MOVIE REVIEW RECAP REVOLVER

This week's chamber:
Top Five, The Imitation Game, and Wild

Top Five
TOP FIVE
"Smile muthafucka!"

For those that this matters towards and those that it doesn’t – here are my top five rappers: NAS, Notorious B.I.G, Rakim, Ghostface Killah and Rick Tha Ruler (Old School baby!) - Chris Rock is back harnessing his full Woody Allen while keeping it somewhat real trying to prove he still can’t hail a cab as black man, when the meter is running and his cabbie awaits their destination. Rock, who is gifted ferociously funny and redundantly corny, gives you a performance you can expect, but he does sharpen his suit and filmmaking eye to hit you where it counts: LETTING YOU KNOW WHAT’S AUTHENTIC AND WHAT ISN’T and he is the person to tell you where it stands. Sidepieced by Rosario Dawson, our hero is being interviewed for a new article on Rock’s cooked up Haitian Revolution diluted historical exploitative motion picture titled “Uprize” that’s right, Uprize with a “Z”. The New York times comes a calling and sends Rosario and her squarish cinder blocked cheek boned self to interview Andre, and get a sense as to who this man really is besides, his basic bitch “Hammy the Bear” super-cop wanderlust former pathetic franchise.

Like Innirtu’s Birdman, credibility is under Rock’s scrutiny. He banters to a hasten wit with Dawson as the ample and statuesque "loversary." Nothing that Rock deals with aside from his persona relationships ring authenticity. His “fiancé” Gabrielle Union is a reality star that must have every moment with Allen on camera. Speaking of the lens, Top Five is filmed with a lean wide lens perspective. Rock knows what he is doing with his frames, multiplied with the conscientious dialog, the beginning scenes set a responsive and wondrous start to something that appeared to be fresh. It was not. Rock is at his best when combating with Dawson and they both chew the air like a pack of bubbleicious gum. However, when he is alone, deep pocketing a retread joke, Top Five loses some of its power, its relevance, its freshness.

The further the movie progresses the more tonal trouble finds Rock. On one hand he is being observational, pithy and biting with his commentary-humorous delivery, but when he tries to pratfall for an schticky joke, Top Five ends up at the bottom of the list. Moments of truism are few and far between, but in scenes with his family (hilariously effective Leslie Jones and always reliable Tracy Morgan) add a bright spot giving understanding to Rock’s intentions and motivations. Also, Dark Man X shows up for a well-timed rocket fueled cameo. Good at times, average at times, and not nearly as funny from a farcical standpoint than from a commentary assault, Top Five, lacks focus for the most part regardless of the solid chemistry between its leads.

Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career-and the past-that he's left behind. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah.

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2.5 out of 4


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THE IMITATION GAME
"Captain midnight's decoder ring."

Benedict Cumberpimp is at it again! Our Sherlock holmsian not so great/good looking actor is now decoding German Secrets and building a computer that looks like a giant tape deck that issues out old Hall and Oates' LP’s (not that it’s a bad thing). Its all about Turing and his machine. Without it and you are left with a stale brit melodrama focusing on a person with the social skills of viral meningitis. The moral of the story according to movies is if you are genius, you basically have license to be dick – and everyone will still love you, Oh Hollywood! I do adore your naiveté!

The drama, terse and orthopedic-like does sustain throughout the duration of the movie. Being a historical drama it's hard to keep people completely suspended because they should know pretty much the end result. This aspect is completely passable because like all british period pieces, you get caught up in the honey suckled proper accents and the old time production scales.  Even with its top notch acting from Cumberpimp - to Keira Knightly it all meshes beautifully as one would presume, but there was an undercurrent of hollowness, like the Theory of Everything, where this movie doesn’t delve deep in Turing’s personal stigmas, or bother to make any of the relationship’s three dimensional, especially the most important one of all with Ms. Knightly. The movie was made for cheap quotable, feel good keep calm and don't panic poster moments.

Then, there is the wonderful baleful Mark Strong as MI6 officer that is unofficially sanctioning Turing’s project. He just stands there cloaked and dagger behind someone’s grandmother’s curtains lingering – stepping in at banal moments and not really adding anything to the movie that so desperately needs an  injection of life to it. Also, this movie is saddened by a monotonous and repetitive screenplay. Drama is acting from Machine room to pub back to machine room and only right back to the pub. If I were to take this movie literally, I swore the entire country of England was the distance of maybe 15 miles between two rooms. Uitmately, we have here passable chemistry, brilliant production values, and an anchored performance from a likable lead in Cumberpimp, but the movie is decoded to something just plainly fine but it’s below average screenplay, shallow developments and listless restraint of the man’s challenging life it doesn't break the code.

During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of 'gross indecency', an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality - little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing.

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2 out of 4


Wild
WILD
"Been through the desert on a conscience with no name."

If you don’t know by now, you had better ask someone – Reese Witherspoon and her chin can carry a movie like Lebron can carry a rustbelt state on his back. She needed this role and this role needed her. Like James Franco and his method acting of never taking a shower in real life, Witherspoon knuckled up and doubled down on this free standing character study retrospective, like Franco before her in 127 hours. First of all, how many contemporary actresses could carry this emotional drama built personality spin cycle role and do it with conviction? Jolie? Maybe – but remember her shit don’t stink, and in this movie, our actress literally has to take a deuce in the desert with nothing but a leaf and imagination – so Jolie is out. This leaves the only other good/bad girl that is really likable but not swoon worthy – Reese! She is believably cute enough to rise above her characters, but not sexy enough to become permanently typecast. She is what Scarlett Johanssen’s acting ability has hanging up on its walls. And it’s this natural bad preacher's girl next door act that allows her to movie star her ass off.

Self discovery is the name to this movie’s game. First of all, anyone walking in a desert and it isn’t Moses or tripping out to burning man, can’t be there to have a good time, they are trying to get away. Directed by Dallas Buyers Club’s Jean-Marc Vallée, the same Americana commentary and guilt is focused, only Reese doesn’t have a thick plot to work around. Every emotion, every angered traverse, every flashback rest on her shoulders. Vallée’ doesn’t use visuals or camera ingenuity to mask anything, his films leave his actors open, naked and stripped of all self conscious. This movie isn’t pretentious either. It doesn’t leave much open for interpretation. It gives you Cheryl’s motives, and he demonstrates the causes to her destructibility leaving you believing that a person has not choice but to trek by themselves in order to find themselves. Her demons are enough to make her single journey feel like a medieval cocktail party with her being the main attraction, so its only fitting to exorcise any others beside the audience on her discovery.

This is a real examination and Reese’s interpretation of the real Cheryl Strayed compels to where you want to learn about the actual person. This movie is gritty but not guttural in its pain. Flashbacks of a young Cheryl and her relationship with her mother is heartfelt, but then future reflections of the mother touch a bit of mawkishness towards pandering when she depends on the good graces of the other weary travelers that she encounters. The movie compounds the tone to cloyingly intent of Cheryl always being looked after by good people even though the narrative maintains she doesn’t deserve it necessarily but the movie olive branches her soul for redemption. With a strong movie star carrying the film, to excellent, unwavering direction built around a solid story and powerful character arc, Wild is good, but not Academy Award season good – outside of best actress nomination for Witherspoon.

With the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. After years of reckless, destructive behavior, she makes a rash decision. With absolutely no experience, driven only by sheer determination, Cheryl hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone.

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3 out of 4

 


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