Category Archives: movies

A War

3D_CMYK_AWarBDWrpDirected by Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm, A War begins with company commander Claus M. Pedersen, played by Pilou Asbæk, and his men are stationed in an Afghan province. Meanwhile back in Denmark, Claus’ wife Maria, played by Tuva Novotny is trying to hold everyday life together with a husband at war and three children missing their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in a heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for him and his family back home.

Asbæk as Claus is believable and visceral. The commander is an experienced, knowledgeable and admired Danish army officer in charge of a company stationed in a rocky, distant wasteland in Afghanistan. Claus’ orders are to keep the village safe from Taliban attack. The mundane and tedious patrols are edged with the potential for dangerous combats, which places Claus’ company in harm’s way.

Several firefights ensue. Lindholm films them as a vortex with spinning in combat. Such harrowing intensity, I found it worse than the usual blood and guts of other war movies.

One of his men is killed. That is a major turning point in the movie where Claus resolves to forsake his safe commander’s tent and lead the patrols himself.

I rather not go into full details on what happens next in the movie because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I want you to enjoy the movie and see how it all plays out to the end. I will say, what happens to Claus and his family is heart wrenching. War is a terrible commodity that we should never have to endure.  You would think the powers that be would have figured that out by now. Today, there is no need for war.

With that, the movie is great, and rightly so. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Movie, Son of Saul won, but the movie is so good. I am surprised it didn’t win.

Lindholm reaches the audience with realism. He once again employs those who have been closest to the conflict. In A War, he uses Danish soldiers and Taliban warriors, relatives, and refugees, as he strives towards realism.

A Hijacking is another film by Lindholm, also starring Asbæk,  that won quite a few awards, winning a Critics’ Award (Bodil) for Best Danish Film as well as five Danish Academy Awards. He is definitely a filmmaker to watch. I recommend A War.

Dirty Grandpa

TWF_BD_3DSkew copyI didn’t laugh out loud while watching the unrated version of Dirty Grandpa starring Oscar winner Robert De Niro and Zac Efron. Directed by Dan Mazer, the two characters played by De Niro and Efron take a spring break and go on the road. I viewed the Blu-ray version, which is supposed to be much dirtier than the other versions.  The movie also stars Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch, Julianne Hough, Jason Mantzoukas, Danny Glover, and Dermot Mulroney. The cast is great but the directing and storyline is where my praising stops.

The idea of the story is behaving badly has never felt so good. There is nothing wrong with getting down and dirtier in funny, vulgar way. Efron plays Jason, a straight, clean cut man. He is a couple of weeks away from marrying his boss’s daughter. But everything changes when Jason’s talked into driving his foul-mouthed, free-living granddad named Dick Kelly, played by De Niro, to Florida for spring break. Jason is thrown into a series of frat parties, bar fights, and epic misdeeds on a road trip that surprisingly, eventually bonds the two men.

The Blu-ray has some awesome featurettes if you love the low-down vulgarity of this movie. They are called “The Filthy Truth: The Making of Dirty Grandpa,”Lessons in Seduction,”I Got Nothin’ to Hide: A Look at Daytona’s Most Vibrant Drug Dealer,” and “Daytona Heat.”  There is even a gag reel that I thought was pretty funny.

The situation of the story is nothing new where they are at Grandma’s funeral. Dick Kelly asks his grandson to drive him to Florida from Atlanta. He wavers because he is a responsible corporate lawyer and is getting married to Meridith, played by Hough, in a couple of weeks. He decides to go, and while n the road he discovers that his grandpa has a few vices. The movie is more humorous compared to other teen sex comedies of late but the gratuitous nudity is not necessary.

The Lionsgate sent me a promotional package of an evidence bag containing a Pill bottle filled with “Dick’s Little Helpers,” jelly beans, bikini top, condom, and a cocktail list. All this has to do with the storyline, making fun of what happens in the movie.

I know some of you will like the movie and some of you will not. That is because it is a bad-mannered movie with too much T. A.

Standoff

STANDOFF_bdskewWritten and directed by Adam Alleca, Standoff is a pretty good movie and stars Laurence Fishburne and Thomas Jane along with newcomer Ella Ballentine. The movie is an intense action-thriller that grabbed my attention because it bursts with energy and action while it pulses under my skin with twists and turns.

Alleca is the writer of Cell and Delirium, which are pretty good movies, too.  As a director, he delivers the punches about a story of redemption and the need to bond with someone.

Carter, played by Jane, is a troubled veteran, and he achieves his chance at redemption by protecting a 12-year-old girl named Bird from a deadly assassin, played by Fishburne after she witnesses a murder. Holding a shotgun with only a single shell, Jane engages in physical and psychological warfare in a desperate fight for the girl’s life.

Carter and Bird bond really nice as the story arcs, and the ending is worth watching because you might have to watch it three times to really see what happens because it is so strong.

The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music

a life of musicDirected by Ben Verbong, who is both a writer and director of Netherland movies, takes to the hills as they come alive when The von Trapp Family: A Life of Music reveals the incredible real life journey of Agathe von Trapp, played beautifully by Eliza Bennett. The story follows her as she develops her own voice and pursues her musical dreams despite tremendous hardship.

The movie is based on the autobiography “Memories Before and After The Sound of Music.” I did notice some similarities in the famous Rogers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music, particularly Agatha’s love interest, music in the family, and the Nazi occupation to the escape from Austria.

I found the movie enjoyable and entertaining following von Trapp family’s incredible journey from the perspective of Agathe, the eldest daughter. As war encroached upon her family and friends, Agathe embarked on an adventure filled with remarkable twists and turns, joys and disappointments. Like The Sound of Music, the struggles and dark times were saved by the grace of music.

For those of you who have seen the movie The Sound of Music, you probably know it is based on the Von Trapp family and their flight from Austria when the Nazis were invading Europe. This particular story is told by Agathe von Trapp, the oldest child, in the Von Trapp family. The movie shows the family with Agathe as a young child and her mother is gravely ill. The mother eventually dies and the captain and his children move to Salzburg, Austria.

The story covers more than a decade from the time Maria enters as the new nanny and marries the captain, the children’s father. Even though, you may think it is like The Sound of Music, not so true because you will witness the story from Agathe’s point of view, where deep feelings and such are expressed. She had real conflicts with her step-mother throughout the movie. Still, love of the family conquers all and we witness their escape from Austria.

The Choice

BD_skew.OCARDNicholas Sparks stories are gentle, slow, and predictable. The Notebook is my eternal favorite because the acting and directing of the movie are brilliant. Starring legends James Garner and Gena Rowland with upstarts Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, the movie is, also, my daughter’s favorite Sparks movie. With that, I am not a super fan of Sparks, but I am interested in his stories because they are spiritual. Current society at large can sure use some good old fashion spiritual revival.

Directed by Ross Katz, who won awards for producing Lost in Translation and directing and writing Taking Chance, begins The Choice with Travis, played by Benjamin Walker. He meets his match and neighbor, Gabby, played by Teresa Palmer.  She is focused on her medical degree while he likes to charm the ladies.

To say the least, Gabby and Travis ignite on less than friendly terms, but the story languorous around until a spark brings them seriously and hopelessly in love. Knowing Sparks stories, something tragic needs to happen. So tragic and so sad that only the spiritual connection can be its saving grace. It’s a long third act, but well worth the time if you are a devote Sparks fan.

I didn’t read the book, so I am not sure how closely the movie follows the book. I wonder if the book tells us more about Gabby’s family. In the movie, we only get to know Travis’ family, which left an empty spot in the storyline, making it a little too lopsided for a believable and caring movie. I would have liked to have gotten to know Gabby’s family better. Katz easily could have added a few scenes here and there with Gabby’s parents while cutting out some repetitive scenes between Travis and his family.

Tom Wilkinson plays Travis’ father, and he is a joy to watch. He is in the movie quite a bit, which put a smile on my face. Wilkinson can deliver lines like no other, just wonderful.

Remember

Remember_3D_BD_OcardThis is a gem of a movie directed by Oscar nominee Aton Egoyan and written for the screen by Benjamin August, stars two very talented, Oscar-winning actors Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau.

I must digress and tell you I saw Plummer perform his one-man play about the late John Barrymore. I was fortunate to meet the playwright of Barrymore as well. I am compelled to praise Plummer’s performance and the play.

Remember is a story about very dark truths, lying just under the skin is the truth that comes to light when you least expect it. The movie is an intense thriller, and I was fortunate to see it on Blu-ray. We follow Zev, played brilliantly by Plummer, who has dementia and is recently widowed. He is a Holocaust survivor and will stop at nothing to get justice for his family. Being an Auschwitz survivor and with the aid of a friend, played by Landau, they discover that the Nazi guard who murdered both their families some seventy years ago is living in America under an assumed identity. Zev sets out on a gripping journey that tests both his will and his fading memory as it brings him closer to the retribution he seeks.

The movie has several memorable scenes. One is with the State Troop, son of a Nazi, with a German Shepard that Zev visits looking for the Nazi guard. Dean Norris plays the State Troop with such a gripping edge. I was so afraid for Zev. I was literally on the edge of my couch telling my husband, “This is such a good movie…”

The supporting cast is priceless including two talented child actors, Peter DaCunha, and Sofia Wells, offering the innocence of people unsuspecting the horrors of Holocaust.

The ending is so good and meaningful, which makes me wonder. For some perhaps, dementia or forgetting is just a way to protect those from transgressions who care not to reveal to themselves and others.

I applaud Egoyan, Plummer and Landau, great story and great performances.

The Blu-ray features an Audio Commentary with Director Atom Egoyan, Producer Robert Lantos & Writer Benjamin August. It also includes “Performances to Remember” Featurette and “A Tapestry of Evil: Remembering the Past” Featurette.

Sniper: Special Ops

sniperDirected by Fred Olen Ray, who is known for directing awful T and A movies, takes on Sniper: Special Ops with Steven Seagal.  The combination speaks cheesy to the third degree unless you are a devote Seagal fan.

The story is about a Special Ops Military Force, led by Sergeant Vic Mosby, played by Tim Abell, with a proficient sniper Sergeant Jake Chandler, played by Seagal, who watches over as the sniper. They go on a special mission to an isolated Afghan village. Once at the village, they extract an American Congressman being held by the Taliban. The rescue mission is a success, but Jake gets caught up in a firefight with the enemy and is separated from the mission and decides to stay back in order to help an injured soldier.

Sergeant Mosby distraughtly fails to convince Lieutenant Colonel Jackson, played by Dale Dye, to allow him and his team to go back and save the soldiers. Instead, he is commanded to take on a new mission that will retrieve a truckload of munitions. The munitions are vital for the military base, but Mosby doesn’t follow orders. He and his Special Ops Team head back to the village and rescue the abandoned soldiers. Outnumbered and outgunned, Vic and his men engage in a massive shootout against the enemy while Jake uses his proficient skills to help save them all from undeniable death.

Clearly, Abell has the bigger role compared to Seagal. With that, the movie authenticity is nowhere to be found with an army not wearing helmets in a war zone, including utter disrespect for military dress code. The story is predictable with cliché after cliché, and Pro Wrestler Rob Van Dam has a minor role.

The other problem with the movie is the director or lack of directing, depending on how you want to view it.  But, like I said if you are a devote Seagal fan you will want to see this movie because he is in it. That is about as good as it gets.

Misconduct

misconductDirected by Shintaro Shimosawa, he guides an all-star cast and follows the dangers of power and ambition manifested in Misconduct.  I was fortunate to have a Blu-ray with Digital HD to view the movie. The movie is shot well by Michael Fimognari, who is known for shooting low-grade horror movies.

The intense legal thriller is headlined by Josh Duhamel with Oscar winners Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins to back him up with their solid acting.  Other strong cast members are Alice Eve, Malin Akerman, Byung-Hun Lee, Julia Stiles, and Glen Powell.

We follow Duhamel’s character, who is an ambitious lawyer. He is seduced by his ex-girlfriend, played by Akerman. At the same time, she presents evidence that incriminates her boss, a corrupt pharmaceutical executive.  He finds himself caught in a power struggle between the pharmaceutical magnate, played briefly by Hopkins, and his firm’s senior partner played convincingly by Pacino. When the case takes a deadly turn, he must race to uncover the truth before he loses not only his wife, played by Eve, but his career, and possibly his own life.

I was entertained by this movie because of the suspense, and the ending was believable. Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins are true talents and professionals. They were so real and engaging. I watched the movie with two other people, who also enjoyed the movie, so it is worth the rental and time.

If you decide to get the Blu-ray, the look behind-the-scenes of Misconduct includes in-depth special features including “The Making of Misconduct” and deleted scenes.

Backtrack

03139824135580_z_backrcluDirected by Michael Petroni, known for directing The Book Thief, combines paranormal with a mystery in a plot that twists suspense to an all-time high. The story is like The Sixth Sense  but in reverse. It is refreshing to watch a movie that is so different.

Oscar winner, Adrien Brody, and Sam Neill star in the spine-chilling thriller, Backtrack. Suspense is the key word because it kept me on the edge of my seat as the shocking story slowly unfolds.

We follow Psychologist Peter Bower, played by Brody, as his life is thrown into turmoil when he discovers that the patients he has been seeing are ghosts. Risking his own sanity, Peter delves into his past to uncover a terrifying secret which only he can put right.

I am not a fan of psychologists because the profession is built on the premise that man is an animal. I completely disagree. Though, this movie is really good.

The Blu-ray and DVD have some nice behind-the-scenes featurettes including “The Psychology of Backtrack.

All in all, Brody carries the movie along with strong supporting actors. The story is just as strong with a resolution that is believable.

Movies Giveaway

Movie Roar is giving away three movies. Each person who comments on this page will be entered in the giveaway. Once we have a good number of comments the winner will be picked from a drawing.

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger: United States of America v. James J. Bulger

WhiteyDirected by Oscar-nominated Joe Berlinger, we witness the sweeping and revelatory documentary film that follows the trial of the infamous gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, using the courtroom action as a springboard to examine accusations of multi-faceted corruption within our nation’s law enforcement and legal systems. Some of you are familiar with Johnny Depp’s Black Mass will recognize this story which is dramatized in Depp’s portrayal of Whitey.

 

 

Tangerine

tangerineDirected by Sean Baker, it’s Christmas Eve in Tinseltown and Sin-Dee, played by Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend, played by James Ransone, hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the sex worker and her best friend, Alexandra, played by Mya Taylor, embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles.

 

 

White God

whitegodA Hungarian movie and Cannes Film Festival winner, directed by Kornél Mundruczó, White God is an allegory of the human experience. Young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog Hagen because its mixed-breed heritage is deemed unfit by The State. After the separation, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back towards each other. At the same time, all the unwanted, unloved and so-called unfit dogs rise up under a new leader, Hagen, the one-time house-pet. Hagen has learned all too well from his Masters in his journey through the streets and animal control centers that man is not always dog’s best friend.