Currently browsing the "Shailene Woodley" tag.

Review: The Mauritanian

This drama based on Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s NY Times best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary” tells the story of a man swept up in the US government’s post-9/11 frenzy to find the perpetrators. Slahi was renditioned into Guantánamo and suspected of recruiting for al Qaeda. He spent years there without being charged or tried, in a horrible limbo. And he’d still be there if not for gutsy defense attorney Nancy Hollander who took on his case. Jodie Foster plays Hollander. But the one that keeps you watching is Tahar Rahim who plays Slahi. Rahim burst on the scene in 2009 in the French film The Prophet where he also played a prisoner. But here he plays a much more nuanced character, fighting for his life against seemingly insurmountable odds. He’s the reason to see this somewhat familiar legal thriller.

Review: Adrift

Adrift (not to be confused with the 2006 horror drama Open Water 2: Adrift) is a meet-cute swept into a Perfect Storm. It’s based on the true story of Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), a couple of young adventure-seekers who encountered a catastrophic hurricane while sailing a 44-foot yacht from Tahiti to San Diego in 1983. The couple was left stranded – injured and adrift – in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. For 41 days.

Snowden

Unless you never watch the news or have been hiding under a rock for several years, you’ve probably heard of Edward Snowden. A gripping documentary called Citizen Four was made about him in 2013 and won the 2015 Oscar. Here’s what I said about that film:

In January of 2013, filmmaker Laura Poitras began receiving emails from a mysterious person who only identified himself as “citizenfour” and who had information about US government surveillance on a scale unheard of in history. A few months later, after a number of encrypted email exchanges, Poitras headed to Hong Kong along with journalist Glenn Greenwald to meet the sender. The rest is history. Waiting for them in a hotel room was Edward Snowden who would hand them evidence of massive citizen surveillance and data mining by the NSA and other government agencies, and would expose our global cyber-spy program.

Oliver Stone’s new movie Snowden begins in that hotel with Poitras (Melissa Leo) and Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and flashes back to Snowden’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tortured path to this clandestine meeting. The film succeeds in telling its story without becoming a typical Oliver Stone polemic. Whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant

Here’s the deal. It doesn’t really matter what I think of Allegiant, the third installment of the Divergent series franchise, based on the best-selling books by Veronica Roth. It only matters what the target audience thinks. So, with that in mind (and due to a scheduling conflict on my part), I sent a member of said target audience to watch the movie in my place, and here’s what she had to say:

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is incredibly faithful to the stellar book, and that’s both good and bad. At times, the stars (the human, not celestial ones) feel like they’re doing a straight re-enactment of the best-selling novel by John Green. The book, and movie tell the story of two teenagers, Hazel and Gus, who share an acerbic wit, a healthy dose of sarcasm, and a battle against cancer. They meet in a support group that they both disdain, and quickly fall in love. They are soul mates on borrowed time.

Divergent

Okay, I guess there is room for another young adult movie franchise that centers around a strong female character battling to survive in a dystopian futuristic society. Divergent doesn’t rise to the level of The Hunger Games, but it should satisfy fans of the best-selling book by Veronica Roth. The movie doesn’t offer up anything particularly fresh character or story-wise (compared to the aforementioned Hunger Games), but it survives – and will likely thrive- because the actors are all quite good. Especially the lead actress, Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, The Spectacular Now).

The Descendants

If you’re looking for an adult movie that can appeal to the mainstream, adventurous and arty crowd this holiday weekend, then I highly encourage you to seek out The Descendants. It’s got George Clooney. Need I say more? Actually, I do need to say more – because this is Clooney at his best. He delivers a powerfully low-key performance as a fairly regular guy named Matt King who is forced to step it up as a father when his wife suffers catastrophic injuries in a boating accident. As she lies comatose in a hospital bed, Matt is left to process her impending death, comfort and support his rebellious and rambunctious daughters, and oversee the difficult sale of a large piece of pristine land that his Hawaiian ancestors left in a family trust (thus the title, The Descendants). On top of that, he learns his wife had been having an affair.