Movies: Hands of Stone, The Light Between Oceans, The Hollars

Hands of Stone


I must first disclose I am not a boxing fan, and in general, not a fan of boxing movies.  Nonetheless, now and then, movies are released that are worthy of a watch.  Hands of Stone is such a movie only because it is based on real events, is well written, acted and produced.

It is also worth a look because of the reminder of the life and career of lightweight boxer Roberto Duran played by Edgar Ramirez.  He grew up as a scrappy poor kid in Panama and rose to world class boxing matches.

He’s not a very likable character: arrogant, cocky, angry, abusive.  By contrast, he is driven, sometimes charming, playful, and generous.

Robert De Niro is the accomplished trainer and anchors the story line. John Turturro has an unremarkable bit part as a gangster.  I am pretty sure there won’t be any Oscar nods for this film but if you have the time and interest it is worth the ticket price.

Note:  We saw it in Wisconsin at the economy hour with a senior discount.

Rating: 2 globes

The Light Between Oceans


This unique movie is set in post World War One Austrailia, (actually filmed in New Zealand).  It has a great cast of actors.  Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz all deliver powerful and compelling performances about passion, grace and sacrifice.

Many critics were tepid about the film, with comments like ‘soap opera’ and ‘melodrama’.  I think that is too harsh.

The chemistry between Vikander and Fassbender is compelling and poignant.  I bought it hook, line and sinker.  It is not perfect.  There is a certain amount of angst and betrayal. Much of the most important part of the story feels a little fast tracked in the last 20 minutes.

Nonetheless, this film is satisfying and thought provoking, romantic and dramatic.  Directed and Screenplay by Derek Cianfrance and based on the book by the same title.

Rating: 3 globes

The Hollars


This is a quirky but charming drama/comedy about a dysfunctional family and the challenges they face when the matriarch, brillantly played by Margo Martindale, faces a brain tumor.

Produced, Directed and Acted by John Krasinski.  Anna Kendrick plays his love interest.  Sharlto Copley is a hoot as the divorced brother.  Richard Jenkins is perfect as the sobbing Dad.  And Charlie Day is perfect as the surragate Dad.

It is at the same time funny and likable, sad and uncomfortable.  Many critics were not kind in their reviews.  I think that is taking the movie too seriously.  Yes, there are some flaws in the production but I also think the pandemonium softens some of the life challenges that are just ‘on the table’ in this film.

Margo Martindale just may earn an Oscar nomination for her performance.

Rating: 4 globes



This could almost be a documentary of the now infamous emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in January of 2009.  You may recall all 155 passengers and crew survived.

What makes this movie work is the story behind the story where the investigation challenges the judgement of the pilot, played by Tom Hanks, and the co-pilot, played by Aaron Eckhart.  The investigators play serious hardball with their evidence and accusations.  Laura Linney delivers a great performance as Sully’s wife.

This film does an excellent job of “peeling the onion” and appears to be completely accurate to the true events.  For those of us that fly a lot, the viewing experience can be a bit unnerving.  It truly was a miracle that cold sunny day.  Do not miss this one.  See it on a big screen with a good sound system.  Or, rent/buy it later if you have a decent home theater.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, classified as a drama/biography.  Run time is 1 hour 36 minutes.

Rating: 4 globes

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