Eye in the Sky – Gavin Hood

Eye in the Sky starring Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, and Aaron Paul. Photo Credit:

Eye in the Sky starring Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, and Aaron Paul.
Photo Credit: Keith Bernstein/Bleecker Street

To strike or not to strike, that is the big question. Eye in the Sky is a thriller that puts both the characters and the audience in an uncomfortable position regarding a seemingly simple drone strike. A group of well-known terrorists are meeting in a house in an inaccessible area and are gearing up for an activity that involves a couple suicide vests, the answer here is easy – take them out.

The colonel in charge of setting up the mission in the friendly country of Kenya (Helen Mirren) has been tracking a British born terrorist for years and finally has the ability to take her out, along with a group of other terrorists, including a new American recruit. When the mission takes an unexpected turn from “capture” to “kill”, things get a little more complicated when a young girl wanders into the kill zone. The film shows the various government officials and their advisers (Alan Rickman, Iain Glen), the drone pilot (Aaron Paul), and the local ground team (Barkhad Abdi) struggling with the decision to risk the little girl’s life for the greater good.

For the American government and the British colonel, the presence of the little girl does not change anything; the suicide bombers are likely going to endanger or kill a much larger population in the very near future, so it is best to fire the missile and contain the situation. The others are more worried about the moral and political consequences of murdering a little girl in a friendly country. Eye in the Sky works you into a panic because time is constantly running out, the decision has to be made; the trouble is, no one wants to be the one to make the decision. It is undoubtedly a dark subject, but echoes of Kubrick’s satirical Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb work their way in as frustrations and the passing of the buck border on ridiculous. It is a nail-biting, frustrating, and darkly amusing film that most people would enjoy, as long as they are prepared to feel drained and little guilty afterwards.

Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman (in his final performance before his death) are the veterans, their characters know what needs to be done and they struggle to stress the need for urgency. Their combined talent as actors help to convey the utter  preposterousness of the situation, which often results in a few snickers from the audience. Aaron Paul delivers a great performance as the drone pilot faced with potentially killing an innocent bystander, and ultimately the one who will have to live with the blood on his hands – even though he is safe in Las Vegas, thousands of miles away from the target. Eye in the Sky is Barkhad Abdi’s first movie after his oscar-nominated performance in Captain Phillips and he nails the small-but-important role as the critical man on the ground in Nairobi.

It is a pretty tense 102 minutes and Eye in the Sky takes advantage of every one of them. It is ultimately the perfect length for a movie like this and Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) should be applauded for smoothly showing the story from multiple points of view. You will not leave satisfied with the end result, but that is the whole point. Eye in the Sky should spark a much bigger discussion: What would you do?

Drone strikes are  certainly the future of modern warfare and have already been used successfully (and unsuccessfully) overseas. There’s always the debate of the ethicality of being able to  wage war from the comfort and darkness of our military bases and boardrooms, and killing multiple people by the push of a button thousands of miles away. Light and reality are conveniently always on the other side of the door. In the end, Eye in the Sky makes this connection with precision.

Eye in the Sky was released in theatres April 1, 2016 and showtimes can still be found in a select few theatres in many cities.

Watch the official trailer here:

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10 Cloverfield Lane – Dan Trachtenberg

10 Cloverfield Lane starring John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Photo Credit: Michele K. Short / Paramount Pictures

10 Cloverfield Lane starring John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short / Paramount Pictures

10 Cloverfield Lane may have nothing to do with J.J Abram’s original Cloverfield (2008), but it is one hell of a movie just the same.  It was released in March 2016 with virtually no build-up and no press. Produced by J.J Abrams (Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Directed by the unknown Dan Trachtenberg, and marketed as a “blood relative” to Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane has received a lot of praise so far and is definitely a good start to 2016.

There are three characters in this movie and the whole thing takes place in an elaborate underground bunker. While this may not sound exciting, the whole atmosphere and the constant state of anxiety will have your stomach in knots for just over an hour and 45 minutes. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up after a bad accident and finds herself locked in a bunker with no idea how she got there and why she is seemingly being held against her will. Howard (John Goodman) is the man keeping her there. He is quick to anger and his motives aren’t quite clear; there’s just something “off” about him and you know he can’t be trusted. Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) is the third person in the bunker and is thankfully a little more light-hearted. As the movie progresses you find out a bit more about why they’re in the bunker, but you never really know until the very end. It’s an intense ride and a unique type of thriller that doesn’t come around very often. Avoid spoilers at all costs.

John Goodman’s performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane is superb and possibly a career best. He is easily the most terrifying part of the movie, which is certainly out of the ordinary for the man best known for The Big Lebowski and Rosanne. Some of his scenes will leave you wide-eyed in shock. The underlying sense of dread remains constant until the last few moments of the movie when all is revealed. People who are squeamish and quick to scare likely won’t enjoy themselves as much as those who prefer a good thriller. Calling 10 Cloverfield Lane a horror movie is a bit of a stretch, but there are certainly some elements of that genre present throughout the film. Thankfully the found-footage style of Cloverfield was abandoned for this movie, but it is filmed in a way that will make you feel cramped, like you’re with them breathing the same stale air in the bunker the whole time.

10 Cloverfield Lane has been in theatres for just under a month and has already racked in over $80M worldwide. Check out local listings to see it on the big screen before it’s too late.

Watch the official trailer here:

Spotlight – Tom McCarthy

Spotlight starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams. Photo Credit: Kerry Hayes

Spotlight starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams.
Photo Credit: Kerry Hayes

At this point most if us know the sex abuse stories, about priests taking advantage of young, scared, impressionable children. It’s both disgusting and shocking and not really something we want to think about. Spotlight puts you at the front of the initial investigation by The Boston Globe that brought the news of this terrible cover-up by the Catholic Church to light in the early 2000’s. The investigative team for the Globe, called “Spotlight” earned the paper a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in  2003. One can only imagine how disturbing this information would have been to come across, especially knowing that the evidence and accusations against the Catholic Church had been around for decades. Spotlight introduces you to the team that was dedicated to uncovering the story and what they went through emotionally trying to piece it all together. The result is a disturbing, yet professional, film that honours the investigators and doesn’t glorify anything. It never undermines the importance of the truth and its responsibility to the audience. It’s no mistake that Spotlight has walked away with six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

Just as the investigative team works together and no one tries to outshine the other, the cast of Spotlight is so well-balanced that it’s difficult to say whose performance was better because they were all gripping. However, both Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers, Foxcatcher) and Rachel McAdams (Southpaw, About Time) showed the most emotional range and both have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscars.  Michael Keaton, who received his first Oscar nomination for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) last year is great as the veteran manager of the “Spotlight” team who just wants to “get it right”. Liev Schreiber (Salt, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) deserves some credit for his wonderful (and underplayed) portrayal of the outsider who has just stepped in as editor of The Boston Globe; he doesn’t say much, but his direct delivery can be quite amusing. Finally, Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games, Julie & Julia, The Lovely Bones) is perfection as the untrusting, but dedicated lawyer just trying to do the right thing no matter the cost.

Despite its heavy topic, Spotlight isn’t without humour; but it is completely appropriate and timed just right to help lighten the mood when it is most needed. The ending is not comforting, nor should it be, but you are left satisfied that the journalists did their jobs and that they did it right. The history of the abuse was finally public knowledge that could not, and would not, be ignored any longer.

What actor-turned-director Tom McCarthy (now with 3 Oscar nominations) has done here should be admired. Many would think it a big risk to make a movie about this delicate topic. Spotlight was perfectly unshowy and remained sensitive to the material, all while keeping the audience absorbed in the characters and their main goal. The final punch, the statistics surrounding the sex abuse, will leave you shaking your head and demanding justice. It’s exactly the reaction you should have. Spotlight has done its job.

Spotlight had a limited released in the USA and Canada in November 2015. It has been released in most other countries since January/February 2016.

Update: Spotlight won the Academy Award for BEST PICTURE

Watch the trailer here:

The Revenant – Alejandro G. Iñárritu

The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. Photo Credit: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and Domhnall Gleeson.
Photo Credit: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

This is a movie about pain – mental and physical pain.  Leonardo DiCaprio will make you feel every bit of suffering endured by his character, Hugh Glass, in The Revenant, Alejandro Iñárritu‘s latest 156 min tour de force. If gore and death make you at all squeamish, this is not the movie for you. Arrows cutting through flesh, burning bodies, claws ripping through skin and crushing bone, the disembowelment of a horse, these are just a few things that might turn a lot of people off. But if you can handle it, you’re in for a film experience that doesn’t come around very often.

Fresh off of his Best Picture and Best Director win at the Oscars last year for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Alejandro Iñárritu has directed and written yet another masterpiece, although arguably less, shall we say, odd. The Revenant takes place in the early 19th century American wilderness and tells the (embellished) true story of Hugh Glass, a renowned fur-trapper who was left for dead by the men he was guiding after he was viciously mauled by a bear. The majority of the movie is watching him struggle to survive and watching him try to make his way back to the camp to face the man who ultimately made the decision to leave him (Tom Hardy).

From the group’s first ambush by natives, it’s clear that there will be a significant amount of violence throughout the movie. The scene with the bear is by far the most gruesome and realistic attack by a wild animal ever to be shown on screen; it just proves that there is absolutely no holding back in The Revenant. The horror stories from the set, from the freezing temperatures to the struggles to find the right setting and only being able to shoot an hour a day in order to get the ideal natural lighting, shows the director’s passion and desire to get things perfect. Whether or not you can stomach the brutal violence, there is no denying the fact that it is a visually stunning film. It’s as real as it’s going to get for a movie filmed in this age of technology.

There are incredibly strong performances in The Revenant, led of course by Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his most outstanding immersions into a character to date. This is what acting is. Every moment is a struggle for Hugh Glass and Leo makes sure the audience struggles with him every step of the way. Even though they aren’t getting as much credit as Leo, Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson are just as convincing, albeit with smaller roles (Tom Hardy also has a nomination for Best Supporting Actor). For a movie just over 2.5 hours, there isn’t much dialogue (especially for Leo) but nature and the subtle soundtrack play such strong parts that it doesn’t really matter. What Alejandro Iñárritu has done with this film is nothing short of spectacular. To get the audience to actually feel cold (and a little sore) when leaving the theatre is not an easy feat, and he certainly did his job with the help of the cast.

Nominated for 12 (of 14) Oscars, The Revenant will certainly walk away with a number of wins on February 29th – and it would be an utter travesty if Leonardo DiCaprio did not win Best Actor.

The Revenant saw a limited release in the U.S. at the end of December 2015 and has had a steady theatrical rollout from January 2016 through to the end of February 2016.

Update: The Revenant won Academy Awards for BEST ACTOR, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY,  and BEST DIRECTOR

Water the official trailer here:

Carol – Todd Haynes

Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Photo credit: Wilson Webb/The Weinstein Company

If all you’re looking for is a nice, sleepy, Oscar-nominated musical score by the guy who does all the Coen Brothers’ movies and some slick production design, then Carol is the movie for you. To say this movie starts out slow is an understatement; and to some, the entire two-hours of this 1950’s love story will be torture to watch. The sad reality of Carol is that it will not appeal to everyone, but those who live for the Oscar categories of costume design, cinematography, and production design will be completely engaged. For this movie to captivate you, you need to be very patient and you need to be the type to appreciate the art of film-making and film direction.

Based on the novel “The Price of Salt”, Carol tells the story of two women – a young one (Rooney Mara) who doesn’t yet know who she is, and the older, unhappy one (Cate Blanchett) who she falls head over heels in love with. It’s the 1950’s, so lesbian love is not something that is widely accepted or tolerated to a great degree. The main point of drama is the fact that Carol’s husband (from whom she is separated) is trying to get their daughter taken away from her because of her pattern of “inappropriate behaviour” with women – which also doubles as a silly attempt to “get her back” because if he can’t have her, no one else should, especially not a woman.

The reviews from both critics and viewers have been very positive, but it truly takes a certain type of movie-watcher to appreciate the subtleties of the performances and the artistry of the film-making. It won’t knock your socks off unless this is the only thing you look for in a movie experience. It’s unfortunate, but the general population just won’t see the tragic beauty in Carol and the love story will be lost among the countless scenes of silence, frustratingly long gazes, and the general lack of climax.

Cate Blanchett’s performance is good, there is no question, but compared to her other Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated performances (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator, Notes on a Scandal, I’m Not There, Elizabeth, etc.), this is nothing special and certainly not something the masses can get behind. Aside from one steamy lesbian love-making scene, there are only a couple other scenes that stand out. Like Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett could be nominated every time because she’s just that good, but maybe the standards should have been set a little higher for her this time. All in all, Carol is walking away with two acting nominations (Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress), and four others for its cinematography, musical score, costume design, and screenplay (adapted).

The many accolades it has received from prestigious film festivals proves that, in a way, Carol is just like poetry – a select few find it beautiful, powerful, and deep, and most others will just be bored and unimpressed.

Carol opened in limited release in the USA in November 2015 and Canada in December 2015. Worldwide gross is only $29M to date and it can still be found playing in some theatres leading up to the Oscars on February 28, 2016.

Watch the official trailer here:

The Big Short – Adam McKay

The Big Short starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.

The Big Short starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.
Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures

Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. Could you ask for a better cast? If the answer is yes, then add Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo,  Hamish Linklater, and Jeremy Strong and you’ve got The Big Short.  Between six of the lead actors, there are 6 Oscars and 9 Oscar nominations, so it’s not surprising that this movie has already done very well. We’re well into awards season now, and although The Big Short did not walk away a winner, it was nominated for 4 Golden Globes in the two male acting categories, adapted screenplay, and best picture. It still has another chance in late February with its 5 Academy Award nominations (Editing, Screenplay, Actor, Directing, and Best Picture).

This movie takes a very complex topic – the 2008 financial crisis – and attempts to explain it in a way that the average adult can understand. There are so many moving parts and economics isn’t everyone’s strong suit, so it does it’s best (complete with various celebrities trying to dumb it down for us) and mostly succeeds.  Regardless of whether you understand all the intricacies and terminology or not, you’ll still walk away from it feeling sick and cheated – and that’s the whole point.

The movie is centralized around three different groups of men who notice something no one else did – that the U.S housing market was built on a bubble, and that bubble was going to burst. Michael Burry, the one guy who discovered it all is played by Christian Bale. His quick actions sparked the interest of the other teams, who quickly began doing their own investigations. These teams included FrontPoint Partners, lead by Mark Baum (an amazing performance by Steve Carell) and two young guys with a hedge fund start up. They all go about finding a way to make money off of the greed, corruption, and general stupidity of the banks – they bet against the housing market.

The Big Short is filmed in a bit of a quirky way that may annoy you in the first 10 minutes but you’ll quickly get over it and later recognize it for its brilliance. It’s like you’re watching real life unfold in front of you, except you know what’s going to happen. Quick flashes of real images and video serve as a reminder of how things changed so quickly. The script is nothing short of genius and the dialogue is quick-witted and blunt. The fourth wall is broken a number of times, but it works in every case and doesn’t affect the fluidity of the film, in fact, it makes it more real. Steve Carell outshines everyone else and it is likely one of the best performances of his career to date. Unfortunately his performance was not acknowledged by The Academy and Christian Bale was nominated for Best Actor instead. He won’t win, but it’s still a nice nod in his direction. Considering Adam McKay’s previous claims to fame included Anchorman and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, the Best Director nomination is a big step in the right direction for him.

It’s definitely worth a watch, but the target audience for this movie is likely 25+… make that 40+ in order to really identify with what the collapse of the U.S. housing market did to the world. The younger generations will find the fast dialogue amusing, the topic informative, and the forecast for the future slightly troubling, but they won’t have the same appreciation for the utter stupidity that ended up costing tons of people their jobs and their life savings.

The Big Short is still playing in some theatres but is mostly gone from the rotation. It still managed to pull in over $100M (worldwide) since its release in December 2015.

Watch the official trailer here:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – J.J. Abrams

Star Wars: The Force Awakens starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Harrison Ford.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Harrison Ford.

The force of nostalgia is strong with this one. It could possibly be the one time parents and grandparents appreciate a sci-fi film more than the kids; because it’s not just about the action, it’s about the feeling you get from seeing old friends again after spending more than 30 years apart. Although it’s true that Star Wars never really went away (since the 70’s it’s been an almost constant thing in our lives – the merchandise, the toys, the digital remastering, the re-releases, and of course the prequels), this new movie feels like a real homecoming.

People will be, and have been, flocking to Star Wars: The Force Awakens in droves since it was released in theatres on December 18, 2015. It’s everything that fans, both young and old, were waiting for. We can finally let go of Episodes I, II, and III and pretend they never happened at all; they have been replaced with a reboot that we all deserved and waited so long to see. All it took was a new director, producer, writer, a (mostly) new cast, better technology, and a couple hundred million dollars.

The newcomers to the series need to be applauded because they essentially carry the movie. Their lead roles in the film were kept secret (even from their parents) and the end result was pleasantly surprising. Both Daisy Ridley (Rey) and John Boyega (Finn) had not done anything of consequence up until this point and are well on their way to becoming stars. Their acting abilities are so far beyond anything that had been seen in Star Wars previously and it’s certainly a breath of very fresh air for the series that struggled in that department in the past. Other supporting actors like Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Domhnall Gleeson (About Time), and Adam Driver (This Is Where I Leave You) are all slightly more recognizable and accomplished actors and played their parts perfectly, especially the two villains. Oh, and you’ll fall in love with the new droid BB-8; it doesn’t say anything but it’s amazing how much can be conveyed with a few beeps and bops and a slight tilt of the head. Bringing back R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) was icing on the cake and probably the best thing that J.J Abrams was able to accomplish early on with Episode VII.

The plot of the film isn’t overly complicated and thankfully doesn’t involve any council meetings or a senate. It is focused on finding the location of Luke Skywalker and defeating the evil Empire (once again) who have created yet another planet-destroying weapon. There are a few other side-plots where it helps to have seen Episodes IV to VI, but it remains something that can still be enjoyed by strangers to the galaxy.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the reason why people watch movies: entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. It simply doesn’t stop! At the end of the 135 minute runtime, you’ll likely find you didn’t want it to end at all. Lucky for you though, the next movie is already filming.

With all the terrible things going on in the world today and with tragic headlines only a click away, Star Wars: The Force Awakens offers the chance to escape to a galaxy far, far away. It won’t change anything, but it’ll help you forget as you’re immersed in a world where evil is literally black and white and the good guys always win.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now playing in theatres everywhere.

Watch the official trailer here:

Trainwreck – Judd Apatow

trainwreck

Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader.
Photo Credits: Mary Cybulski / Universal Pictures

Amy Schumer is the new “it” comedienne, there’s no denying that. After blowing up on the small screen by starring in her own TV show Inside Amy Schumer and finding herself featured on shows like the latest season of The Bachelorette, it was just a matter of time before the big names in Hollywood decided to back her on her own feature length film – Trainwreck. She wrote it, she stars in it, and Judd Apatow directed it. When you mix her flare for breaking down the male/female boundaries and her crude tell-it-like-it-is (not to mention shameless) delivery with his history of directing such funny filth, it certainly seems like a winning combination. It’s hard to say exactly where it went wrong, especially when so many critics and movie-goers raved about it, but a seasoned comedy screenwriter (like Apatow) likely could have made it better. Trainwreck had all the components of a great summer comedy, except and experienced rom-com writer; luckily though, it got away with it for the most part.

Amy Schumer stars as a commitment-opposed magazine columnist who unexpectedly falls for a sports doctor, played by Bill Hader. She’s blunt, funny, the opposite of graceful, and has a soft spot for her father. Amy’s got all the qualities of a stereotypical promiscuous man….but is, in fact, a woman; she just hasn’t found the right guy to settle down with. Therein lies the message that some feminists…. sorry, columnists, took issue with when bashing….sorry, reviewing, the movie. If you aren’t one to care about the underlying messages in romantic comedies or how they affect society’s perception of men and women, then just relax, adjust your blinders, and enjoy the film. That’s what these kinds of movie are for anyway!

The odd thing about Trainwreck is that the funniest actor is actually not an actor (or comedian) at all – it’s LeBron James. It can be very painful to watch athletes attempt to get a laugh from the crowd, especially when they’re playing themselves; however, LeBron is so incredibly believable and funny in his delivery  that you actually find yourself looking forward to scenes with him in them. He’s hands-down the best thing about the movie, which doesn’t say much for the more experienced actors that were supposed to carry the film.

It’s not that Trainwreck was that bad, because so many people found it hilarious, it’s just that it could have been so much better. And finally, as with every Judd Apatow movie, it was about 30 minutes too long. All that being said, it still makes for a good girls night or a date night movie, as long as you’re not easily offended by crude language and awkward sex scenes.

Trainwreck was released in theatres back in July 2015 and will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on November 10, 2015.

Watch the trailer:

Entourage – Doug Ellin

Entourage starring Adrian Grenier, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Piven, and Kevin Dillon.

Entourage starring Adrian Grenier, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Piven, and Kevin Dillon.
Photo: Warner Bros.

Fans of the popular HBO show Entourage waited years for the movie to happen, and when it finally did they (along with critics) mostly bashed it or didn’t even bother watching it. After a week or so, Entourage the movie slunk out of theatres, labeled a box office “flop”. The Guardian critic said it best, “Entourage is like an enthusiastic puppy, slightly tipsy on beer, humping on a stripper’s leg, but desperate to please nonetheless”. Feminists will cringe, professional critics will groan, but true fans of the show with low enough expectations will laugh and cherish the 104 minute catch-up session with Vinny, E, Turtle, Drama, and Ari.

Vince is single again and trying his hand at directing, Sloan is pregnant, Drama is (still) unemployed, and Ari is finally trying to relax. That’s just how it starts; the rest is just like an extra, extra long episode. It’s not like people didn’t binge-watch the show to begin with, so the 1 hour and 45 minutes isn’t too much to ask of the audience. Since the writer and director are the same as the show, it doesn’t stray too far in terms of content; you still get your beautiful women, nudity, sex, drugs, alcohol, and ridiculously foul language. Of course, you also get the cameos. Entourage is packed with them (40 plus change, if you’re counting)!  Some actors/athletes/musicians play themselves (Bob Saget, Gary Busey, Liam Neeson, Ronda Rousey, Mark Wahlberg, just to name very few) and some play key characters (Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment) but all of them are just along for the ride so the audience can say, “Oh, look, it’s ____!” and to make them feel like they’re getting a tiny glimpse of Hollywood “behind the scenes”. It might get old for some people, but it’s still fun to see.

Entourage is crass, blatant macho-ism, but so was the show. It’s either considered hilarious or incredibly pathetic, there’s nothing really in between. So if you lean more towards the former, give it a chance and laugh away the evening; otherwise, steer clear – you’ll only be disappointed. Finally, if you’ve never seen the show it’s likely that you won’t get a lot of what’s going on since many of the jokes and quick banter have a lot to do with the characters’ past relationships (with the industry and with each other), so it may not be worth it.

Despite not doing so well in theatres, it’ll likely be high on the download, rental, and purchase list for those who didn’t get a chance to see it during its short stint, or those who just want to complete their collections. There are some TV characters you just miss spending an evening with, and these guys are some of them. Unfortunately, given the lack of success, it’ll probably be the last time you see them – so treasure your time together and move on.

Entourage was released in May 2015 and will be available for purchase/rental on September 29, 2015. Available now on Apple TV.

Watch the trailer:

Mad Max: Fury Road – George Miller

Mad Max: Fury Road Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. Photo Credit: Jasin Boland© 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
Photo Credit: Jasin Boland© 2015

If there’s one thing everyone who watches Mad Max: Fury Road can agree on, it’s the fact that it is the definition of “intense”.  It is two hours of absolute mayhem with only a couple scenes where you can actually breathe and relax your body… but only for a few seconds. There are countless post-apocalyptic car chases involving crazed, wide-eyed characters; plenty of hand-to-hand combat; a handful of models on the run; and a mostly-silent Tom Hardy caught in the middle of the chaos. Dialogue and backstory are limited, but the gist of the story isn’t that difficult to understand.

It’s a barren world consisting of mostly sand and heat and appears to be set far in Earth’s future after what one can only assume is some nuclear disaster. Those who have survived are struggling with day to day life and fighting over oil and water. The man villain, called Immortan Joe, is hoarding a large water supply and imprisoning women who have been untouched by deformity as his wives. When one of his best (Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron) decides to rebel, all hell breaks loose. The unlucky Max (Tom Hardy) is literally caught in the middle of the chase but teams up with Furiosa when his options run out. It becomes obvious that Max has some issues relating to whatever happened in his past, but we’ll have to wait for the sequel to learn more – and there will definitely be a sequel.

Thankfully for the younger generation, watching the original Mad Max trilogy from the 70’s and 80’s (Mad Max, The Road Warrior and Beyond the Thunderdome, all starring Mel Gibson) is not necessary; but given that the writing and directing is by the same man (George Miller), one can assume there are ties and similarities that would be appreciated by the crowd who liked the originals. Admittedly, sometimes it is difficult to understand what is going on and what the main villain is saying (think ‘Bane’ from The Dark Knight Rises), but in the end it doesn’t really matter. The action and cinematography are nothing short of spectacular and despite the general insanity going on on-screen, most of the stunts and action sequences seem ‘possible’ (with a few exceptions, of course). Unlike natural disaster movies that leave you rolling your eyes and saying, “Ya, right”, Max Mad: Fury Road will just leave you wide-eyed because it doesn’t give you time to think about anything else.

The general concept of the film, the ensuing madness, and the extreme violence (somehow it is only rated 14A in Canada) will not appeal to everyone;  but like it or not, it will still be an ‘experience’ you won’t be likely to forget.  Just keep in mind that the “Oh my God!” look on your face (eyes wide, eyebrows up, forehead crinkled) might lead to a few more botox injections down the road, so budget accordingly.

Mad Max: Fury Road was released on May 14, 2015 and is now playing in theatres where it has grossed well over $350M worldwide.

Update: Mad Max won Academy Awards for:
Best Achievement in Film Editing
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Best Achievement in Production Design

Watch the trailer: