This guy is so likable yet so sinister at times. It’s quite conflicting. Russo as Nina and Ahmed as Rick offer nice support, both with great performances.

Nightcrawler 2
The relationship between Lou and Nina is…complicated.

The story is mostly unpredictable and entertaining, while runs off a finely crafted script by director Dan Gilroy. It has a lot to say about Lou Bloom. This is his movie. Lou does what he wants, when he wants, even if it takes manipulating people (dare I say worse) to get what he desires, which is usually more money, self-gratification and recognition. This character concept makes for some great dialogue and conversation. It’s some of the best of the year, as a matter of fact. Entertainment value is very high, as Lou and his partner Rick “crawl” every night looking for the next big story to video. Sometimes it can be disturbing, as Lou will capture anything on camera that will make Nina back at the news station, happy. It doesn’t matter how sick or twisted it is. Whatever makes the most money is what goes on the evening news. Lou Bloom is a man on a mission and no one is going to stop him, as he goes from jobless to successful businessman.

Nightcrawler 3
Lou Bloom approves this film.

Nightcrawler is full of unbreakable tension and pulse-pounding thrills. There’s plenty of action to go around, such as an immensely exciting car chase and restaurant shoot-out between police and a couple criminals. Nightcrawler keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. The cinematography is something to behold, with a beautiful, dark Los Angeles cityscape as the setting. The great music accompanies the backdrop perfectly too. There’s not much to dislike about Nightcrawler. It was my most anticipated movie of 2014 and it did not let me down. Jake Gyllenhaal continues to blow my mind with his incredible and magnetic performance. The film screams style, substance and excellence. It’s a dark, slick, thrilling and unforgettable movie. Nightcrawler is easily one of the best films of 2014, if not the best I’ve seen thus far. What are you waiting for?

Verdict:

5 out of 5

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Faith Advisory:

-The film is fairly violent all the way around.

-Plenty of blood is seen.

-Violent, grisly crime scenes are shown.

-Bloom does some pretty sick and twisted things, morally speaking.

-Some sexual dialogue, but no sex or nudity whatsoever.

-The tone of the film is very dark.

-Profanity throughout.

-There are guns, shootouts and other types of violence.

-As a whole, the character of Lou Bloom possibly represents the human condition as it speaks to sin and selfishness. The innate desire to satisfy ourselves rears its head in Bloom’s character. We can learn from this and understand what not to do. If you look at it in the grand scheme of things, in a  Biblical perspective, it just ends up being sad. However, it also reminds us that with all this sin, comes grace and forgiveness in Christ.

Faith Verdict:

1 out of 5

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See the trailer for Nightcrawler below:

Her Review

Her Promo

Review by contributor Austin Winkler

Her is a romance film starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and the voice of Scarlett Johansson. The story revolves around Theodore Twombly (Phoenix) who starts a relationship with an intelligent operating system named Samantha (Johansson). This is a very late review, and I apologize for that. I rented this film a couple months back, and if I’m being completely honest, I really didn’t see what the big deal was. I thought it was a very well made film, but very boring and pretentious. I never got around to writing a review about it because it was already late and I didn’t think it was anything worth writing about. However, for my interpersonal communication class, I had to watch it again to write a report on it. Since then, I’ve gained a completely new respect for it.

Her Scene 2

The place where the film shines the most is the script. The story is very well written with believable characters and realistic conversations. It’s almost like Pulp Fiction in the way that the dialogue between characters is the best part about this film. It’s filled with so many emotions, it’s ridiculous. One moment you’ll be laughing and the next you have a lump in your throat trying to hold back tears. That’s another thing, this movie packs a good emotional punch. I don’t cry easily in films, but this one came dangerously close to making me shed a few tears. The emotions brought forth from the actors feel genuine to the point where you start viewing these characters as real people. This is one of the most emotionally dynamic films I’ve seen in years.

Her Scene 1

As far as fundamentals go, everything is in pristine condition. The cinematography is breathtaking. In my class, we watched it on DVD, but it was hard for me to tell. Everything from the lighting to the colors is sublime. Joaquin Phoenix and company do exceptionally well in their roles, but Scarlett Johansson’s voice work as the O.S. is something to behold. Her voice work is so incredible, I forgot she was playing an O.S. She never got nominated, but I heard she was getting some Oscar buzz from her voice alone. It would’ve been a long-shot to see her nominated for Best Supporting Actress, but she would’ve been deserving of the honor.

Her Scene 3

Bottom line, Her has since become one of the best romance films I’ve ever seen. I’d highly recommend purchasing this, but if you’re still unsure, rent it before doing so. If you’re like me and don’t care much for it the first go around, I implore you to give it another chance. Probably my only complaints are a couple scenes with an unnecessary amount of vulgar language, but that’s it! Her is a movie you simply don’t want to miss out on.

Verdict:

4 and a half stars

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Faith advisory:
-A couple scenes containing vulgar language
-Two scenes involving phone sex. One of them is meant to be comical, but it can get pretty weird as well.
-We see photos of a naked pregnant woman, and a couple minutes later, we see the woman again with one of the characters fantasizing about her. (Bare breast and female genitalia visible but only for a brief second)
-A couple scenes with characters kissing.
-One scene showing two people making out. They’re about to have sex, but change their mind.
-Do not watch this with your children, parents, or grand-parents.
-Accountability partner recommended to fast-forward through the sexual scenes.
Faith Verdict:
1 star
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Check out the trailer for Her below:

Night Moves Review

Night Moves CoverNight Moves is an independent drama/thriller directed by Kelly Reichardt starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard. The film is about three hardcore environmentalists who set out to destroy a hydroelectric dam, by essentially blowing it up.

This is a very melodramatic film, one that relies on tensions and build-up to keep its viewers invested. This tactic works extremely well, mainly because of the interesting characters and their relationships. The acting here is top-notch, especially from the always quirky and immensely talented Jesse Eisenberg, who plays the reserved and sometimes creepy Josh. Dakota Fanning is great as the reluctant Dena and Peter Sarsgaard is wonderful as ex-military man, Harmon. Eisenberg is the main star here, as his performance is simply entrancing. Sure, his character isn’t very likable, but there’s no denying that he’s interesting. The chemistry between these three is undeniably sharp and with an already solid script, the characters only shine even more.

Night Moves 1

The rural Pacific Northwest is the perfect setting and it’s beauty is only expanded due to the cinematography work. The story is something that has been done before…literally. There’s been major controversy surrounding this, as there was a book written years ago that had an eerily similar story line. But, whether Reichardt deliberately copied and pasted is a story for another day. It’s an entertaining premise, for sure. The content here speaks of a message that will resonate with the environmentalist community.

Night Moves is not for everyone. First of all, it’s an independent film and these types of movies are never for everyone. Second of all, the run time pushes nearly 2 hours and most of that time things are quiet and melancholy, albeit tense and gripping. Plus, it has that art-house feel to it…so there are some quirks like naked old women at the beginning (for no apparent reason). So yeah…there’s that. However, weirdness aside, Night Moves is a satisfying, interesting, entertaining and unique film that gets my recommendation.

Verdict:

4 stars out of 5

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Faith Advisory:

Rated “R

-Nudity: Only in one scene, near the beginning, several elderly women are shown at a day spa.

-Sex: It is implied one time, nothing is shown, only briefly heard.

-Profanity: A few curse words through out.

-Sparse consumption of alcohol.

-Violence: Some scenes of struggling and mild fighting; One murder scene (not very violent)

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Check out the trailer for Night Moves below:

Boyhood Review

Boyhood CoverReview by Contributor Austin Winkler

Boyhood is a coming-of-age drama directed by Richard Linklater and stars Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, and Lorelei Linklater. Filmed over a period of 12 years, the story follows Mason (Coltrane) and his family from his childhood until his early college years.

One of the most impressive things about this movie is what I mentioned earlier: it was filmed over a course of 12 years with the same actors and everything. This film possesses a lot of dedication, and it’s wonderfully made. The cinematography is gorgeous, the writing is impeccable, and the acting is spot on. Ellar Coltrane was casted perfectly for this role, even as a child he was great. Another thing I must add, the soundtrack is killer! I’m tempted to purchase it. You’ll hear music from Coldplay, Kings of Leon, Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, heck, there’s even a Blink-182 song in the beginning.

This is a very intimate film. Conflict is almost nonexistent and there isn’t much of a story. If someone were tBoyhoos Scene 1o ask me what the film’s main story is, I’d say it’s about reaching milestones in life; how you get there, when you get there, and what you’ll do when you get there. As a matter of fact, there’s a scene near the end of the movie where Patricia Arquette’s character blatantly says this. Well, not word for word, but it was something along those lines. I recognize this is a very well made film, but in all honesty, I can’t see myself watching it again. There’s a bunch of very interesting and well written dialogue, but unless you want to examine the film and dig deep beneath the surface of the “story,” I can’t see anyone doing the same. I will say I found relation with the characters and certain events that happened in the film. I saw young Mason watching cartoonBoyhood Scene 2s that I used to watch as a kid and even the little things like him playing a Gameboy Advanced SP and The Oregon Trail on those old-school Mac computers, just like I used to have in elementary school. I also saw the film a few days before I moved to Tampa to further my studies at USF, and the scenes showing him moving off to college really hit home for me.

Bottom line, Boyhood is a work of art in cinema, but it’s not for the casual movie goer. People born in the 1990s or even the late 1980s will really relate to the characters and events. It’s something different from your average movie and it’s very ambitious, so I would recommend checking it out at least once, if you get the chance.

Verdict:

4 and a half stars

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Wade’s Thoughts:

Boyhood was one of my most anticipated films of 2014. Austin and I saw it a quaint, local theater that only plays indie movies. The film is almost 3 hours long, so I was preparing for a marathon. The good thing was, that long run time had no effect because the movie remained interesting from start to finish. This is one of the film’s biggest feats, along with the fact Ellar Coltrane and company have been a part of the production for so many years and remained so solid throughout that time. Every main actor in Boyhood is so good and so human. We see each of their faults, decisions made and daily lives. However, there is some shockingly bad acting in some scenes.

Boyhood Scene 2The story is simple, it’s a coming-of-age story about a typical American boy. There were many things that stuck out that reminded of my own childhood, which had a profound effect on me. Whether it was a video game, movie or music reference, it was somehow relevant to my life and conjured up plenty of nostalgia. I’m pretty sure every single song played is on my iPod right now for goodness sakes! There’s a healthy helping of emotion and sentimentality in the story and characters, along with one biased political agenda that will surely upset some (such as me!).

Boyhood is all about the little things, the special moments, the times in life that truly matter. There’s a certain affinity towards family, friends and relationships. These things, coupled with great directing, acting and characters makes for a wonderful and fresh viewing experience. To conclude, Boyhood is a unique film with solid fundamentals, but it still boasts some glaring chinks in the armor and wasn’t quite the revolutionary film I expected it would be.

Verdict:

4 stars out of 5

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Faith Advisory:

-A scene where sex is implied

-Passionate kissing

-Profanity throughout. On scene is especially disgusting as teens spew sexual innuendo.

-Couples arguing

-Some bullying

-There’s a political and religious bias

-Smoking and drinking

-There’s some drug use

-This is not a film children should watch. Recommended for viewers 16 and above

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Check out the trailer for Boyhood below:

True Detective Review (Season 1)

True Detective CoverTrue Detective stars Matthew McConaughey as Rust Cohle and Woody Harrelson as Marty Hart, two detectives who’s lives intertwine during a 17-year manhunt for a serial killer known as “The Yellow King” in backwoods Louisiana. The series is written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukanaga. The music is by T-Bone Burnett. Do the rave reviews warrant excitement? Does it really live up to the hype?

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Rust and Marty are the perfect team.

You better believe it lives up the hype. It punches hype in the face. True Detective is truly one of the most gripping, thrilling, exciting, compelling and ominous television shows I have ever seen. Yes, it’s a TV show, but it acts more as an 8-hour movie. Once I popped that first disc in and finished the first episode, I couldn’t stop watching. I didn’t care how long it was. I was too engaged with the incredible story and characters to think about anything else. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are both at their best here. When I mean best, I mean best. This is probably the best acting I have ever seen. They are equally excellent. It was so good in fact, I had to re-think how I critique acting in TV and film, because it doesn’t get any better than this. Of course, the writing contributes to this too. In the 8-episode season, there were just so many memorable scenes with compelling dialogue that was delivered with such passion and humanity. Some of the lines are just so, so good. Series creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto deserves a ton of credit for his work…and his creation for that matter.

This is some of the best acting in a TV show or movie you will ever see, thanks to Harrelson and McConaughey
This is some of the best acting in a TV show or movie you will ever see, thanks to Harrelson and McConaughey.

Never before have I seen such a natural on-screen chemistry than the one McConaughey and Harrelson share in True Detective. Their dynamics are breathtaking. Eventually, you forget you’re watching a TV show for crying out loud. You can tell these guys respect one another. Rust is pegged by those around him as a loose cannon and a little “loopy”. He has several psychological demons he is deals with through out the show, as he struggles to figure out why he sees things and has visions. The guy never pursues a relationship, he keeps to himself, but when it comes to detective work, he’s one of the best. Rust’s daughter died pre-1995 and this has made him a cold, disturbed individual. Despite this, I still like him as a character. He is very interesting, smart and intriguing. During the show, we see several versions of the characters, which are from 1995, 2002 and 2012. The case they worked on from 1995 to 2002 was opened back up in 2012 and they must collaborate to find the serial killer known as the “Yellow King”. Side note: There is an aspect of mythology that opens another can of worms that won’t fully be covered in this post. Marty Hart is once family man turned introvert single cop. As a matter of fact, both characters turn out this way. Hart is absent of psychological issues, but he makes some morally poor choices that lead to him losing touch with family. Like Rust, when it comes to investigative work, he’s elite. Again, with Marty, even though he has tons of flaws, he is still highly likable. Both Woody and Matthew should have won Emmy’s for their performances. Both Rust and Marty sort of remind us of how flawed each of us are. It goes back to how things started in the world. Man was created, man sinned, man was ashamed, now all men are flawed and are sinners.

McConaughey delivers an utterly riveting performance.
McConaughey delivers an utterly riveting performance.

When you look beyond Rust and Marty, the show is filled with many unique and excellent characters. Maggie, Marty’s wife, is played by Michelle Monaghan. I know, lot’s of “m”s there! She is fantastic as the unhappy, restless and longing spouse. Michael Potts and Tory Kittles are great as Detectives Gilbough and Papania, who are handling the newly re-opened case. Brad Carter was one of my favorites as convict Charlie Lange, who forced me to use subtitles because of his thick, Southern-fried accent. It was amazing. Glenn Fleshler as the downright terrifying, backwoods, inbred creep as also especially great. The exchanges between characters are so real and genuine. For example, When Marty finds himself alone after his wife threatens to divorce him, you feel his agony, his pain, his struggle. He has to face the consequences of his poor decisions. This goes for scenes such as when Rust comes over to Marty’s house for a family dinner or the fight sequence between Rust and Marty. It’s all so real and raw. All around, True Detective offers up some of the finest acting I’ve ever seen.

This is one of the most intense scenes in True Detective.
This is one of the most intense scenes in True Detective.

Aside from having some of the best acting in the entertainment biz, True Detective is just as good in nearly every other vicinity. The writing, as I mentioned earlier, impresses in all eight episodes. There’s never a weak moment. The directing is simply fantastic. No wonder Fukunaga won Best Director at the Emmy’s. Some of his work blew my mind. There is one scene during a time where Rust is on some heavy drugs and has to sneak himself out of a very bad situation and it’s all done in one single take. It’s impressive because the scene is rather long and there isn’t one cut. The directing over the course of all eight episodes is brilliant. It doesn’t get much better than this. The cinematography catches the backwoods Louisiana coast and feel perfectly. It’s solving crimes, cajun style! True Detective is just an overall beautifully shot production that warrants universal praise. Enough can’t be said about the music in this show. T-Bone Burnett blew me away. This is some of the most impressive music in a show. It is such an integral part to the look, feel and tone of the show. Each track is tailor-made for specific scenes. It’s haunting, beautiful and heart-pounding stuff. Speaking of heart-pounding, the True Detective boasts arguably one of the most brutal, intense, thrilling and awesome final acts. My jaw was permanently stuck to the floor and my eyes were wide and glued to the screen for a full 15 minutes or so. Yeah, it’s THAT good.

Season 2 will feature an entirely new cast.
Season 2 will feature an entirely new cast.

True Detective has proven to me that a TV series (or very long movies) can be just as successful and impressive as a feature film. This is simply one of the best TV shows of all time. High praise, huh? Well, he show is utterly that impressive. The only negative things you can find to say about the show would be story-based decisions made by the writer. It’s based on an old book from the late 1800’s and who knows how closely it relates to that. But, some may not like the ending. I for one, love it. I won’t spoil anything, but the end touches on the whole “light vs dark” thing and some people may not be satisfied with how things turn out. The story is so relevant to society and culture today, while it uses the age-old debate. Light vs Dark dates back to the Bible. In the show, we see some Satanic characters who are truly under the influence of the evil one. Even Rust and Marty exemplify darkness in many ways. However, it’s how you look at it. Sure, they’re bad men, but they aren’t worshiping the devil like the demented antagonists. They are sinners, like all of us. They make mad decisions, like all of us. They lie, cheat, steal and sin like all of us. Maybe to a higher extent than some, but we’re all screw-ups when it comes to how we live our lives. Sure, Marty could have chosen not to cheat, not to lie, not to make all those decisions, but he is still a sinner. So, if you ponder it, our main characters may not be that bad in the end. They just need to clean up their act and find Christ! Light vs Dark is at the fore front in True Detective. Just let it be known, light will always win.

Verdict:

5 out of 5 stars

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Faith Advisory:

-True Detective should only be viewed by adults.

-If your’e a Christian that is new in the faith, I would not advise viewing.

-There is an overall premise of Light vs Dark, which will relate heavily to believers.

-The show reveals consequences of poor decisions.

-There are a few sex scenes, all of which involve female nudity.

-There is one perverted, incest scene.

-There is heavy violence involving guns and other weapons.

-There are many disturbing scenes involving corpses and human remains.

-There’s a fair amount of blood.

-Lots of drinking alcohol, smoking and heavy drug use.

-Many curse words. The Lord’s name is taken in vain a few times.

-There are many symbols, signs and references to Satanism and evil itself.

-There are several references to Christianity shown in a negative light. There’s actually an entire diatribe by Rust that bashes the faith.

-The show is littered with evil, disgusting and unrighteous content.

-I recommend either watching with an accountability partner or fast-forwarding through certain parts. (For example: If you struggle with lust, skip the nudity and sex scenes.)

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Check out the trailer for True Detective below:

Take Shelter Review

Take Shelter CoverTake Shelter is a drama/thriller directed by Jeff Nichols, starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. Shannon plays a disoriented father and husband who begins to have apocalyptic visions. He begins to question if these visions are real and if there is imminent danger or if his psychological condition and himself are the real threats. Either way, he builds a storm shelter to protect his family, which include his wife Samantha played by Chastain and his hearing-impaired daughter.

Take shelter! Seriously!
Take shelter! Seriously!

Shannon is perfect for the role of Curtis, who is a seemingly typical, hard-working, blue collar family man. When he sees horrific visions of a storm, no one else ever seems to notice, which forces him to ask himself if he’s crazy. His condition leads him to losing his job, his friends and almost his family. It is one of Shannon’s most convincing and unique performances to date and most certainly my personal favorite, but then again, I have a certain affinity toward the psychological thriller genre. You feel Curtis’ pain in every scene, whether it’s a confrontation with his former best friend or it’s one of his terrifying visions. You just want him to be okay and for everyone to believe him when he vehemently proclaims “There’s a storm coming!”. Jessica Chastain is the solid rock of the household and strong-willed, loving mother and wife. She tries her best to stick it out with Curtis as he goes through his “episodes” and visions. Shannon and Chastain make a believable husband and wife, as their on-screen chemistry is immensely natural.

There's a storm a comin'.
There’s a storm a comin’.

Take Shelter is a psychological thriller to the core, and a great one at that. It’s beautifully atmospheric and certainly thrilling at times. Whether it’s birds falling from the sky or a gigantic storm brewing in the heavens, your attention will be solidly captured. The pacing is another one of the film’s strong suits as each and every scene moves and transitions with sublime fluidity. Take Shelter keeps you interested and invested until the credits roll and there’s something to be said for that. It also boasts a strong script that is somewhat minimalist in some respects as Curtis is a relatively quiet character. Regardless, the dialogue is strong and wholly believable.

Yeah...I would already be running.
Yeah…I would already be running.

There isn’t much to complain about with Take Shelter. It is a smart, quiet, engrossing and thrilling film. This movie accomplishes exactly what is sets out to do. Sure, the psychological thriller has been done before and there are some nearly unavoidable cliches here and there, but overall, Take Shelter is definitely worth watching. It is a worthy addition to the genre with its relatable characters, great story, gloomy atmosphere and thrilling aura.

Verdict:

4 stars out of 5

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Faith Advisory:

-There is some very brief talk relating to a sexual situation.

-Paranormal/ghost-like figures violently attack the main character in a couple scenes.

-A dog violently bite’s the main characters arm in a dream.

-One scene shows bleeding from the mouth.

-There is a bird attack and we see blood.

-About half a dozen uses of the “f” and “s” words each.

-One drug overdose.

-Overall, there are several terrifying and violent scenes, but there is no gore or large amounts of blood.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

Grand Budapest Hotel Cover

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Released: March 7, 2014

Rated: R

Runtime: 100 Minutes

In Wes Anderson’s new quirky, art house flick, The Grand Budapest Hotel, we follow the story of a concierge and a lobby boy. If you’ve seen Moonrise Kingdom or Fantastic Mr. Fox, you know what you’re in for, which is an artsy, unorthodox and perplexing picture. Filled with witty dialogue, an utterly ridiculous amount of stars and topped with Wes Anderson’s unique touch, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a nice little package. Yes, it’s an adventure involving a hotel concierge named M. Gustave (played by Ralph Fiennes) and a lobby boy named Zero (played by Tony Revolori). Gustave is framed for murder and now he is out to prove his innocence. The cast also includes Jude Law as a young author, F. Murray Abraham as an older Zero, Tilda Swinton as one of Gustave’s love interests, Jeff Goldblum as a lawyer, Adrien Brody as an angry man who is after an inheritance and Willem Dafoe as a fierce assassin. Bill Murray and Owen Wilson also make brief appearances. This is one star-studded cast! However, the main focus is mostly on Gustave and Zero and their adventures. The performances are fantastic and there’s nothing I can complain about on this front. Each character has his or her own quirks and differences. The downside to having all of these stars is the fact that there just isn’t enough of them. I would have loved to see more of Dafoe, Goldblum, Murray and Wilson. This is a very captivating film as far as star power and wit go. It has an undeniable presence about it. But hey, it’s a Wes Anderson film and all of his films do!

Grand Budapest Hotel Scene 1
Fiennes and Revolori have great on-screen chemistry.

The audiovisual presentation of this film is simply mesmerizing. There’s beautiful, snowy mountains, gorgeous hotel interiors, pretty costumes and a fantastical musical score. It all flows together perfectly and wonderfully. It makes for something pretty to look at and listen to. The story itself is more like a series of adventures involving the two leads, but it never really grabbed a hold of me like I thought it would. Unfortunately, I felt no emotion whatsoever and I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. I was left thinking Anderson and company put too much effort into making the film look pretty and gathering an all-star cast. One thing that did get my attention was the subtle comedy. Sometimes you can’t figure out if what you’re watching is supposed to be funny or serious, which usually leads to you laughing. The film’s lack of seriousness makes it better. It’s not Moonrise Kingdom or Fantastic Mr. Fox, but it’s still a solid movie. Overall, The Grand Budapest Hotel is beautiful, mesmerizing, elaborate, elegant and has one big imagination.

Verdict:

4 stars out of 5

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Faith Advisory:

-There is a very brief sexual scene.

-We hear scattered, mild sexual dialogue.

-There is violence and blood, such as someone getting their fingers chopped off.

-The film includes bad language in several parts.

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What did you think of The Grand Budapest Hotel? Sound off in the comments section and check out the trailer below:

Joe Review

Joe CoverJoe

Released: April 9, 2014

Rated: R

Runtime: 135 Minutes

Mud 2, I mean Joe, is about, you guessed it, Joe (Nicolas Cage). He is a rough around the edges ex-con who lives a simple life in rural America. When he meets 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan), things begin to take a turn, as he becomes an unlikely father figure. Gary’s home life involves a rambling drunkard father, Wade (Gary Poulter), a drug addict mother and a silent, emotionally damaged sister. Yes, I said Mud 2 because it’s eerily similar to the film Mud. For instance, it’s based in the south, we have an edgy guy with a past and Tye Sheridan. Similarities aside, Joe manages to stand on its own two feet as something somewhat original.

Joe Scene 2
Cage is excellent as Joe.

Everyone should get excited! Why? Because this is a return to form for Nicolas Cage. It’s arguably one of the best performances of his career. I loved him in this role. Hopefully he plays more characters like Joe. I felt like he was honest, believable and sincere in every scene. Awesome beard by the way Nicolas. Tye Sheridan is equally as good. With a terrible home life, his characters confides in Joe, which translates to a sweet father-son relationship with emotional depth. It’s one of the best parts of the movie. Gary Poulter is the deadbeat, sometimes menacing homeless father of Gary. Little known fact: Poulter was an actual homeless man that passed away two months after filming. The guy’s performance was incredible, especially for not being a professional actor. I was blown away. However, his character is completely unlikable and sinister. The rest of the cast was okay, aside from one particularly great performance by the leader of the tree-cutting crew (I can’t find his name anywhere!). I loved the scene where he and Wade were viciously arguing, it was fantastic!

Joe Scene 1
Real-life homeless man Gary Poulter was haunting as Gary’s deadbeat, drunkard father.

Joe’s story is simple and familiar and doesn’t really go anywhere to be quite honest. It’s melodramatic and oftentimes depressing. It’s slow to start, but eventually pick up steam in the middle part of the movie. There are several little things going on which adds some depth, but most of it is unimportant or uninteresting. Despite the story’s downfalls, the characters are what makes this movie strong. As well as the human elements, such as the relationship between Joe and Gary, the jealousy of Wade and the sheer believability of everything that’s going on. The final act involves a little bit of silly action and some questionable story choices, which ultimately took some of the air out of the film. Yes, Joe has its flaws, but no one can deny it boasts fantastic performances, several touching moments and interesting, believable characters. I definitely recommend giving it a rent.

Verdict:

3 and a half stars

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Faith Advisory:

Joe includes inappropriate language throughout, two scenes of explicit sexual content and a few violent scenes with blood.

Faith Verdict:

1 star

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Check out the trailer for Joe below: