Movie of the Day – Jack Reacher

I will be the first to admit that I was ready to hate on this movie.  I usually don’t do this often since I want to give the movie a benefit of the doubt, but something about this movie and trailer just didn’t vibe with me at all.  Whether it is Tom Cruise, the look of another generic, action thriller, or just the fact that the movie might be another flash in the pan series, trying to make a grab at lighting, Jack Reacher was a dud in my eyes.  But on one faithful day at Alamo Drafthouse, one where we were slow as hell and I had some free time on my hands, I ended up giving Jack Reacher a view to see what it was all about.  Well, to say the least…I liked it.

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Movie of the Day – The Grand

I remember a time when I had nightly poker games at random friends houses with the television tuned to the non-stop coverage of everything poker. Sure our games and wagers were meager and not as exciting as the games on television, but damned if it wasn’t cool in some weird high school way where we felt like champs when we took the pot. I know I might catch flack for this, but I found the sideshow circus on the television far more interesting than the game taking place in poorly lit basement on the bargain sale felt poker table top that you can get at any Walmart. I mean, yeah you are spending some times with friends and playing poker, but come on, your tells are obvious and I drew a straight on the flop, you can’t WIN.

The poker on television was a spectacle to behold with the cavalcade of personalities that are fit some weird noir-ish archetype. You got the naive, lucky beginner player, then the willy veteran, the poker legend of old, the mysterious foreign national and even the wild card player of the table. Also there would occassionally be the femme fatale who was there in a low cut top dress as her weapon of choice, which was always a nice change of pace. So a movie comes along that tries to capture the wackiness of the poker world and does so with a free spirit and a ridiculous ensemble cast of actors and actresses to play in a poker tournament. It’s a good change of pace from the usual back alley and high stakes poker films we usually see and a entry into the mockumentary genre.

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Documentary of the Day – Grizzly Man

A descent into madness or misguided good deeds of a man who’s only goal in life is to interact and raise awareness of bears in North America?  Those are the things that comes to my mind when watching Grizzly Man.  Without context, we would assume that the man known as Timothy Treadwell is a crazy environmentalist and animal advocate, doing something outrageous to bring attention to a cause by placing himself in the environment in which his cause resides in.  It is a man that might be on the edge of sanity, taunting death at every turn by trying to help and understand the bears in their environment.  But to better understand the reasons and situation better, instead of making conjectures, it took the documentary skills of German Werner Herzog to comb through 100’s of hours of footage to create the chronicle of one man’s tragic journey to save the Grizzly bears.

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Documentary of the Day – Cave of Forgotten Dreams

The beautiful thing about documentaries is the use of the medium to transport the viewer into a world we didn’t know existed.  Sometimes the documentary is about a social issue in the world, maybe something dealing with a small town struggle or a minority group that struggles with a difficult issue, other times the film is an exercise in showcasing the splendor of the world through the lens of neutral camera.  It’s a wonderful experience, watching documentaries, because you never fully know what to expect when sitting in front of a screen and being pulled along a journey into the unknown.

It wouldn’t be right for me to exclude a filmmaker like Werner Herzog from my month long documentary film posts.  If there is one thing that Herzog can do, other than being awesome and imposing, is tell a story.  He goes to incredible lengths and great expense to bring us some of the most moving and fascinating subjects in our world to life.  He can show humanity at it’s most intimate and showcase the wonderment of life all with a reverence and care that rivals that of curators of history.

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