Archives for posts with tag: Brie Larson

Grade B

Set in 1973, a “monster hunter” played by John Goodman scams the U.S. Government into funding an expedition into an island to supposedly look for valuable resources; but what Goodman really seeks is validation into his theory that monsters live within the earth, and at some point they will all come out and eat us like chicken nuggets.  With a tracker (played by Tom Hiddleston) by his side and a unit of the Army’s Assault Helicopter Company led by Samuel L. Jackson as an escort, Goodman and his fellow scientists begin their exploration of the island in a violent way…and they are all met with violence by the island’s largest and most fearsome monster, King Kong.

Their helicopters destroyed, the human survivors have a small chance of escaping the island and getting back to their ship.  But Kong and the island monsters aren’t the only ones the humans must fear.  Jackson, in his quest to avenge his men who were killed by Kong, turns into Capt. Ahab and risks everything and everyone to exact his pound of gorilla flesh.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Kong: Skull Island” is the scene when King Kong fights the big, underground lizard thing.   King monster against king monster; and a monsterfest is what this movie is all about.

“Kong: Skull Island” suffers from numerous shenanigans, such as Vietnam veteran helicopter pilots staying too close to Kong, with the result of being swatted and crushed by the giant ape.   Then there’s Hiddleston’s character who never loses his cool no matter how many giant, ugly creatures are trying to eat him — I’ve seen people show more emotion while playing video games.  Enough of the negatives.  What this movie has going for it are: 1) a fast paced, dynamic direction by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, giving this flick a tremendous amount of fun energy; and 2) monsters, monsters, and more monsters.  I’ve been a fan of Japanese monster movies from the 1950s/1960s…they are silly, and generally make no sense; but they are fun to watch.  Well, “Kong: Skull Island” is like that.

— M

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Grade A

Brie Larson plays a woman who was kidnapped by a man and kept in a small “Room” for seven years.   She is there with her five-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay), a product of her repeated rape.  To shield her son’s mind from the brutal truth of their situation, Larson tells Tremblay that there isn’t much of the world to see outside of their room.  The boy is told that outside, there is nothing but space; and that their captor — nicknamed Old Nick — is a guy who brings in things they need (clothes, food, toothpaste, etc.) by means of magic.

Shortly after the boy’s fifth birthday, Tremblay’s curiosity of the captor/rapist leads to violence against Larson at the hands of Old Nick.  The time has come for Larson to reveal their true situation to Tremblay in order to get him on board to make an escape attempt, but it is too much for the the five-year-old to process, and therefore he doesn’t accept it.  Crushed, Larson weeps with the thought of many more years of captivity and rape.  How long can this go on before Old Nick tires of them both and just leaves them in the room to die?  And then…Tremblay starts asking Larson about the world, and if what he sees on t.v. is real or fake.  The mother piques her son’s interest enough for him to want to take part in escaping their room.  A risky plan is hatched, one that can lead to both mother and son being killed if things go wrong.

One of my memorable, movie moments of “Room” is **SPOILER ALERT** the scene when Old Nick carries the supposedly dead body of Tremblay out of the room to bury in the woods.  Larson is left behind, her face a mix of emotions: so far her plan worked; but what if Old Nick becomes wise to the trick and kills her son; maybe the son will escape but not know how to send help to the mother, leaving Larson a bleak existence of living alone in the room for the rest of her life.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Room” is **SPOILER ALERT** the scene when Larson is asked by a reporter if it ever occurred to Larson to ask Old Nick to take her son to a hospital when he was a baby, so that he can be found and taken care of and be free.  Larson is stunned, and offers an explanation of her decision to keep Tremblay with her.  It is an understandable explanation, given her situation; but the reporter presses Larson, asking her if that was the best decision for her son’s welfare.  Of course, we know the answer is no; and judging from Larson’s face, she also comes to the same conclusion.

The first 1/3 of “Room” takes place inside a small shed where Larson and Tremblay are imprisoned.  That the audience can be riveted for 45 minutes with two characters — plus a third who shows up intermittently — in a setting smaller than the size of an average living room is a testament to the talents of the actors, director, writer and editor.  Short on money but loaded with quality and talent, “Room” deserves your time and attention.

— M

Mark Wahlberg plays the title role in “The Gambler,” and his character is probably one of the most self-destructive that I’ve seen in movie history.  Wahlberg has a knack for winning early in whatever games he plays (usually blackjack or roulette), but he just doesn’t know when to quit; and that is what leads to his ever increasing problems, the biggest being Wahlberg owing large amounts to 3 different gangsters.  His solution to his problems?  Borrow more money from the same gangsters and hope to win his way out of the deep hole he put himself in.

I believe most viewers will not like Wahlberg’s character, as he is abrasive and puts the lives of those who care for him (his mother (Jessica Lange) and sometime girlfriend (Brie Larson)) in jeopardy because of his addiction.  But those who have ever had a monkey on their back will be more forgiving, as they know firsthand how destructive and hard to kick an addiction is.

However you size up Wahlberg, he will not bore you.  It’s like watching a runaway train that is doomed for a devastating wreck at some point.  Although “The Gambler” isn’t an action movie, it had my heart pumping like it was.  Scenes that had Wahlberg betting thousands of dollars — and in some cases, hundreds of thousands — had me feeling like I was there and I was the one making those huge, dangerous bets.  Oh, that excitement of either winning large or losing large, that’s one of the addictive qualities of gambling.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the first gambling scene.  Wahlberg comes in with ten thousand dollars, and bets it all on one hand of blackjack.  He wins, and lets it all ride on the next hand.  Win, repeat.  Cool as can be, as if he’s betting ten dollars.  Of course, no lucky streak lasts forever.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Gambler” is the scene when Wahlberg reveals to Larson that if he can’t have it all, he’d rather die.  To be or not to be; all or nothing.  Of course, there is more to his behavior than what Wahlberg states.  He’s a degenerate gambler, therefore, even if he gets everything that he wants and needs, he still has that desire to gamble.  And how long before he loses it all and is right back where he started?

For those still struggling with their gambling habit: the only way to win at gambling is to not gamble at all.  Yes, I know, easier said than done.  Despite all the science out there about gamblers having different brain reactions to gambling; and gambling addiction is a disease…bottom line, we all have a choice.

— M

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