An Atypical Thriller

Movies featuring special needs characters always end up being tear jerkers. It’s rare to find a feel good or even a thriller that deals with people who are non-typical. When these characters are in movies like this they are usually secondary and stereotypically and overly dramatic versions of what people with these issues really are like. The Accountant does a great job integrating someone who is different and enmeshing them in a thrilling fantasy world.

the-accountant-5Christian Wolf (and his plethora of aliases) was diagnosed with autism at a young age back at a time where society was even less accepting of those that were different. His mother wants to do everything to help her son succeed life but his father sees his son’s issues as weakness. As his father tries to eradicate these weaknesses by putting Christian and his brother through a variety of trials that will affect them the rest of their lives, his mother leaves the family because of the lack of help for her son. Christian is now an accountant using his talent for math and organization to have a semblance of a normal life. But he hides his true work like he hides his autism negating his work with mob bosses and drug cartels to the background and keeping his head down. That is until he goes to work for Lamar Black and uncovers a money laundering scheme that puts himself and his coworkers in danger. Christian uses his certain set of skills to protect her and solve the puzzle.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Accountant. As someone who has studied and worked in the field of autism for over a decade, I was worried how they would portray the main character and his developmental disorder. Luckily, it seems that the writer, directors and actor were truly aware of what autism entails and how it often manifests. The entire movie was entirely respectful not negating it to an unrealistic role in his life nor over blowing it for dramatic affect. Affleck does a great job with the character and does well portraying a high functioning autistic adult.

The rest of the cast shines as well. Iconic actors such as J.K. Simmons, Jean Smart, Jeffery Tambor and THE ACCOUNTANTJohn Lithgow add powerful depth. While Smart and Tambor have minimal parts, it’s always great to see their face on the big screen. But the best parts of the movie feature Affleck and Jon Bernthal, an up and coming heavy hitter. The two have major chemistry and their interactions are imbued with a variety of emotions. Bernthal is an amazing actor, and I look forward to seeing where his career takes him.

The plot seems farfetched in the trailer but the movie smooths things out nicely. The movie spans Christian’s entire life featuring flashbacks to his youth and the defining moments of his life. It builds a complex story about family and nature vs nurture. Stories that seem to run parallel entwine and most often come full circle. The movie features two promenade twists (only one in which I saw coming early on) that answer any questions that the movie brings up.

Well researched, written, and acted, The Accountant is a fun thriller that changes the way we see movies with nontypicallly developing characters. Now if Affleck would just continue to make these kinds of movies instead of the Batman movies.

 

Theirs is the Fury

Everyone is talking about David Ayers’ new project Suicide Squad spreading rumors and guessing at casting. But let’s take a minute to look at Fury, Ayer’s World War II tank crew ode. The film is compelling, sad, and brings to life the true courage of those who worked in the tank squads.

During World War II the Axis’ tankers were far superior to those of the Allies. Most tank squad lasted about six weeks but the story follows a team that has been together for four years. When their gunner is killed, the position is filled by Norman Ellison, a military typist. He has not seen battle and is not used to the brutality. But working under “War Daddy” he quickly sees what the war really is: death and destruction. As the tanks move through the German landscape, Ellison bonds with his team and, when it comes to a final show down, they band together to hold off the Germans.

The cast works well together. Each actor takes their role and makes it their own. You’d never believe that they are the guy from Interview with the Vampire and the kid in Percy Jackson and the jackass from The Walking Dead. Brad Pitt, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, and Michael Peña round out Fury’s squad and each one brings something to their role whether it is innocence, leadership or faith.

But is the realm of the movie that affects you. Ayer doesn’t shy away from the hard truth of war: violence and cruelty ran rampant. Soldiers on both sides committed offenses. You see the terror in their eyes. You realize how desperate the Allie was coming for soldiers near the end of the war. You see the struggles of having les advanced equipment. This is not a feel good movie but an ode to those who served.
I had some one tell me the movie was missing something. Not a lot of time is spent the men’s home lives. They don’t reminisce 1413227235_4much about their lives at home but pictures of their loved ones are clearly shown. This helps keep the story in the now and focusing on the present action. But the biggest thing missing is there is no happy conclusion at the end of the film. There is so write up about how the team managed to complete their task and win the war. This is because Fury is a fictional tale. Ayers used a composite of different stories about tank teams to create this one story. So while it doesn’t give you the kind of closure you expect from most war movies, it is still a brutal look at a different section of the military during WWII.

Overall, Fury is a moving film. It looks at the complex world of war with realism. You hate the characters and you love them. It helps us realize what people did to secure our freedom, something we often take for granted.

It’s Funny When Your Friends Get Old

Grudge Match isn’t your typical sports movie. Sure there is some boxing, but the movie focuses more on the relationships of life instead of the sports.
 Grudge Match pits Robert De Niro against Sylvester Stallone. The two are retired boxers who have held a grudge even though they game is over. Stallone’s character Razor has spent the majority of his money on his coach and makes animals out of scrap metal in his spare time. When he is laid off, Razor makes some money with a video game. The easy money gig gets complicated when he comes face to face with his rival Kidd. The two exchange blows and their fight go viral. The hype gets the two a real gig: facing off in the boxing ring to still who is really the champ.
Critics complain that the movie relies too much on old people jokes, but the whole idea of age and humor is central to the story. It’s hard not to make constant cracks when the boxing stars are 67 and 70. The brilliant Alan Arkin is unapologetic and a more vulgar and male version of Betty White. The combination of Kevin Hart and Arkin is especially funny as the young and old collide. The movie is just pure fun. The only trouble with the humor is Stallone. He is not good at witty humor and his lines would have sound better coming out of Ray Ramon’s mouth.
For something so fun, it does have some depth and drama. The drama is best handled by Jon Bernthal. Bernthal is Kidd’s estranged son who deals with the tension between his real father and his mother. Bernthal is full of emotion and love and gives fierceness as a coach that Razor’s side does not have. In fact, during the fight, Bernthal looks like he would gladly beat up Razor himself. He and De Niro have great chemistry and their scenes are touching.13091901_Grudge_Match_20
Grudge Match is like Real Steel; the theme is not about winning a sports match. It explores the relationships between men and women, parents and children, colleagues and co-workers. These movies are often off putting to sports fans. Sure, most of the story is easily deducted: relationships are rekindled, families are reunited but it all ends happily. And sometimes we need that happiness as an escape from real life.
Grudge Match is a fun movie that has a plot. The characters develop and we learn even old men can change their ways.

Con Vs. Con

‘Tis the season for con-man movies. David O. Russell shows down with Martin Scorsese as their two newest movies share a similar story though with different results. Russell presents us with American Hustle, a look at a ‘70s con artist couple and a crazy FBI agent. The movie is glitz and glamour but boring as toast. Scorsese goes less period piece and more extravagant with debauchery in the Wolf of Wall Street.

american-hustleAmerican Hustle has promise but fails to deliver.   The movie begins stating the fact that some of these events actually happened. Irving and Sydney are a sociopathic couple coning people to get rich quick. When they are made by the FBI, they are force to work with the Bureau to bring down corrupt politicians. But when the Mob crosses their path they are in over their heads.

The movie lingers too long and that’s after half of it is narrated by the three main cast members.  As for the humor, the best bits are in the trailer spoiling any fun when the scenes arrive in the movie. Instead it a laborious affair that doesn’t show case the best characters For once Christian Bale is too over tide top, or it could just be his character. Whichever the case, it was hard to feel sorry for him or even believe Irving as a character. And if I wanted to watch Bradley Cooper lose his mind, I would re-watch the Silver Linings Playbook. The best performances come from Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner. .Lawrence is amazing and any scene Rosalyn is funny and entertaining. Renner gives an earnest portrayal of a politician trying to his best for his town and gets talked into something he wasn’t prepared for. It is him that you feel the most sorry for in this movie. Not the two cons.

The movie does, from the first moments the producing studios logo appears, envelopes itself in the ‘70s. The decor, the clothing, the hair, the music: it is all spot on. In fact, the time period almost becomes another character as the film progresses because it truly does change what people do and how they do it. But this isn’t enough to keep it entertaining.

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the memoir of slime ball Jordan Belfort. He makes a name for himself unloadingThe-Wolf-of-Wall-Street-1 penny stocks and then eventually breaks into Wall Street introducing Steve Madden to the stock world. But his investor never sees their money as Jordan gets it all and blows it on a wide variety of out here activities.

This movie works because Jordan knows he’s a slime bag and doesn’t pretend to be something else. Hustle’s protagonist whines about being victims or circumstance though they enter their conning willingly and do quite well. Jordan, on the other hand, wants money and power and will never have enough. You hate him and he knows it; Leonardo DiCaprio plays off that well. The movie is basically him selling you his life. While you may not want to buy it, it’s quite amazing to watch.

The movie only suffers when Jordan gives speeches to his stock teams. His grandstanding is boring as you want to see what the heck the man will do next on cocaine. We don’t want to see the “work” side of the story. We want to see the extravagance and Jon Bernthal with his shirt off.

While neither movie’s character some to real justice, it is more acceptable in Jordan’s case. You watch the decline of his family and personal life. He loses so much even though he will buy someone or something to replace it. That the saddest thing; he doesn’t make a real human connection ever, and that is somewhat of revenge.

American Hustle has polish with very little substance while The Wolf of Wallstreet has no polish but it a lot of fun and a very wild ride. Hit Wallstreet before you go back to the ‘70s.

In the Depths of Noir

After a horrendous experience and firing from AMC, fans and Frank Darabont weren’t sure if he would ever return to TV. The Walking Dead was his child, lovingly recreated from the comic book with Robert Kirkman. Darabont understood what the comic was about, the importance including Kirkman, and understood that the characters, not zombies make the story. His brilliance shines once again with the TNT series Mob City.

Darabont seems to run into endless problem when working on TV. His TNT pet project was adapting the book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City. But legally he had to change the name; the company that owned the rights to the video game L.A. Noire would not have even that close of a name usage. The series. Working through this arabount had no choice but to change the name to Lost Angels. He finally settled on Mob City.

MC1The characters are the best part of the tale. Like in most of Darabont’s work, the characters are strongly realized and well-cast.  Darabont has a unique family of actor that he likes to use and then adding a smattering of new faces. This show features Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Dumun, and Andrew Rosenthal. Fans will recognizes these faces from The Walking Dead and Darabont’s other works. Here’s why he keeps these guys around: they are fabulous completing becoming this character and making you forgets who they had played in the past. He also gets good work out of fresh faces.  I was personally amazed at Simon Pegg’s performance as a guest star in the pilot. Hos ability you do drama is wonderful and Darabount uses this to its best advantage.  Also in this amazing cast are Edward Burns and Robert Knepper.

The pilot episode it’s gorgeous.  Darabount takes us into the time when the mob runs the cities. This period piece goes to great detail with cars, costuming and language. Darabbount masterfully moves the players in a graceful narrative. Watching the show it’s like father and child as Darabount directs Bernthal with love and commitment. The pilot follows Teague as he works with a local low life to help him black mail a member of the mob. The ex-marine shows his true colors and blood is shed.

The second episode can’t deliver quite as much. Part of that is the fault of the writing. The episode is much slower than the first deviling into a few new character s while viewers want to know what the hell is going on with Teague and the woman. But even that revelation is foreseeable. What I really want to know is what did he see on the negatives? That’s the real mystery. The other issue is that the pilot is just so well done; it’s hard to live up to.

The six episode series has some promise for the future.  Darabont wants the show to never more than six episodes that would probably in Decembers if the show takes off. TNT is trying something new by pairing two episodes for a three “epic” event cashing in on the fact that regularly scheduled program

MCT_ENTER TV-TINSEL 2 MCT

are on hiatus for the Holiday Season.  How well this works remains to be seen, but it was an awkward transition from the pilot to the second episode.

Overall, Mob City has quite a lot of potential a day just be what Darbount needs to wash the nasty TV taste from his mouth. Fans will be excited for the narrative strong narrative and beautiful visual shots.  Though it seems non-fans weren’t that excite; Mob City had a soft premier. But here’s to getting Darabont (and Bernthal) back on TV!

Snitch is a Surprisingly Good Film

I am not a fan of The Rock, and I am not a fan of Dwayne Johnson. I can never take him seriously as an actor. But I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal and have always been impressed by his performances. Bernthal is what got me to sit down and what Snitch. I was glad I did.

Snitch is the story of a father who must do something unthinkable to save his son from prison. His son was on the receiving end of a drug deal gone badly. Because he had no one to tell on, the son has to go to prison for a minimum of 10 years. John (Johnson) strikes a deal with the DA; he will help them bust a local seller and they will reduce his son’s sentence.

John approaches one of his construction workers who have a history of selling narcotics. But Daniel (Bernthal) is trying to keep his nose clean and stay out of the business. When John offers him a large chunk of change for an introduction, Daniel reluctantly agrees. Daniel unfortunately is sucked into John’s transactions and has no idea that John is working for the police. The simple drug transports gets complicated when a cartel contact becomes involved and the DA set her sights on him.

While the movie has been labeled by some as an action movie, it is more of a drama with some action thrown in. The film is character centric and really focuses on fathers’ love for their family. Both John and Daniel are struggling to take care of their sons, one whose son is in prison and the other trying to keep his son off the street. It is their character growth that really fuels the movie.

Johnson proves that he can actually act. Instead of the fake bravado from his wrestling or Fast and Furious persona, Johnson develops with the character showing toughness but also vulnerability and real emotion. He was able to carry the movie and make you care about his character.

Jon-Bernthal-SnitchWith that being said, the best performance comes from Bernthal. You feel the most for Daniel because he is pawn in this game. Bernthal captures in the inner turmoil of a man who wants the best for his family while trying to be a better person. Like any role he tackles, Bernthal becomes the character completely capturing the motivation and emotions of the role you are watching.

The movie is surprisingly deep. It brushes the surface of the controversy of the mandatory drug laws without becoming preachy. It also characterizes the overly ambitious tendency of some DAs with the war on drugs. It gives a truthful look the violence rife in the drug trade. But the main focus is the desire for fathers to take care of their sons and the plot stays centralized around this theme.

Snitch is a moving drama set within the intense world of the drug trade. Powerful performance by Dwayne Johnson and Jon Bernthal make the movie more than just some action thriller. Snitch is actually a fantastic film.

Time for a New Award Show?

Awards show is notorious for movies as “art.” It’s rare to find a film that is a good movie that wins any kind of award. TV has almost the same sordid past. Most things that are mainstream hits are ignored by the academies. The Golden Globe nominations prove this prejudice still exists.
The biggest problem with the movie nominations and this happens a lot. I have not seen or care to see but one of the movies on the list. Unfortunately Silver Linings Playbook is not playing near. The other issues are that, at the nominations, the movies had not even been released. These are mostly docudramas that screw up what really happened for entertainment value. Forget Lincoln, I’d rather watch Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black 3. In fact, the only movies I have seen are those in the animated category (and this year they are all good competition!).
The Golden Globes are usually not completely against the grain with their television selections. In fact Katey Sagal won Best Actress in a Drama in 2011 for her work in Sons of Anarchy. But the rest of the cast and show gets snubbed. Like The Walking Dead, when it is nominated, it is for technical awards. Charlie Hunnam and Kim Coates have been snubbed just as much as Jon Bernthal was for his work on Season 2 of TWD. The two supporting actors have been ignored for any kind award for the work on their respective shows, and Hunnam can’t catch the attention of the votes even though he is a brilliant actor.
Instead we see shows like American Horror story get around the rules, by submitting as a miniseries though it is an actual TV show. Unlike the Emmy’, it only pulled one nomination in the major categories. There is also a few other odd ball nominations including Connie Britton in Nashville. Laurie Holden and Katey Sagal both kick her ass.
So I have decided to make my own awards and requirements that are the best of TV and movies as good TV and movies. Stay tuned for my take on what deserves an award.

Wizard World Highlights

Wizard World New Orleans brought together nerds from all the country at the recent convention. Featuring a Star Trek the Next Generation reunion, the comic and sci-fi haven let fans get to know some of their favorite writers, creators, artists, and actors.

 Highlights: Eliza Dushku Panel

 eliza3Eliza Dushku has been featured in every medium presented in the convention. She has starred in a variety of science fiction TV shows and movies, her TV characters’ images have graced the pages of comics, and her voices graces both cartoons and video games. At Saturday’s panel, she answered fan questions discussing her various career outlets as well as her philanthropic work.

In response to this author’s questions concerning the video game Wet, Dushku expressed great enthusiasm for the role. She very much enjoyed the video game and the game’s main character Rubi. She also revealed that she had wanted to do a movie based on the game. The biggest hurdle is obtaining the rights to the material and one is not in any kind of production.

Dushku was also on hand for autographs and photo opportunities throughout the day before she had to get back home for a biology class she is taking.

 Highlights: The Waking Dead Panel

 Jon Bernthal, Norman Reedus, and Michael Rooker answered fan question at The Walking Dead panel ontwd16 Sunday. Rooker was in fine form entertaining the crowd with humor and wit. Reedus joined the panel late after photo ops ran late missing Rooker’s hilarious impression of himself. Bernthal had to answer a lot questions “I’m dead” since his character had nothing to do with the current Season 3.

Fans were warned not to ask questions about upcoming episodes but were able to get insight on the actors and their characters. Rooker shared the story of how he got his voice. After an accident as a child, one vocal cord is paralyzed while the other is bowed. Bernthal explained that his unfortunate mustache was for an upcoming role. Reedus informed the audience that the hardest scene to shoot was the scene was he hung from the cliff while envisioning his brother. It seems scorpions were crawling by his head while Rooker ad-libed.

When the panel ran out of time, the cast suggested that the remaining questions be spit out quickly and they would give one word answers. This fast-fire session was humorous with Rooker replying off “Shut up! Next!” often and everyone got to ask their question.

Comic book fans lined up for autographs from their favorite creators, writers, and inkers. Comic Book legend Stan Lee was in attendance signing books for fans. Booths were set up to sell a variety of nerdy goods from Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figure to Doctor Who scarves. Various panels were set up including Q and as with actors, comic book artist spotlights, and psychology of superheroes. The next geek haven in New Orleans will take place in February 2013 and features an appearance by Bruce Campbell.

The Walking Dead Drinking Game

The Walking Dead (season 2)

The Walking Dead (season 2) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In celebration of Season 2’s release I have designed a game based on this latest installment. The game can be played two ways:

  1. With a      caffeinated drink to stay away while a season marathon
  2. With      adult beverages for those having a Walking Dead party

Instructions:

Drink from your chosen beverage anytime the following actions happen:

Shane is right (Team Shane)

Shane gets red faced and yells (those non Team Shane)

Rick is conflicted over a decision

Dale gets into someone else’s business

Lori whines

Carl is alone without a guardian

Andrea suggests leaving

Daryl kills something

Hershel talks about God and the Christian way even though he wants to do the non- Christian thing (throw them off the farm

Carol says “Sophia”

T-Dog gets a line

Maggie’s Southern drawl comes out

Glenn is manipulated

The Emmy Nominations (Or how the TV Academy doesn’t really understand quality programming)

It’s Emmy nominations times! Meaning, the TV Academy ranks things in a way that the normal viewer doesn’t understand. Here’s my Average Josie take on the nominations.

 

Yays

Kudos to the voters for seeing the value in Nurse Jackie with Edie Falco and Merritt Weaver both picking up Actress/Supporting Actress nominations though I’m kind of sad Peter Facinelli didn’t get any love.  I was glad to see Homeland’s Claire Danes and Dexter’s Michael C. Hall get Leading Actress/Actor nods, and Martine Freeman nominated for his work as Dr. Watson before he’s shot into American fame by the Hobbit. I looking forward to seeing what the outcome of the Drama Guest Actor, with Michael J. Fox going up against Mad Men’s Ben Feldman (you may know him as Fred the angel from Drop Dead Diva). A high point of the nominations? Seeing Bob’s Burger’s included in Best Animated Show.

 

Nays

The biggest snub had to be for Sons of Anarchy and The Walking Dead. While TWD was nominated for Prosthetic Make-up and Visual effects, it was left out of the Dramas category as well as all actor/actress nominations. The biggest of these crimes was shutting out Jon Bernthal in the Drama Supporting Actor. He managed to give depth to a character that would have been a flat out villain in any other actor’s hands. The second biggest snub? Charlie Hunam from Sons of Anarchy. While many critics and viewers are outraged by the Katy Sagal snub, Hunam is to me, the most deserving as he balances the complex emotions and morality as the biker’s game vice president. SOA has been constantly forgotten culminating in the non-nomination of Kim Coates in Season 2 for Supporting Actor. I was surprised that Hugh Laurie was left out for his last season of House M.D., and shocked to learned that neither Archer nor H. Jon Benjamin were  included in the nominations. Benjamin had both Archer and Bob’s Burger to his voice acting credits.

 

WTF?

The three biggest WTF moments of the year

  1. American      Horror Story as a Miniseries. According to Entertainment Weekly, because      it has a self contained story line in its first 12 episodes, AHS qualifies      for the Miniseries/Movie category even though it has a second season      already lined up. I find this unfair and a way for Ryan Murphy and FX to      get credit knowing that they couldn’t go head to head with Downtown Abbey      or Mad Men.
  2. Multiple      Show Nominations for One Award. Thanks to EW, we know that several      categories have six nominations due to ties, while this doesn’t anger me. The      fact that many of those and other categories have multiple nominations      from the same show. For example: Best Supporting Drama Actor has six nominees      with two being from Breaking Band and two from Downtown Abbey. This shuts      other supporting actors, such as Bernthal, who deserve a shot even if they      aren’t in the two previous shows. I understand how voting works and how      this can happen, but it doesn’t mean its fair.
  3. Psych.      Psych has been forgotten by the Emmy voters since its inception which is      quite sad. It’s a marvelous show and James Roday and Dulé Hill are always      top notch. While Psych was recognized this year, it was for Best      Interactive Experience.

 

The Academy has plenty of time to decide who will win each category and which of my shows in the Yays section will be underappreciated. Till then I hoping (stupid, I know) that the voters get some taste.

Check out my snubs gallery below