Yearly Archives: 2015

Concussion Review: How Dangerous is Football?

Watch out football fans, Concussion is about to show you the seriousness of sustaining years of head trauma on the brain. 

Will it affect the way you watch football in the future? Well, that’s hard to say, but chances are it will at least make you think. 

Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the sport, this is a smart, well-acted, and incredibly interesting film that is well worth watching.

concussion

There’s a good chance Will Smith earns himself another Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the man who found the connection between years of sustaining multiple concussions to suffering from brain disease later in life. 

The story begins with Mike Webster, a former Pittsburg Steeler center who suffered symptoms of dementia, amnesia, and depression before dying at the young age of 50.  

Omalu becomes determined to find out what caused these symptoms in someone so young and otherwise completely healthy. The answers don’t come easy, and few people are on his side, but his selflessness and determination to find the truth will have you rooting for him throughout his intense struggle. 

Smith does an excellent job bringing all sides of the character to life, from his incredible intelligence, to his religious background, to his patriotism, and to his social awkwardness. Pathologists sometimes have a reputation for being able to connect better with the dead than the living, and Bennet is no exception. 

But, even as he fights the NFL, his co-workers, and everyone else who wants to bury his research, he manages to connect with Prema Mutiso, who helps him come out of his shell and provides some sweet and funny moments. 

While Smith does a fantastic job, Alec Baldwin steals the show as Dr. Julian Bailes, a former NFL team doctor who joins Omalu and helps him with his discovery. 

While Smith portrays a man all about science who does not actually watch or follow the sport, Baldwin flawlessly depicts a man who, as a scientist and doctor, must accept the truth even though he also has a true love for the game. 

Dr. Bailes can see the beauty and and the poetry that exists when watching a truly amazing play, and that’s when those of you who are football fans will really start to feel conflicted. I know, because I love football. 

But, does that mean we have to stop loving football? I don’t think so. While the NFL tried to ignore the truth a few years ago, that is no longer an option, and they have been making strides to improve their concussion protocol.

Is it enough? That’s hard to say, but at least now players know the risks of the game they play, and can make educated decisions and take extra precautions to protect themselves. 

It is truly tragic to think about the players portrayed in this movie and the rest who weren’t that suffered brain trauma before Omalu came along, but now there is hope that things can continue to improve so our athletes can have long, fulfilling lives after they retire. 

The bottom line, Concussion is a fantastic movie that will play at your emotions and make you think, but hopefully will not ruin your appreciation for the game. 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review: Lives Up to the Hype

After all of this hype and endless anticipation, I had the pleasure of seeing the new Star Wars movie. I left the theater certain of three things: First, is that I loved the movie, the second is that I want to be Rey and I am in love with Finn and the third is that I’m pretty confident that I am, in fact, a Jedi. 

When the lights dimmed and the music started, I felt that surge of excitement that only a movie experience like this could provide. As John Williams’ score blasted through the theater and the words scrolled past, I realized instantly why people who had already seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens were so pumped. In the first few minutes I was filled with more fuzzy, warm nostalgia than I could possibly handle and it didn’t stop there.

The film takes place 30 years after the fall of the Galactic Empire. The new rising evil is a group called The First Order and they are searching for the missing Luke Skywalker. General Leia (the gorgeous Carrie Fisher) is leading the Resistance and sends her best pilot, the insanely charming, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), to the dusty, junkyard planet called Jakku to search for clues on her brother’s location. Side note: I would love an entire movie devoted just to Poe, he was that interesting. 

On Jakku, we meet the fierce, young scavenger named Rey. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is by far my favorite character in the movie franchise. She takes care of herself but still shows her vulnerability and her compassion when she saves the adorable droid BB-8 from being captured. Instead of selling him for more food than she could ever imagine, the noble Rey refuses the interested buyer’s offer, making herself a instant target. Rey is a skilled fighter without a shred of distressed damsel in her. 

Without giving too much plot away, I want to jump to Finn (John Boyega). He is a Stormtrooper who rebels against The First Order. His interactions with the pilot, Poe, are great and refreshingly different than the usual take on that type of team up. Instead of the typical bickering that you’d expect from an experienced pilot (Poe) and a newbie (Finn) in that ship, we get to see them cheering for each other and forming an instant bond. Finn and Rey are a great team too. When they first meet, they are being chased and Finn keeps trying to help Rey to safety and the self-sufficient Rey rightfully refuses. Rey yelling at Finn to stop holding her hand was the best. 

Getting to see all of the old crew back was awesome but my favorite call-back had to be the Millennium Falcon. We got to see many of our favorite heroes from the past movies but not any of the villains. In this installment we have Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who was chilling and creepier than I would have expected. I am really excited to see where his story goes considering the events of this movie (which I won’t tell you here) because that is bound to have a huge impact on his character in the next film.

What I really enjoyed with this movie was the limited use of CGI. It really felt like the original group of Star Wars films, right down to the Cantina style band. Overall, J.J. nailed it. The plot felt very similar to A New Hope, but I think I liked it more because of that. There was humor, there was action and it had just the right amount of nostalgia and winks to make it exactly what I wanted from this movie. It deserves all of the hype and then some. Daisy Ridley (as Rey) and John Boyega (as Finn) really shine and bring a fresh energy to the franchise with their sparkling chemistry. I was left wanting more, but in a good way.

I left the theater happy, fulfilled and wanting to use the force in my everyday life. 

Sisters Review: Tina and Amy Keep Us Laughing

As far as I’m concerned, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can do no wrong. 

Any time these two get together, chances are the product will be gold, and Sisters is no exception. 

As always, these two are excellent as two sisters who head back home to Florida before their parents sell their childhood house. 

Sisters

Poehler plays Maura Ellis, the responsible one who always puts everyone else’s needs before her own. Fey is Kate Ellis, the more free-spirited sister who has a hard time keeping a job. 

Kate struggles to connect with her daughter, who wishes her mom could be more responsible like her aunt. Recently divorced Maura wishes she could let loose and have fun without always having to worry about everyone else.

It’s the perfect setting for the story. When the sisters find out their parents are selling their home, they decide to throw one last party. Kate agrees to be the “party mom” and stay sober so that Maura can let her “freak flag fly.” 

The result is an entertaining and heartfelt movie that will keep you laughing from beginning to end. 

Yes, it’s ridiculous and completely over the top, but that’s what makes it hilarious. It’s also funny without being overly crude or gross in case that’s not your thing (it’s not mine). 

The always stellar Maya Rudolph joins Fey and Poehler as Brinda, Kate’s archenemies from high school who keeps trying to crash the party. 

The rest of the cast is rounded out with James Brolin, John Leguizamo, SNL’s Bobby Moynihan, and John Cena. Everyone contributes to making this a laugh-out-loud experience that you will not want to miss. 

So, if you are looking for something that will keep you laughing but also includes some sweet, heartfelt moments, you won’t be disappointed in Sisters. It’s definitely worth the trip the theater this holiday season. 

Brooklyn Review: Period Drama is Simply Sensational

Brooklyn is a simple story that doesn’t have to work too hard to achieve its goals, and it’s that simplicity that makes it a stunning film. With the talent on board, the achievement seems to come naturally.

Writer Nick Hornby, Director John Crowley, and actors Saoirse Ronan as Eilis,  Emory Cohen as Tony and 1950s Brooklyn are the five main pieces that make this picture magical.

As a period piece, the film is beautifully shot and visually delectable to watch. The colors are vibrant, the hairstyles, fashions and decor never let your forget where you are, whether in America or Ireland. And it’s fun seeing the subtle, yet genuine differences between the cultures of that era, as well.

The story of an Irish immigrant, Eilis, who leaves all that she knows with the hope of finding a better future for herself in faraway America, Brooklyn is going to be emotional no matter how it’s delivered. But the choice to do it as subtly as possible, with Ronan expressing as much of Eilis’ journey through facial expressions and through her ridiculously blue eyes is a wise one.

Not only does Ronan prove she’s an incredibly accomplished actress, but you to get invested in the character and her plight without the movie falling too far into a coming of age melodrama. My past experience with Ronan was in The Lovely Bones and The Host, and while the former was a difficult role to play for someone of her age at the time, Brooklyn takes her to a completely different level. She’s breathtaking and has an incredible future ahead.

Emory Cohen, too, had his work cut out for him. At times channeling a young Brando, I also spied the 1980s Andrew McCarthy we fell for in Pretty in Pink and a lot of Emile Hirsch in his performance, a strange combination that all told makes the character of Tony so utterly charming he’s as winning to watch as Eilis.

The film is exceptionally good at straying from the stereotypical characters who which we have become accustomed. 

Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady) as Father Flood is pivotal in his role as the priest responsible for Eilis’ new start in America. But will he be there for her after she arrives as he was when he was arranging passage?

What about the jobs prearranged for young ladies once they arrive in the new country? Eilis walked right into a position at a department store, one that requires a fresh, smiling face, not always readily available on a new immigrant with no friends or family. Jessica Pare (Mad Men) stepped in as Miss Fortini, Eilis’ supervisor, another refreshing take on what is usually a cliched movie role.

Of course, man of the hour Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, The Revenant) served as one of Eilis’ suitors from Ireland, the thorn into the side of her budding romance with her life in America, along with her longing for her family and all things familiar from back home. 

Each character who could have been someone we’ve seen in another movie were gently swayed with Hornby’s writing and Crowley’s direction to be somebody else completely, delivering to us a wholly refreshing take on an age old classic film that was utterly delightful from start to finish.

While the story is simple, there are still twists and surprises throughout. It’s not all smooth sailing for the young Irish woman, but it is for the movie goer. There are few who will walk away disappointed for having spent their time with this gem.

Ghostbusters Movie Photo and Character Posters!

Who ya gonna call?

Ghostbusters!

The new cast of the 2016 reboot is ready to go, as can be seen in the first official photo and character posters featuring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.

The film, from Paul Feig, also stars Chris Hemsworth as the gals secretary, as well as faces from the original series including Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Dan Ackroyd and Signourney Weaver.

1. Ghostbusters 2016

Ghostbusters 2016
This is the a new photo from the Ghostbusters movie!

2. Melissa McCarthy as Abby

Melissa mccarthy as abby
Melissa McCarthy will be Abby Yates in Ghostbusters

3. Kristen Wiig as Erin

Kristen wiig as erin
Krisen Wiig is Erin Gilbert in Ghostbusters 2016 coming soon.

4. Leslie Jones as Patty

Leslie jones as patty
Leslie Jones is Patty Tolan in Ghostbusters coming soon!

5. Kate McKinnon as Jillian

Kate mckinnon as jillian
Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann in Ghostbusters

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