Saturday, April 20, 2013


42 (2013)

Written and directed by Brian Helgeland

Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Andre Holland, Christopher Meloni, Brett Cullen, Ryan Merriman, Lucas Black, Alan Tudyk, Hamish Linklater, T.R. Knight, James Pickens Jr and John C. McGinley

After being criticized for not watching movies with a predominantly African-American cast being a certain family member. 42 is a movie that I actually wanted to see. I grew up watching Astros games seeing the game of baseball. It makes you wonder when you were in the stands back in 1947 when Jackie Robinson first took the field.

The movie starts like any typical biopic with the obligatory text about the where the starting point of the film is gonna be. Jack Roosevelt Robinson (Boseman) was a shortstop for the Negro Baseball League team, the Kansas City Monarchs when he is picked by GM Branch Dickey (Ford) to become the first Negro player in the major league. With the help of his wife, Rachel (Beharie) and sports writer Wendell Smith (Holland), Jackie navigates through the murky waters of integrating into white baseball.

Usually movies about pioneering figures would get into saccharine territory, this movie is not exception. The roar and jeers of the crowd, the swelling music and the obligatory slow motion running on the bases. Watching the movie, you have no idea why Branch Dickey decides to have a Negro player on the Brooklyn Dodger until a conservation happens while Jackie is being stitched up.

42 being so squeaky clean could have been major strike against it. It didn't mind that. I was fascinated about the trajectory of this man being plucked out from the K.C. Monarchs into the national spotlight in manner of two short years. Robinson only wanted to play baseball and be good at what he did. He didn't set out to be a hero. That's what he turned out to be in the end. Players commemorates Jackie Robinson with wearing his number in solidarity. It's a wonderful thing.

I was very surprised that Branch Dickey was played by Harrison Ford in the trailers. Boseman as Jackie Robinson was very good. He made him suave, smart-aleck that would get a temper from time to time. I was surprised that Alan Tudyk from Firefly, Serenity and Suburgatory played the racist manage of Phillies. By the end of the movie, I was tearing up. The movie got me hook, line and sinker.

My Rating

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

Directed by Derek Cianfrance

Screenplay by Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder

Stars: Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ray Liotta, Mahershala Ali, Bruce Greenwood, Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne, Harris Yulin, Robert Clohessy, Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan

It has been awhile since I have reviewed a movie. I'm recovering from being snubbed by the LAMMY committee for the fourth year in a row. Apart from being the Susan Lucci on the blogging world, I wanted to see a good movie to lighten my mood. Raving about his previous directorial effort, Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance follows it up with The Place Beyond the Pines. I hate the title and mostly everything about this film.

Ryan Gosling re-teams with Cianfrace playing "Awesome" Luke, a motocross rider that works for a traveling caravel. The job takes him to his old stomping grounds of Schenectady, New York where he bumps into his ex-fling, Romina (Mendes) that kept a secret from him. A son named Jason. Luke wants to get back into his son's life but there are major hurdles in his way; one is her boyfriend, Kofi (Ali) and not having money to support them. A brilliant idea has been concocted when Robin (Mendelsohn) tells Luke to become a bank robber. Seeing that he was good with it, Luke becomes cocky and alerts the attention of the police, particularly rookie cop, Avery Cross (Cooper).

The movie seems like three movies into one. You have the first act that is trying to be like the infamous Best Picture winner, Crash, where characters have to bump into each other to get any kind of interaction. The second act of the movie is like any stereotypical cop movie where the good cop tries to play with the bad ones and gets in too deep. The third act of the film is trying to say that no matter where you go, life comes back around in a bad way.

There is something about this movie that rubbed me the wrong way. It was like I have seen this type of movie before. The plot felt very contrived and recycle. It was nothing fresh or new about it that could set it apart from any other movie. The motivations of some characters in the final act left me puzzled.

They only thing I liked about the movie with the Bradley Cooper performance. It was a solid performance of a rookie cop that tries to do the right thing in a wrong world.

The expectation of the movie was raised to an impossible level for me to enjoy the film that much. Maybe a few years down the line, my opinion would change.

My Rating

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Great Light Has Gone Out

Roger Ebert
(1942 - 2013)

Usually I would make jokes about crappy movies or praise excellent ones, now I feel somber. The Godfather of Film Critics, Roger Ebert died yesterday from the recurrence of his cancer. He was 70. I am merely a movie reviewer. He was critic that was revered with everyone that was a film lover.

When I was growing up, I used to catch Siskel & Ebert when I can with the movie bug bit me in high school. I admired the way that he approached his reviews of films. He truly loved the movie going experiences. After all of the hardship that he had to deal with death of Gene Siskel in 1999, his first battle with cancer that left him without a voice and the cancer come back, he handled everything with grace and dignity.

He is a person that will truly be missed from film community. My thoughts and prayers go out to his lovely wife, Chaz and his family.

Thank you for all that you have done, Roger and until we meet again.