Tag Archives: Melissa Leo


Convinced that her brother, Kenneth (Sam Rockwell), has been unjustly convicted of murder and incompetently defended by court-ordered attorneys, high school dropout Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) puts herself through law school in order to represent him in his appeal. Inspired by a true story, director Tony Goldwyn’s stirring drama also stars Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver, Peter Gallagher and Clea DuVall.

Rating: 8 out of 10

This is the kind of story that is too good for a writer to make up. I loved the idea of a sister being hell-bound to prove the innocence of her brother after he was sentenced to life in prison.

The director, Tony Goldwyn, weaves a nice story, telling both the back story of the brother, the sister, and their childhood. We also get the narrative of the present, as the sister uncovers the mystery of proving her brother’s innocence. I was glued to the story and never bored. It never felt long or drawn out, despite the many legal hurdles they the siblings face throughout.

The performances in this film are excellent. Rockwell and Swank deliver memorable roles. This is a really well made film that didn’t get a lot of love. It should have.

The Fighter

Mark Wahlberg stars as boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward and Christian Bale as half brother and trainer Dicky Eklund in this inspiring drama based on the fighter’s rise from working-class Lowell, Mass., to world-class welterweight champ. After a string of defeats, Mickey rediscovers his fighting will with help from Dicky — a once-talented pugilist battling drug addiction. The film earned multiple Golden Globe nods, including Best Motion Picture (Drama).

Rating: 8 out of 10

Director David O. Russell is one of the brightest minds in filmmaking. If you’re not familiar with his work, he’s responsible for the “I Heart Huckabees,” “Three Kings,” and the fabulous “Spanking the Monkey.” Historically, his work has always been original and visionary. His style is truly his own. That’s why I’m very surprised to see him do such a standard docudrama as “The Fighter.” It’s not that the film is bad — far from it. It’s a very solid story based on the true events of a middle of the road boxer who gets the chance to fulfill his dreams of becoming a boxing world champion. Sound familiar? Yes, I know it has been done to death but rarely in such an accessible and well acted package. Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, and Melissa Leo are all excellent. But it’s Christian Bale’s turn as Wahlberg’s crack addicted has-been brother that shines above them all. He absolutely disappears in this movie in a performance that is sure to get an Oscar nod and is the early favorite to walk away with the statue. He’s absolutely fantastic in it.

 As for the film itself, I found myself most gripped whenever the story veered towards the family dynamic of Wahlberg’s home and professional life and least interested whenever he got into the ring. The fights are well choreographed and shot but I felt the film wasn’t about the fight, it was about life’s struggle to get there.

Don McKay

At the urging of his ex-girlfriend, Sonny (Elisabeth Shue), who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, high school janitor Don McKay (Thomas Haden Church) returns to his hometown for the first time in 25 years and finds himself ensnared in a web of conspiracy, deception and murder. Melissa Leo (Frozen River), Keith David and M. Emmet Walsh also star in this indie thriller from first-time director Jake Goldberger.

4 out of 10

This is a movie with a great cast, excellent acting, a music score that turns your stomach with suspense, a director who uses the lens with forethought and grace, making scenes dark and sinister with anticipation. However, this movie suffers from a lousy script that keeps our interest, but only confuses and disappoints us at every turn.

Both Shue and Church are sharp and insightful in their roles. Shue’s plays her character well, who is absolutely insane, willing to sacrifice anything and anyone for money, fake illness, create detailed plots and murder. Church is stoic in his role as a quiet janitor with a questionable past who is getting swept up in a scam by his high school sweet heart he hasn’t seen since leaving town at age 18 after the death of his family in a fire.

There are some suspense-filled moments where it kept my interest, but the ending falls flatter than road kill. It didn’t care about the movie, the characters or plot.