Today, here are three quick mini-reviews for Hope Springs and Hit and Run and Premium Rush
Directed by: David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me)
Starring: Meryll Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
Hope Springs stars Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep as a wife in a marriage that, after 31 years, has seemed to become more of a roommate situation as opposed to a longlasting and loving relationship. But, she doesn’t give up. Her search for how to obtain “having a marriage again” finds her subscribing to the help of relationship counsellor Dr. Feld (Carell) whom she books for a week’s worth of sessions. Now the task lies to convince her complacent and complaining husband, Arnold (Jones), to come along. Begrudgingly, he accompanies her and the therapy, tight-lippedness, and troubling yet revealing conflict begins.
This film maintains a true genuine feel as the characters and their plights are believeable. I am not certain that anyone else in these roles could have been more perfect. Meryll Streep’s mannerisms and appearance totally sold the character. Carell and Jones executed their roles immensely well, but it is, once again, Streep, who stole the show in each scene.
Most of the film takes place in 3 places: Kay and Arnold’s home, their hotel room, and the room they had their sessions in with Dr. Feld. The locations were not nearly as important as the events, and the way in which they roll out really had a sense of reality that added to the potency of the performances and their message.
It very poignantly shares the need for people in a relationship to maintain love and communication. While some of it may be a bit awkward (especially during the scenes in which Kay and Arnold begin to express their love through a few very intimate moments), I couldn’t help but think about the beauty of it all. Call me old fashioned if you will, but in an era when films such as “Friends with Benefits,” “No Strings Attached,” etc tend to promote the idea of sex outside of a committed marital relationship, this one glorified the beauty of it in a marriage that lasted for decades. To me, it was beautiful. Yeah, sure, it can seem as awkward as the thought of ones’ parents sleeping together, but what the story was sharing really made the moments beautiful and real. (“Awkward, yet beautiful” is an ideal description of the film’s more intimate moments.)
Several laughs, several tears, celebration of marriages through the years…it shows that hope can indeed keep a marriage alive and thriving when two people can commit to keeping it as such. A good drama geared towards older audiences (the senior citizens in the theater with me laughed at many of the scenes as I’m sure they saw a little bit of themselves in the characters)! Perhaps not “Theater-worthy” but still worth a watch for those interested. A good feel-good movie.
My Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars for Hope Springs
Directed by: David Palmer/Dax Shepherd
Starring: Dax Shepherd, Bradley Cooper, Kristen Bell
Okay, let me first tell you to not have high expectations for this comedy adventure. As the trailer shows, Shepherd stars as an ex-getaway driver who is now enrolled in the witness protection program. When his cover is blown, the other recently-freed members of the bank robbing gang that were imprisoned want the money that they stole. Shepherd’s character “Charles Bronson” (his Witness Protection name) and his girlfriend, who is just now learning all about this, must flee in order to save themselves from the money-hungry ex-cons…mainly a dreadlock sporting Bradley Cooper.
Ignoring the utter ridiculousness of the plot that could’ve been much better under a more experienced writer perhaps, this film doesn’t take itself too seriously…and that is necessary for a film like this. So much frustrated me, from a minivan being able to keep up with an experienced getaway driver in a corvette, to too many subplots mixed in, to completely nude senior citizens in a hotel room orgy that hold nothing back from the camera. To quote Cooper’s character “that’s disgusting!”
Not much worth watching here at all, folks. The movie can’t decide if it is an adventure, a comedy, an action flick, or what. Tom Arnold was the best part of this film with his awkward, annoying, yet funny antics as the less than capable U.S. Marshall charged with protecting Charles Bronson. I recommend you run far away from the forgettable Hit and Run.
My Score: 1 out of 5 stars for Hit and Run
Directed by: David Koepp
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez
Premium Rush, written and directed by David Koepp (screenplay writer for films such as Mission Impossible, Spider-Man and Carlito’s Way), stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as NYC bike messenger legend Wilee (as in the coyote) on the pedaling adventure of his life. Wilee, an expert rider, receives an envelope to deliver that is of paramount importance to the client. Unbeknownst to him, several others are highly interested in the envelope’s contents as well, namely the corrupt police detective Robert Monday played remarkably by Michael Shannon (Look for Shannon in the iconic role of General Zod in 2013’s Man of Steel).
This thriller, with several intermingling storylines, combines drama with action and makes for a palatable film full of rush and premium reward.
Most of the excitement in the movie comes from the car-dodging, adrenaline-pumping, pedal-pushing, stunt-inducing bike sequences that give the viewer a front row seat to the rush of it all. There is, however, more to enjoy in this movie: stories of dreams lost and pursued, of relationships and love broken and gained, of corruption and self-destruction and more are all included and may make you cringe just as much as seeing the bikers avoid pedestrians and vehicles as they weave in and out of busy traffic. (I enjoyed the way in which the film portrayed the thought process Wilee takes in choosing his routes in the middle of busy traffic)!
The performances overall are what makes Premium Rush an adventure worth watching. While Gordon-Levitt is not groundbreaking, he is the perfect person in the role of Wilee. Michael Shannon plays the despicable detective and convincingly gives the audience an antagonist to hate. The rest of the cast support the story through believable characters and add to the film’s feel. (Side note: I thought it somewhat hilarious to see Aasif Mandvi once again as a delivery service dispatcher/business manager as he was in Spider-Man 2. Remember? click HERE).
Though a bit rudimentary and predictable in story, Premium Rush keeps a good pace for it story. The greatest parts of the film altogether are the bike sequences. Mixed with great bike sequences, the occasional light comedy, drama and action, there is plenty to enjoy. This “Summer’s End” film is by no means a mega blockbuster. No need to rush out to see it, but it is still worth a look. The stunts and riding were the best parts overall.
*Bit of trivia here: Joseph Gordon-Levitt held the record for the most amount of stitches on set. He received 32 stitches after flipping onto the windshield of a taxicab for a scene!
My Score: 3 out of 5 stars for Premium Rush
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer
up next: “Trailer Time Thursday!”