Directed by: Todd Haynes Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins Distributed by: Universal Home Video Running time: 126
Film: 4 out of 5 stars A/V: 3 out of 5 stars Extras: 1 out of 5 stars
1975. A group of youngsters out on a Saturday night. They take their trucks and their beer to the local swimming hole and jump in. A pretty standard night for the teenagers in West Virginia (or anywhere else for that matter). They are surprised when they are rousted out of the water by strange men with hoses in boats.
1998. After being informed he is moving up in the law firm he works for, Attorney Rob Billot (Ruffalo) is informed that he has a visitor. The man, a farmer named Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp) has come to ask for help regarding the horrific deaths of cows on his farm. At first Rob hesitates to speak with Wilbur but, when he learns that the man is friends with his grandmother in West Virginia, he agrees to listen. What he hears -and later witnesses – will change his life forever.
At first I thought this film would play out as a male-led version of “Erin Brockovich.” I was wrong. While I enjoyed that Julia Roberts flick, it didn’t pack the heart that “Dark Waters” does. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that Mark Ruffalo is not only a talented actor but he has been, and is, very vocal about the world’s environment. I imagine him hearing the pitch for this film and just saying “yes.” Intentional or not, Ruffalo’s personal passions inhabit his character, and you feel that passion.
Ruffalo is joined by a strong cast of supporting actors, including Hathaway, Robbins (in only his third film in five years), Victor Garber, Mare Winningham and a grizzly Bill Pullman. The script, based on a New York Times magazine article, is strong but not preachy. The direction is strong and Mr. Haynes keeps the film flowing smoothly over it’s two-plus hour length.
Oddly, this is the 2nd time Mark Ruffalo has taken on DuPont. He ended up on the wrong end of a gun in “Foxcatcher” so maybe this film was his way of getting even!
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at STX Entertainment to give (25) readers the chance to win a family pack of (4) passes to attend the Kansas City screening of the new comedy “My Spy.”
The film will be screened on Wednesday, March 11th, at the AMC Studio 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas and will begin at 7:00 pm.
All you have to do is click HERE. The first (25) readers to do so will receive a family pack of (4) passes to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once all allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway is ended. Good luck!
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Lionsgate to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first in Kansas City to see the new film “I Still Believe,” which will be screened on Tuesday, March 10th at the Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City, Missouri. The film begins at 7:00 pm
All you have to do is click HERE. The first 50 readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once all allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway is ended. Good Luck!
ONWARD Starring the voices of: Tom Holland and Chris Pratt Directed by: Dan Scanlon Rated: PG Running time: 1 hr 42 mins Walt Disney
Fathers and sons. As a father (and a son) I can tell you there
is nothing like the bond shared between the two. Films dealing with this special relationship
have been around since time immortal.
From “The Godfather” to “The Lion King,”… from “Field of Dreams” to “Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom,” the celebration of that bond is timeless. So, if you had only 24 hours to discover that
bond, wouldn’t you do ANYTHING to achieve it?
Ian Lightfoot (Holland) is
turning 16 but he doesn’t seem to pleased.
His mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) wants him to invite his friends over
for a party but, with the exception of a few of his classmates, he really doesn’t
have any. Ian lives with his mom and his
older brother, Barley (Pratt). Ian’s
father passed away before Ian was born and today, to honor his pop, Ian is
wearing his dad’s favorite college sweatshirt.
A random meeting with a former classmate of his dad gives Ian a new
insight into him. To make things even
more exciting, his mother gives Ian a present that dad intended to give him on
this special day. It seems that dad was
a fan of wizardry and has bequeathed Ian his staff. He has also given him a spell that will allow
Ian to bring his father back for one day.
A day that Ian will remember forever.
I’ll have to admit that I
went into this film not expecting much.
Obviously, as it was from PIXAR, I knew that visually it would be
amazing (and I was right) but from the previews I didn’t think the story would
hold my attention. WRONG! Helped by the strong vocal performances from
the cast, “Onward” is a fine addition to the proud line up of films the company
has produced. It hits all of the
emotional notes and, if you’ve ever been a child who longed for a few extra
moments alone with your dad, it brings tears to your eyes.
Like most animated films
these days, the cast is top notch.
Holland brings his youthful exuberance to the role while Pratt is all
blustery bravado. Both actors inhabit
their characters. Louis-Dreyfuss,
Octavia Spencer and the rest of the cast do likewise. Visually, the film is gorgeous. Brightly colored and stunningly rendered,
this is a film that can stand proudly next to such recent fare as “Toy Story 4”
and “UP” as a can’t miss hit for the entire family to enjoy!
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Warner Bros. to give (25) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film, “The Way Back,” in Kansas City.
The film, starring Ben Affleck, will be screened on Wednesday, March 4th at the Cinemark 20 and XD Theatres in Merriam, Kansas and starts at 7:00 pm.
All you have to do to attend is click HERE. The first (25) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When all allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway has ended.
THE INVISIBLE MAN Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen Directed by: Leigh Whannell Rated: R Running time: 2 hrs 4 mins Universal
There’s a great joke I first
heard in the eighth grade that deals with a mishap involving Superman, Wonder
Woman and the Invisible Man. I can’t
relate it hear but believe me, the punchline is killer. So is the latest incarnation of the Invisible
We open on a couple in
bed. As Adrian (Jackson-Cohen) sleeps,
Cecilia (Moss) gets up, gathers some things and makes her way quietly out of
the state of the art house. Doing her
best to avoid cameras and not set off alarms, she makes her way to the road,
where a ride is waiting. But she will
soon find out that you can’t run away from some things, no matter how hard you
Genuinely terrifying, with a
tour-de-force performance by Ms. Moss, “The Invisible Man” starts off slowly
and clumsy. 20-minutes in I resigned
myself to the fact that I was going to see a rehash of “Sleeping with the Enemy,”
only with a Patrick Bergin that I couldn’t see.
But just as that thought came into my head, writer/director Whannell
flipped the switch, taking the film into directions I never would have
There have been many attempts
at filming H.G. Wells’ story of a man with the power of invisibility, from the
1933 Universal Horror Classic “The Invisible Man” starring Claude Rains to the
2000 Kevin Bacon-starrer “Hollow Man.”
Heck, even Kurt Russell and Chevy Chase have taken comedic shots at the
story. But here, the main theme is
terror, especially to an audience who is on the edge of their seats, intently
staring at the screen and looking for the slightest hint the bad guy is there.
Moss is a revelation
here. Best known for her television and
streaming work (“Mad Men,” “The Handmaids Tale”) and a strong supporting turn
in last year’s Jordan Peele horror masterpiece, “Us,” she has the unenviable
job of basically interacting with a character that the audience never
sees. Whether arguing, pleading or
physically fighting with our villain, it’s just her on the screen, yet you feel
her terror, especially when she is violently struggling with an entity that she
(nor the audience) can see. Mr.
Whannell, no stranger to horror thanks to his involvement in the “Saw” and “Insidious”
film series, keeps the pace moving (after the first half-hour) and uses his
camera as an almost additional character.
The musical score, by Benjamin Wallfisch (“IT,” “Bladerunner: 2049),
helps set the mood as well. The result
is the most terrifying film since the aforementioned “Us.” By all means, go see it…even if you can’t SEE
This past week Media Mikes celebrated their 10th Anniversary. It seems like only yesterday when Mike Gencarelli and I, who were at the time writing for other websites, decided to start our own. We were Movie Mikes for awhile, until Mike G. had the brilliant idea of helping to promote the upcoming AMC series “The Walking Dead.” His interview series put a big spotlight on the site and convinced us that, rather than be a movie inclusive site, we would cover the entire spectrum of Pop Culture. Hello, Media Mikes.
Since that time we (Mike G, myself and our amazing staff of writers) have reviewed over 1,000 theatrically released films and almost another 2,000 films on DVD/Blu-ray. We’ve told you what we’ve liked and what we haven’t. This week, Jeremy Werner and I have compiled our lists of the Best Films of the past decade. Let us know if you agree with us or if there was a film you think we missed.
Michael A. Smith’s 10 Best Films of the Decade
“1917“ Might as well start with the most recent of the group. An intriguing story that takes you along with it, thanks to the brilliant direction of Sam Mendes and the amazing Oscar-winning Cinematography by Roger Deakins.
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo“ David Fincher at his best. I had not (nor have I) seen the original Swedish trilogy but I walked out of this film stunned by Fincher’s handiwork.
“The Birth of a Nation“ Due to negative publicity surrounding filmmaker Nate Parker, this film never got the true recognition it deserved. A tour-de-force for Parker who not only directed and co-wrote the film but starred in it as well.
“All the Money in the World“Director Ridley Scott took a huge gamble when, due to the negative publicity surrounding star Kevin Spacey, and with the film already completed and awaiting release, he recast Spacey’s role with Christopher Plummer and re-shot all of Spacey’s scenes. Plummer would go on to receive an Oscar nomination for his work.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” THIS is what a bio-pic should be. The story of the greatest front man in Rock and Roll history with a brilliant, Oscar-winning performance by Rami Malik. This is the film ROCKETMAN wanted to be.
“Get Out“Jordan Peele re-wrote the rules on horror films with this Academy Award winning masterpiece. He continued on a roll with his follow-up film, “US.”
“Les Miserables“Hugh Jackman may be the Wolverine to most of the world but to me he delivered his best performance ever here.
“Unbroken” An inspirational true story of heroism and faith capably directed by Angelina Jolie.
“Skyfall” Sean Connery will always be the definitive James Bond, but what Daniel Craig has brought to the character is nothing short of brilliant. His final appearance as Bond is due this year. Bring on Idris Elba!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe. This 23-film series (I’m including this past year’s “Spider-man: Far From Home”) is sure to be a blueprint followed by studios until the end of time. When Robert Downey, Jr informs the smug Thanos “I am Ironman” at the end of “Avengers: End Game” the emotional roller coaster takes one more powerful dip.
Jeremy Werner’s Lists
Instead of the stereotypical Top 10, I cheated a lot on my “Best of the Decade” list. Mainly because I find it incredibly difficult to narrow down my choices to a top 10, much less a top 15. So I created three lists, and put them in no particular order, so I can share my love for these movies that still resonate with me in 2020. I also didn’t want to reveal any biases that I may have on this list, so I didn’t include any description as to why I adore these films.
Best of the Decade
“Inception” “Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse” “Drive” “1917” “Nightcrawler” “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
“Silver Linings Playbook” “The Lego Movie” “Mad Max: Fury Road” “Swiss Army Man”
“Eighth Grade” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” “Inside Out” “Gravity” “12 Years a Slave” “Wolf of Wall Street” “Inside Out” “Zootopia” “Get Out” “Parasite”
Honorable Mentions: “Midsommar” “Bridesmaids” “Edge of Tomorrow” “Detroit” “Hell or High Water” “Baby Driver” “Life of Pi” “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” “Blade Runner 2049” “Sicario” “Blackkklansman” “Dredd” “Under the Skin” “The Spectacular Now” “The Florida Project”
So Weird, Shocking, or Unexplainable, they have to be mentioned, even if they aren’t great: “Climax” “Mandy” “Sorry to Bother You” “Mom and Dad” “One Cut of the Dead” “The Neon Demon” “The Greasy Strangler” “mother!” “Hobo with a Shotgun” “We are the Flesh”
Michael D. Smith’s 10 Best Films of the Decade
Coming up with a top ten list for a year is difficult enough, but it is at least ten times more maddening to finalize the best of a decade! So, I cheated a bit and added five honorable mentions. As I looked back, I picked those that pushed the envelope in some way or left an impression with me that still reverberates to present day. Beginning with #10…
10. “Hell or High Water” 9. “Prisoners” 8. “Inception” 7. “Ex Machina” 6. “A Quiet Place” 5. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” 4. “The Revenant” 3. “Get Out” 2. “Lincoln” 1. “12 Years A Slave”
Honorable Mentions: “Snowpiercer” “The Skin I Live In” “Logan” “Arrival” “Interstellar”
Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie and Scarlett Johansson
Running Time: 108 mins
Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars
Nominated for six Academy
Awards and much-deserved winner of the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, “JoJo
Rabbit” is unlike anything you’d ever expect to see. Unless, of course, you were looking to see a
film about a young German boy during World War II whose best (and imaginary)
friend is Adolf Hitler.
10-year old JoJo (Davis)
lives with his mother, Rosie (Johansson) in a small town in Germany. It is the time of the second world war and,
like a good German boy, JoJo is anticipating his upcoming trip to the Kinderlandverschickung,
which was a camp designed to indoctrinate young boys and girls into the ways of
the Nazi party. Think of it as the
boy/girl scouts but with grenades. JoJo
can’t wait to wear the uniform and display the dagger given to all of the
Hitler Youth. However, after declaring
that he is ready to kill for the Fuhrer, he is given a rabbit to kill to prove
his fierceness. Unable to do so, he
attempts to set the rabbit free, earning him the mocking laughter of his fellow
campers and the nickname “JoJo Rabbit.”
Despite this shame, he is encouraged to walk the Nazi Party line by his
imaginary friend, Hitler himself (played by the film’s writer/director Taika
Waititi), To make matters worse, JoJo
discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl (McKenzie) in their
house. Whatever is a young Nazi to do?
Brilliantly written and
skillfully directed, “JoJo Rabbit” is well deserving of its Oscar nominations,
among them Best Picture. You have to
walk a fine line to be able to laugh at one of the most horrible times in our
world’s history and Mr. Waititi walks it like he was a member of the Wallenda
family. The film is also carried by the
amazing performances delivered. Mr.
Davis, who was eleven years old when he made the film (his first professional
acting gig) received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or
Musical and, if not for the strong field this year, could have quite easily
been up for an Oscar as well. Also
turning in fine work are Ms. McKenzie and Ms. Johansson, who was named the year’s
Best Supporting Actress by the readers of Media Mikes earlier this year for her
work here. Strong supporting work from
Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant and Mr. Waititi round out a
There are some great
supplements included under the EXTRA tab, including three deleted scenes,
Outtakes, a nice behind-the-scenes featurette and an insightful audio
commentary by writer/director Taika Waititi.
Also included are the film’s teaser and theatrical trailer.
DOWNHILL Starring: Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss Directed by: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash Rated: R Searchlight Pictures
WARNING: Do not be
fooled by the previews for the film “Downhill” which highlight a few humorous
scenes from the film. If it’s funny you’re
looking for…this aint it!
Pete and Billie (Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfuss) have arrived in
Austria for a skiing vacation with their children. On the surface things seem fine and the first
night in their hotel goes swimmingly.
The next morning Pete brings out his father’s old ski hat and we learn
that he is still grieving the man’s passing several months before. While lunching on the terrace of their chalet
a “planned” avalanche heads towards the chalet and buries everyone on the
terrace in a pile of snow. Except for
Pete. At the moment of truth he has
hopped off his chair, grabbed his cell phone and run off, leaving Billie to try
to shield her sons from the white peril.
They are fine but Billie can not understand why Pete left them. And here is where we learn the film’s title
refers not to the skiing but to Pete and Billie’s relationship. Are you laughing yet?
Based on a French film titled “Force Majeure” – a term which
is defined as “unforeseeable
circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract” – “Downhill” is
more a drama than a comedy. Pete must
deal with his feelings of loss regarding his father and the look of shame in
his boy’s eyes for his cowardice. Billie
must deal with her perceived loss of trust in Pete to look out for and care for
the family. A “chance” meeting with one
of Pete’s co-workers and his lady friend, both of whom seem carefree compared
to Pete and Billie, only make things worse.
There are some funny parts but most of them are contributed by Miranda
Otto who plays “Charlotte,” a lady at the chalet looking to enjoy her life and
the adventures it holds.
Not to say that Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfuss aren’t fine in
their roles. They each handle the
dramatics well. I think it’s the fact
that the film took me off guard concerning it’s theme that resulted in the
rating I’ve given it. I mean, I honestly
think I laughed more at “Joker.” Co-directors
Faxon and Rash also did the same thing on a film I loved called “The Way Way
Back.” They also co-wrote it, as the did
here along with Jessie Armstrong. “The
Way Way Back” was also a mix of drama and comedy but it had something that “Downhill”
is clearly missing. Heart.
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at 20th Century Studios to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “The Call of the Wild,” starring Harrison Ford.
The film will be shown on Thursday, February 13th at the B &B Overland Park 16 in Overland Park, Kansas and will start at 7:00 pm
All you have to do to attend is click HERE. The first (50) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve screening. Once the allotted number of passes have been claimed,t he giveaway is ended. Enjoy the show!
“Parasite,” the South Korean thriller directed by Bong Joon-ho, made Oscar history tonight when it became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards. In doing so, it took down more heavily favored films like “1917” and “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood.”
Director Bong Joon-ho became the first person to take home four awards in one ceremony, winning Oscars as the director, co-producer and co-writer of the film. He also received the award as the director of the year’s Best International Feature Film.
Joaquin Phoenix was named Best Actor for his work in “Joker” while Renee’ Zellwegger took home the Best Actress award for her portrayal of Hollywood legend Judy Garland in “Judy.”
Supporting Oscars went to Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” and Laura Dern for “Marriage Story.” Dern paid tribute to her parents, former Oscar nominees Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, in her acceptance speech.
“Toy Story 4” was named the years Best Animated Feature. Here is a complete list of tonight’s winners:
Bong Joon-ho – “Parasite”
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Joaquin Phoenix – “Joker”
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Renée Zellweger – “Judy”
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Brad Pitt – “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Laura Dern – “Marriage Story”
“Parasite” – screenplay by Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won
“Jojo Rabbit” – screenplay by Taika Waititi
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Toy Story 4”
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
“Parasite” – South Korea
DOCUMENTARY – FEATURE
DOCUMENTARY – SHORT SUBJECT
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
“The Neighbors’ Window”
ANIMATED SHORT FILM
“Joker” – Hildur Guðnadóttir
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from “Rocketman” written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Kirk Douglas, one of the last
remaining stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age, died today at the age of 103. He leaves behind not only an amazing legacy
on screen but one off of it as well.
Born Issur Danielovitch
Demsky on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, to Russian immigrant
parents, the family adopted the last name of Demsky, which was the last name
taken by his uncle, who came to America before his parents. He spent his younger years working several
jobs to help support his family – he had six sisters – and did so up until he
joined the United States Navy. Prior to
enlisting he legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas. He served on a submarine during World War II
and was discharged in 1944 due to injuries sustained during an accident.
He began his acting career when
he was granted a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was able to support himself, barely, by
doing a lot of radio work. He made his
stage debut when he replaced Richard Widmark in “Kiss and Tell.” He made his film debut in 1946 after a former
Dramatic Academy Classmate named Lauren Bacall recommend him to a
director. That film, “The Strange Love
of Martha Ivers,” co-starred Barbara Stanwyck and help launch his extraordinary
Always enjoying his work in
the theater, Douglas made his Broadway debut three years later. That same year he starred in the film “Champion.” His performance earned him his first of six
Academy Award nominations.
For the next six decades he
starred in some of the greatest films of their eras, including “The Bad and the
Beautiful” (Oscar nomination), “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Lust for Life”
(Oscar nomination), “Paths of Glory,” “Spartacus,” and “Seven Days in May.”
But it was more than his film
work that Douglas will be remembered for.
Despite Dalton Trumbo’s name on the Hollywood “blacklist,” Douglas, who
was also the executive producer of “Spartacus” not only hired Trumbo to write
the screenplay for the film but gave him screen credit. Douglas often said that hiring and supporting
Trumbo was the proudest moment of his career.
Douglas bought the rights to
the Ken Kesey novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and in 1963 had it
adapted into a play, in which he starred.
He tried for many years to produce a film version of the play but could
never find the monetary backing. He gave
the rights to the property to his son, Michael who, with producer Saul Zaentz
financed the 1975 film version. Though
Douglas had played the main character of Randle McMurphy on stage, he was
deemed too old to play the role on film.
The part went to Jack Nicholson, who won his first Academy Award for his
performance. The film went on to earn
nine Academy Award nominations and became the second film in history to win the
top five Oscar categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay).
In 1996 he was given an
honorary Academy Award in recognition of his amazing career and for being a creative and moral force in the motion
Douglas was married twice and
is survived by his wife Ann, who will amazingly turn 101 in April, and sons
Michael, Joel and Peter. His youngest son,
Eric, passed away in 2004.
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends from Fox Searchlight to give (35) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new comedy “Downhill,” starring Will Farrell and Julia Louis Dreyfuss.
The film will be screened on Monday, February 10th at the AMC Town Center 20 Theatre in Leawood, Kansas and will start at 7:00 pm
If you want to attend the screening, just click HERE. The first (35) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first served giveaway. Once all allotted passes have been claimed the giveaway is ended. Good luck!
Media Mikes has teamed with their friends at Universal Pictures to give their Kansas City readers the chance to be among the first to see the new romantic comedy “The Photograph,” starring Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield.
The film will be screened on Wednesday, February 12th at the Cinemark 20 and XD Cinemas in Merriam, Kansas and will start at 7:30 pm.
If you’d like to attend, please click HERE. Random entries will be chosen on February 10th and the winners notified. Good luck!
NO PURCHASE REQUIRED.
THE PHOTOGRAPH has been rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13) for sexuality and brief strong language.