Friday, May 27, 2016

Alice Through the Looking Glass

My ViewAlice Through the Looking Glass (2016) PG  After being away for three years, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland to save her friend, The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). I hated the first film of the series, Alice in Wonderland. I can say that this film is better than the first, but it’s still a bad film. The film is too long with its almost two hour run time. I didn’t care about the characters in the first film, and I certainly don’t care about what happens to The Mad Hatter or Alice. I enjoyed the beginning, though, as Alice, captain of her father’s ship, evades pirates by navigating through a perilous reef. Unfortunately, the film goes downhill from there with a storyline that is boring and un-imaginative. It’s sad when the one character you really like is a church mouse that is rarely on-screen. The movie was not shot in 3-D, so save your money.   My Rating: Cable   Alice Through the Looking Glass Website
My View:  X-Men: Apocalypse  (2016)  PG-13  An ancient cyber-mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) has awakened and plans on using his Four Horsemen to take over the world.  It’s up to the X-Men to stop him and his team. This is a film where you walk out of the theatre and go “blah.” It’s not a bad movie; it just doesn’t bring anything new to the table. I knew almost from the start how the film was going to end. The only actor in this film I was interested in watching was Michael Fassbender because his Magneto character was one of the few that wasn’t entirely predictable. While the film was shot in 3-D, I didn’t think it was used to capitalize on the effect, so save the money. There is a scene after all the credits that may just set up a few of the next Marvel films, so stay till the final credits.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   X-Men: Apocalypse Website
IndiefestLove & Friendship  (2016)  PG  Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) decides it’s time for her and her daughter to find husbands. She will manipulate anything and anybody to make that happen.  You don’t normally equate funny with Jane Austin but this film surprised me on just how fun and whimsical it is. Beckinsale is a delight as the woman who seemingly pulls all the strings to better her situation. She has excellent comedic timing, delivering lines with droll delivery that just kills every time. The film moves at a ripping pace, and it’s a blast to watch. If you are a fan of Jane Austin, you will love this farcical tale.  My Rating: Full Price   Love & Friendship Website
IndiefestWeiner  (2016)  R  Documentary on disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s campaign for mayor of NYC.  Weiner was a fast rising Democratic congressman who was brought down by a texting scandal in 2011 that was fodder for late night talk show hosts. This is a fascinating film that is, at times, hilarious, cringe-worthy, and, very often sad. Right from the start the filmmakers are given access that no other politician would allow. While Anthony Weiner is the front and center character of the film, the far more fascinating person in the film is Huma Abedin, Weiner's wife. When the film opens, the husband and wife are playing with their child, but there is almost no interaction between Anthony and Huma. Most of the conversations that they have on camera are short and one-sided with Anthony doing most of the talking.  It’s a brilliant film that even the filmmakers are amazed at the amount of access they have gotten. Near the end of the film, one of the filmmakers asks Weiner off camera, “Why did you let us film this?” Weiner doesn’t have an answer, and we don’t either, but we get a movie that is mesmerizing to watch.   My Take: Full Price    Weiner Website
Forgotten FilmTrespass (1992)  R  Bill Paxton and William Sadler play two firemen who find a map in a burning apartment of an old man who confesses that he stole a collection of old gold artifacts from the church many years ago. The two men get caught with the gold in an old building by a gang. Now the fireman are going to have to fight their way out in order to keep the gold and their lives. Action is what makes this movie worth watching. Walter Hill, who directed 48 Hours and The Warriors, knows how to direct action sequences and there are plenty in this film. I also really enjoy Bill Paxton’s performance as the straight laced fireman who decides his future is more important than his present.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Trespass Information

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Alice Through the Looking Glass:  Thatcher

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Captain Fantastic  (2016)  R    A father (Viggo Mortensen) has been living in the forests of the Pacific Northwest with his six kids. His wife dies while visiting her parents, and now the family must travel to the big city for the first time for the funeral. The film did really well at the Cannes Film Festival and director Matt Ross won the Director to Watch award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.    Captain Fantastic Website
Until Next Time!




Friday, May 20, 2016

The Angry Birds Movie

Family Faire:  The Angry Birds Movie  (2016)  Red (Jason Sudeikis) has an incident at kid’s birthday party and is sentenced by a judge to take anger management classes. There he meets the teacher, Matilda (Mya Rudolph), Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride) and Terence (Sean Penn), all of who soon go on an adventure with Red.  I hated this very unfunny and annoying movie. I didn’t like that several times there were very inappropriate adult puns uttered by the birds. The only thing going for this film is that the animation is very cool looking, and it was done with 3-D in mind. Let’s put it this way; I looked at my watch thinking the film had about 10 minutes left but discovered  it was only half way through. The film made me angry, angry enough to give the film the bird.    My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   The Angry Birds Movie Website 
My ViewNeighbors 2: Sorority Rising  (2016)  Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are expecting their second child and need a bigger house.  The problem is they are never going to be able to sell their current house with the new neighbors next door, a hard partying sorority, led by Shelby (Chloe Grace Moretz). Mac and Kelly are going to need reinforcements, and Teddy (Zac Efron) is the man for the job.  I didn’t like the first one, as there were some funny parts, but that film never could keep its momentum. I feel the same about this film; I think mostly because I don’t like Mac and Kelly. Why should I root for them when I don’t like them? I did like Zac Efron’s performance, though.. He is consistently funny in the part of the un-grown-up frat boy. Efron is willing to make himself look ridiculous or stupid on the screen, and most of the time it works. I usually love Chloe Grace Moretz performances, but, to me, she mailed this one in. Do not take the kids as there is lots of drug use, a bit of nudity, cartoon-like violence and lots of cussing.   My Rating: Cable   Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Website
Indiefest:  The Nice Guys  (2016)  In 1970’s Los Angeles, private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) must work with enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to find a missing girl. Along the way, they just might run into a few problems like stumbling onto a conspiracy that could get them killed. Co-written and directed by Shane Black, The Nice Guys is a laughed-filled, action-packed, good old-fashioned film noir mystery where Crowe, and especially Gosling, shine. Crowe plays the straight man to Gosling’s goofy Holland. Jackson is a part that isn’t easy to do, but Crowe plays off Gosling brilliantly, giving his character a world-weary menace. Gosling shows a talent for slapstick, bringing to mind Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau. Some of the best scenes in the film involve Gosling just falling, and he does it a lot…off rooves, down hills, and even across rooms. Black’s script, co-written by Anthony Bagarozzi, takes us on a very complex and funny adventure into the seedy world of bars, pornography, and, wait for it, car manufacturing. The dialogue is quick and witty with some great cultural references of the 70’s mixed in. Like Black’s under-appreciated 2005 film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys perfectly captures the quirky pulp fiction style of filmmaking, combined with impressive action sequences, sidesplitting comedy and superb performances from Gosling and Crowe.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Nice Guys Facebook Page
IndiefestThe Meddler  (2016)  A recent widow, Marnie (Susan Sarandon), needs a project to keep her busy, so why not be in every aspect of her single daughter’s (Rose Byrne) life? While surrounded by a supporting cast that includes Jason Ritter, Michael McKean, Lucy Punch, Cecily Strong and Jerrod Carmichael, it’s Susan Sarandon’s film, with a great deal of help from Byrne and Simmons. Sarandon is phenomenal as the big-hearted, well-meaning Marnie. Sarandon has one of those rare qualities that almost as soon as she appears on the screen we like her character and want her to succeed in whatever quest she is on. She plays well off Rose Byrne, making their characters back-and-forth banter feel natural. Sarandon has equally exceptional chemistry with Simmons, making their attraction seem unique. As with the recent films, I’ll See You in My Dreams and Hello, My Name is Doris, The Meddler gives us hope that Hollywood will continue this trend of making films about strong, older women and women who are re-inventing their lives for the better. I don’t know about you, but I could use some of Marnie’s advice right now.   My Rating: Full Price   The Meddler Website
Forgotten FilmCinderella Liberty  (1973)  A sailor (James Cann) is without a ship and money because the Navy has lost his papers. He meets a hooker (Marsha Mason) and her nine-year-old son (Kirk Calloway). They latch onto each other and things seem to be working until an old Navy buddy comes to town and shakes things up. This is a slightly flawed film (a little too by the books about the hooker with a heart of gold) but is worth watching because of the performance of Marsha Mason. Mason’s hooker is full of bluff, but we can see that below the surface she is full of doubt and fear.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Cinderella Liberty Info

Weird Credits:   From the credits of The Nice Guys:  Body Painter

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouWeiner  (2016)  Documentary on disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s campaign for mayor of NYC. I haven’t seen one bad review of this film. It’s won some pretty impressive awards already including the Grand Jury Prize for Documentaries at this year's Sundance Film Festival.   Weiner Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, May 13, 2016

Money Monster

My ViewMoney Monster  (2016)  R Financial TV host Lee Gates (George Clooney) and his producer (Julia Roberts) are held against their will in the studio by a disgruntled investor (Jack O’Connell) who wants Lee to hold the people who ruined his life accountable. This is another film where I said after seeing it, “Great cast, okay film.”  I wanted the film to better, but it never quite hits its mark. The pacing of this film is very slow, making the movie seem much longer than the hour and a half running time. Clooney, who plays an egomaniac who thinks he is God’s gift to both women and the TV audience, doesn’t look like he is breaking a sweat (except in the dance sequences and yes, Clooney dances), making me not totally believe the transformation of his character in the film. Roberts, who plays Clooney’s TV show producer, has to do most of the heavy lifting and makes the film seem more about her character and less about Clooney’s or Jack O’Connell’s character.  The film preaches a little too much, and I hated the ending (which I’m guessing was added after audience testing).     My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Money Monster Facebook Page
IndiefestHigh-Rise  (2015)  R   Dr. Robert Lang (Tom Hiddleston) moves into a 25th-floor apartment within a new high-rise tower. Dr. Lang soon regrets moving in as things in the building start unraveling very quickly. This is a movie that a few film critics will rave about due to its bizarre storyline, fast cuts, and at times, over the top acting. I, on the other hand, hated this movie, mostly due to the same points. The storyline is so bizarre, the only way I can describe it is it’s as if mental illness took over an entire building. If you do dare to see this film, be warned that there are scenes of rape, orgies, suicides and several dogs being served for meals (you read that right). It’s a movie that, after you see it, you’ll wonder how it ever got made.     My Rating: You  Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   High-Rise Website 
IndiefestThe Man Who Knew Infinity  (2016)  PG-13 Growing up poor in Madras, India, Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar (Dev Patel) gains admittance to Cambridge University during WWI. He becomes a pioneer in mathematical theory with the help and guidance of his professor, G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons). I enjoyed this film which is a chess match between Ramanujan and Hardy. The film is about the two men finding common ground in math, bridging two very different, set in their way cultures. The two men give superlative performances, especially Irons playing the mathematician who has a hard time with personal relationships. While I did like this film, it is a little too predictable making the film seem a little slow.   My Rating: Full Price   The Man Who Knew Infinity Facebook Page
Indiefest: Being Charlie  (2016)  R   Charlie (Nick Robinson) is a troubled young man battling drug addiction. He is forced by his parents to enroll in a rehab program. While in rehab, he meets a fellow addict, Eve (Morgan Saylor), who changes how Charlie sees the world. I wanted this movie to be good, but instead, it’s just boring. After a promising start, the film gets bogged down into how bad Charlie feels his life is and how it really isn’t all that horrible. This is a film that hits you over the head, time and time again, to impress its message onto you. The problem is we never like Charlie, and, therefore, we don’t care what happens to him. When you leave the theatre, you wonder what happened to Rob Reiner (Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, A Few Good Men) to cause his career to sink to this depth.    My Rating: Cable   Being Charlie Info
Forgotten Film: Once  (2007)    Two people (Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova) both working odd jobs to make a living while all they want is to make music. They meet on the streets of Dublin, and the girl decides to help the guy record a demo disc. As they play songs about their past lives/loves, they discover that they are slowly falling in love with each other. Written and directed by John Carney, who also brought us the brilliant Sing Street (2016) and the fantastic Begin Again (2013), first brought this film to us. The music is what makes this film work so well, and the two leads are phenomenal performers. This is a movie that you will watch over and over.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Once Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Money Monster: Eco Assistant


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Me Before You  (2016)   PG-13  Lou (Emilia Clarke) has lost her job, and there aren’t a lot of prospects in her small town. She is forced to get a job as a caretaker for Will (Sam Claflin), who is wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident. This job will change both their lives forever. This is one of those films that I just love and it will be interesting to see Emilia Clarke in a romantic role.   Me Before You Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, May 6, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

My ViewCaptain America: Civil War  (2016)  PG-13  The government is concerned about the Avengers and their activities, asking the Avengers to agree to give up control of their team.  Could this cause a rift between Captain America and Iron Man?  Will the Avengers split up?  This is one of the best comic book films that I have seen. There are stunning and magnificent action sequences, one that had the audience standing and clapping. There are some new characters introduced to the Marvel world, including a certain web-slinger, whose appearance gave me hope for the franchise. Robert Downey Jr as Ironman and Chris Evans as Captain America are outstanding, but it’s Paul Rudd’s appearance as Ant-Man that steals the film. While I saw it in 3-D Imax, I would not recommend as it made one of the early action sequences feel very choppy. Do stay through all the credits as there are two bonus scenes, one after the first set of credits and the other after all the credits.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See It Again   Captain America: Civil War Website
IndiefestDough  (2015)  NR  Nat (Jonathan Pryce) is a Jewish baker, whose shop has fallen on hard times.  His cliental has either died or moved away from his neighborhood, and his assistant quits. He hires a young Muslim, Shaun (Malachi Kirby), to help in the shop. At first, the two clash, but eventually mutual admiration and cooperation happens, changing both men. Full disclosure: I saw this film over a year ago at the Atlanta Film Festival, and there may have been changes since then. I loved the performances of Jonathan Pryce, as the world-weary baker, and Malachi Kirby, as the brash kid who knows very little about baking and even less about Judaism. The story is sweet and predictable, and while not groundbreaking, Dough is an enjoyable film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Dough Website

Indiefest: A Hologram for the King (2016) R  Alan (Tom Hanks) is an American businessman who has just gone through a rough divorce, lost his high power job and his daughter has to take a year off from college because he can’t pay for it. He has one chance to recover with a new job. That job will take him to Saudi Arabia to try and convince the King to buy his companies high tech software. I really liked this film. Tom Hanks gives another winning performance as a man who is struggling to find his confidence and will power to make the sale. There is great chemistry between Hanks and actress Sarita Choudhury, who plays a Saudi doctor that treats his character. It’s a film that is sweet and at times funny with a great message about it’s never too late to rework your life and maybe even find love.    My Rating: Full Price   A Hologram for the King Website
Forgotten FilmThe Deep End (2001)  R  Margaret (Tilda Swinton) is the mother of three who is dealing with the fact that her husband, an admiral, is away at sea. Her oldest son, Beau (Jonathan Tucker), has started acting up and running with a dangerous crowd. Beau’s struggles could get him into big trouble and just might cause the family to fall apart, no matter how hard Margaret tries to keep everything under control. This is a fascinating film that keeps piling on problem after problem for Margaret to handle. Tilda Swinton shines as the mom who has to deal with the impossible and still survive, making her character likable and believable. It’s a movie about death and deception that will keep you guessing how it will end.   My Rating: Full Price   The Deep End Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've only seen in Trailers but just looks like a bad idea): Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows  (2016)  NR  All you have to know about this film is that Megan Fox is still in it. ‘Nuff Said.   Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Website

Weird CreditsFrom the credits of Captain America: Civil War:  Trainee Silicone Runner


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Lobster  (2016)  R  In the near future, single people are taken to “The Hotel” where they have to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or they are turned into an animal of their choice and sent off into “The Woods.”  As weird as this film sounds, it’s been winning awards at film festivals around the world, including three awards at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.   The Lobster Website
Until Next Time!
 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Mother's Day

My ViewMother’s Day  (2016)  PG-13  As Mother’s Day nears, a group of seemingly unconnected people come to terms in their relationships with their mothers. This is a film that I call a “watch” film.  I looked at my watch convinced that the film was almost over, only to discover that we still had an hour to go. Garry Marshall also directed Valentine’s Day (2010) and New Year’s Eve (2011). If you liked those films, you will probably enjoy this one. For the rest of us, the film is too long, filled with one-dimensional characters, a plot that a fifth grader could come up with and wastes the talents of a cast filled with actors like Julia Roberts, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Chalke. Britt Robertson and Margo Martindale. Probably the most interesting characters in the film, are the gay couple played by Chalke and Cameron Esposito, and they have the least amount of screen time. I can’t wait for Marshall to bring out his next film. I hear he is choosing between Arbor Day and President’s Day.      My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Mother's Day Website
My ViewKeanu  (2016)  R  When Rell’s (Jordan Peele) beloved pet kitten, Keanu, is stolen,  he and his cousin (Keegan-Michael Key) are out to find who did it and make them give the kitten back.  They may have bitten off more than they bargained for. This film has some hysterical scenes but this is a film that doesn’t always deliver, and there are quite a few scenes that just don’t work as well as they should.  It is pretty obvious that Key and Peele love movies, as there are constant film references throughout the film. And of course, the two comedians work well together on screen but it felt if it was a bunch of skits put together to fill out a movie.  I will say this; the cat is darn cute.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Keanu Website
Family Faire:  Ratchet & Clank  (2016)  PG   The galaxy has become under attack, and it’s up to Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor), a mechanic who dreams of being a hero, and his robot friend, Clank (David Kaye), to come to the rescue. Based on a video game, I found this film boring and uncreative. Fans of the game may enjoy it since they use the actors in the film that play the main characters in the game, but anyone over the age of 9 will go home disappointed. There is nothing in the storyline to keep you awake, and the bad guys don’t seem overly threatening. What is supposed to be the strong point of the storyline, the relationship between Ratchet and Clank, is too simple to be interesting. Take the kids to see Zootopia; even it’s for the fourth time. You and the kids will enjoy it much more than this film.     My Rating: Cable   Ratchet & Clank Website
IndiefestSing Street  (2015)  PG-13  A boy (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), growing up in Dublin in the 1980’s, starts a band to escape his broken family life, a school he doesn’t fit in with and to impress a girl (Lucy Boynton) he has a crush on. I loved this film, especially the performances of the two leads, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, and Lucy Boynton. Walsh-Peele is a duel threat in this film, displaying a fine singing voice with the charisma of a rock star. His character is boyish one minute and mature beyond his years in the next scene, a testament to his acting prowess. Boynton is perfect in the role of the world-weary girl who wants to escape Dublin with the slim hopes of being a model. For a fan of early eighties music (and videos), this film is so much fun to watch. The original songs that the band plays in the film are outstanding and catchy. In a week where I saw a lot of films that were light on character development and plot, it was a delight to watch a film so well written and produced. It reminded me of two excellent films about bands, The Commitments (1991) and more recently, the director of this film, John Carney's Begin Again (2013). If you love music, this is one film not to be missed.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Sing Street Website
IndiefestPapa Hemingway in Cuba  (2016)  R  In 1959, a young journalist (Giovanni Ribisi), travels to Cuba to meet his literary idol, the legendary Hemingway (Adrian Sparks). I loved Hemingway, the writer, but not the man, himself. I can say the same thing about this film. The film was written by the late Denne Bart Petitclerc, based on his own experiences with Hemingway, but I feel that the subject matter was probably too close to the writer for him to see the problems with this film. The dialogue feels very stiff and just doesn’t flow naturally as characters don’t talk to each other but seem to make speeches every time they converse. Some of the plot points just don’t make sense which makes the film feel very contrived. Sparks, while looking exactly like Hemingway, doesn’t have the charisma to fill the very big shoes of Papa. Ribisi puts his heart and soul into the role of the hero worshiping reporter but is let down by the script in the big scenes. If you really want to see a film about Hemingway, then rent the excellent documentary, Ernest Hemingway: Wrestling with Life, instead of this film.     My Rating: Cable   Papa Hemingway in Cuba Info
Indiefest: Green Room  (2016)  R  After witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is made to defend themselves against a group of skinheads. This is the movie that Straw Dogs (2011) wanted to be. I will warn you that this film has very graphic violence, so if you are the type of person who has to turn away during an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, then this film isn’t for you. I loved the look of this movie as it almost oozes trouble on the screen as the scenery seems to be muted in an almost dark green glow. The dialogue flows well, and the action sequences are handled with a crispness that I missed (from some films that I have seen in the last two weeks). Patrick Stewart is the main bad guy, and he is full of menace as he uses his calm voice to get over his point that the band is not getting out alive. Of the rest of the cast, Imogen Poots stands out, playing a character that is a far cry from the “girl next door” roles she usually plays. This film will keep you on the edge of your seat from almost the start of the film.   My Rating; Full Price    Green Room Website
Forgotten FilmLast Night at the Alamo  (1983)  This film is credited as one of the hallmark independent films. Directed by the late Eagle Pennell, it’s a film about a bunch of sad sack bar patrons celebrating the bar that they love last night of being open. It’s a stark black and white film that is a harsh look at a forgotten world of Texas honky-tonks, filled with people you are willing to spend a couple of hours with but wouldn’t want to make it a regular thing. I recently saw a newly restored print of this film at SXSW and was struck by how timeless the film looks and feels.    My Rating: Full Price   Last Night at the Alamo Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Papa Hemingway in Cuba:  Laundry Supervisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Snowden  (2016)  Based on the true story of CIA employee Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who leaks thousands of documents to the press.  The impressive cast includes Scott Eastwood, Timothy Olyphant, Nicolas Cage, Zachary Quinto and Shailene Woodley.  Having seen the Academy Award winning documentary Citizenfour on the subject, I am anxious to see this film.   Snowden Website
Until Nest Time!


Friday, April 22, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War


My ViewThe Huntsman: Winter’s War  (2016)   PG-13   As two rival Queens and sisters, Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and Freya (Emily Blunt), expand their empires, two warriors, Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), try to keep their forbidden love alive. After seeing this film, all the critics sitting next to me said “Well, it was better than the first one.” And, while it’s true, that isn’t much of an endorsement. At least this film didn’t try to convince us that Kristen Stewart is more beautiful than Charlize Theron.  While there were things that I did like, especially the fun banter between Eric and Sara, I thought that most of the action sequences were badly done, utilizing quick cuts and jumpy camera work, to mask the fact that Hemsworth and Chastain don’t do action sequences well.  Halfway through this film I really wanted Emily Blunt to play Chastain’s part because we know she can do action films extremely well.  Any film with Blunt, Theron and Chastain can’t be all bad, and this film isn’t horrible, in fact, the middle section of the film is quite good. Unfortunately, the first and last portions of the film don’t work.  Even with that, “it was better than the first one.”      My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Huntsman: Winter's War Website

IndiefestElvis & Nixon  (2016)  R   Elvis, the “King,” (Michael Shannon) decides that he needs a Federal Agent at Large badge.  He travels to Washington D.C. in 1970 to get one and meets President Nixon (Kevin Spacey) along the way. This film is as wacky and crazy as that meeting surely was. It’s interesting that Shannon doesn’t do a full-on portrayal of Elvis.  While he does Elvis’s mannerisms, he doesn’t attempt to do the voice. Spacey, on the other hand, goes all out in his impersonation of Nixon, voice and all. This is a fun film to watch and Shannon, as usual, dominates every scene (which is hard when you have Kevin Spacey playing a dead=on Nixon). The film is touching, and, at times sad, but mostly, it’s a blast to watch.    My Rating: Full Price   Elvis & Nixon Website
IndiefestMiles Ahead  (2016)  R   Legendary jazz musician Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) hasn’t been heard from in the five years. Wannabe Rolling Stone reporter Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor) connives his way into Miles’ apartment and his life. As Davis and Brill talk, Miles flashes back to his meeting and falling in love with his first wife, Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Don Cheadle is amazing in this film, giving a performance that is worthy of an Academy Award.  Unfortunately, he is let down by his own script (co-written by Steven Baigelman), as the film is part bio-pic and part buddy adventure film. I would have loved to see a more in-depth storyline, in particular on the early years as Davis was developing his sound.  Instead, we get a film that moves back and forth in time. The timeline in the 70s is this film’s weak point, as Davis and reporter Brill go off on a quest to get back a stolen item. Too often the humor in that part of the movie is forced and there is almost no chemistry between Cheadle and McGregor. This would have been a much better film if it had just been the rise and fall of the love of Davis and Taylor.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Miles Ahead Website
Indiefest:  Too Late  (2015)  Private investigator Mel Sampson (Academy Award nominee John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone,” “The Sessions”) is tasked with tracking down the whereabouts of a missing woman from his past. Too Late takes the spine of the classic private eye genre and tears it to pieces, weaving it back together into a tapestry of Southern California and the menagerie of eccentric personalities and lost souls who inhabit it. This is a highly inventive film that was shot in five 20 minute continuous segments. The storyline is fascinating, and it kept me guessing where it was going to go next. Hawkes, as a world-weary P.I., is brilliant and stunning. He is in almost every scene, and I just didn’t want the film to end. The film has an impressive supporting cast including Rider Strong, Joanna Cassidy, Dichen Lachman, Vail Bloom, Jeff Fahey and Robert Forster.  The film is being shown around the country in select theatres in 35mm, and it’s worth seeing in all its grainy glory.  My Rating:  Full Price   Too Late Info
Forgotten FilmBlue Crush  (2002) Three young woman (Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriquez, and Sanoe Lake) struggle with their day jobs as maids in a hotel, as they prepare for a big surfing competition. This film will surprise you with its heart and its intelligent storyline. Of the three actresses, it’s Rodriquez that steals the movie, playing the tough Hispanic woman with dreams of surfing stardom. The surfing sequences are exciting, and the film moves at a quick pace.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Blue Crush Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Huntsman: Winter’s War:  Standby Contact Les Optician

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Papa Hemingway in Cuba  (2016)  In 1959 a young journalist (Giovanni Ribisi) travels to Cuba to meet his literary idol, the legendary Hemingway (Adrian Sparks). Any film about one of my favorite writers is a film that I want to see.   Papa Hemingway in Cuba

Until Next Time!


Friday, April 15, 2016

The Jungle Book

My View:  The Jungle Book  (2016) PG  Retelling of a the classic tale of an orphan boy, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) , raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear, and a black panther.  This is not a film for younger children. The animals are too realistic and scary. I loved this film as it captured the magic of the first Disney film and made this classic story even better. There are still two memorable songs from the first film in this one: One sung by Bill Murray as Baloo and one sung by Christopher Walken as King Louie. Murray, as you would expect, steals the film as the lovable but slightly grumpy bear. Neel Sethi is captivating as the strong-willed Mowgli. The film follows the standard storyline but adds a few new things that make the film feel complete. The CGI is amazing, and the animals move fluidly, making the action sequences exciting and colorful. This is a breathtaking film that has humor and warmth and does not disappoint. The film was shot in 3-D and is worth seeing on as large a movie screen as you can find.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Jungle Book Website  
My View:  Criminal  (2016)  R  The memories and skills of a dead CIA agent are implanted into a career criminal, Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner), to complete a mission.  With a cast of Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Gal Gadot this should have been a better movie. Instead, it's a mess of a film, with so many plot holes that you just shake your head at. The film is extremely complicated and at some point in the movie I just gave up trying to figure it out. Costner isn’t the problem as he gives a winning performance. He is just let down by the script and the sloppy direction. My Rating: Cable    Criminal Website   
Forgotten Film:  Ladyhawk  (1985)  PG-13  In medieval France, a young pickpocket (Matthew Broderick) makes friends of a knight (Rutger Hauer) who has fallen under a curse. The knight was a hawk, who turns into a beautiful woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) each night just as the knight turns into a wolf. The two lovers have been cursed by an evil Bishop, whose men are hunting the knight and his lady. Can the thief find the cure and reunite the two lovers?  While not a great film, it is an enjoyable escapist film that is a blast to watch. Pfeiffer is the one to watch in this film, and she dominates every scene she is in.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Ladyhawke Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've only seen in Trailers but just looks like a bad idea): Alice Through the Looking Glass  (2016)  PG   Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp).  I didn’t like the first film, so I don’t think I will like this one.  The film didn’t do well in the U.S. but did extremely well in Europe, so they made a sequel.   Alice Through the Looking Glass Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Jungle Book:  Animatics Sequencer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Elvis & Nixon  (2016)  R  The story behind one of the weirdest meetings ever held in the Oval Office. Elvis traveled to Washington D.C. on a mission to get a Federal Agent at Large badge. Along the way he met with President Nixon and a photograph was taken.  That photograph is the most requested photo in the National Archives.  Michael Shannon is Elvis, and Kevin Spacey is Nixon.   Elvis & Nixon Facebook Page
Until Next Time!