Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Virginia Madsen
It pains me to say this, but this movie about a mop is kind of a flop. It looks like this one had its eyes on an Oscar, but forgot to make an interesting movie in the process.
Joy (Lawrence) is in such a rut that she’s making her name ironic. A fact that was spoon-fed to us early in the movie when a patron at the airport tells the stone-faced mother of two, “You’re not very joyful.” Thanks Russell, we didn’t make that connection. Anyway, Joy was always destined for something greater in life, at least according to her grandmother who temporarily and occasionally serves as the narrator. At a young age, Joy was building worlds with her hands. She had the inventor’s spirit that was ahead of her time, especially considering that her gender socially condemns her to a life spent chasing a prince. After her parent’s bitter divorce, Joy loses her entrepreneurial fortitude, gets married and quickly divorced to a charismatic Latin singer (Ramirez), and has two kids. Meanwhile, most of her feisty family is living under her barely held together roof. Her mother (Madsen) is obsessed with soap operas and the men in her life are freeloaders who are condemned to the basement. Joy is unhappy with the route her life has taken. However, all of that changes when she climbs aboard her father’s new love interest’s boat, spills some red wine, and gets cut trying to mop up the mess. Thus sparks her determination to market and sell a miraculous mop that will keep matriarchs, such as herself, able to maintain their home sans injury.
I’m not a Russell snob, American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter… I’m on board. But let’s not pull a Burton/Depp here. I’m all for those magical director-actor relationships but you’re going to make us weary. This is especially true when Cooper shows up in the movie seemingly so he doesn’t feel left out. A feminist ideology peeks out every now and then within the movie. The example Joy is setting for her daughter is particularly interesting. However, the shine is only on the kitchen floor and never really removes the dust from the cracks. The patron at the airport would tell me the same thing when I left the theater—“You’re not very joyful.”
– Posted by Alyssa
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista
It’s pretty rare that a sci-fi movie, let alone a member of the superhero genre, has the means to surprise you. That is why Guardians of the Galaxy, a Marvel film about a ragtag group of misfit intergalactic heroes is such an unexpected treat. Loaded with charisma and a great sense of humor, this is a movie that is consistently entertaining.
Peter Quill (Pratt) was abducted by an extra-terrestrial group of bandits at a crucial time in his childhood. He had lost his mother to cancer and found himself having to adapt to an entirely new existence. Now 26-years-old and armed with sticky fingers, Peter Quill calls himself Star Lord and has a criminal reputation. Quill makes the irreversible decision to take the wrong thing…an orb that harnesses life-threatening power and a ruthless criminal overlord known as Ronan the Accuser. This theft puts a bounty on Quill’s life, worth a lot of money, and he finds himself being hunted down by a group of lethal adversaries including: one of Ronan’s allies Gamora (Saldana), a tough-talking raccoon (Cooper), and a thoughtful tree that can only say “I am Groot” (Diesel). However, when the group gets imprisoned for a fight in a public area, they decide to band together, recruit a tough prisoner named Drax (Bautista) with a vendetta against Ronan, and go against Ronan and his army.
The movie has a lot going for it: a great cast, an appealing soundtrack, and crisp action sequences. Not to mention the great, self-aware sense of humor that permeates throughout the entire movie. It takes itself seriously, without being too serious. It’s a fine balance, and it really works and helps make this an effective outcast superhero movie. It’s the way less polished Avengers, but their grittiness is part of the appeal.
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Julia Stiles
Grade: Whatever comes after A+
It’s ironic how “crazy” is so relatable. This has to be one of the most well-made, touching, and beautifully realistic films of the year.
Landing in over eight months of rehab after he almost beats his wife’s “romantic partner” to death, Pat Solitano (Cooper) moves back in with his parents: his Philadelphia Eagles obsessed father (De Niro) who believes in good lock and his son’s juju and his supportive, yet concerned mother (Weaver). To keep up his good physique and hopefully win back his wife, Pat runs around the neighborhood in a garbage bag (to sweat). He appears crazy to the nosy onlooker and due to his unstable health and undiagnosed bipolar disorder he is forced to attend therapy and take medication. Everyone walks on tiptoes around Pat, afraid he will breakdown again at any second. However, despite the fact that Pat talks “without a filter” and seems to be walking on thin ice, his supportive hometown friend Ronnie and his wife Veronica (Stiles) openly invite him to dinner. From there, Pat meets the depressed widow Tiffany (Lawrence) who has a reputation as the town whore. Pat sees past Tiffany’s character flaws and Tiffany desperately tries to save Pat from collapse.
The dance we take in life is beautifully choreographed, but at the same time there are mistakes. This film highlights on those by being a raw gripping character drama, but also a comedy…and that is the film’s silver lining. It’s in these moments of great distraught that we have to find our joy. As Pat’s therapist suggests, it’s our “strategy” for coping with life. The reason that this movie is so powerful and recognizable (aside from the incredible performances of the cast) is the fact that it’s grounded in reality. We appreciate our family for all of their quirks and every Sunday is the start of a whole new week and we cheer for a victory.
You know that young man who kind of looks like Cillian Murphy and has an irresistible smirk. That’s a new guy on the scene and he will probably get a lot of word-by-mouth attention. His name is Dane DeHaan. If it doesn’t sound familiar, it will…
DeHaan has had recurring roles on successful shows like “True Blood” and “In Treatment,” but he really burst onto the scene and caught a lot of attention in his role as Andrew in the highly-acclaimed and commercially-successful 2012 film Chronicle.
This attention has led to a lot of opportunities for upcoming projects. Most recently, he starred in the 2012 bootlegging drama Lawless alongside established actors like Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Guy Pearce.
Next up for the young and promising talent is The Place Beyond the Pines, a crime/drama about a motorcycle stunt driver starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Rose Byrne.
In the next year, expect to see DeHaan in more big-deal projects with A-list actors such as: Devil’s Knot with Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth. And Kill Your Darlings with the other talented up-and-comer Elizabeth Olsen and Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe.