Thursday, August 25, 2016

Safelight (2015)

Number Rolled: 8
Movie Name/Year: Safelight (2015)
Tagline: Love with lead the way.
Genre: Drama
Length: 82 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Aloupis Productions, Hacienda Film Co.
Producer: Tony Aloupis, Bernie Gewissler, Joe Krieg, Andrew Mysko, Cory Neal, Carol Randinelli Stark
Director: Tony Aloupis
Writer: Tony Aloupis
Actors: Evan Peters, Juno Temple, Kevin Alejandro, Jason Beghe, Christine Lahti, Ariel Winter, Will Peltz, Don Stark, Matthew Ziff, Joel Gretsch, Ever Carradine, Meaghan Martin, Joe Krieg, Lee Garlington, Gigi Rice, Roma Maffia, Taylor Boggan

Blurb from Netflix: A lonely teen bullied for his limp and a runaway who turns tricks at a truck stop embark on a road trip and discover a new world of possibilities.

Selina’s Point of View:
This is generally the kind of drama I tend to steer away from. From beginning to end I tend to feel like absolutely nothing happens, nothing changes, and the plot is pointless.

Straight dramas are just not my thing.

I attempted to put that attitude aside in order to enjoy it. I failed. Mostly, I was just bored.

Juno Temple (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Maleficent, Mr. Nobody) was outstanding in her role, but Evan Peters (American Horror Story, Adult World, The Lazarus Effect) was a little on the unbelievable side to me. I felt like the limp wasn’t quite realistic enough for me to believe the story. Sometimes the limp was more pronounced, other times it looked like he forgot to limp at all. Since the very core of the story is based around that limp, that’s a big issue.

All the other main actors followed Temple’s lead. There weren’t any that I had an issue with. Jason Beghe (Chicago P.D., X-Men: First Class, Chicago Fire) played the sick and waning father figure wonderfully. Christine Lahti (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Jack & Bobby, Chicago Hope) was very believable, however, I kept putting Katey Sagal (Pitch Perfect 2, Sons of Anarchy, Futurama) as the part of Peg in my mind… so every time Lahti’s face came on screen I was momentarily confused. That’s not Lahti’s fault. It’s mine and I don’t know why it happened.

Some of background actors irked me, like the actor that played the main bully – I think it was Will Peltz (Unfriended, As Cool As I Am, The Outskirts). Nothing he said or did landed well. Everything he did was like an over-exaggeration or parody of what it was supposed to be.

I guess the plot itself was fine, it just didn’t resonate with me. It might, however, resonate with hardcore drama fans. You’d have to be a fan of the genre though.

Cat’s Point of View:
I thought this movie would be interesting when it came to our attention during our monthly Top Twenty. It was, indeed. Though, as I come away from watching it; I find myself feeling down.

This film goes to some dark places – though, I get it. What better way to illustrate the beacon of safety that the lighthouses represent. There was a thread of hope laced in to the tale, but it didn’t seem to be enough to shake the overall bleak feeling.

Evan Peters (Never Back Down, The Good Doctor, Elvis & Nixon) and Juno Temple (Wild Child, Horns, Away) both knocked their roles out of the park. Peters captured that teen awkwardness well and you could just feel the internal struggle of both characters.

There were a few moments of levity scattered through the seriousness of this drama – and one was entirely subtle on the level of an Easter egg.

I loved Christine Lahti’s (Smart People, Petunia, Touched with Fire) character, Peg. The redheaded spitfire is the glue that holds the elements of this movie together. I couldn’t help but notice her hairstyle and some of her mannerisms reminded me heavily of the character Peg Bundy from Married With Children (1987-1997). I had a giggle. Things that make you go ‘hmm.’

I don’t think I’ll be watching this one again, just because I didn’t like the low place it left me in. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good drama – regardless of how it twists you up by the end.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 6%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 28%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

P.S. There’s a short, somewhat pointless, scene after the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, August 22, 2016

4 Minute Mile (2014)

Number Rolled: 64
Movie Name/Year: 4 Minute Mile (2014)
Tagline: The hardest race is against yourself.
Genre: Drama
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production Companies: One Square Mile Management Company, Phoenix Rising Motion Pictures
Producer: Howard Burd, Randy Dannenberg, Mark DiSalle, Mel Eslyn, Michael Hothorn, Dane Lillegard, Michael Magnussen, Lawrence Steven Meyers, Deborah Moore, Jennifer Reibman, Lauren Selig, Joe Sisto, Micah Sparks, Jonathan Vanger
Director: Charles-Olivier Michaud
Writer: Jeff Van Wie, Josh Campbell
Actors: Kelly Blatz, Richard Jenkins, Kim Basinger, Cam Gigandet, Analeigh Tipton, Rhys Coiro, Aaron Washington, Gerald Grissette, David Brown-King, Daniel Oliver, Dylan Arnold, Josh Feinsilber, Andrew Haggerty

Blurb from Netflix: A teenage track star and a former coach who each face difficult obstacles in life turn to each other to find comfort, stability and hope.

Selina’s Point of View:
At first, this film looked like your basic, every day, sports training drama.

As I watched 4 Minute Mile I found that it was absolutely typical and unoriginal… until about the last half hour of the movie.

Seriously, throughout the majority of the film I felt absolutely nothing for the characters or the story. I was bored and trying to keep my eyes open. However, that last half hour was something incredible. The boring build up lasted longer than the parts I enjoyed, but I still found that it was worth it to get to that part.

The actors were good, my distaste for the first hour of the film had nothing to do with them. Cam Gigandet (Reckless, Bad Johnson, Easy A) really made me believe the desperation that drove his low-life character and Richard Jenkins (Cabin in the Woods, Turbo, White House Down) brought the coach’s character to life. Analeigh Tipton (Viral, Manhattan Love Story, Warm Bodies) was my favorite, of course, but she’s one of my favorite actors in general. I rarely have anything bad to say or think about her. She also has an incredibly dramatic and interesting past – I recommend looking up her history. I would love to watch a film about her.

As for the main actor, Kelly Blatz (Glory Daze, Aaron Stone, Prom Night), he impressed me with his ability to show the audience all that inner turmoil his character was experiencing with only a look. Actually, both his mannerisms and visage reminded me heavily of Lillo Brancato (Back in the Day, The Real Deal, The Sopranos) from A Bronx Tale (1993) – which is also a phenomenal film.

In the end, this film honored the movies that came before it in the genre, like the Karate Kid (1984), but it took a while for 4 Minute Mile to twist its own flair into the typical plot.

Cat’s Point of View:
OK so I have a strange relationship with sports dramas. I’m not really a huge sports person. I know enough about them to understand what I’m watching when I need to – but it’s just not my thing usually. The only sport I really fangirl about is ice skating. Olympic Figure Skating is my Superbowl.

That being said, I’ve watched (and liked) a good number of sports themed shows and movies. Ones focusing on things that I enjoy such as martial arts, gymnastics, fencing, etc. are easier to watch and get invested in.

All the same, I’ve watched so many movies focused on football, baseball, basketball, and hockey that I’ve lost count. Track and field just doesn’t have a lot of pull for me in the same way NASCAR doesn’t rev my engines. I get the whole thrill of the race and all, but it’s just going in circles. The sports I like tend to have more grace and artistry. I’m not a sports snob, it just is what it is.

From all of what I just said, you might think that I didn’t like this movie. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I loved this movie. It got me in its grip and didn’t let me go until the end. I didn’t even feel the need to fidget; which was odd – I almost always fidget.

Sure, the movie mostly does what you expect it to – but it takes you to an unanticipated place as the lead, phenomenally played by Kelly Blatz (From Within, April Showers, Exeter), works through his personal challenges and internal conflicts stemming from family loyalty. Ultimately the tale goes into unexpected territory.

Cam Gigandet (The Experiment, Plush, In The Blood) delivers a solid performance with his complex character. He brought a sense of dread and suspense to the movie that helped take it out of that stereotypical box.
Kim Basinger (While She Was Out, Charlie St. Cloud, The Nice Guys) is no stranger to excellently portraying a mother in over her head. There were shades of 8 Mile (2002) in this movie that I couldn’t help notice.

Then, of course, every good sports drama in this vein has a Mr. Miyagi. Richard Jenkins (Fun With Dick and Jane, God's Pocket, Spotlight) steps into those coaching shoes with heart in his performance.

Some might groan about the romantic element in a movie like this. However, especially for high school age kids, it’s only reality that dreams and goals can be influenced by hormones and the challenge of relationships or heartbreak. I didn’t see that element of this film as fluff. I think Analeigh Tipton (Lucy, Mississippi Grind, Between Us) played an important role in the story in both giving some more insight into Blatz’s character, adding a little needed levity, and supplying a few rewarding warm fuzzies.

I could keep going, but really I can only encourage that this movie just begs to be seen. It will unexpectedly tug at your heartstrings. I don’t know that I can watch it again from an emotional standpoint, but that doesn’t take away from it being excellent all the same.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 29%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 44%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Movie Trailer: