For today’s film, I wanted to watch something that featured Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia) who I am a huge fan of. I love his dedication to his art and I like his films. I was scrolling through the Showtime Anytime app when I saw that The Battle Of Shaker Heights was about to expire so I chose it for today’s film. Kelly Ernswiler (LaBeouf) is an War reenactor who is having some trouble in his life. He views his life as a constant battlefield whether it’s dealing with his recovering addict father, a bully at school, or trying to win the love of someone who is obviously way over his league. That is what Kelly deals with until he meet a fellow friend named Bart (Elden Henson) on the battlefield who ends up helping him with most of his troubles except for one major one which involves his sister (Amy Smart). The film also stars Billy Kay (Halloween: Resurrection) as Lance, Kathleen Quinlan (The Hills Have Eyes) as Eve, Shiri Appleby (Swimfan) as Sarah, William Sadler (Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight) as Abe, Ray Wise (Jeepers Creepers 2) as Harrison, Anson Mount (Urban Legends: Final Cut) as Miner Weber, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Tombstone) as Mathilda, and the film was directed by Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin.
I didn’t realize until I chose to watch the film that was a Project Greenlight film which was a series started by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. The film’s script was the big winner for season two of the series and Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin were the lucky winning directors. If you ask me, the series was more interesting of a reality show than any other because it’s cool to see the process involved in making films like this one. The role that Shia had in this film was a very typical role for him back in his early days play the quick witted rebellious teenager (just like in Disturbia) who doesn’t really see the big picture. It’s a great film for teenagers because it’s exactly the way teenagers think and feel like they know everything. Amy Smart has always been one of my favorite actresses since I first saw her in Varsity Blues. She does an amazing job playing the object of Shia LaBeouf’s desire. The film isn’t that long and I think that’s perfect because anymore and it probably would have dragged. The film cuts all the fat out and makes it the perfect length giving you the right amount of comedy and drama one can take. When they pour the drama on you, they really pour it on as it seems things just get worse for our main character which kept me glued in. Is it the best Shia LaBeouf movie out there? Well after seeing some of his other films like Fury or even The Nymphomaniac films, then I would say no. On a teen scale, then it’s a maybe. I am going to give the film an B for a final grade.
I usually reserve Wednesdays for my action film piece called Ass Whoopin Wednesdays, but sometimes there are films that supersede everything. A Quentin Tarantino film by definition is one of those films and that is why there is no Ass Whoopin Wednesday flick. So, we are checking out Tarantino’s eight film The Hateful Eight which stars Kurt Russell (Tombstone) as hang man John Ruth. All John wants to do is deliver a prisoner of his named Daisy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock so that she can be hung. The only problem is that there is a massive blizzard and when they get to a safe place, John is having a hard time trusting a couple of guys he picked up along the way and the four other strangers he encounters in the safe house. Is John right about them being up to no good or will he get the job done. The film also stars Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs) as Oswaldo Mobray, Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers: Age Of Ultron) as Major Marquis Warren, Walton Goggins (House Of 1000 Corpses) as Sheriff Chris Mannix, Demián Bichir (The Heat) as Bob, Michael Madsen (Kill Bill Vol. 1) as Joe Gage, Channing Tatum (22 Jump Street) as Jody, Zoe Bell (Death Proof) as Six Horse Judy, Bruce Dern (Django Unchained) as Gen. Sandy Smithers, James Parks (Kill Bill Vol. 2) as O.B., and Dana Gourrier (Django Unchained) as Mindy.
I want to start this paragraph by saying that this was an excellent film that didn’t tell you that it was a certain type of film and it didn’t live up to it. This film was exactly as it was presented and that was mostly a mystery film set in a western of sorts. I love how Tarantino calls this his eight film and it’s called The Hateful Eight which could be a nod to Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini who named his eighth film 8 1/2. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was true considering the fact that Tarantino is just as much a fan of cinema as I am. It was hard to choose a stand out performance from the film because everyone from Russell, Goggins, Jackson, and even Leigh did an amazing job in the film. What helped them was the fact that the film was well written and the dialogue is amazing as what would be expected from a Tarantino film. So as you can see, it was hard to just choose one person as a standout. The other factors that make this film amazing is that it was filmed using 70 mm film which gives it that authentic look and the soundtrack was done by Ennio Morricone. Ennio deservedly won the Oscar for best Score because it definitely fit the type of film that it was. If you are a true fan of Tarantino then do not miss out on this film, it is a classic. That is why I am going to give the film an A- and it gets that because Django Unchained was the better Western. Plus there are definitely somethings that are going to happen that you don’t see coming.
I am a huge fan of Disney Pixar animation as they seem to get it right almost every single time they come out with a film. With that being said, I had to check out their latest offering The Good Dinosaur (to which I am surprised it wasn’t nominated for an oscar). In a world where Dinosaurs live among the humans, a Apatosaurus named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is just trying to figure out what his place is among his family. Every single member of his family seems to know what there purpose is except for the skiddish and smaller Arlo. One day after the death of his father, Arlo goes after a human named Spot (Jack Bright) who Arlo feels is responsible. While he is going after him, the two end up getting lost and they have to stick together if they want to find their way back home and that means figuring out who he really is deep inside for Arlo. The film also stars Jeffrey Wright (Boardwalk Empire) as Poppa, Frances McDormand (Fargo) as Momma, Marcus Scribner (Black-ish) as Buck, Maleah Nipay-Padilla (Fruitvale Station) as Libby, Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) as Thunderclap, A.J. Buckley (Happy Feet) as Nash, Anna Paquin (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) as Ramsey, Sam Elliot (Tombstone) as Butch, and the film was directed by Peter Sohn (who also voices Pet Collector).
I want to start this paragraph by saying that there is always a character that helps drive these children’s animated films. They are the characters that children always laugh at because they are the comedic relief like Tow Mater in Cars, the Minions in Despicable Me, and so on and so forth. In this film, Spot is that character that helps drive the film forward and is the comedic relief. Without him, I don’t think the film would be as awesome as it was. It would be a great tear jerking story, but he makes it incredible. He is so essential to the story that Arlo couldn’t grow up and find who he was without him. There are so many great appearances in this film like a family of T-Rex’s voiced by Paquin and Elliot or Zahn who is brilliant as the pterodactyl Thunderclap. The film also features some incredible animation that I was blown away by how far we have come. When they do close ups of Arlo, you can see all the detail in his scales along with the bruises and anything else. Even the details in the river are amazing especially when it floods. Again, I don’t know why this film wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, but it certainly deserved a nod at least. It’s truly a film that is full of adventure and it even pulls on your heart strings like any great Disney film would. If you are a fan of animated films, then do yourself a favor and check out The Good Dinosaur. So with that being said, I am going to give this film an A- for a final grade.