Archive for the 9 Category

Sicario: Brilliant, Exciting, Terrifying. A Feel Good Movie from Hell.

Posted in 9, Action, Drama, Ratings, Reviews, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2015 by mducoing

Sicario - IMDBDirected by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) and written by Taylor Sheridan, Sicario, simply put, is a journey, largely that of Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) who realizes the world is much, much worse than she had ever imagined. While only 121 minutes, this expedition will take our characters and each of us a far greater personal distance than we might ever want to go.

Premise: An FBI agent unwittingly crosses lines she never dreamed while aiding in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico. Result: Brilliant and thrilling thought piece from the moment it begins to long after it ends.

It is no secret that the drug war, the endless drug war, is both cruel and unrelenting. Agent Macer confronts these realities daily in her Arizona universe. She has a keen sense of Justice, Right and Wrong and this determination keeps her motivated in the endless battles ahead. But when her boss, Dave Jennings (Victor Garber) introduces her to an opportunity to go deeper past the frontlines than ever before, she has no idea what is truly coming.

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The Martian: An Astounding Series of Unfortunate Events…in Space!

Posted in 9, Action, Drama, Ratings, Reviews, Sci Fi/ Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2015 by mducoing

The Martian - IMDBIn space and its surrounding unknowns, anything can and will go wrong. Director Ridley Scott (Alien, Exodus: Gods and Kings) -with the aid of writer Drew Goddard who masterfully adapts the Andy Weir novel – cruelly reminds audiences of this objective reality with The Martian, a beautiful, exhausting think piece on the dangers of our universe that manages to be educational, deeply emotional and thoroughly exhilarating from moment one.

Premise: Astronaut Matt Watney is left for dead on Mars after an emergency evacuation of his crew. Result: A thoroughly engaging thriller that manages to magnetize the true majesty of space and the science that makes it possible.

Our seemingly endless journey (the film is 141 minutes in length) begins with the crew of Ares III already on Mars for several weeks going about their mundane routine (except of course this is on Mars so literally collecting rocks is way cooler there!). But when a terrible storm threatens their mission, Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) aborts mission; but not without a causality when Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead and thus abandoned to the sands of the Red Planet.

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Mad Max – Fury Road: Stunning Thrill Ride

Posted in 9, Action, Horror, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews, Sci Fi/ Fantasy, Thriller with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2015 by mducoing

Mad Max - IMDBWhen news that writer/director George Miller was reimagining his storied Mad Max franchise via a series of storyboards rather than a full length script, there was much to fear in the fanboy universe. But with stunning visuals, visceral exhilaration and brilliantly painted canvas of colorful characters, Fury Road may be one of the most intriguing, thrilling events of the year.

Premise: After the end of civilization, two rebels haplessly bound together to restore order: Result: What it may lack in plot or dramatic dialogue it more than makes up for in intensity of experience.

The first few minutes of this film -a terrifying, utterly confusing capture and escape sequence by the wayward Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy)- immediately set the tone for a film that will do more than shock the system. By the time the opening credits explode onto the screen, audiences will already be experiencing a sense of euphoric exhaustion.

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Ex Machina: Beautiful, Staggering and Chilling to Watch

Posted in 9, Horror, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews, Sci Fi/ Fantasy, Thriller with tags , , , , on May 17, 2015 by mducoing

Ex Machina - IMDBWhile the concept of AI is by no means new in modern filmmaking (A.I., iRobot, Chappie, Her to name a few) writer/director (Alex Garland) has delivered a tale that has a powerful new perspective on the notion of Artificial Intelligence. Scene after scene, moment after moment is a slow-burn thrill for audiences with a very smart, hyper-cynical perspective on humanity and the things that make us the Intelligent Being we believe we are.

Premise: A young programmer has been selected to help test a breakthrough artificial intelligence artificial intelligence that is even more than he suspects. Result: An immediate classic, this film will torment its viewers and have them coming back for more.

While it is certainly an understatement to say that Ex Machina is a pleasant surprise, it may be the only thing pleasant about it. The storyline, performances and visuals are disruptive, unsettling threads in a tapestry of genuine discomforting thrill. It is survivable electrocution by film: the energy will not destroy us but will create a wave of genuine terror, disquiet and unexplained pleasure from which we cannot escape.

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Still Alice: An Emotional Horror Captured Perfectly

Posted in 9, Drama, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2015 by mducoing

Still AliceAccording to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 67 seconds a new person in the US develops the pernicious, mind-destroying disease. As a clinical, cold fact, this is terrifying, even mind-boggling enough. But with Still Alice, directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland have transformed the Lisa Genova novel into a horrifying, personal reality that is certain to cast new chilling light on this ever-looming global nightmare.

Premise: The story of Alice Howland’s rapid loss of mental function, and thus her loss of identity. Result: A chilling, emotional catharsis that delves deeply into a personal horror and never lets go.

Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is brilliant and happy: top of her intellectual game, revered by peers, and the center of a loving family that includes husband John (Alec Baldwin), and children Anna (Kate Bosworth),Tom (Hunter Parrish) and Lydia (Kristen Stewart). And then one day, a genetic diagnosis previously overlooked changes everything.

Alice is dying. But not, as she laments, from cancer or some pernicious affliction that targets her body. Alzheimer’s targets her mind and thus, everything that make Alice, Alice. The horror and misery that confronts her is, in some ways, as destructive as the disease itself.

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Whiplash: A Stirring, Cathartic Masterpiece

Posted in 9, Drama, Independent, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2014 by mducoing

WhiplashThere are some films that move you. There are others that shake you long after the screen has faded to black and the lights turn on. Writer/director Damien Chazelle has certainly delivered such a stunning cinematic achievement with Whiplash, a visceral, overwhelming exploration of obsession.

Premise: A young drummer enrolls in a top-tier music conservatory where his dream of mentoring from a great music director opens him to untold greatness and misery. Result: An intense, inspirational and terrifying account of the raw power of passion.

Practice makes perfect. While the majority of us think of this innocuous pet phrase that adults pour over children as a guiding principle, the young low-grade Aspergian Andrew (Miles Teller), intent on impressing Shaffer Conservatory Director Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) with his drumming skills, takes this quite literally.

The next Charlie “Bird” Parker he wishes to be (and rise above his father Jim’s (Paul Reiser) supposedly meager accomplishments), even if it means working with Fletcher, a man notorious for inflicting unimaginable emotional torment unto his vict- er- students.

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Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Peculiarly Brilliant; Brilliantly Peculiar.

Posted in 9, Comedy, Drama, Independent, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2014 by mducoing

BirdmanThere are typically limits to how an audience can relate to a film. There are natural constraints, visual elements, sound, a sense of reality and personal entertainment to name a few. But writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel) somehow transcends normal viewer-film relationships with Birdman, delivering a cinematic experience that forces audiences to engage with his material in completely different, abrupt, immersive, often uncomfortable ways. And we are better for it.

Premise: A has-been actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and madness as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim past glory. Result: An exhilarating ride through insanity, although unclear whose.

Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton), of Birdman fame, is going through a personal crisis. Long after starring in a super-hero film franchise that busted global box offices, Thompson feels the repercussions of his Faustian decision to become a “famous” actor, if not necessarily a good one. To remedy this, he has decided to pull off a risky Broadway debut, producing, directing and starring in the adaptation of one of his beloved plays.

While the idea of this is complex enough, the reality is far more troubling. Amidst the very real turmoil of pulling off such a project, he is faced with countless drawbacks: an injured actor, a recovering drug-addict daughter Sam (Emma Stone), an insane co-star Mike (Edward Norton), a neurotic and insecure co-star Lesley (Naomi Watts), relationship issues with Laura (Andrea Riseborough) and mounting pressures from his best friend and attorney Jake (Zach Galifianakis). And, of course, there are the critics, the most important of which is the looming NY Times gate keeper Tabitha (Lindsay Duncan), seemingly bent on his destruction.

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