Movie Beat – 02.28.14

The Bag Man – The role of a Bag Man is a time-honored tradition. Heartless, ruthless and cold, the Bag Man kills for money and is hired because he kills. This Bag Man (John Cusack) has been hired by this mobster (Robert De Niro) to transport the bag to this rundown motel loaded with these shady people (Rebecca Da Costa, Crispin Glover, Dominic Purcell). Why bring all these characters under one roof? You’ll have to watch to find that out, but one thing we can be certain of, it will not end without a fair amount of bloodshed. Directed by … Continue reading Movie Beat – 02.28.14

Movie Beat – 12.06.13

Breakfast With Curtis – Curtis is a shy young boy who lives next door to his complete opposite, Syd. Syd is a middle-aged bookseller, who spends most of his days drinking red wine and waxing poetically about this and that, but he needs some money, and that is where Curtis comes in. He manages to convince Curtis to shoot commercials for his book business, which he does, and Curtis is exposed to a whole new world through Syd. Free of cliches and irony, this small chamber piece is light and fun with an awful lot of heart. Starring Theo Green, … Continue reading Movie Beat – 12.06.13

Movie Beat – 11.27.13

Black Nativity – It’s time for holiday movies, and that means focus on the family and focus on the faith. In Black Nativity, the road to both of these runs right through the church, which allows for a good deal of musical numbers. Langston (Jacob Latimore) and his mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson), have run across hard times, and Langston is sent to his grandparents, the Reverend (Forest Whitaker) and Aretha (Angela Bassett). They are going to try and steer Langston in the right direction, if only he will let them. Adapted from the play by Langston Hughes and directed by … Continue reading Movie Beat – 11.27.13

LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER

Lee Daniels' The Butler - Poster

It opens with an image of two dead black men, lynched, with an American flag flapping in the breeze. A quote from Martin Luther King appears. It’s clear from the start, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a political movie, but Jean-Luc Godard reminded us, “All art is political”. It has a very clear opinion and point of view, and I give it a lot of credit for embracing it. Far too often a movie tries to hedge its bets and not offend this side of the aisle or that. They attempt to cloak the story in a suicidal mission of historical accuracy, making people believe that what they see on the screen was true to how it happened in real life. Who can be offended by history? Nothing seen on the screen is how it happened in real life. All movies based on true events, inspired by real accounts, and from a true story are in essence historical fictions because they reconstruct history. That is fine, that is what they need to be, but as long as we are reconstructing history, can’t we go ahead and comment? Can’t we view these events through a prism of one’s own point of view? Isn’t that why we go to the movies in the first place? To see someone else’s story unfold for us, to see and understand his or her viewpoint? Atticus Fitch taught Scout that, “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them”. We may not be able to walk around in Cecil Gain’s well-worn dress shoes, but thanks to director Lee Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong, we can see the world through the eyes of Cecil Gains. From the cotton fields of the Jim Crow south to a White House butler for eight Presidents. The great American myth is that of Horatio Alger, a country where anyone can become more than the place of their birth, from rags to riches. Cecil is that myth incarnate. He shows that hard work opens the door, luck takes you through, but humility is what keeps you there.

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Movie Beat – 08.16.13

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints – Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) is trying to get back to the love of his life, Ruth (Rooney Mara). While he’s been away in prison, Sheriff Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster) has been keeping an eye on Ruth, and now that Muldoon is out, Wheeler has to go looking for him. Ruth has plans of her own, and when people stand between you and your beloved, they don’t amount to a hill of beans. Sometimes it doesn’t matter which side of the law you are on, what matters are your intentions. Cue the shootout. Written and directed by … Continue reading Movie Beat – 08.16.13

FRUITVALE STATION

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009, twenty-two-year-old Oscar Grant was pulled off a Bay Area Rapid Transit Train at Fruitvale Station. A struggle ensued and BART Officer Johannes Mehserle, handcuffed Grant and while he was face down on the ground, Mehserle fatally shot Oscar in the back. The entire occurrence was captured on video from BART passenger’s phones, ushering in a new era where the whole world is watching. Writer/director Ryan Coogler uses this footage to open his debut, Fruitvale Station, immediately hanging dread over the events while reminding the audience that this is not just … Continue reading FRUITVALE STATION

Movie Beat – 01.18.13

Birders: The Central Park Effect – What a charming little documentary about birds in Central Park. New York City is a giant metropolis of concrete, glass, steel, and asphalt. Imagine a bird soaring over skyscrapers, roads, apartment buildings, and smack dab in the middle of this, a giant swath of green, Central Park. Birds come here to congregate, rest, feed, live, and the birders can’t get enough. How these birds co-exist with thirty-eight million visitors of Central Park is remarkable. Just watch that goose calmly strut its stuff, completely indifferent to anyone else. Written and directed by Jeffrey Kimball and … Continue reading Movie Beat – 01.18.13

Movie Beat – 01.04.13

Six movies mark the first round of new releases for 2013, and all but one is in limited release. Promised Land expands its releases and Hollywood gives everyone a chance to catch up with all their awards pictures that rolled out in the last two weeks. Saw those already, you say? Well, here are new ones for your viewing pleasure. 56 Up – “Give me the child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.” In 1964, a group of fourteen British children were interviewed about their lives, their dreams, and their ambitions. All were seven-years-old and they … Continue reading Movie Beat – 01.04.13