Founder, The (2016)


Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Cinematography: John Schwartzman

Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll LynchLinda Cardellini

Runtime: 1h 55m

Genre: Biography, Drama

Rating: ♣♣♣

“The Founder” follows Ray Kroc, played by Michael Keaton, as he transitions from a milk shake maker salesman to ‘founding’ the biggest name in fast food.  His duplicitous behavior helped bring him riches beyond his wildest imagination, but at the cost of both business and personal relationships.  The director, John Lee Hancock, straddles the benevolent nature of big business by showcasing Kroc’s success through self-fulfilling perseverance and blatant disregard for anyone else.  His desire to maintain forward momentum left many behind him in his wake in order for one the best business models to date to flourish.  Good, wholesome, intentions overpowered by greed and pride is at the heart of this film.  Did Richard and Maurice McDonald lack the follow-through to execute a venture on this magnitude or were they just steamrolled by an ambitious cutthroat?

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Hell or High Water (2016)

Directed by: David Mackenzie

Cinematography: Giles Nuttgens

Starring: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham

Runtime: 1h 42m

Genre: Crime, Drama, Western

Rating: ♣♣♣


Hell or High Water follows two brothers, Foster and Pine, as they crusade through West Texas with a carefully crafted bank robbing system.  Tepid on their trail are the Texas Rangers, Bridges and Birmingham.  The film falls victim to a few western clichés, the robin hood story and the soon-to-be retired Ranger on board for one last hurrah, however the story has some unexpected turns and is nimble and poignant in terms of lower class society.  The film touches on several relevant themes to the current social climate, including: the banking system, race, greed, and the effects all of these have on the working class. Continue reading “Hell or High Water (2016)”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Directed by: Gareth Edwards

Cinematography: Greig Fraser

Starring: Felicity JonesDiego LunaAlan TudykDonnie YenBen MendelsohnForest Whitaker

Runtime: 2h 13m

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Rating: ♣♣♣


I was a little nervous going into this film.  With the resurgence of Star Wars films in the last 17 years there has certainly been some ups and downs and more downs than ups.  I enjoyed the recent addition to the saga, but was unclear as to how this film was going to fit in with the Star Wars story.  My initial impression was that this film would be the first part of a new trilogy, but I am glad that this is a standalone piece that fits in spectacularly with the original trilogy. Continue reading “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)”

Little Prince, The (2016)

Directed by: Mark Osborne

Cinematography: Kris Kapp

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy, Rachel McAdams, Riley Osborne

Runtime: 1h 48m

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Drama

Rating: ♣♣♣


The Little Prince is a creatively reimagined retelling of the original novella, written by Antoine deSaint-Exupéry.  While not a direct adaptation, Osborne still succeeds in capturing the essence of the 1943 tale that is engaging enough for children and thoughtful enough for adults.  The film blends together a modern narrative, in the 3d animation format, and an interspersed recollection of the story “The Little Prince”, in stop motion. Continue reading “Little Prince, The (2016)”

Girl on the Train, The (2016)

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Cinematography: Charlotte Bruus Christensen

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux

Runtime: 1h 52m

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ♣♣♣

I am a big fan of mysteries and thrillers.  Throw in a little mental illness and psychological drama and I’m hooked.  The aspect of this film that I liked the most was the slow development of Rachel’s story, played by Emily Blunt.  The speed of this film has been one of the most disliked aspects, but without it there would be no story.  The disjointed nature of the film keeps the viewer guessing, although I will admit it grasps unnecessarily at plot points.  The arc of the film and the mystery itself is not especially earth shattering or novel.  It is Rachel’s story outside of the murder mystery that I find most engaging.  It is easy to paint her as a victim, but this is only half of her position in the film.  The root of issues are the absence of a support system and self-confidence.  She was unable to pull herself out of the bottle long enough to breath let alone deal with her problems.  Rachel’s actions in regards to the mystery are a way for her to feel useful and to prove that she is capable of companionship again.  Unfortunately, the way she conducts herself is irrational and hard to support as a viewer.  The truth behind her alcoholism does not make me feel empathy for her.  Instead I feel empathy for the fact that she lacks the ability to take real ownership of her problem and pull herself out of it.  It is without question that Blunt carried this film in her honest performance of a visceral drunk.  If the rest of the characters had as much development as Rachel instead of frivolous plot points then there may have been more acclaim for this film.


Eagle vs Shark (2007)

Directed by: Taika Waititi

Cinematography: Adam Clark

Starring: Jemaine Clement, Loren Taylor

Genre: Comedy

Rating: ♣♣♣


Waititi’s Eagle vs Shark is a love story between two shy and quirky individuals.  It seems to be written in the same tone as Clement’s Flight of the Conchords and Jared Hess’s Napolean Dynamite.  There are funny moments in the movie, but also some underwhelming sequences.  I enjoyed the addition of some small stop-motion animation sequences to this live action film.  This is not done often enough and I hope that filmmakers keep this in their arsenal.  Overall, the soundtrack was fitting and the movie made me laugh.



Brother (2000)

Directed by: Takeshi Kitano

Cinematography: Katsumi Yanagijima

Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Omar Epps, Claude Maki

Runtime:  1h 54m

Genre: Action

Rating: ♣♣♣

Takeshi Kitano’s Brother brings a member of the yakuza to L.A. where he runs into the mafia.  While not Kitano’s best film, namely Zatoichi, Sonatine, or Kikujiro, I still applaud his attempt to bring his style to an American audience.  In the end, the story has been done before and the acting is silly at times.  With that said it is a good watch if you are looking for a Japanese action film that isn’t filled with strange and unpredictable scenarios.