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Dany's RaaD Roundup

The Ides of March Review

George Clooney‘s Ides of March is a behind the scenes look at the days before the Democratic primary election in Ohio between a fictional US Senator (who looks surprisingly like Vladimir Putin) and a middle of the country Governor (played by George Clooney). In similar films from the past, the stages were filled with smoke filled rooms, while now, smoking has been cordoned off to only blind alleys and parking lots and instead of smoke filled rooms, the rooms are filled with stone cold staring contests and conversations between the likes of the intense characters played by Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman. As my friend Sara put it, the film had a few too many of these intense stare downs, to the point where it was almost comical.

The film sports strong performances, but especially by Gosling and Giamatti (as a character so slimy and jaded, it feels like melted kryptonite), but one can not forget the performances of Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood who provide pivot points for the main players to play off each other.

The film seems to live in a fictional present day that references overtly the former US Presidents from George H.W. Bush through George W. Bush, while also covertly paying reference to the recent message of “hope and change.” At the same time though, the film also reflects back exactly how most Americans feel about politics, especially if you take just how low Americans polled recently have been rating their favorability of Congress below 20%, by showing that behind every strait arrow politician is a room full of dirty tricks and hustling sessions. This film is a far cry from the idealized Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but instead brings shades of grey into this top notch game of political brinkmanship.

The film does a good job of keeping the audience in to loop with the plot except for one conflict point that became far too obvious as to how it would unfold about 3/4 through the film, which came as a surprise to the main character, which was surprising considering how the entire script leading up to that point in the film praised Gosling’s character as being the smartest man in the room, yet allowing the audience to pick up on the trick before he could figure it out. I won’t say anything more specific, in case it actually is not as clear to anyone else seeing this film as it was to this reviewer.

I fully enjoyed this film overall and I look forward to the next film slated for George Clooney in the director’s chair.

Thanks to Teaser-trailer.com for the above pic.



October 22, 2011 10:54 pm Posted by | movie reviews, movies, politics, Washington, Washington DC | Leave a comment

The Hangover 2 Review

I was glad that even with the pending legal battle over the facial tattoo made famous by Mike Tyson that was also featured plastered on the  face of Ed Helms (see above) in The Hangover 2, that the film actually was released on time for this holiday weekend.

The film itself though, is none too different from the original Hangover. So, you can take that two ways, if you loved the original, you will enjoy what is basically the same movie, just this time replace the backdrop of Las Vegas with Bangkok, Thailand. There is a lot that was not necessary in this film, like why was there a car chase in this comedy or why is this group (wolf pack) of guys actually friends with each other (Galifianakis not included)?

I know I will not remember much about this movie’s plot or many of the jokes, but just as with the first film, I will definitely remember the montage during the credits that actually chronicles the bachelor party night and how impressed I was with that trained monkey (on a side note, probably the most memorable on-screen monkey since Friends).

Regardless though, I know I had a lot of fun just watching the film unfold with all its one-off jokes. I enjoyed just letting the madness flow over me for 100 minutes.

Thanks to Hangover 2 trailer for the above pic.



May 30, 2011 10:17 pm Posted by | animals, art, Bangkok, comedians, crazy celebs, Las Vegas, Law, movie reviews, movies, Nevada, travel, tv | Leave a comment

Win Win Sneak Preview Review

Tonight was an interesting and unexpected night. A friend and I were originally going to a sneak preview of Unknown, with Liam Neeson, but once we got to the theater and got onto the end of the line that was literally around the block, five minutes before showtime a representative from Fox Searchlight came around the corner and announced that the screening we were to go to was full up beyond a point ahead of us and if we wanted to see the film he was screening, Win Win, we could get in to see that instead… so we decided to give that a go instead.

The film stars Paul Giamatti as a family man and New Jersey lawyer, who is in trouble and throughout the beginning of the film makes one bad decision after another and then he needs to spend the rest of the film trying to untangle himself and possibly actually make a good decision or two on the way. Especially since the film is not even released yet, I do not want to give any more of the plot away, but Amy Ryan and Jeffrey Tambor also bring strong performances, while Bobby Cannavale provides some quirky comic relief moments and Alex Shaffer‘s muted performance was very believable.

What is funny is that I really enjoyed the film, I had a great time watching it, but I went in not knowing anything about the film and not having seen any trailers for the film. After seeing the film though, I can not imagine a trailer that Fox could put together that would entice me to see this film… and now that I JUST found the trailer online (which I do not want to share here), my advice is SKIP THE TRAILER and just watch this movie once it comes out. It is a film that anyone that doesn’t mind a bit of cursing will enjoy, so I was surprised it received an R-rating, but it must have just had too much profanity to pass with a lower rating, although I feel like a broader audience would enjoy this film because the story ultimately speaks to family life.

I don’t know if our original movie we were supposed to see was really sold out, but either way, I don’t mind, I had a good night with a small movie that I was not expecting tonight.

Thanks to OnlineMovieHut for the above pic.



February 17, 2011 3:21 am Posted by | Law, movie reviews, movies, New Jersey | 1 Comment

Love and Other Drugs Movie Review

I was finally able to go and see the movie Love & Other Drugs yesterday. I had been wanting to see the movie since before it came out, I have liked Anne Hathaway ever since Ella Enchanted. I also have been following Jake Gyllenhaal ever since Donnie Darko. Even though I have wanted to see the movie for such a long time, I kept as far away from the advertisements and previews as well and I am glad I was able to do that.

This movie was not at all what I expected, with the title, I expected a love affair mixed with an elicit drug parade, but the film was nothing of the sort. I will not reveal the storyline, but it was done very well and it was unexpectedly quite funny for a serious love story, especially with Josh Gad and Oliver Platt providing some great asides. This is extremely difficult for a film to pull off, but the director, Edward Zwick, does a great job from scene to scene balancing serious scenes with comic relief. I also heard that some people had criticized Hathaway for how she portrayed her character (for storyline reasons, I will not reveal why), but I felt that she did a wonderful job with this role.

I would highly recommend this film, unless you have a problem with seeing quite a bit of nudity from many of the main players. Both myself and the girl I saw the film with had a great time with this film, go see it.

Just as an aside, I am glad that this is a fictional story, otherwise the main catalysts that set this movie in motion would have been a giant HIPAA violations on the part of one of the receptionists (Judy Greer) as well as for the main doctor (Hank Azaria) in the film.

Thanks to April Hubal Photography for the above pic.



January 8, 2011 11:59 pm Posted by | movie reviews, movies | 2 Comments

Black Swan Review

Director Darren Aronofsky seems to be driven by obsession, whether it’s an obsession for knowledge (Pi), drugs (Requiem for a Dream), love (The Fountain), a fading wrestling career (The Wrestler) or with the perfect ballet performance in this film, Black Swan. This makes for an exciting career and Arrenofsky‘s most recent film delivers fully.

I came into this movie only knowing about Aronofsky‘s previous films and that this was a film about a ballerina’s struggle to perform, but I left the film admiring the grueling performances by the lead, Natalie Portman, and Barbara Hershey, who plays Portman‘s mother who struggles to bring up and support her balerina daughter along with her own demons.

There were many cringe-worthy scenes that instead of making me want to turn away, drew me in closer to the screen and story. I had no idea that this was going to be an enthralling story of sex, drugs and ballet that turns into a disturbing descent into the mind of a lead performer obsessed with the challenge of becoming both the white and black swan for Swan Lake, not always being perfect and what that does not just to her body, but her mind, not to mention how to keep from falling behind the competition and losing her position to others in her ever growing ballet troupe, in the same way that the previous upstart, Winona Ryder, did in the dog-eat-dog world of ballet.

Aronofsky has never been been a prolific special effects director, he dabbled during The Fountain, but the way he utilizes visual effects in the Black Swan would put most directors to shame, he utilizes it so flawlessly, so subtly and in such a way that unequivocally improves the story that it’s barely noticeable as CGI, but instead just blends into what are amazing visuals in what is already a visually stunning film, never more memorable than in the opening and closing scenes of the film.

Mila Kunis also brings in a top notch performance as the newest and most up-and-coming ballerina in the troupe that seems to be Aronofsky‘s disturbing version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in a role where you can not take your eyes off of her while she’s onscreen. Kunis also shows that along with her performance in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, that she has the acting chops to leave behind That 70’s Show and become a solid movie star, a jump that many TV stars have struggled to do.

This is a tough film to watch, it is not for the faint of heart, unless you are willing to close your eyes or cover your eyes with your hands during particularly intense scenes, but it is definitely a must-watch film of 2010, with intense performances and yet another wonderful film for Aronofsky. There are very few directors that on their name alone, I would jump to see their newest film, but Aronofsky is one of those names. It is also stunning how much prep work the actresses did to prepare their bodies for these roles, just looking at the tone and definition in their back musculature alone for these performances was quite impressive.

Thanks to Zimbio and Joblo for the above pics



December 23, 2010 2:01 am Posted by | movie reviews, movies | Leave a comment

Burlesque Movie Review

In the film Burlesque, Christina Aguilera is frequently over-makeupped while performing onstage, she almost always looks best during her scenes with low-key makeup. The film has segments of terrible dialog with a predictable storyline and twists. That said, I ended up liking the movie and the woman I was with loved it…

I say this because the movie is also filled with very sexy ladies who perform dressed in various degrees of, for lack of a better word, sex, the musical numbers and vocals are very well done and Christina Agulerra and Cher do a good job sharing the screen together. Also, you really can’t go wrong watching the extremely entertaining Stanley Tucci and Alan Cummings.

Guys out there should take their ladies to see this film. You will win points with your partner as you get to enjoy the eyecandy and the great vocals.

Thanks to HollywoodGiants for the above pic.



December 21, 2010 3:19 am Posted by | movie reviews, movies, music | Leave a comment

True Grit 2010 Remake Review

Later this month, the remake of the John Wayne classic, True Grit, will be released nationwide. I first saw the original film with my father growing up and I loved it, but that was then. This current version stars Jeff Bridges as the salty ol’ sauced US marshal who is convinced by a 14 year old girl played by Hailee Steinfeld, to track her father’s killer. She convinces him after it is already well established in a very funny negotiation scene that she is the quickest wit and smartest tongue west of NYC. Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper all make appearances in the film, but the screen time is dominated by Bridges and Steinfeld as they hunt a murder.

The Coen Brothers know how to interject comedy into what is inherently a very dark film and Bridges is impressive as the one eyed marshal who is coherent and sharp shooting enough when he needs to be, but drunkenly incompetent after a long day and a bottle or two of drink.

I miss the regular release of the American western film and if Jeff Bridges wants to come in and take the cowboy mantle from John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, after this performance, I would go and see every production.

Thanks to the wonderful Sara for getting me in to see this pre-screening and thanks to AllMoviePhoto for the above pic.



December 17, 2010 12:59 am Posted by | movie reviews, movies | Leave a comment

Temple Grandin Movie Review

I rarely review movies that aren’t currently in theaters, but after I heard about the HBO film Temple Grandin from my psychiatry professor and watched the film, I had to change that. For anyone who wants to understand what autism means to someone who actually found her way through the disorder and with a lot of work made a big difference in the fields of science, animal husbandry and general medical understanding. Autism used to be considered a disorder that was the fault of the mother, this stigma easily could have ruined a family, but this movie tells the story of one person, with her struggles and her ability to persevere. This is an excellent film. Buy a copy, rent it, just watch it. Claire Danes gives a stellar performance, easily the best movie I have ever seen her in (even though I loved Stardust) with this true story, Julia Ormond gives a heart wrenching performance, David Strathairn and Catherine O’Hara wonderfully support this world of discovery.

The movie is based on the book written by Dr. Grandin: My Life in Pictures. Thanks to Vulture NYmag for the above image.



November 23, 2010 11:43 pm Posted by | books, brain, dvd, health, medicine, movie reviews, movies, nature, science, tv | Leave a comment

Stranger Things Series – Sins of the Mother and Sacred Cow

I originally was going to write this about the first episode in the Stranger Things short film series (subscribe here), but after watching this later episode, I HAD to promote this episode first. As an up and coming medical student, Sins of the Mother is a frightening look at what could very easily become a medical reality if doctors ever lose control of their role with their patients. This episode was written and directed by Earl Newton. The graphics are impressive for this independent production.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Here is the very cool first episode in the series called Sacred Cow, based on a story from podcast author Scott Sigler. There are currently 6 episodes in this series. It feels like an updated independent film version of TV shows like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits.

Vodpod videos no longer available.



November 12, 2010 11:02 pm Posted by | books, clips, health, medicine, movie reviews, movies, podcasts, Religion, tv | Leave a comment

Inception Review

There have been very few excellent movies I have seen in 2010, Inception is definitely one of them though. It’s hard to believe that director Christopher Nolan only made his splash in 2000 with Memento, the way he has been able to wrangle a cast chock-a-block full of big names is quite impressive for such a relatively new director.

I know it took me a long time to actually get a chance to see this film in the theater, but I guess the 5th attempt was the charm (the first 4 times I tried to hit the theater, something always came up or fell through to prevent me from getting to see the movie.

There is very little about the story that I am going to talk about  (the film is a must see for the visuals alone), just that it is a tight story, maybe with a bit too much explaining and exposition, which lead to the film being quite long (~2.5hrs), but at the same time, the cuts I would have made would probably have shaved less than 10 minutes from the film. All I’ll say about the story is that it’s basically a heist movie dealing in business espionage that takes place inside the world of dreams with lots of gunfire. What can you steal in a dream? I’ll let you watch the movie to find out.

The performances by the main players, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Ellen Page were extremely strong. Nolan also brings back Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe from his prior film Batman Begins and there are bit parts for Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine and Pete Postlethwaite. The visuals were nothing less than stunning and I’m always a sucker for MC Escheresque impossible images realized.

I hope by the end, you can decide for yourself what it all means and what happens.

Thanks to IMDB for the above pic.



August 3, 2010 1:46 am Posted by | guns, movie reviews, movies | Leave a comment