THE REVENANT Reviewed Feb05

THE REVENANT Reviewed

THE REVENANT Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu Written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro G. Iñárritu, based on the book by Michael Punke Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck This was not a film I expected to like. Watching a man undergo an attack by a bear does not head the list of what I want to see portrayed on a huge screen. However, the former history major in me ended up liking this film quite a bit. Short on words, but long on gorgeous cinematography, it takes the viewer to places they rarely see. And 1823 Montana and South Dakota are as foreign to me as Westeros (Game of Thrones). DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, an experienced frontiersman out west leading a group of trappers who have survived an attack by a posse of Arikara Native Americans. After Glass is attacked by a bear, he is left to die by a man (Hardy) who resents him and is especially hostile to Glass’s son, who is part-Native American (Goodluck). The majority of the film details wordlessly Glass’s ordeal in returning to the base alone and injured. And in exacting justice for what this man has done to him. Following up last year’s BIRDMAN, Iñárritu has done an amazing job once again. He may be taking a second Oscar home. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...

Film Review: ANOMALISA Jan29

Film Review: ANOMALISA

Directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson Written by Charlie Kaufman Featuring the voices of Tom Noonan, Jennifer Jason Leigh and David Thewlis Anomalisa, Kaufman’s stop-motion animation feature is set in a number of numbing settings (taxi, airport, hotel, restaurant, sex toy shop) that contribute to the loneliness (perhaps self-induced) that is its middle-aged male protagonist’s condition. Other people have no affect for or on him, and in fact, speak with the same voice, share a similar face.  Only Lisa, soon named Anomalisa, (Leigh) has a different voice and makes some inroads in permeating his walled-off state. This would make it seem like a movie about a man I should feel very sorry for. Because surely he is enduring a deep depression. Instead though, I watched a man (very successful in business) who is too narcissistic, even cruel, for me to pity. This may be only my interpretation. Perhaps you would take pity on him and interpret his actions as born of mental illness or psychic distress. Any detailed look at what I find him guilty of would serve as spoilers. Recommended for its ambiguity mostly. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...

13 HOURS Reviewed

13 Hours Book Author: Mitch Zuckoff Studio: Paramount, Publisher: Hachette Books Movie Date released: January 15th 2016 13 Hours is a riveting movie and book. What makes it special is the discussion by the six American heroes about the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2012. As with most incidents the names are forgotten, but with these accounts people are able to put a humanistic touch on the terrorist attack of Americans. Viewers and readers feel a part of the action, fighting alongside these operators who laid their lives on the line for one another, and for their country. As one of the men described, “Benghazi is essentially a 21st Century Alamo.” This is the story of an Islamic terrorist attack on the US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012. Four Americans were killed: U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen “Bub” Doherty, and Tyrone “Rone” Woods. The five operators who provided the account were John “Tig” Tiegen, Kris “Tanto” Paronto, Mark “Oz” Geist, and two others who are known by the pseudonyms Dave “D.B” Benton and Jack Silva. Both the book and the movie tell the story of true heroism in the face of unbeatable odds. Even knowing how it ends, people find themselves rooting for the heroes and holding out hope they all survive. The account seems incredible and reads like a Nelson DeMille or Vince Flynn novel with good guys, bad guys, incompetent guys, sleazy government officials, and action packed scenarios. Mitch Zuckoff, the author, describes the men as “John Wayne heroes. They did not seek aggrandizement or medals and threw themselves in harms way in order to save American lives. I hoped to show that this is a historical record of what happened, what they did, and what they saw during the Battle of Benghazi. After speaking with them I realized what genuine decent guys they are. I felt it was part of my responsibility to write this book.” The book and film are extremely informative and people will learn the truth about certain facts surrounding Benghazi. Questions were answered either subtly or directly regarding the attacks being pre-mediated versus spontaneous, if those in charge were unprepared, was a “stand down order” given, and what happened with reinforcements. A powerful quote emphasized “the abundance of weapons, the absence of a working Libyan government, and the lingering anti-Western sentiments” in addition of the Ambassador’s constant request for additional security. Zuckoff commented, “There were a combination of motivations. Yes, they were highly paid but faced constant danger in their daily lives. Because the current military does not have enough personnel for all the missions around the world contractors needed to be hired. But these men were retired Special Forces/Marines so they had the experience. They repeatedly felt that this attack could have happened at any time. Jack had talked about this at some length, explaining that they always had to be prepared and that their job was to protect American lives.” To offer readers some context Zuckoff began the book with a history of Libya that included a terrorist attack of the Benghazi American outpost in 1967. He noted, “I put that in so people will get a sense that history repeats itself. If you do not recognize history you are doomed to repeat it. I wanted to show people the world of these men.” The heroes and the author hope after reading the book and seeing the movie Americans will understand “it is about what happened in Benghazi where American lives were saved, lost, and changed, as bullets flew, buildings burned, and mortars fired.” People should read the book and see the movie because they will experience as the heroes did the intense, shocking, and horrific 13 Hours, and will be moved emotionally.   Elise...

Film Review: THE BIG SHORT Jan15

Film Review: THE BIG SHORT

THE BIG SHORT Directed by Adam McKay Written by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, based on the book by Michael Lewis Starring: Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrel, Hamish Linklater, Finn Wittroci, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo I began to write this review listing the players in three separate by ultimately converging groups who figured out (some by brains, some by luck, some by stealth) that a financial crash was coming. But really that isn’t necessary for this review. Perhaps highlighting Christian Bale’s character, who seemed to be first to see it, is enough. A doctor, wandering around financial offices in flipflops with little to do, he sussed it out. What kind of person sees the possible collapse of most of the world coming and thinks only about how to profit by it. Well, I guess a lot of people who’ve chosen a life of profiting through manipulating money would see it like that. A few of these characters bemoan what is happening but not enough to not to put their hand in the till. The filmmaker did a great job of making it possible to follow–even for someone who doesn’t really understand finances beyond a savings account. To extract so much humor from the situation was sort of amazing. One shot of a retired person who had just lost everything would have brought the humor to its knees however. Also a few half-hearted attempts to give a few characters a home life didn’t work. Of course, the players all assumed that a lot of people would be going to jail. People in finance, real estate, etc. Only one person did. And that’s the real tragedy of the 2008 crash. Highly recommended. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...

Film Review: CAROL Jan01

Film Review: CAROL

CAROL Directed by Todd Haynes Written by Phyllis Nagy based on THE PRICE OF SALT, Patricia Highsmith Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy There were some interesting similarities between CAROL and BROOKLYN: set in the same era, both concerned naive young women that were shop girls. But CAROL is mostly composed of darkness whereas BROOKLYN dwelt mostly in the light. Therese (Mara) is a newly hired temporary employee (and budding photographer) at an upscale Manhattan department store. It is Christmas and she quickly meets Carol, (Blanchett) an elegant wealthy woman looking for a toy for her daughter. The attraction is immediate and soon they have embarked on a friendship. Carol is in the process of divorcing her husband (Chandler) and he uses her new relationship (not sexual yet) to threaten her with the loss of custody of her daughter. With nothing to lose, the two embark on a cross-country trip but their happiness at being together is short-lived as fifties morality bears down on them. This is a beautifully filmed and acted movie. The music is gorgeous too. Can a movie be both big and small at the same time? I think this one is. Highly recommended. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...

Film Review: TRUMBO Dec25

Film Review: TRUMBO

TRUMBO Directed by Jay Roach Written by John McNamara and Bruce Cook (book) Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Michael Stuhlbarg, David James Eilliott, Louis C.K. Dalton Trumbo paid a heavy price for his involvement with the Communist Party in the thirties and forties. As one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of blacklisted writers, he spent eleven months in jail despite the fact that being a member of the Party was not illegal. His inability to write screenplays under his own name continued until Otto Preminger gave him screen credit for EXODUS in 1960. He. however, wrote many scripts under various pseudonyms and won two Oscars. TRUMBO tells his story. TRUMBO, the movie, seemed to vacillate in how it wanted Dalton Trumbo presented. Yes, he was a man done wrong, jailed, ostracized, driven to live in Mexico, but he was also able to make a lot of money and didn’t spurn a sumptuous lifestyle despite his professed sympathy for unions and socialism. There was no subtlety in any performance in this film with the exception of Diane Lane (Mrs. Trumbo). Everyone was larger than life. Perhaps they were, but it got tiring after a while. And I never did get a sense of how a man who lived so lavishly could be a Communist. Still I would recommend it if only moderately because this era is so rarely portrayed. There are lots of villains in this film and few people act admirably. Including sometimes, Trumbo himself. Patti Abbott In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join...