Releasing the Monster Within

maxresdefault14-year old Lewis MacDougall gives one of the 2016’s best performances in a film that is compelling & beautiful. A Monster Calls explores faith, letting go, and the search for healing.

Based on the award-winning book by Patrick Ness, J.A. Bayona directs this drama/fantasy that takes audiences into the unique world of young Conor (MacDougall) who explores life, death, fear, and uncertainty with the assistance of a great and magnificent tree monster (voiced by Liam Neeson). Rogue One’s Felicity Jones and the legendary Sigourney Weaver round out the cast with strong acting and thought-provoking characters.1477624734-1196749690_n

This is a film that offers deep and rich layers in nearly every aspect of filmmaking. With captivating and stunning music (by Fernando Velazquez), wonderful cinematography, and excellent CGI, this flick also has one of the best set designs and sound designs of any film of 2016.

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A Monster Calls provides valuable lessons for living in a world of chaos and rage, for exploring what scares you, and for understanding that even through our most difficult times … we are never fully alone.

A Monster Calls earns a Cinemascene grade of “A+”

  • Noel T. Manning II

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When Men Were Men

by Noel T. Manning II

last-man-club-LMC_Corbin_2mb_rgbDirector Bo Brinkman‘s Last Man Club offers a funny and poignant road trip dramady about a World War II veteran escaping the destiny of forced retirement home living in search of friendship’s past. when Eagle (played by Jim Mackrell) discovers that the life he once knew has long-gone, and he may be forced to nearly exist, he chooses one last adventure and travels the US searching for old war buddies. Along the way he develops an unlikely friendship with Romy (played by Kate French), a young woman escaping an unwanted past, present, and future of her own. The friendship gives fuel to a wild and crazy journey complete with car chases, airplane crashes, shoot-outs & the search to reignite life’s meaning when one discovers things didn’t quite turn out like you planned.

This is truly a sweet story of friendship (old and new), and it explores morality and last-man-club-Presskit-5-Jim-MacKrell,-W_rgbmortality and offers the simple lesson – “Growing old ain’t never easy.” Last Man Club offers an interesting perspective on the choices we all have to make as we age, or as we see those we love age around us. It is a film filled with humor, beautiful scenery, and an excellent story of the power of friendships and commitment. The film is a cross between “Grumpy Old Men”, “Thema & Louise”, and “Cocoon” and offers a wonderful salute to those who serve in America’s armed services past and present, and reminds us that  a war-time experience is a difficult thing to survive, but so is coming home.

last-man-club-Eagle_and_Will_having_a)_look_at_an_old_stearman_ bi-plane_rgbFamiliar faces fill out the cast including Barry Corbin, William Morgan Sheppard, Richard Riehl & Jake Busey. Last Man Club was written, produced, and directed by Bo Brinkman. It is a film Brinkman says has been in the works for decades and was the film that nearly never happened. Check out the interview below for the full story.

The Coens are Back with Goofball Antics

by Noel T. Manning II

Hail, Caesar! offers fun and quirky characters, humorous dialogue & creative set pieces in a mystery/comedy set around a classic Hollywood movie studio.

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The story itself is a simple hostage return for ransom theme, but it is the multiple intricate set pieces and cameos that provide the entertainment value. Channing Tatum as a singing sailor & Scarlett Johansson as a mermaid offer some memorable moments, as well as my favorite character a singing cowboy played by Alden Ehrenreich.

The Coen brothers films are not for everyone and can be an acquired taste – this one is no different. There are certain threads throughout the film that seem thrown in for the pure sake of the fun, with very little connection to the actual storyline. But, for me I still found myself laughing throughout.

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This is not going to be classic Coen in the vein of Oh Brother Where Art Thou, but no one can mug overacting goofball comic faces with the Coens better than George Clooney … and that makes this worth a view, if for nothing else. This will not be one I’ll revisit over and over agin, but I’m happy to have caught it once. This film earns a C+on the Cinemascene scorecard.