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Whiplash-DVD Review *** 07/12/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, American, Based on true events, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Gotham Awards, Movies, Sundance Film Festival.
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Whiplash (American) 2014

Written and directed by Damien Chazelle
Starring Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (Simmons); Best Sound Mixing; Best Film Editing; NOMINATED, Best Motion Picture; Best Writing, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (Simmons); Best Editing; Best Sound; NOMINATED, Best Original Screenplay; David Lean Award for Direction (both Chazelle), Golden Globes
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Teller), Gotham Awards

Andrew (Teller), a student at a prestigious music academy, is obsessed with the idea of becoming the next great jazz drummer. His talent and determination get the notice of Fletcher (Simmons), a top teacher at the school. To force his students to be their best, Fletcher uses a style of teaching that can only be called outright abuse.

Director Chazelle wrote this film as a result of his own experiences trying to break into the jazz drumming world. As he mentions in an interview, the reason he became a director and not a jazz drummer is essentially the story of the movie. Teller does a great job in the drumming sequences; Simmons goes over and above the call of duty in becoming the kind of teacher you don’t want to have. Chazelle and Simmons especially garnered many wins and nominations.

Highly recommended. ***

107 min. Rated R.

For more info:
Whiplash

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Bernie-DVD Review 06/09/2013

Posted by dmbinder in American, Based on true events, Comedy, Crime, Golden Globes, Gotham Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Light Drama, Movies, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle Awards.
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Bernie (American) 2011
Based on actual events

Directed by Richard Linklater
Starring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, and Shirley MacLaine

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy (Black), Golden Globes
NOMINATED, Best Ensemble Cast (McConaughey, Black, MacLaine; Best Film, Gotham Awards
NOMINATED, Best Feature; Best Male Lead (Black), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Top Ten Independent Films, National Board of Review
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (McConaughey); Second Place-Best Actor (Black), New York Film Critics Circle Awards

Bernie Tiede (Black) moves to the small town of Carthage, TX and finds work at a funeral parlor. He proceeds to impress the entire town with his engaging and caring personality. He even wins over Marjorie Nugent (MacLaine) the wealthy, curmudgeonly widow of the bank president, a task that was thought to be impossible. But Mrs. Nugent gradually shows her true colors, and Bernie concludes that the way she treats everyone, including himself, is just not right.

A funny, documentary-style telling of events that surely fall into the category of “truth can be stranger than fiction.”

Jack Black especially amazes with his singing voice (who knew?), and Shirley MacLaine’s facial expression is spot on for her character.

99 min. Rated PG-13.

For more info:
Bernie

The Messenger-DVD Review *** 06/17/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Gotham Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Oren Moverman, Samantha Morton, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards.
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The Messenger (American) 2009 ***

Directed by Oren Moverman
Written by Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman
Starring Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster, and Samantha Morton

Among many awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson); Best Original Screenplay (Camon and Moverman), Academy Awards
WINNER, Peace Film Award (Moverman); Silver Berlin Bear-Best Screenplay (Camon and Moverman); Golden Berlin Bear (Moverman), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson), Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson), Golden Globes
NOMINATED, Breakthrough Award (Foster), Gotham Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson); NOMINATED, Best First Feature; Best Screenplay; Best Supporting Actress (Morton), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (MORTON); 2nd PLACE-Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson); NOMINATED, Best Actor (Foster), San Diego Film Critics Society Awards

Returning from Iraq, injured and with three months of service left, Will Montgomery (Foster) gets assigned to Casualty Notification and is paired up with career officer Tony Stone (Harrelson), a recovering alcoholic. Their job is to inform the next of kin, in person and as soon as possible, when a loved one has been killed in the line of duty. The range of emotions they must deal with in the family members corresponds to the range of emotions they must face in themselves.

As noted above, Woody Harrelson received much-deserved acclaim for his role as the tough-minded captain trying to break in the new messenger. I also thought Ben Foster did an outstanding job as the younger, more vulnerable, and, in some respects, more mature Will Montgomery.

Highly recommended.

112 min. Rated R. Adult themes.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon The Messenger

Half Nelson-DVD Review 12/21/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, American, Drama, Gotham Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Movies, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Sundance Film Festival.
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Half Nelson (American) 2006

Among many other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Leading Actor (Gosling), Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Female Lead (Epps); Best Male Lead (Gosling), Independent Spirit Awards
NOMINATED, Grand Jury Prize-Dramatic (Fleck), Sundance Film Festival
WINNER, Best Film (Fleck); Breakthrough Award (Epps); Breakthrough Director Award (Fleck), Gotham Awards
NOMINATED, Outstanding Leading Actor (Gosling), Screen Actors Guild Awards

Directed by Ryan Fleck
Starring Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps

Ryan Gosling stars as Dan Dunne, an inner-city public school history teacher with a significant drug problem. When Drey (Epps), one of his tough and street-smart female students, discovers her teacher’s secret, they develop something of a friendship.

Both Gosling and Epps received several well-deserved awards for their performances in this film, as did director Ryan Fleck. This was Fleck’s first feature film.

For more info:
Half Nelson