Archive for June, 2015


Love & Mercy

The legendary Beach Boys are making a comeback in the form of a biopic film depicting the life of their creative leader, Brian Wilson.  The sound of this group is iconic and synonymous with summer fun.  But fun wasn’t always the chorus in Wilson’s life score.  The film takes us from the beginnings of the group, its peak, and all the unpleasantries of success and failures, particularly the personal ones.  Wrought with manipulation, mental illness, drug use, and recovery, “Love & Mercy” has it all.


We step back in time to an era when “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and “California Girls” were heard endlessly on the radio in the mid 1960’s.  Meeting the younger Beach Boys, we are transported tElizabethBankso this era with the grainy texture to the film, almost as if we are seeing actual footage of this group.  We are then quickly introduced to Brian’s creative side as well as his mental instabilities.  Now, flash forward in time to the 1980’s.  We meet the older, very medicated, and broken version of Brian Wilson (John Cusack).  The film continues this non-linear story-telling technique in seamless style, stitching together the complete story of Brian’s life and those who influenced it, both negatively and positively.


Paul Dano’s performance of the younger version of Brian paints a picture of a very creative and troubled young man.  He’s simply stellar in this role, allowing us to see who this genuinely talented, yet different, musician is.  John Cusack also has a stand-out performance as the older version of Brian.  His affect or lack thereof, astutely portrays this shell of a man.  There are glimpses that Cusack allows us to see of the Brian that is hiding beneath the trauma and medication and with this, we have sympathy and love for thiPaulDanos man.  The strength in the cast continues as Elizabeth Banks plays Melinda Ledbetter.  This atypical role for her allows her to shine brightly, showcasing her amazing skills as an actress.  She is the heart and soul of this film.  And Paul Giamatti is just the opposite of heart and soul with his outstanding performance as the manipulative, self-centered, heartless control freak Dr. Eugene Landy.  I would expect nothing less from this talented actor as he creates the monster that dragged Wilson into what could have been his demise.


The outstanding cast is nothing without an interesting and well-written script.  As I said before, “Love & Mercy” has it all.  The type of story-telling, attempting to meld together an older and a younger version of the main character is difficult to say the least.  The writers and director allow a flawless depiction of the story to unfold before us.  The film truly captures the creative process in music production as well as the personalities and atrocities that shape our futures.  Mental illness, abuse, and drugs are at the forefront of Wilson’s life, but it is the love and kindness of just one person that makes a difference and truly saves Wilson.



“Love & Mercy” is a beautifully creative story depicting the rather tragic life of Brian Wilson.  The Beach Boys were a part of many of our lives and the songs live on, but Brian Wilson’s story isn’t over.  The tragic life becomes a triumphant one and “Love & Mercy” perfectly portrays this.


The writing, directing and above all else, the performances of the main cast, are absolutely outstanding.  The attention to detail, music, and subtle nuances in every aspect of the presentation make this an engaging and entertaining story.


4.0 Stars


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Thomas Haden Church stars in the film MAX.  Check out the review and the interview in the Friday, June 26, 2015 edition of The Daily Journal

Click HERE



Check out the review of TED 2 as printed in The Daily Journal on June 26, 2015.

Review of Ted 2

INSIDE OUT on Reel Talk


Bill Yohnka is our guest reviewer today.  His keen insights about this film will simply amaze you.

Check it out HERE



Climate change—it’s real.  But big oil companies continue to turn a blind eye while “somehow” swaying politicians to ignore the dire situation at hand.  The Yes Men have been bringing awareness to this issue for years and with this new documentary, we see these men as not just activists, but also as people.  Listen to Mike Bonanno ,filmmaker and one of the Yes Men, and Laura Nix, filmmaker, talk about this film.  Find out ways that you can make changes in big oil and in our environment.

Click here to listen:  Interview: THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING


Check out the review of INSIDE OUT as printed in The Daily Journal on Friday, June 18, 2015



Elisabeth Dunbar joins me to talk about ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL on The Daily Journal’s web series, Reel Talk!

Elisabeth Dunbar, Guest Reviewer



Listen to Maiko Neshino and Ase Svenheim-Drivenes talk about the documentary premiering at the LAFF (Los Angeles Film Festival), MAIKO: DANCING CHILD.  This film is as honest and powerful as it is beautiful in its successful attempt to communicate the difficulties of becoming a mother and reaching your career goals.  You will love Maiko’s advice to all women and mothers.


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Lupe Carroll joins me on The Daily Journal’s web series, Reel Talk, to chat about Insidious: Chapter 3.  See what this talented musician has to say about the musical score of horror films!

Reel Talk: Insidious: Chapter 3 Episode with Lupe Carroll

Kim Basinger1

Check out the interview with Kim Basinger and Anders Morgenthaler as they talk about their dark, new endeavor, THE 11th HOUR.

Interview with Basinger and Morgenthaler, printed in TDJ, 6-12-15