REVIEW: WILD

CAST

Reese Witherspoon (Devil’s Knot)
Laura Dern (Jurassic Park)
Gaby Hoffman (Volcano)
Thomas Sadoski (John Wick)
Keene McRae (CBGB)
Michael Huisman (Game of Thrones)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Brian Van Holt (House of Wax)
Cliff De Young (Flight of The Navigator)
Jan Hoag (Scream Queens)

In June 1995, despite a lack of hiking experience, recent divorcée Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) leaves Minneapolis, Minnesota, to hike 1,100 miles of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail[6] on a journey of self-discovery and healing. During the hike, Strayed reflects in flashbacks on her childhood in Minnesota and memories of her mother, Bobbi Grey (Laura Dern). Bobbi’s death from cancer sent Cheryl into a deep depression that she tried to numb with heroin and anonymous sex, which eventually destroyed her marriage to her husband Paul (Thomas Sadoski). After finding out she was pregnant, Strayed got an abortion and resolved to hike the trail to redeem herself.Strayed begins her trek in the Mojave Desert in Southern California. On the first night, she discovers she has brought the wrong type of gas for her stove and is therefore unable to cook food. After a few more days, Strayed meets Frank (W. Earl Brown), a farmer and construction worker who takes her in for the night and with his wife offers her a home-cooked meal and a warm shower.Strayed meets a hiker named Greg (Kevin Rankin) who agrees to meet her at Kennedy Meadows, California. Upon arrival, she meets a camper named Ed (Cliff DeYoung) who helps Strayed strategically lighten her overweight backpack and convinces her to replace her undersized hiking boots with a new pair, to be delivered to a future stop on the trail. Strayed continues her hike into Northern California despite Greg’s warnings of deep snowfall. After removing a boot to remove a loose toenail, the boot accidentally falls down an inaccessibly deep slope, forcing her to continue the journey wearing sandals reinforced with duct tape. Strayed’s best friend Aimee sends her provisions to stops along the trail, including letters that congratulate her on her progress. Strayed also receives letters from her ex-husband Paul along the way. On the morning of Day 58, Strayed is out of water and desperately licks the dew off her tent. Dehydrated and near exhaustion, she siphons water from a muddy puddle. While she waits for her water to disinfect, two hunters approach, one making suggestive remarks that leave Strayed feeling threatened and vulnerable. This causes her to quickly leave and run away. Strayed makes her way out of California and arrives in Ashland, Oregon, where she meets a man named Jonathan (Michiel Huisman), with whom she attends a concert and later spends the night. Days later, Strayed arrives at Mount Hood National Forest and encounters a friendly group of young hikers who share their experiences. The hikers recognize her from the signatures she’s been leaving in the hiker’s record books along the PCT. Strayed frequently leaves quotes or poems that are meaningful to her along her journey.One rainy day, Strayed finds a llama that escaped from a young boy hiking with his grandmother. Strayed chats with the boy, who asks her about her parents. After she mentions her mother’s death, the boy sings “Red River Valley” to Strayed, saying it is a song his mother used to sing to him. As the boy leaves, Strayed breaks down and cries. On September 15, after hiking for 94 days, Strayed reaches the Bridge of the Gods on the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, ending her journey. At various points along the trail, including at the end of the bridge, Strayed encounters a red fox, which she interprets as carrying the spirit of her mother watching over her. She reflects that, four years in the future, she will remarry, five years after that have a son and one year after that have a daughter named Bobbi, after Strayed’s mother.I really enjoyed this film. It’s based on a true story and has plenty of atmosphere and feelings. The extras are also good, especially how Reese Witherspoon contacted the Author of the book and asked her if she could make it into a film as she liked the book so much. I highly recommend this film.

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REVIEW: JURASSIC PARK III

CAST

Sam Neill (The Piano)
William H.Macy (The Cooler)
Téa Leoni (Ghost Town)
Alessandro Nivola (The Eye)
Trevor Morgan (The Glass House)
Michael Jeter (The Fisher King)
John Diehl (Nixon)
Laura Dern (Everything Must Go)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Linda Park (Star Trek: Enterprise)

Ben Hildebrand and 12-year-old Eric Kirby go parasailing around the waters of Isla Sorna. An unknown creature attacks and kills the boat crew, forcing Ben to detach the line; he and Eric drift towards the island. On the mainland, Dr. Alan Grant has become famous after his involvement at Jurassic Park, while Ellie Sattler is married and has two children. Grant discusses with Sattler how raptors are far more intelligent than they had previously believed. At a dig site, Grant’s assistant, Billy Brennan, demonstrates how he can use a 3D printer to replicate a Velociraptor larynx.

Paul and Amanda Kirby, a seemingly wealthy couple, offer Grant funding for his research if he will give them an aerial tour of Isla Sorna. Desperate for research support, Grant reluctantly agrees. He flies there along with Paul, Amanda, Billy, and the Kirbys’ mercenary associates, Udesky, Cooper, and their pilot Nash. On the plane, Grant learns that the Kirbys actually plan to land on the island. When Grant opposes, he is knocked out by Cooper and wakes to the sound of Amanda using a megaphone. This attracts a Spinosaurus, which devours Cooper and Nash, and causes the plane to crash into the forest. Fleeing, the survivors briefly lose the Spinosaurus, only to encounter a Tyrannosaurus rex. The Spinosaurus returns, but the group escapes while the two carnivores fight each other. The Spinosaurus overpowers the T. rex and kills it.

Grant learns the Kirbys are actually a middle-class divorced couple, who are looking for their son Eric, and Amanda’s boyfriend Ben, who have been missing on the island for eight weeks. Later, the group finds the parasail with Ben’s corpse attached. The group takes the parasail, and then encounter raptor nests. They find an abandoned InGen compound, where Amanda is ambushed by a raptor. The group manages to trap it, but it escapes and contacts the rest of its pack. The group flees into a herd of Corythosaurus and Parasaurolophus, causing a stampede, separating Grant and Udesky from the others. Grant retrieves Billy’s satchel, while Udesky is killed by the raptors.

Grant suspects the raptors are searching for something, while observing two of them communicating. He is then ambushed and cornered by the raptors, but is rescued by Eric, who managed to survive in an overturned water truck. The next day, Grant and Eric hear Paul’s satellite phone ringing and are reunited with the Kirbys and Billy. Paul explains that he gave the phone to Nash before he was devoured, before the group is attacked by the Spinosaurus. After the group escapes, Grant discovers Billy took two raptor eggs to use for funding, which provoked the raptor attacks. He decides to keep the eggs to ensure the group’s survival. The group unknowingly enters a large aviary used to house Pteranodons, which attack the group and fly away with Eric. Billy rescues Eric by using Ben’s parasail, but is then attacked and seemingly killed by the Pteranodons. The rest of the group escapes the aviary, unintentionally leaving the door unlocked. They make their way downriver using a boat.

That night, the group hears the phone ringing buried in the faeces of the Spinosaurus and retrieves it. As rain falls, Grant tries to contact Sattler, but the Spinosaurus attacks the boat. Grant and Paul scare it off by setting the boat’s fuel on fire. The next day, the group makes their way towards the shoreline, but are surrounded by the raptors once again. The eggs are surrendered to the raptors, while Grant uses the replicated raptor larynx to confuse the pack, who run off with the eggs. The group flees to the coast and find that Sattler had called in the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy to rescue them. They discover that Billy, while seriously injured, is still alive. As they leave the island, they see the Pteranodons flying free, and Grant muses they are looking for new nesting grounds.Overall though, “Jurassic Park 3” is well-acted, generally passably written (by “Election”‘s Alexander Payne and two other writers) and offers up just what it says it will – 90 minutes of solid thrills, well-staged and consistently exciting. It certainly won’t go down as one of best films films, but I definitely thought it was  most entertaining.

REVIEW: JURASSIC PARK

CAST

Sam Neill (The Piano)
Laura Dern (Everything Must Go)
Jeff Goldblum (The Fly)
Richard Attenborough (Doctor Dolittle)
Joseph Mazzello (The Social Network)
Ariana Richards (Timescape)
Bob Peck (The Storyteller)
Martin Ferrero (Get Shorty)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers Assemble)
Miguel Sandoval (Collateral Damage)
B.D. Wong (Gotham)

Industrialist John Hammond and his bioengineering company, InGen, have created a theme park called Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar, a tropical Costa Rican island populated with cloned dinosaurs. After one of the park workers is killed by a Velociraptor, the park’s investors, represented by lawyer Donald Gennaro, insist that experts visit the park and certify it as safe. Gennaro invites mathematician Ian Malcolm, while Hammond invites paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler. Upon arrival, the group is stunned to see a live Brachiosaurus.

At the visitor center, the group learns that the cloning was accomplished by extracting dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes that had been preserved in amber. DNA from frogs was used to fill in gaps in the dinosaur genomes. To prevent breeding, all the dinosaurs were made female. Malcolm scoffs at the idea of such controlled breeding, declaring it impossible. The crew witness the birth of a baby raptor and visit the raptor enclosure. Grant, Sattler, and Malcolm have reservations about the idea of resurrecting dinosaurs, but Hammond and Gennaro dismiss their fears.

The group is then joined by Hammond’s grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy, for a tour of the park, while Hammond oversees the trip from the park’s control room. The tour does not go as planned, with the dinosaurs failing to appear. The group later encounters a sick Triceratops. The tour is cut short as a tropical storm approaches Isla Nublar. Most of the park employees depart on a boat for the mainland and the visitors return to their electric tour vehicles, except Ellie, who stays with the park’s veterinarian to study the Triceratops.

Jurassic Park’s computer programmer, Dennis Nedry, has been bribed by Dodgson, a man involved with a corporate rival, to steal dinosaur embryos. Nedry deactivates the park’s security system to gain access to the embryo storage room. Nedry stores the embryos inside a canister disguised as Barbasol shaving cream, supplied by Dodgson. Because of Nedry, the power goes out and the tour vehicles become stuck. Most of the park’s electric fences are deactivated as well, allowing the Tyrannosaurus to escape and attack the tour group. Grant, Lex, and Tim escape while the Tyrannosaurus injures Malcolm and devours Gennaro. On his way to deliver the embryos to the island’s docks, Nedry becomes lost in the rain, crashes his Jeep, and is killed by a Dilophosaurus.

Sattler assists the park’s game warden, Robert Muldoon, in a search for survivors, but they only find an injured Malcolm before the Tyrannosaurus returns. Grant, Tim, and Lex spend the night in a tree, and befriend a Brachiosaurus. Later, they discover the broken shells of dinosaur eggs. Grant concludes that the dinosaurs have been breeding, which occurred because of their frog DNA—West African bullfrogs can change their sex in a single-sex environment, allowing the dinosaurs to do so as well, proving Malcolm right.

Unable to decipher Nedry’s code to reactivate the security system, Hammond and the park’s chief engineer Ray Arnold opt to reboot the entire park’s system. The group shuts down the park’s grid and retreats to an emergency bunker, while Arnold heads to a maintenance shed to complete the rebooting process. When Arnold fails to return, Sattler and Muldoon head to the shed. They discover the shutdown has deactivated the remaining fences and released the raptors. Muldoon distracts the raptors while Sattler goes to turn the power back on before being attacked by a raptor and discovering Arnold’s severed arm. Meanwhile, Muldoon is caught off-guard and killed by the other two raptors.

Grant, Tim and Lex reach the visitor center. Grant heads out to look for Sattler. Tim and Lex are pursued by the raptors in an industrial kitchen, but they escape and join Grant and Sattler. Lex restores full power from the control room, allowing the group to call for help. The group is cornered by the raptors, but escape when the Tyrannosaurus suddenly appears and attacks the raptors. Hammond arrives in a Jeep with Malcolm, and the entire group boards a helicopter to leave the island.All these years later, the leaps in visual magic that made Jurassic Park such an eye-opening experience at the time still impress, in a film loaded with thrill-ride action, some genuine scares and suspense and general filmmaking expertise on the part of Spielberg and his team.

 

 

REVIEW: EVERYTHING MUST GO

CAST

Will Ferrell (The Lego Movie)
Christopher Jordan Wallace (Kicks)
Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3)
Rosalie Michaels (The Graves)
Stephen Root (Jersey Girl)
Laura Dern (Jurassic Park)
Glenn Howerton (Serenity)
Jason Spisak (Time Lapse)
Michael Pena (The Martian)

Salesman Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) is fired from his job of 16 years following an unspecified incident in Denver related to his alcoholism. He sits in the parking garage after leaving the office, drinking from a flask. He then takes the Swiss Army Knife he was given as a farewell gift and stabs it into his supervisor’s car tires, only to leave the knife (which has his name on it) and run away when he is unable to pull it back out from the tire. He immediately drives to a convenience store and buys a large amount of beer. When he returns home, he finds his wife is gone, the locks have been changed, and his belongings have been strewn all over his front lawn. His wife has left him a letter telling him that she is leaving him, also over the Denver incident, and to not contact her.

Nick spends the night on the lawn. In the morning, he leaves to buy beer and food, returning to find his company car being taken back. In addition, his credit cards no longer work, he has been blocked from the joint checking account he has with his wife, and his phone service is terminated. When the police ask him to vacate the premises, Nick gets them to contact his AA sponsor, Detective Frank Garcia (Michael Peña), who provides him with a permit for a yard sale, allowing him three more days before he must move on. Nick gets a neighborhood boy, Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), to help him sell his possessions, assuring Kenny he will pay him for the help, and also that he will teach him to play baseball. The first day’s sale is unsuccessful as Nick is unwilling to let items go.

Nick meets his new neighbor, a pregnant young woman named Samantha (Rebecca Hall), and invites her to his backyard. There, he tells her that he had been sober for six months until attending a conference in Denver, during which he had gotten blackout drunk with a female coworker; he awoke with no memory of the night before, and soon learned that she had lodged a complaint against him, setting the stage for his firing. Nick then finds a yearbook with a friendly message from an old classmate, Delilah (Laura Dern), whom he tracks down and visits. The reunion is awkward, but Delilah nevertheless gives Nick a hug and tells him that he is a good person deep down. Now completely broke, Nick has to go without alcohol and soon experiences withdrawal. Samantha gives him a Valium and tells him that he needs help. He replies that she is no better than him because she puts up with her husband’s drinking and frequent absences. Samantha storms off, angry and hurt.

The next morning Nick awakes to find Kenny has arranged his belongings on the lawn and has put price tags on them. Most of the things get sold by that evening. Nick apologizes to Samantha, who admits that he was right and that she had told her husband to come home or get a divorce. She, Nick and Kenny then go out to dinner. In the restaurant restroom, Nick encounters his former supervisor, who explains that the incident in Denver probably did not happen. They fired the female employee he got drunk with because it was discovered she has a history of suing fellow employees for sexual harassment, and that Nick probably would have gotten his job back if only he hadn’t slashed the supervisor’s tires. Nick expresses little reaction to this news, but when the supervisor leaves a glass of beer in the restroom, Nick takes it back to him without drinking a drop.

After dinner, Nick meets with Frank, and answers Frank’s phone while he steps out of his office. The caller is Nick’s wife, Catherine, telling Frank she is waiting at his house. Nick confronts Frank, who admits Catherine has been staying with him ever since she left Nick. The two men have a fight, and Frank says Catherine deserves better than Nick. It is also divulged that Nick and his wife were both recovering alcoholics. Later, while Frank drives Nick home, he observes that, because Catherine got sober and Nick didn’t, their marriage had little chance of succeeding, and proceeds to list the ways Nick failed her as a husband. He then hands Nick a packet of divorce papers for him to sign, along with some spending money and keys to the house. Nick tells Frank to drop him off on the nearest curb; before he gets out of the car, he asks Frank to tell his wife he’s sorry. He walks home the rest of the way, at one point stopping to look into the convenience store where he regularly bought beer, but moves on.
As Can She: Rebecca Hall (Samantha) in ‘Everything Must Go’
The next day, he settles up with Kenny – including repaying him for what he skimmed from Kenny’s profits for beer money – and receives an appreciative hug from Samantha, whose husband has come home. She hands him the Polaroid photo she took of him a few days prior, with the message from her fortune cookie taped to the bottom, which says “Everything is not yet lost.”

It’s a really good story that’s well worth watching, but quite sad and raw at times (albeit with uplifting moments).

REVIEW: NOVOCAINE

CAST

Steve Martin (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speach)
Laura Dern (Jurassic Park)
Elias Koteas (Fallen)
Scott Caan (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Kevin Bacon (A Few Good Men)
Keith David (Pitch Black)

Image result for NOVOCAINE FILM
Generally, the film is a dark and quirky “tragicomedy”. The “everyman” protagonist, Dr. Frank Sangster (Steve Martin), is a dentist with a fairly pleasant but rather innocuous, ordinary and uneventful life. But all of this gets derailed, and Frank’s life descends into an increasingly complex mess, from the minute a beautiful and seductive new patient named Susan Ivey (Helena Bonham Carter) comes to him, seeking a root canal and a little pain relief…
On Susan’s initial office visit, Frank schedules her for a root canal the very next day, and offers her some Ibuprofen to address her pain in the meanwhile. Claiming that she is allergic to the offered medication, Susan requests a prescription for the addictive pain-killer Demerol. Frank provides the prescription, but only for five tablets. However, Susan changes the dosage from five tablets to fifty when she collects the medication from her pharmacist.
Susan arrives for her appointment twelve hours late, having mistaken the time. She seduces Frank, talking him into getting drunk and having sex with her. During the night, Susan steals all of Frank’s narcotics. The next day, there is a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agent at Frank’s office demanding to see the dentist’s narcotics supply, because an 18-year-old has driven a car off a cliff under the influence of cocaine hydrochloride from a bottle registered to the dentist. Knowing that Susan has stolen his entire drug supply, Frank puts the agent off, saying he’ dispensed it all to patients. The agent leaves with the promise that if Frank fails to produce the empty containers in two days, the DEA will place him under arrest.
That night Frank goes to Susan’s hotel room to demand the empty containers, threatening that he’ll call the police if she doesn’t provide them. Once again, she overrides his initial intentions and seduces him – with the result that they have sex and he spends the night with her. The next day at his office, Frank is confronted by Susan’s brother, Duane Ivey (Scott Caan) having a violent scene, saying: “Stay the hell away from my sister” and “I don’t appreciate your threats”. Duane ends the conversation with, “I don’t ever want to see you again, because if I do, goddamn it, I’m gonna hurt you.”
That night, Frank returns to Susan’s hotel room and, assuming that Susan is the form he sees the bed, starts talking to her. The person under the blanket turns out to be not Susan but brother Duane, who leaps up and attacks Frank, attempting to strangle him. Frank takes scissors from a nearby desk and stabs Duane in the hand, impaling him and embedding the scissors. Frank flees, stopping off at a bar to calm down. On arriving at home, just minutes ahead of his girlfriend Jean (Laura Dern), he finds Duane dead on the floor.
Police arrive on the scene to question Frank. Comically adding to Frank’s distress and anxiety is actor Lance Phelps (Kevin Bacon), a hack actor doing research for a role, and permitted by the police to question Frank at aggressive levels that cause Frank heightened discomfort. After the police arrive and depart, Frank tells Jean about the whole ordeal. A while later, Frank is arrested for the murder of Duane Ivey based on finding Frank’s teeth marks on the body – that someone else put there after killing Duane. After Frank breaks free, all of Chicago is on the look out for him. He goes to his office in the night, only to find his brother Harlan lying dead. At this point, it is revealed that Frank’s girlfriend Jean is behind all of the killing. She killed Duane with a shotgun and created dentures of Frank’s teeth using his dental equipment and bit Duane’s corpse with them. She was also in cahoots with Harlan, with whom she was having an affair. Unfortunately for Harlan, her plan was to eventually kill him as well with the shotgun to tie up all loose ends and make it appear that Frank killed him after Duane. Realizing he’ll never be free without starting over, Frank pulls out all of his dead brother’s teeth, as well as all of his own. Frank uses his dental skills to place his own teeth into his dead brother’s skull, and then sets fire to the dental office with Harlan’s corpse, replete with replaced teeth, left inside. Frank and Susan, now lovers, escape to France, where they live happily ever after in a little cottage on the countryside.
Meanwhile, Jean’s attempts to frame Frank fall apart. Unbeknownst to her, Harlan was playing with a medical video camera while he was shot and the recovered footage shows Jean firing the shotgun at the camera holder but fails to show it was Harlan who was shot. Therefore, the police wrongly assume that Jean shot Frank and arrest her.
The movie was indeed a comedy, allbeit a dark comedy. It’s the kind of humor where you laugh, but with your hand over your mouth to cover up the fact that your humor is a bit deranged.Laura Dern, Steve Martin, Helena Bonham Carter, and Kevin Bacon all turn in super performances. It was a fun ride, and the who-done-it guessing game was much fun!