Sully (2016)

Sully
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Todd Komarnicki, adapted from the book by Chesley Sullenberger

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Rarely do true heroes want accolades and admiration, think police officers, fire fighters, doctors, etc., instead most of them are quick to say that they were simply doing their job. In Clint Eastwood’s new film, Sully, he depicts the pilot Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) as a stoic, no frills type of hero. This isn’t a film about a man wearing a cape saving the world, instead it is about a man who saved dozens of lives or “souls” as he says, and lived to tell the story that would forever define his life.

The film is set on the real life events that occurred on January 15, 2009, also known as the “Miracle on the Hudson,” when US Airways flight 1549 was set off course by a flock of geese that crippled both engines. Instead of heading back to La Guardia airport as suggested by radio air traffic controllers, Sully and his co-pilot Jeffrey Zaslow (Aaron Exckhart) made the decision to land the plane on the Hudson River. A feat never done before and one that is rarely if ever successful. The plane landed in the water and every single passenger and aircrew member survived. To say that what happened that day was a miracle, is an understatement.

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Much like Eastwood’s most notable previous film American Sniper, he once again brings audiences up-close and personal through life and death matters. The traumatic event isn’t shown as expected, as in the beginning of the movie, instead the events are shown in a dispersed manner. They are cut with Sully’s nightmares of what could have been that day, scenes that look reminiscent 9/11, with the plane coming tremendously close and exploding into New York City buildings. One of the main features of the film that I enjoyed was that all the credit was not given to Sully, the point is made that it was a combined effort of the pilots, first responders, and everyone involved in the rescue that made this event not turn into a disaster.

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The film vacillates between the heroic landing and the life that Sully must now endure, he is now a hero in the face of the public, but in his eyes he was just doing his job. He used his over 40 years of aviation experience and gut instincts to nail the landing and do what he knew was right in order to save everyone. Sully remains uncomfortable with the limelight and when he walks into a NYC bar and sees his face all over the television, he almost doesn’t want to look up and see the news. He can’t seem to contend with that fact. The bartender quickly recognizes him and serves him a drink aptly created after the incident, a grey goose on the rocks with water, of course. We get light moments like this throughout the film, but the majority of it is tense and a bit nerve-wrecking, despite the fact that we know everyone will survive.

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Although he was considered a hero, Sully must face the National Transportation Safety Board and withstand the second-guessing of his actions by investigators Charles Porter (Mike O’Malley) and Elizabeth Davis (Anna Gunn), who believe that he could have gone back to La Guardia without endangering everyone onboard by performing an emergency water landing. The courtroom scenes despite being repetitive were pivotal in helping the audience understand that what Sully did was the right thing and that without his quick-thinking actions it could have been a national disaster.

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Hanks delivers on every level, his performance was subtle and nuanced. There was no dramatic breakdown, or moment where he empties out the mini-bar, instead we get the feeling that Sully is an everyman type of guy who loves his wife and family and just wants to do his job. Hanks remained calm and collected and didn’t over-perform the role, which in this case completely worked. Hanks’ performance took me back to the years where it seemed that he was winning an Oscar every year. It is likely that he could get nominated for his portrayal and it will be well-deserved.

Eastwood hit it out of the park with this one and I enjoyed every minute of the film. This movie deserves to be seen and if you enjoy dramas Sully is the one to watch.

}}Melissa

Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)

Bridget Jones Baby
Directed by Sharon Maguire
Written by Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, Emma Thompson

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It’s been 12 years since we last saw Helen Fielding’s infamous character Bridget Jones, the wait is over and she has returned and is somewhat better than ever. In the third installment of the series, Bridget Jones’s Baby, directed by Sharon Maguire, who by the way did not direct the second, which we will pretend never existed at this point, because it could possibly be one of the worst sequels in movie history, comes back and is now 43 years old and at a completely different stage in her life. Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is in a similar position as when we first met her back in 2001, sitting all alone in her apartment, but where in the first film she felt defeated, she is now okay with being single and happy that she has a great career as a successful news producer. She jumps around her house and embraces her place in the world.

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What has changed now is that all her friends are married with babies, the weekly rant sessions at the bar have been replaced by catching up at children’s birthday parties. Everyone is too busy to hang out, but Bridget finds comfort in hanging out with her 30-something pals at the news station. Miranda (Sarah Solemani) the head reporter at the channel, is just as crazy and funny as Bridget and decides to take her on a weekend romp to a music festival. Once again, we are reminded that she is still the bumbling mess she has always been when she meets Jack Quant (Patrick Dempsey) and decides to have a roll in the hay with him.

Back at home, Bridget continues to run into Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and it is obvious that a connection still exists. You could hear the beating hearts and internal swooning of every woman in the theater every time he entered the screen. Darcy is still the same stern face, no-nonsense guy as before and despite his lack of emotional communication skills, Bridget is still endeared to him. There is just something about the two of them that is magnetic and infectious to watch. I think it reminds people of unrequited love and the ephemeral feeling of the “one that got away.”

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Being that the film is about a baby, well you can guess what happens to Bridget. She becomes pregnant and must figure out who the real father is because it could be either Jack or Mark. What ensues from here, is all typical Bridget and it worked. Many of the scenarios and scenes in the film were similar to those in the first, but it didn’t feel trite and overplayed, it actually made sense and was fun to watch. I think Zellweger’s personality shined through and reminded us why we loved her character so much. Bridget is not living in a perfect world and doesn’t do everything right, nor does she always want to do the right thing, like most women in rom-com movies do, and that’s what makes her so loveable. She is every girl and despite being a mess, still a great role model for women. She stands up for what she believes in even if it embarrasses her and she is willing to own up to her mistakes.

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Zellweger was great in the film and it was great to see her back on the screen after being gone from the movie industry for over 6 years. Her smile is infectious and you just can’t help, but love her all over here again. What can I say, she had me at hello. Firth was equally great, he always delivers and knows how to play the Darcy role to perfection. Dempsey was great as the other viable father, he was charming and sweet and reminded everyone how he got that McDreamy nickname in the first place. Solemani stood out to me. I haven’t seen her in much and I have to say she almost stole the movie from Bridget. I would love to see a spin off on her life and mishaps.

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If you enjoyed the first film, then you will definitely love this one. It’s funny, quirky, silly, not the best movie in the world, but fun to watch and really that is the whole reason we go to movies in the first place. This is the perfect movie to see with girlfriends and a great reminder that even though life isn’t always perfect, if Bridget can make the best of it, so can we.

}}Melissa

Popstar (2016)

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Written by Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Directed by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone

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The guys from Lonely Island, best known for their hilarious SNL digital shorts where they typically team up with famous singers or actors and make faux music videos, were finally handed the keys to make their own full-length feature film. Naturally they took their usual style and spin on music and created a mockumentary about a Justin Bieber-esque character. In the film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, we see the rise and fall of the legendary rapper and pop star Conner 4 Real (Andy Samberg). The film is treated literally like a documentary, there are pauses where they ask to turn the camera off and subtitles for when the subjects are talking too low for the mic to catch.

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Conner 4 Real was once a member of the notorious Style Boyz, think the Beastie Boys mixed with the Backstreet Boys, he and his childhood friends Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) started the group out of their backyard and became mega stars. One of their most popular albums and songs was the Donkey Roll, a song that even had a dance to go with it. While the backstory is played, they show home videos from when the guys were young and interject them with interviews from such notorious artists as Nas, 50 Cent, Pharrell Williams, and Usher, all who talk about how the Style Boyz touched their lives and inspired their music. This touch makes the movie pretty funny and laughable.

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The problem lies in that Conner 4 Real leaves the Style Boyz to become a solo artist, in the process disowning Lawrence and hiring Owen to be his backup DJ, where in Owen just becomes another one of his people he bosses around. Conner is now a huge star and does the craziest of concerts, with everything from set changes, a Daft punk like helmet for Owen to wear on stage, and multiple holograms of Adam Levine. The film follows the release of his newest album, Connquest, one where he has now gone above and beyond with ludicrous lyrics and horrible beats. Conner like many stars of today is followed by minions of “yes” men, basically an entourage of people who just tell him how great he is all the time, so he can’t see how crappy his music has really turned out.

All Owen wants is for Conner to realize how crappy his music has really turned out and for the Style Boyz to get back together. Lawrence is now stuck on a farm doing really random weird things like whittling wood and hanging out with goats, and doesn’t want anything to do with Conner. His manager (Tim Meadows) also tries to steer him in the right direction, but he just won’t listen. What ensues from here is a journey in which Conner has to realize who he is and how to reconnect back with his passion for music.

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The movie was really funny, I found myself laughing nonstop at many of the ridiculous moments. I could see this film becoming a staple for college kids to watch. There’s not much substance to the film though but I am not sure how much of it is it supposed to have? I mean it’s a movie about a ridiculous Vanilla Ice slash Justin Bieber type character. I can’t pinpoint it one hundred percent, but I left feeling like something was missing. The film served its purpose in being hysterical, but it almost just felt like a really long SNL sketch.

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Samberg and Taccone were hilarious and did a great job at creating many funny sarcastic scenes. Meadows always delivers in his usual cynical and ironic tone. The cameos in this film worked because they only made the material even more absurd. Especially Will Arnett who plays a character like Harvey Levin from TMZ, sipping tons of water and laughing at celebrities like they do on the show.

The film is a great one to watch if you are in the mood to just sit back and laugh. If you are looking for something with more substance and an edge, then this is not the movie for you. Overall, the Lonely Island men did a great job of making me laugh nonstop and if you are a fan of their digital shorts, then you will definitely enjoy this flick.

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}}Melissa

Movie Review: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)
Written by Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Nicholas Stoller, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg
Directed by Nicholas Stoller

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What do college student consider to be old? The answer is pretty simple, anyone who has graduated college and is no longer in school gets lumped into that category and is deemed an official adult. In the comedy sequel, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, once again the battle between college-aged kids and adults ensues and delivers on every humorous level imaginable. In the first film, the loving thirty-something couple Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) were just trying to establish themselves in their new home with their baby, but all hell broke loose when they realized they were living next to one of the wildest fraternities on campus.

In the sequel, the bros have moved out and life is peaceful and calm, who are now expecting their second child and are having fun raising their toddler Stella (Ella and Zoey Vargas). They have decided to upgrade and already purchased a brand new home in a different neighborhood and have just sold their home to a young couple with a baby. What Mac and Kelly never paid attention to, was the term escrow, now that the home is sold, it is in escrow and the new couple has 30 days to make inspections and check if anything is wrong with the home before going through with the deal. They quickly become stressed and paranoid, but hope and pray that all should be okay in the next 30 days, what could go wrong?

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On the other side of town, the frat boys of yesteryear are now full-fledged (sort of) real life adults. They have all moved on to careers, Pete (Dave Franco) is now an architect, Garf (Jerrod Carmichael) is a cop, Scoonie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) created an app that has made him tons of money, and the infamous Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) is still, record scratches, working at Abercrombie and Fitch. Yes, Teddy now has a criminal record, due to last year’s shenanigans and can’t keep down a real job. He feels like his life has no value, no one appreciates him, not even his best friend Pete, so he decides to move out and is left alone with not much to do.

On campus, freshman girls Shelby (Chloe Grace Mertz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) realize that they don’t fit into the typical sorority scene. For one, sororities are not allowed to throw parties, only frats can, and all the parties that they do attend are like meat-markets, where the women are on parade for horny frat boys. The girls decide to start their own sorority, Kappa Nu, there’s just one thing they need, a sorority house. They decide to move in next door to Mac and Kelly and what starts to feel like a bad reoccurring dream, happens all over again. Except this time around, the girls do not mess around, remember girls are smarter than boys, and they cannot be led astray so easily with the lure of a hot chick.

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With nothing, but time on his hands, the girls enlist the help of Teddy, almost haphazardly as he was sitting in his old frat house being sad, and he shows them the ropes of running a sorority. Teddy doesn’t know much, but he does know how to do one thing right, and that is throwing parties. He helps the girls raise money, get pledges, and of course how to make Mac and Kelly completely miserable. What ensues from there is complete chaos and fun.

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I thought the movie was fun to watch and it made me laugh from beginning to end. Rogen and Byrne delivered with their spot-on jokes and their take on marriage and being a thirty-something. I also loved their best friends Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz) and Paula (Carla Gallo) who are also expecting a child, and their humor only adds to the film. Honestly Barinholtz is one of the best aspects of the film, his comedic delivery is spot on and he plays off Rogen perfectly.

Efron was surprisingly really good, I like that he is willing to poke fun at himself and make fun of his sculpted body and pretty face. That doesn’t sound like it would be necessarily funny, but his abs are like their own character in the film. He also knows how to play sweet and charming, and gave Teddy some emotion.

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I liked the fact that the girls in the sorority weren’t made to wear sexy outfits, instead these girls wore whatever they want and threw parties they thought were cool. Donning hoodies and sneakers and just being themselves and having fun. What I didn’t like was how many of the girls in the sorority specifically Mertz felt the need make their voices overtly high, it sounded like they were trying really hard to be valley girls. Aside from that, Mertz, Clemons, and Feldstein played well against each other and made for a good rag-tag crew of outsiders trying to fend for themselves in the cutthroat world of college partying. I also loved how they thought Teddy was just an old guy because to them he basically is an old dude.

I think if you enjoyed the first, then you will definitely enjoy this one. It delivered on all points of comedy and there wasn’t a moment where I felt bored or where the film felt awkward, which can sometimes happen with sequels. This is a perfect movie for a fun filled date night or a movie with friends, either way it will not disappoint.

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(Insert pic of Zac Efron shirtless for no particular reason at all. See above.)

Also posted on Pink Egg Media

}}Melissa

Movie Review: Carol (2015)

Carol (2015)
Written by Phyllis Nagy (screenplay), Patricia Highsmith (novel)
Directed by Todd Haynes

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Patricia Highsmith wrote The Price of Salt in 1952 and through her novel chronicled her own feelings about her sexuality through two fictional characters. Known to have had relationships with women, she underwent various psychological treatments in order to rid her of her feelings and to force herself to get married to a man. It never worked. This outpouring of emotion, tense and terse, is translated perfectly into Carol, the film adaption of her book by Phyllis Nagy.

Directed by Todd Haynes, who also did I’m Not There, Mildred Pierce and several others, he knows how to not only shoot the female viewpoint, but also can capture the essence of a moment with a quietness about it. In Carol, we see how important and central a mere look or glance is and the physicality of a simple touch on a shoulder. Those soft and what sometimes seem like meaningless moments between people are actually highlighted and made important.

Set in the fifties, an era when two women seen touching, let alone being in a relationship, was a preposterous idea, Haynes shows the two central women in the film having moments with touches or looks seem electric and almost scary. As if we the audience know that what is about to transpire between them is completely real and filled with a mixture of lust and love.

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The story is about a young toy shop keeper, Therese Belivant (Rooney Mara) and her relationship with the older and glamorous Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett). Even her name sounds magical and seductive (just like her cheekbones); she is everything that Therese is not both good and bad. Carol is in the process of getting a divorce from her husband Harge (Kyle Chandler) and both are fighting for custody over their little girl Rani. She seems as if everything she does has glamour and charm to it, from the way she brushes her hair to the way she orders a martini. Therese is a budding photographer who sees life through a lens, unsure of whom she is or what she wants out life, she carries herself with a certain naiveté. She seems very disconnected from her boyfriend Richard (Jake Lacy) and unexcited about the possibility of traveling to Europe with him or even getting married. At a time when most young girls aspired to be married, she is completely modern in eschewing those traditional roles.

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One day Carol leaves her gloves behind at the toy store. Did she do this on purpose? We’re not sure, but it proceeded with the reaction I am sure she intended. Therese has them delivered to her and Carol thanks her by taking her out to eat lunch. During this lunch the two look at each other with a fondness for one another, but nothing is clearly ever stated. Instead it is drawn out, Carol invites Therese to her upstate home and from there the relationship continues to bloom. Therese begins to see that Carol’s relationship with Herge is volatile and unkind, but she continues with her. When Carol invites Therese on a road trip to get away from it all because Herge will have their daughter during Christmas time, Therese willingly agrees. A few scenes before, we see Therese dismiss her boyfriends invitations to travel all around Europe.

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What transpires from there is a romance that evolves on the road. Many scenes take place in the car, with Carol looking fondly over at Therese, who always seems perplexed and staring out a window. Their romance is subtle, but it starts to become very obvious that they are in love with one another.

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One of my favorite scenes was when Therese is sitting at a vanity and Carol comes up behind her. Carol puts her hand on Therese’s shoulder and she firmly holds onto it. They both look into the mirror as if they are facing who they really are and the sexual tension in the air can be cut with a knife. To be able to show that sentiment in a movie, and to truly feel it as an audience member, is quite difficult, yet it plays out with such ease. We feel as if we are in their world, intruding into something we shouldn’t be part of, but there we are smack dab in the middle of it and we have to embrace their tension and run with it.

Blanchett delivers one of her best performances, as if we thought she couldn’t get any better with her work in Blue Jasmine. Her hardened smiles are distinct and she brings to life a character that has an infinite amount of layers and emotions to shed. Mara was equally phenomenal, she restrains herself so much and that is exactly what this character needed. She holds back her emotions, but it’s obvious that she is weak in the knees for Carol.

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Chandler as the distraught and jealous husband did great against these two actresses. I am surprised he didn’t get nominated for his work in this film. He was powerful and deserved some credit.

Carol is a beautiful film, the cinematography and the costumes were quite gorgeous. All the details in the film only serve to add to the story and authenticity of it. This felt like a real story, not a made up one for Hollywood’s sake. It’s a story that needed to be told for those who lived in that era and for those who live in an era of freedom of sexuality and to realize that they should never take for granted the freedoms they have now. If you enjoy dramas with a lot of heart and feeling, then this is a great choice for you.

}}Melissa

Also posted on Pink Egg Media