Monday, January 27, 2014

"Drinking Buddies" (2013)

Starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick
Written and directed by Joe Swanberg
Rated R - Strong language, drinking
Running Time: 90 Minutes

Mmm... beer. Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are coworkers at a brewery in Chicago. The two have an easy, flirty friendship that involves a lot of laughter and drinks. At first glance, it would seem like these two are either dating or they should be.

But Kate is in a relationship with Chris (Ron Livingston) and Luke goes home every night to Jill (Anna Kendrick). Both of these relationships are strained. Chris isn't sure what Kate sees in him, and the two don't seem to share many common interests. For Jill and Luke, it's a similar situation. Luke says he wants to marry Jill, but feels that the "timing isn't right," leaving them both in a sort of emotional limbo.

One weekend, the four go for a trip to his family's cabin. The weekend is somewhat awkward, as neither couple spends much time with each other. That is, Chris spends his time with Jill while Luke and Kate do their own thing. Things get worse when Jill and Chris share a kiss. Not long after returning from the cabin, Chris breaks up with Kate, sending her spiraling out of control.

Luke seems to be growing even closer to Kate as Jill distances herself from him. Will Luke and Kate finally get together?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" (2014)

Starring Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh
Written by Adam Cozad and David Koepp
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Rated PG-13 - Violence, language
Running Time: 105 Minutes

John P. "Jack" Ryan (Chris Pine) is an analyst working for a major Wall Street firm. He's a former Marine, injured in Afghanistan, who had a long and painful road recovering.

He also secretly works for the CIA. Recruited by Tom Harper (Kevin Costner), it is Ryan's job to monitor the economy for any sign of funding being funneled to terrorists. When Ryan uncovers some strange doings by a Russian company partnered with his own, he heads to Moscow to investigate further.

But Ryan's enemies know he's on their trail, and upon arriving at his hotel, Ryan is attacked by the man who's supposed to be his bodyguard. Barely surviving, Ryan contacts the CIA and meets up with Harper who convinces him he needs to stay the course and help him figure out exactly what is going on at the company headed by Cheverin (Kenneth Branagh).

Ryan begins to suspect that Cheverin is planning some kind of terror attack designed to cripple the United States economy. But Ryan is thrown when his girlfriend Kathy (Keira Knightley) appears in Moscow to surprise him. Now she's drawn into the same dangerous world Ryan finds himself thrust into, trying to avert a devastating blow to America that would kill thousands.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Lone Survivor" (2013)

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch and Ben Foster
Written and directed by Peter Berg
Rated R - Strong violence, language
Running Time: 121 Minutes

In 2005, a four-man Navy SEAL recon team consisting of Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matthew Axelson (Ben Foster) is dropped onto a mountain in Afghanistan. Their mission is to scout the area surrounding a remote village where a Taliban leader named Ahmad Shah (Yousuf Azami) is believed to be hiding a week after orchestrating an attack that killed 20 US Marines.

At first, the only trouble the men run into is problem with their communications. But high up on the mountain, they manage to locate their target and set the stage for phase two of the operation. But while waiting for their backup, the team is discovered by three goat shepherds, one of whom is just a young boy. After a brief argument, the team decides to let the shepherds go and change positions.

Unfortunately, one of the shepherds alerts Shah's men that the SEALs are hiding up in the woods, and soon enough the mountain is crawling with enemies. The men are outnumbered and outgunned. Not knowing if or when backup will arrive, the team must rely on only themselves as the enemy forces close in from all sides.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013)

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie
Written by Terence Winter
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Rated R - Strong language, frequent drug use, graphic nudity/sex, some violence
Running Time: 179 Minutes

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a man destined to be rich. Arriving on Wall Street in his early 20s, he quickly catches the notice of the brokers above him, including Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) who takes him to lunch and teaches him the secrets of his success. Soon enough, though, the market crash of the late 80s leaves Belfort jobless. Desperate, he takes a position selling penny stocks at a small accounting firm where he's shocked to find he can make 50% commission selling junk stocks to desperate losers.

Inspiration takes hold. Belfort practically takes over the place, up-selling these lame stocks with the promise of huge profits and taking massive commissions. It's not long before he starts his own firm with his neighbor, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill). Belfort hires a bunch of his childhood friends, most of whom are just drug dealers, and teaches them how to sell stocks over the phone.

Business booms, and Belfort's firm quickly explodes onto the Wall Street scene. And now he's got a new target: Rather than sell junk stocks to desperate people for a few thousand dollars, why not sell them to rich people for much, much more? With all of his fantastic success, Belfort's life becomes a roller coaster of debauched excess. He falls for a former model, Naomi (Margot Robbie), and it ruins his first marriage to a hair dresser Teresa (Cristin Milioti).

His office is so out of control, he's forced to hire his father "Mad" Max Belfort (Rob Reiner) to keep everyone in line. That includes declaring the bathrooms "No-fuck zones" to keep employees from having sex during working hours.

All of this catches the eye of FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler), who becomes determined to unravel Belfort's life. But Belfort's escalating drug use and misbehavior might make that job easier...