Movie Of The Week: Hands Of Stone (2016)

Hands-of-Stone-2016-700x987We are closely approaching a major decision here that I will be sure to make sure that all of you know when it becomes official. For now, we are continuing right along with our next movie of the week and this week’s is one that I have been dying to see for a little while now. There are two things that you can count on from me and that is one I am a huge fan of films that are based on true stories and the second is that I am a huge fan of the sport of boxing. When you combine those two things then I have to watch which is the case with this week’s film Hands Of Stone. The film follows the journey of not just legendary lightweight boxer Roberto Durán (played by Edgar Ramírez) and his rise from poverty in Panama to world champion, but it also follows that of his legendary trainer Ray Arcel (played by Robert De Niro) and his return to the sport he loved and had to let go of for a while. Watch as their journey for respect goes through it’s trials and tribulations. The film also stars Usher Raymond (The Faculty) as Sugar Ray Leonard, Ana de Armas (War Dogs) as Felicidad Iglesias, Pedro Perez as Plomo, Rubén Blades (Predator 2) as Carlos Eleta, Óscar Jaenada (The Shallows) as Chaflan, and the film was directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz.

handsOne of my favorite things about the film was definitely the acting from De Niro, Ramírez, and even Usher Raymond. They did an amazing job of painting who Sugar Ray Leonard was back in the day and they fear they had of his boxing style which by the way is not a fear of whether he’ll hurt you or not. However they do portray Roberto as this immature punk kid who has never been disciplined in his life because of how amazing of a boxer he was. They portray him at times to be the uneducated idiot with gloves who couldn’t see the bigger picture. What they do eventually show is his maturity and accent into manhood later in the film. They do a pretty good job with the fight choreography which you have to give kudos to as they try to cut an hour fight into mere minutes and that is difficult because you have to choose the best moments. One of the other things about the film that I loved was the beautiful Ana de Armas who plays Roberto’s wife the film because she was not only great, but she had some amazing scenes in the film (see pic below). Other than that, it was a pretty decent film and it had some amazing cinematography to boot especially the scenes in Panama. The film does at times show how easy it is for a child to grow to hate America just on what he went through and saw in his life. You’ll understand what I am talking about throughout the film. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Ana de Armas Hands Of Stone

Day 274: Deepwater Horizon (2016)

download-deepwater-horizon-full-movieThere is only one day left until we do Eddie’s 31 Days Of Halloween so I wanted to check out the newest Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) film. Peter Berg has been doing one film after another that are based on true stories and you can Deepwater Horizon to that list. BP (British Petroleum)  has just set up a drilling site in the ocean in the Gulf Coast and it’s time to get it going. Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) doesn’t want to start drilling until all the tests have cleared and have been determined safe. Unfortunately, after a test shows that the rig is safe (even though it’s still questionable), they commence on the drilling and the rig explodes and creates the worst oil spill in US History. The film also stars Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor) as Mike Williams, Douglas M. Griffin (10 Cloverfield Lane) as Landry, Gina Rodriguez (Interstate) as Andrea Fleytas, John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich) as Vidrine, Dave Maldonado (Trumbo) as Kuchta, Ethan Suplee (American History X) as Jason Anderson, Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner) as Caleb Holloway, James DuMont (Dallas Buyers Club) as O’Bryan, Joe Chrest (22 Jump Street) as Sims, Brad Leland (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) as Kaluza, and Robert Walker Branchaud (Stranger Things) as Doug Brown.

mv5bmji2otkxndu5mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtcxnzewote-_v1_cr060640360_al_ux477_cr00477268_al_As far as the film is concerned, it’s everything you would expect from a Peter Berg movie where they explain what is going on and then they get right to the meat and potatoes of the film. The build up to the action is a little slow, but that is because they want to inform you about everything that happened from the negligence of BP in every single detail. Mark Wahlberg is Mark Wahlberg so if you saw Lone Survivor then you know what exactly to expect from him in this film. He just goes from a Seal to an engineer for this film. Now I am not an expert on fire, but there were some confusing moments in the film like from a far away shot, the whole rig looks like it’s on fire, but close up the control room looks like there’s no fire near it. Fires could be deceiving from far away so I am willing to let that one go. I have to give the directors props for this film because they built an oil rig just to film the movie. That is a pretty incredible fun fact for all of you out there. Every time I saw Kurt Russell in this film, I kept thinking of Backdraft, but he was amazing in the film for sure. One thing the film does for sure is they make BP exes look lie absolute idiots in this film. They make them look like fools coming up with any excuse possible as to why they should start  drilling instead of investigating. If that is what you seek plus some really good acting then check out the film. I just wanted to add that Kate Hudson still looks amazing in this film. I am going to give Deepwater Horizon an B+ for a final grade.

Day 258: The Imitation Game (2014)

imitation_game_ver4_xxlgThe past couple of days have all been about watching films that I have wanted to see either from my interest or from suggestions from other people. The film I chose for today is also based on a true story and it’s called The Imitation Game. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness) as the very eccentric and smart mathematician Alan Turing. During World War II, the Germans were sending very hard to break coded messages that was called The Enigma.The British Government was desperate to try and figure out what the messages are so they hired Alan and other mathematicians to try and break the codes by building a machien that can do so. That is not his only issue as the biggest secret he is trying to keep may become exposed and it could ruin everything he has worked for.  The film also stars Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice) as Joan Clarke, Matthew Goode (Match Point) as Hugh Alexander, Rory Kinnear (Skyfall) as Det. Nock, Allen Leech (Grand Piano) as John Cairncross, Matthew Beard (Chatroom) as Peter Hilton, Charles Dance (Last Action Hero) as Commander Denniston, Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes) as Stewart Menzies, James Northcote (Nymphomaniac: Vol. I) as Jack Good, and the film was directed by Morten Tyldum (Buddy). 

imitation-gameThe movie is listed on IMDB as a thriller and I kind of don’t see that as much as I see drama and biography. I honestly believe that you have to be a fan of either World War II related stuff or a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch (which I am of both) in order to like this movie. Anyways, I didn’t really see too many thrills in the film unless you count them trying to decode messages as thrilling. The one thing you’ll find about this film is that people can be cruel and misunderstanding of those that are different. Alan had to live with a dark secret and was eventually punished in England for it. Now I wanted to look up what was fact or fiction about this film and there seems to be a lot of civil liberties that were taken by the writers of this film. For one, he is not the man who invented the computer like the film suggests, but rather it was invented by Polish men. He was also openly gay according to the site whereas the film has him very secretive about it. To read more fact vs fiction about the film, please click here. Benedict Cumberbatch was masterful as always in the film and so was Keira Knightley which is something I haven’t said too often. I am a huge fan of World War II films, but this one wasn’t exactly my favorite. I did enjoy it, but it does drag a little but for my liking.This is definitely a film for actors because you have to love the ones that are in it. That is why I am going to give the film an A-/B+somewhere in there for a final grade.

Day 253: Sully (2016)

sullyThere are stories in the world that truly capture the imagination when you hear them and sometimes it’s so incredible its hard to believe. Then there are miracles that happen in the world that you just want to know the incredible story behind them. That was definitely the case with US Airways Flight 1549 which was a flight that left New York’s LaGuardia Airport and landed in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 which is explored in the new film Sully. Tom Hanks (Bridge Of Spies) plays former US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger a.k.a Sully, a pilot who had to make a snap decision after losing both his engines due to birds flying into them on that faithful day. The film explores the aftermath of the event and all of the questioning he faced afterwards as to whether it was the right choice to make. The film also stars Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) as Jeff Skiles, Valerie Mahaffey (Senior Trip) as Diane Higgins, Mike O’Malley (R.I.P.D.) as Charles Porter, Jamey Sheridan (Spotlight) as Ben Edwards, Anna Gunn (Red State) as Elizabeth Davis, Holt McCallany (Fight Club) as Mike Cleary, Laura Linney (Mystic River) as Lorraine Sullenberger, Molly Hagan (Election) as Doreen Welsh, Ann Cusack (Stigmata) as Donna Dent, and the film was directed by Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby).

images-1Spoiler Alert: There may be information contained in this Article that could potentially spoil the plot of the film so continue with caution or do not read any further if you do not want to know. I have always thought that the story is absolutely incredible and one that should be told for the ages. The film at first focused more on the aftermath of the whole event as it focused on Sully struggling with what happened and the committee not believing Sully. The issue with them not believing Sully is because of simulations saying that they could’ve made it back to either LaGuardia or the airport in Newark. So, the film is Sully’s hunt to prove that he wasn’t wrong and that he made the right choice. They eventually show you what happened on the plane twice which means two different points of view. One showing of the event starts with Sully and co. but then it switches to what the air traffic controller hears the whole time. Then when they are in a meeting, it goes from the point of view of everyone involved inside the plane, but more importantly through Sully. The man was a hero for what he did and the committee was literally treating him like he may have gone senile or had a nervous breakdown. I thought that the film was very good, but not great. It felt like it was just cruising along for the most part and I felt that the landing should have been the focus point of the beginning of the film rather than starting with the investigation. If you never knew about the event, you might have been confused about the beginning of the film. Nonetheless, as I said it was a very good film, but if you plan on flying you may not want to watch this till afterwards. I am going to give the film a grade somewhere between an B+/A- because the acting was great and the story was good.

Day 236: American Gangster (2007)

CEVWBh1UkAIumVqIt’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).

04H19qKWhat 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.

Day 232: War Dogs (2016)

shareThere are some stories in the world that are just too good to be true, but when you find out that they are based on true stories you just have to see it. That was definitely the case when I saw the trailer to today’s film War Dogs. The film tells the tale of David Packouz (Miles Teller), a down and out massage therapist who seems to have everything going against him when childhood friend Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) shows back up in his life. Efraim gets David involved in some risky business when they become arms dealers for the government. Everything is going great for the gang until they take one deal that may prove to be too much for the duo after all. The film also stars Ana de Armas (Hands Of Stone) as Iz, Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men) as Ralph Slutzky, Patrick St. Esprit (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) as Captain Philip Santos, Shaun Toub (Iron Man) as Marlboro, Bradley Cooper (Guardians Of The Galaxy) as Henry Girard, JB Blanc (Breaking Bad) as Bashkim, Gabriel Spahiu (High Tension) as Enver, Julian Sergi (Freaks Of Nature) as Rosen, Eddie Jemison (Ocean’s Eleven) as Hilldale Home Manager, and the film was directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover).

la-ca-mn-war-dogs-todd-phillips-20160424Spoiler Alert: There may be information contained in this Article that could potentially spoil the plot of the film so continue with caution or do not read any further if you do not want to know. I’m watching this movie and I am wondering how the Government just let all of this happen and if you see the movie, how did these guys fool the government for the big money contract. The movie just kind of makes you feel that the government may seem strong at some aspects, but there are really just way too many holes in the system. There are so many great scenes in this film that it’s just hard too choose because Jonah Hill was just so funny. The way he laughs at first is kind of funny, but after a while it annoyed me. The whole scene when they are driving the arms from Jordan to Iraq is probably one of the best scenes in the whole film and I mean the whole sequence. Now the only scene that I am wondering about is the ending of the film. I read that David and one other associate are still in court with Efraim as they are suing each other. So, that is why I question the ending of the film, but overall I thought this was a great film. The film has plenty of excitement, suspense at times, and the comedy was good too. One thing I wanted to mention too is that Ana de Armas is super hot and she looks like the Spanish version of Tiffany Amber Thiessen, but hotter. This could be a contender for movie of the year, but there is still so much more time to go and a lot of films left to see. I am going to give this film an A- for a final grade.

Day 186: Everest (2015)

everestI want to start off by wishing everyone a happy and safe fourth of July. While yesterday’s film was loosely based on a true story, today’s film Everest claims to be based on a true story of the 1996 tragedy. Ever since the first person to successfully climb Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953, people have been obsessed by making the climb which is 29,000 plus feet in the air. In 1996, Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) led an expedition to the top of Mount Everest, but what was supposed to be a triumphant occasion quickly went south. While up at the top of the summit, a wild and crazy storm hits the mountain forcing all the men to fight for their lives as they try to make the trek back down the mountain. The film also stars Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men) as Beck Weathers, Jake Gyllenhaal (Zodiac) as Scott Fischer, Sam Worthington (Terminator: Salvation) as Guy Cotter, Emily Watson (Red Dragon) as Helen Wilton, Tim Dantay (Summer) as John Taske, Michael Kelly (Now You See Me) as John Krakauer, Naoko Mori (Spice World) as Yasuko Namba, John Hawkes (Lincoln) as Doug Hansen, Martin Henderson (The Ring) as Andy Harris, Keira Knightley (Domino) as Jan Hall, and the film was directed by Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns).

everest 2Before I get into what is fact and what is fiction about a film that clearly says that it’d BASED on a true story, I wanted to say that I really loved the film. There were way too many names to list in the above paragraph, but this was just an excellent film with excellent performances all around. Jason Clarke is a superstar and is becoming one of my favorites in the business and you can’t go wrong with the performances from Jake Gyllenhaal or Josh Brolin. It was truly an all star cast in my opinion in a film that could have gone one or two ways. This could have been a boring film about mountain climbing, but it ended up being a story about the power of belief and the will of man. These men faced unbelievable odds while climbing the mountain and while I said what was supposed to be a day of triumph turned into tragedy. Apparently John Krakauer has said this about the film, “It’s total bull … Anyone who goes to that movie and wants a fact-based account should read Into Thin Air.” After watching the film, he was annoyed at the notion that he never attempted to help anyone on the rescue mission, he says, “I never had that conversation. Anatoli came to several tents, and not even Sherpas could go out. I’m not saying I could have, or would have. What I’m saying is, no one came to my tent and asked.” To read the rest of the article, click here. There is always going to be differentiating opinions on what really happened in a film, you just have to take it or leave it. I shed some tears at certain parts of the film that I won’t give away, but it has to do with Rob and his wife Jan. Check out the film on HBO or HBOGO right now. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 110: Legend (2015)

download-legend-hd-torrent-1It just dawned on me that I chose a film that is based on a true story and it’s Tuesday. You may be asking what is the significance of that and it’s because I used to do a blog piece called Based On A Truesday Story (play on the words True and Tuesday) for my other blog. Nevertheless, I chose the biopic Legend which stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) as both legendary London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray. The film follows the rise and fall of the most notorious British gangsters in history during their run in the 1960’s from the east end of London told through the perspective of Francis Shea (Emily Browning), Reggie’s wife who witnessed almost it all. The film also stars Paul Anderson (Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows) as Albert Donoghue, Christopher Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World) as Nipper Read, Colin Morgan (The Living And The Dead) as Frank Shea, Tara Fitzgerald (Exodus: Gods And Kings) as Mrs. Shea, Adam Fogerty (Snatch) as Pat Connolly, Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Mad Teddy Smith, Shane Attwooll (Kingdom Of Heaven) as George Cornell, Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale) as Angelo Bruno, and the film was directed by Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale).

legend-2015b-880x320I have been dying to see this film since the moment I had heard about it and thanks to Redbox, I finally had my chance to view it. I am certainly glad that I did because the film further proves how much acting ability Tom Hardy has and that he is here to stay. For the whole entire film, we are told that Reggie is the normal one and that Ronnie is the one off his rocker. There is a scene at the end where Reggie just snaps and he doesn’t act like how he usually does. Ronnie looks at him and questions why he did it and says he wouldn’t have handled it that way almost making you believe that maybe he isn’t the crazy one anymore. That is until Reggie answers his question and it all makes sense that he was driven to his level. While the film is very good and it met my expectations, I do feel however that it was a little long at times (even though it’s only 2 hours long). The real catch about this film is the acting which is superb from not only Hardy, but from his co-stars Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, etc as they all did an amazing job. The sets were amazing as you felt you were in the east end of London in the 1960’s and the costumes were great too. The film is your typical gangster true story film where it makes them look bad ass while also making them look vulnerable as well. Like all true stories, there is the downfall because not everyone stays at the top. This is definitely a film that is worth checking out if you are a fan of Tom Hardy, British films, and gangster movies. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.