Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: April 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Movie Review: The Railway Man (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

Based on Eric Lomax's autobiography of the same name, The Railway Man is a contemplative film about the damage Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome inflicted on him for decades after his torture at the hands of the Japanese at a prisoner-of-war camp. The title refers not only to the love Lomax held for anything related to railways but also to his coincidental imprisonment in a POW camp where the prisoners were responsible for building the Burma Railway, a job so difficult that, as Lomax puts it, only punishing slave labor could accomplish.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Movie Review: Transcendence (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

Remember that Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk has to free some aliens on a planet controlled by an all-powerful, omniscient computer? And those aliens have these tiny antenna on their necks that allow them to be networked with that computer, Vaal, essentially making them physical instruments for it to conduct whatever activities necessary for a planetary makeover suited to his specifications. That's Transcendence in a nutshell, only with even more hokey, far-fetched ideas thrown in to complicate the simplistic story a bit.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Movie Review: Joe (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

Anyone who still indulges in the meme that Nicolas Cage overacts should be silenced by one look at his new film, Joe... that is if they get around to seeing it. Small and unassuming, Joe is an indie by David Gordon Green, a director who's at his best when he makes plot subordinate to the study of one or two well-delineated characters. One of those would be Gary (Tye Sheridan), a young drifter with a good work ethic looking to escape the influence of his violent, alcoholic father, Wade (Gary Poulter). Then there's Joe himself, played by Nicolas Cage as an industrious business owner whose stillness belies an explosive temper that has kept him at a remove from all but society's most underprivileged or unjustly ignored.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movie Review: Jodorowsky's Dune (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

Among the most fascinating movies never made is the one that lends a new documentary its title, Jodorowsky's Dune. Alejandro Jodorowsky is the passionate Chilean filmmaker behind surreal cult movies El Topo and The Holy Mountain. As his admirers grew, especially within the cinematic and pop cultural elite, Jodorowsky expressed his desire to make a film adaptation of Frank Herbert's complex, sci-fi epic Dune his next project. Jodo, as his friends called him, wanted his Dune to move the medium forward with the same verve Kubrick's 2001 did. But he intended it to more explicitly alter a viewer's state of consciousness, in effect doing Kubrick one better by offering a moviegoer the same effects as LSD without the need to take the hallucinogen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Movie Review: Draft Day (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

Considering the number of movies he's been appearing in lately, it's safe to say Kevin Costner's latest comeback tour is in full swing. With the possible exception of the standout part as Superman's human foster dad in Man of Steel, which was really just that of a supernumerary, Draft Day represents his best chance at captivating audiences once again. I've always kind of rooted for Costner who seems like a down to earth actor with more than an above average measure of self-awareness. He knows his performance range is limited, but within that narrow territory, he's usually aces. Sometimes he even surprises, like he did as the retired pro baseball player part of the boyfriend in The Upside of Anger. In Draft Day he benefits from teaming up with a comedic filmmaker Ivan Reitman, another man with something to prove after years of sub-par movies and hanging back while allowing his son Jason, director of Juno, to grab the spotlight for a bit.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

RIP Mickey Rooney

by Tony Dayoub

"The audience and I are friends. They allowed me to grow up with them. I've let them down several times. They've let me down several times. But we're all family."
- Mickey Rooney

Recommended Films - National Velvet, The Black Stallion, Babe: Pig in the City

And an even better list of movies I haven't seen but should: A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Family Affair, Captains Courageous, Boys Town, Babes in Arms, The Human Comedy, Quicksand, The Bold and the Brave, Requiem for a Heavyweight

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

Deep into Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers, aka Cap (Chris Evans), and Natasha Romanoff, codename: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), end up in Camp Lehigh, the now abandoned army base where Rogers completed basic training before the Super-Soldier serum transformed him into the Sentinel of Liberty. As they try to figure out why they've been lured there, Rogers has a vivid flashback where he sees himself as the 90-lb weakling he used to be. The two SHIELD agents then locate an underground bunker replete with clues as to why the intelligence organization they've served so honorably has now turned against them. The most shocking surprise isn't the fact that SHIELD has been infiltrated by an enemy long thought disbanded or, for all intents and purposes, dead. It's that the bunker's outdated computer has gained a kind of artificial intelligence allowing it to forecast the plans of billions of the world's inhabitants with stunning accuracy. And it's harnessing that kind of power to take over not just SHIELD but the world with total acquiescence from the general public.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Movie Review: Rob the Mob (2014)

by Tony Dayoub

They just don't make enough New York mob movies anymore, something I was reminded of by the endearing Rob the Mob. Director Raymond De Felitta clearly loves this kind of film, long on New York iconography and staffed by a panoply of Italian-American actors who directors like Sidney Lumet and spiritual descendant Spike Lee kept working for years but have fallen out of fashion with the retirement of The Sopranos. In Rob the Mob, they play up the uncertainty within organized crime circles during the John Gotti trial, a time when bosses like Big Al Fiorello (Andy Garcia) warn their subordinates to keep a low profile, lest they bring down upon them the full wrath of the Feds the way the flashy Teflon Don did.