Film

The Revenant

by Cap'n Carrot on January 8, 2016 · 0 comments

in Film

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Writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu offers a straightforward tale of survival and revenge based on the true experiences of a frontiersman left for dead in 1823 in South Dakota. Bleak may not be a strong enough word for the film’s tone, but Leonardo DiCaprio makes it work as fur trapper Hugh Glass who struggles to survive after being attacked by a grizzly bear and left for dead by a member (Tom Hardy) of the group who had sworn to look after the wounded man.

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The End of the Tour

by Cap'n Carrot on January 7, 2016 · 0 comments

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end-of-the-tour-blu-rayBased on the memoir Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself in which David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) recounts his experiences meeting and interviewing David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) at the end of the author’s book tour for Infinite Jest, The End of the Tour is character-driven piece centered around the conversations between the two authors twelve years before Wallace’s suicide. Smart, insecure, and low-key (all which could also be used to describe Segel’s character), director James Ponsoldt‘s take on the memoir allows us to see both men at their best and worst (often brought out by their own fears and each other) over a condensed period of time.

Playing on themes of imperfection, ego, self-doubt, envy, and an undeniable need to connect and befriend someone else in your same specialized niche, Ponsoldt and his two stars deliver an engaging movie about nothing more than two writers talking about what they do and how they think.

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Love & Mercy

by Cap'n Carrot on January 5, 2016 · 0 comments

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love-and-mercy-blu-rayLove & Mercy gives us two separate looks at the life of Brian Wilson (played by Paul Dano in the 1960s and John Cusack in the 80s). While the past deals with the beginning of Wilson’s mental instability the later storyline picks up years later with Wilson being taken advantage of by therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti).

Although both stories are interesting by themselves, for me the two parts never came together. Dano is intriguing as the younger version, especially while struggling to create Pet Sounds. Cusack’s doped-up older version of the musician is far less interesting, but that plotline does give us Elizabeth Banks in one of the actress’ best performances. Several pieces and performances of Love & Mercy work well, including how director Bill Pohlad incorporates the Beach Boys‘ music, but the script struggles to merge the two-parts into a compelling whole while simplifying Wilson’s mental illness and Landy’s villainy for dramatic effect.

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2015 was a year for ensembles, strong female-driven stories, real-life drama brought to the big screen, animated features, and surprisingly good science fiction. In a year which proved to hold as many gems before award season as during it, 2015 turned out to be a pretty good year at the movies. Limiting my list to ten there are certainly a number of films worthy of mention that didn’t find a place on this list including the best super-hero film of the year, a journey on Mars, Cold War spy intrigue, and the return of Star Wars, Charlie Brown, and Rocky Balboa all to the big screen. But enough of what didn’t make the cut; let’s count down the best movies of 2015…

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Adapting her own novel, writer Jesse Andrews offers us a look into a year of life of lonely high school senior Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) who has spent his entire high school experience with the sole goal of not pissing anyone off. Acquaintances with several of his classmates, but friend to none, Greg’s only outlet outside the carefully constructed web of calm (that happens to be the exact opposite of his home life) are the movies he makes with Earl (RJ Cyler), a longtime friend (even if Greg refuses to refer to him that way).

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Meru

by Cap'n Carrot on December 29, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Meru documents not one but two attempts by experienced climbers (Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk) to scale the “anti-Everest” of Meru Peak in the Himalayan Mountains using the never-before completed “Shark’s Fin” route known by climbers as one of the hardest routes in the world given the complexities and challenges of the mountain.

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Youth

by Cap'n Carrot on December 25, 2015 · 0 comments

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Writer/director Paolo Sorrentino‘s Youth is the kind of ensemble dramedy you will either buy into immediately or struggle to make any connection to throughout its two-hour running time. My experience with the film falls into the later category. Sorrentino’s script gives us an odd collection of characters at an otherworldly resort in the Swiss Alps. The main storylines revolve around retired composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and his relationships to his best friend filmmaker Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) and Fred’s daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz).

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Concussion

by Cap'n Carrot on December 25, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Adapting Jeanne Marie Laskas’ 2009 GQ article, Concussion delivers the film the NFL doesn’t want you to see this Christmas. Beginning with Nigerian-American forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu‘s (Will Smith) autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster (David Morse) which will create a new category of degenerative disease known as CTE, writer/director Peter Landesman‘s film focuses more on the effect of Omalu’s work as the work itself.

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The Danish Girl

by Cap'n Carrot on December 25, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Adapted from the novel of the same name by David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl is a movie that is constantly telling the audience it is an important movie without ever showing us why. The movie gives us the story of artist husband and wife Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) and Einar’s struggle with his own sexual identity leading him to take on the identity of Lili Elbe.

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Joy

by Cap'n Carrot on December 25, 2015 · 0 comments

in Film

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Written and directed by David O. Russell, Joy gives us the story of a New York single mother and her miraculous invention that changed her life. Jennifer Lawrence stars as the title character Joy Mangano in a role that allows her to showcase far more of her talents than the Hunger Games franchise. The movie is completely built around Lawrence’s performance, and on her back it succeeds.

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