I look forward to September and October because of the impending indie movie season. And every year, I am always pleased with what indie filmmakers are putting on the table. This year has been no different. Whiplash is the most intense movie I’ve seen this year (even more tense than The Rover, The Drop and Fury). JK Simmons has officially crossed over into the “You were a little too good in that role and now I can’t trust you in real life club.” This club includes Laurence Fishburne for his depiction of Ike Turner, Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear, Christian Bale in, well everything, Edward Norton in Primal Fear/American History X, Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers and The Other Sister, Keith David in Requiem for a Dream, Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown, Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, and lastly, Giovanni Ribisi. I love him in most everything but he’s just a notch too slick. It’s kind of inexplicable.
I digress, Whiplash not only has the best and most surpassing trailer of the year, it emotionally lives up to its name. It tells the story of Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), a talented young jazz drummer, who attends a prestigious music conservatory. Andrew is obsessed with making it into the top jazz ensemble in the school, led by Terrence Fletcher (shudder, as played by JK Simmons) Fletcher is notorious for pushing his students to the max for great performances. Nonetheless, Andrew wants in, even though it may cost him more than he could ever imagine.
Now this setup may seem light and mundane, but trust me, it is not. Teller, who usually plays either cuddly, teen protagonists (Spectacular Now) or the mildly dickish antagonist (Divergent) has really stepped up his game as Andrew. Watching him punch a hole through a snare drum and play so hard that his hands become bloody mush as tears trail down his defeated face has made me a believer in what this kid is selling the world. But it is without a doubt, Simmons, who showed up to steal the movie and the Best Supporting Actor Oscar 2015. The nuanced, subtle, over the top, disappointed father/abuser-type performance that he portrayed was nothing short of breathtaking. And just as the movie seemed to be heading toward a predictable ending, director/screenwriter Damien Chazelle, lifted the curtain for one of the most finely shot musical denouements I have ever witnessed.The acting, musical cues, cinematography, instrumentation, and visual execution make this a must-see movie for any lover of film. Bravo, Simmons. Encore, Chazelle.
Anne Hathaway is a good actress. I never believed these words would come out of my mouth but after viewing her Oscar nominated performance in “Rachel Getting Married”, I was turned out. The movie is the story of Rachel, a young woman who has been in and out of rehab for the past 10 years, returning home for the weekend to attend her sister’s wedding.
A former American Idol contestant, “Ella Enchanted”, “Mr Noodle” from “Sesame Street”, the lady from “Terms of Endearment”, and the lead singer of “TV on the Radio” all appear in this movie and it works really REALLY well. My initial shock after viewing the movie in it’s entirety is the amazing casting. Kudos to Tiffany Canfield and Bernard Telsey for choosing a multi-ethnic and believable group of actors as well as extras, all of whom are necessary to this flick.
Going through emotional hell with this dysfunctional family on the tension express was enthralling. So rare that addiction, love, family, and death can be dealt with so eloquently in a movie. The wedding is a perfect spectacle, like nothing you’ve seen in any movie or real life. You want to be apart of it, the togetherness in beings so completely separate.
Live music is used to guide you through the happiness and peril these characters are faced with. I’ve read in several places that the infamous table scene is one to look out for but I was still taken aback by my severe reaction. Spotlighting over 10 different characters in one of the most pivotal scenes to the film, the emotional roller coaster straps you in. Sadness, embarassment, happiness, love, loss, desperation, jealousy, angst and tenderness are all tapped in, during this extended glimpse from the wedding rehearsal dinner. I have never been more uncomfortable watching a movie as I was during a certain point in that scene. It was excruciating. Hard to believe it only took the screenwriter Jenny Lumet, 7 weeks to write this amazing character study.
Now I refuse to spoil any bit of this movie because it deserves at least one full uninterrupted viewing by everyone in Danger’s opinion. Remember that life is left unresolved more often than not and there won’t be any disappointment. You will find a character to relate to, there will be at least one note of music that you love, and you’re eyes will glaze over for at least a second, even if you won’t admit it to anyone.
Bravo. Anne Hathaway. Bravo.
I’ll begin by saying that I am in no way a Woody Allen connoisseur, but I’ve enjoyed the few works of his that I’ve had the chance to watch: “Annie Hall”, “Matchpoint”, and the delightful but dark “Cassandra’s Dream”. I went into this movie with only a vague knowledge of the plot. Well I really only knew that Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz kissed each other and that Ms. Cruz’ performance scored her an Oscar nod. From the previews I had surmised that it was some time of road trip movie where 2 girls fall for the bad guy from “No Country for Old Men”. I was a little wrong.
V.C.B is a 96 minute comedy starring Scarlett Johansson-Reynolds (is anyone acknowledging that yet?) Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall (who is good in the movie but doesn’t even have a photo attached to her I.M.D.B page) as a horny bunch of coming of agers. ScarJo and Rebecca fly to Spain to spend the summer finding themselves. Rebecca is engaged to the perfect man, uber responsible and future minded, while ScarJo is a single, impulsive free spirit. They are shown around Spain by Rebecca’s uncle and aunt, whom they are staying with. They happen upon Bardem at an art gallery. ScarJo is immediately enthralled and finds out Bardem is a painter with a certifiably insane ex-wife and more charm than a Blow Pop. They encounter each other after the art show at a local restaurant and Bardem invites the 2 ladies to an island to eat drink and make love. Temptation is offered and partially pursued, Penelope enters the picture and lights a firecracker on the screen. Her performance, a pertinent one to this film, was not in my opinion the best supporting female role of 2008. That being said, this movie is a solidly entertaining, filled with charm, variety and a cast that is fit to captivate even a non believer. I wouldn’t put Vicki Cristina Barcelona in your top slot but it has definitely earned a space in your Netflix queue.