Category Archives: Western

REVIEW: “THE POWER OF THE DOG” (2021) Netflix

Set on a Montana cattle ranch in 1925, Jane Campion’s psychological Western is a slow burn. Her adaptation from the novel by Thomas Savage, depicts somewhat of a four-sided death waltz between two brothers. One is a tortured cowboy Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), the other, his softhearted brother George Burbank (Jesse Plemons), who have drifted apart in their manner and outlook on the constant life on the range and running of the family ranch. When George marries a restaurant owner named Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst), a single mother with a delicate-seeming teenage son Peter (Kodi-Smit McPhee), the stress on their relationship deepens – especially since all four will now have to live on the family ranch together. The movie is divided into five chapters – none which are given a name, but simply an on screen number and these numbers are a clue as to how the story is going to unfold in progressive steps, with each act building into the next. The story that unfolds from this whole scenario is so many things, but mostly can almost be looked at as a cautionary tale, with it being told in a way that feels almost like a study of it’s characters. As the chapters ensue, the focus subtly changes as does the focus on what characters come to the forefront of issues in each of their lives. It’s a movie that demands your complete attention as the individual incidents often matter less than what isn’t shown, the underlying means of it all. Blink and you just might miss it all.

As well the acting is for the most part, on par with Cumberbatch not being anyone’s first idea of a cowboy. While he does well with the body of work, he is just not good with accents and this one as well, is all over the place. Plemons subtle turn as George is just divine and Dunst is fine as well, but heads above the rest is Smit-McPhee, who has the toughest task as the smart, somewhat devious, shy young man who consistently surprises the viewer – pay attention to this character as he is the underlying thread throughout as little pieces of him are given to you at times, that if you miss them, you won’t understand the absolute brilliance of his character. Thomasin McKenzie, Adam Beach and Keith Carradine fill out some of the fairly large supporting cast as well.

Grade: B-

“THE POWER OF THE DOG” is streaming on Netflix

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INSTA-REVIEW: “THE KID” (2019) LIONSGATE

Catching up on my reviews for March by doing a few Insta-Reviews. This first one is #TheKid which you would think would be another story about #BillytheKid ..and it sort of is.

It’s a story about another kid #Rio played by JakeSchur who is sorta rescued by Billy the Kid DaneDeHaan who is then captured by Pat Garrett  EthanHawke and they try to find Rio’s sister Sara LeilaGeorge who was abducted by their uncle Grant, played by a completely unrecognizable ChrisPratt . If you feel confused, you might be spot on as it’s quite a dragging storyline directed by VincentDOnofrio – the acting is terrible by everyone but DeHaan who brings a bit of life to this version of Billy. On the whole, there is a reason this one has slipped in and out of theaters before you could see it.
Grade: D+
@pegsatthemovies

 

Media Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Lionsgate 

FINAL DAY: COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST PICTURE”

WE ARE HERE!!! The final day of my Oscar Countdown and I’ve saved the biggest and best for last. While this is a very good slate of films, and most of them deserve to be here, for the first time ever, I don’t have a picture that I truly ‘LOVED’ this year in this category as Nocturnal Animals wasn’t nominated. I liked them all, again, some more than others, and while I still have a pick – there is no one clear choice for me. That and my pick has no chance of winning whatsoever. So with that being said…I always hope for a few fun upsets!

BEST PICTURE

Arrival
While I really enjoyed this film, one of the best Sci-Fi movies I’ve seen, but can I roll with it for best picture? nah, but it is worth a watch, especially if you like this genre. It also has a very relevent message for this day and age of politics that we now live in. It shows that hate for something or someone different, really doesn’t need to be. Truthfully right now, I would trust an alien more than the circus clown act we have in charge at the moment.

Fences
While I liked this film at points, on other points it just lagged or went to fast as they literally took every single word from the play and put it into the film. I get it, you don’t want to mess with the original sometimes, but in this case, trimming it down some would have been beneficial and the movie suffered as a result of not doing so.

Hacksaw Ridge
Let’s face it, the first 45 minutes of this was an absolute cheese-fest. The remainder – sort of a gore-fest. And while it did good at the points of making you flip-flop on what you wanted that main character to do, it also gave us some Brits & Aussies doing terrible attempts at southern accents.

Hell or High Water
While it’s good to see a film be remembered from earlier in the year, and I liked the film, it just really never struck a chord with me as award material when watching.

Hidden Figures
I enjoyed this film a lot and it was about time something was done and made about these three fantastic women and what they contributed to our NASA space program in the 60’s. It had some big ups and a few downs with the tone of it all.

La La LandWINNER
With an opening scene that I just loved and so well done, you would think the rest of the film was going to be just as good. It’s not. Mind you it’s a good watch, but far from a great one and just a little to far-fetched, cutsey perfect for me. But hey, WHIPLASH was so damn good and was what a jazz story could be, that well, I guess I’ll give a groan when this wins, but I can’t hate on it completely.

LionMY PICK
While far far from a perfect film, the first half delivers big and is terrific, but it’s second half drags a lot until you get to the last 10 minutes or so. Again, I’m not in love with it. Having a great post Q & A with Dev Patel and first time director Garth Davis probably helped me some, but it did move me as a wonderful story of hope. And with that, I picked it even though I know it has absolutely no chance of winning.

Manchester by the Sea
For me, the film isn’t terrible – but honestly, I had no idea what as happening in the first 20-30 minutes. You just knew the guy was angry, but no clue as to why. It took 2 hrs. to get to the point and those 2 hrs. seemed like many more at times.

Moonlight
While watching this film, I couldn’t help thinking I’ve seen this story before..and I have – noting the fact it was done much better on the ‘The Wire’ and I think I would have liked to see three episodes of that again vs. this film. It was more than a tad inconsistent, with the first two thirds much better than the last third, and I was distracted by having characters played by multiple actors who looked nothing alike. That being said, it’s a good film considering the shoe-string budget it was made on.

@pegsatthemovies
Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this page a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

DAY 2 ~ COUNTDOWN TO THE OSCARS ~ “BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR”

Day 2 of the countdown ~ Probably for me at least, the hardest category to judge as it’s just filled to the brim of fantastic performances and I wish they could all win. And remember, this is a category known for going to the most random of choices.
Reminder: I’m giving who I think the winner will be and what would be my pick.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Mahershala Ali, MoonlightWINNER
While I wasn’t the films biggest fan, if I had to pick a part that I liked, it was the first segment with this guy in it. But I don’t think his character was that developed — I mean, he’s this great guy, and then all of a sudden he just disappears. I missed the grit of his character throughout the rest of the film.

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
While I might not have seen awards coming for this movie, Bridges came through on this performance in a big way. Jeff makes it look easy but, boy, what he does is not easy.

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
If I was going to pick a performance from this film that I truly liked, it was Hedges. Although he was good here played his characters strengths and weaknesses well, it just misses being at the level of great…barely though. Keep an eye on this kid, he will be back in award categories to come.

Dev Patel, Lion
Again, we have a strong contender here. While playing an almost separate character from his child-self, it was quite seamless how he brought it all together at the end.

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Another truly mind-blowing performance by Shannon. Why this man doesn’t already have an Oscar on his shelf is just not comprehendable.

Thanks all for taking the time to give this a read. Let me know your thoughts on if you agree or disagree with my picks. Don’t forget to give this blog a follow or a follow on twitter as well @pegsatthemovies. Cheers!

GOLDEN GLOBES 2017 (Part 2) ~ FILM/ACTING PICKS

Here we are with part two of my Golden Globes picks – this round is Film and Acting.
I’ve seen almost all the films presented this year, even the foreign ones – though yes, I’ve missed a few as there is only so much one human being can do! I also have a few categories where I just didn’t like any of the nominees enough to make a ‘MY PICK’. You might agree or even better, you might disagree ~ it’s all good.
So with that..I give you #peggyatthemovies 2016/17 Golden Globe picks! Cheers!

BEST PICTURE (DRAMA)

Hacksaw Ridge
Mel Gibson is riding the come back high with this decently done war film. While it’s war scenes are done very well, it’s riddled with a lot of cheesy storyline in the first hour.

Hell or High Water
While it’s good to see a film be remembered from earlier in the year, it really never struck me as Award material when watching.

Lion
A sweet and rather powerful story of a child’s journey into being a man, and finding not only his true story, but his family’s also.

Manchester by the Sea
While I didn’t dislike this film, it was monotonous and so slow for long periods throughout. I found the last 1/2 hr. to be the best as we finally found out what was going on.

Moonlight – WINNER
While watching this film, I couldn’t help thinking I’ve seen this story before..and we have – except it was done much better on the ‘The Wire’.

I just really don’t have a pick in this category as I didn’t truly love any of these nominees, so I’m just going with what I think will win.

BEST PICTURE (COMEDY/MUSICAL)

20th Century Women
Remember how I mentioned I hadn’t seen all the movies – this is the one that my screening is actually this Tuesday.

Deadpool
Funny, fun, fast and R-rated sheer entertainment made this a favourite of mine.

Florence Foster Jenkins
Not sure how there is a nom for this one, but hey, I guess they gotta fill up the category somehow.

La La LandWINNER
With an opening scene that is just truly beautiful and so well done, you would think the rest of the film to be just as good. It’s not. Mind you it’s a good watch, just a little to far-fetched, cutsey perfect for me.

Sing StreetMY PICK
Now this movie, sadly got missed by so many and IT’S SO SO GOOD!! I would pick this as best film of all the choices given to us as Globe nominees film wise, drama or comedy, on this one. Sadly, it won’t win and it’s so deserving.

Best Director

Damien Chazelle, La La Land
While Chazelle made one of my top fav. films ever with ‘Whiplash’, and again, he does a good job with the direction of this pic, it’s just not as gripping of a film.

Tom Ford, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Hands down my favourite film of the year. This film terrorized me in all the best ways possible. And it was made possible all by Mr. Ford.

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Again, he’s on the comeback-kid tour right now, and really did a spetacular job on the war scenes, but I don’t think he’s been forgiven enough to win his first time back.

Barry Jenkins, MoonlightWINNER
Gotta give it to Barry Jenkins for even getting this movie made. I know from being in a Q & A after the film, how hard they all worked. It just didn’t work that well for me. Many love it.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
While the film was aesthetically pleasing, again I just can’t call it a ‘fav’ for me. And while I’ve really liked some of his other work, this one isn’t my pick.

BEST ACTOR (DRAMA)

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the SeaWINNER
I liked Casey in the film, I did. And having an insightful & humourous Q & A with him afterwards helped make me like the film just a bit more than I did. I just didn’t see it as an Award winning performance.

Joel Edgerton, Loving
Didn’t do it for me. Honestly, when was the last time you heard Edgerton actually speak with his native accent..yeah I can’t remember either and him trying to do the backwoods southern didn’t work for me.

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Again, the accent thing bothered me here. Do I think the performance was bad, no. But it didn’t warrant an Award either.

Viggo Mortensen, Captain FantasticMY PICK
Mortensen has been pretty underappreciated in his career. I say we make that right here. Even though I know it won’t happen, it would be great to see.

Denzel Washington, Fences
Denzel..oh Denzel..how I adore you. You pretty much own every role you do.

BEST ACTRESS (DRAMA)

Amy Adams, Arrival
While I really enjoyed this film, one of the best Sci-Fi I’ve seen, she really shoulda gotten this nom for Nocternal Animals because thats where she really shined.

Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane
I think Jessica is wonderful, though I did not see this film yet.

Isabelle Huppert, ElleMY PICK
Huppert simply put – blew me away in this one. I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen a performance like it, and probably never will again. Sadly, I’m guessing she won’t win.

Ruth Negga, Loving
I liked this performance so much once she started speaking and really putting forth as the first 30+ min she just really never said anything.

Natalie Portman, JackieWINNER
Yes, we all know they are going to give the award to Natalie. And while she was good here, she doesn’t even come close to Huppert.

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY

Colin Farrell, The LobsterMY PICK
Colin was so fantastic in this funny, bizarrely good film that he was hands down, best in category for me.

Ryan Gosling, La La LandWINNER
We all know Gosling was a Mouseketeer so yes, he can sing and dance etc.. And was really cutsey good here as well as the film was. Just not Award cutsey for me.

Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
While his performance was one of the better spots in this film, it’s so far from Award worthy.

Jonah Hill, War Dogs
Clearly they were desperatly trying to fill up this category here. Did anyone see this film besides me at a free screening months before it came out? Yeah I’m guessing not – there is a reason for that.

Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool
I truly did love Ryan in this film – but again, Award worthy..nah..

BEST ACTRESS, (COMEDY)

Annette Bening, 20th Century Women
Dang on this one, my screening is Tues. night.

Lily Collins, Rules Don’t Apply
I was out of the country when this one came out and by the time I got back, it was gone out of theatres.

Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen
Cute film, cute performance – I do think there will be awards sometime in her future.

Emma Stone, La La Land
Yeah – I like Emma and another cutsey performance. That’s really all there is to it.

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins
Okay again, do they just use Meryl every year as a filler for a supporting category. And while I think she is one of the greatest actresses of our time, it’s when she gets nominated year after year for this reason only that makes it tiresome.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
While I wasn’t the films biggest fan, if I had to pick a part that I liked, it was the first segment with this guy in it.

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High WaterWINNER
While I might not have seen awards coming for this movie, Bridges came through on this performance in a big way.

Simon Helberg, Florence Foster Jenkins
This character was cute & funny..at first..then it just wore on you.

Dev Patel, Lion
I’m a big Dev Patel fan and while the child actor might have stolen the show, he did bring it all t

Aaron Taylor Johnson, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Some think he doesn’t deserve this. I think he TOTALLY does. Sure his roles leading up to this have been sub-par, but thats what makes this one so good – he did a complete 360 and brought the ‘terrifying’ to this role in a most fantastic way. Anytime someone can surprise me with a performance this good, yes they deserve a nom.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Viola Davis, Fences
Viola has proved herself to be one of the most standout actresses in Hollywood. She most definitely deserves the nom here. Plus, if she wins, you know it will be one fun acceptance speech!! 🙂

Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Liked it – just didn’t love it. Definitely worthy of a nom tho.

Nicole Kidman, Lion
Same here with Nicole, liked it – just didn’t love it.

Octavia Spencer, Hidden FiguresMY PICK/WINNER
Now I called this when I saw the film back in November. The whole movie is good with really good performances, but she takes it here for me. She has been and is my only and clear choice.

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Really, a blink of seven minutes total on screen..though the last scene with her and Affleck is the one what finally made me like the film better, still.

BEST SCREENPLAY

Damien Chazelle, La La LandPOSSIBLE WINNER
I think I’ve said my take on this film enough and while I think Chazelle has a fantastic career ahead of him, I

Tom Ford, Nocturnal AnimalsMY PICK
Having done a Q & A with Ford after the film really brought the ‘how’s & why’s’ insight into my fav. film of the year.

Barry Jenkins, MoonlightWINNER
Again, I completely commend Jenkins for even getting this film made. And I think it’s between him & Chazelle for who is the critical darling of the year.

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Respect to the writing, though I might have enjoyed the process of it better as a book.

Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Well done for being remembered from earlier in the year. Worthwhile watch – not a win for me.

Best Animated Feature Film
While I saw all of these besides ‘Zucchini’ I just don’t have commentary for all of them. Just a pick.

Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
Sing
ZootopiaMY PICK/WINNER

Best Foreign Language Film
Have seen all but ‘Divines’ and I only have one hands down pick and what will hopefully be the winner!

Divines
ElleMY PICK/WINNER
Neruda
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Follow along to see what happens with my live tweets during the Awards at @pegsatthemovies

REVIEW: “THE REVENANT” ~ POST Q & A ~ LEONARDO DICAPRIO/DIR: ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU/PROD: STEVE GOLAN & MARY PARENT

the revenant title
Since I was lucky enough to be part of the first ever audience to see this remarkable picture with Leonardo DiCaprio & Alejandro González Iñárritu doing the post Q & A along with producers Steve Golan & Mary Parent ~ I think I can safely tell you all…Prepare to be blown away as I’ve personally never seen a film of this magnitude in my life. And here I thought Alejandro couldn’t outdo last years epic ‘Birdman’, well I was wrong. He can and he did.
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Along with the sure-fire Oscar gold performance of Leo DiCaprio here, ‘The Revenant’ follows the true story of the epic adventures of frontiersman Hugh Glass. It is also about someone trying to survive using the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of uncharted America back in the fur trading days, legendary explorer Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), is brutally mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own team. the revenant 7

In an effort to survive, and with a full heart of unimaginable grief and betrayal of trust by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) for the death of his son, Glass is buried alive with injuries most would not be able to withstand. Full of anger he goes to the end of what is uncharted wilderness to find Fitzgerald and Bridger. Guided by sheer will and love for his son, Glass navigates a severe winter in the relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. And revenge. Yes, revenge, because make no mistake about it..this is a film of someone seeking revenge in it’s purest form. the revenant 4

While there are some tough-to-watch graphic scenes in this film, it’s a spectacle that really must be experienced both visually and story-wise. While you can pick up the book and spoil it for yourself – don’t!!!! – this is truly something that must be experienced completely on your own. the revenant 3

The no longer-young boy from Titanic, DiCaprio’s phenominal performance here, in which his character is alone and doesn’t speak for much of the two and a half hours of running time that he carries the film, is joined in tandem by the remarkable Tom Hardy. Here again, the man of many accents has another one, not sure where he picks them up, but they do serve him well. He is the villian of sorts here, but is it that or is he just trying as they all are, to survive the harshness of life in these times. With a supporting cast of Domhnall Gleason as Andrew Henry, Brendan Fletcher as Fryman and Grace Dove to name just some of the mixed cast of French, Native American and American actors that provide the makeup of this of ensemble cast.
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This film is as big as it is bold and like nothing I’ve ever seen before, with many a dark and brutal moments that might be to much for some in the audience. Take that as a serious warning as I saw many seat squirmings and some scenes stayed with me for some time after, but I also loved every minute of this film and for me,  I see #OSCAR#OSCAR#OSCAR written all over it.

Grade: A+

Screening: Sunday, November 22, 2015 ~ Courtesy of the Producers Guild of America & 20th Century Fox.
And a quick shoutout to my movie-going BFF – Jason Watters for only with his invitation was I able to be part of the 1st audience and wonderful experience. Thank you so much!!!
Nationwide release: Friday, January 8, 2016

leo & alejandro
POST Q & A WITH Leonardo DiCaprio/Alejandro González Iñárritu/Steve Golen and Mary Parent

Starting off with many questions to regarding the film’s production that has already attracted controversy after reports that it became “a living hell”, with some members of the crew quitting and being fired. Iñárritu noted “As a director, if I identify a violin that is out of tune, I have to take that from the orchestra,” “I have nothing to hide,” the director said. “There were problems, but none of them made me ashamed.” The budget also swelled from $60m to $95m.

In the Q & A, Iñárritu described making the film as “almost like an impossible task” — and when asked about his first day on the set, DiCaprio smiled and said, “To tell you the truth, it’s all a beautiful blur to me.”
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Leo noted that while the book is based on a true life story..but the stories being those told around the campfires of those days in time also can be full of embelishments etc.. it’s like when you tell a story to a person and it travels through 10 people it becomes a different story. There is no way to verify it and he could only read for reference stories told and written by these men. DiCaprio described it as “almost a silent movie performance from me” it’s a father/son story..a love story and a ‘bear’ of a story all wrapped in one.

The script had been floating around for some time but no one could picture how they could possibly make a film of this magnitude with Iñárritu originally passing on the project some time ago. Iñárritu said some days they only had 45 minutes of workable shoot time, other days an hour and a half tops with hours sometimes being take to intricately set up the shot required. They were at the mercy of the weather, which at one point dropped to 40 degrees below zero.
Alejandro noted that the pressure on Leo was immense as once everything was set up..it was up to him to carry it out and lead the way in the short time span avail to them. If he didn’t, then they would have to start all over again the next day. leo & alejandro 1
Rehearsals, they said, took months, with elaborate camera moves worked out with the actors before they ever went to the wilderness locations, many of them near Calgary, Canada. “You felt an intensity, and a unity with the whole crew that you had to grasp the entire shot every day,” said DiCaprio.
Probably my favourite quote by director Alejandro González Iñárritu in answering a question regarding the beauty and harshness of the wilderness in which they shot he noted: “the sky is omnipresent.”

REVIEW: “A WALK IN THE WOODS” (2015) Broad Green Pictures

walk in woods

A Walk in the Woods is essentially a two-hander piece between Robert Redford’s Bill Bryson, a travelling writer who teams up with his old companion Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte) for a hike along the 2,000 mile-plus Appalachian Trail.
Bryson is a sarcastically funny cynic who has his life in a certain order that has become mundane for him, whereas Katz is a grumpy recovering alcoholic who still tries to re-live and remain in his more youthful days. Their contrasts can appear a tad caricature like, but their acting ability, charm, and on-screen chemistry binds the film together well.
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Its a nice witty, little jaunt of a film and while some could be of the opinion that Redford might have wanted to make a bit of an environmental statement here (I disagree), Nolte keeps us entertained all through till the end. Seeing Emma Thompson is always a delight as Redford’s wife Catherine Bryson, but it’s truly Kristen Schaal as Mary Ellen, the annoying, obnoxious fellow traveler whom talks endlessly and knows all, that brings the most to her small, albeit scene stealing role.

DF-03247_R (l to r) Nick Nolte stars as Stephen Katz, Kristen Schaal as Mary Ellen and Robert Redford as Bill Bryson camping along the Appalachian Trail in Broad Green Pictures upcoming release, A WALK IN THE WOODS. Credit:Frank Masi, SMPSP/ Broad Green Pictures
DF-03247_R
(l to r) Nick Nolte stars as Stephen Katz, Kristen Schaal as Mary Ellen and Robert Redford as Bill Bryson camping along the Appalachian Trail in Broad Green Pictures upcoming release, A WALK IN THE WOODS.
Credit:Frank Masi, SMPSP/ Broad Green Pictures

walk in woods 3

As you might expect, yes there are a few lullsy moments throughout the film but A Walk in the Woods is no Wild nor does it try to be.. it’s more ‘The Odd Couple’ on a roadtrip – buddy type film with Redford as Felix and Nolte as Oscar.
It’s a safe bet that will appeal to a older audience, though they might be a bit surprised with some of the language by these two wonderful actors and while very sweet..I would definitely put it in the category of “sweet & nice” which is a perfectly okay way to spend a few hours!!

Grade: C
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Landmark Theater Westside – Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Courtesy of Broad Green Pictures & LAFTV meetup group
Nationwide release: Wednesday, September 2, 2015

REVIEW: “MINIONS” (2015) Universal Pictures

minions
Everyone!! Meet Kevin, Stuart and Bob, our adorable minions who decide to leave the home they have set up as all the minions are getting depressed (in some of the movies funniest ‘depressing’ scenes) to go and find an evil master to serve. This takes them on journeys far and wide until they eventually find a master who they think is evil enough in “Scarlett Overkill” (v/o Sandra Bullock) who along with her husband “Herb Overkill” (v/o Jon Hamm) is shall we say, just a bit obsessed on obtaining the royal crown and being Queen of England. Needless to say, without even trying the minions manage to annoy and disappoint her just by the sheer dumb luck of what is happening to them.
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Before we even meet Ms. Overkill though, the film takes us on an adventure to see how the minions have spent their years trying to find an evil master to serve. This creates some of the best and most amusing moments of the film showing what the minions have been doing during some historic time periods.
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While it lagged some in the middle of the film, it picked itself back up with the parts in England and inclusion of Queen Elizabeth being fun along with the British stereotypes, made for some humourous moments. I think the best thing to say about this film is that I surrounded by loads of kids and shockingly enough they were quiet in the best way possible throughout the film – by that I mean they all seemed to love it and be very entertained by it.. laughing at different parts show that it was well catered to them though I’m not sure how parents are explaining the prequel part to them, it might not be all that necessary.
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For me, the soundtrack used in the film is a must mention with some absolutely fantastic songs from start to finish. Though I’m guessing only the adults will catch on to some of the references made such as running into The Beatles in the now famous Abbey Road album cover.

All in all, this movie will be a summer-time box office smash and a must see for anyone with young children.

Rating: C+
@pegsatthemovies

Screening at Mann’s Chinese Hollywood – Monday, July 6,2015 courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Nationwide release: Friday, July 10, 2015

Added bonus shot: ME with the Minions!!! 😀
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“SLOW WEST” ~ REVIEW (2015) A24 FILMS

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Release date: Friday, May 15th, 2015 in the U.S. ~ U.K. release date: Friday, June 26th, 2015

“Go West young man, Go West” – This was the old adage all Westerns were based upon for a time, told to drifting young men back in the day. And “Slow West” is just about that journey ~ with a twist, as it’s no ordinary Western. Trust me on this one.

Starting the film, we follow 16 yr.old Scottish rich boy “Jay Cavendish” (Kodi Smit-McPhee) journey across the old Colorado frontier of 1870s America in search of the girl he loves, “Rose Ross” (Caren Pistorius), who has fled to America with her father, “John Ross” (Rory McCann). As Jay begins his search for what he believes is his true love, he is completely unaware that Rose & her father are wanted, dead or alive, as murderers with huge bounties on their heads. Needless to say this has brought out numerous not so savory bounty hunters, who are all in search of them.

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When Jay runs into bounty hunter extraordinaire, “Silas Selleck” (Michael Fassbender) who during an encounter with some soldiers, bails him out of a bad situation then offers his services of protection, for a fee of course, to escort him to where Rose is. As we listen to Silas, who confesses while narrating this quirky oft violent story, that this is really his whole ulterior motive in taking Jay along.

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Hot on their trail is another bounty hunter “Payne” (Ben Mendelsohn), along with his group of cold-blooded bounty hunters. As an ex-member of the team, Silas went the lone route after clearly having different ideas on how getting quick cash through delivering bounties should go. Payne is not having any of it, as the he tries to convince Silas to come back to the group so it’s no surprise that both Payne and Silas have different views when it comes to the young man, but Silas still does whatever he can to protect Jay from them and the truth about Rose.
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As per usual, Fassbender eats up the screen doing his best “High Plains Drifter” impersonation going even so far as having the ever present cigarillo hanging from the side of his mouth. The chemistry between Smit-McPhee and Fassbender is great, as we watch the pair soon develop a heartfelt, darkly funny, camaraderie that runs to the spine of the film. But don’t mistake this for an yippe-kai-yay uplifting buddy-western horseback ride through the wild west, because this world is filled with dark characters and even bleaker scenarios, but still has enough entertainment value to ensnare you in it. The graphic violence may come off as funny sometimes, but it works for a film taking place in the Old West.

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While Slow West may be considered a Western, it also is a nicely done coming-of-age story about Jay becoming a man and Silas learning that there is more to life than living on the road. Jay’s complete naiveness for life in the Old West and though complete opposites, it somehow matches well with Silas’ stone cold attitude. As things move along, Jay’s determination to get to the girl he loves slowly starts to affect Silas. You notice as he starts having this father-son bonding with Jay by teaching him how to shoot a gun and even giving him his first shave. At the same time, Jay shows Silas the beauty of life, so it’s hard to tell which of these men are actually growing up.

The movie comes to a head in a brutal, climactic shootout that brings all the characters together in one final showdown that results in bloodshed and an oh-so-unpredictable death. The only sour point in its conclusion is it’s almost just a tad too neat and tidy. Slow West is definitely a very unique, different type western from those I’ve seen, but it worked. With it’s somewhat fairy tale-ness, witty humor, silly violence, it’s a worthy addition to this genres roots, but with a modern edged tone.

Screening at USC School of Cinematic Arts, Ray Stark Theatre – Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

RATINGS SCALE: A = OSCAR-WORTHY; B = ABOVE AVERAGE; C = AVERAGE; D = NOT RECOMMENDED; F = SKIP IT ENTIRELY (+ OR – GIVES IT AN EDGE UP OR DOWN)

‘Cinderella’, ‘Insurgent’, ‘Danny Collins’, ‘Jauja’, ’71’, ‘The Salvation’, ’50 Shades of Grey’

So I’ve seen a bunch of films lately that have all been pretty average or just plain bad..with one I really liked!! And as sometimes we all feel like a bad film has just sucked it out of us, I didn’t even feel like giving some of them a review..but then decided to suck it all in and just put them all in one with a few bits about each and let everyone make up their own minds to see them or not.

I’m starting with the one that actually surprised me out of the group because I actually did like it…not love it mind you, but a good ‘like’ is pretty much all I’m looking for now-a-days from a film!
So let’s begin:
cinderella
CINDERELLA (2015) Disney Studios – Every little girl knows this story by heart growing up..it’s truly a little girls fantasy that no matter how crappy things are, you have the chance of one day meeting your ‘prince’. We all bank on it somewhat that it could actually happen. And then you grow up. ha! What surprised me was how much I liked revisiting this version of the story. Richard Madden as “Prince Kit”, (whom I loved and miss as Robb Stark), really made a very believable Prince and Lily James is a quite wonderful “Cinderella”. Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother was perfect, and it’s always nice to see ‘Daisy’ from Downton Abbey (one of my fav. characters of that show) Sophie McShera “Drisella” and Holliday Grainger “Anastasia” doing a fun spin on the wicked stepsisters. Throw in Stellan Skarsgard as the “Grand Duke” and Derek Jacobi as the “King” and you have a well-rounded out cast that brings some new blood & life to this story. And that’s what I liked best of all about it. Told in a little bit more updated version, though not time-wise, but tale-wise, brought it all to life in a really nice wrapped up gift. Was it super fantastic and the best Cinderella story ever told..nah..but it certainly was a nice breath of fresh air and a decent enough way to spend an afternoon reliving the little girl inside of me.

Grade: C+

Next on the list:
Insurgent_poster
INSURGENT (2015) Lionsgate/Summit Ent.
For this one I actually looked back at my review of “Divergent” from back in March of 2014. https://peggyatthemovies.com/2014/03/26/peggyatthemovies-review-of-divergent-2/ .

Basically I could just repeat it almost word for word except for a few minor things.. Like first off how this one was worse, second of all; bad bad casting decision on Naomi Watts as “Evelyn”, Four’s mother. And yes, the lovely Theo James reprising his role here, though annoying enough he kills the best character they had of all as I noted in my Divergent review also, “Eric” (Jai Courtney) this time round. You know my motto, you’re only as good as your villain and Courtney played a good villain.
Miles Teller as “Peter” steps it up some this time, but after you’ve seen him in Whiplash, it’s hard to take this performance seriously as you now know what he’s truly capable of. Ansel Egort “Caleb” is pretty non-existent both in character and performance, and Shailene Woodley coming back as “Tris” is annoyingly bad…again. I mean in an opening scene she decides to chop off all her hair for a new look.. now we know with the hack-knife that she’s using there is no way this is coming out well.. but oh no..not with Shailene..it’s perfectly coiffed hair cut. Please. Stop it.

I didn’t hate the first one, but I liked this one even less and losing a good villain and not adding anyone of consequence..I think I might be out of town, or ya know, busy washing my hair for the next one.

Grade: D

Moving on—
danny collins
DANNY COLLINS (2015) UNIVERSAL

Sigh. I j’adore Al Pacino. I always have. I’ve met him a few times, sat next to him at a movie at Sony once and he shared his candy with me and is truly one of the nicest guys ever. He’s also Al freaking Pacino!!! I mean… enough said right.

Well here he plays “Danny Collins”, an aging rock star who’s manager & best friend “Frank Grubman” (Christopher Plummer) discovers 40 years after the fact, that John Lennon wrote him a letter telling him to basically stay true to himself at what he was doing at the time. Clearly he didn’t and now decides to change his life and sit down and write the songs that were true to him back then, thinking his now-aged audience will want to hear them. They don’t. There is a back story here that I won’t even get into because it’s so passe’ but I will say that Bobby Cannavale as his son “Tom Donnelly” is refreshingly good and I don’t think gets enough credit for his work ever. Annette Benning “Mary Sinclair” as the hotel manager whom Collins is trying to woo into having dinner and maybe more, with him, of course carries herself. Jennifer Garner “Samantha Donnelly” as Tom’s wife holds her own in this company. There are a few really nice, fun moments and as you see them coming a mile away, a few harder ones also, though you pretty much can see in sight what the ending is. In December I went to a screening with a Q & A with Mr. Pacino afterwards of “The Humbling”. This film is almost a cover version of that one except here he is an aging rock star vs. an aging actor.
But ya know what.. no matter as I will always go see an Al Pacino film.

Grade: C-

Neeexxt…
jauja
JAUJA (2014)
I will be deadly honest with you all here. I am not completely sure what this film was even really about. I went because I was invited to a screening with Viggo Mortensen doing a Q & A afterwards and as I am a big fan of his, I thought “sure I’ll go”. Huh.. I think it’s basically a journey of a father, “Gunnar Dineson” (Mortensen) and daughter “Ingebord” (Villbjork Malling Agger) thru a desert though I’m not sure where they are going exactly, and the daughter runs away with her boyfriend in the middle of it, though there is another person they are hunting, or is he hunting them?? And then he meets a witch in a cave while searching for her.. or does he really?? again, completely confused. And then BOOM! all of a sudden it’s present day and it’s the same daughter living in a nice house but without the father. The whole film switches between Danish & Spanish speaking and let’s just all agree to say that I didn’t get it and call me completely lost on this one.. like ‘we have to go back to the island’ LOST. 🙂

I will say Viggo was an absolutely wonderful guy with a lot to talk about. I think he could tell that I might be a little confused by the film and offered to have me to stay for the second screening they were having later. I told a white lie and said I had plans..which I kinda did. They involved me watching the Malaysian Grand Prix a little later. 🙂 And we ended up talking mostly about football aka soccer, as he brought it up when speaking and it turns out we like the same teams. So there ya have it.
Movie grade: D
Conversation with Viggo grade: A 🙂 Viggo

71
’71
Being a fan of Jack O’Connell‘s I saw this film a few weeks back and while for the most part, I liked it, and liked his performance as “Gary Hook” the somewhat dis-oriented British soldier who during a riot on the streets of Belfast during the height of the Irish Catholic/Protestant war i.e., 1971, gets left behind by his unit.
What follows was a bit of a convoluted story for me of him being chased down, beaten up, shot, and surviving a bomb attack all in a matter of what..48hrs. I dunno.. a lot of it just seemed a bit implausible for me. And what’s with him always constantly getting the crap beat out of him in pretty much every single film he’s ever done!! ha! Sorry..sorry.. I know I shouldn’t even be commenting that because this is a serious film..but hey. I call it as I see it.

The side story here is of course religion and how much these people hate each other over it..once again..I’m never that great with these story lines because I’m not religious and can’t imagine killing someone over it. But it’s gone on for thousands of years, and as we all know in Ireland, it was really heavy duty for about 30+ or so years until the ‘peace treaty signed about 17 yrs ago, with this time period truly being the height of it all. There is also a nice sub-plot of crooked police detectives “Sgt. Leslie Lewis” (Paul Anderson), “Capt. Sandy Browning” (Sean Harris) helping both sides in a way and the rest of a good supporting cast including Sam Reid as “Lt. Armitage” who is O’Connell’s commanding officer and seemingly the only person really looking out for him & on his side to find him. This is a rough movie, not altogether great, but it will keep you watching till the end.

Grade: C

Almost to the end..

the salvation
THE SALVATION (2014) IFC Films

Since this just came for a one week run here in L.A. a few weeks ago, I had the chance to catch it on at my favourite art-house theatre, the NuArt. But whoa.. what a film. I mean if one more thing happened to Mads Mikkelson’s character here. Well I just don’t think it would be humanly possible. To put it lightly..this is a dark dark film (yes pun intended) that just takes you places that I probably never want to visit again.

It’s a Western, but not like one you’ve ever seen before because it’s not just Cowboys & Indians here. It’s really like how it must have truly been because there were tons of immigrants coming from all over and settling in as cowboys, though in every Western you’ve ever seen, they just pretend that suddenly everyone was just a regular old southern boy without an accent drifting out West. ZZZzzzzz

Well this one is 1870’s America, the gold rush is on, and this peaceful Danish settler “Jon” (Mads Mikkelson) has been separated from his wife & son for 7 years and finally brings them out to be with him. Literally within an hour of being here, they are kidnapped, his wife raped & murdered & young son also murdered by two degenerates, one of them being a character named “Paul” (Michael Raymond–James). Jon sets out, with his brother “Peter”(Mikael Persbrant) to avenge their deaths and hunts them down and kills them, which then leads to the unleashing of notorious gang leader “Delarue” (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) coming after them as Paul was, unbeknownst to Jon, Delarue’s brother. The really weird townspeople then desert him in his hour of need because they don’t want to die, ends up most of them do. Eva Green is thrown in as a character named “Madelaine” who has her tongue cut out so she doesn’t speak..which doesn’t matter as she really can’t act anyways.. and then comes some really hard core horrible death scenes and basically anything that can go wrong for Jon does, until of course it doesn’t.

This isn’t a great film, it a super depressing one to be honest, but it’s also not horrible. Mads is quite good as a cowboy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan even better possibly as the villain, though you know my motto, you’re only as good a your villain..yeah that doesn’t apply here. Jonathan Pryce “Keane”, Eric Cantona “Corsican”, Sean Cameron Michael “Lester” and Jose Domingos “Raul Delgado” all offer good supporting characters. This film was definitely a mixed bag for me.

Grade: C

50 shades
50 SHADES OF GREY (2015) Focus Features/Universal Pictures

What was the big deal here is all I kept thinking about while watching this film. I thought I was going to be watching the second coming of Deep Throat or some really trumped up S & M film or something the way everyone was going on about it..and all I got was an actually very tame, quite badly done film about this guy, “Christian Grey” (Jamie Dornan) wanting to control this girl “Anatasia Steele” (Dakota Johnson). She’s a literature student who works in a hardware store (of course she does) and he’s a tormented handsome, self-made millionaire businessman..ZZZzzzz oh sorry I drifted off there for a minute just telling with that ridiculous storyline. They are like the new Twilight couple featuring some S & M sex vs. vampires & wolves. Control in the way of having her sign a contract before sex, because he doesn’t spend the night with anyone or have relationships..blah blah blah.. of he does end up doing so, she ends up letting him take her to the ‘The Red Room’ and with some reeaaally bad dialogue thrown in and possibly worse acting, you have the story in a nutshell. I don’t think two people with less chemistry together have made a movie about sex so badly before. And truly, there wasn’t anything hardcore about this. Why all the fuss?? So the guy has a dungeon like room full of sex toys.. a few sex scenes that seriously weren’t that far out there at all. I feel like I must have missed something..but if I did, that’s okay because I will probably miss the next few ones in the trilogy also unless they up their game and their acting ..a lot.

Grade: D

So now you see why I just threw them altogether in one review. I like some, but didn’t love any of them. And now I’m caught up, back and ready to go! 😀
@pegsatthemovies
peggyatthemovies.com

(See grading scale)