Coming Soon – ‘Me Before You’

A sneak peek at the June 3rd love story starring “Game of Thrones” headstrong leading lady (Daenerys Targaryen) Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin.

Looks promising and entertaining enough…although it’ll probably rip our hearts out by the 90-minute mark.  Like this one did to me as a young kid growing up.  I’m down with that.  Pass the popcorn.

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Movie Review – ‘The Finest Hours’

“An intense, gritty story of determination and survival highlights the Coast Guard’s greatest small-boat rescue in its history.”

Patrick King, REEL BRIEF.com

Finest Hours

Based on the book “The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue” by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias, this thriller crashes a nor-easter storm along the upper East Coast against brave souls who must fight for their lives to survive. Craig Gillespie, director of the inspirational 2014 baseball film “Million Dollar Arm”, once again teams up with Disney to introduce audiences to a remarkable true story about overcoming long odds.

Set in Massachusetts during 1952, this white knuckle high seas adventure follows the young romantic life of U.S. Coast Guardsman Bernie Webber. Effortlessly depicted by Chris Pine (“Star Trek Into Darkness”), Boatswain Mate First Class Webber must answer his nation’s call during hurricane force winds in an attempt to save dozens of lives aboard to a tanker offshore in distress.

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Ocean fishing in my family’s boat growing up in Oregon, I saw the U.S. Coast Guard’s dedication and professionalism first-hand. Many times we crossed the Siuslaw River bar, just north of Florence, venturing out into the Pacific in less-than-ideal conditions. Every time, the Coast Guard’s 44-foot motor lifeboat ran escort for us—operating only two or three boat-lengths away—to ensure we didn’t experience mechanical problems or take a crashing rogue wave to our side.

The U.S. Coast Guard, with their motto Semper Paratus (“Always Ready”), is a military branch also charged with domestic maritime duties. In “The Finest Hours” we see less than a handful of “Coasties” from Coast Guard Station Chatham courageously risk it all so that others might live. The film’s realism expands beyond the violent sea conditions, where massive ships are torn apart into pieces. Inside the breakers, we find the small town characters humble, carrying heavy hearts, and always willing to help complete strangers.

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“The Finest Hours” high tide mark is the survival story of a crew adrift at sea and those tapped to attempt a risky rescue mission. The movie’s low point is the romantic angle between Pine’s boat driver character Webber and his girlfriend/fiancée Miriam (Holliday Grainger). Easily, the most realistic relationships and interpersonal communications take place a few miles offshore.

An intense, gritty story of determination and survival highlights the Coast Guard’s greatest small-boat rescue in its history. Aside from an underwhelming love connection and incomplete character development, “The Finest Hours” provides a compelling date night adventure that highlights the selfless first responders protecting and saving lives along our coastlines. This movie’s exceptional realism offers up the maritime dangers that exist while showcasing the few souls charged to respond with steady sea legs. And for that, we’re all grateful.

Grade: B

“The Finest Hours” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril.  Its running time is 1 hour and 57 minutes.

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Ground truth: ’13 Hours’ Movie Review

“An intense, action-packed story of bravery… It places bearded faces–and their personal stories–up against the mere head counts provided in news reports. “13 Hours” methodically walks Americans through the multiple pleas for support that emerged from Benghazi as the State Department’s compound and CIA annex erupted in gunfire.”

Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

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Based on the real-life terrorist attacks on September 11, 2012, as depicted in the book from Pulitzer Prize and New York Times #1 bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff titled “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi“, this true story follows the heroism of a half-dozen security personnel charged with protecting the U.S. State Department’s compound and CIA station in Benghazi, Libya.

Military members and their families will find this movie very watchable, as it inequitably drops the heavy burden of defending our national interests on so few…them.  Civilian eyes in the theater will be raised and fixed on the risks, threats and constant vigilance required in today’s dangerous world of unraveling, weak governments and emboldened terrorist organizations.

The film’s finest achievement is that it places bearded faces–and their personal stories–up against the mere head counts provided in news reports after such incidents.  John Krasinski, from television’s successful comedy sitcom “The Office”, anchors the movie and delivers his best performance to date.

Much of “13 Hours” reminded me to 2001’s “Black Hawk Down”…the relationships developed between brothers fighting evil on city streets, where it’s difficult to determine friend from foe. Circumstances and safety can change within one city block. The twisted military humor displayed by those far from home for the umpteenth time. Likewise, it nicely illustrates that not all military expertise and portfolios are equal on the battlefield.  The film subtly exposes the degree to which experience and superior training provide a force multiplier in heavily outnumbered firefights.

Director Bay should be commended for this effort.  He properly raises questions by those on the ground (and in the audience) as to why help never arrives from outside Libya.  While he leaves the specific blame for others to assign, Bay makes it very apparent that the military did immediately muster quick reaction forces and attempt to jump into the fight with both combat boots.

“13 Hours” is an intense, action-packed story of bravery.  It raises adrenaline from a growing threat and through violent battles–with some graphic war wounds depicted.  The film closes ranks and gives us an up-close, first-hand account of the heroic men doing our nation’s heavy-lifting down range.  It methodically walks Americans through the multiple pleas for support that emerged from Benghazi as the State Department’s compound and CIA annex erupted in gunfire. It properly identifies those terrorists behind the preplanned attack on September 11, 2012.

This movie exposes the news reports and smokescreens from inside the Beltway…the false narratives put out by so many. And that’s the film’s most glaring feat–honoring, as a nation, those who lost their lives that night and getting the truth out there for the families involved.

Grade: B+

“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” is rated R for strong combat violence throughout, bloody images, and language.  It’s running time is 2 hours and 24 minutes.

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REEL BRIEF Predictions: 2016 Oscar Nominations

The Oscar statuette is the copyrighted property of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the statuette and the phrases "Academy Award(s)" and "Oscar(s)" are registered trademarks under the laws of the United States and other countries. All published representations of the Award of Merit statuette, including photographs, drawings and other likenesses, must include the legend ©A.M.P.A.S.¨ to provide notice of copyright, trademark and service mark registration. Permission is hereby granted for use of the representation of the statuette in newspapers, periodicals and on television only in legitimate news articles or feature stories which refer to the annual Academy Awards as an event, or in stories or articles which refer to the Academy as an organization or to specific achievements for which the Academy Award has been given. Its use and any other use is subject to the "Legal Regulations for Using Intellectual Properties of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences" published by the Academy. A copy of the "Legal Regulations" may be obtained from: Legal Rights Coordinator, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California 90211; (310) 247-3000; or ©A.M.P.A.S.http://www.oscars.org/legal/preamble.html.

Tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m. Pacific time, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Guillermo del Toro, John Krasinski and Ang Lee will announce the 88th Academy Awards nominations in all 24 Oscar categories at a special two-part live news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Here are the REEL BRIEF predictions:

Animated Feature Film

Anomalisa

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

The Good Dinosaur

The Peanuts Movie

 

Cinematography

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

Sicario

The Martian

The Revenant

 

Costume Design

Brooklyn

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Trumbo

 

Documentary Feature

Amy

Cartel Land

He Named Me Malala

The Hunting Ground

The Look of Silence

(more…)

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Movie Review – ‘Joy’

“Rather than let Lawrence’s idea hamster shine early, viewers are left with a dull start that takes the luster off of a successful ending.”

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

Joy

David O. Russell directs and co-writes this big-screen reunion of his hand-picked “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) and “American Hustle” (2013) superstars Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper. All together once again on set, Russell’s “Joy” chronicles the 1990 discovery of the “Miracle Mop” by hardworking mother of three, Joy Mangano (played by Lawrence), from Long Island. A holder of over 100 patents today, Mangano’s true American Dream story is one that inspires moviegoers to follow their passions and clever ideas.

This week’s Golden Globe winner for best actress in a motion picture musical or comedy, Lawrence’s portrayal of this strong entrepreneur is not only exceptional, but extremely believable. No one can stop this determined young woman who refuses to settle or let anything get in her way to success. The extended family dynamics is rooted in frustration, bitter feelings and turmoil between Lawrence’s parents and Joy’s constant attempt to make ends meet financially.

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Director Russell is 0-for-5 for taking home an Academy Award…and most likely will keep this streak alive with “Joy”. Despite a stellar cast from top to bottom and a rags-to-riches narrative, Russell’s off-beat presentation and sluggish start to the movie tarnishes an otherwise enjoyable plot and ending. Haphazardly, Russell injects Joy’s mother too far into the film’s design—her penchant for watching soap operas in bed only results in overshadowing and stalling our understanding of Joy’s rise to the top in her business world.

The slow start to “Joy”, with needless emphasis on other characters, creates a feeling of fast-forwarding through the formidable “Miracle Mop” years. Lawrence’s interaction with a home shopping TV network executive (Bradley Cooper) provide the film’s best moments. Seeing the saleswoman Joy Mangano continue to find strength and keep pushing her novel idea, despite personal and financial setbacks, is short-lived in “Joy” but still inspirational to viewers.Joy 2

It’s a shame that too much time and energy was wasted getting the miraculous mop launched in “Joy”. Rather than let Lawrence’s idea hamster shine early, viewers are left with a dull start that takes the luster off of a successful ending. A missed opportunity to showcase where a young, determined mother from 1990 is today. I’ll give you a hint, Joy Mangano is not on a soap opera.

Grade: B

“Joy” is rated PG-13 for strong language.  Its running time is 2 hours.

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Golden Globe Awards 2016

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Although still just an appetizer before next month’s Academy Awards, the 73rd Golden Globes nicely accomplishes one main goal–kicking off the award season for films (and television shows).

 

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Carol

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant (WINNER)

Room

Spotlight

Predict to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Want to win: Spotlight

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Cate Blanchett, “Carol”

Brie Larson, “Room” (WINNER)

Rooney Mara, “Carol”

Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

Predict to win: Cate Blanchett, “Carol”

Want to win: Brie Larson, “Room”

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant” (WINNER)

Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”

Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

Will Smith, “Concussion”

Predict to win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Want to win: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

 

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The Big Short

Joy

The Martian (WINNER)

Spy

Trainwreck

Predict to win: The Martian

Want to win: The Martian

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy” (WINNER)

Melissa McCarthy, “Spy”

Amy Schumer, “Trainwreck”

Maggie Smith, “The Lady in the Van”

Lily Tomlin, “Grandma”

Predict to win: Melissa McCarthy, “Spy”

Want to win: Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”

 

Best Performance by an Actor in Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Christian Bale, “The Big Short”

Steve Carell, “The Big Short”

Matt Damon, “The Martian” (WINNER)

Al Pacino, “Danny Collins”

Mark Ruffalo, “Infinitely Polar Bear”

Predict to win: Matt Damon, “The Martian”

Want to win: Matt Damon, “The Martian”

 

Best Motion Picture – Animated

Anomalisa

The Good Dinosaur

Inside Out (WINNER)

The Peanuts Movie

Shaun The Sheep Movie

Predict to win: Inside Out

Want to win: Inside Out

 

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

The Brand New Testament

The Club

The Fencer

Mustang

Son of Saul (WINNER)

Predict to win: Son of Saul

Want to win:  Mustang

 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Jane Fonda, “Youth”

Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”

Helen Mirren, “Trumbo”

Alicia Vikander, “Ex Machina”

Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs” (WINNER)

Predict to win: Helen Mirren, “Trumbo”

Want to win: Alicia Vikander, “Ex Machina”

 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Paul Dano, “Love & Mercy”

Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation”

Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Michael Shannon, “99 Homes”

Sylvester Stallone, “Creed” (WINNER)

Predict to win: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”

Want to win: Paul Dano, “Love & Mercy”

 

Best Director

Todd Haynes, “Carol”

Alejandro G. Inarritu, “The Revenant” (WINNER)

Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Ridley Scott, “The Martian”

Predict to win: Ridley Scott, “The Martian”

Want to win: Ridley Scott, “The Martian”

 

Best Screenplay

Emma Donoghue, “Room”

Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, “Spotlight”

Charles Randolph, Adam McKay, “The Big Short”

Aaron Sorkin, “Steve Jobs” (WINNER)

Quentin Tarantino, “The Hateful Eight”

Predict to win: Quentin Tarantino, “The Hateful Eight”

Want to win: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, “Spotlight”

 

Best Original Score

Carol

The Danish Girl

The Hateful Eight (WINNER)

Steve Jobs

The Revenant

Predict to win: “The Revenant”

Want to win:  “The Revenant”

 

Best Original Song

“Love Me Like You Do”, Fifty Shades of Grey

“One Kind of Love”, Love & Mercy

“See You Again”, Furious 7

“Simple Song #3”, Youth

“Writing’s On The Wall”, Spectre (WINNER)

Predict to win: “See You Again”, Furious 7

Want to win: “See You Again, Furious 7”

 

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Opening this week: ’13 Hours’ – What really happened in Benghazi

This Michael Bay (“Transformers 5”) movie is based on the real-life terrorist attacks on September 11, 2012, as depicted in the book from Pulitzer Prize and New York Times #1 bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff titled “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi“.  Co-authors of Zuckoff’s non-fiction page-turner are simply referenced as the “Annex Security Team”.

This true story follows the heroism of a half-dozen security personnel charged with protecting the U.S. State Department’s compound and CIA station in Benghazi, Libya.  Of those six hard-chargers–all specially trained to run towards gunfire to protect others and the mission–only 5 survived to tell their first-hand account.  Or what the military refers to as “the ground truth”.

This movie is going to shred all the Beltway emails, Congressional testimony and false media narratives put out so far.  And I think that’s the only honorable offering we, as a nation, can give to those who lost their lives that night and their families wanting the truth to come out.

“13 Hours” stars “Jim” (John Krasinski) from television’s successful comedy sitcom “The Office”. Krasinski (“Aloha”, 2015) may nail this role and launch his movie career to the next level.  Also starring is Pablo Schreiber and Max Martini (from TV’s military series “The Unit”).  Martini will be fine in “13 Hours” and Schreiber may come out of this movie “newly” discovered, a la Josh Hartnett in 2001’s “Black Hawk Down”.  We’ll see.

Here’s the cast discussing what it’s like to work for director Michael Bay:

Check out the movie’s official website –  http://www.thirteenhoursmovie.com/

My hope is that this Michael Bay film pays attention to, and gives proper background, to the heroic men doing our nation’s heavy-lifting down range.  And that “13 Hours” will walk Americans through the multiple pleas for support from back home as intelligence and ground reports indicated increased threat activity in advance of this fire-fight.  Lastly, I want this movie to properly identify those terrorists behind the preplanned attack on September 11th.  That’s the real story that needs telling–not huge explosions and our military’s clandestine tactics, techniques and procedures being exposed.

Here the official movie trailer…

I will screen “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi” on Tuesday.  Look for my review by mid-week.   The film is rated R for strong combat violence throughout, bloody images, and language.  It’s released nationwide this Friday.

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Christian Bale’s next flick…”Knight of Cups”

Don’t let the Batman voice at the beginning fool you… No Dark Knight in this one.  Just darkness.  And light.  Plus an All-Star cast that includes Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Ben Kingsley.

Stripper?  Check.

Woman wronged in his past?  Check.

Ex wife?  Check.

Innocent girlfriend?  Check.

Mansions, Vegas and LA LA Land?  Check, check and check!

The “Knight of Cups” title refers to the Tarot card depicting a romantic adventurer (Bale) guided by his emotions. As Rick, Christian Bale goes on a journey involving six women to find himself and maybe, just maybe, love.  Might need to find a doctor for some penicillin and antibiotics too.  Just sayin’.

“Knight of Cups” hits theaters on March 4th.

 

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Opening this week: ‘The Revenant’

“INTENSE!  DiCaprio gives an acting performance with which I am not familiar.  Yes, he’s that good!  The forty-one year old Wolf of Wall Street is gritty, gangly and tough. Very tough.”

– Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

The Revenant

With the theater release of “The Revenant” later this week, Leonardo DiCaprio will formally stake his claim to an Academy Award nomination—setting in motion a strong case for grabbing his first-ever Oscar statuette.  In this true fur trapping story set along the Rocky Mountains in 1823, DiCaprio gives an acting performance with which I am not familiar.  Yes, he’s that good!  The forty-one year old Wolf of Wall Street is gritty, gangly and tough. Very tough.

Joining last year’s Oscar-winning best director, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (“Birdman”), DiCaprio plays scout Hugh Glass, who is left behind by members of his own fur company group following a life-threatening bear attack. Using his wits and will to survive another day, DiCaprio’s Glass must navigate unforgiving territory 200 miles during a brutal winter while under constant threat of attack from Indians.

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This movie smartly combines austere weather conditions with warring tribes and a compelling revenge factor, all resulting in a wildly successful trifecta win for moviegoers. Opposite DiCaprio’s quiet, determined role of group guide, stars “Mad Max: Fury Road” lead Tom Hardy as the film’s antagonist and bad apple.

“The Revenant” is an intense and adrenaline-rushing frontier adventure! The opening scene is a nail-biter with events coming fast and furious from all directions—akin to a shorter version of the chaos found along Omaha Beach at the start of 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan”.

Despite redundant flashback sequences and an overly simplistic storyline, “The Revenant” succeeds because of DiCaprio’s powerful ability to invoke Glass’ tenacity and sheer willpower through the big-screen.  DiCaprio, although handicapped by few words in the script, impressively uses his extraordinary physical acting skills to depict the tracker’s serious outdoor hardships and endurance.

“The Revenant” ending, while somewhat anti-climactic, is magnificently presented as an over-the-top bloody showdown…reminiscent of MTV’s gruesome Claymation Celebrity Deathmatch videos.

Aside from the stellar match-up between DiCaprio and his nemesis Tom Hardy, audiences will become spellbound by the visual eye-candy throughout “The Revenant”.  Encompassing superb camera shots of snowy mountain conditions and icy streams, this picturesque film is the gold-standard for cinematography and will leave viewers fascinated and talking about its beauty well beyond the upcoming movie awards season.

Will this epic story of survival and retaliation be enough for Leo to finally take home an Oscar?  Most likely.  What DiCaprio lacks in dialogue is more than made up for by his chilling, physical endeavor on film.  Watch for the cold, wet realism that actually fogs up a camera lens in one scene to finally clear, leaving DiCaprio as the Academy Award front-runner come February.

Grade: A-

“The Revenant” is rated R for strong frontier combat and violence, including gory images, a sexual assault and brief nudity.  Its running time is 2 hours and 36 minutes.

 

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REEL BRIEF Bloopers

It’s that time of year again.  Let’s look at Bloopers from yours truly.

 

That is why I take to the airwaves of Periscope’s LIVE worldwide broadcasts about as often as the Olympics come around.

FYI, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” running time on the bladder is 2 hours and 16 minutes.

Movie Review – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Top 10 Films of 2015

REEL BRIEF’s “Film of the Year” for 2015

The 2015 REEL BRIEF Awards

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