Flight

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

I would rate Denzel higher, as he is the movie, other than the remarkable flight crash (no spoiler!) scene at the outset. I cringed during this ultra-realistic flight crash, and will try to forget it by the time I take my next flight. This movie is more enjoyable than Leaving Las Vegas where it was just painful to watch Nicholas Cage drink himself to death. Flight has a predictable story arc, where Denzel needs to hit rock bottom as an alcoholic (flight pilot!), but he makes it captivating while the focus is on the post-flight investigation (was he drunk!), and his union rep and lawyer try to help him clear the charges. One side note: is anyone else bothered as I am by Denzel’s tooth situation? He’s always working his mouth, and it’s distracting to me, then the big teeth sometimes seem to get in his way when talking. Denzel will probably get an Oscar nomination, because he takes the ultimate sacrifice of any Hollywood actor trying to show he’s a great actor: he lets loose with a flabby body, and loses any six pack abs he may have chiseled (with trainer, cook and whatever supplements are needed) in prior action films. His character here is conveyed by his body, and expressions as much as his dialogue. Let’s see Tom Cruise match that!

Silver Linings Playbook

Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

Very well done, thanks to superb casting of Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert Deniro. The story is straightforward – manic guy meets cute depressed girl, while his parents try to keep him centered and calm – but it’s elevated by the great chemistry, the captivating Lawrence

amid not terrible sub-plots: dance contest and dad Deniro is rabid Philadelphia Eagles fan who bets the farm. I really enjoyed it, especially the couple of moments where one of the leads gets upset in their own intense way. Not a depressing movie, and in fact, an uplifting message (no spoiler since it’s in the trailer).

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

I also liked this movie.

In addition to good performances by Lawrence, Cooper and De Niro, I also enjoyed Jacki Weaver (Cooper’s mother), John Ortiz (Cooper’s long time friend) and Chris Tucker (Cooper’s friend from the mental institution). This was Tucker’s first screen appearance in 5 years. To drive home the point that lots of people have issues in our hyperactive world, all of the characters in this movie have their own problems to deal with.

As Bill points out, Russell made some interesting plot points as director, but the very end gets pretty formulaic for a romantic comedy. I felt the final little bit of advice from De Niro (also shown in the previews) was unnecessary, but overall I really enjoyed and recommend this movie.

IMDB

Rotten tomatoes

The Sessions

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 put of 5

The Sessions is a touching movie based on the autobiographical writings of Mark O’Brien.  O’Brien was a writer who spent most of his time each day in an iron lung after coming down with polio at the age of 6.  At 38, he decides to lose his virginity with the help of a sex surrogate. This is a well-told story, with some humor thrown in, of a man who despite the his terrible misfortune strives to get and give the most out of life.

The performances by John Hawkes (as O’Brien) and Helen Hunt as the sex surrogate are excellent. The physical limitations of his character makes Hawkes’ performance even more impressive.

While not for everyone, The Sessions is a very good and emotionally uplifting movie.

IMDB

RottenTomaotes

Skyfall

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

Roger Ebert called this a film that reinvigorates Bond, and I totally agree. From the beginning scene it made me smile, with a fresh car/motorcycle chase scene – on top of Istanbul roofs, through the markets, on top of a train! I would think after all these years, and the Bourne movies, that chase scenes could not be new, but Sam Mendes, the director, out does all expectations. Judi Dench has a big role as M, and she knocks it out of the park. Daniel Craig is perfect, starting out as a burnout, and then coming back to save the day. Most Bond movies are known for the distinctiveness and quirks of their villains, and here Javier Bardem comes up with a doozy. I won’t explain what he’s obsessed with, but it’s believable with a cool back story (I have a bone to pick with that, mainly the fact that he’s clearly not English-born, wondering how he could have gained the position he once had). And there’s fresh blood with a young computer geek as Q and Ralph Feinnes as M’s beaurocratic boss, Mallory. The female counterparts are great as well, with Berenice Marlohe as the femme fatale

and Naomie Harris as Bond’s sharpshooting colleague Eve

The story slows down towards the end, before building up to a fiery and in my mind perfect ending.

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5

I didn’t like Skyfall as much as Bill.   The opening set piece was great.  Delving into Bond’s backstory a little was good.  The Bond girls were good (although they seem to play less of a role than in old Bond movies).  I thought Daniel Craig and Javier  Bardem were good.  Although while I liked Bardem’s acting I thought this was one of the weaker Bond super villains since his goal was not world domination.

I did have problems with parts of the plot and script.    While I happily suspend disbelief (as required for these types of moves) about their ability to survive the action sequences (including riding motorcycles at full speed on roofs, jumping on to a moving train, driving the wrong way at full speed through traffic, not getting hit when automatic weapons are being fired at you, somehow picking out the door the master criminal went through, etc.  I cannot silently sit by when they  imply that MI6 is as  incompetent as this move makes them out to be.  I’ve seen too many Bond movies for that! (See spoiler alert section for one example).

As for the script, at one point  M gave a speech about how the threats the world faces today are different and we need to be vigilant.  Doe anyone not know this?

Ah, I just figured out the other thing that was gnawing at me.  The plot of the old grizzled crimefighter being burned out, shirking his duties and dropping off the grid for a while before coming back  to action seemed like something I had just seen.  Batman!!

Despite the major  bitching and moaning it is still a Bond movie and the action is good so if you’re into this type of movie you should think about going.

SPOILER ALERT ON: Do not read anymore if yo have not seen the movie! Clearly, I’ve been working for IBM too long.  When MI6 recovers the computer of a master computer hacker  who has already hacked the MI6 computers  you would expect them to  treat that computer with extreme care.  Instead I watch in disbelief as  the new young whipper snapper Q  connects it to the MI6 computer network without a care in the world!! With what appears to be multiple ethernet cables!!  I’ll take the experienced old Q any day (if he hadn’t died) over the new  arrogant, know it all one.
SPOILER ALERT OFF.

 IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

I really enjoyed this coming-of-age movie about a shy high freshman trying to come to terms with issues in his life and the friends he makes that help to bring him out of his shell. This movie has been out a while and is an art house movie but, if you can find it, definitely go.

This movie is at times sweet, sad, and funny and does a good job of showing what the high school experience can be like. Logan Lerman from the Percy Jackson movies does a good job as the shy freshman dealing with some issues.  It’s a nuanced performance that shows his highs and lows. Emma Watson (Hermione from Harry Potter) and Ezra Miller play seniors with issues of their own who befriend him.  Both are very good but I thought Ezra Miller was excellent. He was also great last year in We Need To Talk About Kevin and is an actor to watch.

 Bill I’s Review – 4.5 out of 5

If you are a teenager you should see this movie. If you once were a teenager you should see this movie. If you are not yet a teenager, you should wait, otherwise you might not want to be a teenager.

On its surface, this film is filled with cliches: the bullied high school kid, the jock bullies who love to trip the nerd carrying his lunch tray, the band of outcasts who befriend him, the gay best friend, the female “best friend” who is slotted (in his mind at least) to eventually become his girl friend, the search for ending his virginity…BUT, it’s got an amazing sense of life, captured in a few perfect scenes, that makes you realize that cliches are based on the truest reality. Ezra Miller plays the gay best friend as an original character, exciting, charismatic, and so genuine you will be amazed. Emma Watson, as the queen of the outcasts is similarly captivating. You won’t for a second wonder why the main character (Logan Lerman) falls so in love that he’s at times speechless in her presence. The parents are not cliches, they are believably distracted and ignorant to the day-to-day trials their son is going through, all the while thinking they are super sensitive to his emotional life due to past events. The brother and sister, while given so little screen time and less dialogue, are amazingly shown as real people and will bring tears to your eyes. Finally, you realize that this is a movie driven by child abuse, and what people do to get over it, or not get over it. I won’t give away the incredible moment when the viewer realizes what’s happened, but it gave me insight into what kids go through and try to regain a normal life. I considered giving this film a 4 star review, but realized it’s better than other 4 star movies in its essence.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes