Currently browsing the "based on a true story" tag.

Quickie Review: Silk Road

Silk Road starts with a disclaimer. “This story is true. Except for what we made up or changed.” In other words, creative and dramatic license was required to turn this cyber crime story into something resembling a crime thriller. We’ve got the suspect’s IP address!! Woo-hoo!

Review: The Last Vermeer

The Last Vermeer is part arty and part mainstream, with familiar elements of both a post-WWII period drama and a courtroom drama. I liked it okay, but couldn’t help feeling like I’d seen it all before. I’d certainly seen the film’s lead actor, Claes Bang, immersed in the art world before – three months ago in The Burnt Orange Heresy, and in 2017’s Palme D’Or winner, The Square. Bang always does a bang-up job in these roles, but c’mon, there are many more worlds to explore!

Review: I Still Believe

I Still Believe is squarely aimed at the faith-based crowd and fans of popular Christian music singer Jeremy Camp. So if you fall into that particular demographic, then I do believe that I Still Believe will strike a chord. It tells the true-life story of Camp’s meet-cute and instant attraction to Melissa, a fellow student at Calvary Chapel Bible College in California. They married in 2000, and she died four months later of ovarian cancer at the age of 21. The personal tragedy inspired Camp to write what would become a hit worship song called – you guessed it – “I Still Believe.”

Brittany Runs a Marathon

Brittany Runs a Marathon starts off strong and finishes with a flourish of feels. But the “inspirational comedy” – inspired by true events – veers off course a few times as the film struggles with the same sort of identity crisis that plagues its lead character, Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell). She’s funny. She’s misunderstood. She’s everyone’s best friend. She’s her own worst enemy. She’s motivational. She’s mean. She’s broken. She’s fixed.

Review: Blinded by the Light

I’m a devoted Springsteen fan. I’ve seen him in concert several times, recently spent a boatload of cash to see him on Broadway – twice – and easily recall popping a ‘Born in the USA’ cassette tape in and out of my Sony Walkman throughout the mid-1980s. So when it comes to the film Blinded by the Light, I totally get it. The Boss – and this cinematic tribute to his music, message and influence – both rock.

Review: El Ángel

Set in Buenos Aires in 1971, El Ángel is a true crime drama about a baby-faced teenage sociopath named Carlitos (Lorenzo Ferro) whose love for thievery blossomed into a passion for cold-blooded murder when he met fellow student Ramon (Chino Darin). It’s a truly disturbing portrait of a kid totally devoid of a moral compass. And you’re on the edge of your seat the whole way because you just know he and his accomplices will (and should) be caught.

Review: Shock and Awe

The most shocking thing about Shock and Awe is how shockingly flat it turned out to be, given the star-power behind it as well as the timeliness of its core message about the role of the free press in a democracy. With a cast list that includes Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Tommy Lee Jones and actor/director Rob Reiner, the biggest question you’re left with after the film is the same question raised in the film itself: How the hell did this happen? It should have been so much better – so more people might actually see it.

Quickie Reviews: Only the Brave; Marshall

Only the Brave is a solid, engaging drama that is all the more impactful in light of the recent wildfires in California. Fire is as much a character in Only the Brave as the 20 Granite Mountain Hotshots– and their families – to which the film pays tribute by sharing the true story of the elite firefighting unit, and their sacrifice on June 30, 2013. Nineteen of the men died trying to protect their community from the historic Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. One survived. The movie, based on a 2013 GQ article, features a strong ensemble cast led by the ruggedly charming Josh Brolin as Hotshot supervisor and father figure Eric Marsh. Miles Teller (Whiplash, Bleed for This, and the upcoming Thank You For Your Service) gets one of the more prominent sub-plots as Brendan, a young man with a troubled past who’s determined to turn his life around. He gets his second chance with the Granite Mountain Hotshots (think Top Gun with firefighters instead of fighter pilots).

Review: Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes is okay, but far from the grand slam I was rooting for. I love the story, especially because it’s true: tennis great Billie Jean King agrees to play ex-champ and self-professed male chauvinist pig Bobby Riggs in a high-profile televised event and kicks his butt, scoring a huge victory for the women’s rights movement in the 1970s. That’s not a spoiler. It’s a well-known fact in sports history. Unfortunately, without the dramatic climax that typically drives a sports drama, Battle of the Sexes is forced to look for bonus points off the court. They include: an exploration of Billie Jean’s sexual awakening as a lesbian and the strain that puts on her marriage; Bobby’s marital woes, childish antics and addiction to gambling; and, my favorite part of the film, Billie Jean’s willingness to take a stand for equal rights and social justice by, in part, organizing other players to break from the establishment and form the Women’s Tennis Association.

Review: Megan Leavey – A True(ish) Tale about a Marine and her Dog

Megan Leavey feels like a movie that started out as a pet project, gained momentum as a pet project, and made it to the big screen as a pet project, complete with some decent actors and, in the case of the screening I attended, a heartfelt introduction from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. His office was instrumental in helping real-life Marine corporal Megan Leavey adopt Rex, the bomb-sniffing dog that served alongside her in Iraq. If you’re a sucker for a tale about a woman and her dog, then Megan Leavey is there for ya. Hoorah.