Monday, January 27, 2014

Safe Haven

This is a classic film. And by classic, I mean standard, nothing new and plain. Girl on the run from her troubled past relocates to small east coast fishing town. She meets a new guy, has a friendly new neighbor to mentor her through small town life and she settles in. Troubled past returns. New guy and new town rally to save the day. They live happily ever after.
2 stars (out of 5)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Butler

Forest Whitaker is Cecil Gaines, the White House butler for 8 presidents. This is a tale of the life of Cecil. But more so it is the story of American History and how historical events are really just a series of actions by individuals who care. Through the development of Civil Rights to the opposition to Vietnam, these huge movements are made of individuals making individual decisions. And it turns out that the "movement" is not what changes things, but individual relationship is what changes the thinking of another individual. Whitaker does an excellent job of showing with a glance or a facial twitch how he has softened or changed his mind based on his knowing an individual. Well done.
4 stars (out of 5)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

Set in the 80's at the onset of HIV/AIDS development as a widespread and largely untreatable disease. Matthew McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a real Texan, in all the best and worst senses. He is a hard living, hard partying, rodeo loving, gambling, homophobe. He is also unwilling to die standing still and commits fully to making life better for those with HIV/AIDS. When he is diagnosed and give 30 days to live, he is not satisfied with the treatment options. So he becomes an amatur expert and starts a membership club to provide alternative treatments for those with HIV/AIDS. He battles the FDA, DEA, and local Texans he used to call friends. Along the way, he discovers people, and helps other people discover as well. McConaughey is outstanding again in this film. Be warned, in spite of the fact that Woodroof becomes a better person and is an extremely sympathetic character, this is not a happy film.
4 stars (out of 5)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Wow. Best film I have seen all year... and last year probably as well. Been thinking I wanted to watch The Straight Story again, but now I don't need to. Shot in black and white and using it to full effect in the sweeping views of the central farming plains in winter. Bruce Dern and Will Forte play a father-son duo on a journey of discovery. Dern's character believes he has won a million dollars and is making his way to Nebraska to pick it up. Forte is pulled into the journey to drive him. The heart of this film takes place in Hawthorne, Dern's hometown. Family relationships, old friends, differing and missing memories all come together as we explore the meaning of love and family.
5 stars (out of 5)