Trailer: Dunkirk

Posted on April 4, 2017 at 8:00 am

Harry Styles, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Mark Rylance star in the WWII story “Dunkirk,” the story of one of the greatest rescue operations in military history, when the Allied forces were beat back to the coast by the Germans and 338,226 men escaped, including 139,997 French, Polish, and Belgian troops, together with a small number of Dutch soldiers, aboard 861 vessels (of which 243 were sunk during the operation). Winston Churchill called it “the miracle of deliverance.” The rescue and its depiction as a morale-booster is also featured in the spring release, “Their Finest.”

Some background:

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Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Where You’ve Seen Them Before: The Revenant

Posted on January 8, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and his cast spent months in remote, frozen locations in Ontario, standing in for the frontier of the United States in the early 1800’s. Underneath the beards and fur, you’ve seen many of the actors before.

Leonardo diCaprio is one of the world’s biggest stars, appearing in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Titanic,” “The Departed,” and “Inception.” He’s been acting since he was very young, with an Oscar nomination for his first significant film role as a developmentally disabled boy in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” opposite Johnny Depp.

Tom Hardy played Bane (behind an oxygen mask) in “The Dark Knight Rises” and the title character in “Mad Max: Fury Road” (much of it behind a mask in that one, too). He also played both of the Kray brothers in last year’s “Legend” and spent an entire film in the driver’s seat in “Locke.” Be sure to see his neglected gem of a performance in “Warrior,” as an MMA fighter in a winner-take-all battle with his estranged brother (Joel Edgerton).

Domhnall Gleeson has had a busy year. You can currently see him as General Hux in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” with his “Ex Machina” co-star Oscar Isaac and in “Brooklyn” with Saoirse Ronan, for once, both of them getting to use their real Irish accents.

Will Poulter played a young filmmaker in “Son of Rambow.”

And he was very funny in “We’re the Millers.”

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Actors Where You’ve Seen Them Before

The Revenant

Posted on January 7, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong frontier combat and violence including gory images, a sexual assault, language and brief nudity
Profanity: Some strong and racist language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Intense, graphic, and disturbing violence including arrows, knives, guns, sexual assault and prolonged animal attack
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: January 8, 2016
Date Released to DVD: April 18, 2016 ASIN: B01AB0DX2K
Copyright 20th Century Fox 2015
Copyright 20th Century Fox 2015

In the 1820’s, ladies of fashion liked fur trim. And, true then as now, men like money. So frontiersmen went on trapping expeditions into the wilderness of the young country of the United States of America (played here by British Columbia and Alberta, Canada). The rewards for bringing back fur pelts are significant. The risks, including attack by the Arikara Indians, are dire.

A frontiersman named Hugh Glass was the guide for one of these expeditions. According to lore, he was savagely attacked by a bear and left to die by his companions, but survived and made it back over 250 miles to the nearest fort, intent on revenge. The story has been told — and embroidered and adapted — over the years, reflecting each era’s perspective and concerns. This version is based on the novel by US Trade Michael Punke (who, as Deputy US Trade representative and Ambassador to the World Trade Organization is restricted from promoting the film). As co-written and directed by “Birdman’s” Alejandro González Iñárritu it is a story of resolve. As often with Westerns, it is a way to explore the fundamental contradictions of the American spirit: determination, vision, courage, but sometimes without any regard for the damage they can cause.

Both Iñárritu and his Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki won Oscars for this film. They filmed only in available light, meaning they had to limit themselves to just moments of filming each day. As the director told Deadline, they created “little-by-little jewel moments; that’s the way I designed the production…But those locations are so gorgeous and so powerful, they look like they have never been touched by a human being, and that’s what I needed.” They filmed under conditions so arduous that Will Poulter, who plays real-life frontiersman/trapper Jim Bridger, told me that no acting was necessary to show that they were freezing and exhausted. The bear is CGI (and the bear attack is truly horrifying), but almost everything else was really there and really happening, including diCaprio’s hacking coughs (he had the flu).

The cinematography is the most stunning I have ever seen, perfectly focussed throughout the depth of field, even across endless vistas. Second only to the visuals is the movie’s real theme, not revenge or even will, but law.

When there is no structure, no church, no police, courts, or jail, no lawmakers, no appeals, how do you decide who is in charge and what to do? The film’s most fascinating moments are the ones where we see characters across the continuum on those questions, with one in particular who is still deciding where he fits in, decide what they should do, what they must do. In an early scene, the Indians attack and the frontiersmen’s response is: pelts payload first, and every man for himself second. Wounded men are left behind without a second’s hesitation.

But when Glass (Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio) is critically wounded in the middle of nowhere, Captain Henry, the leader of the expedition (Domhnall Gleeson) is certain what he is owed. Because he has been an essential and honorable part of their expedition (and, unstated but evident, because no one is shooting arrows at them at the moment), he decides two men will be left behind to care for him until he dies and then give him some semblance of a Christian burial. They are John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) and Bridger (17 years old at the time). Glass has a teenage son (Forrest Goodluck), from his marriage to a Native American woman who was killed, and he stays with his father as well.

But Fitzgerald becomes impatient and commits a terrible act of cruelty while Bridger is away from the campsite, then lies to him about what happened. Glass is left for dead. As Glass, Fitzgerald, Henry, and Bridger deal with the consequences of these actions, we see the beginnings of a society and culture. Some day, the pristine landscapes explored by Glass and Bridger would be covered with roads and cities and we will try to re-create them by filming in other countries to show us what we were. But the story of the struggle for justice, always the great work of this country, is a story we will keep telling forever.

Parents should know that this film includes extremely graphic and disturbing human and animal violence with many explicit and disturbing images of dead bodies and wounds, murder of family members, sexual assault, brief nudity, some strong language, and racism.

Family discussion: How many different views about law and morality do you see among the characters? What should the group have done with a severely injured member?

If you like this, try: “Touching the Void,” a documentary about an extraordinary story of survival in the wilderness

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Based on a book Based on a true story Drama DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Epic/Historical Western

Trailer: Legend, the Story of The Crime Boss Twin Brothers, The Krays

Posted on July 10, 2015 at 8:00 am

Twin brothers known as The Krays” ran a brutal crime ring in 1960’s London. A new movie called “Legend” stars Tom Hardy as both of the identical twin brothers, Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

A 1991 film called “The Krays” starred real-life brothers Martin Kemp and Gary Kemp.

They have also been the subject of documentaries like this one.
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Based on a true story Crime Trailers, Previews, and Clips

Mad Max: Fury Road

Posted on May 14, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Constant, intense, and graphic violence, guns, explosions, crashes, some disturbing images
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: May 15, 2015
Copyright Village Roadshow  Pictures 2015
Copyright Village Roadshow Pictures 2015

Mad Max (Tom Hardy, taking over from Mel Gibson) stamps on a two-headed lizard and then chews its head off. And that’s just in the first minute. That master of apocalyptic junkyard anarchy, George Miller, is back, bigger, wilder, madder than ever with this fourth of the Mad Max movies, all set in a post-apocalyptic desert dystopia of deprivation, chaos, rust, and brutality. In this world, all anyone has ever known is loss and despair. There is no hope, no thought of any possible way to learn or create. At one point, a character points to something completely unfamiliar to him, calling it “that thing.” It is a tree.

The first three films were about the fight for gasoline to fuel the vehicles pieced together from the wreckage. This one is about another, even more precious fluid: water. Other precious fluids come into the story as well, including blood and breast milk.

A brutal dictatorship has taken over, controlling access to all of that. All are the preserve of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, with the right crazy eyes for the role), who lives literally above everyone else in a place known as The Citadel, maintaining control with his army of War Boys, all with shaved heads and powder-white skin and all convinced that their destiny is to die for Immortan Joe and be transported to paradise in Valhalla. Immortan Joe also maintains a harem of impossibly long-legged, lovely young woman. His chief lieutenant is Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a fearless woman with a mechanical arm, so much the central focus of the film that it should have been named for her. When Furiosa escapes with Immortan Joe’s women, including his pregnant “queen,” Joe and his peers come after them, in a convoy of tricked-up vehicles, all made to destroy. Everything is in shades of burnt-out umber except for the bright red suit of a guy shredding an electric guitar to keep everyone angry.

One of the War Boys is Nuz (Nicholas Hoult), who has brought along his “blood bag.” That would be Max, who was captured by Immortan Joe’s troops and kept alive only to serve as a blood donor. Nuz did not want to be left behind but had not yet finished getting his transfusion. So Max is manacled and attached to the front of Nuz’s car. Max ends up with Furiosa and the young women, who are seeing the “green place” where Furiosa was born.

Miller is a master of cinema, and his staging and cinematography on the action scenes are shot through with throbbing, raging, adrenalin that contrasts with the stoicism of Max and Furiosa. Miller has said that the Edge camera car is the most exciting technological innovation in his career. It allowed him (he operated it himself) to put the camera in the middle of the action. He does not like to use CGI, preferring “practical” (real) effects, and the grittiness is so palpable we feel we are inhaling dust.

Hardy is excellent, though, as with Bain, his face is masked for much of the film. Theron is more incendiary than the film’s mountainous fireballs, creating a character with a rich, complicated history in the way she fights, in the determined set of her brows, in the way she looks at the helpless young women, thinking about where she has been and what she has seen. The action makes our hearts beat harder, but Miller’s ability to create characters that transcend the crashes and explosions and themes that resonate all too sharply with contemporary conflicts, are what can make them beat more fiercely.

Parents should know that this film has non-stop apocalyptic action, peril, and violence with many characters injured and killed and several graphic and disturbing images, as well as some strong language, some nudity, and references to domestic abuse.

Family discussion: Why won’t Max tell Furiosa his name? Why did society become so savage? Why was one community different?

If you like this, try: the first three “Mad Max” movies and Welcome to Wherever You Are, A Documentary Celebrating the MAD MAX Mythology

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3D Action/Adventure Fantasy Movies -- format Series/Sequel Thriller
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