Currently browsing the "Paul Giamatti" tag.

Straight Outta Compton

I really liked this film, even though I’m not normally a fan of hip hop, because it has a great story and great characters and, I have to admit, some great music. It’s a bio-drama about a group of friends in one of Los Angeles’s rougher neighborhoods who got together in the mid-80s and used hip hop to describe their lives and spread their truth and were blown away by the incredible reception to their message. They became huge stars and changed the music industry. And all these years later, the racism and discrimination they were reacting to in their music feels just as relevant.

Love & Mercy

I will admit right up front that I was never a fan of The Beach Boys. So I put this film off and that was a mistake. While Brian Wilson may be the central character, Love & Mercy is much more than the story of a famous boy band. It’s a sweet redemptive love story wrapped in a harrowing tale of mental illness. It stars John Cusack and Paul Dano as Wilson at different key periods in his life. And both of them deserve high praise for their portrayals of the creative genius with enormous problems. Not being a fan of the music, I was surprised by how beautifully it was put together and ultimately how much I liked this film.

San Andreas

It’s really not my fault that I cracked up a few times while the ground was shaking and buildings were collapsing out the wazoo. San Andreas is totally cheesy – and knows it. And that sort of makes it okay. It doesn’t have the same guilty-pleasure appeal as Furious 7 (that other recently-released action-adventure movie with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), but it is what it claims to be: a formulaic disaster movie that showcases the Rock’s ‘sensitive’ side.

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is a thoroughly enjoyable film that doesn’t fit into any particular genre. It’s a ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ blend of drama, wit and biopic, inspired by true events. The film sheds light on a years-long effort by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) to convince a difficult and cynical British author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to let him bring her iconic “Mary Poppins” children’s book to the big screen. It was not an easy sell.

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is a film based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free middle class black musician who lived in upstate New York in the first half of the nineteenth century. It is the nightmare tale of his abduction and sale into slavery, and his 12-year fight to survive and rejoin his family. The film is filled with ugly brutality and Northup, who is forced by the slave traders to go by another name, is systematically dehumanized and has to hide his true educated self, since that could mean a death sentence for him. A lot of it is hard to watch, but the violence is integral to the story, and it is definitely graphic but never gratuitous.

Turbo

Gotta love a good underdog movie, especially when the underdog is a snail. Sure, Turbo is predictable and formulaic, but it’s also cute and sweet and fun, with a winning message: No dream is too big. No dreamer, too small. Aw shucks. What can I say? Turbo is a solid entry in the animated field of kid-friendly flicks for summer. Just ask our Special Guest Chicklet, 10-year-old Raquel Sklar. Here’s her two cents:

Cosmopolis

I was really tempted to write just a two word review for Cosmopolis: “Don’t bother.” But then I thought I should probably explain myself. You’re either going to find this movie a pretentious, claustrophobic slog through hell or an artful commentary on contemporary capitalist excess. You can guess where I stand. I hated it.

Rock of Ages

If you are a child of the 80s and a fan of musicals, you will most likely love Rock of Ages. (Take note Mainstream Chick.) If, like me, you are a child of the 80s and not a big fan of musicals, you will still really like this movie. It’s over-the-top campy fun with a soundtrack that will have you singing along. And honestly your singing will be almost as good as most of the actors’ singing. That’s my major quibble with the movie; I wish the voices had been stronger.

The Ides of March

The Ides of March is a decent adult drama, but it’s also a depressing commentary on the state of our political system. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a republican, democrat, independent or ‘other’ – the movie is likely to leave you with the impression that we’re all pawns in a political game that’s essentially run by a select group of strategists who will do whatever is necessary to achieve victory for their candidate du jour.

Win Win

Win Win is a real winner that deserves (but may have to struggle for) mainstream traction. It’s like an indie, blue-collar version of The Blind Side that finds its heart and humor in everyday characters and actions.