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The December Glut of movies seeking awards nearly killed us this year (first in 20). Our reactions follow . . .

All is Lost

All is Lost strands superstar Robert Redford in a sinking yacht far from the shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean. His survival pits some dark humor against the fury of Mother Nature. This is a serious film that, without a star like Redford in the tile role, would probably sink.

Apologies for the pun. The audience in our screening was gasping and nervously shifting on the edge of their seats so we guess it works . . .

American Hustle

American Hustle recreates the ABSCAM scandal of the 1970s. It is a serious movie and, start to finish, had our eyes riveted to the screen. The performances by Christian Bale and Amy Adams, as low level con artists who run the largest federal sting operation (to its date) are nomination worthy as it that of Jennifer Lawrence  and Bradley Cooper, as wife and boss. We're sorry it took so darn long to get this film seen (three tries. Seriously). The best of the year

August Osage County

Excepting a knockdown drag out cat fight between Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, the terrible August: Osage County is an utter waste of your time. What may have been occasionally funny and/or dramatically explosive on the Broadway stage does not translate positively to the big screen.

book thief

The Book Thief, stars Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson as the adoptive parents of a young girl (Sophie Nélisse) in an ever evolving Nazi Germany. The film fails to build tension and suspense when plenty of tension and suspense is built into the screenplay -- think "Jew hiding in the basement that the Gestapo wants to search..." Nevertheless, Cranky was crying like a baby when the film hit its conclusion. Those seeking a serious film, seek here

12 Years A Slave

An incredibly brutal re-creation of the true story of a New York freed-man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who, in 1841, was kidnapped and sold to a Georgia plantation owner. 12 Years A Slave will win Oscar in February. That aside, the film is absolutely adults only - the violence gets downright brutal at times and was difficult, even for a middle aged Cranky, to watch. What is worse than treating fellow humans as slaves? Pay close attention to how southern wives emasculate their husbands in plantation society. Expect nominations for director Steve McQueen, screenwriter John Ridley and actors Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong'o, and Brad Pitt. Take your pick.)


Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. Once upon a time in the 80s, stock traders made obscene amounts of wealth for themselves by selling reg'lar folk junk called "penny stocks."  The traders didn't care what they were selling to their clients as they earned commissions on each sale. That being said, if DiCaprio doesn't get nominated for this role something is very, very wrong. Highly recommended.


Nebraska stars Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Stacy Keach, June Squibb and Bob Odenkirk. It's a road movie, only the travelers are an old man tinged with dementia (Dern) and his middle aged son (Forte) trying to let his dad -- who thinks he's also won a magazine sweepstakes -- have a last run of glory.

One of the Best Films of the Year.

Cranky's movie review

Captain Phillips

The true story of the hijacking of a US merchant freighter by Somali pirates, Captain Phillips is a jaw dropping piece of work from actor Tom Hanks and supporting actor Barkhad Abdi. Another addition to our Best Picture list

See it.


Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club stars Matthew McConaughy as a rockin' heterosexual cowboy type who, in 1985 and infected by the earliest strains of HIV, learns who his friends really are. He also learns how to sidestep the FDA to distribute a treatment for the AIDS plague. Jared Leto is outstanding as MM's gay business partner and Jennifer Garner supports. Our feelings are mixed, as described in Cranky's movie Review


Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. For those of us old enough to remember, it's Liberty Belle 7 (the second Mercury spaceflight with Gus Grissom at the controls) crossed with Apollo 13... which probably tells you way too much (but then, we're not the targeted movie ticket buying audience, either). Given that just about every minute of the film is set in space, the effects work is phenomenal and the 3D is exceptional. You can grab wallpaper images here . . . What should have had us on the edge of our seats from the word "go" just didn't.


Her, from director Spike Jonze, stars a nerdish Joaquin Phoenix as a man who writes intimate letters for others in some sort of green future, one in which emotional relationships seem to have become declasse. Then JP discovers Operating System One (voiced by Scarlett Johansson ), which asks a couple of questions and quickly becomes the most intimate of friends. One he can fall in love with, even as his marriage, and that of a friend (Amy Adams), falls apart. This is a serious film with a dreamy quality built into it -- perfect for post-screening discussion over espresso and cappuccino. Unlike the rest of that kind of batch, Her isn't pretentious. See it.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the middle part of what will be an eight or nine hour movie. Understand that you will be paying up to $45 for your tickets and another $30 or so for the DVD that will put the whole thing together so you can watch the entire saga and then read Cranky's movie review

Wallpapers here

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis, from brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, details the life of a young man (Oscar Isaac) who'd rather not follow his father's life in the Merchant Marine -- he wants to be a professional folk singer (this in the years just before Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan).

Those who worship at the altar of the Brothers Coen are already fawning over this boring piece of movie making. What? "Boring" is too nasty a word? OK then, substitute "Dull." We were exceptionally disappointed

Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana and recreates a battle (lost) and retreat across the mountains of Afghanistan. If you haven't burned out on battles-against-impossible-odds movies, find the theater with the biggest screen and best surround sound and hunker down. Honestly... had we managed to see this film during the mid-December screening frenzy we may have been content with the film. Now, in January, we're just too burned out. That being written, with Mark Wahlberg above the title, you're not going to go wrong.. . that's if you're in the mood.


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedomstars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris based on the autobiography of (the late) Nelson Mandela, whose imprisonment in segregated South Africa helped focus the world's scorn on that nation. His basic story is probably taught in most public schools so here's your chance to observe the rest of his story. Cranky's movie review

Out of the Furnace

Out of the Furnace stars Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana and Sam Shepard. In the mountains of New Jersey, bare knuckle fighting is a sport controlled by bookies (meaning all fights are fixed) and when one fighter decides that he wants to win when he is supposed to lose . . . uh oh. And then big brother is dragged into the mess and . . . double uh oh.

Serious and brutal yet, start to finish, a well written and executed film.


Philomena stars Judi Dench as an aging Brit who was forced by nuns to give up her illegitimate child some thirty five years (or so) earlier. She knows the child went to America and sets out to find the kidlet before she dies. For those seeking more serious fare, honestly, Dench has had much better material to work with. The film will get a big Oscars pitch but you should wait to rent

Saving Mr. Banks

Perhaps the best performance by an actress we've seen this year is in Saving Mr. Banks starring Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers, creator of Mary Poppins. Tom Hanks portrays a Walt Disney similar to the guy Cranky used to watch on television (maybe) forty years ago. Make no mistake, this is a movie for grown ups. Cranky's movie review

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