Movie Review – Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)
Written & Directed by David Lowry

Ruth tells Bob she’s pregnant and he couldn’t be more excited. Bob needs to pull off one more robbery, and they’ll be set, able to escape their small Texas town and start over somewhere else. However, things don’t go as planned; a shoot out ensues with an officer wounded and Bob taken into custody. Ruth is taken in by her father figure Skerritt and raises her daughter as a single mother. Patrick, the officer, wounded in the shoot out, begins coming around to Ruth’s place to help her out and they slowly develop feelings for each other. Meanwhile, Bob escapes prison and starts making his way to Ruth, to take her and their daughter away to a better place.

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Movie Review – Stranger by the Lake

Stranger by the Lake (2013)
Written & Directed by Alain Guiraudie

Franck frequents a nude beach that doubles as a favorite spot for gay men to cruise and hook up. He befriends Henri, an older man recently broken up with his girlfriend. The two chat for a while every time Franck arrives, and he learns Henri appreciates the quiet of this side of the lake. Later, Franck sets his eyes on Michel, an incredibly handsome man who already appears to be attached. On his way home, after a late afternoon tryst with another beachgoer, Franck stumbles upon a strange scene. From his vantage point, he witnesses what appears to be a murder and Franck believes he knows the murderer. The police begin asking questions as Franck and Michel’s relationship blossoms and the beach starts to lose the splendor it once possessed for our protagonist.

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Movie Review – Ida

Ida (2013)
Written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz & Pawel Pawlikowski
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski

Ida is about to take her vows as a nun when the prioress informs her they received word from her Aunt Wanda. This comes as a surprise as Ida is an orphan, raised in the church since she was an infant. She travels to her aunt’s home and learns Wanda is a judge living her days out drunk and in promiscuous encounters with random men. Wanda also divulges that she is a Jew, that her parents were killed when the Germans invaded during the war. The two women set out so that Ida may find her parents’ graves and have some closure with her now uncovered past. What they learn profoundly unsettles them, encounter anti-Semitic resistance and ultimately learning how Ida’s mother and father were murdered. Ida also finds herself tempted by the world outside the church, a place she has no experience with.

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Movie Review – American Hustle

American Hustle (2013)
Written by Eric Warner Singer and David O. Russell
Directed by David O. Russell

Inspired by the FBI’s Abscam operation to take down organized crime and later public corruption, American Hustle shakes off the procedural to tell a more stylistic and fictionalized version of the events. Irving Rosenfeld is a con artist in New Jersey who has found a soulmate and partner in Sydney Prosser. The two are running an art scam, and some loan sharking but get caught by FBI agent Richie DiMaso who coerces them into using their skills and connections to start taking down bigger fish. Irving’s life is complicated by his irresponsible wife Rosalyn whose son he has adopted which causes him to refuse to leave her. DiMaso gets the pair embroiled with the mayor of Camden, New Jersey and on the ground floor of the mob-led rebuilding of Atlantic City. As expected the stakes crank up to a frenetic level and Irving finds himself deeper and more threatened than he ever wanted to be.

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Movie Review – Short Term 12

Short Term 12 (2013)
Written & Directed by Destin Daniel Critton

Short Term 12 is a group home for troubled and emotionally-challenged teenagers. The film focuses on Grace, a young supervisor who is in a relationship with coworker Mason. Grace discovers she’s pregnant early on in the picture and spends the rest of the film contemplating if she is capable of being a good parent. Her day to day life puts her right in front of some of the most challenging issues young people face. The children she sees are victims of predatory adults who have used these kids up and spit them out. Grace also has her past as the child of an abuser hanging over her like a dark cloud. A new resident comes to Short Term 12, Jayden, a girl that puts up a cold front to avoid creating personal connections. In Jayden, Grace begins to see her pains and may spiral out of control on a crusade to save Jayden’s life.

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Movie Review – The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster (2013)
Written by Wong Kar-wai, Zou Jingzhi, and Xu Haofeng
Directed by Wong Kar-wai

Ip Man was a Cantonese master martial artist, specializing Wing Chun. He would go on to become the teacher whom Bruce Lee studied under, but this film focuses on his ascension to becoming a grandmaster and his fall from grace during the Japanese occupation. The film begins in the 1930s when Gong Yutian, the grandmaster under whom the southern and northern schools united announces his retirement. He chooses Ip Man as his heir in the south and Ip goes through a series of challenges to prove his worth. Yutian’s daughter Gong Er feels her family has been dishonored by losing this position and sets out to defeat Ip. She loses but a friendship begins that is cut short when the Japanese invade. Ip loses two children to famine and starvation while Gong Yutian faces betrayal at the hands of former students. The rest of the film tries to incorporate way too many events in Ip Man’s life that it ultimately becomes hard even to keep track of what is going on.

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Movie Review – Gravity

Gravity (2013)
Written by Alfonso and Juan Cuarón
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Dr. Ryan Stone is on her first space mission, helping to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope’s capabilities. Matt Kowalski is on his final mission, commanding this one. Everything is going smoothly until a defunct Russian satellite is shot down, creating an ever-building cloud of fast-moving debris, more and more satellites getting caught up in the wave. Stone and Kowalski are sent hurtling through space and have to master control of their will and stifle panic in an attempt to survive. With the clock counting down until the debris makes its next pass, the two astronauts must make their way to the International Space Station to have even a chance of making it back to earth.

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Comic Book Review – Uncanny Avengers Volumes 3 & 4

Uncanny Avengers Volume 4: Ragnarok Now
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Steve McNiven, Salvador Larocca, and Daniel Acuna
Uncanny Avengers Volume 5: Avenge the Earth
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Daniel Acuna

The Apocalypse Twins hold Earth in a massive crisis. They have slaughtered a Celestial using a weapon Thor was tricked into forging centuries earlier. They have resurrected fallen heroes and villains to create their Horsemen of Death. They are holding Scarlet Witch hostage to use in their effort to destroy the Earth and create a new world for mutantkind. Havok, the brother of the mutant terrorist Cyclops, uses his role as team leader to try and redeem the family name as well as stop the impending end of the world. Kang the Conqueror, the man who shaped the Apocalypse Twins into the beings of evil they became, is now a target of their wrath and uses his time travel abilities to visit and recruit various figures from possible futures.

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Movie Review – Coherence

Coherence (2013)
Written by James Ward Byrkit & Alex Manugian
Directed by James Ward Byrkit

coherence

Emily arrives at a dinner party at a friend’s house where conversation quickly turns to the historic passing of a comet over the United States that evening. Reports are coming out of people’s smartphone screens spontaneously cracking, and one party guest has a brother who is a physicist and warn that strange electromagnetic phenomena could occur. Everything goes wrong with the power shuts off, and the guests notice one house down the road as the only building with any light. Two people go to investigate, and things get stranger and stranger. A lockbox is found at the other house with numbered photos of all the party guests. As tensions rise so does paranoia, and the people gathered that evening begin to turn on each other.

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Revisiting Utopia – Series 1, Episode 6

revisiting utopia banner

Utopia Series 1, Episode 6 (2013)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden
utopia pearson finale

“Who We Are, Who We Become” is my unofficial title for this final episode of Utopia’s first season. Jessica Hyde has brought the manuscript to the runaways, and now it feels like all the pieces are coming together. But throughout this episode, we see characters either confirming they are who we always thought they were or revealing a turn and surprising us with their actual role. It’s the sort of surprise overload you would expect for a series finale of this sort of program. The paranoia is amped up, and bonds are either shredded entirely or strengthened through trust being revealed as earned.

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