All posts by Kenna

In Order of Disappearance

Directed by Hans Petter Moland and The New York Times critics’ pick, In Order of Disappearance stars Stellan Skarsgard, Pal Sverre Hagen and Bruno Ganz. The movie is filled with action and is constantly moving as a diehard thriller. The movie follows an honorable citizen, Nils, played by Skarsgard. He uncovers evidence that his son was murdered and a victim in a turf war between the local crime boss and his Serbian rivals. Following his discovery, Nils embarks on a quest for revenge.

The movie is very good because Nil is a fish out of the water. Introverted and hard-working snowplow driver Nils has just been named “Citizen of the Year.” When he receives news that his son has died of a heroin overdose, nothing seems to make sense.

Disbelieving the official report, Nils quickly uncovers evidence of the young man’s murder – a victim in a turf war between the local crime boss, known as “The Count”, and his Serbian rivals.

Armed with heavy machinery and a good amount of beginner’s godsend, Nils embarks upon a quest for revenge that soon escalates into a full-blown underworld gang war, with the body count spiraling ever higher and higher.

The movie is a rocket ride and hilarious in a very dark way. Skarsgard makes the movie great, and I have a fun time watching it.

The Great Gilly Hopkins

Directed by Stephen Herek, The Great Gilly Hopkins, is an inspiring film the whole family can enjoy. A true classic story that will capture anyone’s heart. The cast alone is worth renting or buying the movie including Kathy Bates, Octavia Spencer, Glenn Close. These talented women bring so much life to the classic young-adult novel by Katherine Paterson, who also wrote Bridge to Terabithia.

This great tale won the Truly Moving Picture award at the 2016 Heartland Film Festival. The story is about real, emotional, funny and captivating scenes featuring Sophie Nélisse, who was unforgettable in The Book Thief.  She brings her same talent to this adorable movie, which also stars Julia Stiles, who plays Gilly’s mother.

The story follows Gilly as a coming-of-age story about one girl discovering what a family really can be. We met the feisty and headstrong Gilly Hopkins where she has made a name for herself in the foster system. She outwits family after family in hopes of being reunited with her birth mother.

In a comical effort to escape her newest home and overly affectionate foster mother, Mamie Trotter, played by Bates, the young girl devises a scheme she believes will send her mother running to the rescue. When her grand plan backfires, Gilly realizes she may have been wrong about everything in her search to find where she belongs.

The movie brings up questions like “What is a family?” “What is family love?”

I was touch by this film because it holds life lessons with an impressive cast from a charmingly written novel. It all comes to life with a perfect mix of characters. I laughed, cried, and loved it.

Little Men

Directed by Ira Sachs, Little Men stars Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Ehle, Paulina García, and Alfred Molina. The movie is an in-depth look at the innocence of young relationships and the inevitable evolution of human connections.

The riveting drama delivers a heartfelt narrative through Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri as Jake Jardine and Tony Calvelli in their unforgettable performances, truly make the movie worthwhile to watch.

When a 13-year-old, played by Taplitz, grandfather dies, Jake’s family moves from Manhattan back into his father’s Brooklyn home. There, Jake befriends the charismatic Tony, played by Barbieri, whose single, Chilean mother Leonor, played by Garcia, runs the dress shop downstairs.

Jake’s parents Brian, played by Kinnear, and Kathy, played by Ehle, ask Leonor to pay a higher rent and a feud ignites between the adults. The boys take an oath of silence against their parents in protest. From there the story is endearing. Sachs coats the movie with humanism and insight, as the story is about life-defining friendship amid family turmoil.

An interesting aspect of the story is Jake’s father, Brian, when he learns that his late father’s a small business was not profitable. He can’t continue the same business practice. As a result, there is deep-rooted tension with him and the owner of the business that is renting from him. The fact that his son is best friends with the owner’s son is even more intense.

This story is true and could happen to anyone. Thus, it will make viewers think about morality or what is right or wrong when it comes to making a living and surviving. A smart business person would raise the rent because why suffer.

Still, the whole story of the adult’s and the kid’s relationships are real and honestly looked at as the characters come to terms with the situation.

The movie needs more upbeat moments to appreciate the low points in the movie. Too much angst and not enough smiles and joy.  The abrupt ending could have played out a bit more with the whole story coming to a happy ending.

The two young boys are amazing on screen and worth watching if you want to see some fine talent.

Manchester by the Sea Featurette

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea follows the life of a solitary Boston janitor, played by Casey Affleck. He is transformed when he returns to his hometown to take care of his teenage nephew. The story of the Chandlers, a working-class family living in a Massachusetts fishing village for generations, is winning awards and with much anticipation for an Oscar nod.  The movie is a deeply poignant, unexpectedly funny exploration of the power of familial love, community, sacrifice and hope.

manchester-by-the-sea-postAfter the death of his older brother Joe, played by Kyle Chandler, Chandler is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick, played by Lucas Hedges. Taking leave of his job, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, a spirited 15-year-old and is forced to deal with the past that separated him from his wife Randi, played by Michelle Williams, and the community where he was born and raised. Bonded by the man who held their family together, Lee and Patrick struggle to adjust to the world without him.

In his first film since 2011’s acclaimed Margaret, Lonergan once again proves himself a powerful and visionary storyteller as he seamlessly weaves past and present together, crafting a tension-filled tale that deftly eschews sentimentality in favor of penetrating emotional insight and deeply affecting human relationships.

Mechanic: Resurrection

mechanicresDirected by Dennis Gansel, the action-packed, thrill ride is the best way I can describe Mechanic: Resurrection because the movie takes off right at the get-go. Bullets spray and jaws get smashed with the starring power of Jason Statham as Arthur Bishop, an assassin who makes each of his targets’ deaths look like accidents, whose calm retirement is shattered when a former employer requires his services.

The movie also stars Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, and Michelle Yeoh.

The movie follows Bishop as he returns as the Mechanic in the sequel to the 2011 action-thriller. When the deceitful actions of a cunning but beautiful woman, played by Alba, force him to return to the life he left behind, Bishop’s life is once again in danger as he has to complete an impossible list of assassinations of the most dangerous men in the world.

Mechanic: Resurrection includes five behind-the-scenes featurettes looking at the development of the sequel, scoring the film, a breakdown of the Malaysian prison break sequence, and in-depth interviews with Michelle Yeoh and Jason Statham.

Tommy Lee Jones arrives but for not long. He still adds a lot of fun, which I enjoyed because he is a veteran and makes it look so easy. Jessica Alba looks good like a trophy. I just wish her character had more depth, but that is Hollywood for you. All in all, the movie is fast paced with tons of action and totally no-brainer entertainment. Any Statham fan will want to see this movie because it reeks action fight scenes only Statham knows how to do best.

Jackie: Official Trailer

Directed by Pablo Larraín, Jackie is another look at the Kennedy tragedy. How many times can Hollywood tell this story? Which angle of the lens are we seeing the Kennedy lineage this time? Fortunately, Natalie Portman is playing the role of Jackie Onassis Kennedy. It appears in this trailer that we will, once again, relive one of the most important and tragic moments in American history.

The movie follows First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband’s assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a spiritual portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband’s legacy and the world of “Camelot” that they created and loved so well.

Jackie nabbed several Independent Spirit Awards nominations for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Female Lead (Portman).

Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World

loandbeholdDirected by Werner Herzog, Oscar-nominated documentarian, Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World chronicles the virtual world from its origins to its outermost reaches, exploring the digital landscape with the same curiosity and imagination Herzog does with all his movies.

In his other movies like Lo and Behold, Herzog set his camera on destinations as disparate as the Amazon, the Sahara, the South Pole and the Australian outback. Now, he leads us on a journey through a series of provocative conversations that reveal the ways in which the online world has transformed how virtually everything in the real world works – from business to education, space travel to healthcare, and the very heart of how society conducts our personal relationships.

Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World features interviews with well-known internet pioneers and visionaries including Bob Kahn (Co-Inventor of Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol), Elon Musk (Founder and CEO of SpaceX) and Kevin Mitnick (Hacker, Author and Computer Security Consultant).

The movie holds a tremendous amount of intellect and honesty. Herzog’s calculation about the future of the Internet is eye-opening if not kind of daunting. The Internet is only 25 years old with nothing ever like it before in human history. Society has become very dependent on our technological advances. As a result, society would be lost without it.  If a lasting interruption happened today, saying chaos would ensue is being gentle. Most people would not be able to survive. Then, there would be those that do survive, but not on the strata they do now. The movie says billions would succumb, which is scary to imagine – life without the Internet and other technologies.

All in all, the movie’s message is something society needs to know. But, the flow of the movie is a bit disjointed with the pros and cons of the internet being presented in a way that lacked uniformity. I got lost a few times where is seemed like Herzog threw out ideas that were unrelated but important.

The Hunger Games 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack

3d_rgb_hungergames4kultraocrd Lionsgate released the epic singularity franchise, The Hunger Games series on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which includes both Blu-ray and Digital HD. All in all, it is an amazing product for such a gripping story.

As most remember, Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, who took the world by storm with a four-film cumulative worldwide box office of 3 billion cash flow.

Fans can see the movies with four times the resolution of Full HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) that delivers the brightest, most vivid and realistic color and greatest contrast from 4K Ultra HD.  However, similar to other 4K movies I have reviewed, the whole movie’s vivid, realistic color and contrast are not consistent. I find in the hand-held camera scenes of these 4K movies, the technical potential is limited, if not a bit shaky.

Don’t get me wrong. Checking out Lionsgate’s catalog 4K titles, I am impressed with the products so far. It makes watching movies at home so much better with the Dolby Atmos track sounds, which are incredible because it utilizes every speaker.

Now the quality of the look is a bit unforgiving because the effect is over the top.  Noticeably, in the first half of The Hunger Games. The colors are saturated and nearly grainy.  Watching the scene when the District 12 team is eating before the games is a good example where the colors, black levels, and overall clarity are below standards for the quality hype.

Disappointingly, just about every scene at The Capital looked saturated. When the movie arrives at the Games, I was impressed and in awe over the rich details of the overall setting in the forest and the way everything looked pristine.  It made watching the 4K version worth it.

One thing that didn’t help the 4K, as mentioned earlier, was the shaky-cam style.  In the first mad dash for supplies in the games, the camera was all over the place and the 4K clearness was like a second thought to the scene.  Even though about half the movies technical quality didn’t appear any better, if slightly worse, the other half of the movie is a pristine, vibrant upgrade and fun to watch.

The 4K version special features offer extras, which includes a commentary with Stephen Mirrione, Sheena Duggal, and Lon Bender. Even though they are not the stars or director, their passion for the movie come through, creating a worthwhile commentary.

3d_rgb_hgcatchingfire4kultraocrdDirected by Francis Lawrence, Catching Fire 4K

Ultra HD had the same technical issues I mentioned in The Hunger Games 4K Ultra HD.  The scenes in the training room and outside are clear and pristine like a gemstone. The crystal clear and the 4K upgrade really stands out.  Yet, the scenes in The Capitol, mostly most CGI, are saturated and almost blurry at times.  I noticed there is a bit more of an upgrade compared to The Hunger Games. I am curious as to why that is so.

The audio sounds perfect like the first film. The Dolby Atmos track is a wonderful upgrade and sounds faultless.

The 4K Ultra comes without exclusive features, but the package includes a copy of the Blu-ray.

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Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party Giveaway

hillarysamerHillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party takes a rich peek into America’s future as Dinesh D’Souza, a leading voice in the conservative movement, uncovers the truth of what a country lead by the Democrats will look like if Hillary were President.

With an unprecedented election coming up, this detailed look at the Democrats’ agenda is practically essential viewing. D’Souza is well-known for agitating the film industry with the $33 million earned by his Obama 2016 film.

Bestselling author and influential filmmaker, Dinesh D’Souza reveals the sordid truth about Hillary Clinton and the secret history of the Democratic Party. This important and controversial film was released at a critical time leading up to the 2016 Presidential campaign and challenge the state of American politics. The film is his response to relentless Democratic attacks on Republicans as racist, greedy, and their cold-hearted attitude toward minority concerns.

The movie follows D’Souza as he researches the history and methods of the Democratic party. He indicates records showing Democratic President Andrew Jackson’s expulsion of the Indians to reservations in the 1830s was opposed by Republican congressman Davy Crockett.  Other documents included northern Democrats were key players to slavery’s survival in the pre–Civil War era. The Democrats at the federal level after the war voted against civil rights for blacks. They lost that battle in congress but managed to enforce Jim Crow laws, the former practice of segregating black people in the US, particularly in the South.

There are more records and more evidence that proves the Democrats did block civil rights throughout history such as the 1964 Civil Rights act.

The Hillary’s America includes special features like extended and deleted scenes, along with extended interviews.

Movie Roar has three copies of this controversial film in DVD format to giveaway. You can post your name in the comments and consider yourself in the drawing for the winners.

The Last King

the-last-king_rgb-3d-blurayThe Last King, directed by Oscar-nominated director Nils Gaup, follows an arduous and awe-inspiring journey through the snow-covered Norwegian mountains. Starring Jakob Oftebro and Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones), surprisingly, the movie turned out to be a great adventure story. With some awesome downhill, to die for, skiing stunts, so exhilarating. I totally enjoyed it.  The story has everything from action and drama to love and revenge.

The fact that this movie is based on true events intrigued me even more. It takes place in 1204 when the Norway had been in the middle of a civil war for decades because of a battle for the throne between the Norwegian King Håkon, son of legendary King Sverre of Norway, and the Church’s Bishop henchmen.

The King, on his deathbed after falling ill from a failed coup, soon welcomes a son, born in secrecy, with a woman named Inga of Varteig and that he is the heir to the throne. Yet, half the Kingdom wants the baby dead.

To shield their newborn King from those looking to end the family bloodline, two Birch Leg warriors, Torstein, played by Hivju, and Skjervald, played by Oftebro, make the arduous journey across the snow-covered terrain to return him and his mother safely to the kingdom.

For the life of me, I didn’t know what a “Birch Leg” was until I saw this movie. The birkebeinerne or “Birch Legs” (basically are the King’s men) who fought to protect him from the Baglers, an opposing party, supporting the Bishop of course, that wanted him dead and his bloodline ended.

The movie is not English and has subtitles, but after ten minutes into the movie. I didn’t notice the subtitles. The story captured my attention with the time period and the culture. The realistic battles and beautiful scenery of snow-covered trees and mountains and the Northern Lights filmed by Peter Mokrosinski stimulated my interest in finding out if the baby King will make it back and save the country.

With that, the history of this story is amazing because of what this baby represented for Norway. The movie is about the fierce fight that saved the life of the young child who was heir to the throne. He eventually ascended at the age of 13 and reigned for 46 years. It was a peaceful reign that united the country.

Games of Thrones fans will be happy to view this movie because both Oftebro and Hivju are believable warriors. They have a strong bond and also hold a strong sense of honor in protecting the baby. The rest of the cast complemented the story and made it richer in content. It’s a gem of a movie and worth watching.