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Masterminds • Deep Water

Horizon • Birth Of A Nation

October 6, 2016

Based on True Events:

Masterminds (** 1/2)

Deepwater Horizon (***)

Two recent film releases covering headline-making events can now be found in local multiplexes. One of these is based on a story that made local headlines nearly twenty years ago and will certainly ring familiar to anyone who was living in or near this area in the fall of 1997 while the other depicts events from less than decade ago that still resonate and will for some time to come.

Masterminds is based on the true crime caper involving the theft of over a ton of cash by a down-on-his-luck security guard from Kings Mountain, NC named David Ghantt. The case still remains one of the largest robberies in US history.

Kurt Russell in Deep Water Horizon

Ghantt’s plan was to steal the money and high tail it to Mexico while waiting on  former co-worker Kelly Campbell, who instigated the plan, to join him there and share in the bounty. What Ghantt didn’t know was that Campbell had no intentions to join him and the plan was merely a way for Ghantt to score the money for Campbell and her lover, Steve Chambers.

Masterminds plays up the comedy angle in a very broad way with actors Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis filling the aforementioned roles of, respectively, Ghantt, Campbell, Chambers and the hit man sent to exterminate Ghantt. As directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite), the film is funny enough in spots but tends to run out of steam before it reaches its conclusion. Still, Masterminds has enough good will to keep it going and to get a reserved recommendation from yours truly. You may laugh quite a bit as long as you aren’t looking for sophisticated humor.

Deepwater Horizon on the other hand is a solid dramatization of the devastating oil spill that occurred off the coast of Louisiana in April 2010.

Zach Galifinakis, Owen Wilson & Kristen Wiig in Masterminds

The Deepwater Horizon of the film’s title, which was a floating oil rig, literally exploded and took the lives of nearly a dozen crew members in the process and also sent an enormous mount of oil into the water before its containment.

Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell head the rig’s crew in the film while John Malkovich, doing what he does best, represents the corporate interests of BP. The opening section of the film is a bit draggy but once director Peter Berg restages the actual explosion-which is quite a doozy-it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the film even if its subject is a a modern tragedy.

If there’s a quibble to made then it would be that Berg and company don’t do enough finger pointing at the true culprits responsible for this horrific event but the film is so well staged that it’s easy to forgive it for what it doesn’t achieve. It may be a surface level exploration of those events but it’s still a rousing one to be sure.

Birth of a Nation (***)   

The devil is in the details, so the old adage goes. If that’s true then director/writer/star Nate Parker probably should have considered bringing an exorcist on to the set of his much-anticipated feature Birth of a Nation. The film is a biopic of Nat Turner, who led a massive slave revolt in August 1861 that resulted in nearly 60 casualties. For a film that depends on accurate depictions of the type of backbreaking labor that slaves were forced to endure it’s hard not to give a film a few demerits when characters are seen with perfectly trimmed facial hair and freshly manicured hands as they pick cotton and such.

Thankfully, the tale that’s being told is such a powerful one that it manages to override any of the technical sloppiness that could easily have bogged down the film. That may be a testament to the story itself or a testament to Parker and his cinematic coconspirators. I’ll let you be the judge of that. Either way it works in spite of its shortcomings.      

This is a film with scenes of great power once it gains its footing in the second half after a bit of a sluggish beginning. The early section deals with Nat’s childhood and eventual ownership by Samuel and Elizabeth Turner (Armie Hammer and Penelope Ann Miller).

Nate Parker in Birth of a Nation

The Turners are, for at least the first half of the film, benevolent owners with Elizabeth having taught Nat how to read as a child. As a result of Nat’s semi education he manages to gain a reputation as a preacher. Later, Samuel will use Nat’s preaching skills as a way to keep the other slaves in check, which doesn’t say much for Samuel’s character as a human being when you come to think about it. 

In the latter half of the film, Nat begins to tire of the injustices that he sees on the plantation and decides it’s time to settle some scores the old fashioned way. It especially hits close to home once his wife is abused and nearly beaten to death. As depicted in the film, this and several other inciting incidents serve as the catalyst for Nat and his fellow slaves to dispatch justice in a variety of physical punishments. It’s a double edged sword because, on the one hand, the film feels as if it’s manipulating its audience even if the revenge and revolt section of the film is certainly justified.  

Birth of a Nation is certainly a film that evokes emotions and feelings and for that it deserves some of the pre release attention that it’s been getting. It’s just a shame that Parker isn’t a more capable filmmaker although he isn’t necessarily a bad one, only mediocre. A subject as towering as Nat Turner deserves the best that cinema has to offer and you can’t help but wonder what someone along the lines of Spike Lee would have done with this subject when he was at the height of his powers. I guess we’ll just have to wonder.

The Carmike Theater’s website doesn’t give full information past Thursday, Oct., 6, but all these movies are playing there as of the 6th, and may be playing throughout the area after that date.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.



Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Snowden & The Magnificent Seven

Bridget Jones’ Baby & Blair Witch


The Light Between Oceans

Hell Or High Water & Don't Breathe

Sausage Party & Indignation

Florence Foster Jenkins & Pete's Dragon • Café Society

Eat That Question & Suicide Squad

Star Trek Beyond & Jason Bourne

Lights Out


The Purge: Election Year

Independence Day: Resurgence • The BFG

Free State Of Jones & DePalma

Now You See Me 2 & Finding Dory

The Conjuring 2 & Me Before You

X Men: Apocalypse Love And Friendship

The Lobster & The Meddler

Money Monster • The Nice Guys Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Miles Ahead

Elvis And Nixon Green Room

Midnight Special Everybody Wants Some

The Jungle Book

I Saw The Light • The Boss

Hello My Name Is Doris & Krisha

Divergent: Allegiant & Batman v Superman

10 Cloverfield Lane & Brothers Grimsby

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot & London Has Fallen

Triple 9 & 45 Years

Eddie The Eagle• The Witch

Where To Invade Next & Son Of Saul

Deadpool • The Choice • How To Be Single

Hail Caesar & Fifty Shades Of Black

The Finest Hours & The 5th Wave

Mustang & The Lady In The Van

Anomalisa • 13 Hours: The & Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi

The Revenant • Youth

Carol • Joy • The Hateful Eight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens • The Big Short • Concussion

Daddy’s Home • Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip

In The Heart Of The Sea • Krampus

Creed • Brooklyn


‘Mockingjay Part 2’ • All Things Must Pass • The Night Before


Spectre & The Peanuts Movie

Steve Jobs & Our Brand Is Crisis

Crimson Peak & Room

Bridge Of Spies & Goosebumps

99 Homes

The Martian • Sicario & The Walk

The Intern • The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials • Everest

The Visit & Black Mass

Mistress America

The Diary Of A Teenage Girl A Walk In The Woods

American Ultra • No Escape • Sinister 2

Straight Outta Compton, The End Of The Tour, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Irrational Man & Fantastic Four

Ricki And The Flash & The Gift

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation • Southpaw • Vacation

Ant-Man & Trainwreck


Amy • Magic Mike XXL, Terminator: Genisys

Me & Earl & The Dying Girl, Ted 2

Inside Out & Dope

Love and Mercy & Jurassic World

Insidious Chapter 3

San Andreas & Aloha

Poltergeist &

Mad Max: Fury Road

Hot Pursuit

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Ex Machina

While We’re Young & Unfriended

The Longest Ride

Fast & Furious 7

It Follows




Focus & The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Fifty Shades Of Grey

Jupiter Ascending

Still Alice

The Imitation Game A Most Violent Year

American Sniper Inherent Vice

Selma & Taken 3


Big Eyes • The Interview

Night At The Museum The Secret of the Tomb • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Top Five • Wild • Annie


Whiplash & The Theory Of Everything

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 • Horrible Bosses 2

Dumb And Dumber To

Birdman & Interstellar




The Judge

Annabelle & Gone Girl

The Equalizer & Happy 75th, GWTW!

The Drop • A Walk Among & The Tombstones

No Good Deed

The Identical

As Above, So Below & November Man

If I Stay & Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

The Giver • Code Black & The Expendables 3

Boyhood • Into The Storm & Magic In The Moonlight

Get On Up & Guardians Of The Galaxy


Begin Again & The Purge: Anarchy

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Chef & Tammy

Transformers: Age Of Extinction

Jersey Boys

22 Jump Street & How To Train Your Dragon 2

The Fault Is In Our Stars & Edge Of Tomorrow

A Million Ways To Die In The West

X-Men: Days Of Future Past Maleficent

Godzilla • Summer Preview

Neighbors • Godzilla

The Amazing Spiderman 2 & Belle

The Other Woman & Brick Mansions

A Haunted House 2 & Heaven Is For Real

Oculus & Rio 2

Captain America: The Winter Soldier



The Grand Budapest Hotel & Veronica Mars

300: Rise of the Empire

Non-Stop & Son Of God

Three Days To Kill

Robocop & The Past • About Last Night

The Monuments Men

Labor Day

I, Frankenstein

Inside Llewyn Davis & Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Lone Survivor & August: Osage County

Her • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & The Wolf Of Wall Street

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, Anchorman 2

The Hobbit: The Desolation & Of Smaug • Nebraska

Dallas Buyers Club & Oldboy & Out Of The Furnace

Philomena & The Book Thief

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Delivery Man

About Time & All Is Lost

Thor: The Dark World & 12 Years A Slave

Ender’s Game & Last Vegas

Bad Grandpa &The Counselor

Carrie & The Fifth Estate

Captain Phillips, Enough Said & Machete Kills

Gravity & Runner Runner

Metallica: Through The Never , Rush & Don Jon

Prisoners & Rush

Insidious: Chapter 2 • The Family & The Spectacular Now



The World’s End You’re Next

Lee Daniels’ The Butler • Jobs • Blue Jasmine

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters & Elysium

2 Guns

Blue Jasmine • The Wolverine & Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station • The Conjuring & The Way Way Back

Pacific Rim & Grown Ups 2

The Lone Ranger & Despicable Me 2

The Heat & White House Down

Monsters University, World War Z, Before Midnight & The East

Man of Steel & This Is The End

The Internship & The Purge

After Earth, Now You See Me & Frances Ha

The Hangover Part III Before Midnight

Star Trek: Into Darkness & Fast and Furious 6

The Great Gatsby & Frances Ha

Iron Man & Peeples

Pain and Gain & Mud

Oblivion & Lords of Salem

42 and Scary Movie 5

Evil Dead & Jurassic Park 3-D

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Tyler Perry’s Temptation

Spring Breakers Admission

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone • The Call

Oz: The Great And Powerful West Of Memphis

Jack the Giant Slayer The Last Exorcism, Part II

Dark Skies & Snitch

A Good Day to Die Hard & Safe Haven

Side Effects & Identity Thief

Bullet To The Head Warm Bodies




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