Celebrate Memorial Day and “Earn this”

Memorial Day is chance for Americans to relax and postpone the workweek one day and perhaps find a beach or a barbecue.  Although, not everyone has the day off, as I sit in an air-conditioned coffee shop and three baristas are busy making macchiatos, chai lattes and mochas. Memorial Day is a day when Americans remember servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives.  From a movie perspective, when I think of Memorial Day, my mind immediately recalls one particular scene in Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, “Saving Private Ryan” (1998).  Brings tears to…

Happy Birthday, Carey Mulligan!

Carey Mulligan, one of the finest dramatic actresses working today, turns 32 on May 28.  Her resume is filled with great performances, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated her for a Best Actress Oscar in 2010 for “An Education” (2009).   Be sure to check out her work in “An Education” but also “Never Let Me Go” (2010), “Drive” (2011), “Far from the Maddening Crowd” (2015), and her hilarious – but very caustic – turn in “Inside Llewyn Davis” (2013). Here is a clip from the…

Cranston fights an implausible story in ‘Wakefield’

“Wakefield” – “I’m totally bewildered by the situation that I created for myself.” – Howard Wakefield “A short story is the shortest distance between two points.  A novel is the scenic route.” – Robert J. Sawyer Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston) is a married man who lives in a big, beautiful house nestled in an affluent suburb with his wife, Diana (Jennifer Garner), and their twin girls.  He is a law firm partner.  She is an assistant curator at the county museum.  Their lives appear in perfect order, one that the…

“Pirates” provides some fun and overwhelms with overdone, bloated special effects

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” –  Javier Bardem has recently played a pair of truly iconic villains.  As Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men” (2007), this truly unrelenting boogieman sometimes uses a silent captive bolt pistol to murder his prey at close range throughout west Texas.   Bardem also plays Silva in “Skyfall” (2012), and this former MI6 operative returns to haunt and kill his former boss, M (Judy Dench), while James Bond (Daniel Craig) attempts thwart this memorable baddie’s very personal attack. In each…

‘Paris Can Wait’ might cause impatience

“Paris Can Wait” – Cannes is a dream for anyone who loves movies. Well, this coastal city – located in the south of France and just down the road from Nice – is a dream for anyone, whether he or she enjoys movies or not. (Although, who could possibly fall into the latter category, really?) Of course, Cannes hosts the annual Festival de Cannes – a.k.a. The Cannes Film Festival – and Anne and Michael Lockwood (Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin) are completing their stay at the aforementioned event. They just…

Letts and Winger masterfully play a flawed couple in ‘The Lovers’

“The Lovers” – “Cheating and lying aren’t struggles.  They’re reasons to break up.” – Patti Callahan Henry Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger) have been married for eons.  Perhaps many of their years together have been happy, but not recently.  Residing in Santa Clarita, California, this 50-something couple share a comfortable suburban home and drive to white-collar jobs that one might find near Initech, the infamous company from “Office Space” (1999). Although Michael and Mary have zero passion for their day jobs, their work does not create emotional heartburn, per…

Taylor-Johnson and Cena cannot rest against ‘The Wall’

“The Wall” – What images immediately come to mind when you read the words, “war movie”?  Human history unfortunately can provide thousands of examples in which people become mired in mass conflict and attempt to kill one another, and the big screens sometimes masterfully recapture those horrific struggles. For me, three films immediately pop into my brain. Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) illustrates the murderous spectacle of war via the Allied invasion of Normandy.  Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory” (1957) depicts the brutality of war, when French soldiers scurry…

‘The Dinner’ serves up an intriguing, tense drama

“The Dinner” – Look up “dinner” in the dictionary, and it reads “the principal meal of the day” and “a formal feast or banquet”.  For most households, however, dinner has a larger meaning.  It is a time when families congregate to share their experiences and feelings while also – functionally – breaking bread.  Sometimes laugher fills these caucuses, but many times, family members toss issues on the table and either productively work through them or dive deeper into valleys of conflict. For decades, television shows have featured American experiences at…