Room (2015)

Being trapped in Room for nearly two hours was a claustrophobic delight for this moviegoer, let me tell ya.  It was the first drama in a long time that I physically felt the tension and gravitas displayed on screen.  I was impressed with the layered performances and “…surprisingly credible survival tale” (as Eric Kohn of Indiewire put it).

Theatrical trailer here.

I had no idea of this movie’s existence until just a few months ago when the Awards season kicked up, and this low budget Canadian-Irish drama started to shine to critics and audiences both.  After the 88th Oscars, and Brie Larson’s unquestionable win of Best Actress, I ran to the store and picked it off the shelf.  I wanted to know what the big hype around the picture was all about–especially the performances of the two leads.  My first words after the credits started to roll: “Whoa.”  I fell into a deeper side of the pool than I had planned on.

Distributed by A24, the feature is directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Garage and Frank), written by Emma Donoghue (based on her 2010 novel), and starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridges, and William H. Macy.  The story involves “a kidnapped mother and son, who make a daring escape, and experience an dramatic homecoming provoking a look into the power of imagination and the unstoppable force of a mother’s love” (  It premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September 2015, and was released to theaters the next month.  Thus far, it has grossed almost $28 million dollars against a $13 million production budget.  (Rated R for language)(Running Time: 118 minutes)

MV5BMTg4NTczOTM3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDQzMzU1NzE@._V1__SX1234_SY552_The story is incredible primal: a mother and son have been held prisoner in a single room for seven years, forcing the boy to grow up believing the world did not grow outside of their space.  It offers a compelling, psychological themes against the simple grounds of a loving relationship between a young mother and her little boy.  The duo act brilliantly together.  They are the movie.

The picture’s cinematography and editing, I believe, is the only con of the entire film.  It feels a bit formulaic; the typical indie-film feel.  Although I believe it was designed to keep from distracting from the story and the performances, at times I felt it could have been delivered better.  But that’s my personal opinion, and regardless, it does not take away from the movie as a whole.

The performances by Larson and Tremblay are exquisite.  I will use the phrase “tour de force” for Brie’s bravery.  Just a few years ago, she had a supporting role in 21 Jump Street (2012).  Last summer she had an equally supporting comedic role in Trainwreck (2015).  Then she jumped ahead with this mammoth.  I’m just as impressed with the leap as with the part she crafted.  Followers of this blog will understand I refer to actors and actresses who achieve “The Look”…and Brie just about has it in this movie when she’s running up to the squad car midway through.  But the movie would not be nearly as believable without the impressive part lived by the boy, Jacob Tremblay.  They successfully balance each other out throughout the course of the movie, and it almost makes me hope they will work together somehow, somewhere in the future.  You can see the bond being made during the length of the film.

Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Overall, it’s a decent shot at a tall target, but real credit is due the lead actors, with Larson expanding beyond the already considerable range she’s previously shown with an exceedingly dimensional performance in a role that calls for running the gamut, and Tremblay always convincing without ever becoming cloying.”

If I just rated the performance, I would put this way high on the list.  But as a film overall, I’ll balance the scale to a B.  Great flick.  Although, it is very heavy and not for the faint of heart, do to the intense subject matter.  If you can get through the first forty-five minutes, you’re golden.  Cheers.


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Monty Python Brings British Comedy to All Cultures


Note about myself the author: I love quotable movies. Whether the movie or not deserves high praise aside, if there is at least a line in the movie that finds its way into my daily vernacular, than I will enjoy the movie, if only from that line. However, it will not affect my overall score of the film. Thank you.

PS. This movie has so many phrases and hilarious memes that they might weave themselves into the review. If it gets annoying, I apologize.


Monty Python, If you are uninformed, is written, directed, and primarily all acted by the British comedy group, Monty Python. Going off of a ridiculously low budget, $329,023.45 to be exact, the group takes excellent advantage of almost poking fun at themselves over it. For example, assuming they lacked the funds necessary to rent horse for several days, they instead opted to…coconuts… and trotting around as if they were on horses. However, it does not come off as stupid, as you would assume. It comes off as almost perfectly satirical of their own film and the story of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. The basic  plot of the story comes down to King Arthur, having recently been given the sword Excalibur, setting off to find knights worthy of serving at the round table and eventually going off in search for the holy grail. Every scene is iconic in a sense, which is a great feat, as the movie, which released in 1975, has stood the test of time. From the afore mentioned coconut horses, the battle with the black knight, the knights of ni, sir robin, the “great beast” (no spoilers here 😉 ), the French, the random animations, the “Great temptations”, everything. There really is something that someone will find funny in this movie, even if they did not enjoy it as a whole


Monty Python and the Holy Grail gets an A-

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Oscar Predictions! The Important Ones Anyways


It’s that time of year!

Contoversys aside, I am excited to share my predictions for the 2016 Acadamy Awards!

I will be sticking with major catagories here, so I will not guess who will win best makeup design.

  1. Best Picture: The RevenantMV5BMjU4NDExNDM1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIyMTgxNzE@._V1_SX640_SY720_
    1. With Beautiful cinematography and outstanding acting, The Revenant seems to be on track to win best picture, if Mad Max doesn’t sneak it away.
  2. Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio
    1. Because it’s damn time
  3. Best Actress: Cate Blanchettcarol-movie-poster
    1. Her powerful, game changing role in Carol was superb and proved herself again. I could also see Brie Larson taking home the award
  4. Best Support actor: Sylvester StalloneUnknown-1.jpeg
    1. Because it’s damn time. Note: Mark Ruffalo was also fantastic in Spotlight, although I believe that he will not end up winning the award, I felt it necessary to mention this.
  5. Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leighhateful_eight_poster.png
    1. This was hard to decide on, as several of the actresses nominated were great. However, in my humble opinion, none of the nominations stood out to me as clear, fantastic winners. However, Leigh did an excellent job in the equally excellent Hateful Eight.
  6. Animated Feature film: Inside Outinside-out6.jpg
    1. With an intelligent, thought provoking, imaginative story that doesn’t rely on crude humor for laughs or plot, Pixar proves once again that they are the masters of wholesome family entertainment.
  7. Best cinematography: The Revenant
    1. SURPRISE! You all probably saw this coming. Surprisingly, this decision was extremely hard for me to decide about, as although the revenant was more “Beautiful” to look at, Mad Max Fury Road had some truly amazing, jaw-dropping cinematography, where you will be looking at the screen wondering how the hell did they pull that off? However, the Revenant has even more of those moments, with less stylized action.
  8. Best Origonal music score: The Hateful Eight
    1. Toss up between Ennio Morricone and John Williams, but I feel as if the Star Wars music is something that is too familiar compared with the excellent score written by Ennio Morricone.
  9. Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
    1. Explains itself with the cinematography category
  10. Best Original Screenplay: Ex Machina
    1. I love my Movie Thunderbuddy and fellow blogger to death, but I have to completely disagree with him on Ex Machina. Moving (in a sense), chilling, and excellently acted and written, Ex Machina speaks to our age of technology and was cleverly constructed.
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We All Dream in Gold: 88th Oscar Predictions


The awards season is drawing to a close.  Finally.  As always, its the prestigious pre-finale: the Oscars.

As we get keyed up for Leonardo’s long-deserving win (yes, he will win), I wanted to review the main contenders and give my two cents as to the show’s wins and snubs.  My personal predictions.  And although my colleague wrote a post on the subject not long ago, I’m going to veer away from the #OscarsSoWhite debate.  Let’s focus on the gold at the end of the tunnel here.

The 88th Annual Bob Hope Masochism did not fall short of good selections this season. The past few years have been, in my opinion, weak.  I’ve worked at seeing a healthy number of the films that are filling up the meaty categories (specifically the Big Five), and I can only imagine the nights the voters have been tossing and turning in their beds, weighing whether to go chrome or let Alejandro win for a second time in a row.  Let’s veer away from the subtleties and say what’s really on our minds–more specifically, mine.

Original Score: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.  After five previous nominations in the category, it is almost certain he is taking home gold this year.  He has won all the other major movie awards, including the Golden Globe.  Pushing 90 years old, his biggest competition will be John Williams for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  But I’d wager that even after the honorary award in 2007, the Academy will grant him a well-deserving win.

Animated Feature: Inside Out, directed by Pete Doctor and Ronnie del Carmen.  Although the award has only been around for fifteen years, Pixar has managed to steal 7 statuettes, and I’d wager they are going to go for 8 this year.  If for by some reason they don’t, I could see Anomalisa winning, mainly for the purpose that it’s Charlie Kaufman trying his hand at stop-motion.  I mean…who would have thunk it?


Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight.  This film is one of the biggest Oscar buzzes this year, and I firmly believe they will not go home without at least one award to show for it.  If not them, I’m going to side with Inside Out nabbing it for their quirky, unique premise of a story.  Then again, we might, might, might find Ex Machina winning.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Room.  Same reason as with Original.  I don’t see Room going home empty handed.  If not Room, it’ll go to The Big Short.  Possibly Carol.


Best Supporting Actress: This category is the one I struggle with the most.  Any of them could win, really.  Due to the Golden Globe win last month, I’ll put my vote in for Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs.  If not her, maybe Rooney Mara for Carol.

Best Supporting Actor.  Sylvester Stallone for Creed.  I’m more than confident he’ll win this year.  I would be fine if Tom Hardy won for The Revenant.  Small chance the Academy will recognize Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies, though.  They are capable of those backhanded slaps to the face…

Best Actress: Brie Larson.


Best Actor: There will be riots on Hollywood Boulevard if Leonardo DiCaprio goes home without his much-anticipated Oscar.  I don’t know if I would personally categorize his performance of Hugh Glass as his best, but it certainly merits an Oscar for his exceptional work over the last twenty-plus years.  By some small chance he is so severely snubbed, I could see Matt Damon accepting the award and saying: “I had my money on Leo.”


Best Director: These are the game changers.  It’s a toss up between Alejandro Inarritu and George Miller for The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, respectively.  Both films have snagged the most nominations this year, so you would think one of the two would go home with the big ones.  But the Oscars have come out of left field with totally different wins. To Tom McCarthy and Adam McKay are not totally out of consideration.  But I’m going to suspect the Australian action director, Miller will win.

Best Picture: The Revenant.  It’ll come down to that, or Mad Max: Fury Road.  Possibly Spotlight, once again depending on how the Academy is set on judging this season.  But it’ll look nice on the morning-after newstream that Leo helped bring home his Best Actor trophy and Best Picture of the year.


I’ll be tuning in to ABC at 7:00pm on February 28th.  Those of you who would like to follow my Oscar feed via Twitter, here’s the account to find me by: mrmorganhauer.  Lot of developments will happen over the course of that much anticipated evening.  Looking forward to it.

Who do you think will win?  Who do you think deserves to win?  Where do you think I went wrong?  Please shout out and let me know what you think.


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Brazil (1985)

Mind: blown.

Geez, Mr. Gilliam.  What the phantom menace are you doing to my head?  Like…every time! …Not that I’m complaining.


Brazil has been on my watchlist from the Criterion Collection for quite some time.  I respect the filmmaker and am tickled by the cast, therefore, I expected nothing short of a delightful movie to sit back, watch, and enjoy without having a rod shoved in my ear to poke at my brain.  …Okay, not that extreme.  But this movie deserves to be seen more than once, is all I will say without spoiling.  In a nutshell, the film is a dystopian science fiction movie directed by Monty Python Terry Gilliam, featuring (a young) Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins and Ian Holm.  The plot…uh…pulled straight from “A bureaucrat in a retro-future world tries to correct an administrative error and himself becomes an enemy of the state.”  (Running Time: 142 minutes)(Rated R for some strong violence)

The film’s focus is on Sam Lowry (Pryce), a man desperate to find a woman (Greist) who appears in his dreams and fantasies while he is working in a mind-numbing job and living a life in a dull world, laid in a consumer-driven city where there is an over-reliance on whimsical machines. Brazils bureaucratic, totalitarian government is a “fond memory” of the government and politics in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, except that it has a buffoonish, slapstick quality and lacks a Big Brother figure.


If none of what I’m saying makes sense, the trailer clarifies a lot here.

Gilliam’s artistry lies in the visuals.  Every frame is a curious painting of a wild and wacky world he delivers on the big screen.  I love the dream sequences in the film.  Well, I enjoyed the whole picture.  But the portions that are exceptional are the first thirty minutes, the dreams, and the last twenty minutes.  These are the parts that stood out to me.  He is wise to garner the talents of Charles McKeown and Tom Stoppard to help write the screenplay.  You can sense that Gilliam was bouncing dystopian visuals off his writer-friends and they helping tie it all into the structure of the plot, way back when.

Although the acting was fun, I felt that Greist’s part was–miscast.  Although she was fine, there was something lacking.  But in further research, it sounds like Gilliam and her clashed and a ton of her screen time was inevitably cut from the finished film.  So, maybe it’s merely the missing scenes.  But Pryce does a great job, Palin is great, and De Niro plays a different De Niro (than the norm).  Also, Ian Holm is awesome.  Can’t go wrong with them.

The sets are outstanding!  I know a lot of it is practical camera effects, but they look artistically stunning, making Brazil a breathtaking visual trip.

In the end, I don’t recommend this movie willy-nilly.  Yet another movie you have to know the director and his style in order to enjoy the film to its fullest extent.  Start with Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King (one of my favs!).  But in the end, I’ll give this movie a B. Maybe a high B.


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Oscars So White? An Unbiased Opinion

81st Academy Awards¨ Press Kit Images

The Oscar statuette is the copyrighted property of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the statuette and the phrases “Academy Award(s)” and “Oscar(s)” are registered trademarks under the laws of the United States and other countries. All published representations of the Award of Merit statuette, including photographs, drawings and other likenesses, must include the legend ©A.M.P.A.S.¨ to provide notice of copyright, trademark and service mark registration. Permission is hereby granted for use of the representation of the statuette in newspapers, periodicals and on television only in legitimate news articles or feature stories which refer to the annual Academy Awards as an event, or in stories or articles which refer to the Academy as an organization or to specific achievements for which the Academy Award has been given. Its use and any other use is subject to the “Legal Regulations for Using Intellectual Properties of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” published by the Academy. A copy of the “Legal Regulations” may be obtained from: Legal Rights Coordinator, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California 90211; (310) 247-3000; or ©A.M.P.A.S.

^^^^ Ignore that above if you will. Thank you 🙂 ^^^^

I am going to keep this short and sweet.

Tis the season too be jolly! Of course I am not talking about Christmas, but a cinephile’s christmas: Oscar season. As my friends and I begin our anticipation for the annual event, arguing over who will win, be snubbed, etc, I tend to ignore news following predictions and Oscar coverage, as to not be influenced by other people’s perdictions. However, the 2016 Oscars have proved to be controversial before the night is upon us.

After the Oscar nominations were announced, I followed the rampage on twitter as for a second year in a row, no minority actors or actresses were nominated for their roles, begining a boycott by Jadet-Pinkett Smith, and started the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

I have mixed feelings about this issue, however.  I believe that the nominations, and eventual winners, should be granted the award for their exceptionality in their role, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, etc. but this year in particular, I do feel several African-American actors were snubbed in nominations. First, Michael B. Jordan’s role as Creed in Creed was fantastic and far better than at least Eddie Redmayne in the Danish Girl. Will Smith also was snubbed for his fantastic performace in the subpar Concussion, which surprised me.

In other words, I can understand the outcry of people everywhere, calling foul on the Academy for being biased. And while I stand in the middle, agreeing with points on both sides, we all must keep a balanced head and a level perspective. I believe the Academy should try harder to diversify the Oscars, but should not nominate average acting, merely on their race.

I hope we all can move past this era of trouble and look towards a bright future.


P.S. Side note, but I find it ironic that in the year Leonardo DiCaprio has all but finally secured that elusive best actor award, the entire event is shrouded in controversy. But hey it was probably that vaping that he does now. 😉leovape.0.0.jpg

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Hail, Caesar! (2016)

The Coens are back!


After three years, Joel and Ethan Coen have returned with a lightweight look at a bygone era in Hollywoodland.  A mystery/comedy with hysterically dim characters engaging in a variety of conspiracies and double-crosses against the background of a meticulously re-created and reimagined world…which is always the case with the Coens.  With Hail, Caesar!, they take us to Hollywood in the 1950s.  Released this weekend, the film has a runtime of 100 minutes, and accompanied by a PG-13 rating for some suggestive content and smoking–but truthfully could have easily passed for PG.

Theatrical Trailer here.

My history with the Coens doesn’t go that far back.  I’ve seen the vast majority of their work, and am quite pleased with their filmography overall.  The highlights: True Grit being their best, No Country For Old Men coming in at a close second (a movie I originally didn’t care for), Fargo, and The Big Lebowski.  The dismissals: O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and The Ladykillers (obviously).  I like their unique perspective, coal-black comedy, complex character idealism, and so on and so forth.  They really deserve a book about them.  Or a least an extensive blog entry (*glares in mirror*).

Although Caesar did not bring anything new to the table as far as plot or story, it did present ample opportunities for laughter and nervous chuckles.  The Coens deliver a nostalgic, witty take on L.A. movie-making in the 50s, with reverence to the sentimental methods to filmmaking nowadays.  The ensemble cast is entertaining to watch and play-up, yet again, the old-fashioned role models in the entertainment magazines and pulps.  I especially enjoyed George Clooney’s overacting, cheesy character that he has played more than once before, and Tilda Swinton’s twin-set reporters.  It is evident that the Coens were conscious of casting actors and actresses that fit “the look” of the golden age, and spread them out accordingly.  Channing Tatum’s dance scene was a great nod-to some of the classic dance numbers from movies like Anchors Aweigh, On the Town, and Singing in the Rain.

I won’t spoil, but the only fault I had with Caesar was the random “twist”, or random nature, of the plot near the end of the third quarter.  They have it in most of their films, specifically their comedies.  And although I enjoyed the film, I found it lacked some minor elements that would make it a home run.  Still enjoyable, mind you, but a movie I could have waited a few months to see on DVD.  Although it stands above Burn After Reading, it falls just below Barton Fink.

Still, there is a lot to be had from this flick.  So I do recommend it, especially if you are a fan (or are at least aware) of the Coen Brothers.  They are something of an acquired taste, so to the movie-goer who is not privy to their nature, start with…eh…I would recommend True Grit.  But if you’re brave enough…or patient enough…go for Fargo or The Big Lebowski.

The reviews for the movie have been favorable from critics.  Rotten Tomatoes wrote: “Packed with period detail and perfectly cast, Hail, Caesar! finds the Coen brothers delivering an agreeably lightweight love letter to post-war Hollywood.”  But the movie is struggling to connect with audiences.  However, the movie opened reasonable against a $22 million budget, making nearly $4.2 million on its opening day (February 5, 2016).

I caught the movie with my #moviethunderbuddy , and we both decided to give it a high B-.  It’s nostalgic, it’s a black comedy, and it’s the Coen Brothers latest entry.  Fun fact, they have a routine of writing two scripts simultaneously, selecting the first one to film and jumping right into pre-production of the second one not long after the initial film in the duo runs its course in the theater.  So although not much details have been given yet, their next movie has been announced as Black Money, a new crime/drama from their collective canon.


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