Showing posts from October, 2011

Snapshots - #42: Thor: Ragnarok, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, LBJ

Thor: Ragnarok (2017), (♦♦♦♦½): Thor has saved earth twice by now and has, for the last two years, wandered the universe searching for infinity stones. He hasn't found any. He has, however, become prisoner of an enemy of Asgard, Surtur, who tells Thor that his visions of Asgard engulfed in flames is a premonition of Ragnarok—the destruction of Asgard, which is already in motion. Thor frees himself and arrives at home to find Loki sitting on the throne, passing as Odin, and neglecting his duties to protect the Nine Realms. With Odin's exile, Asgard's enemies have been reassembling, but Odin's death may just free Hela, a goddess against whom neither Thor nor Loki are enough.
It was in Thor: The Dark World where Loki, an antagonist, first threatened to steal the show. He became the villain that Marvel fandom loves to hate. While Loki is at his most charming in this film, the director, with the help of a sparkling screenplay, has very much exploited the great chemistry of t…

Josephine by Leslie Micone (♦♦♦)

Thirty-five year-old Betty Morrison, a native of New Jersey, lost her father ten years ago. Her mother, still reeling from the loss of her husband, has moved to Florida. Furthermore, her maternal grandmother has moved to New England and lost touch.

One night, Betty roams the streets of her hometown and ends up in Maple Tree Lane, an unknown street where she sees the ruins of a mansion that appear to have a strange effect on her. In her home’s attic, Betty discovers a photograph of her maternal great-grandmother Josephine, about whom she knows nothing. Henceforth, Betty starts digging in her family history--to uncover Josephine’s life story and final resting place--with the help of friends and people who knew her family from way back.

Helped by Limbcruck, a man with supernatural powers, Betty has glimpses of Josephine’s life, both awake and while asleep. Ultimately, Limbcruck recruits Ethan, a smooth talking ghost, to tell Betty the story of Josephine, starting from the time she marri…

The Ides of March (♦♦♦♦½)

Democrat congressman Mike Morris (George Clooney) is running a campaign to win the presidential primaries in Ohio. Despite his idealism, he is the underdog in the race. Morris has a great support team with Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) as his campaign manager and Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) as press secretary.

Stephen is loved by friends and foes alike; he is handsome and charismatic, the camera loves him. What better guy to take off the race? When Morris’ political rival’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), tempts Stephen to come to work for him, Stephen temporarily considers it setting in motion a chain of events that will change the course of the election.

This is the best movie of the year thus far. It is a strong 4 rating, leaning dangerously towards 5. I really liked this film, not only due to its contemporary resonance, but to the tremendous performances delivered by the entire cast. As you may have inferred by now, I love Ryan Gosling; he is no doubt the most…

Abduction (♦♦♦)

Nathan Harper (Taylor Lautner) is a teenager with anger management issues for which he is seeing a psychiatrist. His father trains him in personal combat in his spare time. Because of a school sociology project, where he is assigned to search web sites listing missing persons, he learns that the people he has known all his life as his birth parents are not.

When Nathan contacts the web master, his address is tracked and his adopted parents are killed. Suddenly, Nathan is on the run and he can trust very few people among them Karen (Lily Collins), his high school crush, and his psychiatrist (Sigourney Weaver), who turns out to be a CIA agent. Why is the CIA tracking Nathan and Karen? But most importantly, why are some people intent on killing Nathan?

There are few scenes meant to show Taylor Lautner’s perfect abdomen, just as in Twilight. He has great chemistry with Lily Collins and a few hot kissing scenes prove it. The action and running are good, mediocre really, but the reason why…

Moneyball (♦♦♦♦)

Billy Beane, former baseball player, now General Manager of Oakland’s Athletics, has to deal with budget constraints. Facing the loss of his three star players to other teams, he has to replace them, but can’t pay high salaries that major franchises in the league can afford.

Billy Beane meets Peter Brand, a graduate of economics from Yale, who focuses on statistics rather than personalities. By removing the human factor and focusing purely on players’ performances, Brand is able to predict winning games. Beane forms a team that successfully beats the odds and critics to set the record for consecutive wins in a season, thus changing the rules of the game.

There are magnificent performances in this film, starting with Brad Pitt--whose acting is a tour-de-force—and his wingmen Jonah Hill (welcome to the big leagues!) and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The script is funny at times, but overall provides all the drama and excitement deriving from our favorite past-time. It is an emotional, uplift…

Drive (♦♦♦½)

A “driver” is a key element to successfully carry out a heist. Enter Ryan Gosling as a gifted driver who knows L.A. streets inside and out, and always delivers his cargo safely home. Driver has a part-time job in the movie business and a full-time career as a car mechanic.

Driver meets Irene, a pretty neighbor with a kid, whose husband is in jail. Driver and Irene enjoy going out together, but then her husband is freed. When Driver finds Irene’s husband beat almost to death for a prison debt, he chooses to help.

With that purpose they carry out a heist, but it goes horribly wrong. When Irene loses her husband and witnesses an outbreak of violence from her neighbor towards another man, she has to wonder who was worse for her, if her husband or her handsome neighbor.

There is graphic violence along this film. A sense of mystery is implied by suspenseful, acoustic music surrounding Driver. I have to admit that it’s in those gruesome, dramatically demanding roles where Ryan Gosling trul…