Monday, December 31, 2012

The Sessions - Movie Review

The Sessions (R) 94 minutes B+
Helen Hunt and Positive Sex 

Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy, Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks, Adam Arkin, Rhea Perlman, W. Earl Brown and Robin Weigart

The Sessions is based on the real life story of Mark O'Brien (Hawkes), a San Francisco poet who contracted polio as a young boy and spent the majority of his life in an iron lung.  At 38 years-old O'Brien decided that he wanted to lose his virginity. He employed a sex surrogate, Cheryl Cohen Greene (Hunt), who specialized in helping physically disabled patients rediscover their sexuality.  It was an occupation that may not have been uncommon in Berkeley, California circa 1988.

This film is inspired by the essay, "On Seeing a Sex Surrogate," written by O'Brien and published in 1990.  O'Brien's life was also the subject of an Oscar winning documentary short in 1997 called Breathing Lessons The Sessions is inspiring and uplifting without being weepy and cheesy.  It is amazing what the real Mark O'Brien accomplished in his life, feats that many of us (able bodied people) have not.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

This is 40 - Movie Review

This is 40 (R) 133 minutes B
40 is the new 30

Starring John Lithgow, Lena Dunham, Chris O'Dowd, Megan Fox, Charlyne Yi, Albert Brooks,  Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann

This is 40 is a funny, manic and slightly annoying film about turning 40. It's typical Judd Apatow, so if you like his brand of humor drop what you're doing and go see this film NOW.  Oh, and if you are 40, was 40, or about to turn 40, you'll probably get a kick out of this as well.  As for everyone else, unless you like whiny, miserable, beautiful yuppies, you might want to wait for this one to arrive on DVD/home video.
Bonus DVD/Home Rental Review
Bachelorette (R) 87 Minutes D-
Completely Forgettable

Theatrical release September 2012
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson, Adam Scott, James Marsden

Riding the coattails of Bridesmaids and The Hangover, this film was utterly stupid and disappointing.  Don't waste your time.     

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Flight - Movie Review

Flight (R) 138 minutes  A
A high flying emotional acrobat

Starring Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Nadine Velazquez, Melissa Leo, Tamara Tunie, Brian Geraghty

No one plays cool like Denzel Washington.  Flight might be the biggest thrill ride I've had at the movies all year!  It has everything I love about cinema- grit, emotion, sex, suspense, darkness, and an absorbing character that transcends the big screen.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away), Flight manages to be the perfect "popcorn movie," while demonstrating an everyman type melancholy and fallibility.  Roger Ebert called the film, "nearly flawless."  I call it one of the best films you'll see in 2012.

Highly recommended.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Might as well jump! (Book Review)

Publication: June 2005
Long Way Down - Nick Hornby B+

In A Long Way Down, four strangers- Martin, Maureen, Jess and JJ contemplate suicide. This novel is an entertaining and interesting look at self-loathing and self-destruction. At times, these characters seemed a bit absurd, but ultimately I didn't want to see them go.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lincoln - Movie Review

Lincoln (PG-13) 150 minutes B
Lincoln's quest to abolish slavery

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, Lee Pace, Michael Stuhlbarg and Jared Harris

I liked this film, but didn't love it.  It's nicely adapted from Doris Kearns Goodwin's 2005 book, Team of Rivals, however; I agree with film critic Peter Deruge who described Lincoln as, "a respectable but waxy re-creation that feels somehow awe-inspiring yet chillingly lifeless to behold." 

Daniel Day-Lewis is as good as advertised, James Spader is an unsung scene stealer, and everyone else is generally hit or miss.  The political history is intriguing, as is Lincoln's family dynamic.  But, the film tends to be a little laborsome with a running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.  

Recommended for those who like historical biopics.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook - Movie Review

Silver Linings Playbook (R) 122 minutes B
Love, Football & Mental Illness

Starring Anupam Kher, Bradley Cooper, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Stiles and Robert De Niro

It's hard to make a romantic dramedy these days that's smart, funny and serious.  Silver Lining Playbook manages to accomplish all three aspects, despite an ending that surprises no one.  The film is solid, and has a good cast.  But, it's more of a feel good film than an impactful film.  Directed by David O Russell (The Fighter, I Heart Huckabees), Silver Linings Playbook is a safe bet this holiday season.  It may not rock your world, but it's worth the price of admission.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Animal, Life, Mind & Sky (Music Reviews)

First Impression Music Reviews

Soundgarden - King Animal B
This is Soundgarden's first batch of new music in 16 years.  King Animal doesn't possess the same urgency of their earlier material, but it's solid nonetheless.  

Nas - Life is Good B-
Yet, another hip hop album that would benefit from more weeding.  Sometimes less is more.   

Ben Folds Five - The Sound of the Life of the Mind C
The songs "Sky High" & "Away When You Were Here" jumped out at me right way... and I'm still figuring out the rest. 

Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet On Sky B
DJ isn't usually a slow burn for me, but this one is... and it's getting better with each listen. 

Dinosaur Jr - I Bet On Sky Album Cover