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Hammerle On…'Guardians of the Galaxy,' 'Boyhood'

Robert Hammerle
August 27, 2014
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bob hammerle movie reviews“Guardians of the Galaxy”

Let me say from the outset that it is hard to imagine that you will have a more delightful time at a movie in 2014 than seeing “Guardians of the Galaxy.” This movie is hysterically funny while embracing the emotional tragedies that have scarred all of its flawed heroes. I guarantee you that you will hear laughter permeating the audience throughout the entire film.

The Guardians are a group of rogues joined together in a reluctant team. Chris Pratt is astonishingly wonderful playing Peter Quill, a freewheeling crook in space who doesn’t let moral concerns get in his way. He also carries a cassette tape with him containing songs from the 1970s that he received from his mother shortly before her death on Earth. The music permeates the film and makes you want to join Quill early in the film as he dances to a song as he approaches a facility that he intends on burglarizing.

Once again Zoe Saldana proves to be a quiet gift from the cinematic gods. She never received her due for her towering performance in James Cameron’s “Avatar” (2009), and no actress in the history of film is better at facing a female opponent without fear. Here she plays Gamora, a hot, green adversary of Quill’s who soon becomes a friend and ally.

And then there were the contributions of Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista. Cooper is the voice for Rocket, a raccoon that hates nearly everything including himself. He only loves Diesel’s Groot, a gigantic root whose entire vocabulary is limited to the words “I am Groot.” For those of you who question Diesel’s acting talent, let’s just say that he should have been playing a root his entire acting career.

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And then there is Bautista, who plays the defiant mini-giant Drax. He brings exciting dimension to otherwise impossible characters, and you really should hunt him down in both “The Man With the Iron Fists” (2012), and “Riddick” (2013).

I have said nothing about the plot, but it is ironically secondary to the entire experience. A nasty group of demented aliens, led by a painted nemesis called Ronan (Lee Pace), seek to possess a small globe containing a device that will literally wipe out every living creature across the solar system. That includes a planet where both Glenn Close and John C. Reilly play small but important roles, and our Guardians must unite contrary to their instincts to decide the fate of the universe.

In the process, this movie becomes a statement about the meaning of friendship and family, as the Guardians accept the possibility of death as long as they remain united. Death with comrades is preferable to a life dominated by villains, and it is ironic that we should be reminded of something so fundamental in a Marvel film.

My wife and I have just returned from a memorable adventure through the Greek Isles and a five-day stay in Istanbul. While cruising, it was easy to be reminded of the craziness that is going on in the world today. Sure, we all may disagree on some matters, but anger, hostility and hatred have no functional place in the human fabric.

“Boyhood”

Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” is justifiably praised in every respect, but it needs to be seen in the theater. I know it lasts nearly 2 hours and 45 minutes, but it is hard to imagine it playing the same at home where you are likely to encounter multiple diversions.
Quite frankly, it could have easily been called “Girlhood” or “Parenthood,” as it covers an entire family’s development from the time a young boy is 5 years old to when he enters college at 18. Everything that occurs is profoundly real, and Linklater’s courage to follow a kid over 13 years is an accomplishment that defies adequate description.

To begin with, you watch Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he gallops into his teenage years, and it in many ways is like watching a home movie. You see him battling homework assignments in elementary school to battling artistic assignments in high school, and he reflects everyone’s teenage son who is challenging parents while he tries to think outside the box. Coltrane is fantastic.

On top of that, Patricia Arquette is the star of the film, playing a mother who is trying to provide for her daughter and son as she attempts to keep her own life from falling apart. Divorced from Mason’s father, played in an expected captivating performance by Ethan Hawke, she ventures through two other marriages as she mistakenly marries husbands whose alcoholic depression destroys any semblance of family life.

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As noted, Hawke plays the father who disappeared to Alaska in his son’s early years only to reappear and try to play some meaningful role. Hawke is flawed but genuine, and he brings to Linklater’s film the same strength that he displayed in Linklater’s marriage trilogy, “Before Sunrise” (1995), “Before Sunset” (2004), and “Before Midnight” (2013).

The strength of this film is its honesty, and that becomes particularly relevant when you see both Mason and his sister Samantha leave for college. As they wrestle with their own future, you also see a mother devastated as both children leave home.

As I write this review, it is the middle of August, and college is about to start. Many of my friends are having a child leave home for the first time, and strong, professional mothers are wrestling personally with the consequences. As you watch Arquette in the this same position, you can only imagine what it is like to come home to an empty room filled for 18 years by a child who has been guided to embrace an unknown future.

“Boyhood” is not a great movie, but it is a great experience. Permeated by magnificent performances, you are simply reminded of the human experience involved with raising children. I don’t know if Linklater deserves an Oscar, but he does deserve our applause.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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