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Film: MUD Director: Jeff Nichols Viewed: 5.3.13

Jeff Nichols has directed impressive films such as “Take Shelter” (a personal fave)  and “Shotgun Stories.” Nichols did not disappoint with his newest feature, “Mud.” The film is set in his home state of Arkansas and captures the true Midwestern culture. As a Midwest guy himself, Nichols is one of the few directors that truly understands rural America and is fully capable of expressing this through film. The movie stars Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland as the two adventurous young boys, Ellis and Neckbone. In addition, Matthew McConaughey stars as Mud, the elusive man stuck out on an island, and Reese Witherspoon as Juniper, the down and out love interest.

 “A lot of junk comes down the river. Some of it can be worth of a lot of money after you clean it up, but a lot of it is just junk. You need to know what things aren’t worth keeping.”

mud via Google images

The Stuffing: The two boys, Ellis and Neckbone, venture out on the river to an island in which they have discovered an old boat wedged in a tree. The boys claim the boat and decide to find a way to lower and fix it. They soon realize they are not alone on the island when Mud appears, ragged and dirty. He confesses to the boys that he is wanted for murdering an man who abused his love, Juniper. He later proposes to them that if they help him fix up the boat, he would in return give them his .45 pistol. In the midst of bringing supplies and food for Mud, Ellis is struggling to define and interrupt love when he observes his parents going through a potential divorce, his upper grade girlfriend rejects him, and he witnesses contradictions between Mud’s and Juniper’s stories. Tensions rise as a collective amount of actions progress: bounty hunters are on Mud’s heels, the boat moves closer to functionality, Juniper’s hesitance to commit heightens and Ellis’ continual unstable home life all drive the viewer to the edge of their seat.

Mud, via Google images

The Overall: There is so much more to the movie than I can explain in a single paragraph. This film was well paced and full of impact. Jeff Nichols takes you on a sweet journey, one of which you would hear from your grandfather with an impressive resume. The story is one of adventures and romanticism and one that can only be best seen through a child’s view. Overall, I give the movie a 9 out of 10.

Film: The Place Beyond the Pines Director: Derek Cianfrance Viewed: 4.13.13

The Place Beyond the Pines tells the relationship story of fathers and sons. The film is set in the city of Schenectady (New York) which loosely loosely translates into English as “place beyond the pine plains.” The film stars Ryan Gosling as Luke Glanton, a tattooed motorcycle stuntman with not much of a future, and Bradley Cooper as Avery Cross, a nervous, educated young cop. The film is really split into three different stories, yet interconnecting all the while.

via Google images

via Google images

Part 1: The first part of this story primarily involves the relationship between Luke and Romina, played by Eva Mendes. After a fling that happened an undisclosed amount of time ago, Luke returns to the town of Schenectady with a traveling fair. Luke contributes to the fair as a motorcycle act, one in which he rides in an enclosed metal ball with two other riders. Yes, it is dangerous and yes he is a badass so to speak. Other than his riding skills, Luke doesn’t have much else going for him until he finds out Ro (Romina) has a child by him. Luke abandons his traveling gig and establishes residency in Schenectady to attempt to raise his child and win back Ro from her current beau. He makes a friend named Robin, played by Ben Mendelsohn, who is just excellent in his role as a run-down auto repair man. When Luke determines he can’t provide for Ro and his baby, Robin convinces him that robbing banks was a plausible option due to his superb riding capabilities. I won’t ruin what happens but from here part 2 comes in.

via Google images

via Google images

Part 2: The second portion of the movie is Avery Cross’s story. After getting a college degree in law, Avery decides to join the police department of Schenectady despite his wife, Jennifer (played by Rose Byrne), and his father’s disapproval. Six months into his job, he crosses (no pun intended) paths with Luke. In addition to that, he soon finds out the dark secrets of the crooked department and has to deal with the dilemma of toughing it out or going to his father for help.

via Google images

via Google images

Part 3: The final story of the film involves the two 15 year old sons of Luke and Avery. Jason (Luke’s son) and AJ (Avery’s son) are a couple of outcast high school-ers who have things in common like drug usage and confusing father figures. They soon find out their pasts and the history of their fathers which explains how the boys were shaped into the people they are today.

The Overall: I enjoyed this film IMMENSELY. Derek Cianfrance has impressed me greatly and has, for me, earned a Best Director nomination. The acting is superb, and I mean every single cast member. The story is one of families and secrets and sometimes dark pasts. It’s one that anyone can relate to and is solidified even more so by the authenticity of the performances. Overall, I give the movie a 9 out of 10.

Film: Side Effects Director: Steven Soderbergh Viewed: 3.2.13

Steven Soderbergh has done it again. He has directed so many great films and this one, Side Effects, is rumored to be his last. Noooooo! Side Effects is a smart psychological thriller about a woman, Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), who is re-united with her newly-released jailbird husband Martin (Channing Tatum) after four years. Martin had pulled a Martha, insider trading of course. Shortly following his return, Emily becomes diagnosed with depression after attempting suicide by running her vehicle into a wall in a parking garage. Her psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) prescribes her several types of anti-depressant medication until finally reaching one that worked (Ablixa), along with medication to aid in her side effects to the anti-depression fix.

 “In the U.K. if you’re seeing a psychiatrist it is assumed you’re sick. In America, if you’re seeing a psychiatrist it is assumed you’re getting better.”

image via Google

image via Google

At First Glance: Some thoughts prior to my viewing: 1) This looks A LOT like Contagion. 2) No, not Channing Tatum! I don’t care how many abs he’s got, he’s the worst. 3) Depression is over-diagnosed; I wonder how the film will address this.

But wait, there’s more!

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