Chasing Amy (4 Stars)
Released in 1997, Chasing Amy is a Kevin Smith comedy that possesses heart. The story revolves around Holden (Ben Affleck), a comic book artist who falls for Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), a fellow member of the industry. His pursuits hit a roadblock though when he finds out that Alyssa is a lesbian. The film is humorous throughout, with an excellent supporting performance by Jason Lee as Holden’s best friend. The unconventional premise results in a fresh take on the romantic comedy genre that stubbles over the finish line with a weak ending, but the journey is worth it nonetheless for the entertaining characters, and successful blend of laughs and sincerity.
Salt (3.5 Stars)
Released in 2010, Salt is a quality spy thriller that provides the perfect vehicle for Angelina Jolie to show off her action chops. The plot follows Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), a CIA agent forced to go on the run after a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Jolie serves as the central figure, carrying the film from beginning to end with a great physical performance. The script is entertaining with the classic twists and turns characteristic of the genre, without getting too convoluted. No new ground is being broken here, but this action-packed thrill ride is sure to keep the viewer engaged until the credits roll.
Bleed for This (3.5 Stars)
Released in 2016, Bleed for This is an inspirational boxing drama based on a true story. It centers around Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), a professional boxer who attempted to make a comeback after a near fatal car accident left many not knowing if he’d ever walk again. This a classic underdog format that has been seen many times before, but the real-life events it is based on allow it to stand out and offer up a truly compelling tale. Teller is magnetic as Vinny Paz, inhabiting the role with a mix of charisma and determination. He is complimented well by Aaron Eckhart who plays Vinny’s trainer, Kevin Rooney. The two engage throughout to provide a solidly crafted sports drama that inspires as well as entertains.
Blood Father (3 Stars)
Released in 2016, Blood Father is an enjoyable crime drama that spotlights an enjoyable return to form for Mel Gibson. The premise involves an ex-con (Mel Gibson) who reunites with his estranged daughter (Erin Moriarty) who is on the run from drug dealers who are trying to kill her. The setup is a simple one, yet one the does its job of allowing the opportunity for Gibson to let loose with an awesomely unhinged portrayal. He is funny, caring, and violent as a tattoo artist and recovering alcoholic trying to make amends until his daughter and trouble both come calling. This is a one man show that because of Gibson’s talent results in a solid watch with shades of what made Gibson one of the best action stars of his generation.