Tag Archives: Zach Newell
2012. 157 minutes. Rated R.
“You can help yourself by being truthful.”
Zero Dark Thirty is a must see, if only for the summation of a desperate but necessary chapter of the complicated American psyche, one fraught with terror. We are drawn into the horrors of the September 11, 2001 attacks and brought through to the death of Osama Bin Laden. The events that fill ten years in between become the stuff of acrimony, confusion and fear, and eventually relief. Members of Congress have recently taken issue with the film for its portrayal and perceived approval of torture. While I understand the concern, it is worth noting that though the movie is based on fact, neither the director nor the actors scripted ten years of fear, stupidity or terror. I understand that Hollywood needs to take its lumps, but the film is a reminder that the American people could have used a conscionable voice of reason in the chapter called “the war on terror.”
2012. 150 minutes. Rated PG-13.
“Do you think we choose the times into which we are born? Or do we fit the times we are born into?”
It is only appropriate that I waited to see such a bold and thoughtful film; a film that constructs one of the most complex historical figures in the annals of American politics. I saw Lincoln on New Year’s Eve, against the backdrop of the dysfunction of our current day Congress as they had, until then, still failed to strike a deal on the Fiscal Cliff. Lincoln provides a calculated view into one of the most talked about presidents in American history, but perhaps one of the most enigmatic. It is not just the insight into the intimate workings of Lincoln’s thought, but the intimate and horrifying insight into the inner workings of Congress, that are at once inspiring and awful.
2012. 2 Hours, 23 Minutes. Rated R.
“What do you say about a man like that?”
Skyfall is the newest installment in the James Bond legacy. Daniel Craig, the popular if somewhat controversial choice, goes for the trifecta, putting the golden touch on another blockbuster, this one well deserved. Add in Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, and an emotional performance by Dame Judi Dench, and this one gets my vote for one of the best Bond films ever produced.
2008.124 Minutes. Rated R
“It doesn’t matter what I feel. It doesn’t matter what I think. The dead are still dead.”
The Reader, originally a novel by Bernhard Schlink, takes place in post-war Germany. A young Michael Berg (David Kross) is stricken with Scarlet Fever. Helped off the tram and cared for by Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet), he returns weeks later to thank Hanna for her kindness. The awkward exchange in Hanna’s apartment leads to a summer-long sexual fling between the sixteen-year-old Michael and a much older Hanna. Their relationship grows stronger as Michael visits regularly to read books aloud to Hanna. Prompted by adolescent fantasies and a need for companionship, the bond between the two grows deeper and more curious. By the end of the summer, Hanna has inexplicably disappeared and Michael is left with more than awkward growing pains and a loneliness that catapults him into his studies. The relationship has left its mark on Michael’s psyche.
2011. 90 Minutes. Rated PG.
“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”
Forks Over Knives follows the traditions of other food documentaries, such as Food Inc., and Super Size me. The latest proclamation comes as a case for veganism, or as the presenters put it, a “whole grain, plant-based diet.” The evidence is simple and follows the work of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional scientist from Cornell University, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., a former top surgeon at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic.
2011. 125 Minutes. Rated R.
“I’ve seen better tennis playing in a tampon commercial.”
Bridesmaids is a hilarious account of one woman’s fall from grace and her legitimate shot at regaining her form through a circle of dedicated friends and an unlikely romance. Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig) is forced to close her bakery after a tough economic turn. Forced to live with a male roommate and his sister who is “visiting” from England, Annie takes a job at a jewelry store. Lamenting her pathetic life, she discovers her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is engaged.
2011. 98 Minutes. Rated PG 13.
“Larry, you’re a great student. I’m not an easy A.”
Larry Crowne, played and developed by the affable Tom Hanks, presents viewers with a chance to re-fashion a life that seems to have passed by with more than a few hard knocks. Larry (Hanks) loses his job at a box company. Under water on his mortgage, he decides to enroll in classes at his local college. He takes stock of his life–his paralysis–through a series of classes that begin to turn things around. While this is not a wild feel-good story, it is paced more like a comedy with a touch of romance. It is a more realistic portrayal of the slow but enlightening route that becomes available if we look for it. As Goethe once said, “In order to be lucky, you must be looking for it.”
2011. 107 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
“Whatever happens tomorrow, we had today.”
I happened on this movie, One Day, and I thought of turning it off immediately, but because I am too anal-retentive for my own good, I kept watching. I might have felt the imbalance of the universe nagging at me had I not finished it. By the end of the movie, I was saddened and teary-eyed, and happy I waited it out. After all, I like Anne Hathaway. She is growing on me.
2011. 100 Minutes. Rated PG.
“I just wanna do something big, you know?”
Except for the seagull or everyday garden variety that leaves its mark on my car, I never gave birds too much thought. Many of my friends enjoy birding, and bring binoculars with them while hiking or kayaking. Occasionally, I will take a look and relate a bird’s beauty to another friend or family member. Birds, like many things in nature, can be breathtakingly beautiful and pleasurable to examine and chase. For the most part, I would not be among the characters in The Big Year who set out on a competitive year-long journey to spot as many different types of birds in the United States as possible.
1962. 216 Minutes.
“He was the most extraordinary man I ever knew.”
No doubt the history of the movie and the acting of Peter O’Toole speak for themselves in the annals of filmmaking. I revisited the film for my interest in the Middle East and because every once in a while I just have a craving to watch an old flick. I was perhaps not as impressed as I was a few years ago when I first viewed the movie. I should say that I was impressed for different reasons. I was excited for the biographical narrative that was unfolding through the spectacular cinematography, the story of an esoteric figure journeying where few others would willingly go; for the triumphal music of Lawrence marching into the desert; but most of all, for the psychological portrayal of T.E. Lawrence, whose exhaustive trek across the sands of the Arabian peninsula, I see now, come at a price.