Showing posts from February, 2015

Review - Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), R, 129 Minutes - Each year there seems to be at least one action flick released opposite whatever romantic drama/comedy hits theaters in attempts to take advantage of the very commercial holiday.  This year that film was Kingsman: The Secret Service, adapted by director Matthew Vaugh from the Mark Millar/Dave Gibbons created comic book.

Kingsman is an independent intelligence organization that operates for the betterment of mankind with no political agenda.  The only way to become a Kingsman agent is to be recruited by a surviving agent when another agent has passed.  That is the scenario we are shown in this film.  Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a bit of a troubled youth, is taken under the wing of Kingsman agent Harry Hart, code name: Galahad (Colin Firth).  We come to learn that Eggsy's father died saving Galahad and other agents on a mission years before.  Galahad becomes a surrogate father of sorts as Eggsy quickly rises to the top of his class of…

The 87th Annual Academy Awards: 2015 Oscar Picks

Has it really been a year already?  It's hard to believe, but it's time again for my annual Academy Awards picks post.  This year, the Oscars sort of snuck up on me.  Last year they were the first weekend in March so I was thinking that I had another week to check out any films that I had not yet seen.  Luckily I was able to see the last couple that I was really interested in over the past week or so.

This year, thanks to The Grandin Theatre's screening of the Animated and Live Action Short Film nominations, I will be expanding my picks to cover twenty two of the twenty four categories (up from twenty last year).  The only categories that I will not be picking are the two documentary categories.  I didn't see any of those films and wouldn't have the slightest idea what I was talking about (actually, by that criteria I could have eliminated the Best Foreign Language Film category as well, but I couldn't bring myself to cut a category that I had previously picked…

Review - Still Alice

Still Alice (2014), PG-13, 101 minutes - Each year I try to see as many of the Oscar nominated films as possible before the night of the awards.  Due to its release schedule and the winter weather we have had in the area this past week, Still Alice ended up being the last of these films that I was able to take in, and I'm glad that I did.

Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's after experiencing some disorientation and intermittent memory loss.  Her husband John (Alec Baldwin and grown children Anna (Kate Bosworth), Tom (Hunter Parrish), and Lydia (Kristen Stewart) are all very supportive of Alice, but everyone's anxiety level rises when they learn that her Alzheimers has been classified as 'familial', meaning that it is genetic and may have been passed on.  The film shows Alice's slow mental deterioration and her efforts to combat it.

Julianne Moore gives a spectacular and n…

2015 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Live Action

As promised, this is the second of my two posts pertaining to this year's Oscar nominated short films.  The first, covering the animated shorts, can be seen below or by following this link.  Here I cover the five live action short films that earned nominations from the Academy.  They tend to have longer run times, so no other considerations were screened like there were with the animated shorts.

Just in case you're interested, the criteria that these films must meet to be eligible for the Oscars can be seen here.

Once again, a big thanks to The Grandin Theatre for making these films available for viewing!  Now here are this year's live action short nominees (listed alphabetically):

Aya (2014), NR, 40 minutes - A young woman stands in for a chauffeur at the airport as he has to go move his vehicle.  When the client he was waiting for arrives and he hasn't returned, Aya decides to jumble things up and take his place.  An odd and interesting story that shows a woman who …

2015 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Animated

It wouldn't surprise me if the local art house theater has shown the Oscar nominated short films in the past, but this year was the first year that I actually had the opportunity to check them out!  There are two categories of short films: animated and live action.  I've clumped all of the animated short films into this post and will follow it up with a post containing the live action short films.

Because I've never had the chance to view the Oscar nominated short films prior to the actual awards ceremony, I've never really thought much about the criteria pertaining to these categories.  But this year I took the time to look them up.  As with most rules, there are a number of stipulations that these films must meet.  Instead of trying to explain them myself, I'll just leave a link to them for those interested here.

Since the animated films tend to be much shorter than the live action shorts, they were shown along with four other animated shorts that had received c…

Review - A Most Violent Year

A Most Violent Year (2014), R, 125 minutes - Just about any sort of promotion leading up to the release of A Most Violent Year would lead you to believe that it is the most recent entry into the gangster film genre.  But, while a couple of characters certainly have connections to that seedy underside of life, the film actually focuses on one man's efforts to avoid that lifestyle.

That man is Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), an immigrant owner of a heating fuel company in New York City in 1981 (statistically one of the most violent year's in the city's history).  Over a few month period, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of his company's fuel has been stolen by truck hijackers causing major complications in his business plans on multiple fronts.  Abel finds himself juggling a police investigation into his financial dealings (thanks primarily to his wife's and business partner's connections), push back from the truck driver's union to arm themselves against t…

Review - Jupiter Ascending (3D)

Jupiter Ascending (2015), PG-13, 127 minutes - Jupiter Ascending is the latest film from the minds of the Wachowskis (Andy and Lana, creators of The Matrix trilogy), and was originally set to be released last summer.  After realizing that more time was needed to complete a large number of special effects shots, it was pushed back to early February of this year.

Jupiter Ascending revolves around the aptly named Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) and her unknown place within the bloodline of the alien Abrasax empire.  The Abrasax treat the countless planets throughout the galaxy like crops to be harvested in order to create a serum that allows them near immortality.  Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne) inherited the Earth like a piece of real estate when his mother passed away.  It is considered extremely valuable and highly sought after, creating a rift between he and his Abrasax siblings Titus (Douglas Booth), and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton).  After genetically engineered bounty hunter Caine Wis…