“FOXCATCHER” (2014) ~ REVIEW Q & A w/Steve Carell & Dir: Bennett Miller

Standard

Foxcatcher
I am not going to even pretend that this movie didn’t disturb me somewhat. I purposely didn’t read too much about the film so as not to spoil anything before I went to the screening and I would suggest to all to not do so either because even though it’s easy to look it up and see what happens, not knowing was mind-blowing to say the least. That being said, I knew it was about wrestling..that much was plainly apparent. Having being a wrestling-stat girl in high school (whooohooo 🙂 ) gave me a helping hand as I understood and could follow that part of the film along well which was a plus. But to describe this as simply a ‘wrestling’ movie would be doing it a complete dis-service as it’s more a characterization film than anything else.

“John du Pont” (an unrecognizable Steve Carell) is a very rich man..heir to the du Pont fortune, with some very clear ‘mommy issues’. He is obsessed with all sorts of odd things; birds, trophies, military grade weapons, tanks ~ pretty much anything but the horses his mother likes, and wrestling..Olympic style wrestling to be precise. He is also a man who calls himself ‘Eagle’ or ‘Golden Eagle’ all clearly for his own benefit as no one actually calls him this as it’s really a moniker that he made up for his own ego. foxcatcher 2

In this obsession with wrestling steps in Gold Medalists and brothers “Mark Schultz” (Channing Tatum) and “David Schultz” (Mark Ruffalo). We can see from the start that Mark Schultz is a monosyllabic loner, interested only in wrestling. He sticks out his jaw in neanderthal-like fashion and mumbles his way through a speech for a bunch of elementary school kids, talking about patriotism. It’s when the school secretary makes out the check that we realize that it was supposed to be Dave giving the speech all along. In contrast to Mark’s hulk and bulk, Dave is small, affable and completely at ease with himself and with others. As they train together it is clear that the older brother’s job is that of father, trainer and anger manager. Their lives are inextricably linked all the while being poles apart.
foxcatcher 1
Alone in his dingy flat, Mark receives a mystery phone call from someone on behalf of John du Pont inviting him to Pennsylvania. With the world championships looming and the Seoul Olympics three years away, Mr. du Pont offers Mark an incredible opportunity to train and live on his estate. Mark snaps up the offer, but Dave declines. This is where the sinister du Pont sees his chance to mold and corrupt his oh-so-naive and seemingly dim-ish protege. Giving him luxuries never before experienced, but also turning him into a addicted cocaine & alcohol abuser, finally taking his control freak persona too far by slapping Mark in the face when he fails to follow his commands. And of course rebellion ensues at that point from Mark as it would with probably anyone at that point. foxcatcher 4

Much has been written about whether Carell could escape his comedy persona for this out of the box role, but he really steps up to the plate here and completely embodies du Pont with the perfect amount of creep and mental instability. With his prosthetic nose, tiny teeth and grey skin, he looks as if he could have been poisoned by the chemicals that made his family’s fortune. This tiny friendless man lives under the thumb of a clearly dominate mother “Jean du Pont” (Vanessa Redgrave), whose goal of trying to impress and aim to please her constantly falls short. du Pont seems to be an in-the-closet rich, mentally unbalanced gay man, whose interest in wrestling is the creepy way he craves the physical contact he enjoys with the other team participants and the control he can exert over it all being their benefactor of sorts.
foxcatcher 3
Foxcatcher shows us the corruptive, toxic and devastating power warp side of how some people with money can take advantage of that situation in all the wrong ways. When Mark states that his brother can’t be bought, we watch du Pont digesting this information. Not long after, lo and behold, Dave and family are there comfortably ensconced on the estate, just as Mark is on his way out. But throughout his time with du Pont, Dave never sells himself and he is the one character for whom the allure of money holds no power, while Mark turns and almost on purposely loses a treasured spot in the Olympic trials in his own way of pissing off the now hated du Pont. While Ruffalo is good here, I felt he was a bit too old to make the role convincing for me. If Mark states he is only 27 at the beginning and even by say a much older brother standards, Dave could be 37..So Ruffalo, at real age 47, while still a good performance, just doesn’t come off right for me in this role whereas Tatum & Carell both really blow me away.

While Foxcatcher has slow drawn out parts and pauses, there are also many aspects that combine to make this a very good film: the three leads’ performances, the design, as du Pont’s home gradually empties of his mother’s equestrianism trophies and fills with eagles and arms; the sounds of grunting wrestlers, birds and helicopters – and the long paused out silences. This film takes us on the Schultz brothers’ journey and leads us to the terrible ending denouncement in this subtle and horrifying and true-story parable of what money can and can’t buy.foxcatcher SC 4

Having a follow-up Q & A with Director: Bennett Miller & Actor: Steve Carell was not only eye-opening insight into the film, but yes, with Carell you know you are always going to have a bit of a laugh no matter the hard-line subject matter of the film. While Miller had some good notes to share including the fact that “the full story is even stranger, Miller said; in fact, he noted, the movie “dials it back” in scenes that showcased du Pont in full freak mode, firing guns on his estate and otherwise behaving erratically.” He came off as a bit abrupt in annoyance almost to the point of rude at times even interrupting Carell during his answers. But lightening the mood some was Carell with his opening answer to the moderator Sneider who asked about the artistry behind Carell’s dramatic transformation into his characterization of du Pont, to which Carell jokingly replied, “There was no hair and makeup.” 😀 Then noting a few points: “The weirdest thing about it was not necessarily watching it happen and then looking in the mirror and saying, ‘Ooooh, I’m a different guy,’ but it was how other people reacted to me once I was in all of that stuff,” Carell said, recounting how his driver was disturbed by him in the du Pont makeup. “He would tell me on the drive back to the hotel, ‘Man, I just don’t like being around that other guy.’ foxcatcher SC 1
“Du Pont had a very specific manner about him and a very specific physicality, and those things, I think, conspired to push other people away from him. He was off-putting, and it had the same effect with me naturally on set — I generally ate lunch by myself — but I think it ultimately was a good thing to have that kind of separation from the other actors.”
Foxcatcher SC
All in all I liked the film. But more so than that, I liked the performances again, especially strong by Tatum & Carell and that will have me giving a higher grade overall to the film.

(Wrap Oscar Screening on December 11th at Landmark Theatres (Westwood) Foxcatcher is playing in theatres nationwide).
Grade: B
@pegsatthemovies

(See grading scale)

Advertisements

“THE HUMBLING” (2015) – REVIEW ~ incl. Q & A w/Al Pacino

Standard

The humbling
What happens to actors when they can no longer remember their lines or worse when they can no longer deliver them? Well this film might have your answer and was simply quite fun to watch while finding out.

Al Pacino plays fictional acclaimed stage actor “Simon Axler”. We first meet him backstage, warming up before going on stage, talking to the mirror, asking his reflection how good his recitation is. He has two masks, one representing comedy, the other tragedy, and these masks could very well be the metaphor for this film. We watch the tragedy of a man losing his talent and losing his mind, but at the same time there are lots of laughs to be had on the way. Axler gets lost backstage and finds himself outside boxed in an alleyway. When let back in, he isn’t recognized and is kicked out of the theatre and though I felt like I’d seen this scene before ala Michael Keaton in Birdman, it didn’t lose it’s luster here.
the humbling 1
As the film moves along we discover that this is all in his head and this is where the fun parts of the film kick in as we are not always certain that what we see is occurring or whether it is a figment of Axler’s quite funny and oh~so~vivid imagination. After throwing himself off stage, Axler heads to rehab where he meets “Sybil” (Nina Arianda) who is hysterical in this role and probably my favourite character after Simon in film. She wants Axler to kill her husband, who she claims is sexually abusing her daughter and as she turns into one of the funniest stalkers ever, popping up at the most inopportune of places and times, you can’t help but wonder is she really batshit crazy or did any of what she says.. really happen. I’m guessing it’s the former.

Back home, Axler receives a visit from “Pegeen” (Greta Gerwig), the lesbian daughter of his old theatre friends “Asa” (Dan Hedaya) & his wife (Dianne Wiest). Pegeen has worshipped Simon since she was a little girl and her childhood obsession was with a successful actor, not this old man who can’t seem to pick up a bag without throwing his back out and she lets him know this in no uncertain terms, even though he is supporting her every whim to the point of bankrupting himself. Herein lies the question of the film…How long can Simon resist not only the lure of the stage despite its risk of further humiliation for him, but the fact that he needs to make money is also paramount here.
the humbling 2
As the film leads towards Axler’s return to the Broadway stage, the situation around him becomes ever more chaotic and surreal, leaving us to wonder just how much of all this is really going on. But it doesn’t really matter because it is all real to him. Pacino is in every scene of the film and we see everything from his viewpoint, real or not real, this is his experience. For Simon Axler, life and performance have somehow become fused and there is no way for him to work out what the difference is any more.

As he has done so often in the past, Levinson has made an intelligent, funny and most human film. The cast, including Charles Grodin as Axler’s agent “Jerry”, and Kyra Sedgewick as “Louise Trenner” the jilted lover of Pegeen, are all a pleasure to watch. Pacino’s wonderfully fun performance never wavers and though of a similar age as his character, but so unlike him in real life as his legendary talent seems far from burning out.
al pacino 1
After the screening we were treated to a Q & A with the man himself, the consummate storyteller both on and off screen, Al Pacino. The man is a just a treat to listen to explain not only this role & film, but stories about ‘Dog Day Afternoon’, another of my fav directors, Sidney Lumet whom he worked with many times, and so many others. As he spoke noting a few fun things about making the film making us all laugh: “It was about an actor, so I thought, ‘Gee, it’s possible I could make this into a film.’ Because at least it’s a little something that I know about — an actor on the way out,” “The world it’s in, it’s sort of my wheelhouse.” “It’s an advantage to know the world you’re making a movie about”
al pacino 3
Grade: C+
*Note: Oscar screening series took place on Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 at The Landmark (Westwood). The Humbling is in very limited release with a set release date of January 23rd, 2015.

@pegsatthemovies
(See grading scale)

“A MOST VIOLENT YEAR” (2014) – REVIEW ~ Incl. Q & A w/Cast & Dir/Prod/Writer

Standard

A-Most-Violent-Year-Final-Poster-
Truth be told ~ A Most Violent Year could come off sounding like the most boring movie ever about the most dry industry ever. Set in New York City in 1981, Oscar Isaac plays “Abel Morales“, the owner of a heating oil company in the early 80’s when people, instead of having to deal with the electric or gas company for heating, they negotiated heating oil prices with the providers directly. Odd but true. But life has been good for Morales. Being an immigrant, he’s risen through the ranks from driver to owner, married a beautiful, smart woman, “Anna” (Jessica Chastain) who has a rather wealthy & somewhat connected father herself, “Bill” (Peter Gerety) and he’s just about to close the biggest deal of his life.
A-Most-Violent-Year-movie 1
But all is not well at Standard Oil. Abel is trying to negotiate a deal to expand their business and gain ground by getting “Josef” (Jerry Adler) and his devoutly Jewish, not completely on the up & up, family to agree to sell their highly-valued, much in demand property to him vs. the competition. And he has 30 days to make this happen. All the while, his company is under investigation for fraud, the bank has pulled out of their real estate deal, trucks of oil are being stolen left and right from Morales’ and to make matters worse, now his seemingly perfect home life is starting to show cracks. It’s definitely a ‘violent’ year for Morales but not in how you might imagine.
most-violent-year-trailer 3
A Most Violent Year plays out like a gangster movie but not like one I’ve ever seen before as it’s done in a refreshingly understated, non-sensationalist gangster movie way as these are guys who don’t even carry guns, and are actually committed to trying to conduct their business in a non-violent manner which may or may not work out for them. This is really about as far from a Scorsese type gangster flick you can get. There’s no real flash in either the direction or the acting as everything is on a very different balance here though I will say, while it might be slow at times, it is never dull. It’s like ‘Casino’ but minus everything that makes it loud, brash or wild. What’s left is a quiet, almost pensive exploration of one man’s year long struggle to keep his business and his life on the path he’s chosen. And sure, there’s the occasional flash of violence but it rarely involves our lead character directly. In fact, the key players ~ Abel, Anna, “Lawrence” (David Oyelowo), “Walsh” (Albert Brooks) and O’Leary ~ are all locked in a power struggle that rarely resorts to violence though some of them really want to use it, Abel feels business can be conducted without it. Instead, the group handle their differences in heated discussions, occasional emotional blowouts and the always to be expected backroom deal.
a-most-violent-year 2
When Anna emerges as not only the saviour of sorts, in a pivotal scene of shockingly good grit and Abel blows up at her, is where the film breaks some truly fascinating ground. Not only does Anna emerge as the badass gangster who’s playing the angles and saving the day, but you really start to question just how moral Abel is. It’s here that you see begin to see the layers of movie really begin to reveal themselves. In possibly one of the best on-foot chase scenes that I’ve ever seen in a movie with Morales in dress shoes no less, though the scene some might say comes a little late in the game, I couldn’t help but love every second of it.

The film cements itself together not only by excellent performances from Isaac, Chastain and the strong supporting cast, but by small things like the locations and a truly fantastic step back into this world with even a great wardrobe of the time making it all the more realistic. A Most Violent Year may not be my favourite film of the year, but it will definitely emerge as a contender during awards season.
amvy 5

amvy 6
Note: Following the film was a fantastic Q & A with Dir/Writer: J.C. Chandor, Actors: Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac, Producers: Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb; who really gave a wonderful detailed explanation of the idea & set, even his trenchcoat idea behind the film. Truly, if you haven’t seen a J.C. Chandor movie, you’re missing out. Like, seriously missing out. So don’t skip A Most Violent Year either, you should see it and then head back and check out the director’s previous work like the wonderfully brilliant, “All is Lost” & “Margin Call

Grade: B-

**Seen on Monday, November 17th at a PGA screening at the Arclight Theaters (Hollywood) ~ A Most Violent Year opens December 31, 2014.
@pegsatthemovies
(See grading scale)

REVIEW: “INHERENT VICE” (2014) Warner Bros.

Standard

inher vice
Okay..I’m going to guess some people will be a bit surprised to say the least by this review as I don’t think it possible that there was anyone who was more looking forward to this film than I. Starting with the fact that it’s a Paul Thomas Anderson written & directed by film and I’m a big fan of almost all his previous pics. Then there is the cast..Joaquin, Benicio, Josh, Reese, Eric..even Owen. And then there is the trailer and when it got released I was almost drooling to see this film. And then I got invited to a screening..even MORE excited. And then the day came and I got to go see it!!! And that’s when the letdown began. :/
Inherent-Vice 1
Joaquin Phoenix is “Doc” Sportello, a drug-addled hippie private eye or ‘private dick’ as they call it in 1970, who is sniffing out the disappearances of his old flame, “Shasta Fay Hepworth” (Katherine Waterston), and her sugar daddy, billionaire real-estate magnate “Mickey Wolfmann” (Eric Roberts) in 1970’s Los Angeles. What Doc discovers is an underworld complete with a religious cult, a tax shelter and the Aryan Brotherhood. Far out, yes..indeed it is. Inher vice 2

Josh Brolin is the civil-rights-violating Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Detective “Bigfoot” Bjornsen ~ who deep throats frozen bananas as if he’s Linda Lovelace. Along with Maya Rudolph “Petunia Leeway“, “Sauncho Smilax, Esq.” aka Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson as “Coy Harlington”, Reese Witherspoon as Doc’s Deputy D.A. girlfriend, “Penny Kimball”, Elaine Tan, with an extremely awful nails~on~chalkboard squeaky voiced character named “Xandra”, and Martin Short as probably the only somewhat redeemingly, only teensy bit funny character,“Dr. Rudy Blatnoid D.D.S.” inher vice 3

The whole film is annoyingly narrated by the nasally voiced “Sortilege” (Joanna Newsom) who speaks in a lingo that I don’t think ever really existed thus making it even MORE ANNOYING..and yeah..sorry..just plain silly bordering on stupid.

I couldn’t help thinking the whole time I was watching that this film is trying so hard to have a field day with all the groovy slang it tries to pull off instead of..oh I don’t know..an actual good comical storyline as it’s billed as ‘Comic Noir”, that it strikes as inauthentic. I’m sure most, including myself, probably expected this to be the next “Boogie Nights,” and yes, it features the most sexual innuendos, if nothing else, that Anderson has had since that 1997 breakout. But the film isn’t funny..and seems to just try too hard to be a bit Coen-esque is the only way I can think to describe it. inher vice 4

Now here’s the best part..hold on to your hats as yes, (screeches to a halt) I left after an hour 40 minutes or so..as while I understood it was trying to tell a story and what it was, what I didn’t care about in any way shape or form, is about that story or how it ends. I didn’t give 2 shits about any character as most were just beyond the silly & ridiculous that I can sometimes find endearing and funny..but I didn’t. And I wasn’t the only one. It was a small screening and not only did my friend also want to leave..but about 5 other people did even earlier than us. I rarely am someone to do this btw..I can usually stick out just about anything, (the last time I couldn’t was Les Misérables after 2 long torturous hours). But with this film, the thought of having to stay another hour as yes, it’s 2 1/2 hrs long..was just not for me. Again, I just didn’t care. I know others will and I wish them the best. For me..nah. And yeah..sorry to all for harshing your mellow dude..but Cowabunga I guess!

Grade: D- (not a F)

*Note: Screening at Malibu Theatres, Sunday, December 7th, courtesy of Warner Bros. Film to be out in limited release December 12th; Nationwide on December 25th.
#peggyatthemovies
(See grading scale)

REVIEW ~ “WILD” (2014)

Standard

wild
In yet another film this year based on a memoir, this biopic, “WILD” by Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) who coped with her divorce, the death of her mother, and her own self-destructive behavior by setting out on a grueling, three-month trek along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which runs from Mexico to Canada. Since Hollywood tends not to deal much in too many surprises, whether its sequels, remakes/retreads of the familiar, or actors and directors staying very securely inside their comfort zones, it’s rare for a movie to sneak up and offer something unexpected and this one is no different. I truly expected more all the way around from the Director that made my favourite film of 2013, “Dallas Buyers Club”.

The other big surprise of “Wild” turns out to be Reese Witherspoon, whom after hearing such big notes that she would be going far from her usual comfort zone here, and then really didn’t. If we are looking for out of box characters for her, she was much more convincing for me in her portrayal in MUD. Don’t get me wrong..Witherspoon is far from awful here, and especially after seeing “The Good Lie” earlier this year and that lackluster performance, just not the WOW! performance I was hearing it to be as touted by some. wild 1

We meet Cheryl at the very beginning of her undertaking of this gargantuan hike. Here you would think it’s the sort of journey taken only by hikers with experience, but as we see all of Cheryl’s camping gear coming fresh out of the package, it’s immediately clear that she’s plunging head-first into this huge undertaking with no prep whatsoever as she has no clue what she really should & shouldn’t be taking along. Barely able to support her comically oversized backpack, we follow along as she begins to shed both literal and metaphorical baggage. Cheryl stumbles and struggles through the first few days of her hike, allowing her plenty of time for flashbacks. And that’s really how you find out why she is undertaking this venture because at the beginning you are given no hint as to WHY she is doing so.
wild 2
Her mother “Bobbi” (Laura Dern, in a nice moving turn here) was a source of strength, and even in the quick-flash of remembered moments we can see why her loss would be so devastating to Cheryl. Less attention is given to her failed marriage to “Paul” (Thomas Sadoski), but it’s clear that she was in no place emotionally to handle guiding her own life, much less sharing it with someone else. Though she has a brother also, “Leif” (Keene McRae), she seems the be the one with some major problems in life including being a heroin/sex addict and all around mess. wild 3

I think I was just hoping for more here as the movie delves into the easy answers and personal growth waters of ‘Eat Pray Love’ vs. what I had hoped for, more of a harder core. I was looking for some major challenges ala ‘127 hours’ to happen beyond losing her shoes or encounters with a rattlesnake & a caterpillar, both expected considering where she is..a desert. Same with the visuals..There are only a few rare scenery shots here, as well yes, I understand we are in a desert with just a lot of flat land & bushes, but it does change seasons, can be beautiful and I thought there would be some really scenic visuals.

For me, the best part of the story lies in all the characters she meets along the way. I found this part of it the most fascinating. Having undertaken a journey of my own at one point (I packed up my car and drove across the U.S. one summer, stopping randomly in places and meeting people everywhere I went..loved it), though no, not hiking as it’s something I’ve never been fond of, that & sleeping in tents, (yeah I know..picky picky)..but characters such as “Frank” (W. Earl Brown) & his wife “Annette” (Jan Hoag), “Greg” (Kevin Rankin) & his friends, “Ed” (Cliff De Young), the only other female hiker she encounters along the way, the “Ranger” (Brian Van Holt) and the group of guys she gets drunk with round the ol’ campfire, “Josh” (Will Cuddy), “Rick” (Leigh Parker) & “Ritchie” (Nick Eversman). My ending point is that I think a lot of people have done a journey of some type or another in their lives and sorry but I guess I’ve just heard much more fascinating stories than this one.

Grade: C

#peggyatthemovies
(see grading scale)

Review: “INTERSTELLAR” (2014)

Standard

interstellar
So had a few extra hours on Thanksgiving and yes, I finally saw “Interstellar” and boy was it LOOOOONNGGG really really long. Which would be fine if the first two hours were something special moving at a pace faster than the tortoise and the hare race. Mind you I pretty much love all of Christopher Nolan’s movies starting with the 1st one I really remember, Memento, which I thought was just so damn brilliant. Love the Batman franchise, loved Inception and actually got it (well okay..kinda got it) 🙂 But this one raises a few questions for me..one of the most notable is why does he like Anne Hathaway aka Anne – don’t forget the ‘E’ aka Anne Hackaway, so much?? She was the worst Cat Woman ever, and does no favours in this movie either..so why? ok..well as I will most likely never have that question truly answered..let’s move on.

At the beginning we meet “Cooper” (Matthew McConaughey) who is a widowed farmer/ex-astronaut, his young daughter “Murph” (Mackenzie Foy) who believes her room is haunted by a ghost who is trying to communicate with her; his father-in-law, with whom they live, “Donald” (John Lithgow) and his son, who is almost as an after thought, “Tom” (Timothee Chalamet). I say afterthought because the story heavily focuses on Cooper’s relationship with his daughter throughout the entire movie as they even label it as a sort of interstellar 1‘father/daughter’ story, and I almost felt bad for the son as he isn’t prominently featured at all. But I guess that’s neither here nor there as we move along through their story where there is a school reprimand involved, which leads into a school suspension whereas Cooper & Murph then have the time to be ‘discovering’ that the ghost is actually sending them coded messages that gives them the coordinates to find which takes them on the journey where they find the secret bunker so-to-speak of NASA. See the world is almost at an end and with crops blights left & right, taking away food this planet will never see again, time is running out to figure what to do next and possibly where to go.

In steps “Professor Brand” (Michael Caine) and his daughter “Amelia Brand” (Anne Hathaway). Prof. Brand explains to them that a wormhole apparently created by alien intelligence, has given what’s left of Earth’s inhabitants hope for survival and that NASA’s old ‘Lazarus’ missions have noted 3 different planets orbiting the Black Hole ‘Gargantua’ that are potentials for human habitation.

To cut a really long story as short as can be done because I will be honest, not only would it take pages to describe the entire film (as some reviews have done..ZZzzzzz), the first two hours of this movie did not wow me in the slightest and somewhat dragged on. As they mount a mission to find which planet is best. The mission named ‘Endurance’, is where Cooper joins Brand’s daughter, biologist Amelia; scientists “Romilly” (David Gyasi) and “Doyle” (Wes Bentley); and robots TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) and CASE (voiced by Josh Stewart). The TARS & CASE robots were pretty much my favourite ‘characters’ of the movie btw.. so to sum it up..they enter the wormhole and head to Miller, but discover the planet is so close to Gargantua that it experiences severe gravitational time dilation: each hour on the surface is seven years on Earth. It’s inhospitable to humans as it is covered by a shallow ocean roiled by enormous tidal waves. As Amelia attempts to recover Miller’s data, a wave hits, killing Doyle and delaying the shuttle’s departure. When Cooper and Amelia return to Endurance, 23 years have passed.interstellar 2

On Earth, the now-adult “Murphy” (Jessica Chastain) now a NASA scientist assisting Brand who, on his deathbed, Brand admits he already solved the problem and determined the project is impossible and he covered up his findings and put his faith in a “Plan B” As Murphy tries to warn her also now adult aged brother Tom, (played by Casey Affleck), and his family that it’s almost at the end of time and they must move on she concludes that Brand’s equation could work with additional data from a black hole’s singularity. (yes I had to look up this last sentence :))
Low on fuel, Endurance can only visit one more planet before returning to Earth. After much argument the team votes for Mann’s planet, but they find it to be icy and inhospitable. “Mann” (Matt Damon) reveals that he knew Plan B was the mission’s goal all along, and faked data about his planet so Endurance would rescue him which of course goes awry, and Damon’s odd character turn here as a villianous bad guy fails and he’s gonzo! interstellar 5

As they are nearly out of fuel, and this is truly where I got the most frightened as there is a moment where you think that Hackaway’s character Amelia, is going to be the last person left to live. Frightening truly frightening thought for most of us, and yes I am being completely facetious here..or am I.. ha! It’s also where the movie FINALLY started to pick up some and get to the brilliant part as they emerge in an extra-dimensional “tesseract”, where time appears in different dimension with portals that show glimpses of Murphy’s childhood bedroom at various times. Cooper then realizes that the wormhole and tesseract were created by a future form of humanity transcending time and space, so he was the one and now again, that did and can communicate with Murphy as the “ghost” and try to save humanity. Using the gravitational waves they discovered early on a watch, Cooper transmits TARS’s data to the adult Murphy through Morse code, allowing her to solve Brand’s equation and evacuate Earth.
Years later, Cooper awakens aboard a NASA space habitat and reunites with the now elderly Murphy (Ellen Burstyn), who has led the exodus and Earth is to be saved. Lastly, Cooper does have to go out on one final mission, to find Amelia who is still out there on Edmunds planet. hmmm.. Do I see a sequel here?!! 😀

There are no stand-out performances here. McConaughey, coming off a fantastic 2013 with crazy good performances isn’t going to get any nominations for this role as it’s rather basic. Thankfully Chastain steps up to the plate to relieve us of the agony that is Anne Hathaway (Hackaway) and as the young Murph’s, Foy also does quite well. Visually, as expected, the film can be quite stunning, but mostly only once they get into space. I appreciated Interstellar’s grand ambition and the fact that Nolan took on astrophysics and a major studio gave him $200 million to do it. If anyone could try to tackle relativity and the space-time continuum in a narrative, it’s Nolan and his intellect as a director. But, alas it proved too much to take on and make sense of, even for him. It’s is however an interesting effort worth seeing just for its concept in general, though some may end up feeling merely puzzled, which, as my friend Leif noted, knowing Nolan’s oeurve is probably the whole point.
interstellar 4

Grade: C+

#peggyatthemovies
(See grading scale)

Review: “WHIPLASH” (2014)

Standard

Because after seeing this film again last night and having the Q & A afterwards with brilliant, wonderful J.K. Simmons & Dir: Damien Chazelle, I realize that my B+ grade should REALLY be bumped to an A because this movie is THAT good. And the performances.. well there are no words really for how good they are. So with that..

peggyatthemovies

whiplash-movie-poster-2014-1000770812

Before I saw this movie, someone said to me “Oh, it looks like a jazz version of “FAME”. A more mis-informed statement could not be ever spoken! A “Fame” remake this movie is not..If you love music, most especially jazz and have heard all those stories about the inner circle of the jazz greats..this is your movie.. With my basic knowledge of music and somewhat better at knowing those stories, I was able to follow along well. But “Whiplash” is a quite darkly, somewhat disturbing movie about 19 y/o “Andrew” played superbly here by Miles Teller, who eats, lives and breathes being a drummer, who wants so badly to be ‘remembered’ in this life as one of the world’s best he will do and put up with almost anything..again, almost..  His journey through what was at times, hard for me to watch as I’ve experienced people in my life like…

View original post 538 more words