It’s Tuesday which can only mean one thing and that is that it is time for Based on a Truesday Story. Based on a Truesday Story is a segment I did on my other blog where we watch films that are based on a true story and for today we are doing American Gangster. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is an African American drug lord from Harlem, New York who decides that the best way to take over the competition is to fly directly to the source in Vietnam. He quickly becomes the drug kingpin of New York, but that attracts the wrong kind of attention. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an honest cop who gets put on the case to track down Frank Lucas and shut him down completely and anyone else corrupt as well. The film also stars Chiwetelu Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) as Huey Lucas, Josh Brolin (The Goonies) as Trupo, Lymari Nadal (The Blackout) as Eva, Ted Levine (The Silence Of The Lambs) as Lou Toback, Roger Guenveur Smith (He Got Game) as Nate, John Hawkes (Lincoln) as Freddie, RZA (The Man With The Iron Fists) as Moses Jones, Carla Gugino (Watchmen) as Laurie, Idris Elba (Thor) as Tango, Common (Selma) as Turner Lucas, TI (Ant-Man) as Stevie Lucas, Armand Assante (Judge Dredd) as Dominic Cattano, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Alien).
What happens when you put Denzel Washington in a leading role of a film? Well, I hope that you are preparing yourself for one hell of a performance because that is exactly what you are getting with this film. The thing I loved about this film is that you sort of get two stories in one where you have one guy who wants to make his teacher and his family proud by being at the top of his game while you have another who feels that honesty is the best policy and it will lead him over the dirty cops. I have to be honest in saying that if I found a million dollars as a cop, I may skim a few off the top of it. It’s kind of the story of the two roads with the one less traveled and you can guess who took which road in this film. There are so many actors that appeared in this film that I couldn’t fit above that deserved honorable mention like Cuba Gooding Jr., Ruby Dee, Jon Polito, John Ortiz, and many more who do a terrific job in the film. Now we all know that Hollywood takes some civil liberties with their films, but this one seems to have a lot according to an article on historyvshollywood.com. One story is that Frank says in the film that he drove for Bumpy for 15 years. Reports indictate that Bumpy was released from prison in 1963 and he died in 1968 leaving only a five year window. Check out more of the facts vs fiction in that article that I provided. The film is excellent with a very good story, amazing cinematography, and it’s the kind of gangster movies we love here in the states. So, what more could you possibly ask for? I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
The question of the day is do you want to be educated about something you probably didn’t know anything about? If that is the case and you have Netflix, then you need to check out today’s film The Big Short. The Big Short is a film that chronicles the crash of the mortgage industry on Wall Street back in 2008/2009. The film follows four different denizens in the industry Michael Burry (Christian Bale), Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), Mark Baum (Steve Carell), and the team of Charlie Geller (John Magaro), Jamey Shipley (Finn Wittrock), and Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) as they decide to bet against the housing market and it’s loans which was simply unheard of at the time. They were betting against the economy which was considered ballsy. The film also stars Tracy Letts (Killer Joe) as Lawrence Fields, Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) as Cynthia Baum, Adepero Oduye (12 Years A Slave) as Kathy Tao, Rafe Spall (Life Of Pi) as Danny Moses, Hamish Linklater (Battleship) as Porter Collins, Jeremy Strong (Zero Dark Thirty) as Vinnie Daniel, Melissa Leo (Red State) as Georgia Hale, Karen Gillan (Guardians Of The Galaxy) as Evie, and the film features cameos from Anthony Bourdain, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, and the film was directed by Adam McKay (The Other Guys).
If you do not know anything about trading stocks, bonds, and the housing market then you better pay full attention to the film cause you could get absolutely lost. They have Margot Robbie, Anthony Bourdain, and Selena Gomez appear on screen to help break down some of the terms into dummy form. Even then, I would still advise people not to leave at any point or you will be confused. If you want to see how crooked and stupid the US Government and the banks were with the average working persons money then you need to watch this movie because it’s all about how they screwed you with no lube. It’s hard to choose an MVP for this film because they all really did a terrific job in the film, but some of my favorite moments belonged to Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell especially when they were together. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Gosling is trying to explain why he is betting against the market to Steve Carell using the Jenga format to represent all the loans. The interactions between the two during this scene are just awesome and worth seeing. After you have seen the film, you are going to be astonished about how so many things just slipped through the cracks during this whole ordeal especially with the mortgage market in the early to mid-2000’s where so many people were defaulting and foreclosures were happening. This film sheds the best light on the reason for the collapse of the economy so be prepared. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade because it’s smart, thought provoking, and intuitive. Check it out on Netflix right now as we speak.
There are some stories in life that are so amazing when they are brought on to the screen which is what the original 1967 Walt Disney animated film The Jungle Book did. Now, what if we take one of the coolest stories combine it with the director that helped put Marvel back on the map in Jon Favreau (Iron Man), and made it a live action film for today’s feature film. For Mowgli (Neel Sethi), the only life he has known since he was a baby was the life and laws of the jungle as he has been taken care of by a pack of wolves and a panther named Bagheera (Ben Kinglsey). That is until one day when he is confronted by an evil Tiger named Shere Khan (Idris Elba) who is intent on killing the child for living in the jungle. So in order to ensure his own safety and the safety of all the animals, Mowgli agrees to leave, but he may have to come back to save them. The film also stars Bill Murray (Ghostbusters) as Baloo, Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave) as Raksha, Scarlett Johansson (Avengers) as Kaa, Christopher Walken (Dead Zone) as King Louie, Garry Shandling (The Larry Sanders Show) as Ikki, Giancarlo Esposito (The Usual Suspects) as Akela, and Brighton Rose (Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy) as Gray.
This was by far one of my favorite movies of the year and it’s ranked up there with Deadpool and any other movie I’ve seen this year so far.This film is non stop fun and adventure from beginning to end and I was so disappointed it was over because I wanted more. All of the characters in the film were absolutely amazing from the acting to the design and the scenes themselves. Bill Murray was an absolute star in this film as everyone’s favorite bear Baloo and believe me Murray delivered. It was such a joy to see him as the bear on the big screen and Neel Sethi did a terrific job as Mowgli too. You were 100% sold that this kid was raised in the jungle and that he communicated with the animals. Now if you are looking forward to seeing Kaa on the big screen, I am going to warn you that you may be a tiny bit disappointed on the amount of screen time she has in the film. Another pleasant surprise for me was hearing Christopher Walken play everyone’s favorite Orangutan King Louie (except he’s a giant one in this film). The story is amazing, the way it came to life on the screen was amazing, and the cinematography was amazing too. Like I said this is definitely one of my favorite films of the month so far and I think everyone should go and check it out in the theaters. A second Jungle Book film has already been announced according to IMDB so I look forward to it. With all of that being said, I am going to proceed and give the film an A+ for a final grade.
One of the things I look for when picking a movie to watch is whether the film has a great cast that catches my eye. The other thing that would attract me to a film is whether or not I liked the story. That was definitely the case with today’s film Secret In Their Eyes, the crime drama directed by Billy Ray (Breach). The film stars Chiwetelu Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) as Ray Kasten, a former FBI investigator whose been hell bent on solving a murder case for the last 13 years of his life. Ray’s best friend and fellow colleague Jess (Julia Roberts) discover the body of her daughter in a dumpster next to a mosque that they are investigating. Unfortunately, the killer remained at large and Ray hasn’t been able to let it go until he could solve it or will he? The film also stars Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge!) as Claire Sloan, Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) as Bumpy, Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2) as Morales, Joe Cole (Offender) as Marzin, Michael Kelly (Now You See Me) as Reg Siefert, Zoe Graham (Boyhood) as Carolyn Cobb, Lyndon Smith (The Forger) as Kit, and Don Harvey (Die Hard 2: Die Harder) as Fierro.
What is funny is when the film came out in the cinemas, I had no desire to see this movie at the time. I don’t know what made me change my mind when I was in front of the Redbox kiosk, but I chose the film. I have to say that I don’t regret the decision to watch the film because it was one heck of a cast first of all. The twist at the end of the film is also when that you won’t see coming, but you’ll finally understand the title of the film. Going into this film, I did not realize that this was the American adaptation (or remake) of the 2009 Oscar winning best foreign film El secreto de sus ojos. I love how during the film, it switches from being in the present one minute and into the past for a little while and vice versa. It’s like it’s giving you the backstory with the current story to keep you intrigued and see how badly the characters have aged because of it. That was definitely a great selling point for me was to see how desperate one is to solve the case while others either want it buried or it’s just too hard to bring up after so many years. Chiwetelu Ejiofor is by far one of the stars of the film, his performance is absolutely superb, but Nicole Kidman also deserves some kudos. The two of them had some great on screen chemistry which made the film work. For me, I think that is the appealing part of the film is the actors because without them, I don’t know how good this film would have been. That is why I am going to give the film an B+ for a final grade. Check it out for yourselves today.