With our feet firmly planted in 2013, it is time for the writers here at HST to look back on the past year and reminisce about the good, the meh, and the just plain ugly of the entertainment world, starting right her with film. [Read more...]
For those of you not keeping track we are about to enter the second half of the year, full of just as many exciting things as the first half. So far some entries have disappointed, some have surprised, and some have lived up to and surpassed expectations so far, so lets keep our fingers crossed that there will be more of the latter options in the months to come. So what are you excited for? Let’s give you some options to consider with this list of what the writers of HST can’t wait for. [Read more...]
In addition to some newer rental releases, I also sat down to watch some older films, including Ninja Assassin and Whiteout.
A few minutes into the film a group soon to be massacred is presented with an envelope filled with black sand (whatever that means). It may be subtler than a tornado, but ninjas with the common courtesy to let their victims know they are coming before death descends? Eh.
This sand thing is just one of many problems I have with Ninja Assassin. The story follows Raizo, a highly trained assassin who made the ill-advised decision to break from his ninja clan years ago. The constant fight between the two might not be the most original story, but it would have been far better off than the awkward blending with the additional storyline concerning a woman who gets added to the hit list when she starts sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong.
With that in mind, if there is anything I have learned from action films it is if you do the action well enough, a lot of things can be forgiven. [Read more...]
Everybody’s Fine is an interesting look at family life for a widower but lacks any real plot or enlightening meaning to really make us admire it beyond its performances.
Kirk Jones’ film is a remake of an Italian film of the same name and stars Robert De Niro as said widower, Frank, who decides to spontaneously visit his children who are now spread all around the country after he fails to get them all to visit. As he heads out on to the road we learn that one of his sons, David, is in some sort of trouble in Mexico and his other children shuffle him along to one another keeping the issue a secret from him. David was the first child he visited, who obviously wasn’t home, and then he moves on to Amy, Robert, and Rosie in succession. And that is about the crux of the whole story and nothing much happens along the way leading to a rather dull plot, if you could call it that, to follow.
The most interesting and eventful stop is with his son Robert, who is played by Sam Rockwell, in which Frank gets a cold hard punch of truth when he finds that his son is not the aspiring conductor he was lead to believe by both his wife and Robert. It is hear it really begins to hit home with Frank and us that his kids aren’t entirely truthful and have a fairly poor connection with him. [Read more...]
Martin Scorsese’s biopic of the entrepreneur and aviator Howard Hughes is a marvelous, entertaining, and interesting look into the life of one of the most unique, oddest, and accomplished individuals ever to capture and live in the public eye; all grounded by an extraordinary performance by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Howard Hughes was the heir to a fortune that came from drill bits in Texas but he moved on to bigger and brighter lights in Hollywood with the dream of making movies in between his love for flying. Fueled by his dream to build the fastest planes possible and the most successful films of their age Hughes found much success and translated that into romances with the biggest Hollywood starlets of his age. He was able to accomplish all of the even while his mind slowly faded into madness due his OCD and germ phobia that would plague the later years of his life and almost destroy his reputation when trying to take on the government and Pan Am in their historic dispute over the monopoly of the sky. [Read more...]
A sad and tragic story doesn’t take away from this expertly crafted and wonderfully acted film, though doesn’t leave you all warm and fuzzy in the end; which is ok.
Annie (Kate Beckinsale) is a single mom working as a waitress at the local Chinese restaurant, Glenn (Sam Rockwell) is Annie’s separated husband who is recovering from alcoholism and an attempted suicide, and Arthur (Michael Angarano) is a high school student who is coming to grips with his feelings on love as he comes of age; and the film surrounds the interactions of these three and the people in their lives and serves as a portrait of tragic America. Glenn is making an effort to change, born again Christian and clean, he has a new job and desperately wants to reconnect with his family. Annie looks to her friend’s husband for romance as the two spend afternoons together in a hotel when she can get a sitter for he daughter Tara. Arthur is a normal kid who starts to bond with a girl at school, Lila (Olivia Thirlby), just as his parents marriage begins coming apart. The film is filled out with a number of supporting players and focuses on these characters lives as they unfold over a six week period. There is no over arching plot or goal to the picture, it is simply a study of these peoples lives and the relationships with those around them.
The film is subtle and wonderfully put together, with a great pace that works just right for the pictures, and David Gordon Green’s direction of his actors creates genuine and real feeling performances. Everyone involved never feels like a type, and has depth that goes far beyond the surface. All the actors turn in performances that feel plucked from real life and are great from head to toe. Comedy is also sprinkled in just enough, in all the right places to lighten up the tone when it needs it, and with out it the film would have been tough to swallow. The film also does a great job at creating a realistic high school relationship, a troubled attempt at reconnecting a broken marriage, as well as the potentially crumbling marriage as well. That’s not to say the film is all gloom and doom, as the Arthur/Lila relationship is sweet and won’t upset you, but the downer parts outweigh the nicer moments for sure. Green’s ability to make his film feel lived in and real can not be overstated and between this and Pineapple Express, he has shown his range and ability as a filmmaker is quite great in a single year.
Getting on to the actors, Kate Beckinsale is sad and great as the mother who is torn by her emotions towards he estranged husband. He obviously has screwed up in the past but she feels for him and is on the verge of giving in, and Beckinsale does such a fine job of conveying this when the opportunity presents itself. She also does a good job of creating a mother that is tired and is doing the best she can, but also giving her a natural weakness that can come for someone that is put in the position Annie is. Michael Angarano also does great work at creating the average high schooler, never giving into cliché and feeling in genuine and his work with Olivia Thirlby works great and they are cute and innocent and feel authentic. And by the way Thirlby is fantastic here, creating a cute if a bit odd girl that you we all knew from high school; and I really hope she breaks out sooner rather than later as she is pretty great in everything I have seen her in. Nicky Katt is also great as an adulterous husband who in most peoples hands would play to the pumped up dick head, but instead plays the character as someone who is doing his best, but isn’t that believable in the end. Lastly, there is Sam Rockwell, who is one of the most underrated and underappreciated actors in the main stream film scene in years, as he turns in an amazing and haunting turn as Glen. His characters arc feels so genuine through and through, and we can help but feel a little sympathy for this guy that is just trying to reconnect with his family. But everything we kind of by into slowly unravels, and Rockwell does such great work and hinting at the deeper and dark side of his character along the way. I can not praise him enough for his work here and hope he finds a larger audience because he is too good to be stuck in these smaller, lesser seen films all the time.
In the end, Snow Angels is a sad and tragic film, but it is also a showcase for everyone involved. The actors are all wonderful, the direction is top notch, and the story while not uplifting, is still genuine and sadly real as many people are stuck in situations like these and are forced to extremes because they feel they have nowhere else to go. One of the finer pictures of the year is definitely worth watching; just don’t go in expecting to come out feeling all happy inside.