Tag Archives: ethan hawke

FIRST REFORMED (2017) – My rating: 7/10

First Reformed is a drama written and directed by Paul Schrader. It follows a Protestant minister faced with questions of faith and morality while serving as pastor of a dwindling historical church. While screened in August of 2017 at the 74th Venice International Film Festival it was theatrically released in the United States in May of 2018, which enabled the film to be considered for an Oscar in 2019.  I liked First Reformed and was glad I decided to see it, as it is a decent story.


Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) of the First Reformed Church in Snowbridge, New York has been writing his thoughts in a journal for a year, that he intends to destroy. First Reformed is a 250-year-old Dutch Reformed Church that is facing dwindling attendance under Reverend Toller’s leadership. His teachings has taken the church in a new direction and away from its historical focus on Reformed theology.  Toller used to be a military chaplain and struggles in the aftermath of his son’s passing. His grief is further compounded by the fact that he encouraged his son to enlist in the first place. Toller meets Mary Mensana (Amanda Seyfried), who is a pregnant member of his congregation seeking counseling for her radical-environmentalist husband Michael Mensana (Philip Ettinger), which further challenges his beliefs.  Mary turns to Reverend Toller for support. This and trying to seek a deeper experience through reading Roman Catholic (Thomas Merton and G.K. Chesterton) plus a mystical book (The Cloud of Unknowing) also adds to his crisis of faith. This new spiritual direction leads him to seek support from a nearby charismatic megachurch, Abundant Life, which owns the historical landmark the  (First Reformed Church that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad).  In the meanwhile, Toller meets with Michael who explains that he wants Mary to get an abortion because he does not want to bring a child into a world that will be rendered almost uninhabitable by climate change. Toller listens intently and starts to agree with Michael’s beliefs. I am stopping here as not to tell the whole story.

First Reformed is a dark and mysterious story that takes a lot of concentration and understanding from the viewer.  The story has potential and certainly  interesting.  Toller’s depression seems to transfer to the audience — we are saved by our curiosity, the excellent cast and their brilliant acting, all the suspense, plus the relationship between Reverend Toller and pregnant Mary. Also, Cedric Kyles “Cedric the Entertainer” stars as Pastor Joel Jeffers and gives quite the performance.  This film gets very interesting but has an ending that leaves you wanting a little more explanation.  All in all, First Reformed was acclaimed by critics, with specific praise for Hawke’s performance and Schrader’s screenplay and direction, and was chosen by both the National Board of Review and American Film Institute as one of the Top 10 Films of 2018. At the Independent Spirit Awards, the film received nominations for Best Film, Best Male Lead (Hawke), Best Director and Best Screenplay.   I would wait for the DVD but do Check It Out!

[First Reform is Oscar nominated for Best Original Screenplay]



Since I don’t read comic books, I didn’t know what to expect or even that this movie was derived from a comic book series. The pitch was “Valerian is the most beautiful movie we’ll ever see.” It was compared to Avatar and I was convinced that if it was half as good as Avatar, it still would be pretty fantastic as far as outstanding special effects goes. As it turns out, some of this was right but not all. It wasn’t until two thirds through, I found Valerian becoming more than tolerable and even interesting. The acting was good but the story was a little confusing. Then something happened; camera, action, a change of pace — oh boy, I think I like this after all.

A space station called Alpha was started in the 28th century where millions of creatures from different planets could live peacefully, exchange knowledge and cultures without any problems. What began as a space station around the planet Earth, grew as many nations from Earth and races from other planets joined. One of the planets called Mül was a low-tech humanoid race that lives peacefully in a tropical paradise. They fish for energy-containing pearls and use certain animals to duplicate the pearls.  Their philosophy was to give back what was given to them, much like Luke 12:48 – (NLT) “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are romantically involved as well as special agents of the human police forces. In a dream, Valerian sees this planet in all it’s beauty and glory.  As this idyll is destroyed by spaceship debris crashing onto the planet, Valerian wakes up to find he and Laureline on a mission to retrieve one of the rare animals from his dream, called a “converter”, from a black market dealer.

Valerian interrupts a meeting of the dealer with two prospective customers for the converter, both looking like the humanoids from his dream. He and Laureline obtain the converter, and he surreptitiously steals one of the pearls that had been given to the dealer as payment.  They now return to Alpha, where they are told by their Commander, Arün Filitt, (Clive Owen) part of the station has been infected by an unknown force, rendering it highly toxic, and troops sent into the area have not returned, plus the infection is spreading. Laureline and Valerian are assigned to protect the commander. However, while briefing an assembly about the infection, they are ambushed by the humanoids, who incapacitate all participants and kidnap him. Valerian frees himself and the others and chases the kidnappers, who head for the infected area. Valerian loses control of his vehicle and Laureline loses contact with Valerian who infiltrates the residential sector of the group with the help of a shapeshifter named Bubble (Rihanna).

While this is all starting to sound a little confusing, you probably can understand why I became a little loss in the beginning.  Trust me, it all comes together and even is fun and very interesting, especially when Rihanna enters the scene.  It definitely was not the fabulous movie they promised but it was descent.  You’ll learn why and who destroyed the planet Mül, as well as what happened to the planet’s beautiful inhabitants.  Also Valerian ask for Laureline’s hand in marriage, does she say yea or nay?  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is not too violent and the special effects are fantastic.  Nicely done!    You will also get to see: Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp, Herbie Hancock as a Defence Minister and hear John Goodman as the voice of Igon Siruss, a Kodar’Khan pirate captain and the galaxy’s most-wanted criminal.  Check it out!


THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016) – My rating: 8/10

magnificentsevenThe Magnificent Seven reminded me a lot of True Grit. Who better than Denzel Washington as Sam Chisolm to pull off the lead character as a sharp shooter and warrant officer with the monumental task of taking out an evil, greedy villain like corrupt industrialist, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard).  The Magnificent Seven takes place in 1879 and focuses on a gold mining town called Rose Creek.  The town, filled with regular GOD fearing folk, is overpowered by Bogue and many of the locals are slaughtered, including Matthew Cullen (Matt Bomer) who tried to stand up to Bogue.  After the slaughter, Matthew’s wife, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) along with a friend, Teddy Q (Luke Grimes) leave town in search of someone who can help stop Bogue and return Rose Creek back to the people.

After listening to Emma’s story and learning of the culprit’s name, Chisolm sets out to recruit a group of gunslingers who can help him, starting with gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt). They are later joined by sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), knife-wielding assassin Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), skilled tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and notorious Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo).

After the Magnificent Seven arrive in Rose Creek, a gunfight with Bogue’s enforcer McCann (Cam Gigandet) ensues.  The Seven manage to win and sends a warning and challenges Bogue to return and fight or simply leave the town. As usual, there’s much more to this story but I’m minimizing spoilers, so I can say no more.  This was a fairly good western or what my mom use to call a “shoot em up”.  This remake of the 1960 version of The Magnificent Seven brings nothing new or earth shattering to the plate, but is very entertaining and well acted.

BOYHOOD (2014) – My rating: 7/10

BoyhoodThere is so much hype around Boyhood that I couldn’t wait to see it.  Now that I’ve seen it, I honestly don’t know what all hype is about.  Boyhood is a nostalgic look at Richard Linklater’s childhood between the ages of 5 and 18.  Richard is also the writer, director and producer of  Boyhood.  Personally, I found it a little slow and a little boring.  Boyhood’s claim to fame is that it was filmed over a period of 12 years.  This means the characters, no matter what age, are the same actors/actresses the movie started out with.  Basically, I don’t feel Boyhood offers anything earth shattering that would make me happy about spending 12+ bucks to see it.  I also think the movie is too long (2 hours, 44 minutes) for this type of flat, coming of age story.  The film begins in  2002, Texas and is about Samantha and Mason, played by Lorelei Linklater and Ellar Coltrane, respectively growing up with their mom, Olivia (Patricia Arquette) in a single family environment.`Ethan Hawke, who plays their dad eventually makes himself available to his children with weekend activities and holiday events.  Samantha and Mason experience some bumps and grinds growing up but nothing too dramatic.  Olivia remarried, returned to school and earned a BA, found a job teaching then divorced again.  The family moved multiple times to accommodate the current status of the family.   NOTE:  Lorelei Linklater is the actual daughter of Richard Linklater.  IMDB shows Boyhood rated 8.3, which means the audience really likes this movie.  This critique reflects my opinion only.  I’m glad it’s out on DVD for those who want to see Boyhood.

[BOYHOOD is nominated for Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay (Writing), Film Editing]


BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013) – My rating: 6/10

BeforeMidnightBecause I hadn’t seen Before Sunrise, I didn’t know what to expect from Before Midnight, so I watched both.  OMG, I was so terribly bored after half an hour of constant chatter.  This movie had maybe 4 to 6 other characters who played very little importance to the film.  Before Midnight is the sequel to Before Sunrise and both were mainly two people meeting on a train and falling in love.  Scenes included endless walking and talking and little to no action.  The sequel offered a little more, as it had a few meaningful characters that contributed little but was a welcome site because I was so tired of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.  The sequel takes place in Paris and is 20 years after their first meeting.  I’m not sure why this movie was nominated for anything but it has an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination.  If you look up Before Midnight on IMDB, it has an 8.1 rating.  I’m not sure why, obviously there are many who don’t agree with me but this is a review that reflects my opinion.  I will acknowledge that some good points came out of their dialogue but that’s the only good thing I have to say about the movie.

[BEFORE MIDNIGHT is nominated for Adapted Screenplay]