Tag Archives: drama

Bite-Sized Review: Locke

Locke Cover Blu RayLocke

Released: April 25, 2014

Rated: R

Runtime: 85 Minutes

Locke takes place in a car for 85 minutes. Yes, a confined car. Tom Hardy is the sole actor, apart from a few others who we only hear voices via cell phone. Talk about a minimalist approach. Steven Knight is writer and director. This unique gem flew under the radar in 2014. But, let me make it clear, you must see this movie at least once. It is a showcase for Hardy’s impeccable acting skill and offers a fresh take on filmmaking. Ivan Locke is having marital issues on the night before a huge career breakthrough. On the same night, he receives a life-changing phone call. Switching back and forth from call to call, with fellow work employees, his wife and the “mystery” caller (spoiler-free), Ivan must discover what is most important to him and find a way to balance all of these different things taking place.

Locke Scene
Tom Hardy is masterful in Locke.

 

The film boasts style and substance. The dialogue and acting are what make this film great and consistently entertaining. Hardy is masterful and the audience feels his every word and emotion. Locke makes you think what you would do in Ivan’s position. The unique premise is definitely given justice with excellent directing and fundamentals. Some viewers may be turned off by Locke’s dark and “different” approach to film, but one can’t deny it is some impeccable work. Personally, I was not a fan of the ending, as it was a little frustrating. I wanted a bit more closure. Regardless, give it a chance, just once.

Verdict:

4 out of 5

________________________________________________________________

Faith Advisory:

-Lots of coarse language and dialogue throughout

-Sex outside of marriage is spoken about

-Some drinking

Faith Verdict:

1.5 out of 5

St. Vincent Review

St Vincent CoverSt. Vincent

Released: October 24, 2014

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 102 Minutes

St. Vincent is a comedy-drama directed by Theodore Melfi and stars Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard and Jaeden Lieberher. Murray plays Vincent, an old, grumpy ex-war veteran who gets a pair of new neighbors in a divorced mother named Maggie (McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Lieberher). Vincent and Oliver form an unlikely friendship when Maggie needs a babysitter since her new job requires her to work long hours. Throw in Vincent’s unordinary romantic relationship with a “lady of the night” named Daka (Watts) and you have a recipe for a great time.

ST. VINCENT

I really enjoyed St. Vincent, even though I didn’t have high hopes going in. It seemed to be a bit different and the style didn’t seem to match each respective actors’ traditional groove. But, I was pleasantly surprised. The film is very warm-hearted, boasting some emotional depth and several funny moments. The chemistry between each character is natural and everyone is on point at all times. The humanity within each character is also something to note. These are normal people with normal lives going through normal every day problems and scenarios. Yes, it is funny at times, but it plays more like a drama most of the time. There are several different things going on as the story progresses.

St vincent scene 2

 

The performances are great all the way around, with Murray being the best as the rough and rugged Vincent who is now an alcoholic when someone he hold dear seems to be wilting away at a local nursing home. He brings much to the table with his signature comedic flare. Old age doesn’t seem to be slowing this guy down at all. McCarthy’s performance is a breath of fresh air for her after playing her typical obnoxious self in movies like Bridesmaids, The Heat and Tammy. The biggest surprise is Lieberher as Oliver. It is one of those special child performances. The film is paced quite well and you never grow tired, as it is always entertaining. Throw in a few life lessons for children and adults alike and you have a quality dram-com. St. Vincent is a film you must see at least once.

Verdict:

4 out of 5

________________________________________________________________

Faith Advisory:

-One sex scene

-Partial nudity; There is a scene at a strip club

-Profanity scattered throughout

-Some blood when two kids fight

Faith Verdict:

2 out of 5

_______________________________________________________________

Check out the trailer for St. Vincent below. What did you think of the movie?

American Sniper Review

American Sniper Cover

American Sniper

Released: January 16, 2015

Rated: R

Runtime: 132 Minutes

American Sniper is an action/drama biography film directed by Clint Eastwood starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. It’s based on a true story about “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history”, U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle. He struggles between life at war and life at home, as his wife (Miller) becomes restless taking care of kids by herself during each tour of duty.

American Sniper 1

Bradley Cooper is excellent as Navy Seal Chris Kyle. But then again, the character is about as average as it gets. He’s a southern, everyday good old boy that wants nothing more than to fight for his great country. The acting all around is pretty solid, but there’s not much in the way of character development. Kyle’s brother is shown here and there but you don’t really care about him. Kyle’s wife, Taya is probably the military wife to a tee, yearning for her husband to be just that, a husband. And a father, for that matter. Sienna Miller reminds me so much of Michelle Monaghan. I know, random. I know you see it too. That love story aspect to the film is quite good, I will admit, albeit sort of an afterthought at times amidst all the action.

American sniper 3

Obviously this is a true story, but as far as accuracy goes, I’m not quite sure how it all played out in reality. You know Hollywood. They always try to make everything looks clean, glossy and sometimes overblown. To be fair though, from what I understand, it is pretty accurate. This film reminded me a lot of Lone Survivor, just not quite as entertaining or good. I felt like the film was about 25 minutes too long and it tended to drag. Yes, there were some pacing issues as well. Several scenes just either went on for too long or they weren’t necessary.

American Sniper 2

In the end, American Sniper isn’t a bad movie. Bradley Cooper shines as Chris Kyle and really grips the audience with his performance. Clint Eastwood has a keen eye for directing and he may eventually go on to direct something Oscar-worthy. The film is packed with some great action sequences. However, I can’t deny the fact it has some glaring faults. The entertainment value here isn’t extremely high.The pace of the movie should have been more cohesive and it should not have been more than two hours long. American Sniper isn’t a truly great movie, but it’s still a good one that many will enjoy, especially since it’s a true story about a real American hero.

Verdict:

3.5 out of 5

______________________________________________________________________________

Faith Advisory:

-Cursing throughout

-A fair amount of blood and violence

-Some sexual references and dialogue

-God is mentioned a few times, but is brushed off as not important.

-The main character claims to “have” God once, ironically right after he drops an F-bomb.

Faith Verdict:

2 out of 5

______________________________________________________________________________

Check out the trailer for American Sniper below and let me know what you thought of the film in the comments below!

Whiplash Review

Whiplash Cover

Whiplash

Released: October 10, 2014

Rated: R

Runtime: 106 Minutes

Whiplash is a music drama directed by Damien Chazelle and stars Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. Teller plays Andrew, an ambitious and promising young drummer who attends a conservatory in hopes of becoming one of the greatest drummers. His teacher, Mr. Fletcher, played by Simmons,  is as harsh and cut-throat as they come. The two have these constant mental battles of wit as each try to be the best at what they do.

Whiplash 2
J.K. Simmons gets really, really angry in this movie.

Miles Teller is fantastic here, easily one of his best performances of his career thus far. His acting style is perfect for the role of Andrew, as we watch him bloody his hands trying to become a truly great musician. However, he is outperformed from an acting standpoint by J.K. Simmons who is utterly brilliant. Fletcher is a profanity-laced nightmare of a music teacher but it sure is entertaining to watch. This has to be his best performance in any film. It’s a treat to watch the tension unfold on-screen between Andrew and Mr. Fletcher. You never know what the guy will do next as he pushes his pupil to the physical and mental limits.

Whiplash’s plot is a simple one, but it finds ways to mix things up, especially near the end. There are several twists in the story I guarantee you won’t see coming. This fact is what puts Whiplash a cut above the rest. I can honestly say, there isn’t a single dull moment throughout the film. I must also say the pacing and run time are both perfect. The music is also nothing to overlook. Miles teller does some excellent drumming and the big band style music takes center stage.

Whiplash-5547.cr2
This movie is intense.

 

Overall, Whiplash is one of the best movies of 2014 and it’s a film everyone should see. It features J.K. Simmons’ best ever performance, real drama and emotion, characters you actually care about and a great story with several unexpected twists. Whether or not you’re a fan of drumming or even music in general, you’ll be impressed by Whiplash.

Verdict:

4.5 out of 5

_______________________________________________________________________________

Faith Verdict:

-Heavy cursing and swearing courtesy of Mr. Fletcher, who takes God’s name in vain several times. Strong profanity.

-Some blood and mild violence

-Sexual dialogue

Faith Verdict:

1.5 out of 5

_____________________________________________________________________________

 Check out the trailer for Whiplash below

Have you seen Whiplash? What did you think of it? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook!

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Review

Hobbit Fiva Armies CoverThe Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Released: December 17, 2014

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 144 Minutes

Review by Austin Winkler

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a fantasy adventure film directed by Peter Jackson and stars Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and Richard Armitage. As the concluding chapter in the epic Lord of the Rings prequel saga, Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) and company are forced into a massive turf war to defend The Lonely Mountain from the dark forces of Middle Earth. 

This was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I think the first Hobbit movie is a very under-rated picture and I absolutely loved the second film. Does this one stand the test of time? It’s definitely not the best, but it’s a very solid movie and a must see for this year. The cast is great and the direction is even greater. I can’t say I had a problem with either one. You already knew that though, so here’s something you probably don’t know.

Hobbit Five Armies 1

The original title for this film was “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” but the studio decided on changing the title to “Battle of the Five Armies.” After watching this movie, I can definitely see why. This movie is non-stop action from beginning to end. Even when there isn’t fighting, there is some type of conflict happening between the dwarves, elves, humans, and the lone hobbit. This is a very entertaining movie and rarely ever slows down. The CGI is fantastic. I feel like the visual animators took notes from the audience’s reaction to the first movie and amped up their efforts. Don’t be afraid to pay a couple extra dollars to see it in 3D either. It’s definitely worth the money. The camera work is fantastic as well, which is typical of Peter Jackson.

My only real problem with this movie is the lack of emotional connection with the characters and story. I was hoping for some tugging of the heart strings in this one since it’s the final chapter, and some parts were genuinely emotional, but as a whole, the movie never did much for me. Don’t get me wrong, the film is definitely fun to watch, but the lack of emotion disappoints me. This is the final Middle Earth movie we’re going to see for a while and I was hoping the saga would’ve given us a better ending.

Hobbit Five Armies

Bottom line, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is well worth your time if you’re a fan of the previous Hobbit films. It definitely could have been better, but it’s fun, action-packed, and a decent closer to the trilogy. I will be picking this up on Blu-ray, and you should catch it while it’s still in theaters. 

Verdict:

4 out of 5

_______________________________________________________________________________

Faith Advisory:

-This film is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images

-No sex or nudity

-The fight sequences are all very intense with blood and some mild beheadings, but nothing is over the top gory

-One use of the word “bastard”

-Some parts of the film may be frightening or upsetting to some viewers. 

-Think before taking young kids to see this one but older kids and teenagers shouldn’t have any problem watching this movie.

Faith Verdict:

2 out of 5

_______________________________________________________________________________

Check out the trailer for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies below:

What did you think of Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook!

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.

Interstellar 6

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.

Interstellar 2

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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.

Wolf Wall Street 1

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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

______________________________________________________________________________

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