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Rapid Movie Review: ‘August: Osage County,’ ‘Her’ & ‘Lone Survivor’

Rapid Movie Review: ‘August: Osage County,’ ‘Her’ & ‘Lone Survivor’

Rapid Movie Review: ‘August: Osage County,’ ‘Her’ & ‘Lone Survivor’
January 10
17:30 2014

Preston Barta / Film Critic

“August: Osage County”

Rated R for language including sexual references and drug material.

Run-time: 121 min.

Rating: 4.5/5

Well-crafted yarn held together by strong performances and script

An all-star cast is usually the harbinger of a doomed movie, but John Well’s film adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “August: Osage County,” is one of the few exceptions. The impressive cast rises and exceeds expectations.

While this dark comedy tale about a dysfunctional Oklahoma family of thoroughly awful people can be very difficult to watch at times, it features some of the best acting of the year, especially from the show-stopping Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts (in one of her best performances since 2000’s “Erin Brockovich”) as mother and daughter.

If you’re not one to watch ill-tempered people eat at each other, you might want to visit one of the two other films below. But if you’re willing to witness an impactful script with a perfect storm of acting, then you may walk away from one of the most powerful experiences to come out of 2013.

“August: Osage County” is playing at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas and Plano.

“Her”

Rated R for language, sexual content and brief graphic nudity.

Run-time: 126 min.

Rating: 5/5

A beautiful ode to the age of technology

Spike Jonze’s latest feature, “Her,” set in the not-too-distant future, tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), who finds himself falling in love with an advanced operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).

It’s impossible to believe that a movie with a premise like this could make for one of the best, most poignant and strangely realistic experiences of the year, but that’s the beauty of Jonze’s insightful film.

The visual style—extensive use of pastel colors— strong performances, dazzling musical score by Arcade Fire, vivid costumes (Urban Outfitters?) and screenplay all provide an unusually frightening look at where the future might be heading in a technology-obsessed world.

“Her” is playing at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas and Plano.

“Lone Survivor”

Rated R for strong bloody war violence and pervasive language.

Run-time: 121 min.

Rating: 3/5

Cliché but intense

From news stories and the spoiling title, audiences may already know what the inevitable ending of “Lone Survivor” will be, but does that change how gripping and remarkable the journey is?

Based on the harrowing true story and novel of the same name by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the film recounts a failed 2005 mission where four SEALs (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster) were deployed to the Afghan mountains as a surveillance team for “Operation Red Wings,” a mission to take out Taliban commander Ahmad Shah (Yousuf Azami) plus his crew.

Many critics have been comparing “Lone Survivor” to the likes of 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan.” This is not a fair comparison. The film is far better than the majority of Wahlberg’s recent works, but “Lone Survivor” doesn’t come without its flaws and it’s certainly not on the same level as Steven Spielberg’s war epic.

After its cliché opening in establishing the camaraderie among these SEALs during training, the film packs the action when the SEALs’ mission is compromised.

Director Peter Berg (“The Kingdom,” 2007) provides some of the most well-shot and choreographed battle sequences in quite some time, especially one where the SEALs have to decide whether to be shot and killed or take their chances surviving by jumping and rolling down the mountain’s side.

While “Lone Survivor” is often cheesy (with typical, bad war dialogue) and manipulative, it’s an intense, brutal journey that may cause you to cringe, tear up and walk away satisfied.

“Lone Survivor” is playing everywhere.

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