Showing posts from April, 2016

Snapshots - #38: Only the Brave, Jane, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Only the Brave (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Based on the true story of the effort it took to get a municipal crew of firefighters from Prescott, Arizona, certified as Hotshots. After battling thousands of wildfires since their inception, the Granite Mountain Hotshots answered a call to battle the Yarnell Hill fire—about 30 miles away from Prescott—along with several other crews. How they got to that point and what happened is what this movie is about.
Only the Brave is a drama with some thriller on the side, and excellent performances to boast of. It's got a dynamic pace, engaging plot, amazing shots of wildfires, fun camaraderie, and great music to underscore the action. As an audience, we care for the journey of that crew, individually and as a group, and as heartbreaking as the closing scenes are, we stand in awe at the sacrifices that firefighters and their families make every day of their lives. Only the Brave is a darn great tribute to them, and elite firefighters such as the Granite Moun…

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (♦♦♦♦)

Marty de Groot comes from old money, his ancestors having made their fortunes in the Netherlands around 1600s. He lives with his wife Rachel in a penthouse apartment in Upper East Side, New York City in 1957. Marty is a lawyer and works at a law firm but suspects he'll never make partner. But he does. In fact, a lot of good things, both big and small, start happening after he discovers that a painting he owned has been stolen and replaced by a copy.
Ellie Shipley is an Australian twenty-something who lives in a cheap apartment in Brooklyn. Ellie is writing a dissertation towards her doctorate in history of art with an emphasis on female Dutch painters of the seventeenth century. When a partner brings her the privately-owned, only painting attributed to Dutch painter Sara de Vos for her to copy, Ellie is more than intrigued, she is hooked.
Forty three years later in present day Sydney, Australia, Ellie is about to come face to face with the folly of her youth, because she is curating…

Iron Man (♦♦♦♦♦)

Millionaire and heir of Stark Enterprise—weapons manufacturer with army contracts—Tony Stark is taken hostage in Afghanistan after the Humvee convoy in which he is traveling takes heavy enemy fire. Tony is imprisoned in a cave and given little time but all resources to reproduce his latest masterpiece: the Jericho missile…Only Tony has other plans. He builds an iron suit propelled by the very battery that is saving his heart from being shredded by the remaining shrapnel in his chest.
Directed and produced in part by Jon Favreau, the original Iron Man is the crème-de-la-crème of Marvel's universe. With a witty and stylish screenplay that makes science super cool, and top of the art special effects, there is no other alternative than to shine. But if those elements aren't attractive enough, the ensemble cast is just the superglue that holds this marvel together.
Robert Downey Jr., in the leading role as Tony Stark, has gravitas as a serious actor, yet he is hip enough as to embody…

Thor (revisited) (♦♦♦♦)

The realm of Asgard has an uneasy peace with the neighboring realm of the Frost Giants, but when some of its inhabitants intrude in Asgard palace’s weapons hall, impetuous Thor interprets it as an act of war. Odin, king of Asgard, banishes Thor from his realm to suffer penance for his rash actions and learn humility among humans.
Directed by classical thespian and director Kenneth Brannagh, Thor benefits from a solid screenplay that combines elements of superhero fare and Norse mythology, and the classical training of the movie's director. The result is a very polished production that is, at once, visually lush, smart in concept and development, and with a great cast ensemble.
There is newcomer Chris Hemsworth, in the leading role, who by the way looks like Thor himself, and seasoned actors of the caliber of Anthony Hopkins as Allfather Odin, Renee Russo as Odin's wife, Natalie Portman as Jane, Thor's love interest, Stellan Skarsgård as Erik, Tom Hiddleston as trickster Loki…

Concussion (♦♦♦♦)

Nigerian-born immigrant, Neuropathologist Dr. Bennett Omalu found something—in the brain of former Pittsburgh’s Steelers Mike Webster, a.k.a., Iron Mike—that he couldn’t ignore. Despite the appearance of a healthy brain in CAT scans, Webster’s brain under the microscope showed great concentrations of toxic proteins as result of repeated blows to the head over a lifetime of playing football, which most definitely triggered his deteriorating mental state after his retirement as a professional football player.
Over the course of the next five to six years, Dr. Omalu detected the same phenomenon in four other dead professional football players and reported his findings in the medical literature. Meanwhile, the NFL fervently denied that concussions contributed to mental health deterioration. Until…they couldn’t ignore the buzz any longer.
As a reader of this blog, it may come as no surprise to you that I have watched a lot of movie adaptations but have read very few of the books on which tho…

Creed (♦♦♦♦)

Adonis Johnson is the son that late heavyweight champion Apollo Creed never knew. After having been brought up as a son by Apollo's wife, Adonis has gotten an education and a promotion working in finance, but he leaves his current life behind to move to Philadelphia, home of Rocky Balboa. Adonis thinks he can be as great a boxer as his father if he can get Rocky to train him… After all, they are practically family, aren't they?
Nothing gets my adrenaline pumping like a well made sport movie. I typically prefer football, but boxing underdog stories are close second. Last year two boxing movies came out: Southpaw and Creed. I thought that Southpaw was just OK, but Creed was certainty gutsy and inspiring.
If you keep up with Oscar news, you probably know about the controversy for lack of black talent at this year's Oscars. While I don't think that newcomer Michael B. Jordan's performance was on par with Bryan Cranston's in Trumbo, Michael Fassbender's in Steve J…