AND THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY: A Most Violent Year and Mommy


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Warning: SPOILERS
most violentHow you feel about A Most Violent Year, the new neo-noir written and directed by J.C. Chandor, will probably depend on how you feel about the central character, Abel Morales, an up and coming entrepreneur; you know, the to dream the American dream type person, which in this case means playing with the big guys when it comes to the heating oil business.
He has worked long and hard to create a business than is not only as successful as others who have mainly inherited their companies, he is slowly encroaching on some of their territory. To make room at the top for him and his family, he has just signed a contract to buy his own storage facility, but has less than a month to come up with the remaining $1.5 million to secure it, which he expects to get in a loan from a bank.
He also wants to do it honestly and not break any laws, including taking money from his wife’s less than ethical family.   And honest he is. We know this because we are told this, over and over and over again. So I guess it must be true (and there’s no real evidence to doubt it).
In many ways there is much to admire in this young turk. What he’s doing isn’t easy and, as I said, it is the American dream, after all. Continue reading
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LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Selma and Big Eyes


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS

 

The title of these reviews is called Last But Not Least because Big Eyes and Selma are the final two movies I’m going to include under my 2014 reviews. After this, all films will fall under my 2015 reviews, no matter whether they were released in 2014 or not.

 

So off we go.
big eyesThe strongest aspect of Big Eyes, the new bio-com written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski and directed by Tim Burton, is the art direction and production design.
Beginning in the 1950’s, the sets, the costumes, the look, the colors all have a poodle skirt playfulness about them that gives the movie some much needed energy.
This should probably be of no surprise since Burton has always had one of the more striking visual eyes in movies today, from Edward Scissorhands to Ed Wood to Alice in Wonderland. If nothing else, his films can be fun to watch.
But outside of that, there is almost nothing that works in this movie. Nothing, and almost amazingly so. Continue reading

ONE HOSPITABLE PLANET DOWN…8.8 BILLION TO GO: Interstellar


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
interstellarI had a very disturbing thought after watching Interstellar, the new thinking man’s sci-fi blockbuster by the Nolan brothers, Jonathan and Christopher (who also directed).
Earth is on its last legs and our only hope is to find another planet that we can move to. In other words, we’ve destroyed this world, but no worries, we’ll just pack up shop and move to another one and start all over. That is, until we use that one up and have to move again, I suppose. And again. And again.
I guess it’s no big deal. After all, we still have a possible 8.8 billion planets to make our way through. Which means that it’s a problem I won’t have to worry about in my lifetime.
But I’m not sure here. I guess when all was said and done, I didn’t find the ending to the movie to be as glorious a paean to the human spirit as much as I think I was supposed to. Continue reading