Not bad for a set-up film to promote the newest addition to the Avengers squad. Although pacing lags through some odd dialogue, the film still renders warmly thanks to pros Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lily.
Paul Rudd delights audiences with comedic ease, promising character depth, and physical agility. He knows himself well by now and despite his crass comic tendencies, the director of Ant Man holds him back and allows the penchant for quick wit to help audiences settle in for a ride that’s basically a Honey I Shrunk revival for the Marvel generation.
Always begin with the seatbelt.
Cheated on, accused, stolen from, betrayed. This far too common grief story gives a new spin on surviving the traumas caused by adultery. Then, in a parallel grief story, played beautifully by Ben Kingsley, an Indian immigrant faces difficulties living in New York in a post 9/11 world. Spit on, screamed at, forced out, wounded.Two broken people find themselves together behind the wheel as driving lessons parallel life on the road to healing. The process takes time. Each lesson trains the two to take risks but to watch carefully as they build an unlikely friendship. He forces her to continue on while her bravery in that forward movement shows him how to live. It is mutual though not at first. Brilliant, very real writing. Art and life can be a sad story, but perhaps this one will help someone who is going through similar traumas see through to cross the bridge of grief.Patricia Clarkson is an incredible actress, one who can tell a story by showing not telling. Characters usually lie first. How are you? I’m fine. The truth is in the eyes. Her character is trying to piece her life back together while constantly starting over. Well meaning people ask with that tone if she’s going to be all right. The fact that they know to ask when she hasn’t told them anything is a new punishment. Each day a new ordeal. Each day forced to face another side of herself.Kingsley’s character, the gentleman protector, still runs from his past but lives out the prison-like punishment of loneliness and sorrow. He fears re-entering a world that daily rejects him.Rated R for language and sex, this film shows honestly the miserable struggle of ending a 30 year marriage. It also does not glaze over the hideous truths about racial discrimination still going on in America. This film refuses to accuse or blame. Instead, it show how our main characters have the potential within themselves to commit the same crimes of unfaithfulness and of prejudice committed against them. The potential is within all of us. We are all also capable of forgiveness and redemption. So, doing the hard work of choosing what is good and right despite temptation sets heroes apart from the villains in the end.
Selma is a place, not a woman. There is a bridge in that town, made famous by the people who walked it one day so long ago. It was a time in history that I was not taught much about in school. It seems strange that something so defining in our culture would be glazed over, but shame can make cowards of any of us. Shame should follow any acts that make us bullies over any other breathing souls. That guilt is the first step in repentance.This film is as much about guilt as it is about glory. Martin Luther King Jr, portrayed so beautifully by David Oyelowo, is a heart-heavy reverend burdened by the distant dream of true freedom. Even after laws are passed, people’s hearts must turn in order for the world to see change. This takes even longer that the breadlines of bureaucracy. Selma was the staging ground for the peaceful protests meant to catch the attention of all colors and encourage the mass to end the mob. It takes so much more kindness than we think it will, so many exhaustive examples of turning the other cheek before we know which side of the story to believe.My brother calls me a fighter. I don’t know, but it might have been tempting to join Malcolm X so long ago because it felt like results spurred on by action. What X could not see was that brutality has no timeline and once a fight, always a fight. King, however, was determined to win in the only way that actually buys freedom. He had to fight for peace with peace.This film, though somber and slow, a documentary pace, was still watchable, King and his comrades all likable. My only beef is that it oddly boasted real footage, actual phone conversations, word-for-word speeches for one side only. Even the typed timeline at the bottom of the screen follows only King. All of the scenes with the President, Alabama’s Governor, and any other government officials were off the record. This singular perspective that worked so hard to prove one side sadly worked to discredit the whole story by omitting information. I wanted the whole truth. I watched for it like we would any villain’s backstory. Well written editorials must, at the very least, present both sides. But thank God almighty for bringing freedom at last after the decades of injustice.
It takes a special story to outlive its first telling, to become timeless. Mockingbird has become just such a story. I read the book by Harper Lee so long ago, I had forgotten that it was so emotionally wrenching. I sobbed through this film, shocked a number of times. I couldn’t believe the depth and youthful innocence that a young Robert Duvall gave his almost voiceless role of Boo Radley. Brilliant. And, I fell in love with Gregory Peck, who called Atticus his greatest role of all.The opening sequence seems to show quintessential childhood – collections in a box, removed and replaced. Scenes from Amelie (2001) and The Fall (2006) echo as token tribute to this film’s classic opening. A child narrator can speak unfettered by adult inclinations toward between-the-lines political double-talk or gaged intentions. Scout tells it like it is. Innocence is allowed a voice that reminds the world to see people as only a child can and to care for all others unconditionally.
Fans for decades have named children after the beloved narrator Scout, her adventurous and caring brother Jem, and even the glowing knight father Atticus.Despite kid show channels’ certain and obvious attempts at making grown-ups, especially parents, look ridiculous, this story gives the child’s perspective but makes the father the hero. This badge he wears with honesty, care, some sense of failure, and deep love.
Atticus is pensive. He cares for the common good. He is flawed and fragile to his kids at first, being older and refusing to shoot a gun. But when the mad dog saunters into town he proves “ol One-Shot” has still got it.In a parallel portrayal, the real mad dogs of the town come to commit acts of citizen justice before the courts have a chance to free a black man accused of raping a white woman. Atticus stands alone in moral courage against the growling crowd.Even as his Oscar fame faded to a distant echo, Peck remained a father figure to the little actress who played Scout. They always called each other by their character names, and kept in touch. Rare indeed.Even more rare were the events shaping American history at that time. Martin Luther King Jr. wore the heavy burden of speaking to the world on the same matters of civil importance as found in Lee’s book. King spoke of Atticus. King’s message was the same as that of Lee’s novel: living breathing human beings should all be given the same right to live and breathe. Timeless truth.
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UNCLE is not your typical Guy Ritchie piece. More Snatch than Sherlock, this tribute film could play like a two hour inside joke if you’ve never seen the hit 60’s show.Ritchie, known for his laid back, well-planned, tea-taking, collaborative directing form on set, offers that sensibility to audiences. The stress is gone, but the pace plays.No kiss and tell. No swearing. The sex and extreme violence is simply alluded to as something naughty going on in the next room. It’s the classic fluttering curtain. The audience takes tea and never has to worry, thanks to the family friendly rating. I’m grateful. Though a scene of almost nudity, a few holocaust photos, and constant action may not dissuade a family film night, the sheer duration might. It’s two, long but fun, very full one-note hours. So, action lovers will most likely approve.The soundtrack is a character, jumping into scenes like a welcome hero framing the chase, follow, rumble, and escape into a split-screen, real-time visual medley. Lovely.
Like the music, the characters are as adorably written as they are played. Henry Cavill somehow successfully sets aside the super suit and cape long enough to model Armani. Armie Hammer also drops his former bumbling physical comedy for some slick action moves. No longer the Lone Ranger, he’s a formidable opponent turned partner. Alicia Vikander, is the appropriate third wheel on this trained tricycle. Baby-faced but believable, her chemistry with the team works.
Even the delightful Hugh Grant drops in for more than a cameo rounding out the settings with his own confident kind of welcoming familial grace, a needed and timely element.