‘Beirut’ is an audacious thriller with a star-making performance from Jon Hamm

Espionage supports the political poker game and thrills here

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Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) embraces the gutter. A former United States diplomat who suffered tragedy in the Middle East many years ago and abandoned everything that made him whole, Skiles spends the better part of his days drinking himself into a stupor with no care in the world for whether the night is old or young. When a former colleague and friend, Cal (Mark Pellegrino) is kidnapped, Skiles is requested to broker the exchange, thus bringing back all the trauma and bad blood of his past to the forefront.

As Mason would say, welcome to Beirut, an audacious and insightful thriller that holds your attention due to the star-making performance from Hamm. Continue reading “‘Beirut’ is an audacious thriller with a star-making performance from Jon Hamm”

‘Rampage’ is a big bucket of buttered cinematic popcorn

Wildly ridiculous and also kind of fun.

In order to properly introduce Brad Peyton’s Rampage to you, I feel like I need to do it in a “movie trailer voice guy” tone. Are you ready? Let’s go.

“In a world where evil rich corporations are testing chemicals on lab rats in outer space with the hopes of selling wild government contracts, something goes terribly wrong. The chemicals smash into the Earth and infect other animals, which is bad news. How bad? I’m talking about a ten-foot gorilla who smashes everything. A 30-foot wolf who can fly and devour ten men at once! An alligator mixed with a giant lizard who got a Godzilla makeover. It’s bad, baby! Who do you call? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Davis Okoye. A special forces operative turned primatologist who is friends with the gorilla, named George. Can Davis rescue his friend, and in the process, save the world?!?!?  Continue reading “‘Rampage’ is a big bucket of buttered cinematic popcorn”

Humans and Pets: The bittersweet bond

A great pet leaves a shoe that can’t be filled.

All I wanted to do was hold my cat one more time. I was laying on the ground of the Webster Groves Veterinarian Office parking lot, crumbled into a ball.

I knew Jack was gone. When I picked his body up out of the backseat floor, it was limp and lifeless, like an old rolled up carpet. I hadn’t cried this much in years.

I didn’t cry like this when my grandmother, Nana, passed away last year.

I didn’t even cry this hard when my grandmother, Meme, passed away in 2011.

This was different. A new kind of pain. A blind side that came out of nowhere and slammed me to the surface. I was Joe Theismann on a football field without a care in the world for a guy named Lawrence Taylor.  Continue reading “Humans and Pets: The bittersweet bond”

The Dose Dispatch, Volume 2: In case you missed it

Dose loyalists,

I am back to deliver the goods. While I cook up another South City Confession-which I hope you are enjoying-it’s time to drop a load of reading material on your brain on a middle of the week grinder.

What’s new? Joe Williams wasn’t remembered on National Joe Day by the very paper he bled for over 15 years, so I did. I said the Cards should sign a closer and they did. I waxed poetically about the good graces of Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina while providing game recaps for the first five Cardinals games. Each game tells a story after all, so I am trying to do “5 takeaways” for every single game.

Here are the links. Thank or hate me later. Continue reading “The Dose Dispatch, Volume 2: In case you missed it”

‘Ready Player One’ brings back the fun Spielberg touch

Wondrous and visually captivating, this film is a blast

James Halladay (Mark Rylance) didn’t get out much. An analog player in a digital world, James needed a place where he felt like he belonged and could escape to, so he created the Oasis, a virtual reality where regular people could become the extraordinary and escape their troubles. The device has created a dichotomy in the world, though, making reality a long-lost place where few wish to inhabit.

It is Halladay’s death that sparks Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, which sets up in 2045 and follows the young Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) as he prepares to race for the three keys that Halladay left behind. Once a player finds all three keys and locates the Easter egg that the creator left behind, they are entitled to ownership of the Oasis and all its stock and revenue.

Watts is far from alone. There is his resourceful ally, Aech aka H (Lena Waithe), who will crush a fellow racer with his monster truck before fixing the bike of the lovely Art3mis (Olivia Cooke). The dynamic combo of Sho (Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki) can slice and dice their opponents with their Japanese samurai abilities. These and millions of others have battled for years to find the keys, but these days, most are just content to escape their world for a few hours. Continue reading “‘Ready Player One’ brings back the fun Spielberg touch”

‘Isle of Dogs’: An animated film for adults

Wes Anderson’s latest soars on real humor and heart

Separating a boy and his dog is a dangerous idea, but always makes for good entertainment. Isle of Dogs is an animated film that is best suited for adults-and it’s a wonderful time at the movies. First, let me tell you a little bit about the movie.

Writer/director Wes Anderson’s latest explores the lengths at which a 12 year old boy named Atari (Koyu Rankin) will go in order to find the dog assigned to protect him, Spot ( voiced by Liev Schreiber), who was dumped on a island by his vicious uncle. Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Numora) fears that his city is becoming saturated with sick dogs (infected with a flu-type virus), so he signs an order that pulls every single dog out of their homes and assigns them to an abandoned island. Thus, the isle of dogs.

In a film stock full of political satire and inside jokes, it’s best to appreciate the little things, because this film has so many wonderful details. Continue reading “‘Isle of Dogs’: An animated film for adults”

‘7 Days in Entebbe’ makes a great story seem boring

In the summer of 1976, Israel put their foot down as an international power, and that didn’t sit well with Palestine. War broke out, murder was commonplace, and politicians merely tried to keep a resemblance of peace. Israel’s reputation as a country that didn’t negotiate was put to the test when a group of freedom fighters hijacked a plane containing Jewish passenger, landing in Entebbe, Uganda, demanding terrorists held in Israeli prisons to be released.

7 Days in Entebbe is inspired by this true story, but I wouldn’t call it an idea that was executed well. Jose Padilha directs the movie like a guy reading a recipe off the internet, injecting nothing unique or thought-provoking into the tale to give it any extra cinematic juice. He basically sat in a chair and said, “go ahead”.

The plot is divided between the airport in Uganda and the political war room back in Israel, where the conservative peace seeking Prime Minister (Lior Askenazi, Norman) butts heads with the military force hungry advisor, Shimon Peres (Eddie Marsan, Ray Donovan). The strategy of how to deal with a situation involving over 100 innocent passengers requires multiple trains of thought, but the movie doesn’t stick to either one, spending most of its time with the hijackers, which include Bose (Daniel Bruhl) and Bridgette (Rosamund Pike). Continue reading “‘7 Days in Entebbe’ makes a great story seem boring”