Posts Tagged ‘matthew mcconoughey’

sing movie

Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is a koala bear music promotor who fell in love with live musical shows at a very young age.  Buster’s father worked very hard to buy Buster a theater, and now the theater has fallen into disrepair.  Buster has an idea, to put on a live musical competition and offer 1,000 dollars as the prize money to the winner.  But his secretary, Miss Crawley, (Garth Jennings) an elderly glass-eyed lizard misprints the fliers for the show and offers 100,000 dollars for the prize without Buster’s knowledge.  All the finalists have talent, but they also have issues.  Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) is a pig songstress with 25 piglet children and an overworked husband.  Mike (Seth McFarland)  is a mouse with the voice of Frank Sinatra, who also has a gambling problem.  He’s being chased by bear gangsters.  Ash (Scarlet Johansson) is a porcupine teenage rock guitarist, whose boyfriend is cheating on her.  Johnny (Taron Edgerton) is a gorilla with a beautiful voice, but he’s part of a gang, headed up by his dad, Big Daddy, (Peter Serafinowicz) the gang robs banks, and has one last big job coming.  Meena is an elephant with a powerful voice, who is too shy to sing.

Buster has a bigger problem, he doesn’t have the prize money, but he has an idea, impress Nana Noodleman, (Jennifer Saunders, Jennifer Hudson) grandmother of his assistant, Eddie, (John C. Reilly) and Buster can have the prize money for the concert to save the theater.  So Buster makes some ill-advised repairs to the theater to impress Nana, does Buster’s plan work?  Do the performers overcome their problems in order to perform?

Sing is a movie with a lot of promise, but the script has its fair share of issues with negative racial and ethnic stereotypes   When one of the main characters is a gorilla, and a gang member, that’s got a lot of negative racial baggage attached to it.  Also the relentlessly happy Japanese J-pop group is also a stereotype, also why is the elderly secretary portrayed as a screw-up always searching for her glass eye?  Is it ok to teach kids ageism also?  Despite these stumbles, the theme of music helping people rise above their particular circumstance is a good one.  Music is the perfect vehicle to illustrate this theme because a good song can lift people emotionally, spiritually and even physically if the song is done well enough.  Great acting by all the leads, and great singing by the lead actors makes this movie better than its script.

Matthew McConaughey loses most of his Texas twang for this role and makes Buster a multi-dimensional character.  Buster loves music, he loves the theater, because the theater is symbolic of his love of music and his love of his father.  So it’s a complex performance, and McConaughey pulls it off. Thankfully, he doesn’t sing. Reese Witherspoon also does an outstanding job as a haggard wife and mother who finds a release in singing and she does do her own singing, as she did in I Walk The Line, and she has a great voice.  Her acting skills also make the overworked mom who nonetheless loves her kids convincing. Scarlet Johansson plays a rebellious teen guitarist, who has to cope with a cheating boyfriend. Johansson also has a good singing voice, and amply conveys the pain of being cheated on.  Taron Edgerton is torn between his love of singing and his love for his criminal father, and illustrates the anguish well.  Who knew he had such a good voice? Not me. Seth McFarland hams it up as the Sinatra sound alike mouse, but his voice is better than his acting.

The animation in this movie is beautiful, the first scene of the original theater is so true to life that the viewers will believe that he or she is going into a real theater.  The pacing is good, the director, Gareth Jennings is also the writer.  I would say he gets good performances from the cast, but this is an all-star cast, but this cast doesn’t need any director to shape their performances.

Sing: A few sour notes can’t spoil this film.

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free-state-of-jones

In 1862, farmer and Confederate medic Newton Jones (Matthew McConoughey ) becomes disillusioned with the Civil War after his nephew, Daniel, (Jacob Lofland) is killed in battle.  He becomes further disillusioned when a Confederate soldier Lieutenant Barbour (Bill Tangradi) steals corn from the farms in the area including his own.  In October 1862, after the Battle of Corinth, Newt desserts the Confederate army and meets a slave woman named Rachel (Gugu Mbatha Raw) who helps nurse his son back to health.  Later while escaping Confederate troops, Rachel helps Newt into a nearby swamp, where Newt has his hurt leg repaired by another slave named Moses. (Mahershala Ali) From the swamps of Mississippi, Newt and his band of Confederate Army deserters and slaves continue to battle the Confederate army.  But some of the Confederate soldiers resent fighting alongside slaves, can Newt Jones hold his rebellion together?  Can the Confederate army smash the rebellion within their ranks?

The Free State of Jones should have been an interesting movie, but instead, it’s a long, boring tedious movie.  It tries to be a sprawling, sweeping historical epic.  The epic sweep of this film makes the viewer lose focus, because the events span years.  It also splits its time between Newt’s soldiering, and his personal life, which is messy, to say the least.  Finally, it intersperses the story of Newt’s great-great-grandson, and that throws a further monkeywrench in the linear storytelling.

The acting is just ok.  Mathew McConoughey is a great actor, but he’s given very little to do, for the first hour, he literally does nothing.  There are a few compelling scenes for him in this film, and the viewer sees spark of the great skill he possesses, but those scenes are few and far between,  Gugu Mbatha Raw is not given much to do except gaze longingly at McConaughey which she does dutifully, but all romance is inferred, there is not even a kiss between them, and so there is hardly any chemistry to speak of.  Kerri Russell is wasted, she appears in early scenes, disappears and reappears later in the film.

The director also wrote the film, and its length 2 hours and 15 minutes seems much longer as the viewer is dragged along for every inch of Newt Jones journey. The performances aren’t great, and the film is not well lit, the nighttime scenes seem too dark.

The Free State of Jones:  Not Jonesing for this film.

Interstellar

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is an engineer by training, relegated to being a farmer because a blight has ravaged the country and the world and farmers are a necessity. Cooper and his daughter Murph (McKenzie Foy, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn) is led by gravitational anomalies, to a secret NASA installation, where a professor named Brand (Michael Caine) is working on a formula that makes interstellar travel possible. The same gravitational anomalies that brought Cooper and Murph to the NASA installation has opened up a wormhole and revealed three habitable planets in a galaxy that is suddenly within reach to a human population who desperately needs it. Are the gravitational anomalies naturally occurring, or is humankind being led by a heretofore undiscovered intelligence? Does Cooper accept the challenge of finding these new worlds and finding one habitable enough to colonize?

There are so many themes explored in Interstellar, that it’s difficult to encapsulate them all here. First and foremost, it’s a character study, about what motivates man. Is it self-preservation, animated by dark motives, or is it selflessness motivated by love of self and others? The choice is up to mankind. The movie also infers environmental issues by visually recalling the Dust Bowl, there are parts of this movie that seem to use snippets of the Ken Burns documentary The Dust Bowl. There are issues of the government conscripting people, limiting their intellectual mobility, and whitewashing scientific accomplishments of the past. Why does NASA have to operate in secret in this society? That fact in itself speaks volumes. Overlaying all of this is the interplay of father and daughter, the sense of betrayal she feels. Betrayal is a huge theme in this movie explored through many characters in many situations. The story unfolds so beautifully and the science fiction elements are so interestingly intertwined in the film, and so thoughtfully explained that it enhances the movie greatly. The robots are humorous and one resembles and ambulatory monolith a tip of the cap to 2001: A Space Odyssey. I did have a problem with the ending, Chris Nolan does try to tie up some loose ends with the ending, but it strains credulity.

The acting is top drawer. McConaughey continues a wonderful string of roles starting with Mud. He gives a nice understated urgency to his role. He leads by example and people are drawn to his leadership. Anne Hathaway turns in another powerhouse performance, with a complex character portrayal of Professor Brand’s daughter, Amelia. She has issues of guilt, that her character has to deal with, not only is she not a damsel in distress, she acts heroically at points in the movie. Jessica Chastain plays another complex character, building on her strong roles in Zero Dark Thirty, Mama and The Debt. In this movie, her character has to overcome abandonment issues and pursue her natural love of science. Matt Damon has a small but interesting role, that is integral to the movie. I love his performance.

The cinematography is amazing, even before the viewer gets to space. The space scenes are really reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, there are lot of silent scenes, in space and that reminded me of 2001, It’s as visually astonishing as Gravity, and all done without green screen or CGI. The movie is nearly 3 hours, but the pacing is exquisite, I never looked at my watch, once. I just watched the multi- generational space epic unfold before my eyes.

Interstellar:  Shoots for the Stars

  1. true detective

Episode 1: The Long, Bright Dark

Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and  Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are detectives and former partners being debriefed about a murder case they worked on together 17 years earlier.

I must say, even after only 1 episode, I am hooked.  The chemistry between McConaughey and Harrelson is incredible.  It’s the antithesis of a buddy movie, Hart can’t stand Cohle, and the feeling is visceral.  Cohle is kind of an odd bird, and Hart is more by the book.  In the hands of less talented actors, this might have been a cliché, but not with these two.  The friction between the partners is used for both comedic and dramatic purposes .  There is nudity, and it is disturbing, so keep the kiddies away. As for me, I can’t wait for the next episode.

Episode 2: Seeing Things

Cohle and Hart continue to investigate the murder of a prostitute as the pressure on the two of them mounts.  The police chief wants to see tangible results or he vows to replace him.  The pressure at home mounts on Hart, as he spends an interminably long day with his father-in-law.  A church flyer in the prostitute’s possesion leads them to a burned out church, but what do they find there?

The tension in this show is so palpable, that it can’t help but boil over.  If I didn’t’ know that McConaughey and Harrelson were such good actors, I’d really think they hate each other.  They’re going either going to take a piece out of each other, or the people that they interrogate, or both.  And then each episode ends with a cliffhanger, and that makes it like those old time radio or tv serials.  I can’t wait for the next episode.

Episode 3:  The Locked Room

Cohle and Hart investigate the congregants of the burned down church, after interrogating a suspect, they move on to an identification of a tall, scarred man.  The tension at home between Hart and his wife is getting unbearable, and it manifests itself in strange ways. The pair are still being threatened with being replaced by a task force, but then tangible evidence linking a tall, scarred man to more than one of the victims, but who is Reggie Ledoux?  (Charles Halford)

The storyline is getting a bit redundant, the detectives are about to be removed from the investigation, they find a clue or a suspect, and they’re off to the races.   It doesn’t matter that the storyline is predictable, the characters are so interesting, that despite their idiosyncrasies, the partners still display a great deal of camaraderie, because they are learning to trust each other, and they have doubts within themselves, because they are deeply flawed characters.  And playing these characters expertly, are Harrelson and McConaughey, self-confident one minute, wracked with doubt the next, this show is an emotional rollercoaster.  And Michelle Monoghan  is part of that roller coaster, she loves her husband but doesn’t trust him.  And that’s what makes the show compelling, the three main characters and the actors playing them.

Episode 4:  Who Goes There?

Cohle and Hart have their prime suspect, Reggie Ledoux.  Ledoux cooks methamphetamine for a biker gang.  In order to get to Ledoux, Cohle has to go undercover as a drug dealer.  Hart would rather immerse himself in work than face his home life.  Cohle gets caught in a shootout between the biker gang, the cops in Texas, and a gang of drug dealers who the biker gang was trying to rob.  Does Cohle get out?

This is a really interesting episode, because you see both detectives’ flaws as clear as day, Hart seems like he’s coming unhinged at one point, and Cohle seems entirely too comfortable in his undercover role.  But their shortcomings as human beings make them better cops.  It’s almost as if police work is escapism for them, they can’t deal with their day to day life, so they work at the only thing they’re good at, solving this case.  This episode is really exciting too, because all hell breaks loose around Cohle, and the viewer doesn’t really know what will happen next.  The direction is amazing, the last shot is six minutes of one continuous shot, with no edits in it.  Amazing, edge of your seat viewing.

Episode 5:  The Secret Fate of All Life

Cohle and Hart hunt Ledoux down to a farmhouse where he is holding two kids hostage, and Hart kills Ledoux.  They believe the case is closed.  But the detectives investigating the case now, Detectives Papania (Tory Kittles) and Gilbaugh  (Michael Potts) believe this case is very much open.  In fact, they have a new suspect.

I like this show, but I don’t like the turn it’s taking, I can only hope that the writer is only using this as misdirection, to lead the audience one way, while building to a different ending.

Episode 6:  Haunted Houses

Cohle is convinced that the serial murders are being done by more than one man, towards that end he tries to open up cold cases, interviews the little girl he rescued in 1995 who is now in a nearly catatonic state, and interviews a prominent pastor in town.  But then a series of events occur that not only brings Cohle’s secret investigation to a halt, it makes him quit the force.

Sometimes writers do things for dramatic effect, but this time I think the writers went too far with this episode.  I will not say what happened, but it was predictable and I was hoping that it wouldn’t happen, but it did.  And it is disappointing.

Episode 7:  After You’re Gone

After 10 years apart, the detectives reconcile to track down the killer/killers of a girl named Fontenot. Hart interrogates a Sheriff named Steve Geraci (Michael Harney) who isn’t very forthcoming.  Papania and Gilbough go looking for the church that Hart and Cohle found

The show got on track this week.  The detectives reconciled, but it was not an easy reconciliation, there’s still a seething hatred of each other just below the surface, but above all they want to solve this case.  That supersedes everything.  The acting is great, the characters are great.  I can’t wait for the last episode.  I hope there is a season 2.

Episode 8: Form and Void

Following clues from their interrogation of Steve Geraci, and clues from evidence Cohle and Hart deduce for themselves, the finally find their man, so who is it?  And why did so many people try to cover it up?

After such a great buildup, there are going to be two camps of people, one who says the ending was perfect and everything fit, and people like me who say the who and the why of the coverup wasn’t nearly as satisfying as it should have been.  What’s more, the last episode felt rushed, like they solved a year’s worth of clues in one episode.  I am disappointed.  The acting is still great, the chemistry flawless, but the ending was a letdown.

Dallas-Buyers-Club

Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) is a Dallas electrician, who gets the HIV virus in 1986, and he’s given 30 days to live by the doctors, who treat him in a local clinic.  Ron tries to get into an experimental trial for AZT, an experimental drug that treats HIV, but is rejected for the trial. Undaunted, Ron buys all the AZT he can on the black market, but his eyes are opened when he goes to Mexico, and is treated by Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne) who treats Ron with a cocktail of vitamins and drugs that the FDA hasn’t approved yet.  Ron gets the idea of going into business with a transvestite named Rayon (Jared Leto) who Ron met at the hospital.  The business involved Ron smuggling illegal drugs from Mexico, and opening up the Dallas Buyers Club, which offered members drugs in exchange for a 400 dollar membership fee.

The government learns of Ron’s activities and soon the FDA, and IRS are trying to shut down the Dallas Buyer Club, but Ron is as tenacious as a man facing a death sentence can be.  Ron sues the FDA, for access to these unapproved AIDS drugs.  Does Ron win his lawsuit?  How long does he live after only being given 30 days to live?

This is a wonderful movie, not because everybody holds hands and sings Kum Bayah, but because it perfectly encapsulates the mood of people in the 1980’s about AIDS.  The mood in one word was a mood of fear.  People were dying of an unknown disease, most commonly linked with gays, and everyone was afraid.  The people who had AIDS didn’t want to die, and would do anything to prevent from being a statistic, and the people who didn’t have AIDS, didn’t want it, and didn’t want to associate with people who had AIDS.  It also shows how Ron Woodruff, initially in denial, really did his research on HIV medications, and really tried to help others live.  This movie is not perfect, there is a moment where it spouts statistics and sounds like an after school special, and the movie is a bit long overall.  In the final analysis, Dallas Buyers Club rises above cliché because of the remarkable performances of McConaughey and Leto.

McConaughey gives a powerhouse performance, he is  unapologetically homophobic, and racist, but his pure survival instinct forces him to associate with gays and others that he probably wouldn’t associate with in order to live another day.  He never quite loses his taste for bad habits, drug use, prostitutes, and that makes his character all the more real.  Leto is a perfect counterpoint to McConaughey, kind and gentle, even giving MConaughey’s character a leg massage when his calf gets cramps.  There is a heartbreaking scene featuring Leto, I will not give it away but it is his best scene in the movie. They both deserved their Oscars.   Jennifer Garner was pretty good, I wouldn’t say she held her own, but she wasn’t bad, and even had a memorable scene of her own.

The story is a bit long, the pacing is a bit slow at times, but those are minor flaws, in a very good film.

Dallas Buyers Club.  Buy, buy, buy.

Mud

Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland)  are both 14 year olds who live on the river in a small Arkansas town.  They find a nearly deserted island with a boat stuck in a tree.  They find a man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) living on the boat.  He’s down on his luck, and he says he’s waiting for a woman named Juniper(Reese Witherspoon to come get him off the island.  Ellis is taken by Mud and starts bringing him food from town.  While in town, Ellis sees Juniper, and tells Mud about it.  Mud asks Ellis and Neckbone to take a note to Juniper and help him fix up the boat.  On a drive with his mother, Mary Lee, (Sarah Paulson) Ellis learns some things about Mud that don’t necessarily jibe with Mud’s heroic description of himself.  Does Ellis deliver the note to Juniper?  Do he and Neckbone help Mud fix up the boat, despite what Ellis now knows about him?

Mud is simply a great movie.  It’s a movie about love, and how far people are willing to go for the love of another person.  Like love, the movie is both complex and simple at the same time.  It’s part coming of age film, part Huck Finn riverboat adventure, and it really is worth a viewing.  It tries to draw a parallel between Mud’s love life and Ellis’ burgeoning love life, but that is probably the weakest part of the movie.  Here’s what I really like about Mud, this is a movie populated with blue collar Southern people and not a stereotypical character in the bunch.  These are hard-working honest people who love their families, and work hard to keep them together, and that kind of honesty is hard to find in Hollywood movies today.  The ending is disappointing, and the overall length is a tad long, but that aside, this is an excellent film.

The acting is superb.  McConaughey reaffirmed my faith in his acting abilities, it’s been a long time since he did Amistad, and A Time To Kill, this easily rivals his best work. It’s an understated yet commanding performance, and it’s a pleasure to see that he’s still capable of such a performance.  Reese Witherspoon also gives a strong performance in a comeback of sorts, it’s been 8 years since her Oscar winning performance in Walk the Line.  Sheridan and Lofland are very convincing as adolescents finding out about life the hard way.  Sarah Paulson gives another strong performance as a conflicted mother, torn between her happiness and that of her family.  Paulson was a standout in 12 Years A Slave.  Sam Shepard throws in an excellent performance as Mud’s confidante.  The good performances abound in this film.

I must mention the writing in this movie, because it maintains a good balance between love story, and suspenseful drama.  He also directed this film, and wrote and directed the suspense thriller Take Shelter.

Mud:  A mudder of a movie.