Save time for ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in 'Saving Mr. Banks'
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Saving Mr. Banks is a movie that tells two tales to its audience.  The expected story of how the fictional character created by writer P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) finally becomes a major motion picture thanks to Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), and the childhood of the author.  Known as Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley) in those days, this story tells the audience just how Ms Travers became the stubborn, difficult woman she was.

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Dance on down to ‘American Hustle’, it is amazingly awesome

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The five main characters in the outstanding ‘American Hustle’ from writer/director David O. Russell

If you ask any fan of film to name a few of the best movies involving con artists, the first few that will be mentioned are almost certain to include The Sting, House of Games, Catch Me If You Can, and a few others.  The first two are the best of the genre.  Until now.  American Hustle, a film from David O. Russell is definitely a contender to be among the best movies involving a con or cons, ever.

Read moreDance on down to ‘American Hustle’, it is amazingly awesome

‘Homefront’ is incomplete and underdeveloped

Jason Statham faces off against backwoods drug dealers in 'Homefront'
Jason Statham faces off against backwoods drug dealers in ‘Homefront’

[rating=2]Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Izabela Vidovic
Director: Gary Fleder
Writer: Sylvester Stallone

While lately movies made from kids and teen books have been all the rage and able to develop as franchises, adult-oriented fare hasn’t been as lucky. Last year gave us the very disappointing Alex Cross and Jack Reacher, which likely stopped any plans for follow-ups dead in their tracks. Now Phil Broker comes to the screen in Homefront, and although not renaming the film after the character was a good start, more wrong choices were made than right.

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‘Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom’ runs a bit long

Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela in 'Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom'
Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela in ‘Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom’

The problem with making a film about the life of Nelson Mandela is that unless you focus on a brief period, there’s just too much material to deal with.  Movies like Lincoln and Hitchcock worked so well because they focused on a narrow period of the subject’s life.  When you do what director Justin Chadwick does here, try to cover a large part of the life of someone who was in fact, larger than life, it is usually an overreach.

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Don’t wait even 12 minutes before seeing ‘12 Years A Slave’

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Paul Giamatti in '12 Years A Slave'
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Paul Giamatti in ’12 Years A Slave’

In 1852, the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or Life Among the Lowly)” by Harriet Beecher Stowe was published for the first time.  It was like pouring gasoline over the already raging argument over slavery in the U.S.  11 years earlier, Solomon Northrup was a free man living a good life in Saratoga, NY.  He played the violin and worked at other skilled professions to earn a living.  He was married with two children.  Then he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South.  He would remain there until being freed a dozen years later.  Then he wrote his own book, “12 Years A Slave” which also became a bestseller.  However, while the novel is very well known in this era, the story of Solomon Northrup was virtually unknown.   Until his book was made into an outstanding film.

Read moreDon’t wait even 12 minutes before seeing ‘12 Years A Slave’

‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ is an intense, fast-paced experience

Jennifer Lawrence is back in the hunt in 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
Jennifer Lawrence is back in the hunt in ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

[rating=4]Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland
Writer(s): Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt; Based upon the novel by Suzanne Collins
Director: Francis Lawrence

When The Hunger Games was released in 2012, the talk around town was how a story that involves killing kids could keep a PG-13 rating in order to attract the audience that propelled the original novels to the top of the bestselling lists. The filmmakers were creative. Violence was shrouded by foliage. The filming, choppy and chaotic.

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‘Gravity’ is likely the best science fiction film of 2013

Sandra Bullock fights to survive in 'Gravity'
Sandra Bullock fights to survive in ‘Gravity’

[rating=3]Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Writer: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón

Gravity is probably the best movie in which the main character spends half the time in her underwear. But to leave it at that does the movie a big disservice; it may well end up being the best science fiction film of the year.

Read more‘Gravity’ is likely the best science fiction film of 2013