Tag Archives: Paul Dano

Review: 12 Years a Slave

12_Years_a_Slave_Poster1It’s impossible to call “12 Years a Slave” an enjoyable film, but it is exceptional in every respect, making it a warranted 133-minute nightmare.

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man living happily and comfortably in upstate New York with his wife and two young children – until he’s abducted, shipped off to the south and sold into slavery.

“12 Years a Slave” is a beautifully brutal experience. Solomon is a loving father and husband who’s earned his good fortune, so watching him lose everything he holds dear in the most vicious manner possible is crushing. Hope and pray all you want; this movie is called “12 Years a Slave,” so no one’s coming to save the day. Solomon is heading straight towards years and years of slavery and that awareness infuses each and every step of his journey with an astronomical amount of dread.

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Review: Prisoners

Prisoners_Poster“Prisoners” is missing some pivotal story details, but has more than enough hauntingly superb assets to deliver a highly successful nightmarish experience.

It’s Thanksgiving and the Dovers are celebrating with their good friends and neighbors, the Birch family. After dinner, their young daughters, Ana and Joy, beg to head outside. Under the impression that they’d ask their older siblings to escort them, Keller and Grace Dover (Hugh Jackman and Maria Bello) and Nancy and Franklin Birch (Viola Davis and Terrence Howard) give them the OK. However, when the parents realize Ana and Joy never brought Ralph and Eliza (Dylan Minnette and Zoe Borde) along, they know something is terribly wrong. Panic turns to devastating dread as the hours pass and the girls fail to return home.

Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) is put on the case, confident he’ll maintain his pristine record and find Ana and Joy. He manages to pinpoint a suspect who was in the area at the time of the girls’ disappearance, but he isn’t able to accumulate enough evidence to keep him in custody. Outraged by the local authorities’ lack of progress, Keller opts to take matters into his own hands.

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Review: Looper

Yes, a good portion of the fun of a sci-fi movie is getting to go off to different worlds, see cool gadgets and experience the impossible, but there’s just so many times we can watch people fly, cars hover and characters time travel before the surreal loses appeal. However, toss a little authenticity, heart and sheer terror into the mix, and all of those genre basics get a new life courtesy of a wholly believable and enthralling story, just like in “Looper.”

The year is 2044, but the world exists well beyond that. Down the line, in 2074, it’s impossible for mobs to kill people and dispose of the bodies so they hire Loopers and have them take care of the dirty work back in 2044. The 2074 folks nab their target, zap them back to the past, and the Looper blows them away.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a successful Looper, living the good life in 2044. He wakes up, kills his target, collects his pay, heads out to the club with his Looper buddies, and does it all again the next day. Trouble is, someone in the future is messing with his routine and closing loops. Rather than receiving nameless targets, many Loopers are coming face to face with their future selves. The same rules apply and they’re expected to off their older selves, closing the loop, and then living out the time they’ve got left, 30 years. Sure enough, Joe’s time comes, but before he can do his duty, older Joe (Bruce Willis) bolts.

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Review: Being Flynn

Sure, director Paul Weitz is responsible for some excellent films like About a Boy and In Good Company, but with Little Fockers so fresh in my mind, it’s tough to remember what he’s really capable of. However, with Being Flynn, not only does Weitz go back to a more modest method of filmmaking, but he delivers a piece that’s incredibly grounded – almost troublingly so.

Even in his father’s absence, Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) grew up wanting to follow in his footsteps and become a writer. With his mother (Julianne Moore) long gone, Nick is on his own in the big city, trying to pursue his dream. One day, Nick gets a call from his father, Jonathan (Robert De Niro), who’s in need of some assistance, as he’s being evicted. Rather than rekindle their relationship, their 18-year reunion stops there and both go their own separate ways; Nick takes a job at a local homeless shelter and Jonathan takes up residence on the streets.

So far, so good for Nick at his new gig. He learns quite a bit from his superiors, taps into his honestly giving nature and strikes up a relationship with a co-worker, Denise (Olivia Thirlby). However, when Nick’s father drunkenly traipses into the facility, Nick starts to lose his footing.

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Review: Cowboys & Aliens

If you’re going to make a movie called Cowboys & Aliens, there better be some cowboys and aliens. In combining the two genres, the filmmakers had two options, miraculously create some sort of scenario that feels raw and believable or just go all out, embracing absurdities of both. Forget the fact that the former would have been a near impossible achievement; who wants to watch some schmaltzy drama about cowboys fighting aliens? The filmmakers not only go for the latter option, but they strive to outdo any expectations we might have formulated and, sure, it’s ridiculous, but the big screen is one of the best places to live out such a ridiculous fantasy.

A man wakes up in the middle of the desert with a gash in his side and some ort of metal contraption on his wrist. He’s got no clue who he is, where he came from or what happened to him. It isn’t until he moseys into the nearest town that he discovers he’s a wanted man, Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig). Too bad it’s the town sheriff (Keith Carradine) that makes the discovery, as Jake’s got no time to escape. Just before Jake’s about to be shipped out of town, Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) rides in demanding he serves Jake his justice as it’s his gold he stole. The boys are distracted from their bickering by strange lights in the distance. Within seconds, they’re dead overhead and aliens are raining down their firepower on the tiny Arizona town and snatching up the citizens.

When the battle’s over Dolarhyde and his men saddle up to hunt down a wounded alien that could potentially lead them to their abducted loved ones. He insists on somewhat pushing his differences with Jake aside, as that shackle on his wrist turns out to be their only defense against the invaders. Also along for the ride is a mysterious woman named Ella (Olivia Wilde) who insists that she and Jake can work together to bring an end to this.

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