Dntd Film Review: “Bad Words”

Crude. Hilarious. Heartwarming. The story is not just about being the best but wanting to achieve something in this existence we call life.

The character Guy Trilby is a more sensitive role for Jason Bateman, who also makes his directorial debut, and is a welcomed departure. He has the most outstanding chemistry with a young actor named Rohan Chand, who plays Chaitanya Chopra, a precocious, dedicated and curious spelling bee contestant. Rachael Harris is funny as an overbearing mother of one of the contestants and who also despises Guy. Kathryn Hahn, Ben Falcone, Phillip Baker Hall and Allison Janney round out the strong cast.

To have the story set around a spelling bee competition is striking. It pulls the audience to view mistakes and triumphs through the cutthroat competition. Guy relives his lost childhood. Chaitanya is trying to retain his childhood. Jason’s attentive direction and Andrew Dodge’s endearing screenplay make “Bad Words” an engaging and thought provoking film.

Dntd Film Review: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

The story is intricately weaved while being told from multiple perspectives. Recapturing love, escaping to freedom and remembering what could have been all set in the location of the title. The story, inspired by writings of Stefan Zweig, is also unique and clever. The attention to detail is evident throughout the film. Even the bakery Mendl’s is regal and revered for delicate cakes in pink and teal ribboned boxes.

The cast is absolute perfection. Taking actors who have their style of acting to bring it to this film is incredible. There are many actors to name: Adrien Brody, Saiorse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Wilkinson, as well as the usual suspects Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman. Ralph Fiennes, who plays Monsieur Gustave H, is such a delight in a multi-dimensional character. Tony Revolori, who plays Young Zero Mustafa, is attentive, humorous and engaging with Ralph’s character and is a standout.

This film is true to Wes Anderson’s genius as a filmmaker. The film is also funny, sexy and violent, surprising in bits throughout the film to help the story move.

Cut the Chair: Toni Collette

Toni Collette continues to be a commanding actress. With “Muriel’s Wedding,” “The Sixth Sense,” “About a Boy,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “The Way Way Back,” and “Enough Said,” her work appears in many genres for an outstanding filmography. Her engaging talent has also been seen in television with “Tsunami: The Aftermath,” and “The United States of Tara,” as well as the stage in “The Wild Party” and “The Realistic Joneses.”

In the film “The Hours,” she played Kitty, next door neighbor to Laura (Julianne Moore). Toni’s performance was solemn, quiet and patient, capturing the time of a restless housewife trying to connect with the changing times through satisfaction.

She gives life to her characters and thus poises her as a beloved actress. Upcoming roles are in “Hector and the Search for Happiness” and “The Boxtrolls.” A beaming gem is this storyteller, Toni Collette.

Cut the Chair: James Pickens Jr.

With dramas (Menace II Society, Dead President’s, Traffic, 42) and television (Seinfeld, The X-Files, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Private Practice) to his extensive filmography, James Pickens Jr. is a dynamic actor with passion to his craft.

“Grey’s Anatomy” has seen some of the strongest characters on television. As Richard Webber, the former chief of surgery, James certainly carries an attention to power, allegiance and benevolence while balancing an ever evolving character.

While his roles may be supportive, they are an integral part of the pulse of the story. One of the most focused actors to grace the screen in multiple genres, James Pickens Jr. is a storyteller.

Dntd Film Review: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Visually captivating. Wildly comical. Excellently written. “Guardians of the Galaxy” hit above being a blockbuster along with piecing together a story. The villains were full of evil, notably Nebula played brilliantly with gravitas by Karen Gillan.

Chris Pratt, as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, balanced the cornball humor audiences are used to but emerged as a bona fide leading man with, dare I say, sex appeal. All the guardians provided comical parts of the film but it was Rocket, the raccoon, who stole the show. Bradley Cooper did a solid job as Rocket, making him sound tough. Zoe Saldana was in tip top shape as Gamora. The character was a badass assassin. It was fantastic to watch because she was vulnerable and strong. Dave Bautista was vicious in the most delightful way as Drax the Destroyer. The cast was strong with Vin Diesel, Glenn Close (!!), John C. Reilly, Benicio Del Toro (!!), Josh Brolin, and Michael Rooker. Lee Pace, who played Ronan, could have been recasted.

Tyler Bates created a throwback playlist as the focal point of the score to make the film a lot of fun. Director James Gunn also brought a visionary element that sets the bar for future comic book films.

Cut the Chair: Kim Dickens

Range should be a virtue to an actor’s career. With Kim Dickens, she has delivered roles that are comforting and caring (Friday Night Lights, The Blind Side, Footloose) and rousing and dark (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy).

Kim played the ruthless and passionate Janette Desautel on “Treme.” Her performance as Janette was ambitious and angry, carrying emotions that should release from a well-rounded character attributed by strong writing.

Her depth as an actor is rich with feeling. One of her upcoming roles is in “Gone Girl.” Kim Dickens acts with no hesitation as the audience can anticipate the dedication of a storyteller.

Cut the Chair: Jay Hernandez

With his talent onscreen in a multitude of film and television roles, Jay Hernandez stays on the pulse of filmmaking to rise as a knockout talent. His acting has been seen in films “Crazy/Beautiful,” “Friday Night Lights,” and “Takers” all bringing different points of characters to audiences.

As Dante Rivas on the television show “Nashville,” Jay played a sympathetic and recovering alcoholic who turned conniving in the quest to deceive Juliette Barnes, played by Hayden Panettiere. The role was yet another departure in his work and very well acted.

Jay is playing Daniel Acosta, a naïve and pampered son of one of the most prominent gang leaders in Los Angeles on the pulse pounding drama “Gang Related.” Jay continues to demonstrate his love for acting. As a storyteller, his roles become more complex and a key piece for acclaim worthy performances.

Cut the Chair: Kimberly Elise

An actress with a heart of wisdom, Kimberly Elise becomes a stronger actor with each role. Many audiences gained notice of her talent in the film, “Set it Off,” as T.T. who finds herself between a rock and a hard place over and over again. Her soft demeanor would change fiercely to protect her young child. Roles in “Beloved,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” and “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” also showcase her wide-eyed force onscreen.

Playing a mother in “John Q” saw Kimberly as a strong woman fighting to gain care for her dying son. Acting alongside Denzel Washington saw her shine to create a bold meet of acting chemistry.

As Sloane Hayes on “Hit the Floor,” Kimberly is confident and commanding while dodging drama and often in the thick of it. Her signature sees to play characters that capture the mind. The characters are full of emotions that the audience can relate to. Because of this, continuing to captivate the screen is this storyteller Kimberly Elise.

Cut the Chair: Tina Majorino

Quirky and intelligent, Tina Majorino is an actor of wit and presence. Her characters do not result to just the sidekick. The characters are intriguing, attributed by Tina’s talent.

Tina shows she is an actor of range, whether the character is plucky tech savvy Mac on the cult classic, “Veronica Mars”, Molly, a vampire on “True Blood” or Deb in the sensationally edgy “Napoleon Dynamite.” Her roles also include “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Big Love,” with two different characters that happened to both be named Heather.

Complimented to the screen is an storyteller of confidence and cool, Tina Majorino.

Cut the Chair: Kurtwood Smith

A multitude of characters from this actor has given him a rich career. His ability to be in many genres attests his talent. For one of the genres to be sci-fi, as seen in “The X-Files” and the original “Robocop,” is a rare yet might feat. Performances in “Dead Poet’s Society” and “24” example his attention to tell stories that form onscreen.

His hilarious performance as Red Foreman on the long-running sitcom, “That’s 70s Show” carried on the tradition of television fathers who are apart of the stitch in American television. Kurtwood played Red to show that deep, deep, deep down in his soul he loved his family and even Eric’s friends. If his only line on the series was “ass” it would be poetic and profound with a touch of perfection.

Kurtwood is on the drama “Resurrection,” captivating audiences as a father coping with the return of his young son. It is a departure but a raw character. Depth exudes for viewing delight from this storyteller, Kurtwood Smith.

Dntd Film Review: “Chef”

I laughed out loud, smiled and marveled at the succulent meats and dishes prepared in the film. I felt something I have not had in a long time while watching a film: pleasantly surprised.

“Chef” is about Carl Casper, a chef working at a swank restaurant who was in a creative rut. When Carl receives a bad review from a well-known food blogger, he decides to go off the grid and open a food truck much to previous resistance. The story focuses on Carl’s relationship with his son. Emjay Anthony, who played Percy, Carl’s son, was magic capturing his age but also keeping up with the big dogs. Sophia Vergara, who played Inez, Carl’s ex-wife, gave the best performance I have seen her in. She was delightful and humorous. The ensemble was superb. John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt and Robert Downey Jr. each played their supportive roles and each stood out.

I have an insatiable appetite to travel. While the film was set in Los Angeles, particularly in the neighborhood of Venice, I loved this film was across the country in Miami, New Orleans and Austin. Music Coordinator Matthieu Shreyer mixed a soundtrack for the film of soul, Cubano and old school that moved and complimented the story. The film also perfectly weaved a story of the good, bad and ugly of social media.

Everyone walked out of the theater asking each other their thoughts on “Chef” and it was unanimous: excellent. The film seemed to unite people for the common love of seeing a story unfold. That unity should also be had when being at the movies.

Cut the Chair: Lance Reddick

A deep pulsing stare exudes as a signature to his captivating performances. Lance Reddick continues to build a steady career with commanding roles. A staple in ensembles of television shows such as “Law & Order,” “Lost,” and “Fringe,” his multi-genre career attests to his brilliance as an actor.

As Cedric Daniels on “The Wire,” the character rose in the police rankings as Lance transformed the character. He grew stronger into developing his craft, rising to deliver scenes with depth and agility on the outstanding drama.

His talent appears on a slew of other TV shows, giving him a chameleon-like air to his acting. Lance Reddick is a definitive actor and a standout storyteller.

"The Case Against 8"

HBO Documentaries always bring humanity to audiences. The focus of the documentary, “The Case Against 8,” is on two couples Jeff & Paul and Sandy & Kris, who become the face of appealing the ruling of Proposition 8. The documentary spans the four years of the case from circuit courts in California to the Supreme Court. The film shows the pressure and fear of pursuing this case but is not emotionally overwhelming. I was invested in seeing the case form. I was intrigued by the bi-partisanship of Ted Olson and David Boies, both known for being on opposing sides as attorneys during the Bush v. Gore trial in 2000. Olson won the case for then President Bush. He also became known as one of the most powerful conservative attorneys in the country.

I recommend watching this documentary. Your heart will be full. Your eyes welled with tears. My favorite scene is when Elliot, Kris’ son, gets into the car from school and they are having a conversation and you could see that it was normal and far from the slaughter of hate for families with same-sex parents. “The Case Against 8” moves an inspiring hope for two couples who not only represent the LGBT community but the change of America.

Cut the Chair: Margo Martindale

The range of roles Margo Martindale has played is remarkable to both screens and stage. “The Firm,” “Days of Thunder,” “Dead Man Walking,” “New York Undercover,” “The Riches,” “Hung,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” are not just a list of roles but, where more that came from, Margo’s transformative ability to captivate characters to life.

Her supporting roles often have a sweet and sensitive poignancy as shown as one of the titular characters in the television show, “The Millers,” Carole Miller. In addition, “Paris, je t’aime” and “August: Osage County” displayed characters with heart and connection to audiences. She has also balances roles in serious dramas as “Justified” and “The Americans,” the former she won an Emmy for.

With an over two decade career, to achieve the work Margo has is astounding. Her vigor and passion moves each scene she is in. The essence is always present from this storyteller, Margo Martindale.

Cut the Chair: Tim Dekay

Actors who steadily build a career are some of the most valued artists. Case in point: Tim Dekay. With a spectrum of film and television credits including “Party of Five,” “Carnivale,” “House,” “The Chumscrubber,” and the short-lived but alluring “Tell Me You Love Me,” he found a footing with a breakthrough role that is soon to conclude.

On “White Collar,” Tim plays FBI Agent Peter Burke. His performance makes Peter charming and pragmatic, complimenting his freakouts when trying to solve a case. Tim also applies a diligence to the character that appears smooth.

Along with his main character on “White Collar,” Tim guest starred on “Revenge.” He continued the tradition of sinister characters that pounced onscreen but in this case did not meet the famous Red Sharpie fate. Hopefully further departures into characters will illuminate the career of this storyteller, Tim Dekay.