Meru (2015) Jimmy Chin – documentary movie review

Sacred Himalayan peak Meru Peak in northern India, at nearly 22,000 feet, may not be the tallest mountain in the world, but it is one of the most difficult to climb. It’s so difficult that, at least prior to this documentary’s footage, it had never been scaled successfully, even by several of the world’s best mountain climbers who’ve tried repeatedly, ultimately failing once they get to the precipitous “Shark’s Fin” of the mountain’s central of three peaks, where climbing is slow, the harsh climate is freezing, and the places to rest nearly nonexistent.
Meru documents both a 2008 and a 2011 attempt by Jimmy Chin, who put much of this film together, along with his longtime climbing partner Conrad Anker and ultra-athletic free-climber Renan Ozturk, to scale the complicated peak before the hundreds of pound of food and other necessary supplies runs out that would make success an impossibility.

Straight Outta Compton (2015) NWA biopic – Movie Review

Straight Outta Compton gives us the basic origins of the group N.W.A.’s three most well-known members, Dre, Cube, and Eazy-E, the latter of whom would turn some of the money he accrued while drug-dealing into launching his own record label, Ruthless Records, and made it a local success. Their radio buzz puts them on the radar of music talent manager Jerry Heller, who impresses on them that he has the chops in the business to take them to the next level of success, securing a record deal to give them national distribution, but also perhaps led to their eventual break-up, as contracts are signed but money never seems to flow in ways that smack of fairness. From there, the biopic deals with the group’s controversy, particularly in their impassioned call to rise up against police brutality in “F— Tha Police”, as well as their lyrics that are called out for glamorizing the gangster lifestyle to their predominantly young listeners. Other threads include Cube’s leaving the group to go solo, Dre eventually doing the same after one more album (from the frying pan to the fire of Los Angeles thug mogul Suge Knight), and Eazy-E’s contraction of AIDS, which would take his life before a proposed reunion of the group, this time on their own terms, could take place.

The End of the Tour (2015) Jason Segel – Movie Review

After a prologue featuring David Lipsky hearing the news of David Foster Wallace’s suicide in 2008, we flash back to 1996 for most of the duration, as the journalist travels to Wallace’s home on the outskirts of Bloomington, Illinois for a few days before they head out to the final stop in Minneapolis, trying to pick his brain without being too pushy. The reserved author is very tight-lipped about things that are too personal in nature, which leads to a good deal of testiness on Wallace’s part. Voids exist, as Lipsky begins to think that perhaps Wallace is trying to shape his image for the purpose of the interview and not be forthcoming about who he really is and what he believes, leading to some push back, and forcing the reporter to put together some insights based on the items Wallace keeps around his house.

The Gift (2015) Joel Edgerton, Jason Bateman – Movie Review

Jason Bateman stars as Simon, who has just moved to hometown Los Angeles from Chicago with his wife Robyn and St. Bernard, Mr. Bojangles. Robyn has decided to stay at home to work while Simon heads off to corporate-land due to some unstable moments of paranoia and fear in her past, including the trauma of losing an unborn child before it came to term. While purchasing some items for their new home, Simon is approached by a man he once went to high school with, Gordon, and, out of politeness, ‘Gordo’, as he was once nicknamed in school, is invited over for dinner and to catch up with old times. Gordo tries to make peace, offering up such gifts as bottles fo wine, and new koi for their pond. Robyn finds him to be nice, if socially awkward, but something about Gordo begins to rub Simon the wrong way, which causes a bit of tension among the three, as well as some unsavory events of the past resurfacing that Robyn senses but can’t put her finger on.

Fantastic Four (2015) Miles Teller, Kate Mara – Movie Review

Miles Teller plays Reed Richards in his older form, who has invented, with assistance from his best and only friend Ben Grimm, a contraption that apparently allows it to teleport an object somewhere else and have it return back to the invention. Reed initially thinks that place it goes is on Earth, but he’s later informed that he has created an inter-dimensional transporter that is connected to another planet full of all kinds of crazy energy that gets him linked up with Dr. Franklin Storm, the head of a government-sponsored science-based think tank for young prodigies called the Baxter Institute, along with his thrill-seeking son Johnny, his adopted genius of a daughter, Sue, and an older prodigy named Victor Von Doom, who has already been working on a project of similar direction.
After building a bigger version of the device that can transport much larger objects, the government rep on the case wants their men to take over the project once they see it has been successful, leaving the scientists who spent their lives forging the way little choice but to sneak into the facility and operate the high-tech machine themselves to be the first humans ever to travel to this new, undiscovered planet. After drunk-dialing Ben to join them on the fun, they do just that, and while there, things go awry when they discover the place is rife with an unknown and seemingly unstable energy source that consumes them, as Victor is lost, while the rest of the crew get back, barely, with their lives, forever changed by the experience, not only emotionally, but physically as well. Reed becomes a man of rubber-like abilities, Ben a goliath of stone, Johnny a man of flames and flight, and Sue a woman of invisibility and forcefields.

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation (Tom Cruise) – Movie Review

Ethan Hunt has to go it on his own as the IMF (Impossible Mission Force), for all intents and purposes, is shut down by the CIA head Alan Hunley for a lack of results on their latest mission, plus mishaps such as the Kremlin getting destroyed from their previous mission (as chronicled in the fourth M:I flick, Ghost Protocol). Hunt really wants to take down shadowy international terrorism syndicate leader Solomon Lane, who has been orchestrating a series of seemingly unrelated catastrophes for a higher purposes we don’t come to fully find out until later in the plot. For reasons he can’t make out, Lane has an operative in his employ, Ilsa Faust, who is as deadly as she is alluring, and she is helping Ethan Hunt while also committing some heinous acts — a potential double agent in their midst.