Recliner Reviews for Feb. 27, 2014

Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie rel

February 26, 2014 

GRAVITY

Sandra Bullock in "Gravity."

COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES — Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

“Gravity”

Sandra Bullock must’ve reached a comfortable point in her career where she can be extremely choosey about her film roles. In 2013, she only did two movies. The first one was the successful comedy, “The Heat,” with Melissa McCarthy. This one is a masterpiece that was four years in the making from filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron. The patience and diligence paid off by earning it 10 Oscar nominations – Bullock’s second. Besides a worthy assist by George Clooney in his best bravado, Bullock singlehandedly carries this film and shows she’s no lightweight. As a matter of fact, she throws down one heavy-ass performance. She probably won’t win the Oscar for it, but that doesn’t matter, because this is one of those rare films that is suspenseful and entertains and is a smart story with strong acting. It will win some naked bald statues, because this is a good space for all parties involved – worth a watch.

“Nebraska”

Director Alexander Payne knows the topic of this film – Nebraska. Not only is it Payne’s home state, it’s the fourth time he’s set a story in the corn state – “Citizen Ruth,” “Election” and “About Schmidt.” This just may be his starkest take on the state yet. Filmed in black and white, the characters are as desolate inside as their surroundings are outside. There are moments of pure bleakness, but Payne’s magic is the ability to bring out the heart in his calloused characters. And Bruce Dern and June Squibb lay down a pair of beautifully ornery roles, earning them both Oscar nods. Their dynamics are as good together as they are with the other members of the cast. Will Forte raises the bar on his career. Bob Odenkirk continues to build a quality resume. The film is up for six Oscars. Payne has six nominations and two wins in the past. This movie won’t sweep, but it will win something and it’s definitely worth a watch.

“Cutie and the Boxer”

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary, this is the story of Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. The film works through a 40-year timeline as the couple struggle through poverty, alcohol abuse, shifting identities, artist egos, raising children and love – most importantly love. Ushio is an artist from Japan. Noriko has put her own artistic aspirations on the backburner to care for Ushio and their son. Ushio shields himself with a sense of artist self-delusion. Noriko builds up resentment and yearns for escape. First-time director Zachary Heinzerling does a fine job of filtering the artistic visions of these two very different artists through all the dismal points, the soft eloquence, the anger and the missed opportunities along the way. Occasionally it’s hard, but it’s worth the watch.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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