Updated: 01/12/2016 1:50 PM | Print Story |  Email

TCL's Movie Trip 1/8

Our critic says the new Will Smith movie "Concussion" pulls no punches with regards to the health risks of playing in the NFL, but is it worth the trip? Paul McGuire Grimes weighs in. He also reviews "The Revenant" and the Amy Winehouse documentary "Amy". 

You can read more of Paul's thoughts on this movies on his website, Paul's Trip to the Movies.

THE REVENANT (theatrical release)
Keep breathing. When all hope is lost, just keep breathing. That’s the lesson Hugh Glass is trying to ingrain in his son. With John Fitzgerald, Jim Bridger, they are part of a fur-hunting group led by Andrew Henry. While separated from the group, Glass is brutally attacked and mauled by a bear. He is whipped around, has his throat slashed, but survives. His men find him before it’s too late, but there’s difference of opinion on if they should leave him there or carry him along the way. They attempt to carry him along up the snowy mountains, but it becomes too much work. Glass’ son, Fitzgerald, and Bridger decide to stay back with him. This is all a ploy by Fitzgerald who kills his son and leaves him for dead a few days later. Glass is a survivor who continues to fight and push his way through as he sets his sights on seeking revenge on Fitzgerald for killing his son.
- Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu who won the Oscar last year for Birdman.
-Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domnhall Gleeson, Will Poulter
-Stunning film in its depiction of the magnitude and power of nature.  Completely shot using all natural light.
-May just be the most brutal movie of the year. Iñárritu makes it as realistic as possible. He wants you to feel it. The opening fight scene and the bear attack are just the beginning of the gore, violence, and carnage at hand. It is by no means for the faint of heart.
-DiCaprio spends a majority of the film without saying a word due to his attacks.  It’s clearly one of the most physically demanding performances he has given. He throws himself completely into his role and the result will probably win him the Oscar
-Tom Hardy gives what may be his best performance to date. He makes for one manipulative kind of villain.
-You’ll know within the first twenty minutes if you will be in it for the long haul. It will inevitably be too much for some people to handle due to the violence and graphic “in your face” nature of it. 
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies?
If you can go along with it, you will be engrossed and taken for an insane adventure.
CONCUSSION (theatrical release)
Dr. Bennett Omalu is a forensic pathologist originally from Nigeria and now lives in Pittsburgh. He holds multiple master’s degrees and certificates. He treats his bodies with respect and even talks to them. He has a very positive outlook on life and believes in the American dream. His latest body is that of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster. He was found dead in his car, but suffered from severe mental health issues due to the brain trauma he received from his time in the NFL. Dr. Omalu diagnoses him with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and determines that “playing football killed Mike Webster.” He continues to see repeated patterns after multiple Pittsburgh Steelers are found dead due to suicide. He decides to write a paper based on his findings about brain trauma due to playing football. He attempts to confront newly appointed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about his findings. Instead of listening to him, they quickly dismiss and threaten him for attempting to smear the NFL’s holy name. 
-Stars Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, David Morse, and Luke Wilson as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
-Based on a true story as first told through the article “Game Brain” by Jeanne Marie Laskas in GQ.
-Pulls no punches and doesn’t try to sugarcoat the truth by using fake team names and profiles. Like the film’s subject matter, the director isn’t afraid of the NFL.
-Explores the science behind what happens to the brain due to severe and repeated trauma. Another aspect it covers is the idea of the American dream for an immigrant like Dr. Omalu and what its like when something as big as the NFL wants to ruin that concept you have come to believe in.
-Will Smith gives one of the best performances of his career. It’s a very restrained performance and nails the Nigerian accent. He is by no means the energetic hotshot we’ve come to expect from him.
- The film prompted a good discussion afterwards about cheering for a sport or any organization when you know the people behind it are beyond corrupt.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies?
Even if you have a limited knowledge of the game of football, Concussion will hopefully shed light on a very dangerous side effect of the beloved game. 
AMY (home release)
Amy is the critically acclaimed documentary that follows the early career and untimely death of singer Amy Winehouse. Even as a young girl, she was very much a wild child and force of nature. Her parents’ divorce had a lasting effect on her. She continually acted out on account of her depression. She was an aspiring singer/songwriter who wrote lyrics and poems directly personal to her. She wanted to challenge herself and be different with her lyrics as she didn’t feel like any music represented her or what she grew up listening to. She was eighteen when she signed her first deal in 2002 and had the sound of a jazz singer that had already experienced a full life. The film then follows the abusive relationship with boyfriend, Blake Fielder. The repeated break ups wore her down and sent her spiraling into destructive state. Her alcohol consumption mixed with struggles with bulimia ultimately ended her life.
-Very linear approach starting with the early days of making music 
-In depth and personal look at her life. Uses archival footage of concerts, recording sessions, personal videos inside her home, unheard music and journals with her lyrics. It opens the audience up to an Amy Winehouse that we forgot about.
-It’s easy for us to remember Winehouse at the time of her death and the stories we heard about in the tabloids
-Continually surrounded by horrible people that lead her down the wrong path. Her dad tried to stay in the spotlight and live off her career. He tried to film a TV show with her and make some income off her career. 
-Learned a lot about her, better understanding of her life, her as a person, performer. I got the impression that she wanted to get her life on track and tried from time to time, but could never kick her alcohol consumption.
-Makes you think and wonder what her career could have been like if she had survived, if she had gotten on a straighter path. Would she have been bigger than Adele?
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies?
Amy is a fascinating and well-rounded look at a true talent gone far too soon.