All posts filed under: Trailer

‘Prisoners’: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

A few weeks ago I saw Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo. The trailer was very well done and I had high hopes for something truly terrifying and thrilling. What I found, instead, was a complete contradiction. On the one hand, Prisoners is particularly well done – shot spectacularly in a starkly beautiful location with a great cast and performances. On the other hand, it’s long. Far too long. And it plays with drama the way a Lifetime or Hallmark movie would. But because I was a production undergrad and understand what it’s like to put your heart and soul into a project, it’s difficult for me to sit down and write a scathing review. The only movie that was bad enough for me to review “meanly” was Joshua Michael Stern’s Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher (read my review here). But after watching Prisoners, I left the theater confused. I expected something so wonderful, but what I discovered fell flat. Because Prisoners redeems itself in some ways, I …

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ – Matthew McConaughey & Jared Leto Deliver Spectacular Performances

Dallas Buyers Club, written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, a Texan who begins smuggling prescription drugs into the US when he is diagnosed with HIV and finds that the medication he is receiving is not helping. The film stars Matthew McConaughey as Woodroof, Jared Leto as his saucy business partner Rayon, and Jennifer Garner Dr. Eve Saks, his compassionate doctor. It’s 1985. Ron Woodroof is an electrician and bull rider in Dallas, TX. He’s a homophobe, a drug addict, and a man who’s eager to sleep with any woman who’s willing. After living recklessly for quite some time, Woodroof is diagnosed with HIV and told he only has 30 days to live. Soon he becomes aware of his day to day existence – transforming his intense energy into something positive and powerful. When he discovers that AZT, the first HIV medication approved by the FDA, is actually hurting his body rather than helping, Ron establishes the Dallas Buyers Club, selling memberships in …

Thoughts on Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Gravity’

If you spend any time on the internet (and you obviously do) you’ve probably heard all about Alfonso Cuarón’s visual masterpiece, Gravity. At one point over the weekend ‘Gravity’ was the top trending hashtag on Twitter. It premiered on Friday and earned over 55.5 million in theaters, taking the number one spot at the box office. I opted to see it in XD & 3-D, but if there was an IMAX nearby I would have gone in a heartbeat. After a few days to think about the movie separate from the overwhelmingly positive opinions of others, I’ve determined that Gravity is not a typical film but rather an engrossing visceral experience. Co-written, co-produced, co-edited and directed by Oscar nominee Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity stars Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski, astronauts who are left drifting in space after a massive accident and must work together in order to survive. In a large, dark, and chilly theater, it’s nearly impossible not to find find yourself completely immersed in the story – free from any ounce …

‘Short Term 12’ – A Must See Film

Short Term 12 is a devastatingly beautiful examination of vulnerability and hardship. Written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the film stars Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., and Kaitlyn Dever. Grace (Larson) is a supervisor at a facility for at-risk teens. She is strong and insistent, yet flexible and nurturing. Her long-time boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (Gallagher Jr.), is equally as compassionate and resilient. Each teen at the facility has their own troubling story and their own ways of coping. Marcus, played by Keith Stanfield, deals with his emotions by writing and rapping, while Jayden (Dever) writes stories and draws. As the film progresses it becomes clear that Grace has many problems of her own, and her way of coping is to help others. Amazingly written and wonderfully acted, Short Term 12 exemplifies how a stellar cast and intriguing story can create something that’s truly one of a kind. I could review Short Term 12 in-depth, and go on and on about why I love it. But instead I ask that you see it for yourself. It’s really that …

REVIEW: “Drinking Buddies”

Drinking Buddies, written and directed by Joe Swanberg, is a romantic comedy starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston. The film examines the romantic lives of Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson), best friends and co-workers who seem to have more chemistry than a ‘Breaking Bad’ episode. The catch? They’re both in serious relationships with other people. And after a double-date weekend trip, things become even more complex when their significant others seem to have a little chemistry of their own. Laughter, tears, and complication ensue. Cleverness aside, I absolutely loved Drinking Buddies. I’ll admit that as a ‘New Girl’/Jake Johnson fan, I may be biased. He’s just too good at being the goofy guy who’s totally cute and secretly in love with a cool girl (that you mentally replace with yourself). But at its core, Drinking Buddies is a spectacularly simple movie about a not-so-simple topic: Love, lust, romance, and relationships. And what’s wonderful about Swanberg’s film is that it doesn’t fall victim to cliches or evolve as a stereo-typical rom-com. The viewer is left dangling, as unsure where …

Interview with “Autism in Love” Producer, Carolina Groppa

What is love? What does love feel like? How do you know that you’ve fallen in love? Romance and relationships mesh together in a jumble of complexities that inhabit an elaborate region in our hearts and minds. And for those with autism, the journey and discovery can be even more complicated. Autism in Love is a feature length documentary that examines and explores romantic love through the lens of autism. Based in Los Angeles, the team behind the film includes producer Carolina Groppa and director Matt Fuller, both of whom are award winning filmmakers and advocates of social change. Along with Dr. Ira Heilveil, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA Medical School, they are working to create a remarkable documentary that is not only about love, but also about overcoming obstacles and re-defining the status quo. I was lucky enough to talk to the film’s producer, Carolina Groppa, to hear what she has to say about Autism in Love and the journey she’s been on while filming for the past year. JVV: What …

‘Jobs’ Disappoints, but Kutcher Doesn’t

This week I wrote a review of Jobs for Critics Associated. Read it here, or check out the original. Though unintentional, Jobs provided a number of laugh-out-loud moments. It’s ironic that a film about a well-known perfectionist can be so unbelievably far from perfect. Though against all odds, it seems Ashton Kutcher is not at fault for this week’s box office bomb. His performance as Steve Jobs is good, particularly in his physical recreation of the Apple tycoon, but it’s certainly not great. Problems with Jobs are abundant and obvious, specifically in regards to the writing. Basic conversations are cluttered with “Steve’s,” – each character throwing around the name as though it’s a form of product placement. The film’s dialogue would seem significantly less contrived if the actors only said the name in moments it was naturally necessary. Hearing “Hey Steve,” “Bye Steve,” and “Thanks Steve,” every few minutes or so forces the already poorly written dialogue to appear blatantly artificial. Jobs may leave you wondering: Is this a joke? Ultimately, the issues with Jobs lie in the writing …

Review of ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’

This week I wrote a review of Lee Daniels’ The Butler for Critics Associated. Read it here, or check out the the original. Inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, a butler who served the White House for 34 years until retiring in 1986, Lee Daniels and co-writer Danny Strong present a powerful story about the complexities of the civil rights movement in the United States. Lee Daniels’ The Butler features an abundance of famous actors including Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, a strong-willed butler who is proud to serve his country, and Oprah Winfrey as Gloria Gaines, his persistent and loyal wife. A plethora of other well-known actors grace the screen including Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, and Jane Fonda. In three tumultuous decades Cecil serves eight Presidents and experiences the civil rights movement from both a political and social perspective. Gaines has two sons, both of which have completely distinct visions of racial equality and the ways in which to achieve it. Charlie, played by …

‘Frances Ha’: Not Perfect, but Wonderfully Good

I loved Frances Ha. Here’s why: 1. Greta Gerwig is fantastic as Frances. Absolutely and completely fantastic. 2. I can’t help but see a little bit of myself in her character – as I’m sure every young woman can. 3. It was beautifully shot. I’m also a sap for some good ole’ black and white film. 4. The french new wave influence is pretty obvious and pretty wonderful. 5. Frances is a real girl. She is unsure, curious, clumsy, funny, and self-deprecating. She knows exactly what she wants and won’t give up, but stumbles along the way. She’s genuine, and genuinely written. She’s flawed, but terribly awesome. 6. There are major ups and downs in Frances and Sophie’s friendship, and they’re natural. Everyone has drifted apart from the person they thought they’d be close with forever. It’s an inevitable part of growing up, and Frances Ha presents it honestly and with humor. 7. It’s a coming-of-age/quarter-life-crisis film. 8. I appreciate the realism in the subtle moments of dialogue, eye contact, and awkward body language. It’s true to what 20-somethings discovering themselves are …