The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) Review

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Directed by Julius Onah

Starring: Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows an international group of astronauts aboard a space station who, after using a particle accelerator to try to solve Earth’s energy crisis, must find a way home after accidentally traveling to an alternate dimension.

My Opinion:

Well. This was pretty fucking terrible. I can’t be bothered to say much about this movie so this will be more of a short rant than a “review”. Seriously, though – it sucked! I’m so annoyed. This was one of my most anticipated movies of 2018. Ugh! Bad. Very bad. I knew something was up when it was suddenly on Netflix instead of going into cinemas. Now I’m worried about Mute & Annihilation going straight to Netflix. Two more films I was really excited about!

I loved the first Cloverfield. I’m one of the few who didn’t exactly love 10 Cloverfield Lane but I thought it was a decent enough addition to a series of films that promised to be the next Twilight Zone-type thing. I’m obsessed with the original Twilight Zone TV show and got really excited when it was revealed that was the direction these individual Cloverfield movies would be taking. Oh man – we’re off to a bad start. These are going to end up like the Lost TV show, not the brilliant The Twilight Zone. I should’ve known! Go away, J. J. Abrams! These are all going to be set in “alternate universes”, aren’t they? Fuck that shit. Lazy fucking writing. This is like the damn island moving. Argh!

Where do I start? Oh, I don’t care. First of all, why did this movie feel like a TV show? I felt like I was watching a long episode of Black Mirror. Black Mirror is good for what it is but I like the movie experience. You know – some sweeping cinematic epic! Okay – I suppose Cloverfield isn’t some Sergio Leone movie but, still. Did this have a low budget or something? If I want to watch a TV show, I’ll watch a TV show.

Second of all, these characters sucked. There was no set up. Straight into the story! I didn’t know a damn thing about these people, so why would I care if they survive? Our main character, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, was the only one who got some time spent on her but they must have done a shitty job since I didn’t even realize her kids had died. Is that a spoiler?! I don’t think so as I think you’re meant to know that from the start but I somehow managed to miss that. It really would’ve helped to know that. Shit. Maybe it’s not known from the start?! If so, why the fuck not?!?! Hopefully I didn’t spoil that. But, seriously, your experience will be spoiled anyway if you watch this. Because this movie sucked. (Did I mention that?).

I should point out that Gugu Mbatha-Raw actually starred in what’s so far my favorite Black Mirror episode (San Junipero– I’ve not seen Series 4 yet). Probably didn’t help that “This feels like a TV show” feeling I had! Anyway – just watch Black Mirror instead of this if you want interesting morality tales with a modern technology twist. Some episodes aren’t great but overall the show is much better than this movie. And much closer to being the next Twilight Zone (although nothing will ever touch that).

Hey! The Norwegian Steve Buscemi guy (Aksel Hennie) was in this! I’ve only ever seen him in Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters. That was a decent movie. Watch that instead of this as well. And Daniel Brühl was in Rush with Chris Hemsworth’s naked butt. Great film! Watch that instead of this too. Elizabeth Debicki was in Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 2. A million times better than this! Chris O’Dowd was in Bridesmaids. I dislike that film but it was still better than this one. John Ortiz was in lots of stuff, including A Dog’s Purpose , which I also liked waaaaaaay more than this. David Oyelowo was in Interstellar. I hate that overrated movie but I hated this one much more. Zhang Ziyi was in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Guess what? That’s also WAY fucking better than this movie. What’s my point? Watch those movies instead! And watch Life (2017). Life sucked. I now like Life much more since seeing The Cloverfield Paradox, which is an even shittier version of Life. AND WATCH ARRIVAL!!! THAT is good sci-fi.

Man, have I even talked about this movie at all? I can’t be bothered. A bunch of twats go into space and fuck around with a particle accelerator and rip a hole in the space time continuum (I don’t know if they used that phrase – I’ve ripped that off from Star Trek). Weird shit happens but you won’t care if they all die anyway. Some gross shit happens but none of it is nearly as interesting as the gross shit in Life. I only liked one character. Well, no – I liked Gugu Mbatha-Raw okay but didn’t care too much as I couldn’t get into the movie. But Chris O’Dowd was somewhat enjoyable. His character was the only one who had a personality, at least. So. Yeah. I guess I’ll end this “review” on that one positive statement.

My Rating: 5/10

*It probably deserves an even lower rating but it’s still sci-fi and I’m a sucker for this genre. As annoyed as I am, I’ll probably still watch Cloverfield 4 since “supernatural Nazis” sounds bizarre enough to maybe work better than Paradox did…..


Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

**SPOILER-FREE (but not much of a review – I mostly just talk about all these damn superhero movies that keep coming out & where I’d rank them…)**

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on Captain America by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl, The Kitchen Sink

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Captain America: Civil War, an act regulating superhuman activity fractures the Avengers into opposing factions, one led by Steve Rogers and another by Tony Stark.

My Opinion:

Superheroes Shmuperheroes. I’m sick of saying I’m sick of superhero movies. In the three & a half years I’ve had this blog, I feel like I’ve spent half my time writing superhero movie reviews as so many have come out in that time! I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore!

I have to be honest: I can’t be bothered to write much of a “review” for this. Mainly, I’m going to just talk about all the various superhero movies & where I’d rank them all now. I always struggle with writing about these movies as I’m just a casual fan & have zero knowledge about any of the comic books. I put time into running a movie blog so I do clearly geek out about movies more than the average person but I just don’t have the spare time & energy to devote to watching the thousands of hours worth of superhero sequels, prequels, spin-offs, TV shows, etc etc. I’m old & I’m tired & I have a hubby & a kid. I watch the big cinematic superhero releases when they come out & that’s it. I’ve not even managed to re-watch any, which means I’m always a little lost with each movie as I have to remember minor characters & plots from movies I watched just once at the time of release. It drives my hubby nuts when I have to constantly ask who so & so is and if I should remember them from previous movies. These superhero movies are becoming like Game Of Thrones – too many damn characters & stories to keep track of!

Okay – after getting that little rant out of the way, I have to say that I have really enjoyed these current Marvel films with the various Avengers. A few haven’t been all that great but, overall, they’re very solid films. And, with this one & the fantastic Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Captain America films are now easily the best of the bunch (including the full-ensemble The Avengers & Avengers: Age Of Ultron). I loved the first Iron Man and would have said that one was my favorite at the time but after Iron Man 2 & Iron Man 3 were so weak, I’d have to say that Captain America has now jumped ahead overall as the sequels have been so great.

You were afraid I was going to trash this movie, weren’t you? 😉 I won’t. It’s very good! But I just can’t review it. I don’t know what to say. I’ve done so many of these superhero reviews. I’m done. For now. I’ll attempt to review X-Men: Apocalypse but I honestly have no hope for that one after Days Of Future Past was such a mess. Let’s just discuss all the various superhero films that are out there.

How I’d Now Rank All The Superhero Movies (remember that I always rank things according to how much I like a movie, not according to what I necessarily think is the best film):

Every time another one of these movies comes out, I say I’ll update this list HERE of My Top Ten Superhero Movies. I desperately need to as it’s extremely different now. For one, I was way too easy on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The Dark Knight would probably drop way down to the lower half of the ten now (I was too swayed by loving Ledger in it) while the other two would be knocked out completely.

I’d also move up some older classics I’m no longer ashamed of loving (it was the early days of my blog & I suppose I knew you were all younger than I am. You kids are Nolan-obsessed). 😉 So the 1978 Superman would go way up as would Tim Burton’s Batman (and it would move to a position higher than The Dark Knight).

Then there are the first two X-Men movies. Those came out when I was much younger & had spare time to watch movies & geek out over things and I really bought into those characters & that world. Back then, the superhero movie thing wasn’t big like now & it seemed like those films came from out of nowhere. I loved them & I’m still very fond of them but every movie since has been a huge disappointment, including the prequels which I haven’t been able to buy into at all. The various Avengers films have been so much better than the current X-Men films so I’d probably have to move the first two X-Mens down the list as they’ve now been ruined for me somewhat.

So where would I place Captain America: Civil War in a Top Ten? I think it’s too soon to say where but it’s definitely in the ten. I’ll fully update & re-post my list after X-Men: Apocalypse (even though I think that has zero chance of being on the list). I think a lot of where it will ultimately sit also depends on how good the next Avengers film is (whenever the hell that’s meant to be?!). At the moment, I’m trying to decide if it’s better than The Winter Soldier. I think it may be once we get more of the story but, at the moment, I think I’d rank The Winter Soldier higher. So! For now, and subject to change as I change my mind A LOT, I’ll rank things accordingly:

10. TIE: Deadpool & X-Men
9. The Dark Knight
8. The Avengers
7. Batman (1989)
6. X2
5. Captain America: Civil War
4. Iron Man
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Superman (1978)
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy

Defining “superhero movies” is quite difficult, though. I’d make it a list of just “comic book movies” but that would further complicate things as there are plenty of non-superhero comic books. For now, I’m leaving out animated films like The Incredibles & Big Hero 6 but I may add them. Also… What about things like Dredd & The Crow? Do they qualify? What do you all think? Because if I start adding in things like those, the list would be very different (for the record, The Crow would easily be my number one as that’s an overall favorite film of mine). Let me know, superhero fans! I really do want to do a proper list, probably where I rank all of the superhero films I’ve seen.

Either way, these various current Marvel films will take plenty of places in my Top Ten as they’re all very strong & seem to be getting better & better. The better they get, the more the other superhero movies pale in comparison & will end up getting knocked out of the list. Way to go Marvel! Unlike DC Comics, eh? As much as I complain about all these damn superhero movies, I always go to them. Until Batman Vs. Superman, that is. After the terrible Man Of Steel, I really couldn’t be bothered to watch it. And from the sound of things, I’m not missing much!

Summary (where I’ll actually say a tiny bit about Captain America: Civil War!):

I have to say that I liked the new characters that have been added to this one. Black Panther is cool (I love those claws) and I really liked Spider-Man! Could we finally have a Spider-Man that fans don’t bitch about?? I have no idea but I really liked him plus my hubby seemed to think they did a very good job with him this time & hubby is a little bit of a comic book fan unlike me. I can’t say I’ve exactly loved any of the Spider-Man movies yet so let’s hope Marvel get things right with their own Spider-Man film. I’m looking forward to it now!

It was great seeing so many Marvel characters together, some of whom haven’t been together in a film yet. However, my one small complaint about the ensemble Avengers films is that there are too many characters, which means that it’s hard for anyone to get much character development. This one is clearly the Captain America & Iron Man show but they didn’t do too bad spending a decent amount of time with some of the other characters. I’d like to see Scarlet Witch get a little further development – they seem to possibly be headed in that direction for the next film.

Okay – I’ve just looked into it as I had zero clue what films are being made next! Apparently the next full Avengers one is Infinity War in May 2018 & 2019 (split into two damn parts one year apart!)?! Long wait until those… That’s made me lose the will to live again with these damn movies!! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this Civil War story is clearly going to be carried on into the next films… I guess I’ve just given away that we don’t get full closure on this story? No surprise there, though – there are 282 more films coming in which to further develop it! Anyway, I still can’t help but slightly prefer some of the stand alone films as we get so much more time to get to know just one main character but it’s still fun seeing them all interacting with each other.

The action in this was also a little too much at first (but not at ridiculous Man Of Steel levels). I also thought it got off to a slow start but I was much more into it by the halfway point. It’s a big story so is taking its time to develop over the course of several films. I guess. Yeah. Ugh. I just can’t handle thinking about them all. Oh, but Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is May 2017!!! THAT I’m excited about (it’s my number one by quite a lot).

Well, for all my bitching, Marvel really are getting better & better at this superhero movie thing & are putting other superhero movies to shame. I’ll continue to watch them all even though I’m superheroed-out but I’ll never geek out over them like my young & carefree twentysomething self may have. But they’re thoroughly entertaining popcorn movies. And although Civil War is obviously getting into darker & moodier territory, it still maintains some of the humor and the less-serious attitude that have made me far prefer the Avengers films to the dark & brooding shit like Batman Vs. Superman appears to be. Screw that emo bullshit! It looks like things will get even more serious for Infinity War, I imagine, but they did a good job getting the balance right in this one and not making a film that’s too depressing to be at all enjoyable. Keep up the good work, Marvel! On all ten films you have planned between now & July 2019. Good (star) Lord…

My Rating: 8/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: HA! Hahaha! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Duhhhhhhh….. Yes. Two. This is Marvel. They’re worth staying for, though. In my opinion. The more “important” one is halfway through the credits while the fun “teaser” one is at the very end (that’s the one I liked).

Stan Lee Cameo: It’s cute! I always love them. Maybe I should start rating those too…

The Muscular Arms On Chris Evans: Whoa, boy! I’m a Thor girl & have never really gone for Captain America but I very much appreciated those biceps when he was holding onto the helicopter. Yeah, baby! I may look away from Thor occasionally in the next film you’re both in together…

**Hey, I know I didn’t really talk about this movie but I’ll happily discuss it with anyone in the comments. I really do want to know all your opinions! Especially those of you who are big fans of these films. 🙂

Inglourious Basterds (2009) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Josh of JJames Reviews. He’s already done a review of Apocalypse Now (which you can read HERE). Thanks so much for joining in, Josh! Now let’s see what he has to say about Inglourious Basterds, IMDB rank 113 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Written and Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Brad Pitt
Christoph Waltz
Melanie Laurent
Eli Roth
Michael Fassbender
Diane Kruger
Daniel Bruhl
Til Schweiger
Gedeon Burkhard
Jacky Ido
BJ Novak
Sylvester Groth
Martin Wuttke

Running Time: 2 hours 33 minutes

Plot Synopsis

In an alternate history mash up, two different groups of assassins plot the murders of important Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler (Martin Wuttke) and Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth). Meanwhile, Hitler, Goebbels and Nazi detective, Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) hunt The Basterds, a group of special forces assassins led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt).

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My Take

Inglorious Basterds bears Quentin Tarantino’s trademarks, mostly in good ways. Using at least three storylines and an episodic chapter structure, it is always fun and suspenseful. Soshanna Dreyfuss (Melanie Laurent), Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) take turns as the film’s protagonist, and each proves capable of carrying the movie, in no small part because all three of the actors are spectacular. Waltz won an Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, and it is easy to understand why, but his is not the only award-worthy performance. This might be Pitt’s best acting since 12 Monkeys (1995) and Laurent shines, as well, especially when she’s opposite Waltz or Daniel Bruhl (Frederick Zoller).

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Even still, the performances are not Inglorious Basterds’ greatest strength. Editing is. Tarantino and Oscar-nominated editor Sally Menke piece together the separate storylines sparklingly well, cutting away from each at exactly the right moments. Even more impressively, they time many takes and shots a heartbeat or two longer than we subconsciously expect, a decision that creates tension and heightens our anxiety. Consider the movie’s opening scene, when Landa arrives at Pierre LaPadite’s (Denis Menochet) home in search of hidden Jews. When the former first meets the latter’s daughters, he politely compliments their beauty, at which point Menke and Tarantino use a wide-angle shot from behind the young women, one that frames Landa’s face with the female’s bodies, thereby ensuring we see the intimidating glare the Colonel gives them. At that point, we expect Menke and Tarantino to cut away from the shot, probably to a close up of Landa, or perhaps LaPadite, but they don’t. Instead, they hold it an extra moment, just long enough to make us feel Landa’s threat. Later in the same scene, the Nazi is centered in the frame as he drinks a glass of milk. While he’s drinking it, we expect the director and editor to show us a reaction shot of LaPadite or one of his daughters. They don’t. Instead, they hold the shot of Landa until the milk is gone, a decision that once again increases our anxiety. Why? Because now we know that Landa can and will do anything he wants, that the LaPadite family is powerless to stop him, and that soon all of them might be dead.

Such brilliant editing continues throughout the movie. Menke lost the Oscar to The Hurt Locker, but she unquestionably deserved her nomination and would have been a fitting victor.

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Tarantino makes other standout directorial decisions. Inglorious Basterds is visually striking, and the sound design is very good. So too are all of the director’s casting decisions. Daniel Bruhl is excellent as the flirtatious but frightening Frederick Zoller, and Michael Fassbender is scene-stealingly good as British soldier Lt. Archie Hicox. Diane Kruger (Bridgit von Hammersmark), Jacky Ido (Marcel) and Sylvester Groth (Joseph Goebbels) all give memorable supporting performances, as well.

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With excellent acting, near impeccable direction and some standout technical elements, Inglorius Basterds has potential for perfection. Unfortunately, Tarantino’s screenplay is uneven. Yes his dialogue is witty and sometimes funny, as it is in everything he writes, but the way he tells this story fundamentally prevents emotional attachment to the characters, something that is all the more disappointing given each of the protagonists’ potential to be memorable. Shoshana is a tragic anti-hero if ever there was one. Raine could be, too. And Landa could be a complex opportunist, whom we never completely understand and therefore whose actions we cannot predict.

But instead, Tarantino chooses to gloss over his three lead characters, assigning each of them one or two traits, and never further developing them. Then, he introduces a bevy of minor characters, some of them historical figures and others not. He gives these secondary players as many traits as the leads, which guarantees that no one is well developed. That, in turn, means we do not care about any of the characters.

And so we do not extrapolate important life lessons from their experiences.

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Conclusion: Inglorious Basterds, then, is a prime example of style over substance. It is entertaining and darkly comedic, just as it is incredibly well made. But, thanks to underdeveloped characters, it is not thematically resonant. Though we can enjoy it, we are not inspired by it.

My Rating: 7.5/10


Rush (2013) Review

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Rush (2013)

Directed by Ron Howard

Screenplay: Peter Morgan

Chris Hemsworth
Daniel Brühl
Olivia Wilde
Alexandra Maria Lara
Pierfrancesco Favino

Music: Hans Zimmer

Running time: 122 minutes

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia – I think everyone knows this):

Rush is a biographical action film directed by Ron Howard and written by Peter Morgan about the 1976 Formula One season and the rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

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Before I Start The Review:

I’ll start by saying I hate sports. All sports. Racing? Don’t care. James Hunt & Niki Lauda? I’d never even heard of them before this film and knew nothing of this famous rivalry. So do you think I actually liked this film? Oh my god – I absolutely loved it.

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And now I have to say this – 2013 has been a disappointing year for movies. We’ve either had movies that were lots of fun but had terrible scripts & cliche characters (Pacific Rim) or we’ve had inferior superhero films (Iron Man 3) with over the top action sucking the soul out of something that had the opportunity to be a fresh new start (Man Of Steel). We’ve had a magic film (Now You See Me) already done way better in past films (like The Prestige) and a sci-fi film (Oblivion) already done way better in past films (like the myriad of sci-fi classics Oblivion wanted to be). And never mind all the sequels, remakes, and usual lack of any original ideas from Hollywood. And then there was Oz The Great And Powerful – don’t get me started on that…

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So that leaves us with “based on a true story” films. Usually a safe bet but quite often lacking in “fun”. Being a movie lover, I hate feeling like I’ve been really negative about films lately (like I was in all the reviews listed above). So it’s with great pleasure that I can FINALLY say this: Rush was the most rewarding cinema-going experience I’ve had in a very long time and you’re now going to read absolutely nothing negative. 🙂

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My Opinion On Rush:

Obviously I can’t speak of the true story (although I’m certainly interested in knowing more now!) so I’ll only be discussing Rush as a film.

This story, although in many ways quite a simple story about a sports rivalry, is absolutely fascinating. No wonder they based a film on it and how on earth had I never heard a thing about it? (That “I hate all sports” thing, I guess). Clearly by my excitement you can see you don’t need to be a racing fan to enjoy this film – you just need to be human and have at least a little bit of a heart (mine is pretty tiny). If you ARE a racing fan, though, you still won’t be the slightest bit disappointed. Howard gets the perfect balance, I think, between emotional human drama & edge-of-your-seat racing action. In a way I wonder if it was slightly more exciting for someone like me who had no clue how any of the races would end. I’m actually very glad I didn’t read up on any of the true story before the film as it probably made watching it much more intense.

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As for James Hunt and Niki Lauda, at least how they’re portrayed here, what a couple of great characters! As this took place in the 70s and (thankfully) way before the days of Twitter & celebrities airing all their dirty laundry in public and getting on our nerves, I don’t know how much of this rivalry was played out in public & how much was just written about? I don’t know just how intense it got in real life but it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch in this film. I loved how they were so different yet SO similar, especially in their arrogance. I like how this movie made them human and made us truly care about them despite some very big character flaws in both of them. I think one of the biggest things I’ve always hated about sports is the arrogance that you get from some of the sportsmen (and women? Don’t want to sound sexist!). That this movie had me loving two guys like this by the end of the film was quite a feat. Honestly – you have no idea how “unlike me” it is to like guys like these & to enjoy anything related to sports.

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Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt: Cocky, sexy, ladies man, bad boy all the girls want and all the men want to be, lives life to the fullest and doesn’t care about consequences. He was brilliant. Perfect. I couldn’t take my eyes off him and for once it was based on his performance alone.

Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda: Cold, arrogant, intense, has no friends, personal lifestyle the exact opposite of ladies man Hunt. Also brilliant. Perfect. Possibly even MORE brilliant and perfect. And by the end I guarantee you’ll love him. And you’ll love Hunt. Even though they’re still the same people they are at the start.

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Heart-pounding human drama that captures all the excitement and fear that are a part of racing & the risk of death those drivers face every time they get into those cars for another race. And what surely must be one of the most fascinating and intense rivalries in the history of sport between two men so different yet so alike that they can’t stand each other? THIS is the stuff of great movies. I fell in love with these men by the end of this film and now want to know more and, hell, may even start watching racing. I can’t emphasize this enough: making ME like these men and admit to MAYBE now watching a sport? Honestly, you don’t know me so you have no idea what that means. This film is THAT good. And I’m going to steal my hubby’s line after the film: “But which one of these guys was truly LIVING life?”. The film seems to ask this & everyone will have a different opinion on that just as the two main characters in the film clearly do. But should a sports movie really be making us question things so deeply? Bravo, Ron Howard! Your movie moved this hater of sports.

My Rating: 9/10

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And, yes – My list of 2013 Movies Seen has a new first place. As you might suspect. I’d use a racing term here if I knew any.

(Where are you Tim The Film Guy? For once you can’t say my rating is too low…) 🙂