CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER (2014) movie review

new-captain-america-the-winter-soldier-poster-lands-155226-a-1391176951-470-75This is NOT a film to take kids to.

Seizing : with purposeless violence. Sure the re-awakened Naziesque spy-game-death-threat works, but the tide rolls in and out. A long scene of heavy violence flows in followed by a casual sit down chat about what could be causing the violence. And over and over. What happened to “zero body-count” kind of films.Chris_Evans-Captain-America-Photo-1Tons of death makes this a frustrated jaw-clencher / forehead-furrower.  It has some very cool action sequences, don’t get me wrong. It passes my Dad’s BEAK test: Big Explosions and Kicking. Add bounding parkour and the cap playing skins vs. shirts, and I’m in. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by well-chorographed fight scenes. But I can’t help feeling like this film was more like gaming, earning credits for hits taken out, than an action film with character, quirk, and purpose.

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-1

Gushing: with well-meant dialogue…”They call him the Winter Soldier.”

captain-america-winter-soldier-trailerThe so-called Winter Soldier… is in the film very little. Also, Captain America, in the title role, plays a definite backseat to Nick Fury as the driver and Black Widow sitting shotgun as navigator. Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johanssen get more screen time…if you don’t count the forty minutes (or so it felt) of the Cap walking despondently through his section of the museum or talking to his old lady first love with CG lips.

Chris-Evans-in-CAPTAIN-AMERICA-THE-WINTER-SOLDIER-e1396169452664Wishing: with all of my Marvel love that this film could get more than a C+, especially since it stars my first love (other than Ralph Macchio) Robert Redford, who at least can still claim to be charming. izrg

1 Comment

Filed under Action, DramCom

NOAH (2014) movie review

Noah-2014-Movie-Image-2

You were imagining that the film would be better than the book? Never. If you went in with the expectation that it would be an accurate depiction of scripture, you didn’t do your homework. I knew when I read that Darren Aronofsky was writing / directing / producing that it would be a beautifully filmed, well acted, decent story in which I would at some point have to cover my eyes and scream “It’s too much!” And it was. And I did.

noah-noah-movie-review-2014Expectations are funny things. We are taught in school as young readers to make inferences and as young scientists to make hypotheses. So we do this in life. We expect things. And ironically, we expect for things to go well. Like Sinatra, we want things to go our way. We cannot possibly gage the next top hit song or recording artist, but we vote on American Idol. People want a voice in popular opinion, but we forget the industry behind big decisions. We forget the power of persuasion, marketing, and media. We forget that directors get a script and film it as they see it. If they also write it, they are interpreting and adapting the literature themselves.

noah-2014-movie-hd-wallpaper-1920x1080If you walk into Noah with the expectation that you will see the truth of scripture come alive on the big screen without human bias and interpretation, your expectations will be disappointed.
I told myself it would be about as biblically in tune as Inception.
I also read a load of reviews ahead of time. Perhaps I went in guns loaded to prove something and was pleasantly surprised at how professional filmmaking makes such a difference onscreen.
So I ask you to try something new… Be Pollyanna for a moment and look for the good.
Noah-2014-Movie-Image-2-1
Noah-2024-HD-screencapsI saw a gorgeous and accurate-to-scripture creation narrative. It did not leave God out. It did not excuse or dismiss sin. It did not try to explain it all. It simply showed the story.

actor-russell-crow-stars-as-the-title-character-in-the-film-noah-slated-for-a-march-28-2014-releaseThe actors in this film were brilliant and on A-game all. Not a moment of cheese in the portrayal, even when playing opposite rock creatures. Talk about changing expectations: when you see rock creatures right away, you set aside your expectations and recall that this had the same amount of biblical connectivity as The Lord of the Rings. The creatures weren’t horrible. They were a mix between Ents and the Rock Biter from The Neverending Story.

Emma-Watson-and-Douglas-Booth-in-Noah-2014-Movie-ImageSure, humanity, including Noah and his family, lived like cave men in a post-apocalyptic looking setting in which the real evil is meat-eating…sure. And yes, old people have magic. Also the ark (built mostly by RockBiters) looked more like a floating Costco.

Dead-Land-Noah-Movie-Screencaps-WallpaperAnd of course there is that odd side plot to get the boys wives when they were already married in the Biblical account. (So we don’t have to worry about Ham.) And there is that bit about how Noah believes that God wants to wipe out humanity so animals can live, therefore, Noah goes Gladiator and murders people trying to keep them off the ark. That made me sad, because that’s the coolest part of the story! In scripture, Noah preached and built for 120 years begging people to get on the ark and would have taken any who wanted to come. But they only mocked him, and then God closed the door.
noah-logan-lerman-russell-crowe-movie-hd-1920x1080And, there was also that post-flood account on the boat…Noah who didn’t hear from God and assumed that God wanted him to end the human race and kill his grandchildren… I screamed, as aforementioned, “It’s too much!” Ridiculous. Come on. That family survived the cataclysmic inundation of the world. Let them live.

Then again. I’ve never felt so kindred with Bible characters as I did watching this film. I call them characters, but they were people like you and me. People. With fears and loves and desires and anger and the capacity for both great evil and great mercy. And those on the ark lived through the tragic death of all of humanity.

Ray-Winstone-in-Noah-2014-Movie-ImageTubal-Cain gives a speech begging God to speak to him. He says he is like God. He believes God’s silence equals rejection. That feels too familiar. No matter what belief people hold to, they crave a higher power and blessing. They want to be chosen, spoken to. They seek externality. How beautiful it is to see that the Bible is called God’s Word, and in it, He promises never to destroy the world with a flood again. He also says He “so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).vlcsnap-2014-03-13-14h40m55s25

3 Comments

Filed under Drama

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014) movie review

Grand-Budapest-Hotel-The-posterA Line of Honest Verse
By: S.Platter

 

Disappointed my heart; expectations were buzzing

I thought well with casting, pastels, and odd cakes

Anderson

So vulgar it’s brazen, filthy constant bold cussing
Bloody digits now severed and prison shiv stabbings
Disgusting

the-grand-budapest-hotel-ralph-fiennesBeauty and gore, It’s a viewer’s discretion
Mustachioed, dainty, Finnes funny filanderings:
paradox.

A most twinkling star cast boasts of cameos aplenty:
Jude Law and Bill Murray, Brody and Finnes, and then
Swinton.

brilliant-new-poster-arrives-for-the-grand-budapest-hotel-151538-a-1387438468-470-75Amidst wonderful wishing lark leary retreats,
The Grand Budapest sits astride time zones
waiting

For narration illuminating two tragic stories.
A young tale like a love song with rough twists most
Barbarous.

revolori1Classic emotionless dialogue lilting
On breathtaking canvas like frosting
from Mendls

How is one film so two-toned with
Filth- lusty pageantry?
What romance. What grimace. No innocent
Moonrise.

531a1fc75209ba3172b111b5_7-the-grand-budapest-hotelWill the red Zissou beanie capped Anderson fans
Appreciate Monseniour Gustaf H and his
lobby boy?

Of the wild conversations ensuing from Budapest,
I have no doubt dinners will bubble
And coo.

All the beards and rimmed glasses, a flannel menagerie.
Seattlite audiences bursting
For joy

But I remain tossed over licenses taken,
Like a teaspoon of dung in a cake mix
Unnoticed?

2 Comments

Filed under DramCom

RAGAMUFFIN (2014) movie review

0e2751421_1388358197_ragamuffin-bannerWho would play you in the movie of your life? The old campfire question suits when Sandra Bullock plays the benevolent mother to an unloved high school football player or when Judi Dench relives the journey of one Philomena seeking a lost son. But who will bravely take on the story of an alcoholic Christian recording artist who dies tragically in a car accident? Too much? Too messy? Too uncomfortable? Too many people continue to snub the Ragamuffin’s message…that we are all broken but that God still loves us.

I loved so much about this film, produced by the Mullins family and directed by a friend: David Leo Schultz. I loved the almost documentary feel intertwining real recordings of Rich Mullins telling his own story and playing live performances on stages across America. I loved the casting. Michael Koch owned the role of Mullins whole-heartedly. And my friend Amy Schultz debuted beautifully as Amy Grant.

imagesI especially loved the truth in it. It’s not fluffy or cheesy or kitsch. It’s honest. And, I believe that it honors the hero of the film, but Jesus most of all.

I remember when Rich Mullins died. I remember singing his songs in church. He was a kind of praise song pioneer. I remember the judgmental looks he got for his unkempt, rowdy, boisterous, rebellious Christianity in his ripped jeans and bare feet. Most people who complain about the church or about Christianity will blame hypocrisy. Perfection is unattainable, and churches are made up of imperfect people. It’s easy to forget, but forgiveness and acceptance is a simple ask away. Rich Mullins knew this. He spoke directly to the church about being real with themselves and others so people would know that Jesus came to save sinners, not just the people trying to look perfect. Mullins was refreshing. He struggled, and everybody knew it. Something in his swagger, his stammer, his unabashed truth telling, and especially in his honest music has shaped me and given me hope to help me through my own set of problems by relying on the giver of peace.

Here are the lyrics to one of his songs that has carried me on multiple occasions: “Hold Me Jesus.”

Well, sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all 
When the mountains look so big 
And my faith just seems so small 
So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf 
You have been King of my glory 
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6csWlQ9dfb4

Was Mullins the modern St Francis, the original hipster of sorts who refused to play by the imposed rules of Christian society? He certainly swam upstream in a current of Christian conformists in the 90′s. Rich Mullins allowed his stage to become a pulpit to draw the hearts of Christians back to Jesus and away from stuffy ritual and performance faith.
460130508_640The Gandalf of this film is Brennan Manning, author of a beautiful book called “Ragamuffin Gospel.” Rich Mullins wrote the forward about honesty and frailty and how this concept of being a Ragamuffin had shaped and truly changed his life.

mi_A8WfwA45DpiLD0Gx-2-wBe careful going in to this film…you might just end up confronting your own demons and find out that you are indeed a Ragamuffin like the rest of us. The daddy issues may resonate in your own heart. You may feel conviction, but more so the discomfort of God’s acceptance despite your imperfections. Watch out; you might just meet Jesus.

The DVD called Ragamuffin will be available on May 6.

For more info:    http://ragamuffinthemovie.com/

http://davidleoschultz.wordpress.com/

1 Comment

Filed under Documentary, Drama, Indie

GRAVITY (2013) movie review


105575-gravity-movie.gifValue life. Value breath. Value grief and lessons learned, the voices echoing from those we’ve lost.

Film is craft, is art. It teaches and inspires. In this film by Alfonso Cuarón, we wear the helmet, floating unharnessed, fighting to survive one cataclysm to the next…for the whole film.Sandra-Bullock-in-Gravity-2013-Movie-Image-6

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are the trustworthy protagonists. He is there for the ride, loving life, feeding hope. She is fearful until she can let go and quote, “No matter what, you’ll have great stories to tell, and it’s been one ‘hell of a ride.’” It is at that.

This film did more than offer the viewer a space suit and helmet. It begs one to know the gravitas required for survival, and it teaches us to appreciate those who keep us breathingimages

Tonight I am grateful for my sisters. One keeps me talking, and one keeps me breathing.

One brims with joy daily, always busy, always helping, always herding others onward toward adventures she dreams up or jumps on board with. She confessed to me recently about a night spent crying, agonizing about future and life. It humanized her, helped me to relate, saved me somehow. I found my tears and she called to keep me talking. She saved me then and on many other occasions, and I am grateful.
My youngest sister is full of deep wisdom and reminds me to allow myself to rest, to take in beauty, to appreciate silence and sunshine and music. She saves me and I breath once more.

gravity-picture-george-clooney-sandra-bullock-gravitySo, who is your Clooney? To whom are you grateful for life-giving reminders? Survival is worth fighting for. Not just arrival at the next module or re-entry into the next atmosphere. Survival goes beyond the water landing and forces you to hold your breath long enough to resurface from the waters and to learn to walk again.

This film taught me that survival is in the next step and the next. It’s in letting go and moving on. It’s smiling at the future despite past pain. It’s in feeling the gravity of every moment and treasuring it as if it were your last.Sandra Bullock Gravity

1 Comment

Filed under Action, Drama, Sci Fi

PHILOMENA (2014) movie review


Catholic guilt … Judi Dench in Philomena.In Philomena, the character arc is slight and unexpected. The title role, played gently and subtlely by the delightful Judi Dench, went from following blind faith to allowing bits of doubt to formulate questions that would eventually offer escape from her prison of fatalism. Her purposeful belief finally leads her to peace and the unexpected: true forgiveness.

Character arcs. I’ve discussed the pivotal nature  of arc in story before. Think of a static character in terms his or her immutability or immunity to change. Static is the Matrix pre- red pill. I have learned that in order for a character to remain static they must never face conflict or at least refuse to learn from pain. The static character is either boring or external to the movement of the story.

When characters choose the change, they move from static to dynamic. They often get new names and see the world as broad and wide and find purpose despite challenge. They are interesting.Ticket-Movies-Philomena-2663351In my recent viewing of August: Osage County, I left livid at every character for choosing in favor of cyclical, hateful, hopeless and in essence: static. Each could have deferred, rather, to hopeful and loving, inspired by discouragement to stop wallowing and to change. A recent discussion with someone who loved the film said she was given hope for Julia Roberts’ character when she chose to drive away. She faced the rising sun and stepped into life. Perhaps some arches are slight, but no less purposeful.

Philomena-1__140105042350-575x289Philomena’s journey felt Herculean. She seeks to be known and remembered and therefore made whole. Her sacrifice feels worthwhile only if accepted by the one person it was meant for, her child.

The journalist’s arc is slighter still. Martin Sixsmith, played so well by Steve Coogan. The story goes, that he, the Muggerich to her Mother Teresa, must take Philomena on a journey,  from which she must be given grace to move on and he must grow a heart.

It’s difficult to pin a Grinch face on one so polite and likable. His journey begins with a selfish attempt to reignite a lost career, but becomes a jolt for justice and eventually a friendship. At first he is as emotionally disconnected as the audience in the theater, but as tension builds and Philomena grows fonder, we race in with him through barred doors eager for the truth, angry at the revelation of it.

Some cruelty is inexplicable. We cannot forget of what we are all capable or the fact that without grace we too could fall prey to temptation. Philomena forgives not by fate, but in faith. For this arc, she will be remembered.philomena03

2 Comments

Filed under Drama

THE BOOK THIEF (2014) movie review

At least with Titanic, you knew the boat would sink.

The-Book-Thief-Movie-Review

This film showed such perseverance of the soul, such hope in desperation, such light in darkness, such freedom breaking out with boldness, bursting through despite fear. It was gorgeous until…

maxresdefault

_MG_6517April 02, 2013.cr2

the-book-thief-max-liesel

the-book-thief-movie-ben-schnetzer

the-book-thief-1…until the end.
The end, if you can call it an ending, attempted to jump 80 years or so into the future and relay the deaths of ALL OF THE CHARACTERS!
Never before have I seen a script invest in and develop characters and relationships so delicately, so painstakingly right up until the instant death of almost all.
Sure, there are gruesome war films. But this? Everyone dies horribly, too soon, only to be found by the one girl who loves them all. We have to watch the main character grieve again and again over each one. It was too much.

They all live through wars, but die in a moment? They fight to love then lose their lives? What is this, Downton? My apologies. I give Fellowes far too much credit for killing his characters when their lives are sweetest to them. War is never sweet. But life can be. I confess I’m on the constant watch for the sweetness of life. I hunt for beauty like treasure. I value words as the character Max did.

This film is not what I imagined it would be at all.
Skip the narration, choose the alternate ending and turn it off before the end of the war.

The Book Thief

6 Comments

Filed under Drama, Historical Drama, Skip It