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Columbia Pictures’ action-thriller Captain Phillips stars two-time Oscar® winner Tom Hanks in the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. The film is directed by Oscar® nominee Paul Greengrass, from a screenplay by Billy Ray and based upon the book, A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty. The film is produced by Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca.
Cast: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener
Director: Paul Greengrass
This week on Reel Spoilers we take tangents to a new level. At one point Blake spends twenty minutes simply reading casserole recipes.
Ok, that’s not true. But there will be tangents! And in between tangents we somehow find time to pick apart (to varying degrees of picked-apartedness) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Enough Said, Don Jon and Rush (which is about neither the band nor the broadcaster).
Dan also takes us back to Ron Howard’s directorial debut – Grand Theft Auto (no relationship to the video game), with his “Video Recovery.”
All this at a cost to you of zero dollars. Unless you factor in the price of your media device.
And your internet connection.
And your electric.
And your time.
And then there’s the “opportunity cost” – the loss of what you could be doing with your time instead of listening to Reel Spoilers.
At first it is easy to write Rush off as another Hollywood effort to put a pretty face behind the wheel of a fast car. Ignore that intuition, and watch and be awed by its performances and high octane action.
James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) are as close to arch-enemies as you can get. The two have very different approaches to their careers, but both have their eye on the same final goal. Lauda is a very serious man, who is calculating and very ambitious. It is these very same qualities that put him at odds with the brash James Hunt, a man who revels in celebrity. The film follows their fledgling careers as they go from Formula 3 racing to the prestigious Formula 1 circuit. The film takes you every step (and misstep) of the way as their rivalry builds, and eventually transcends into a mutual respect for each other.
The film has two distinct leads, both with the same goal, but with different motivations. The contrast between these two characters gives director Ron Howard the opportunity to hold the audience in suspense. Much of the marketing is pushed around the attractive Chris Hemsworth, but this is just as much Daniel Brühl’s film. Their characters are the antithesis of each other, but midway through the film its hard not to root for both of them. Howard works magic by clearly defining the driving force between both characters, so that despite only one character able being able to win, both reach a very satisfying finale.
For me, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was a huge surprise hit. I went in expecting to see what appeared to be a cute, run-of-the-mill children’s film. Instead what received was an extremely clever, smart and consistently entertaining movie that nears the top of my all-time favorites for kids. As the case often is, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 doesn’t quite hold up to the high expectations set by the first film. Yet it is still a lot of fun for all parties involved.
Pretty much the entire cast of characters for the first film are back. The film picks up right after the end of the first one, after Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) has destroyed his greatest invention – the “FLDSMDFR,” which turns water into food. When one of his greatest idols, famous inventor Chester V (Will Forte), shows up to the island to help clean up the food disaster, Flint and his friends are relocated to fictional San Franjose. It is there that Flint is given a job at Live Corp, where he furiously crafts new inventions in hopes of impressing Chester V and becoming one of his “Thinkquanauts” and donning the infamous orange vest.
Most modern romantic comedies contain just as much fantasy as a J.R.R Tolkien epic. They are loaded with unrealistic character motivations, mindless tropes, and plenty of female wish fulfillment. It’s hard to criticize romantic comedies, and at the same time praise huge blockbuster action films. Neither are grounded in reality, but for some reason its easier to forgive over the top action films for their unrealistic sins. Finding a romantic comedy that feels genuine and entertaining is like finding a diamond in the rough.
Coming to save the day is Enough Said, the latest film by writer director Nicole Holofcener. In this well crafted love story, Holofcener gives a unique and heartfelt take on finding love in middle age, and the complications it presents. The film follows two middle-age divorcees who despite a lack of initial physical attraction, eventually find a lot of common ground for love to blossom. However, when Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) strikes up a friendship with the ex-wife of new love Albert (James Gandolfini), things start to spiral. Eva must come to grips with how she feels about Albert, and stop worrying about how others feel.
Addressing the elephant in the room, the recent death of James Gandolfini makes this a harder film to review. It’s a little bittersweet at times watch his performance, especially because it is a showcase of the range he possessed as an actor. There are no hints of Tony Soprano here. Gandolfini’s Albert is sweet, gentle, and charming. The chemistry he shares on screen with Louis-Dreyfus is exciting and raw, and lends an air of reality to the proceedings. It is the chemistry between the two that makes the film work so well. At first glance it seems an odd pairing, but watching it unfold on screen the coupling seems perfect. Louis-Dreyfus is engaging as the lead, and her wry sense of humor keeps the dialogue fresh and fast paced.