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...]
Alan: Seven Psychopath’s brings up the question, “Who here is really sane?” Yeah, sure we might think that we’re completely normal human beings…but deep down, I think it’s safe to say that we are all just a little bit unhinged. We all have some thoughts that might seem crazy to some people, and to an extent that’s what Seven Psychopaths does best, let’s all of the crazy out. [Read more...]
As the year winds down to an end, I find myself trying to squeeze in a bunch of films that I haven’t seen from the past year, all while rewatching some of the highlight films in order to compile a best of list (Be on the look out for those to start the first week of January!). Click more to see what I thought were possible contenders and whether or not they failed to live up to the high hopes. [Read more...]
The story follows Betty Anne Waters, a small town girl who has a strong bond with her brother, Kenny. Kenny has been in trouble with the law time and time again and when an old women ends up murdered in their town the finger falls on him. After seemingly getting around the charge a line up of character witnesses suddenly appear proclaiming Kenny has often bragged of the murders over the passing couple of years and Kenny finds himself behind bars. Betty Anne, believing profusely in her brother’s innocence, sets down a path to try and get his name cleared and the journey will take her places she never thought possible for herself.
Of the two recent films with stories revolving around the justice system, Conviction manages to do what Stone is unable to by creating a compelling film that draws the audience into the lives of the characters, played by actors that are able to shine in their roles.
Conviction tells the story of the relationship between a brother and sister who are willing to do anything for each other. Based on the true story of Betty Anne Waters and her brother Kenny, Conviction follows Betty Anne through her struggles to become a lawyer in order to prove her brother’s innocence when he is imprisoned for the murder of a woman in their small town.
Though this is not true for all people, there may be a select group of people (*cough* me *cough*) who lose focus during films blending biopics and law. [Read more...]
Tony Stark is back in Iron Man 2, bringing with him some variations on his high tech business suit, new enemies, new allies, and that same, overly confident, “winning” personality (the sarcasm is only halfhearted because it’s hard not to love him).
Between the first film and now, Tony Stark boasts that he has fulfilled every beauty pageant contestants dream of bringing about world peace (at least for now), or as he likes to put it, “privatizing” it. And with revealing his secret identity at the end of the first film, the exploits of Iron Man have lead to even more fame for the man not hiding behind the mask, and it has gone straight to his head. But with great power comes great responsibility. Wait… Wrong Marvel superhero. Let me modify: With greatly boasted power comes great enemies with the unifying goal of knocking said powerful individual down a peg (yeah, I can see why that isn’t the catchphrase). Simply put: Tony’s ego is in need of some deflating, and this film introduces at least two men willing to accept the challenge. [Read more...]
Summer is here, as is our first sequel of the summer in Iron Man 2 and the results are an entertaining and solid follow up to the widely lauded original, but I can’t quite put my finger on how it stacks up to its predecessor.
The conundrum I have with the film is the tone and focus this film takes. Now there isn’t a lot of plot like before, there are a few new characters to digest, and briefly glimpsed ones get even more screen time. But the film actually handles it’s “more” well in that we get a good grasp of who everyone is and what their motivations are rather efficiently; but it doesn’t flow the greatest as it jumps in and out everyone’s stories. The film is still the Tony Stark show first and foremost but it jumps away on a couple occasions for just a tad too long from our favorite iron suited alter ego. In fact, this film is barely an Iron Man movie and more of a Tony Stark tale; which I actually think is a good thing. The Iron Man action scenes are great and its best moments are better than the original’s set pieces, but there are really only two or three scenes of Iron Man doing his thing. The film is more focused on Stark and his issues of being a hero and a crisis he is having as part of his role as a superhero. Now again, I think this is great, but I wasn’t really prepared for it going in and was caught a bit off guard and think I need to see it again to really settle on a final opinion, especially when comparing it to the first film.
For those of you who pay any attention to my postings then you may have noticed that there has apparently been little going on in my life, cuz let’s face it, we are not all as cool as Zac. I mean, I didn’t even have one thing to put in a suggestion box last week. Well I can explain. You see, this little game came out a couple of weeks ago called Mass Effect 2, which you may have heard something about. Anyway, for the most part my waking hours not dedicated to “healthy” activities like school, sports, and eating (well, and TV, but I don’t think my attempts to spin that one will make it “healthy”) have gone to fighting baddies throughout the universe. With that said, I did manage to slip two movies in there a while back that deserve to have a few words said about them. [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...]
Duncan Jones makes his feature debut with this fantastic sci-fi film that digs into the psyche of the mind and what it means to be human and it is all fueled by a marvelous performance by Sam Rockwell.
Helium-3 has saved the earth’s energy problems. A world on the verge of destroying itself through pollution and death over the planets fossil fuels, the savior of all our problems comes from a substance that is able to be harvested from the dark side of our Earth’s moon. Lunar Industries is the company that has made this all possible and it maintains its crops and harvesters with one man out posted on their lunar base, Sarang.
That man is Sam Bell and he is at the very tail end of his three year contract with Lunar Industries as he anxiously awaits returning home to his wife and young daughter. As the final days wind down, Sam begins to start losing it a bit and finds himself trying to keep it together so as the robotic helper GERTY does not notice his ailments in fear of what might happen if he can’t finish out his contract. Passing the time as best one can, Sam, begins to have lucid dreams and sees odd visions that lead to an unfortunate incident and a mystery unfolds that he never even imagined possible that will cause him to look into himself and try and discover his true nature and place in life. [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.
Ron Howards latest is a nice little film about history that does a fine job of humanizing Nixon while still holding him accountable, and is full of a number good performances.
Richard M. Nixon (Frank Langella) is the only president to ever resign from office, and in doing so a nation was cheated and robbed of the man admitting the errors of his way when he was pardoned by Gerald Ford. David Frost (Michael Sheen) in the mean time was a moderately successful British television host who, while having a show fail in the U.S., was still successful in England and Australia. Frost craved a return to the American spotlight though, and a return to the New York scene which he loved. Frost devises a plan to get back to New York by hopefully scoring the first interview with President Nixon since his departure and acting like a real journalist instead of the entertainer he was perceived as. Luckily for Frost, Nixon needs money and a chance to rebuild his reputation, and Nixon and his aides see this interview with an “amateur” as an opportunity to control the situation and put a positive light back on himself and his presidency. [Read more...]
The film follows Rockwell’s character over the course of three years as he deals with the ups and downs of being stuck in lunar base over that period of time.
The adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name is a well made and humorous adventure in the life of a sex addict, but as a reader and lover of the book, I feel like it didn’t quite touch the greatness of the source material.
With that said, Clark Gregg’s adaptation will most certainly shock and awe people with the insane twists and unpredictability to the proceedings and I think the film works probably much better if you do not know what is coming. The absurdity and lunacy of everything that happens in this story is what makes it great, and take away the shock and reveal of it all takes away from it a bit. But moving on…
Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) is a sex addict, he attends sexaholic anonymous (where he usually has sex), and is a historical interpreter at a colonial Williamsburg type of community. Victor is a med school drop out that is now raising money to keep his mother (Anjelica Huston) in residence at a nice adult women’s care facility due to her dementia. Victor visits regularly, though his mom usually thinks that he is a dead lawyer from her past as he struggles to get her to eat in-between his banging of the hospital staff. When his Mothers new doctor, Paige (Kelly Macdonald) comes into his life he tries to sleep with her, obviously, but at first for the wrong reasons and then possibly for the betterment of his mother’s health. [Read more...]