When it comes to movies about abortion, options are limited. On one hand, there is “Vera Drake,” and while it was nominated for Best Picture in 2004, no one saw it. Then on the other hand, there is “Obvious Child,” the recent film starring Jenny Slate that takes a comedic yet serious look at having an abortion in present day. The movie does nothing to glamorize getting an abortion, and brings audience members to connect with Donna (Slate) as she deals with the events leading up to having the procedure.
The result of a one-night stand, Donna is pregnant, just dumped and working at a soon-to-close bookstore, and performs stand up comedy to small crowds. She hooks up with Max (Jake Lacy, from the last two seasons of “The Office” and calm and cool like his annex character) and tracing events back, realizes she is pregnant. Her economic and living situations do not bode well for her having a baby, and she moves towards her decision, weighing it all the while she waits a couple weeks before her appointment.
As the title indicates, there is time travel in this, the seventh X-Men film and fifth to feature the familiar cadre of mutants. But this film does something “X-Men: First Class” did not – it combined the cast from the first three X-Men movies and added them to the new, younger cast, through the benefit of time travel. At the start of this comprehensive movie, mutants and humans are under attack from sentinels, and sending Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) consciousness back to his 1973 self is the only way to prevent humanity and mutant-kind from being wiped out. Totally uncomplicated, too – no sarcasm intended, just remember these mutants have special powers and all will be well.
What has been regarded as one of the best X-Men comic storylines is written for the screen by Simon Kinberg and Jane Goldman and covers all the bases, without leaving a plot hole or gap in the progression, either in the dark future or in the past. Time travel is needed to prevent the rise of the sentinels, mutant-hunting machines that X-Men fans have been waiting years to see lifted off the pages of the comics. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) is the brains behind the sentinel program, and his death sets into motion a chain of events that leads to the dystopian future we are presented with in the beginning of the movie. Going back to prevent his death is the only way to change the future.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” improves on the first film in the trilogy and leaves the audience hanging with a painful cliffhanger, just as the plot was getting somewhere good. Not that the plot isn’t well laid out, it is by far the meat of the book and the purpose behind the journey – help the King of the Dwarves, Thorin Oakenshield, reclaim the Kingdom Under the Mountain, currently occupied by the dragon Smaug (Ow, not Aw). The trip to the mountain re-introduces the Elvish Kingdom and introduces Laketown of the Tolkien Universe to the audience, and features plenty of reasons to fear the Orcs and their evil master who grows in power.
Having just survived an attack by the Orcs, the band of dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Gray, make haste to the safety of Beorn’s property, where the hulking man who turns into a bear-like creature lives and keeps watch for orcs. A trip on the Old Forest Road leads the crew to an encounter with giant spiders, then the Elves, who come to their reluctant rescue. This is when we learn that Elves are territorial and hold grudges for hundreds of years and are generally dicks to outsiders. This is well before Legolas and Gimli fought together in “The Lord of the Rings” tales, although the cold and distant Legolas (Orlando Bloom) appears throughout the film, mostly to provide needed cavalry support for the dwarf party.
The AIDS movement in 2013 is far different than the emerging movement in the 1980s, the setting for “Dallas Buyers Club,” the true story of how Ron Woodroof got life-saving medicine to those afflicted with AIDS when there were no viable treatments on the market. Now, deaths from AIDS are rarer and do not pepper the news with stories on the tragedy surrounding what was once called a “gay plague.” But in the ’80s, few knew what this new disease was, and a cure seemed impossible. Today, we are nearer to curing AIDS and have found combinations of medicine and vitamins that were unimaginable 20 years ago. “Dallas Buyers Club” tells the tale of an era that few knew existed and would shock many when confronted with the stigma and homophobia of the ’80s.
Matthew McConaughy plays the hero, Ron Woodroof, a homophobic Texas cowboy/electrician, a womanizer and gambler who drinks, drugs and deals his way through life in 1985. An accident at work sends him to the hospital where Dr. Sevard (Denis O’Hare) and Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) inform him he has HIV and a T-cell count of only nine, and that he has only 30 days to live. This is so early in the AIDS crisis that 30 days was a best estimate, while Ron would end up living until 1992. Ron takes the next few weeks to find out all he can about AIDS, seeing doctors and learning what remedies might exist for him.
One actor. That’s all the casting for “All Is Lost.” Just one actor. But when that actor happens to be Robert Redford, well, that changes things a bit.
Sailing the Indian Ocean on a yacht, without a known purpose, backstory, family or history of the character – not even a name for him, for who has to say his name? – Redford (known as “Our Man” in the credits) braves the elements, a damaged ship and despair over eight days stranded in the Indian Ocean without a glimmer of hope.
In a solo performance at sea, there is little need for dialogue, or monologue in this case. Redford speaks the most before the movie title appears, reading a letter that apologizes to unknown recipients, but likely his family. Aside from this, he speaks only into a radio to report and S.O.S., screams “Fuuuuuuuuck” when his fresh water becomes contaminated with sea water, and finally when he yells at passing ships. That’s it. This isn’t “The Artist¸” but as silent films go, this is pretty close. The sound editors and foley artists are the only ones keeping the film from being a silent film.
“Inequality for All,” a powerful film examining the decline of the American economy is a wake-up call of a documentary for everyone and should be required viewing in the vein of “An Inconvienent Truth.” Subtitled “A Passionate Argument on Behalf of the Middle Class,” this film by Jacob Kornbluth is one of the most important, clearly laid out documentaries in terms of relevance to the average person and specificity of information, centered around former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, under President Clinton from 1993-1997.
The film at times feels like Reich is running for a political office, only because much of it is his take on where we are. But he is an economist and not a politician and sees what the common man may not, then provides a graph to back up his argument and executes his point fully. To not respect Reich is to not understand the complexity of economics, or at least, that economics are complex in nature.
The legend of Superman has been part of American culture for more than 75 years, bringing a god-like alien to earth to serve as a protector for the planet. No, he’s not Jesus, but that comparison does arise in “Man of Steel,” the latest reboot of the classic comic book story – and one that finally gets it right, making a film that comic book fans and audiences have been waiting for, thanks to Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Superman.
Actually, the word ‘Superman’ is uttered merely twice in the film, as he is known to others only as either Clark Kent or Kal-El, his name on Krypton. The movie begins on the planet Krypton, where over-mining of the core has led to the imminent destruction of all life. Jor-El (played perfectly by Russel Crowe in a more engaging and active role than Marlon Brando’s original take) sees the trouble ahead and does his best to prevent disaster, looking forward enough to send his child to safety on Earth. A coup by General Zod (an incredibly intimidating Michael Shannon) leads to a rift between Jor-El and Zod, resulting in Zod’s banishment to the Phantom Zone with his acolytes. Shannon’s eyes are deep and foreboding, staring back at you like the paintings in the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, and his jaw, square and stern, intimidates as his character shows a duality – he wants to rebuild Krypton, but at the peril of Earth and all who live there.
Co-written and directed by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, “This Is the End” is by far the comedy of the summer, one that will stay under the radar until you hear about it from enough friends, so let me be the first to say GO SEE THIS MOVIE.
For 107 minutes, you’ll laugh, you’ll break out in fits of laughter til it hurts, and you may piss yourself a little. “This Is the End” is the kind of movie that “The Hangover” was before anyone thought to
go see a dude from “The Office” and a dude from “Wedding Crashers” with Zack Galifianakis. In “This Is the End” there are only celebrities, most of whom you know already, or will know, since they all play themselves.
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