Movie Review: Locke (2014)

If I told you about a 90-minute movie where everything takes place within the interior of a car and there are no car chases, you probably wouldn’t be interested in seeing it.

What if this movie starred Tom Hardy? Okay, maybe you would be a teeny bit interested. But that is a pretty big maybe, right?

Well, Locke is that movie and I have to tell you: It is pretty darn brilliant!

The movie stars Hardy as Ivan Locke, a man making an evening drive from his workplace into London. The movie takes place almost in real time. In the beginning of the film, Locke makes a phone call while driving and explains to the other person that he is on his way and will arrive in about 90 minutes which is about the length of the film.

The film and the camera itself focuses on Locke as the other characters only “appear” via speaker phone. There are calls home as Locke explains to his sons that he won’t be coming home that evening. Calls to an employee and his boss take place to coordinate logistics for the next day’s construction job. There are also calls with a woman named Bethan who at one point asks, “Have you even told your wife someone is having your baby?”

Oh my. Not to make a pun, but that really sets the stage for one interesting ride.

With Locke the filmmakers show that one doesn’t need explosions or special effects to create a thrilling ride for audiences. Each phone call is a desperate attempt by Locke to prevent his world from crumbling around him. The minimalist nature of the film combined with the intensity of the story make for an emotional ride for the audience. You become the passenger in a car going to an unknown place yet you are curious how you will get there.

Locke is written and directed by Steven Knight.




First Impressions: My Big Fat Fabulous Life

Yeah. It’s been a long (bleeping) time since I have updated my blog. So long that I’m not even going to count back how far. Do I have a good excuse? Well… does binge watching Netflix and naps count as a good excuse? Okay, maybe not. But I got lazy with writing. And by “lazy” I mean I couldn’t figure out what to write or how to put my thoughts down.

Soooo…. anyways… Here we are again. Happy 2015, y’all!

Okay, at this very moment I am watching a show called My Big Fat Fabulous Life on TLC. Have you heard about it? I just discovered it today. It’s about a gal named Whitney who was once a slender girl who loved to dance. But due to a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), she gained over 200 pounds. With a fresh outlook on life, she is trying to find her way in this world, just like the rest of us.

Check out this video of Whitney discussing how dance helped her turn her life around.

I’ve only watched a bit of this show, but I absolutely love Whitney’s spirit! I can identify a bit with Whitney. I too was diagnosed with PCOS in my mid-20s. While I never gained 200 pounds, I have found it difficult to lose weight, a common side effect of this disease. Before you get all, “Well, just eat less, exercise more. Eat healthy foods. Blah, blah, blah!”, let me drop some knowledge on ya: With PCOS, you can do all the “right things” regarding weight loss and the scale still won’t budge. Often you can do all the “right things” and the scale will still go up. This is frustrating as hell!

Dude- before I go off on a total PCOS tangent, let me get back to the fabulousness of Whitney.

Again, I absolutely love her. I love that she is out there enjoying life and not hiding or crying under the covers like some people expect fat girls to do. I love that she shows her vulnerabilities and struggles on the show. I love that she turns to dance, her first love and passion, to express herself, exercise, and help inspire others. Hats off to you Whitney!

Visit TLC’s site to learn more about My Big Fat Fabulous Life.



Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

The announcement today of Joan Rivers’ passing away caught me by surprise. Robin Williams then Lauren Bacall and now Joan. I don’t normally go with that whole “death comes in threes” thing, but…yeah.

Okay, back to Joan. She was definitely a legend in the entertainment industry. But I have to confess:

I wasn’t a huge fan.

Nothing against Ms. Rivers. I was just normally turned off by her trademark snarky, crass humor. But in 2011 I watched a documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, which covered her career and offered an intimate look of her life at the time (filmed a few years ago when she was 75).

After watching this documentary, I had much more respect for her. It didn’t change my mind about her humor, but I gained a greater appreciation for her work ethic and what she experienced throughout her career. That’s one thing I love about documentaries: you are introduced to a new world or a different perspective on an issue or person you thought you knew everything about.

Piece of Work is available on Netflix Streaming. It’s definitely worth a viewing.



Robin Williams’ Best Role?

The news of Robin Williams’ death today at the age of 63 was definitely a shocker. Williams was a great comedic talent, of course, but he also had some great dramatic roles in his repertoire.

My favorite Robin Williams film was One Hour Photo. In this film Williams played Seymour Parrish, an employee at a one hour photo lab. Seymour is a lonely man who lives through the pictures he develops. These pictures fill a void and he becomes obsessed with one particular young family. Through this family’s pictures he observes what he deems to be an injustice and takes it upon himself to right this wrong.

This is a dark film and I loved how it showed a different side of Williams’ acting talent. I don’t recall this film getting a lot of publicity when it first came out. This 2002 film came out one year before Lost In Translation, another film starring a traditionally comedic actor, Bill Murray, in a dramatic role. At times I’ve wondered if the timing was switched, if One Hour Photo had come out after Translation, if people would have been more open to seeing a comedic actor in a dramatic role. Nevertheless, Photo is a gem of a film and I highly recommend watching it.



What Have You Done To Me Marvel?

So, where do I begin?

I watched Captain America: Winter Soldier yesterday. Absolutely loved it! Even better than the first one and a great piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

But today I had a revelation. Marvel movies have so many Easter eggs. And I’m not talking about just the additional scenes that are placed during and at the end of the films’ closing credits (seriously, if you get up or stop any of these films before these play out, you are missing on setups for the next films!). The films often contain subtle and easily overlooked nuggets that reference other parts of the MCU.

Since I’ve never read Marvel comics (or any comic for that matter), I often discover that I have missed some important details. Usually this happens after I read a review or listen to a podcast. These reviewers will mention something, pointing out its importance in the MCU, and I feel compelled to learn more about “it”, whatever “it” is.

For example, in the middle of the closing credits for Winter Soldier, two characters are introduced. Having read about the credits scene. I knew who these people were. But I felt compelled to learn more about them. Turns out they are kind of important and, if they are in future films, they present a possible challenge as (SEMI SPOILER!) their dad is a major character in another film studio’s superhero franchise.

Confused yet?

Okay, so all of this means that I can’t feel like I can just watch the movies in a casual manner. I know that a casual approach to the films means I am missing out on some clues that connect the dots between the films.

Oh! Oh! Oh! Let’s not forget the freaking Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show on ABC! There are plot lines and characters from that show that play into the movies and certain elements of the movies play into the show as well. It’s a never ending cycle of Marvel madness!

So between the movies and the TV show and trying to learn about all the connecting plot lines and hidden references- it’s almost like homework to stay on top of everything happening in the Marvel films. Maybe I’m over-complicating it, but I do hate the idea of missing out on these hidden treasures. I almost feel like I have to Encyclopedia Brown every film. Oooh! Did you catch that reference? What did they mean by that? Did I just see…?

Argh! Even now I am watching Thor and looking at every little detail to see if I am missing something. I know I probably am. And that’s (probably) okay. In the end, that’s really part of the fun. The Marvel universe was created with so many crossovers that seeking all the subtle hints makes it kind of a cinematic scavenger hunt. We watch and see what we can catch and if we miss something, we still have an amazing film to watch all over again. And when we watch it a second (or third or tenth) time, this new knowledge means we look at the film in a new light.

Even as I write that last sentence, I feel compelled to go see Winter Soldier again. I wonder how long I can hold off before I head back to the theater.



Now (Not) Playing in Theaters: Roqberry The Movie

Are you watching the Oscars tonight? I plan to watch Ellen’s opening and then flip back and forth between this and other shows. I do hope 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture and I hope either Steve McQueen or Alfonso Cuaron gets Best Director. Other than that- really not that interested.

Although I did watch E! Red Carpet and Giuliana Rancic’s dress is amazing tonight!

Okay, so the Oscars got me thinking about that age-old question: who would play you in a movie?

Hmmm… Big question. The weight of the world rests on my answers, I know. But I am going to up the ante to include who would be behind the camera as well. So here it goes.

If my film was going to be an indie comedy, I want Kerry Washington in the role as roqberry in a film written and directed by Nicole Holofcener. Mindy Kaling would play my best friend in the film (love her) and my love interest would be played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (super love him!).

But if my film was going to be a suspenseful drama, Ms. Washington would still play me but the film would be written and directed by the Coen brothers or maybe Steve McQueen. Best friend would now be played by Michael Fassbender but we have that “are we or aren’t we?” kind of friendship. Which causes all kinds of deliciously sexy tension! But this leads me, I mean, Kerry to fall into the arms of Jeremy Renner who Michael despises and the two of them fight over me and one of them dies but I… Oops, I mean Kerry gets framed for it and has to work with a retired detective played by Sean Penn to clear her name.

Hmmm… I would actually see that movie. And the Oscar for Best Daydream goes to…



A Tribute To Philip Seymour Hoffman

I was so devastated when I got the mobile alert about actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passing away today in NYC. He was definitely one of my favorite actors and his career has included a wonderful mix of indie and blockbuster films. But in everything he did, PSH displayed a level of talent that has been unmatched by most actors of his generation.

So upon hearing the news of his passing I immediately started thinking back to some of my favorite PSH roles. If I was going to run a memorial Philip Seymour Hoffman movie marathon, I would make sure these films were included in the lineup.

Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead

This dark drama starring PSH, Ethan Hawke and Albert Finney is about two brothers who arrange a robbery of their parent’s jewelry store that goes horribly wrong. The ending is brilliant, dark and incredibly twisted and I could not get enough of this movie.


This film starring Robert De Niro and PSH is a comedy/crime/drama about an ex-cop (De Niro) who takes singing lessons from a drag queen (Hoffman) after a stroke leaves him with speech problems.

Boogie Nights

This film about the 70s porn industry features a great cast, is directed by one of my favorite directors (Paul Thomas Anderson) and features PSH in a great supporting role. This clip showcases Hoffman’s range and ability to show such great vulnerability.


Another drama directed by Paul Thomas Anderson features another great cast (PSH, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy and many more). It’s one of those movies where there are multiple plot lines but all of the stories are connected. PSH plays a nurse trying to find the son of his patient.


This film is mainly about Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton’s characters- oh and those annoying tornados- but it’s easy to forget that PSH was in this film too. Love him as Dusty!

Pirate Radio

PSH stars alongside Bill Nighy, Nick Frost and Kenneth Branagh in this film based on a true story about a group of people who run an illegal radio station after the British government has banned rock and roll. Those crazy Brits!

Of course there are a million gazillion trillion other films PSH has been in, but these are my favorites.

Rest in peace Philip Seymour Hoffman. And thanks for the cinematic memories.