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Life in a Day (2011) -  Documentary

 

This extraordinary documentary film by Ridley Scott is a compilation of Youtube videos filmed on the same day in various locations around the world, by various people. 

 

Youtube users sent in videos of themselves on July 24, 2010, and then Ridley Scott produced the film and edited the videos into a film, consisting of footage from some of the contributors.  The completed film is 94 minutes 57 seconds long and includes scenes from 4,500 hours of footage in 80,000 submissions from 140 nations

 

Life in a Day is a historic cinematic experiment that attempts to capture what life looks like on one day, July 24th, 2010, around the entirety of the world. Thousands of hours of video were captured and then compiled to give a glimpse into what constitutes an average day amongst humanity.

This film is ultimately about connection; the connection of humans to one another and all of the mundane, regular, everyday things that we share despite our differences in culture, location, and upbringing. The fact that we all sleep. We all wake up in the morning. We all eat breakfast. We brush our teeth. We walk around. We smile. We love. We fear. We breathe. This film is an affirmation of the simple joys and sorrows that we experience merely as a result of living on this earth and being human. It is an affirmation of life at its rawest, truest, grittiest, and loveliest. 

 

Birth, death, war, love, rejection, poverty, religion, family – all important topics are covered, compared, and contrasted in this unprecedented film. 

 

Extraordinary – unusual, surprising, special

Compilation – collection, something made up of many parts

Footage – video, recording

Historic – historically important

Glimpse – a quick look

Unprecedented – first time, never been done before

 

 


Police Academy (1984) -  Comedy | Crime

 

As a crime wave sweeps through a city that doesn't have enough police officers, the mayor decides that part of the problem may stem from overly restrictive qualifications for police officers, so she opens the door of the city's Police Academy to anyone who wants to join. Chief Henry Hurst does not agree with the mayor's decision.

 

Soon, the academy is overrun with misfits, including parking lot attendant Carey Mahoney, who has been arrested before. Captain Reed, a longtime friend of Mahoney's father, gives Mahoney the choice of taking the 14 week course and joining the force, or going to jail. Mahoney chooses the academy.

 

Karen Thompson is an attractive cadet whom Mahoney has his eyes on. Florist Moses Hightower is a mountain of a man who likes to tend flowers.  And Larvell Jones has the ability to imitate the sound of virtually anything. Also in the academy are guy-magnet Debbie Callahan, squeaky voiced Laverne Hooks, gun loving Eugene Tackleberry, and Leslie Barbara, a cadet who has been picked on one too many times.

 

Befuddled Commandant Eric Lassard and his lackey, Lieutenant Thaddeus Harris, are not exactly thrilled with the new recruits. As Lassard and Harris try to wash their hands of them, Mahoney and his classmates become all the more determined to make good, even when one of the recruits accidentally starts a chain reaction of fights that lead to a riot in the city.

 

The result of this combination of unusual people is, of course, hilarious mayhem.  This film proved so popular, it spawned 6 sequels!

 

Crime wave – a lot of crime at the same time

 

Sweep through the city – occur in many places

Overrun – with a lot

Misfits – people who are different or unusual

Tend – take care of, look after

Squeaky – high pitched, like a mouse or bird

Befuddled – perplexed, confused

Lackey – assistant, messenger

Chain reaction – when one thing leads to another, which leads to another, etc

Mayhem – chaos, craziness

To spawn – to cause, to give birth to

 

 

 

 


Clerks. (1994) -  Independent Comedy

 

Dante has had a crummy job at an small convenience store in New Jersey since graduating from high school three years ago. On Saturday morning, April 15 1994, he gets called in on his day off. Once there, he must deal with multiple problems.

 

The shutters outside won't open.

 

His ex-girlfriend Caitlin, whom he is still in love with, is getting married.

 

His long-suffering girlfriend Veronica, who bugs him constantly about starting college, has revealed certain, uh...stuff about her past.

 

His boss hasn't come in to take his place.

 

He has a hockey game at 2 o'clock.

 

Another ex has died, and today's the last day he can go to her wake.

 

His friend, Randal, a clerk at the video store next door, is even less dedicated to his job than Dante, and is always bothering Dante's customers.

 

Jay and Silent Bob, two dead-beats who pass their days smoking outside the store, are trying to shoplift the merchandise.

 

And the biggest problem of them all: HE'S NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE THERE TODAY!!

 

Dante is left with no choice but to bend the rules a little with work, customers, and most of all his love life. Can he get away with it all?

 

This is an amusing, off-beat, low-budget and utterly authentic independent film.  And if you like it, there’s a whole range of spin-offs you can follow it up with!

 

 

Crummy – not very good, low quality

 

Day off – a day without work

Deal with – handle, control

Shutters – wooden window covers

To bug someone – to hassle, complain to

Dead-beats – worthless, jobless, useless people

Shoplift – steal goods from a store

Bend the rules – do something that is not really allowed – but only a little



Sleepless in Seattle (1993) -  Comedy | Romance | Drama

 

After his wife Maggie passes away, Sam Baldwin (played by Tom Hanks) and his adolescent son Jonah relocate from Chicago to Seattle to escape the grief associated with Maggie's death. Eighteen months later, Sam is still grieving and can't sleep. Although Jonah misses his mother, he wants his father to get a new wife despite the fact that Sam hasn’t even contemplated dating again.

 

On Christmas Eve, Sam, on Jonah's initiative, ends up pouring his heart out on a national radio talk show about his magical and perfect marriage to Maggie, and how much he still misses her. Among the many women who hear Sam's story and fall in love with him because of it is Annie Reed (Meg Ryan), a Baltimore based newspaper writer.

 

Annie is already engaged, but her relationship with her straight-laced fiancé Walter is unlike her dream romance. She even writes to Sam proposing they meet atop the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day.

 

Back in Seattle, Sam has received hundreds of letters from women wanting to meet him. Jonah is excited by one letter in particular from Baltimore and will do whatever he needs to to get his father and Annie together. However, old fashioned Sam wants his future love life to be based on meeting a woman the traditional way, and he, in turn, becomes infatuated with an unknown woman he spots a few times in Seattle.

 

Will magic happen twice in Sam's life, and if so will it be with this unknown woman or Annie?

 

Adolescent – a child between puberty and maturity

Grief – deep sadness

Contemplate – think about

Initiative – proposal, plan, sceme

Straight-laced – proper, strict in conduct

Infatuated – feeling passion and attraction to someone



Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup (Video 2009) -  Documentary | History | War

 

Loose Change is a series of films released between 2005 and 2009 which argue that the September 11 attacks were planned and conducted by elements within the United States government, and base the claims on perceived anomalies in the historical record of the attacks.  These are some examples cited by the movie.

  • There was a plan put forward during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 to create and utilize bogus terrorist attacks against the United States which were to be blamed on Cuba as a pretext for invasion of the country.
  • The film alleges that the path of destruction does not match that which a 757 would leave, and that the size of the hole in the Pentagon and lack of debris and landscape damage is inconsistent with prior airliner crashes.
  • Three cameras on nearby buildings that allegedly caught the entire incident at the Pentagon on film were confiscated by the government, who has refused to release them in full.
  • There are eyewitness reports from people near the buildings who heard explosions consistent with bombs in the lower levels.  There are also videotapes showing windows far below the burning floors blow out during the collapse.
  • The video alleges that the fires inside the twin towers were not hot enough to bring the buildings down.

 

What’s your theory?  Do you believe the September 11 attacks were an inside job?  Watch this movie and see what you think.

 

Perceived – noticed, apparent

Anomalies – irregularities, things that aren’t quite right

Bogus – false, not real

Pretext – reason, excuse

Allege – say without concrete proof

Debris – mess, wreckage

Prior – something that came before

Confiscate – take away

Collapse – when things fall down

An inside job – performed by someone on the inside – not an outside enemy

 


The Last Boy Scout (1991) -  Action | Comedy | Crime

 

During a rainy football game between two teams from Los Angeles and Cleveland, star player Billy Cole receives a threatening phone call during half time from someone named Milo warning him to win the game or lose his life. Cole takes a gun onto the field, and shoots three opposing players on a run to the end zone. As the police move in, he kneels down and announces "Ain't life a bitch?" before shooting himself in the head.

 

Bruce Willis stars as Joe Hallenbeck, who was once a top-of-the-line Secret Service agent but has since become an alcoholic private detective. While performing the chores of a two-bit shamus, he discovers his wife Sarah is having an affair with his best friend Mike.  After finding the two in his house together, Mike leaves… and is blown up in his car when he turns the key in the ignition.

 

Joe is hired to protect Cory (played by Halle Berry), a stripper who has been getting death threats.  However, her boyfriend – Jimmy Dix – believes he can protect her himself, and after taking her away in his car… she (not surprisingly) gets blown to smithereens.

 

That’s a lot of death…

 

Jimmy Dix was at one time a NFL football quarterback, but was thrown out of the game for gambling and drug addiction. Smelling something fishy, Joe and Jimmy begin investigations which uncover layers of corruption, dirty money, and murder.

 

Full of smart-arse quips, love and friendship, betrayal and bribery, The Last Boy Scout is a high action movie with enough laughs and mystery to keep anybody entertained.

 

End zone – the last part of the field where players make touchdowns in American football

Kneel – get down on your knees

‘Life’s a bitch’ – common phrase to complain about life’s difficulties

Two-bit – worth very little

Shamus – slang for private detective

To have an affair – to be romantically involved with someone outside of your relationship

To be blown to smithereens – to be shot and killed

To smell something fishy – to feel that something is wrong or suspicious

Quips – clever, witty remarks

 


Hot Fuzz (2007) -  Action | Comedy | Mystery

 

Nicholas Angel (played by Simon Pegg) is the finest cop London has to offer, with an arrest record 400% higher than any other officer on the force. He’s honest, reliable, and dedicated to public duty.  In fact, he's so good, he makes everyone else look bad. As a result, Angel's superiors send him to a place where his talents won't be quite so embarrassing - the sleepy and seemingly crime-free village of Sandford – statistically, the safest town in the country.

 

Once there, he is partnered with the well-meaning but overeager police officer Danny Butterman. The son of amiable Police Chief Frank Butterman, Danny is a huge action movie fan and believes his new big-city partner might just be a real-life "bad boy," and his chance to experience the life of gunfights and car chases he so longs for. (“Have you ever shot two guns while jumping through the air?  Is it true that there’s a place in a man’s head, where if you shoot it, it will blow up?”)

 

Danny's puppy-like enthusiasm only adds to Angel's growing frustration. However, as a series of grisly “accidents” rocks the village, Angel is convinced that Sandford is not what it seems, and as the intrigue deepens, Danny's dreams of explosive, high-octane, car-chasing, gunfighting, all-out action seem more and more like a reality. It's time for these small-town cops to break out some big-city justice.

 

A highly amusing cop comedy which plays on all the stereotypes of police action movies and will make you laugh constantly if you appreciate British comedy!

 

Reliable – trust-worthy, doing what one says

Public duty – serving the people, as in police work

Sleepy – uneventful, not much happening

Well-meaning – trying to do the right thing

Overeager – trying too hard

Amiable – friendly, good-natured

Grisly – gruesome, horrible

Intrigue – mystery

 


Shaun of the Dead (2004) -  Comedy | Horror

 

29 year old Shaun (Simon Pegg) is having some problems.

 

His long-time girlfriend Liz has dumped him due to his fierce loyalty to The Winchester (the local pub), his refusal to meet her mother, his total lack of romance and consideration, and his seeming inability to progress anywhere in life or remember their anniversary.

 

His temporary management job isn't going well at Foree Electronics, with his teenaged subordinates walking all over him and his actual promotion prospects minimal.

 

His flatmates, Pete and Ed, are at each others' throats – one being an arrogant jerk and the other a lazy drug-selling deadbeat who seems unable to get a job or lock the front door.

 

And, oh yeah, London is overrun with multitudes of zombies.

 

Now, Shaun must rise to the occasion – save himself, his ex, his mother, and his precious record collection.  As one by one the people around him turn to zombies and London becomes overrun with the slow moving, flesh-eating undead, can Shaun save his loved ones, win back Liz’s love, put her snide friends in their places, and finish it all with a cold pint in the Winchester?

 

This is a hilarious and not particularly serious comedy full of fun characters, amusing retorts, and entertaining fight scenes.  Good light watching when you’re not up for too much thinking!

 

Dump – leave someone (as in a romantic relationship)

Subordinate – someone who works beneath you

Walk all over sb – treat them badly, have no respect for them

To be at each other’s throats – always arguing, not getting along

Arrogant jerk – someone who is rude, selfish, conceited

Deadbeat – someone who is lazy and has achieved little

Overrun – covered with

Multitudes of – very many

Zombies – the walking undead

Snide – rude, snobbish

Pint – a large glass of beer


Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi

 

In the times of World War II, a brave, yet mild-mannered young soldier named Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) wants to serve his country in the military – but unfortunately lacks the physical condition to be a soldier.  Desperate to join the program he takes the only way in – he volunteers to undergo a series of experiments for a US army Super Soldier program.

 

The military succeeds in transforming him into a human weapon, but quickly decide that their Super Soldier is far too expensive a creation to risk in combat. So, they decide to put him to use as an army celebrity and parade him across Europe to boost morale by performing in USO shows for American troops. He is even given a costume that bears the colors of Old Glory for the stage.

 

However, when a Nazi plot reveals itself Rogers must rise up and become the First Avenger, in order to save his country. Steve Rogers becomes Captain America and he earns his way into the hearts and souls of every American, bringing hope and justice to a war-weary nation. Unfortunately, during a mission to Germany to stop his archenemy The Red Skull from launching rockets at the allies, Captain America sacrifices himself and winds up frozen in ice for almost six decades!

 

Revived, Steve Rogers now must join forces with new heroes and become an Avenger of the modern age.

 

Plenty of explosions, high speed fight scenes, high tech futuristic spacecraft, amusing witty retorts, and promised romance to entertain the whole family!

 

Mild-mannered – polite, not forceful

Combat – battle, war, fighting

Boost morale – revive courage, give new spirits

USO shows – entertainment provided for US soldiers

Archenemy – principal enemy

 


Brazil (1985) -  Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

 

Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a low-level government employee, a harried technocrat in a futuristic society that is needlessly convoluted and inefficient. He dreams of a life where he can fly away from technology and overpowering bureaucracy, and spend eternity with the woman of his dreams.  One day Lowry is assigned the task of trying to rectify an error created by a government mishap, causing the incarceration of a Mr. Harry Buttle instead of the suspected terrorist, Harry Tuttle.

 

When Sam visits Mr. Buttle's widow, he discovers Jill Layton, the upstairs neighbor of the Buttles, is the same woman from his dreams. Jill is trying to help Mrs. Buttle find out what happened to her husband, but has gotten sick of dealing with the bureaucracy, while unbeknownst to her, she is now in turn considered a terrorist friend of Tuttle for trying to report the mistake of Buttle's arrest in Tuttle's place to bureaucrats that would not admit a mistake on their side.

 

Sam and Jill both wind up as targets of the extreme anti-terrorist government, and the whole mess results in high speed chases and action fight scenes.

 

The plot is peppered with highly colourful characters such as Harry Tuttle (Robert DeNiro) – the renegade air conditioning specialist – and his mother Ida, who is addicted to plastic surgery.

 

Extremely imaginative movie, thought-provoking scenarios, and fantastic special effects.  This isn’t a movie you’ll forget in a hurry!

 

Harried – overworked, agitated, stressed

Technocrat  – a technical expert

Convoluted – complicated, difficult

Bureaucracy – a system rigidly devoted to procedure

Rectify – fix

Mishap – problem, mistake

Incarceration – putting someone in jail

Unbeknownst – without her knowing

Peppered – contains here and there

Renegade – rebellious, going against the system

 


 


 Cube (1997) -  Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi

 

A man named Alderson wakes up in a cube-shaped room with, glowing computer circuit-like walls and six doors, one at the center of each wall, ceiling and floor. After recovering from his confusion, he opens two of the doors and looks into them to find rooms that differ only in color. He then opens and goes through a third door. He looks around and then takes a step, and is suddenly cut into large cubes. He falls apart and the rack of crosshatched wires which diced him moves into view. It folds up and retracts.

 

Apart from the short-lived Alderson, five other people, each from a very different walk of life, awaken to find themselves inside the giant cube with thousands of possible rooms. It becomes obvious quickly that many of the cubes are fraught with deadly traps, and the unlikely team of different personalities must work together to find a way to escape without being decapitated or burned.  The trouble is – apart from the horrific deadly traps and their increasingly complicated personality clashes – they don’t even know where the way out is.

 

 

Each has a skill that becomes clear when they must band together to get out: a cop, a math whiz, a building designer, a doctor, an escape master, and a disabled man. Each plays a part in their thrilling quest to find answers as to why they've been imprisoned.

 

Tense, gripping, psychological thriller that will keep your eyes glued to the screen until the end.

 

Glowing – emitting light

Crosshatched – in a criss-cross pattern

To dice – to cut into cubes

Retract – to draw back

Fraught – containing a lot

Personality clash – when two people don’t get along because of their character differences

Tense – in a state of suspense

Gripping – holding your attention

 

 

 

 


 


 Winnie the Pooh (2011) -  Animation | Family

 

This film is based on three stories found in the Milne books: "In Which Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh Finds One”, "In Which Piglet Meets a Heffalump.", and  "In Which Rabbit Has a Busy Day and We Learn What Christopher Robin Does in the Mornings."

 

 

The story begins when Pooh wakes up one day to find that he is out of honey. While searching for honey, Pooh discovers Eeyore who is even sadder than Pooh because he has lost his tail. Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, and Roo come to the rescue, and Christopher Robin decides to hold a contest to see who can find Eeyore's tail. The prize for the winner, of course, is a fresh pot of honey.

 

The next day, Pooh goes to visit Christopher Robin and he finds a note that says "Gon Out Bizy Back Soon”, but due to their poor reading comprehension skills, Pooh and his friends believe that Christopher Robin has been abducted by a ruthless and mischievous monster they call the "Backson", which of course sends the adorable and adventurous gang off on a new mission – to trap the Backson in a pit.

 

Their quest leads them into through a path of troublesome pitfalls and mistaken idendity, but of course, the whole thing ends in plenty of honey for everyone.  The journey, of course, is more than adequately decorated with singing and dancing, and a whole lot of feelgood messages for the whole family!

 

Charming, sweet, traditional, this movie has stayed true to the Pooh known by older watchers, and will be enjoyed by kids of all ages.

 

Ruthless – not worrying about harm done to others, cruel

Mischievous – naughty

Pitfalls – problems, drawbacks

Adequate – good enough

Feelgood messages – messages of love, friendship, and wellbeing

 

 

 

 


 


 Horrible Bosses (2011) -  Comedy | Crime

 

Friends Nick Hendricks, Kurt Buckman and Dale Arbus are average guys who want to work hard to get ahead in their respective jobs, but they each have the same professional problem in achieving this goal: they each have a horrible boss and a job difficult to escape without starting from scratch.

 

Nick hates his boss, mostly because he's expected to work from before sunrise to after sunset.  The last straw is when his boss, Mr. Harken, calls him out for being a minute late and blackmails him so he can't quit.

 

Dale hates his boss, Dr. Julia Harris, because she makes unwelcome sexual advances when he's about to get married, and threatens to tell his wife he slept with her if he doesn’t.

 

Kurt actually likes his job and his boss… up until his boss dies and his psychopathic drug-using son takes over.

 

After a drunken, hypothetical conversation about how to kill their bosses, their respective situations escalate with more despicable treatment from their superiors, and before they know it… they’ve hired an assassin!  With this supposed hit-man as an advisor and tv crime shows and murder mysteries as their guides, the three go about trying to determine the best way to kill the three bosses while keeping as far away from the crimes as possible.

 

Hilarious errors are committed at every turn, of course, but will lucky coincidences be enough for the three disgruntled employees to give their bosses what’s coming to them?

 

Start from scratch – to begin with nothing

Blackmail – getting what you want by threatening someone with consequences

Psychopathic – crazy, mentally ill, usually dangerous

Hypothetical – referring to an imagined situation or idea

Respective – relating to each person

Escalate – get bigger, get worse, get more intense

Despicable – unpleasant, cruel

Assassin – someone whose job is to kill people

Hit-man – assassin

Coincidence – things that happen by chance


 Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) -  Comedy | Drama | Romance

 

Holly Golightly (famously played by Audrey Hepburn) lives in an apartment on Manhattan's swank East Side. Totally madcap, she has a partially furnished apartment, owns a cat with no name, gets rid of the "mean reds" by visiting Tiffany's jewelry store, and is forever misplacing her door key, much to the dismay of her upstairs neighbor Mr. Yunioshi (played by Mickey Rooney), a Japanese photographer.

 

Holly makes her living in two ways: she receives $50 from her gentlemen escorts whenever she needs powder room money, and she is paid $100 for each weekly trip she makes to Sing Sing Prison, where she visits Sally Tomato, an ex-mobster. On these visits she is required to give him a weather report, which is dictated to her by his henchmen and clearly (although Holly is oblivious), a report on mob activities!

 

One day Paul Varjak comes into Holly's life and moves upstairs – clearly the hero, with his handsome good looks, charm, sympathy, and almost instantaneous love for Holly. As with movies of this era, it is clear at this point that the two should end up together, as he writes stories about her and has inexpensive presents engraved for her at Tiffany’s.  But what about the estranged husband that arrives wanting to take Holly home?  And the rich handsome stranger that wants to whisk her away her to Brazil?  And when a couple of personal disasters shake Holly’s life, how will the two overcome them to find their ‘happy every after’?

 

This movie is charming, amusing, romantic and whimsical, and clearly deserves it status as a classic.

 

Swank – fashionable and elegant

Madcap – impulsive, reckless

Dismay – unhappiness, disappointment

Ex-mobster – someone who used to work in organized crime

Henchmen – member of a criminal gang

Oblivious – unknowing

Estranged – a husband or wife who is living elsewhere

 


Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) -  Animation | Action | Adventure

 

Long ago, Lord Shen, heir of the peacock clan that ruled Gongmen City in China, was told by the the court's soothsayer that "a warrior of black and white" would one day defeat him.  Shen assumed she was referring to the giant pandas and ordered them to be exterminated to avert the prophecy. Shen's parents were horrified at this atrocity and exiled Shen, who swore revenge.

 

Po (the Kung Fu Panda!) is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five – Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of this formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu.

 

It is up to Po and The Furious Five to journey across China to face Shen and vanquish him. But how can Po stop a weapon that can stop kung fu? He must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins; only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed.

 

Another adorable feelgood animation, enjoyable for children and adults alike!

 

Soothsayer – someone who predicts the future

Exterminate – destroy all completely

Avert – avoid, miss

Prophecy – a prediction of the future

Atrocity – something horrible

To exile someone – to send someone away

Emergence – appearance

Formidable – difficult to overcome

Villain – the bad guy

Vanquish – destroy, get rid of something or someone

 


 

X-Men: First Class (2011) -  Action | Adventure | Drama

 

A young boy, trapped in a German Concentration Camp in Poland, 1944, bends a metal gate with his mind when he is separated from his parents.  When he refuses to repeat the feat for guards, his mother is shot in front of him and his powers rampage out of control.

 

In a mansion in New York, another young boy finds his mother looking through the fridge.  After she refuses to make him a sandwich, he accuses the woman of being an imposter and watches as she shapeshifts into the the blue-skinned Raven.  Overjoyed to meet someone else "different" like him, he invites her to live with his family.

 

Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-MEN.

 

X-Men: First Class is the prequel to previous X-men films, and provides the background stories of the first and most famous X-men.  As always, it’s full of special effects, smart-ass quips, and action-packed fight scenes.

 

Feat – trick, task

Rampage – go wild

Imposter – fraud, someone who is not who he says he is

Shapeshift – change outward form

Archenemy – the principal enemy, the main opposing force

Rift – a gap, a divide

Prequel – a movie that is set before a previously released movie

Smart-ass quips – clever, witty remarks


 

Beautiful Boy (2010) -  Drama   

 

Beautiful Boy is a heart-wrenching drama about the worst nightmare any parent could imagine.

 

Bill (Michael Sheen) and Kate (Maria Bello) are a tightly wound couple who are devoted to their work, and on the verge of separation when tragedy strikes.  The devastated couple hopelessly try to find some hint of an explanation after learning that their only son committed a mass shooting at his university before taking his own life. They struggle numbly through the funeral, the media onslaught, and the awkward pity from relatives and friends as they try to find answers.

 

Their already strained marriage is tested as they realize all they have left with each other is their shared grief and confusion – and the unfortunate legacy of their son. This life-altering event forces Bill and Kate to face their feelings of guilt, rage, blame, self-discovery – and ultimately hope –  so that they can finally help each other to find a chance for happiness and healing.

 

Painfully intense and relentlessly raw, this movie is an emotional experience rather than   entertainment.

 

Tightly wound – stressed, tense, uptight

On the verge of – very close to, about to

Tragedy strikes – something terrible happens unexpectedly

Mass shooting – a gun murder of multiple people

Taking his own life – killing himself, committing suicide

Numbly – without normal feeling

Media onslaught – aggressive journalism, cameramen and news reporters

Strained – difficult

Legacy – anything left behind by the dead


 

Fast Five (2011) -  Action | Crime | Drama

 

Former cop Brian O'Conner partners with ex-con Dom Toretto (played by Vin Diesel) on the opposite side of the law. Since Brian and Mia Toretto broke Dom out of custody, they've crossed many borders to elude authorities. Now backed into a corner in Rio de Janeiro, they must pull one last job in order to gain their freedom.

 

As they assemble their elite team of top racers, the unlikely allies know their only chance to get out for good means confronting the corrupt businessman who wants them dead. But he's not the only one on their tail. Hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs never misses his target. When he is assigned to track down Dom and Brian, he and his strike team launch an all-out assault to capture them. But as his men tear through Brazil, Hobbs learns he can't separate the good guys from the bad. Now, he must rely on his instincts to corner his prey... before someone else runs them down first.

 

Also known as Fast and the Furious 5 – this is the fifth instalment in the popular action series.  In this film, Universial Studios has made a conscious effort to shift away from the street racing theme in previous films in the series, and emphasis has been placed on heist action… this movie features only one car race.

 

Opposite side of the law – one party commits crime, one party apprehends it

To break someone out of custody – help someone escape from prison

Elude authorities – hide from/escape from the law

Pull one last job – commit a crime one last time

To be on someone’s tail – to be close behind them in pursuit

Hard-nosed – tough, stubborn, uncompromising

Track down – find

Strike team – an armed force hired to deliver an offensive blow

All-out assault – large scale attack

Corner your prey – trap someone so you can attack

Heist – a large scale theft

 


True Grit (2010) -  Adventure | Drama | Western

 

This movie is the second adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 novel of the same name, which was previously filmed in 1969 starring John Wayne.

 

This version of the film is narrated by the adult Mattie Ross, who tells the story of her father being murdered by one of his hired hands, Tom Chaney, when she was 14. Chaney made off with her father's horse and his two California gold pieces.

 

While collecting her father's body, the 14-year old Mattie inquires about hiring a Deputy U.S. Marshal to track down Chaney, and chooses to hire Rooster Cogburn because he is described as having "true grit."  After being rebuffed numerous times by the one-eyed Cogburn, she secures his services for $100 – money she raises by aggressively horse-trading with a business associate of her father.

 

Despite his attempts to ditch her, the determined Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn, whose drinking, sloth, and generally reprobate character do not augment her faith in him. Against his wishes, she joins him in his trek into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney. They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who wants Chaney for his own purposes. The unlikely trio find danger and surprises on the journey, and each has his or her "grit" tested.

 

The costumes, the buildings, the interiors, and the dialogue in this film make for a thoroughly convincing and authentic Western.

 

Hired hand – an employee, someone who works for you

Deputy US Marshal – a law enforcement officer who is second to the US Marshal

Grit – determination, courage, spirit

Rebuffed – refused, denied

Ditch – lose, get rid of

Sloth – laziness

Reprobate – good-for-nothing

Augment – improve, enhance

Authentic – real, believable


Win Win (2011) -  Comedy | Drama

 

Disheartened New Jersey attorney Mike Flaherty struggles to keep his wife Jackie, their two young girls, and himself happy while moonlighting as a wrestling coach for New Providence High School. The team has developed a losing streak, and together with co-coach Vigman, Flaherty is trying to fulfill the school's motto as "The Home of Champions".

 

Flaherty struggles to keep his business from going under by acting as the legal caretaker of an elderly client, and thinks he has discovered the perfect loophole to keep his practice in business. But his brilliant plan hits an unexpected hitch when his client's troubled grandson Kyle shows up looking for a place to stay. Now his home life is in turmoil and both of his careers are in jeopardy.

 

Luckily, Kyle turns out to have a special talent in wrestling, much to the delight of coach Vigman. The stage is set for Flaherty to get a double payday and a long-awaited winning wrestling team, when Kyle's mom Cindy shows up—fresh out of rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything.

 

Will Mike find a creative way out of his current predicament?

 

This movie is sweet and complex, tender without being mushy, funny, compassionate, and authentic.

 

Disheartened – lacking courage or spirit

Moonlighting – to work a second job at night

Losing streak – having a series of losses

To go under – to fail

Legal caretaker – some who has legal power

Loophole – a way of escaping a difficulty, particularly through exclusion or vagueness in the wording of a contract

Hitch – problem, setback

Turmoil – chaos, mess, problems

In jeopardy – facing problems

Rehab – short for rehabilitation – somewhere people go to recover from addictions

Flat broke – without any money

Derail – to obstruct the progress or something

Mushy – overly sentimental

Authentic – real