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Due to an overdue and long vacation of seeing friends, family and celebrating the 4th, I am terribly behind on movie reviews. Therefore, this post shall be condensed and shortened like the microwaved version of your favorite dish.

Film: Iron Man 3 Director: Shane Black Viewed: 5.16.13

ironman3 via google

Not bad. I watched an action film! Why am I shouting this you ask? Because I typically loathe action films especially ones chock full with superhero one-liners, dainty damsels in distress and cliche plots. It’s sort of complicated. My childhood urges brings me to the ticket counter, and my adulthood skepticism drags me through until the credits roll out. Nonetheless, it would be a lie if I didn’t state that Iron Man 3 was fun and entertaining through its’ entirety. Robert Downey Jr.’s acting chops along with the cute kid yanked some giggles out of memore than once. However, in my opinion, the most enjoyable character was the false villain portrayed by Ben Kingsley as “The Mandarin.” As for the plot, well… you know what happens. All in all for a superhero action film, it wasn’t bad. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Film: The Great Gatsby Director: Baz Luhrman Viewed: 5.18.13

greatgatsby viagoogle

Meehhh. This is the sound I made right after watching Great Gatsby. The expectations were high due to word from several sources (some credible) and perhaps, too high to be fulfilled even by Leo’s illustrious baby blues. Point is, I wanted to enjoy this movie but instead was distracted by the constant glitz & glam, Vietnam flashbacks of Romeo & Juliet, clashing music and a consistent lack of emotion for any of the characters. I kept asking myself, “Why don’t I give a damn about any of these people?” Oh that’s right, Baz does not allow for things like elusiveness, suspense, multi-faceted characters or God forbid, a relatable story to happen. Rather, he gets Tobey Maguire to tell you how you’re supposed to feel. And what a let down of a narrating voice that was. As for acting, DiCaprio is wonderful in his role as Gatsby (even though the Tobes told me to say that). I can clearly recall feeling honest moments in the film twice. The first came in the form of a chuckle when Gatsby was nervous about reuniting with Daisy and clumsily knocks over Nick’s clock on the mantle and secondly, when Daisy’s arrogant husband Tom confronts Gatsby about his scheming ways. That’s it. Deserving-ly so, this film racks up a mere 6 out of 10.

Film: Monsters University Director: Dan Scanlon Viewed: 7.6.13

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY viagoogle

Seriously fun. If could bet on Pixar like a 9 on a roulette board, odds are I’d be filthy rich. The people at Pixar know exactly what to do and how to do it well. Speaking as an adult in a kid filled theater, I can, without hesitation, confirm that I enjoyed the movie and laughed at the same parts as much as any snotty nosed 8 year old did. Though the concept is the same as Monsters Inc., it was really fun to transition to MIke’s and Sulley’s earlier years as students yearning to become potential “scarers” at the prestigious Monsters University. While attending they end up joining a fraternity compiled of a band of misfits, one of them voice acted by Charlie Day (who is hilarious on his line deliveries)! Each of them learn to accept their flaws and turn them into advantages. With lessons to be learned and cuteness to be awed at, Monsters University is a hit. That being said, it was a continuum of it’s sequel and fresh material/ premises were undeniably lacking. I give it a cheerful 8 out of 10.

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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.

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