Tag Archives: Academy Award

Brian’s Review – Silver Linings Playbook (2012)


After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.


Rating: 9 out of 10

Holy Shit! Bradley Cooper can act! I honestly had no idea. Everything I’ve ever seen him in prior to this movie, he’s always delivered a minimalist performance where he seems to be doing little more than acting like himself. But, here he delivers a nuanced and fleshed out character that isn’t just interesting, but funny and touching as well. Honestly, all the acting in this film is fantastic. Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver are all top notch and make the film work but I knew THEY could act. Cooper caught me a bit off guard.

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As I’m sure you’ve read from the above synopsis, this is a film about mental illness and the long term effects it can have on life, love, and finding your place in the world. As generalized as that description can sound, it describes the experience of watching the film perfectly. David O. Russell does his best work since Three Kings here. He has always been a visionary director that uses interesting characters to help round out a detailed and oft-kilter world. But, here is a film that is more about emotion than rational thought. Cooper, De Niro, and Lawrence all have their mental illness vices. De Niro is obsessive compulsive, Lawrence lost her husband and has thrown herself to any man sexually who will make her forget her pain, and Cooper has constant fits of rage stemming all the way back to an incident where his wife was unfaithful. Each of them is looking for their own “Silver Lining.”

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 That makes for an interesting premise and certainly Russell is adept at weaving the tale but it’s the interaction between the characters that makes this film special, particularly the believable chemistry between Lawrence and Cooper. Their relationship builds over the course of the movie, not from some lame chance meeting like all of the predictable romantic comedies. They have very little in common except for one thing: they both have no filter between their brains and their mouths. This makes for some funny and unpredictable dialogue that is completely original.

I’ll admit that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. A lot of film goers like their neat and tidy films that ride off into the sunset. While this film is far from a negative experience, it doesn’t dare to think that these people are cured. It just lets them find their silver lining within their imperfect existence. 


The Life of Pi

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Based on Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, this coming-of-age tale recounts the adventures of Pi, an Indian boy who is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with only some zoo animals for company.

Rating: 9 out of 10

This is the kind of movie you watch for the first time and say: I really need to watch that again

And I can’t wait to see it again. I was lucky enough to see this in the theater in 3D, which I generally can’t stand, but this is by far the best use of the technology ever in any film. Ang Lee deserved the Oscar he recieved for best director. I knew it wouldn’t win best picture — it’s not that kind of movie that typically does — but it is still wonderful. It’s the kind of movie that leaves you questioning, wondering and thinking about a couple days after you see it.

In it’s simplest form, it is a coming-of-age story about a boy who loses his family, but it takes so many beautiful and challenges twists with gorgeous cinemetography and visuals. It is a love story, a story about faith, family, ideals and challengs.

And I never mentioned that 90 percent of it takes places on a tiny boat at sea with a boy and a tiger. If you can make that an incredible film, well, you have some serious directing chops.

Heidi the Crosseyed Opposum

A couple of us here at The Movie Brothers were beaten in our Oscar picks by a cross-eyed marsupial. (I’m won’t name names, Victor and Kyle)

Reuters is reporting a quirky story from Germany, where an opossum named Heidi guessed all but one of the Oscars, incorrectly picking “127 Hours” to win best picture, which instead went to “The King’s Speech.”

The 2-1/2-year-old opossum correctly predicted Natalie Portman (“Black Swan“) to win best actress and Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech.) as best actor during a series of appearances on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” show on U.S. broadcaster ABC last week.

Heidi, who lives at the Leipzig Zoo in eastern Germany, attempted to duplicate the success of Germany’s oracle Octopus Paul, who correctly tipped each of Germany’s matches in last year’s soccer World Cup, as well as the final between Spain and Netherlands, according to the report.

Better luck next year Kyle and Victor! 😉


In this Oscar-nominated Greek drama, siblings who grow up cut off from the world — homeschooled and reliant on one another for entertainment — create their own idyllic alternative universe, which is shattered when their father lets in an outsider. Sex enters the picture when dad begins bringing home a female security officer to satisfy his son’s libido … and suddenly nothing is the same within the highly idiosyncratic family unit.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclaimer: I am by no means recommending this film as much as I’m grading it. Be warned that the film contains a lot of material that most people will be disgusted by, including animal cruelty, human cruelty, incest, and what appears to be actual sex.

Now that I got that out of the way, let’s move on to the review. I haven’t made up my mind whether Dogtooth is brilliant or brilliantly disgusting but it sure is an original piece of work. The camerawork, much like the characters in the film, is completely off and it’s done on purpose to great effect. Angles are sometimes shot where you can’t see people’s faces or it focuses on the inaction instead of the direct action of the characters. This approach works. These people live in their own world where up could be down, right could be left, or, as in the case of one character, a zombie can be a beautiful flower.

The challenging part as a viewer is trying to understand why the parents would choose to have their children grow up this way. We’re never really given a reason as to why they’ve isolated them. Is it because they fear the world’s influence over their kids? Is it because the father has an obsession with control? Or, is it that they fear their children will leave them behind? I do know that the decisions they make to keep them within the confines of their home is unbelievably upsetting. Early in the film, the father makes a decision that the son needs a sexual partner. I’m assuming he is concerned that his son’s desire for a mate will lead him to leave. So, what does he do? He hires a woman who works security to provide sex for cash. When her influence starts to create unrest among his three kids, he decides that no outsider can be brought in again. But, his son still needs a partner. You can fill in the blanks I’m sure (He has two daughters). At this point, you’re probably wondering what enjoyment can be found in experiencing a film that is this dark. Well, it asks a lot of questions about human beings that I found interesting. What kind of climate would this type of isolation create? When would one of them rebel against their parents and why? The storytelling is top notch despite the controversial material. I can also say the ending is satisfying and fitting. It’s just a tough 90 minutes to get there.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Filmmaker Thierry Guetta had been casually documenting the underground world of street art for years, but when he encounters Banksy, an elusive British stencil artist, his project takes a fascinating twist. Unimpressed with Guetta’s footage, Banksy takes over filmmaking duties and Guetta reinvents himself as a street artist named Mr. Brainwash — and, much to Banksy’s surprise, immediately becomes a darling of the Los Angeles art scene.

Rating: 9 out of 10

After waiting for “Exit Through the Gift Shop” to finally get to Las Vegas and about five failed attempts to see it with some friends, I snuck off on Saturday afternoon and caught the film in a small, crowded theater.

When reading the description of the movie, which started out as a “filmmaker’s” attempt to get the famous and elusive street artist Banksy on film but ended up with Banksy turning the camera on the “filmmaker,” I was confused. But, it doesn’t matter what the description is or why the movie was made. It is amazing from beginning to end. Even if I didn’t completely know what was happening until close to the end. I loved the art and laughed the entire time.

I can’t explain what happens without giving away the humor and twist of the story. All I can say is I loved it and can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t. If you love art, if you think art can be joke, if you think street art is beautiful or if you think it was cool but now it’s not because everyone says it is, if you don’t even care about art, I still can’t imagine you wouldn’t be interested in this movie.

127 Hours

From director Danny Boyle comes this harrowing tale of real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston (James Franco), who literally cuts himself loose from danger — and lives to tell about it when sliding rock pins his forearm under a boulder during a climb in Utah. To stay alive, Ralston resorts to his basest survival instincts. The film scored Academy Award nominations in the Best Picture and Best Actor (Franco) categories.

Rating: 8 out of 10

“127 Hours” is hard to watch and completely worth it. It made me cringe watching the opening scenes as Aron Ralston (James Franco) greedily chugs water, ignores phone calls from his family, and leaves his apartment without his Swiss Army Knife to go hiking in Utah. I knew he was going to go, not tell anyone where, fall, and that a boulder would trap the hand he’d lose on the trip. But a part of me still hoped for a different outcome.

It didn’t happen. About a half hour into the movie he fell, the boulder crushed his hand, and he was trapped. The real-life hiker filmed himself during his 127 hours in the canyon, and Franco and director Danny Boyle are among the few people who have seen these tapes. I’m sure the video helped Franco to pull off the amazing performance he gave expressing the frustration, fear, anger, desperation, and sadness Aron felt.

There’s a scene when he’s standing there, hand caught, nothing to drink, nothing to eat, where his mind rushes back to the bottle of Gatorade laying in the back seat of his car. Oh, what he’d do for that Gatorade. There’s nothing funny about this story, obviously, but the way Boyle tells the story I can’t help but laugh. Even though there were lighthearted moments I was just waiting. I knew what was coming. The hand had to go. And he had to be the one to slice it off.

From the time I heard about Aron when he had his accident in 2003 I always said there’s no way I could do it. I’d just die there in that canyon. I don’t think I would have had the strength to survive what he did (not that I’ve been there to begin with). But watching him, how he had given up and knew he was dead, I understand how he did it. Not the physical how, but the emotional how. The physical how, well, that’s another story. Watching him snap his bones and hack away at his half dead arm, blood gushing out, just to get to the nerves, which he plucked like guitar strings as he screamed in pain. It is graphic and slow but I felt the relief with him and could breathe again.

The movie ended with a little about Aron and his life since 2003, but I still want to know more. I wonder if he will ever show the real videos? Probably not. “127 Hours” is probably intense enough anyway.

The Kids Are All Right

Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), the children of same-sex parents Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), become curious about the identity of their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo) and set out to make him part of their family unit, often with hilarious results. But his arrival complicates the household dynamics, and nobody is sure how he fits in — if at all — in this Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning comedy.

Rating: 8 out of 10

“This Kids Are All Right” is as good as the critics say it is (95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes).

The movie’s cast was excellent, with Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a married, lesbian couple raising two teenagers and Mark Ruffalo as their sperm donor. Every character is likable at times and irritating at others. I didn’t always understand their motivation or agree with their choices but that’s the way we all feel about one another, isn’t it? These characters are all flawed and come across as real, genuine people muddling through a unique situation.

When the older of the two kids turns 18, she gets in touch with her mothers’ sperm donor and, along with her brother played by Josh Hutcherson, the family begins to get to know him.

It seems complicated and difficult but I was rooting for this family to figure it out and make it work the whole time.