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Selma

Selma Movie (2014)
Director: Ava DuVernay
Cast : David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

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Synopsis; The unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.

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Watch Selma Full Movie: Passionate, informative, and tenderly told, Ava DuVernay’s vision of Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for voters’ rights is fully realized in her newest film “Selma.” Written by Paul Webb, the film is ambitious, moving, and features a performance fit for the history books from David Oyelowo. It’s one of the single best things you can see in 2014.

Watch Selma Full Movie: In a time where the state of our country is in disarray over race and politics, “Selma” hits our doorsteps at the right time for both sides of the coin to indulge and see how far we’ve come, or how little we actually have. “Selma” shows the good and the bad, the perfect and imperfect characteristics of one of the most important figures in the fight for civil rights. There’s respect, which goes without question, but there’s an emotional and raw honesty that DuVernay and Webb choose to tell us about the man who was Dr. King. She doesn’t paint the rosey picture you’d come to expect from standard biopics these days. She lays it out, leaving us to decide for ourselves if something outside of what he contributed to our country is great enough to look passed. DuVernay offers in many ways, the single best direction of the year.

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Watch Selma Full Movie: Invigorating from beginning to end, David Oyelowo owns every frame of the picture. You don’t see performances like this too often especially of a real-life figure like MLK. I go back to works like Denzel Washington (“Malcolm X”), Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi”), and George C. Scott (“Patton”) to find a more jaw-dropping or complex acting performance. Something like this only seems to come around once a decade. This may be our decade’s. It’s more than just the embodiment, it’s the decisions in the silence that makes Oyelowo so amazing. You will remember this performance forever.

Watch Selma Full Movie: The entire cast does an admirable to amazing job in their respective roles. Carmen Ejogo is simply electrifying as Coretta Scott King. An impeccable example of wearing the emotions and feelings at the brim without letting go. Just sensational top to bottom.

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Watch Selma Full Movie: Despite some hiccups in the accent department, Tom Wilkinson and Tim Roth are serviced well as Lyndon B. Johnson and George Wallace. Both have their opportunities to stand out in their respective scenes but ultimately stand as reminders that we are eagerly waiting to get back to Dr. King.

Watch Selma Full Movie: DuVernay’s triumph comes from the extras and smaller name cast she utilizes as sprinkles in every instance that they appear. Stan Houston as the treacherous Sheriff Clark is superbly focused and embodies the mindset of every unfortunate person of hate during the time. Henry G. Sanders and Keith Stanfield in many ways become the heart and soul of the film without no more than just a few moments of screen time. Oprah Winfrey and Lorraine Toussaint also execute their roles proficiently.

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Watch Selma Full Movie: The slick and vivacious manner in which “Selma” is assembled is thanks to the genius people behind the camera. Cinematographer Bradford Young is just too great at what he does at this point in his career. With another stunning framing form in J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year,” he rises in the ranks to join Roger Deakins and Emmanuel Lubezki as one of the most exciting DP’s. Spencer Averick’s editing keeps “Selma” on pace, and engaging 100% of the time. Jason Moran’s score is palpable and justified in every sense of its usage.

Watch Selma Full Movie: “Selma” is just a joy to behold, a magnificent example of passionate filmmaking that lacked sorely in 2014. It propels DuVernay among the ranks of the best filmmakers working today. Naturally brought to tears, it’s a gut-wrenching and honest look into our history. Fulfilling, promised, and profound. One of the year’s best films.

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Mr. Turner

Mr. Turner (2014)
Director: Mike Leigh
Cast : Timothy Spall, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson

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Synopsis; Mr. Turner explores the last quarter century of the great if eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, he forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies. Throughout this, he travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty.

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Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: Mike Leigh is perhaps best-known for his serio-comic social-realist dramas about contemporary British life, films like “Abigail’s Party” and “Life Is Sweet”, but he also seems to be developing a sideline in biographies of nineteenth-century cultural figures. First there was “Topsy-Turvy” about Gilbert and Sullivan, and now we have “Mr. Turner” about the life and career of the artist J. M. W. Turner. Or rather about the latter part of his life and career; when we first meet him he is already middle-aged.

Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: Leigh has described Turner as “a great artist: a radical, revolutionary painter,” and this is undoubtedly true; Turner’s work, especially his later work, seems to prefigure Impressionism, perhaps at times even abstract Modernism. We must not, however, allow our appreciation of the progressive side of Turner’s work to degenerate into that lazy cliché about the great artist starving in a garret, scorned or neglected by his contemporaries but later discovered by a grateful posterity. (Very few great artists, except perhaps Van Gogh, have ever conformed to this stereotype). He was greatly admired by his contemporaries, was praised in the highest terms by many critics, especially Ruskin, became a full Royal Academician while still in his twenties, never lacked for patrons and died a wealthy man. By contrast his great contemporary and rival, John Constable, whose art seems much less radical to our eyes, had a much harder struggle to establish himself.

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Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: Leigh’s purpose in making the film was to “examine the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual, and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world.” This tension is something very obvious in the film. Turner, especially in later life, was noted for his eccentricity. Unlike many working-class Georgians and Victorians who rose in the world, he never attempted to hide his humble origins. He was untidy, had no social graces and could be rude and tactless. He never married but had a number of mistresses. He was estranged from the first of these, Sarah Danby, and refused to acknowledge his two illegitimate daughters by her. (Sarah appears in the film as do two other mistresses, Hannah Danby Sarah’s niece and Turner’s housekeeper and Sophia Booth, a seaside landlady).

Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: And yet this uncouth, boorish-seeming man was an artist not only of genius but also of a deep spirituality. His obsession with accurately recording light and atmospheric conditions- he once had himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he could paint a snowstorm- was born not only of a concern with fidelity to nature but also of a belief that light was a visible manifestation of the Divine. (His last words are said to have been “The sun is God”).

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Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: How, then, could any actor hope to play so contradictory an individual? The answer to this question comes from Timothy Spall, one of Leigh’s favourite actors. Spall is someone I have normally thought of as a “character actor”, but here he gets the chance to prove himself as a leading man and makes the most of it. His Turner is a grumpy old man, and in his dealings with women something of a dirty old man as well, forever grunting and spitting and forever speaking in a sort of Cockney whine, and yet we are never allowed to forget that underneath his unpromising exterior he is a sublime artist. This is probably the finest performance I have seen Spall give; it won him “Best Actor” at the Cannes Film Festival and I hope that the Academy will bear him in mind when it comes to next year’s Oscars. There is insufficient space to single out all the deserving supporting performances, although I should mention Martin Savage as Turner’s friend and fellow-painter Benjamin Haydon, forever trying to borrow money off him, Paul Jesson as Turner’s father, to whom he was very close, and Joshua McGuire in a comic turn as an effeminate, lisping Ruskin, very different to the way Greg Wise portrayed him in the recent “Effie Gray”.

Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: The other outstanding feature of the film is its visual beauty. Leigh and his cinematographer Dick Pope were clearly aiming to make it one of those films where every shot looks like a painting in its own right, and certainly succeed in this ambition. Some cinematic biographies of great artists, such as “Girl with a Pearl Earring” about Vermeer, do succeed in capturing the distinctive “look” of their subject, but I think that Leigh and Pope were not actually aiming to make every shot look like a Turner; their palette of colours, for example, is rather too muted for that. Possibly they felt that the peculiar luminosity of Turner’s work would be too difficult to reproduce on film. There are, however, some memorable shots, such as the opening scene by the river in Holland, complete with windmill, and the one where Turner watches “the fighting Temeraire” being towed up the Thames, thereby getting the inspiration for one of his best-known works.

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Watch Mr. Turner Full Movie: I am not sure if “Mr Turner” quite justifies the label “masterpiece” which some have tried to pin on it; it can at times be too slow-moving for that. Spall’s wonderful acting, however, and Pope’s striking cinematography make it a film that stands out from the crowd. 8/10

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