Thursday, September 15, 2016

Killing Season (2013): Through The Eyes of Cat

Number Rolled: N/A
Movie Name/Year: Killing Season (2013)
Tagline: The purest form of war is one on one.
Genre: Thriller
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: Millennium Films, Corsan, Nu Image, Promised Land Productions
Producers: Paul Breuls, Ed Cathell III, Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Anson Downes, Linda Favila, Veronique Huyghebaert, Avi Lerner, Danny Lerner, Anthony Rhulen, Guy Tannahill, John Thompson, Emelie Vervecken, Jake Wagner
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Writer: Evan Daugherty
Actors: Robert De Niro, John Travolta, Milo Ventimiglia, Elizabeth Olin

Blurb from Netflix: A military vet's new hunting partner has an old grudge and is good with a bow and arrow. It's cold out there.

Cat’s Point of View:

This movie was intriguing to me on several levels. I first came across it while on a search to watch more of Milo Ventimiglia’s (Kiss of the Damned, Chosen, This Is Us) work.  His part in this film is relatively small in screen-time, yet is very important to the story all the same. 

This movie kept me at the edge of my seat and tugged at my heartstrings. I cringed at some of the rather graphic points. 

I have to say that I was a little skeptical on the combination of John Travolta (Hairspray, Savages, The Forger) and Robert De Niro (Limitless, The Family, Joy). Each is a box office heavyweight in their own right. Travolta, however, can be a bit hit or miss with his roles; while De Niro is generally flawless with delivery and is a legend at his craft. 

Surprisingly, it worked. Travolta’s accent was fairly believable and I bought in to his story. I found his character a bit annoying in a few places – but that was the character and nothing to do with his performance, the direction, or the writing.

While Selina originally reviewed this back in early 2014, my viewing of this film is coming close on the heels of another movie we’ve recently watched involving a war vet coping poorly with combat trauma. There’s a disturbing number of soldiers struggling with something similar every day- and the number only grows. This movie definitely touches on the damages of war from both sides of the equation. 

I couldn’t help but see my grandfathers in De Niro’s shoes. Both were World War II veterans. I don’t know much about my paternal grandfather’s war experience (he never talked about it at all). There is a clearer picture where my maternal grandfather is concerned. 

He was a Major in the Army and he was leading his men through a mine field in Germany on his way to a bridge. He stepped on a mine. It shattered his leg, and could have killed him if not for the box of supplies he was carrying. He didn’t subscribe to the idea of letting his men do all the heavy lifting just because he was an officer.  

Long story short, he had a long recovery road ahead of him. He managed to keep his leg but there was a very long span of time moving through hospitals across the country – surgeries and physical therapy. He could have given up – and he did disappear into alcohol for a while. By the time I came along, he was already well into his sobriety and attending AA meetings regularly. He didn’t like to talk about the war very often. 

Sometimes war changes people so profoundly that it’s hard to come back to the person you were before. This movie weaves a poignant illustration of that in with the more harrowing tale. I'd say throw in some 'cat and mouse' for spice, but Robert De Niro's character is no mouse.

I can’t imagine anyone different in the role De Niro plays, and am very thankful that Nicholas Cage (G-Force, Kick-Ass, Stolen) didn’t end up with the part. It might have been interesting to see him facing off with Travolta again, but I think the movie might have suffered. 

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and would actually like to watch it again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 11%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 29%

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5 

P.S. The survival skills that Robert De Niro utilizes in this movie are legit.

P.S.2. If you'd like to revisit Selina's original review of this movie, you can skip searching the archives and find it here.

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Chalet Girl (2011): Through The Eyes of Cat

Number Rolled: N/A
Movie Name/Year: Chalet Girl (2011)
Tagline:  How to marry a billionaire.
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Sports
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: R
Production Companies: UK Film Council, Aegis Film Fund, Prescience, Metropolis International Sales, CrossDay Productions Ltd. (as CrossDay) Kaleidoscope Films, Neue Bioskop Film, Novotny & Novotny Filmproduktion GmbH
Producers: Reno Antoniades, Wolfgang Behr, Paul Brett, Pippa Cross, Anthony Day, Philip Evenkamp, Alexander Glehr, Dietmar Güntsche, Phil Hope, Ralph Kamp, Oliver Lüer, Jo Nolan, Franz Novotny, Alexander O'Neal, Harriet Rees, Daniel Shepherd, Tim Smith, James Swarbrick
Director: Phil Traill
Writer: Tom Williams
Actors: Felicity Jones, Bill Bailey, Rebecca Lacey, Tom Goodman-Hill, Tamsin Egerton, Georgia Kind, Gregor Bloeb, Ed Westwick, Bill Nighy, Brooke Shields, Sophia Bush, Nicolas Braun, Ken Duken, Tara Dakides, Adam Bousdoukos

Blurb from Netflix: Ex-skateboarder Kim Matthews is transplanted to the world of alpine sports, an environment she finds foreign... until she tries snowboarding.

Cat’s Point of View:

I’ve actually wanted to watch this movie for a while now. I stumbled across it a few years ago as I was looking up something in relation to Sophia Bush (John Tucker Must Die, The Hitcher, Chicago P.D.), and was intrigued. When Selina reviewed this one, it was one of the few times I didn’t get a chance to watch a movie at the same time, prior to our official collaboration. 

It was worth the wait. 

Skiing is a really cool sport. (Yes, I did that.) I don’t generally follow it per-se, but it tends to be what spans the gaps between Olympic Figure Skating events – so I watch every once in a while. The thought of being up in the mountains with all that fresh snow is just exhilarating. I live in Louisiana, so actual snow (that sticks) is something that happens only once in a handful of years. I’m one of the silly people that runs outside to giggle and play in the flurries, even if it’s just going to melt the minute the flakes hit the ground.

I have some serious respect for skiers and snowboarders. I tried skiing once, back in high school. I nearly went off the side of the mountain on a green slope and decided that walking the rest of the way down was probably best. (Snowmobiles were less dangerous for me.) 

While on that choir trip, in addition to discovering that sport just wasn’t my thing, I found that using cylindrical pitchers to pack snow on a snowman isn’t something that you should do around small children. Thank goodness there weren’t any around to witness my accidental anatomically correct snowman incident of 1995.

I digress. 

Back to the movie! 

This is another one of those sports movies that, while following a bit of a recipe, end up surpassing expectation. 

I anticipated that this film would be a bit ‘fluffier’ and less substantial than it was. Of course, it wasn’t anything to do with the cast – there’s some serious star power here. It was mostly because I hadn’t actually looked into the plot and expected something along the lines of Hot Dog...The Movie (1984) or Out Cold (2001). 

While there were plenty of shenanigans afoot in this movie, and it was clearly aimed at the teen and young adult crowd; there was a core of real heart beneath all that.
Have I mentioned the scenery was amazing? The filming locations in Germany and Austria were just stunning. 

I mentioned before that I found this movie originally because of Sophia Bush. Even though she wasn’t the focal character here, her character was important for contrast. I was reminded of early Brooke Davis from One Tree Hill (2003-2012). That got me all nostalgic. I miss that show. 

Ed Westwick (Romeo & Juliet, J. Edgar, Freaks of Nature) was charming and down to earth in his performance. It was an interesting foil to the more sinister role we’ve recently viewed him in, and highlights his range. 

There were a couple cast members I spent a few minutes wondering where I’d recognized them from. Tamsin Egerton (Grand Piano, Queen & Country, The Lovers), whom played Georgie, was Guinevere in STARZ original series Camelot (2011); and Bill Bailey (Hot Fuzz, Nanny McPhee Returns, Burke and Hare) was actually the voice of the whale in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2007). (It was one of my favorite parts of the book. I remember silly things like that sometimes.)  

The latter was also a movie that Bill Nighy (Valkyrie, Rango, Dad's Army) was hilarious in. I enjoyed his more understated role in this movie as the chalet owner and Jonny’s father. He has such wry comedic timing.

I’d have to say one of my favorite characters was Mikki played by Ken Duken (War and Peace, Inglourious Basterds, Northmen - A Viking Saga). His character was lighthearted and helped tie so many elements of the movie together. 

Felicity Jones (The Tempest, Breathe In, The Theory of Everything) was a great choice for the lead role. I loved the spunk she brought to the character. I also liked the way they handled the obstacle she had to overcome. 

Before I ramble on forever, I’ll leave you with a parting bit of trivia. Tara Dakides (Out Cold, Extreme Dodgeball, Zeno Supper Club) is a real champion snowboarder. She’s a multi-time medalist in the Winter X Games and was Snowboarder Magazine's Female Snowboarder of the Year three consecutive years (2000-2002). I enjoy when professional athletes cameo in movies like this. It adds a little bit of extra realism and has to be a lot of fun for them, as well. 

All in all, the movie was adorable, funny, and worth a watch. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 79%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 53%

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

P.S. Small scenes and bloopers are played during the credits.

P.S.2. If you'd like to revisit Selina's original review of this movie, you can skip searching the archives and find it here.

Movie Trailer: