Friday, November 21, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

My View:  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1  (2014) PG-13  After destroying the games forever, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) fights for the rebellion, determined to rescue Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the clutches of President Snow (Donald Sutherland). I enjoyed this film and fans of the book won’t be disappointed.  It is darker in tone than the first two films, and while there are a few weak points, it’s still a blast to watch.  While this is Lawrence’s film, and she does a great job, it’s sad to see the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman on-screen.  Of the supporting cast, I thought Hoffman and Elizabeth Banks  stood out from the rest of the cast as both have some interesting, fun scenes.  The first part of this film takes a while to get going, but once the action starts, the film starts to click.  My Rating:  Full Price   The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Website

Indiefest:  The Homesman  (2014) R Three women have been driven insane by the hard life of living in the west.  Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) volunteers to help transport the three across the country by covered wagon.  She enlists the help of a low-life drifter (Tommy Lee Jones) to move the women.  The best word to describe this film is meandering.  With a cast that includes Jones, Swank, John Lithgow, James Spader and Meryl Streep, you would think this film would be filled with memorable scenes and high energy performances - but it isn’t. The film takes a very strange turn about two-thirds through and never recovers from with an ending that is just puzzling and unsatisfying. I was excited to see this film, but I would recommend going back and watching Lonesome Dove, instead.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee The Homesman Facebook page

Forgotten Film:  Chaplin  (1992) PG-13 The story of Charlie Chaplin (Robert Downey Jr.) as told by Chaplin to his autobiographer (Anthony Hopkins).  The film is a little long and tries to cover too much ground, but Downey nails Chaplin, making him come alive, especially when he plays Charlie working on the set.  The supporting cast is outstanding with Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks and Dan Aykroyd as Mack Sennett.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Chaplin Info

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2015) PG-13 I didn’t like the first one, so why would I like this sequel about the house haunted by the “Woman in Black?”  Plus, no Daniel Radcliffe.  The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blue Ray)The Wind Rises (2014)    PG-13 This is a beautiful, animated film that is let down by its very long and slow moving storyline. Other critics went nuts over this film by legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, but I think it just doesn’t rank up there with his Spirited Away (2002) or Princess Mononoke (2000).  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Wind Rises Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1:  Screening Operations Executive

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouStill Alice  (2014) PG-13 Julianne Moore plays a linguistics professor who starts to forget words and soon learns she has an illness that will change both her and her family’s lives.  Many are saying that Julianne Moore gives a performance of a lifetime.  Still Alice Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dumb and Dumber To

My View: Dumb and Dumber To (2014) PG-13   It’s been 20 years since their last adventure, so the boys (Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels) are ready for a new road trip. This time Lloyd and Harry try to find Harry’s daughter. If you are a fan of the first film, then stay away from this one. This film isn't funny (I saw the film with a screening full of fans of the first film, and not much laughter occurred.).  This film is mean-spirited and badly written, and, too often goes for the easy, predictable joke. The first film has a sweetness to it, a film about really stupid but loveable guys. This film is full of fart jokes, harmful practical stunts and a plot that takes way too much time to get going. Apparently, you can get too dumb with your material. There is a very short bonus scene at the end of the credits but it's not worth staying to see it.  My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Dumb and Dumber To Website
My View: Beyond the Lights (2014)  PG-13  A young musician (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) has been trained her whole life by her manager / mother (Minnie Driver) to become a pop star at any price. It all becomes too much until the striving star encounters a knight in shining armor - a police officer named, Kaz (Nate Parker). This is a good film made better by the amazing performance of Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the talented pop star who is trying to find her place and get out from under her dominating mother. Mbatha-Raw just radiates on the screen, as your eyes just constantly follow her. The film has a great supporting cast including Minnie Driver as the mother and Danny Glover as Nate's father. The film moves at a nice pace and will remind you of the old Whitney Houston / Kevin Costner film, The Bodyguard (1992). It's a feel-good romantic movie that hits all the marks.  My Rating: Full Price  Beyond the Lights Facebook page
Indiefest: Rosewater (2014)  R   Journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) was back in his home country of Iran to cover the national elections for the BBC. After reporting on protests going on in the country, he was arrested and held for more than 100 days in solitary confinement, enduring both mental and physical torture. This is a good, first effort from director / writer Jon Stewart. Bahari, played by the talented Garcia Bernal, uses humor as one of his coping mechanisms, so this film isn't all torture and despair. There are some moving scenes in the film, and Gael Garcia Bernal gives it his all. While it is a film about the power of journalism, at its core, it's really a film about the importance of family and love.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Rosewater Facebook page
Indiefest: The Theory of Everything (2014) PG-13  The love story between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife, Jane (Felicity Jones). Redmayne and Jones are extraordinary in this film about the love between two people who decide to live every day like it could be their last. They give unbelievable performances and have an incredible chemistry on screen. It's a beautiful story and has a lot of up and downs, as two people team up to achieve remarkable things, not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives. If you are a fan of romantic films, then this one is for you.  My Rating: Full Price  The Theory of Everything Website
Indiefest: The Way He Looks (2014) PG-13  Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) is a blind teenager who is searching for his place in the world. His world changes when Gabriel (Fabio Audi) enters his life. This is a great coming-of-age film that is a sweet, touching look at first love. Lobo is perfect in the role of Leonardo, a boy who is a little shy but is determined to live life on his own terms. This Brazilian film has won awards at a number of film festivals, and it doesn't disappoint, hitting it out of the park. This is a film that will move you and make you root for the underdog.  My Rating: Full Price  The Way He Looks Website
Forgotten Film: A Simple Plan (1998) R  Hank (Bill Paxton), Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and Lou (Brent Briscoe) find a deserted plane out in the woods filled with millions of dollars. They figure out a plan to claim the money, and then everything goes wrong. This is a combo of a rather dark comedy, mixed in with a bit of a mystery/thriller vibe. Paxton and Thornton give some of their best performances in this film that explores what happens when ordinary men are overwhelmed by greed.  My Rating: Full Price  A Simple Plan Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Rosewater: Audience Engagement Strategist

Coming to a Theatre Near You: Into the Woods (2014) PG  A witch (Meryl Streep) sets out to teach important lessons to various characters of popular children's stories. The film has an outstanding cast, including Anna Kendrick, Streep, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt. The trailer for this film makes you want to buy your tickets now! Into the Woods Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 7, 2014


My ViewInterstellar (2014)  PG-13 Earth is dying, and, when a wormhole is discovered, scientists come up with a plan to use the wormhole to travel through space.  A team of astronauts are assembled, led by Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) to fly the mission to find another planet where humans can live. This is an absolutely beautiful film, and I highly recommend watching it on the biggest screen you can find. I enjoyed this film, though it is full of scientific theories that are sometimes hard to follow. The film does take a while to get started (it’s almost 45 minutes until we get into space), but the action sequences are very cool and impressive.  McConaughey is on screen for almost the entire film and is superb in the role of a father who puts the needs of many others in front of the needs of his family. Out of the remainder of the cast (there are a few surprise actors in the film), I especially enjoyed Mackenzie Foy, who plays the smart and headstrong daughter of Cooper. This is a larger than life film, and its running time is almost 3 hours, but I guarantee it won’t feel that long.   My Rating: Full Price  Interstellar Website

FamilyfaireBig Hero 6  (2014) PG  A young robotics engineer named, Hiro (Ryan Potter), and his plus-sized inflatable robot, named Baymax (Scott Adsit), uncover a criminal plot and put together a team of inexperienced crime-fighters to take on a masked villain.  I loved this film, which combines the super hero element of the Marvel films with the nice, personal touch of the Walt Disney films. You will fall in love Baymax and his little fist bump catch phrase. The film is enjoyable for both adults and children and teaches a wonderful lesson of listening to your conscience. The film is fast paced, full of colorful characters and has some exciting action sequences. I really didn’t notice the 3-D effects, so save a few bucks and see the 2-D version.  Be sure to stay through all the credits, as with most Marvel films, there is a bonus scene at the end that is worth the wait. The animated short, Feast, plays before Big Hero 6.  It’s a charming little tale of a dog with a big appetite.   My Rating: Full Price  Big Hero 6 Website

IndiefestLaggies  (2014) R 28-year-old Megan (Keira Knightley) is in a rut.  She lives with her high school boyfriend (Mark Webber) and not much has changed since her high school days.  When her boyfriend proposes, Megan freaks out and decides to take a week off from life.  She meets Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) and starts hanging out with her and her high school friends.  Things are going well until Annika’s father (Sam Rockwell) enters the scene. If you love or even like Keira Knightley, you will enjoy this film. If you don’t like her, stay away as this is her film all the way. Knightley perfectly plays the young woman who just doesn’t know what she wants in life.  As usual, I also enjoyed Chloe Grace Moretz’s performance as the high school girl who is hurting from her mom leaving her and her dad.  This is a fun, smart romantic comedy that works well due to its stellar cast. My Rating: Full Price  Laggies Website
Indiefest:  Art and Craft  (2014)  PG  Mark Landis is a great painter.  Unfortunately, he is also one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. He doesn’t do it for the money, and, many times he has posed as a philanthropic donor, giving his work to museums.  After an investigator uncovers Landis’s work, Mark must now confront his own legacy.  This is a fascinating film about two men, one of which is Mark Landis, a disturbed man who for the past 30 years has fooled museums and art curators across the country with his forgeries. The second man is a former curator who has devoted his life to stoping Landis from fooling other museums.  Landis is a sad, but incredibly intresting man who is an extremely talented artist but one who only wants to make forgeries.  The film follows Landis as he goes about fooling galleries and museums, all the while people are trying to stop him.  My Rating: Full Price Art and Craft Website 

Forgotten FilmFat City  (1972) PG  This film, directed by John Huston, is about two boxers heading in opposite directions.  Stacy Keach plays a boxer who has seen better days and is haunted by the fight that got away.  Jeff Bridges plays the boxer whose career is on the rise but is slowly being held down by outside forces.  This is a gritty film that is fascinating to watch and is full of small dramatic moments.  Candy Clark stands out as the bride who has tricked the young boxer into marriage only to discover that it may not be everything she thought.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Fat City Info
In Case You Missed it (A film just released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Maleficent (2014) PG  I liked the special effects in this reworking of the Sleeping Beauty tale but I felt that the film had almost no plot.  It was if the art director made all the decisions on the film, making it a beautiful film without a lot of content.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Maleficent Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Big Hero 6:  Caffeinator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Imitation Game  (2014) PG-13  Benedict Cumberbatch plays an English mathematician who helps break the Nazi code during World War II.  Cumberbatch could read the phone book on screen, and I would still go see that film but this film looks like it could be an Oscar contender.  The Imitation Game Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 31, 2014


Indiefest:  Whiplash (2014) R A promising young drummer, Andrew (Miles Teller), is promoted to the top jazz band at a music conservatory.  He seems to have the world by the tale: a cute girlfriend (Melissa Benoist), a supportive father (Paul Reiser) and an immense talent. But Andrew’s dream gig turns into a nightmare due to the band’s nightmare of a leader (J.K. Simmons).  The two leads of this film, Teller and Simmons, give amazing, unbelievable performances that are both gut wrenching and sometimes terrifying. This film is almost a horror film about music as the band leader played by Simmons puts Andrew through some of the most sadistic mind controlling sessions that are both moving and believable. Teller is perfect in the role and shows us a range of emotion that is necessary for this movie to hits its emotional marks. Teller is vulnerable, and yet we sense that this is a young man who will be able to fight back when needed. Simmons gives us an Oscar worthy performance as the man who will do anything to ensure that his music is played exactly the way he envisioned it. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Whiplash Website
Indiefest: White Bird in a Blizzard (2014) R  When Kat (Shailene Woodley) is 17 years old, her mother (Eva Green) disappears. The husband (Christopher Meloni) is left shattered, wondering what he did to make her leave. Kat tries to figure out her place in the world without her mother to help her. Part mystery, part coming-of-age film, Kat must figure out, with the help of friends (Gabourey Sidibe and Mark Indelicato)and her psychiatrist (Angela Bassett), how she feels about her mother, someone with whom she didn't always get along. But Kat also slowly puts together that her mother's disappearance may be due to more than just an unhappy housewife wanting to leave. Woodley gives us her first real adult performance as a woman who, while still channeling a young person, is trying to become an adult, with all the responsibilities and feelings that go along with it. Eva Green, who plays the mother (mostly shown in flashbacks), gives us another multi-layered role as the housewife who may have a secret or two. Christopher Meloni is exceptionally cast as the milquetoast father, and I especially enjoyed Gabourey Sidibe as Kat's best friend. But, this is Woodley's movie, and she carries it off with ease.  My Rating: Full Price  White Bird in a Blizzard Website
Indiefest:  Horns  (2014) R  Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) has been accused of killing his longtime girlfriend (Juno Temple). Even his family doesn’t know if he did it, and it gets worse - he starts sprouting horns from his temples. I enjoyed this movie far more that I thought I would. It's a little bizarre and goes overboard with the symbolism, but it's a fun ride as a murder mystery with a bit of fantasy thrown in. Radcliffe is growing as an actor, and this film let him expand his repertoire a bit. He is right for this part as a man who has a girlfriend who is a little out of his league. The best performance of the film is Juno Temple, playing the sweet girlfriend, who lets us slowly see that she has a lot more going on that what appears on the surface.  The film does a good job of mixing mystery with fantasy, which makes it an enjoyable film to see.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Horns Website
Forgotten Film:  Flatliners (1990) R A group of medical students decide to explore what it's like to "flat line," i.e. die.  This is a well thought out thriller that starred some of the hottest young talent in Hollywood, including Julia Roberts, Oliver Platt, Kimberly Scott, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin and Kiefer Sutherland. The film becomes intriguing when the students start trying to "one-up" each other, staying dead longer and longer, all to better explore the experiences of the "after-life."   My rating: Bargain Matinee  Flatliners Info  
In Case You Missed it (A new release on DVD / BluRay): Into the Storm (2014) PG-13  This is a fun ride that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The dialogue is bad, and the acting mediocre, but the specials effects are cool. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a tornado made of fire?  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Into the Storm Website   

Weird Credits: From the credits of Horns: snake handler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Rosewater (2014)   Comedian Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut with this film about a Newsweek journalist (Gael Garcia Bernal) who is held in Iranian prisons for over 100 days accused of being a spy for the West. The film is gaining a lot of momentum on the Film Festival circuit.  Rosewater Facebook page
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 24, 2014

John Wick

My ViewJohn Wick (2014) R   A hit man (Keanu Reeves) comes out of retirement to hunt the gangsters who took everything from him. If you are looking for a kick-butt action film that has lots of fight sequences with very little plot, this film is for you. I am guessing that Wick kills between 50 and 60 bad guys in this film. The film takes only about ten minutes for you to figure out the plot and then the killing begins. Reeves is a great action figure, and he doesn’t disappoint. The fight sequences are long, and action is intense.  It’s not a film that’s going to win many screenplay awards, but it’s a fun film to watch.  And you will want him to kill everyone after what they do to Wick at the beginning of the film (spoiler alert:  animal lovers will not be happy).    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  John Wick Website

IndiefestBirdman (2014) R   A washed up actor named Riggan (Michael Keaton), who once played an iconic superhero  named, “Birdman,” attempts a comeback on Broadway. This is a fascinating film that is part comedy, part satire.  While I enjoyed Keaton’s performance (there is lots of Oscar talk about it), I thought that Emma Stone, playing Riggan’s daughter, and Edward Norton, a fellow actor, were even better.  Stone perfectly plays the damaged daughter who has a ton of issues with her father. Norton does a masterful job of portraying a talented actor whose ego is out of control. This is one of those films that goes in and out of reality at the turn of a corner, and, therefore, won’t be for everybody. The film is a little long, and I would have preferred a different ending, but if you are into great acting and an interesting storyline, this film is for you.  My Rating: Full Price  Birdman Website

My ViewOuija  (2014) PG-13  A group of friends unknowingly awaken  the dark powers of an ancient board game. From the same people who brought you the horrible stinker of a film Battleship (2012) comes this badly done horror film. The only slightly scary parts of this film are generated by the jump out of the dark with a loud bang type of scare.  The plot is confusing and never makes sense. It’s as if the filmmakers were making it up as they shot the movie.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Ouija Website
My View: 23 Blast (2014)  Based on a true story, 23 Blast is about two best friends who have grown up playing football together.  Travis (Mark Hapka) is the more successful of the two as the star running back of the high school team.  Jerry (Bram Hoover) is not as successful or popular, as he is the second string quarterback of the team. Suddenly, a life changing incident changes both of their lives.  This is a heartfelt film that just goes to the cliché  too many times. As with most faith-based movies, the acting in this film is the weak link. It’s an uplifting, feel good story that I just wished had a more believable ending My Rating: Cable  23 Blast Website

IndiefestViktor (2013)  After spending seven years in prison for an art heist, Frenchman Victor Lambert (Gerard Depardieu) travels to Moscow to try and figure out who killed his son.  When Victor makes the discovery, he will make them pay. he film also stars Elizabeth Hurley as a former lover and partner in crime who helps Victor in his quest.  The movie takes way too long to set up, and though there are some good action sequences, they are few and far between.  Depardieu is very disappointing in the role, rarely giving us the emotional performance on screen  that we want. The film is also hurt by most of the actors who have a tough time speaking English, making some of the dialogue extremely hard to understand. It’s a beautiful film to watch, shot on location in Russia, but it’s a film with just style and no substance. My Rating: Cable  Viktor Website

IndiefestPump (2014)  PG  A documentary on America’s addiction to oil.  The film explores a variety of replacement fuels that could possibly lead us away from our dependency on oil. The world is changing, and one example of these dramatic changes is in 2014, GM sold as many cars in China as it did in the U.S.The first portion of this film is sobering and a little depressing as you learn how dependent America is on the supply of oil and how it’s not getting better. The film does an excellent job of showing how much our economy is dependent on oil, but the film isn’t all about bad news.  There are also stories about the numerous alternative fuels that are available now. The film shows that there is hope for the future of transportation in this country. This is an informative film that will make you think about your relationship with your car and the future of energy sources. I will say that this film only gives one side of the picture and never interviews anyone from the current oil industry leadership, so take the facts the film gives out with a grain of salt.  My Rating: Full Price  Pump Website

IndiefestThe Blue Room (2014)  R  Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Grand Budapest Hotel) directs and stars as Julien, a middle-aged salesman embroiled in a steamy love affair with a married woman.The film goes back and forth from the present time where Julien is in for questioning (we don’t know why) and the past where Julien starts up an affair with a woman from his past. It’s a rich and engrossing film that slowly lets us see how Julien ended up in custody.  This is definitely a brilliantly crafted film, especially for mystery fans.  It’s a movie that you will be talking about for some time as even the ending has a few twists to it.  My Rating: Full Price   The Blue Room Website
Forgotten FilmTalk Radio (1988) R  Eric Bogosian (who also wrote the screenplay) stars as Barry, a late night radio talk show host who likes to agitate his listeners on air.  Barry’s personal life is falling apart just as he is on the cusp of getting a syndicated radio deal. But, Barry has pissed off a lot of people, and there is a neo-Nazi group who has threated to kill him if he keeps giving his opinions. With an outstanding performance by Bogosian, this is a smart, fast moving film that is still relevant today. While most of the film takes place inside the booth at the radio station, the movie never feels slow and creates more tension than most mysteries.  My Rating: Full Price   Talk Radio Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Birdman: ultimate arm driver

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouNightcrawler (2014)  R  I have heard great things about this film.  Jake Gyllenhaal plays a young man who gets involved with the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism where “reporters” follow the sirens to crime scenes.  Nightcrawler Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 17, 2014


My ViewFury (2014) R It’s April, 1945, and the Germans are determined to defend their homeland with everything they have.  A Sergeant named, Wardaddy (Brad Pitt), leads his five-man tank crew with the goal of getting everybody back alive.  Norman (Logan Lerman) has just joined the crew but was trained as a typist, not a warrior. Now the crew must go on a mission that has impossible odds -  just what Wardaddy has trained his crew for. This is not a movie for the faint of heart or someone who faints at the sight of blood.  The film has some of the most realistic war scenes ever filmed.  Bodies literally fly apart as they are hit by bullets or bombs. The language in this film is equally coarse, and there aren’t many likable characters. The film, though, realistic tries too hard to hit all the bases, and though it wants to be Oscar material, it is just an average film.  Pitt, though serviceable in the lead role, never quite connects with the audience, and we are left not really knowing his character. It’s an interesting film, but not the great film you want it to be.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Fury Website

IndiefestSt. Vincent (2014) PG-13  A mother (Melissa McCarthy) and her son (Jaeden Lieberher) move next door to a cranky war veteran (Bill Murray). An unlikely friendship between the boy and the old man starts up when the vet begins babysitting the boy after school. This is a fun, smart film about a man who is unlikable, and still a kid can see the good in the man. Murray is funny as the old man, and his chemistry with Lieberher is wonderful. Lieberher shows great comedic timing, able to deliver the best lines of the film. McCarthy shows some dramatic acting chops in this role, as her part is mostly supporting. It’s a joy to watch, and Lieberher gives a beautiful speech near the end of the film that had many people, at my screening, crying.   My Rating: Full Price  St. Vincent Website

IndiefestKeep On Keepin’ On (2014)  R 90-year-old jazz musician, Clark Terry, has mentored blind 23-year-old Justin Kauflin for a few years. Just as Kauflin’s career is taking off, Terry’s health turns for the worse.  This is their story, one of friendship bound by the love of music. The film documents a year in the life of the two men. Kauflin has to move back home with his parents and is preparing for an international jazz competition.  Terry is battling diabetes and is trying not to lose his leg to the disease.  They get through the hard times by their friendship and support of one another.  Terry is a remarkable man, full of knowledge, and this is a brilliant film that will make you feel better about your place in the world.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Keep On Keepin' On Website

My View: The Best of Me (2014)  PG-13  A pair of high school sweethearts, Dawson(James Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monagham), reunite years later when they both return to their small hometown.  Can they overcome the past to start their romance again?  This film has every romantic cliché in the book.  The film is highly predictable, way too long and has an ending that is just cringe worthy.  Marsden and Monaghan have a bit of chemistry together, but it takes the film so long to get them in a romantic situation that you just don’t care.  I did like Liana Liberato in the part of the young Amanda, as she breathes life into this film every time she is on camera, but it’s just not enough.  If you want to see a Nicolas Sparks film, go rent The Notebook because this film just doesn’t work.  My Rating: Cable  The Best of Me Website
Family FaireThe Book of Life (2014) PG Growing up in a small town in Mexico, Manolo (Diego Luna), Joaquin (Channing Tatum) and Maria (Zoe Saldana) are the best of friends. Manolo wants to be a musician, Joaquin a solider, and Maria has a passion for saving animals. After Maria is sent away, the three are reunited years later.  Will the musician or the soldier win Maria’s heart?  Imaginative storylines and beautiful animation make this film a joy to watch.  It’s about time we had some animation films based on the Mexican culture and this film does just that by using the traditional holiday “The Day of the Dead” as its central plot point. Very young kids may be a bit frightened by some the scary aspects of the film, but older kids will delight at the story of three young people trying to make the own way in the world.  My only complaint with this movie is Channing Tatum, playing a Mexican native part,  does not sound like he is from Mexico, he just sounds like Channing Tatum. I will say that while I did see the film in 3-D, I did not notice the 3-D effects, so save your money and see it in 2-D.   My Rating: Full Price  The Book of Life Website

IndiefestDear White People (2104)  R  The lives of four black students(Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris) at an Ivy League school change drastically after an ill-conceived Halloween party goes down.  It can be tough going to college, trying to find your place in the world; it’s even harder when you are in the minority.  This is a film that will spark many conversations, and, while funny at times, it is mostly a serious look at dealing with race relations in this country.  The standout performance of this film is Tyler James Williams, who plays a gay student who just doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. This is an interesting film that examines not only how the world sees young African Americans but also how they perceive themselves. My Rating: Full Price  Dear White People Website

Forgotten Film: Lady Sings the Blues (1972) R The story of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday (Diana Ross) as she struggles to make it in the music world.  This film has an incredible score with Ross singing some moving jazz standards. Billy Dee Williams plays the romantic interest in the film, but the standout performance (besides Ross’s) is Richard Pryor as Piano Man.  Pryor gives a funny and moving performance making this a much richer film.  My Rating: Full Price  Lady Sings the Blues Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Book of Life:  additional voice

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouWhite Bird in a Blizzard  (2014)  I am looking forward to one of my favorite young actresses, Shailene Woodley, taking on more mature roles.  When Kat (Woodley) is 17 years old, her mother (Eva Green) disappears.  Years later she comes home to confront the feelings of abandonment and guilt.  White Bird in a Blizzard Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Judge

My ViewThe Judge  (2014)  PG-13  A hot-shot defense attorney, Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.), returns to his hometown where his father (Robert Duvall) is suspected of murder. Now Hank must reconnect with his father (whom he hasn’t talked to in years) and find out the truth..  With this cast, this film should have been far better than it is. The film is too long, and goes way over the top to let us know that Hank and his father are not in a good place in their relationship. Vera Farmiga plays Hank's love interest, but her part isn't necessary to the plot. It's always disappointing when a film starts strong (great opening scene with Downey harassing a fellow lawyer) but ends weak. My Rating: Cable  The Judge Website

Family Faire:   Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day  (2014) PG  Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) is not having a very good day, which started out with him getting gum in his hair.  He’s not alone as it seems his whole family is having a very bad day, too. Why Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell, two fine actors, are in this film, that at best should have been an Adam Sandler starring vehicle, I have no idea. Only young children will laugh at this film as it goes for the easy, quick joke every time. The film contains the most not believable teenager I have ever seen (writers at fault, not the actor). Parents, send the kids into the theatre and then go see Gone Girl. My Rating: Cable  Alexander and the Terrible website  

IndiefestMen, Women and Children  (2014) R A group of high school students and their parents try to navigate life in a world where the Internet has become a major part of our lives. Though many people will say this is a film about the Internet, it's really about how people relate to each other. This is an ensemble piece that is uneven. There are some great moments, especially in scenes between the two teen misfits who find each other (played by Kaitlyn Dever and Ansel Elgort), however, Jennifer Garner doesn't carry off the part of the over-protective mom.  The story of the unhappy marriage (Adam Sandler/Rosemarie DeWitt) doesn't work, mostly because we don't like either person. It's not a bad movie, and there are some very enjoyable parts, but it just doesn't hit its mark.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Men, Woman and Children Website

My View: Dracula Untold  (2014) PG-13 With his kingdom and his family being threatened, Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) decides to deal with the supernatural and make a deal with the dark world. This film is as stupid as you think it will be. Special effects were better in the 1930's Universal monster films than this film. Plot points are just thrown in, hoping we won't notice. Luke Evans cuts a dashing figure, but his acting is like he was rejected from Game of Thrones, and he is hell-bent on showing them they were wrong. Stay at home and watch the original Dracula, a much better film, and you won't be laughing at the special effects. My Rating: Cable  Dracula Untold Website
Indiefest Kill the Messenger  (2014) R  Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) uncovers the story of a lifetime.  The CIA used money from drug smuggling to fund the Contras in Nicaragua.  Once the story is published, it changes Gary’s life and not for the best. This is probably the best film Jeremy Renner has been in since The Hurt Locker, as he shows he has more in him than just playing the pretty-boy action figure. The film, based on true events, is a fascinating look at how an investigating journalist works and then shows what effect his profession can have on his life and his family. This film is well worth seeing and is sure to start up conversations. But be warned - like, in life, not all movies have happy endings. My Rating: Full Price Kill the Messenger Website  

IndiefestPride  (2014) R  Set in 1984, a group of gay and lesbians decide to show solidarity against Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher by supporting the striking miners in Wales.  After raising money for the strikers, the group decides to visit one of the mining towns and meet them face to face.  The small Welsh town of Onliwyn will never be the same again. I enjoyed this funny, touching film based on a true story. It’s the kind of smart, moving film that the British do so well.  There are some outstanding performances, including  Ben Schnetzer as the gay activist leader and Dominic West as the flamboyant one of the group. Why this film got an R rating is a mystery. My Rating: Full Price (Please note that I work for CBS and this film is released by CBS Films)   Pride Website

IndiefestThe Two Faces of January  (2014)  PG-13  A husband  and wife (Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst) are traveling in Greece when they meet a friendly tour guide named, Rydal (Oscar Isaac), who offers to show them the sites. Before he knows it, Rydal is caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse. This is a beautiful, stylish film that fails due to its plot and heavy-handed direction. While there is great chemistry between Isaac and Dunst, there is almost no chemistry between Mortensen and Dunst. The film is easy to figure out from the start.  Its twists are predictable, and the end just sort of slows down to a trickle. This film will make you want to visit the places where the characters go, but it won't make you care about the people in the film. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Two Faces of January

Forgotten Film: Jeremy (1973) PG  Two high school students, a shy cellist (Robby Benson) and an ballerina (Glynnis O’Connor) are destined to have a great romance… that is if they can get up the nerve to talk to each other.  This is a small movie about the trials and tribulations of high school romance, where just making the phone call to the girl to ask her out can be traumatizing. The center of the film are two wonderful performances by Benson and O’Connor.  They have great chemistry together making this an above average teen romance.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Jeremy Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Dracula Untold:  contact lens coordinator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouBirdman (2014) R Michael Keaton stars as a washed up actor who once played an iconic superhero.  Now he is trying to mount a comeback on Broadway.  Critics have been raving about this movie for quite a while.  Birdman Website
Until Next Time