Friday, July 24, 2015

Pixels

Family FairePixels  (2015)  PG-13  Aliens have come to wreak havoc on Earth.  It seems, though, they have misinterpreted video feeds of classic arcade games.  Now it’s up to a gang of video gamers to save the Earth from a weapons attack in the form of video games. Can someone just give Adam Sandler a hug because he looks miserable making crappy film after crappy film? This film should have been fun and funny.  Instead we get a film that wants us to believe that someone like Kevin James can be president and that the character Adam Sandler plays is so devastated by not winning a video game contest that it ruins his life. The only actor who gives a performance with any energy is Peter Dinklage, and it’s just not enough to save this sorry film. The movie has so much product placement in it that I expected the closing credits to say “Pixels brought to you by Bud Light.” At the screening I attended, with about 20 minutes left in the film, the fire alarm went off in the theatre. While waiting for the film to restart, my fellow critics and I were able to figure out how the rest of the film would go; it’s that predictable. The best way to describe this film: unimaginative and boring.  And don’t pay extra to see it in 3-D - it was not shot in 3-D, and it shows.  So save your quarters and don’t see this mess of a film.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Pixels Facebook Page
Indiefest:   Paper Towns  (2015)  PG-13  Quentin (Nat Wolf) is taken on an all-night adventure by his friend and neighbor Margo (Cara Delevingne).  Soon after Margo goes missing, Quentin and his friends decide to go on an adventure of a lifetime to search for Margo. I loved this film about a young man and the girl who inspires him to go outside his comfort zone. The film is perfectly cast, especially with Nat Wolf, who does a brilliant job as the shy and reserved Quentin. Cara Delevingne is brilliant as the rebellious girl who inspires Quentin to go on his quest. The rest of the cast is a blast to watch, especially Austin Abrams, who plays the nerdish Ben, one of Quentin’s best friends. The film is part mystery, part road trip which makes it move at a quick pace. It’s a film you will enjoy from start to finish.  My Rating: Full Price   Paper Towns Website
Indiefest:   Tangerine  (2015)  R  Transgender prostitute Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) has just gotten out of prison.  She is shocked to find out that her boyfriend and pimp, Chester (James Ransone), has left her for another woman. Sin-Dee is on a mission to find the cheating couple with the help of her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor).  This is an interesting film shot entirely on iPhones but doesn’t look like it was. Mya Taylor’s performance as Alexandra, a woman who is trying to keep her best friend out of trouble, is the best thing about this film. Taylor gives her role a funny, sparkling turn, which makes her stand out from the rest of the cast. Shot of the streets of downtown L.A., the film, has a realistic feel to it and makes L.A., itself, one of the characters in the film. The film doesn’t always work, especially some of the scenes with a cab driver (Karren Karagulian) who has a thing for Sin-Dee, but anytime Taylor is on screen, the film gets better.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Tangerine Website

IndiefestUnexpected  (2015)  R  An inner-city high school teacher (Cobie Smulders) finds out she is unexpectedly pregnant. At the same time, a student of hers, Jasmine (Gail Bean), discovers that she is also pregnant. The two soon become friends over this unplanned shared experience.  Cobie Smulders gives a moving and briiliant performance as the teacher who sees her career hopes and dreams fading due to her pregnancy. She works well on-screen with Bean as the film progresses. Gail Bean is outstanding as the smart and determined Jasmine, giving her an air of inner strength and making her a character who demands respect for the choices that she makes. This is a film that explores the choices and sacrifices that women make when dealing with pregnancy. It’s to the credit of the two leads that the film works as well as it does. While not a groundbreaking film, it’s an interesting experience showing two women trying to come to grips with the reality of their situations.   My Rating: Full Price   Unexpected Facebook Page   
Forgotten FilmTess  (1979)  PG   A young woman (Nastassja Kinski) in Victorian England becomes the pawn of two men in her life.  Kinski gives the performance of a lifetime as Tess, a woman who is preyed upon by men, and there is nothing that she can do about it. It’s a sad, heartbreaking film but one worth watching due to Kinski’s incredible performance.     My Rating: Full Price   Tess Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Pixels: Flamist Artist


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Listen to Me Marlon (2015)  The film uses a newly discovered archive of over a hundred hours of audio to create a documentary with Marlon Brando’s own voice.   Listen to Me Marlon Info
\Until Next Time!

  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ant-Man

My View:  Ant-Man (2015)  PG-13  Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a car burglar who is hand-picked by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to become Ant-Man.  Ant-Man can decrease in size but, also, can increase in strength. I enjoyed this film that is more in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy with the amount of humor in it and the hero of the story who is dependent on his wits, rather than a superpower. I liked Rudd in the role, as he has a smart-ass quality to him, but not so much that you don’t like him. He plays off of both Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly (who plays the daughter of Dr. Pym), and there are some real sparks between Lilly and Rudd. Corey Stoll plays the villain well, bringing just enough menace to the role to make it enjoyable to watch. The action sequences are fast moving and exciting, with some creative scenes that make the film a blast to watch. Once again, I think you can save some money and see it in 2-D. There are two bonus scenes worth staying for; one after the first portion of credits and one at the very end of all the credits.    My Rating: Full Price   Ant-Man Website
My View:  Trainwreck (2015)  R  Amy (Amy Schumer) has spent her whole life thinking that monogamy was not for her. Then she met Aaron (Bill Hader), and her world changed.  I loved this romantic comedy with a twist. Usually, it’s the guy who is a cad and whose life is changed when he meets the girl. This film turns that idea on its ear as Amy Schumer plays a woman who doesn’t want commitment, and, in fact, she wants the guy to leave as soon as sex is over. Cuddling to Amy is like a death sentence, and spending the weekend together is her idea of hell. Then she meets Aaron and, against every fiber of her being, she starts falling for him. Hader is exceptional as the straight man in the film, and he and Schumer work well together on-screen. Lebron James is funny as himself, playing Aaron’s best friend. James delivers lines with a comedic touch that a lot of current comedians can’t do. John Cena is brilliant as Amy’s go-to sex partner who develops feelings for her. This is Schumer’s film, and she is outstanding in the role, and she dominates the screen with her staggering timing. This is a film that delivers from start to finish, making it breathtakingly funny and touching at the same time. That’s something you rarely see in today’s comedies.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Trainwreck Website

Indiefest: Infinitely Polar Bear (2015)   A manic-depressive father (Mark Ruffalo) agrees to take full-time responsibility for his two daughters while his wife (Zoe Saldana) is out of town at business school.  It’s hard to make a successful film when your lead character is so erratic in his mood swings. I have always liked Ruffalo as an actor, but he struggles to find a voice in this film. Saldana isn’t given much to work with either, and her screen time is spent mostly being mad at Ruffalo’s character. What made this film watchable at times was the performances of Imogene Wolodarsky and Ashley Aufderheide, who play the couple’s two daughters. They lend both a vitality and somewhat stable presence to the film, counteracting Ruffalo’s over-the-top performance as the manic father. The film is based on the real-life childhood of director Maya Forbes, and I think this story was just a little too personal to work on the screen.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Infinitely Polar Bear Website
Indiefest:  Lila & Eve  (2015)  R  Two mothers (Jennifer Lopez, Viola Davis), distraught over the deaths of their children gunned down by a drive-by’s, decide to get their revenge when the authorities decide not to pursue the crimes. Viola Davis gives an impressive performance as the mother who is devastated by the death of her college-bound son. I wasn’t as impressed by Jennifer Lopez’s role as the tough as nails mom who becomes Davis’s mentor. I just felt never fully committed to the role. The film is an interesting look at how death affects people different ways and how grief can overcome even the most rational thoughts. The film takes a very strange turn near the end, which I did not like. Overall, the film is worth watching for Davis’s performance but the plot is somewhat lacking in reality.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Lila & Eve Website

Indiefest:  Do I Sound Gay? (2014)     Filmmaker David Thorpe attempts to change his voice and explore the stereotype of the “gay voice. This documentary is funny at times and maddening at other times, as Thorpe explores why gay men are so aware of how they sound in public. Thorpe interviews some notable gay icons such as Tim Gunn and George Takei about how they feel about how they sound. Thorpe makes this film a little too personal to be totally effective and enjoyable, but the film does move at a quick pace and keeps the subject matter interesting.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Do I Sound Gay? Website  

Forgotten Film: Crumb (1995)  R  Documentary about the legendary underground comic artist R. Crumb. Crumb is a rather strange guy whose comic books are equally bizarre and touching. It’s a haunting world where we see how deeply an artist feels for his work and makes it his lifeblood. It’s not a world you would want to live in, though, but it’s fascinating to visit.   My Rating: Full Price   Crumb Info   

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ant-Man: Musician; Oboe & Cor Anglais  


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Fantastic Four  (2015) I    want to see this superhero film not because of the subject matter (all the other Fantastic Four films have been pretty bad) but because of two of the lead actors, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan. I think that Jordan and Teller are some of the best young actors working today.    Fantastic Four Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, July 10, 2015

Minions


Family FaireMinions  (2015)  PG  The Minions have been looking for a leader for ages to no avail. Kevin is a minion with a plan, and he, along with Stuart and Bob, are on a quest to find their next potential master. Scarlet Overkill(Sandra Bullock) just might be that leader. The Minions were always my favorite part of the Despicable Me series. Unfortunately, the Minions should only be a supporting cast, never the leads like they are in this very boring film. The film is set in 1968, and there are cultural references to things that kids are not going to know anything about (like The Beatles Abby Road).  The film does have five or six funny scenes, but it takes so long to get there that the laughs aren’t as big as they should have been. There is also a lot of Minion singing, which gets very old very quickly with the Minion way of speaking and singing in that weird language they use.  Sandra Bullock brings nothing to the film, and it goes downhill after her appearance as the villain. Little kids might like the film but older kids and adults are going to be very board. Save your money and don’t see the 3-D version, as the movie never really takes advantage of that technology.  There is a bonus scene at the end of the credits, but I am not sure you and the kids will want to stay.   My Rating: Cable   Minions Website
IndiefestAmy  (2015)  R   Documentary on the late great singer Amy Winehouse, who died too soon. This movie is a stunning and heartbreaking film to watch. I wasn’t a fan of Winehouse, but I am now because we get to see Amy in her early years before fame came crashing down on her. The film uses home videos, behind the scenes shots of her recording studio sessions and live concert footage to give us an insight into her life and what she was really like. We also see her downfall, which was brought on by a person who was not ready or meant for the spotlight. It’s a moving film that uses Winehouse’s music to illustrate what was going on in her life, and the film uses it brilliantly. Even if you aren’t a Winehouse fan, you will want to see this documentary.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Amy Website
My ViewThe Gallows  (2015) R  20 years after a horrific accident during a school play, students decide to put the play on again to honor the anniversary.  It’s a decision they will soon regret. This is a cheaply done horror movie with bad acting and very few scary parts. It  takes almost half the film before the frightening scenes start happening.  The film is shone as a found footage movie, so there are a number of shots of ceilings and people's feet (so many so, I wonder if the director has a thing for shoes). The film is boring, and the characters are so uninteresting that you almost want them to get killed. I also hated the ending, which was predictable and like most of the film, pointless.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   The Gallows Website
IndiefestTestament of Youth  (2014)  PG-13  A headstrong young woman, Vera (Alicia Vikander) enters Cambridge just as World War I is breaking out.  I was impressed with Alicia Vikander’s performance once again (she was stunning as Ava in Ex Machina) but I was let down by the slow pace of this coming-of-age film set in England. We get to see a war through the eyes of a woman who knows what she wants and is ready to fight to get it. The scenes set in the war zone, as Vera works as a nurse, are gritty and well done. It’s the time on the home soil of England that I felt slowed the film down, so much so, that, at times, I felt I was swimming in the river that Vera loves to visit. It’s a beautiful looking film that just doesn’t have enough for Vikander to do.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Testament of Youth Website
IndiefestHippocrates: Diary of a French Doctor  (2014)  Benjamin (Vincent Lacoste) is an intern working in a busy Parisian hospital ward that is run by his father.  Benjamin is convinced he will be a great doctor. Abdel (Reda Kateb) was a doctor in his native Algeria but is now having to work as an intern to get his license in France.  Both men will be tested like never before. This is an excellent film about what it’s like to be a doctor in a small hospital. Lacoste is perfect in the role of the young Benjamin, who quickly learns that the job isn’t going to live up to his ideals. Kateb, as the world-weary doctor having to start over from scratch, gives a profound and impressive performance. The film was directed by Thomas Lilti, who is a doctor, and that realism is one of the main strengths of this movie.  It’s a film well, worth seeing.   My Rating: Full Price  Hippocrates Info
My View:  Self/Less  (2015)  PG-13  Damian (Ben Kingsley) is a rich man dying of cancer. He undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness to the body of a healthy young man (Ryan Reynolds).  This isn’t a horrible film, but it’s too long, takes forever to get going, and it’s rather easy to figure out. Kingsley barely has any screen time and Reynolds, while doing an admirable job as an action scenes, is rather boring in the rest of the film. I also never bought the fact that when Damian was old he was a jerk, but when he takes over the new body, he become compassionate. If you want to see an action film, go see Mad Max again.    My Rating: Cable   Self/Less Website
Forgotten Film: Tucker: The Man and His Dream  (1988) PG   The story of the rise and fall of Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges), who creates a revolutionary car and tries to take on the established car industry. Francis Ford Coppola directed this moving and fascinating film about a man with a dream who gets squashed by the system.  Jeff Bridges is brilliant as Tucker and gives us a stunning and riveting performance that makes the film worth watching.  You root for Tucker even though you know that the outcome is not going to be good.    My Rating: Full Price   Tucker: The Man and His Dream Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Minions:  Score Vocalist


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouBoulevard (2015)  This film features Robin Williams in his last starring role.  Enough said.   Boulevard Info
Until Next Time



Friday, July 3, 2015

Magic Mike XXL

My View:   Magic Mike XXL (2015)   R   Mike (Channing Tatum) has been out of the stripper biz for three years. He has his own furniture company, and though he occasionally thinks about his past life, it’s pretty much over. That is until he gets a call from the guys, and they decide to go on one last road trip to glory.  I wasn’t a big fan of the first film as I feel it needed more of a storyline and less of a floor show. I also did not like the romantic interest for Tatum’s character, actress Cody Horn, as she wasn’t up to the part. My feeling for this sequel is about the same. While Tatum dances up a storm, and his final dance sequence with tWitch is fantastic, once again the film is let down by a weak storyline. The film’s Director of Photography is the first film’s director Steven Soderbergh, so I thought this one would follow the big, bright scenes the original film had but this sequel is very dim on the screen with some scenes barely visible. The initial meeting between Tatum and his love interest, Amber Heard, is so dark in appearance, I wasn’t sure who he was talking to. While I did like Jada Pinkett Smith in the role of the new MC for the boys, I just could help think how much I missed Matthew  McConaughey's character from the initial film. If you were a big fan of the first movie, you will enjoy this one. If you weren’t, like me, then stay away as it is just more of the same.   My Rating: Cable   Magic Mike XXL Website

My View:   Terminator Genisys (2015)  PG-13   John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends back Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), but when he arrives, nothing is as he expected.  So, what we have here is an attempt to reboot a franchise that seems as old as Arnold. Well, it just doesn’t work. Now if you are an action fan, then you may enjoy this film because it has plenty of action and some cool-looking fight sequences. Unfortunately, the plot, which includes multiple time travels, is a big mess where it looks like the writers and director added every conceivable plot point and hoped it would somehow all make sense. It doesn’t. My other problem with this film is the actress who plays Sarah Connor, Emilia Clarke. She is just too small and  young looking to play the tough as nails, Connor. I never believed that she could hold her own in a fight (unlike Linda Hamilton in T2 who could kick most guys’ butts). It also made it a little creepy that a very bulked up Jai Courtney’s character was meant to hook up with this very young-looking Sarah Connor. Arnold is fun and has some of the best lines, but it’s not enough to make up for such a convoluted storyline. And, it’s not worth the extra money for 3-D as the film was not shot in 3-D. Do stay through the first portion of ending credits though, as there’s a bonus scene.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Terminator Genisys Website

Indiefest:  Aloft (2015)  R  Nana (Jennifer Connelly) is an artist who recently became noticed for her work. A journalist (Melanie Laurent) finds out Nana abandoned a son (Cillian Murphy) over twenty years ago. The reporter sets up a meeting between the mother and son, and it will change their lives forever. I really enjoyed this film. It has a complex plot that, while complicated, makes the film flow throughout. All three leads are impressive, with Laurent giving a moving and intelligent performance. This is one of those films that is a pleasure to watch from the first frame, even though it deals with some pretty tough subjects, including a child with cancer. The cinematography in the film is extraordinary with the stark landscapes of the frozen north. If you want a film with notable performances and a well-thought-out plot, this movie is for you.   My Rating: Cable   Aloft Website

Indiefest:  A Little Chaos (2014)  R  Sabine (Kate Winslet) is a landscape designer who is commissioned by King Louis XIV (Alan Rickman) to build a garden at Versailles. She must deal with men who aren’t used to being bossed by a woman and work with Andre Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts), a landscaper to whom she becomes attracted. This is a fascinating film about a woman struggling to make it in not only in a man’s world but one that is also ruled by a class system. Winslet is perfect as the headstrong Sabine, who is willing to move mountains to create her garden. Besides playing the King, Rickman also directs this beautiful and intriguing film. Stanley Tucci stands out as the King’s snobbish brother, and there is subtle chemistry between Winslet and Schoenaerts. If you are a lover of costume dramas and court intrigue, this film is for you. It’s not your typical love story, but it is an enjoyable piece made better because of the performances of Tucci and Winslet.  My Rating: Full Price   A Little Chaos Website

Indiefest:   Eden (2014)  R   Paul (Felix de Givry) is a teenager who spends his nights in the underground scene of early nineties Paris. He forms a DJ collective with his friends, and they get involved with every aspect of the nightlife scene, including sex, drugs and dance music.  I am not a fan of club music, especially the house music that fills this very long and pointless film. The lead character of this story is extremely unlikable as he goes from girlfriend to girlfriend, mooching on his mother’s money and doing coke like it’s a daily vitamin. The story never really gets going and just seems to be one long reason to play some “Daft Punk” music. I think the writer/director, Mia Hansen-Love, spent a little too much time on the dance floor and not enough time working on her script.  My Rating: Cable   Eden Facebook page

Indiefest:   In Stereo (2015)    David (Micah Hauptman) and Brenda (Beau Garrett) are perfect for each other. Everyone knows that, with the exception of David and Brenda. They decide to break up, and both their lives start spiraling down. Will they ever realize the mistake they made?  I enjoyed this very unconventional love story about two people who are going to remain unhappy until they make the choice to get back together. I especially enjoyed the performance of Garrett, who, as the self-involved Brenda, makes her character likable even though she isn’t the nicest person in the world. The film is funny and, at times, touching, which makes it one of those films where you just want to slap the main characters and say “you are with the wrong person.” It’s a very inventive film full of rich and interesting characters and takes a few twists and turns to make you keep watching.  My Rating: Full Price

Forgotten Film:  Missing (1982)  R  A young couple (John Shea and Sissy Spacek) are traveling through Chile in the early 70s when a civil war breaks out. The young man is taken away by government forces with the suggestion that he is a spy. His wife and his father (Jack Lemmon) attempt to find the young man before he gets lost in the system. Lemmon and Spacek are brilliant in this film, worthy of their Academy Award nominations. The award-winning script is smart and bold, and the direction by Costa-Garvas is superb.   My Rating: Full Price   Missing Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Magic Mike XXL: Graphic Designer Specialty Tattoo

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Ricki and the Flash (2015)  PG-13  Hey, any film that has Meryl Streep as a rock-and-roll icon can’t be half bad.   Ricki and the Flash Info
Until Next Time





Friday, June 26, 2015

Ted 2

My View:   Ted 2 (2015)  R   Ted (Seth MacFarlane) and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) have gotten married and now want to have a kid. John (Mark Wahlberg) finds out that, for Ted to have a kid, he will have to prove, in a court of law, that he is a person.  As with most sequels, this film is mostly a rehash of the first film, but this time without the heart of the first. The film is too long, and, while the jokes are funny, it takes forever to set them up. There are a few unnecessary scenes, and MacFarlane could have taken 30 minutes out of this almost two-hour film without hurting the plot. One of the great things about the first film was it contained a love story between two best friends, but while this sequel attempts to pull at heartstrings, it never hits the mark. Amanda Seyfried fits in with the two leads, becoming part of the boy's club, but I think that is another problem with this film. The first film had Mila Kunis’s character, who played a clear opposite to the antics of the boys. It’s one of those films that does have some great laughs, but it takes too long to get to them. Make sure and stay through all the credits as there is a bonus scene that is worth the wait.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Ted 2 Website
Family Faire:   Max (2015)  PG   Max is a military working dog who returns from Afghanistan after his handler is killed. Max is adopted by the family of the slain soldier, and together they begin a journey of healing. This is an admirable family film that will touch your heart, especially if you or one of your loved ones has served in the Armed Services. The dog is the best part of the film and has a very expressive face and bark. Josh Wiggins plays Justin, the young brother of the slain soldier and has an excellent connection to the dog. The supporting cast is impressive with Lauren Graham and Thomas Haden Church playing Josh’s parents. I didn’t like the attempt at a Texas accent by Graham (no one else tries for one) as it comes off as corny. The action sequences are well done and kids will enjoy all the action that takes place on bikes and trails. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon film that the whole family can enjoy.    My Take: Bargain Matinee   Max Website
Indiefest:  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl  (2015)  PG-13   Greg (Thomas Mann) spends most of his time making parodies of classic films with his friend Earl (RJ Cyler).  Their lives are changed when they meet Rachel (Olivia Cooke) a young girl who has just been diagnosed with cancer. I loved this touching and very inventive film. It takes the teenage coming of age romance genre and turns it on its ear. There is great chemistry between the three leads and Olivia Cooke shines as the girl who refuses to give in to cancer. This brilliant film is one of my favorite films of the year.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Website
Indiefest:   The Overnight (2015)  R  Alex (Adam Scott) and his wife, Emily (Taylor Schilling) have just moved to L.A. from Seattle with their young son. While at a park, they make friends with Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) who also has a son. He invites them to dinner at his house for pizza and kid playtime. Alex and Emily soon discover that they could be in for a wild ride.  This is a hilarious film that is going to make you uncomfortable at times as it covers some extreme adult situations. Scott and Schilling work well with each other on screen, giving us a feeling that this couple truly love and enjoy each other. Schwartzman is perfect in the role of a guy who pushes the boundaries of human behavior. The great fun of this film is that you never know where the film is going to go next - you only know that it’s going to be surprising and a whole lot of fun. I will warn you that there lots of nudity, including full-frontal male nudity.    My Rating: Full Price   The Overnight Facebook Page
Family Faire:   When Marnie Was There (2014)   PG   Anna (Hailee Steinfeld)) has been sent to the country after having a severe asthma attack. While exploring, she meets Marnie (Kiernan Shipka) a young girl who seems very familiar. Will their friendship last? Only time will tell.  This is a moving and beautiful film that is perfect for young girls, ages eight to fourteen. It’s a film about feeling alone and different, then finding out that there are other people out there who feel the same way. The characters are full and well thought-out, and the animation is breathtaking. It is rumored that this might be the last film of the legendary Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, and, if it is, it is a perfect swan song. Go see this wonderful, touching film.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   When Marnie Was Here Info
Indiefest:   Escobar: Paradise Lost (2014)  R   Nick (Josh Hutchenson) is traveling through Columbia surfing the waves and having a good time. He meets the girl of his dreams, Maria (Laura Londono) only to find out that her uncle is the legendary drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar (Benicio Del Toro). Now Nick is in danger, but he doesn’t want to leave Maria. I think fans of Hutchenson may enjoy this film, but I found his character rather boring and he really couldn’t keep up with Del Toro. The film centers on Nick and his girlfriend, I would have liked it to center on the relationship between Nick and Pablo. I did like the ending, and I liked Laura Londono’s performance, but overall I felt the 2-hour length of the film.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee
Forgotten Film:   Room at the Top (1959) An ambitious and angry young man (Laurence Harvey) decides his way to move up in the world is to marry the boss’s daughter (Heather Sears). Complicating things is his attraction to a married older woman (Simone Signoret). This is a film full of tremendous performances, but it’s Simone Signoret who makes this film so memorable. She is able to make us love her from the start, and the sadness she displays in her eyes is incredibly touching. Room at the Top is an outstanding film that makes some of today’s dramas seems soul-less.   My Rating: Full Price   Room at the Top Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ted 2: Goose Wrangler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Mr. Holmes (2015)  PG  Ian McKellen playing one of my favorite fictional characters, Sherlock Holmes. As a bonus, Laura Linney is one of the co-stars.   Mr. Holmes Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Inside Out

Family Faire: Inside Out (2015)  PG   Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is dealing with a lot in her young life; a move from the Midwest to San Francisco, a new school and having to make friends. Good thing she has emotions, Joy, Disgust, Sadness, Fear and Anger to help her cope. This film is destined to be a classic, in-line with other great Pixar films like Toy Story (1995), Finding Nemo (2003) and Up (2009). The film has a brilliantly written script and contains an inventive storyline. Amy Poehler is phenomenal as the character Joy, and Lewis Black is priceless as Anger. The film is funny, a joy to watch (no pun intended) and melts your heart. Though made in 3-D,  it’s not necessary to see the movie in 3-D as it didn't add anything to the experience. Don’t miss this film that the whole family will fall in love with and teaches us, it's OK to have feelings.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again   Inside Out Website
Indiefest: Dope (2015)  R   Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is a geek just trying to survive in a tough neighborhood. His life changes when he is invited to an underground party, and he and his friends go on an adventure of a lifetime.  I enjoyed this film, especially the performance of Shameik Moore, who is a delight to watch on the screen as the geeky and shy Malcolm. The storyline is interesting, and I loved the ending of the film. I didn’t like that Malcolm and his two best friends get involved (not by choice) and are rewarded for distributing drugs. I also didn’t like that Molly’s drug use was seen as okay and a fun way to party. But those problems don’t overshadow that this is a unique film with a very unconventional hero at its core.    My Rating: Full Price   Dope Website
Indiefest:  The Connection (2014)  R  One man, Marseilles magistrate Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin), makes it his life work to take down one of the most notorious drug smuggling operations in history: The French Connection. This is a well-done crime drama that focuses on the magistrate that tirelessly works to bring down a gang responsible for so many people’s deaths and destruction.  Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche, who plays the drug lord that the magistrate is trying to bring down, are both exceptional in their roles, and their scenes together are full of sparks and high drama. Lellouche does a remarkable job in making us care about a very despicable character. Unfortunately, The Connection is going to be compared to the 1971 film, The French Connection even though they are two very different films. The Connection is an excellent addition to the crime drama genre with two outstanding performances by Dujardin and Lellouche.    My Rating: Full Price   The Connection Info
Indiefest:  The Wolfpack (2015)  R   A documentary on six brothers and one sister who have lived their whole lives inside a New York City apartment. The children have been home-schooled and almost never leave the apartment due to a controlling father. To entertain themselves, the six brothers re-create their favorite films with homemade costumes and scripts.  I enjoyed the film, mostly because the boys are so outgoing, and their re-creations of films are fascinating. I wanted more on their background, and while we do see quite a few home movies, I never felt that I got to know anyone in-depth in the family. The movie also never fully explores the darker side of the father and his hold on his family. There are hints that he bullies the boys and that he might have hit his wife, but these are never fully explored. The Wolfpack is a film that never quite lives up to its potential, leaving me thinking that the boys were merely characters in their own film, instead of real kids trying to find their way in the big, wide world of New York City.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Wolfpack Website 
Forgotten Film:  La Cage aux Folles (1979) R   This is a far better film than the American remake, The Birdcage (1996). The plot is roughly the same; a gay couple’s son is getting married into a conservative family, so the couple attempts (very badly) to act straight so that the wedding will go off. This French film is funny, warm and is a combo of a farce and a musical. The film brilliant plays out, becoming funnier as it goes along. The film is worthy of its three Oscar nominations and is a joy to watch.    My Rating: Full Price   La Cage Aux Folles Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Inside Out: Character Modeling and Articulation Artist


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Bronze (2015)     A foul-mouthed former gymnast (Melissa Rauch) has made a living on the fact that she won an Olympic bronze medal. Now she is asked to put her ego aside and help mentor a new up-and-coming star. I love Melissa Rauch and am looking forward to seeing what director Bryan Buckley can do with this material. Buckley has directed some of the best commercials of the past ten years.   The Bronze Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, June 12, 2015

Jurassic World

My View: Jurassic World (2015)  PG-13   It’s been twenty-two years since the fatal accidents at Jurassic Park. Now, the Island features a fully functioning dinosaur-themed park called, Jurassic World. The newness has worn off, and a fresh attraction is needed to re-spark interest. A new dinosaur has been created, one that is larger and deadlier than anything in the park. This isn’t going to go well. While not as magical or moving as Jurassic Park (1993), this still is a fun and exciting film. My biggest complaint about the movie is the character that Bryce Dallas Howard plays, a corporate shill who is so clueless, there is no way she could run a Taco Bell, much less a billion-dollar amusement park. Chris Pratt is brilliant as the outspoken animal behaviorist who is training Raptors to behave. The film is packed with action sequences, and I loved the ending scene. By the way, the film was not shot in 3-D, so save a few bucks and see it in 2-D.  My Rating: Full Price    Jurassic World Website

Indiefest:  Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World (2014)    Surrealist painter H.R. Giger was the man behind the Oscar-winning visual creatures in the 1979 sci-fi hit “Alien.” But he is much more than that including his intricate, startling paintings and sculptures depicting a mixture of birth, life, death and sex. This is a fascinating documentary that mostly takes place during the last couple of years of the late artist’s life. As you would expect, he was a very strange guy who lived in a house filled with his artwork (some of which incorporated human skulls). There are a few quick scenes from the making of Alien (I would have liked more of those), but the film is really about Giger’s life and his relationships (he apparently had quite a few affairs with women). If you are at all interested in his artwork (which influenced many artists), this is the film for you.    My View: Full Price    Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   Pixels (2015)  PG-13   Aliens come to Earth and attack in the form of video game icons. The director of the film, Chris Columbus, hasn’t had a hit since the Harry Potter films, and this one stars two absolute “hams” - Adam Sandler and Kevin James.   Pixels Facebook Page

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blue Ray):  The Duff (2014) PG-13   Bianca (Mae Whitman) discovers that she has been labeled the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by her more popular friends. Now she enlists Wesley (Robbie Arnell) to help her reinvent herself. The film is another in a long line of teen romantic comedies. Mae Whitman is just the right amount of cute mixed in with a bit of nerdiness to make her character likable from the start. While not a remarkable film, it’s extremely watchable due to Whitman, and it makes a very cool “date night” movie.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Duff Website

Forgotten Film: The China Syndrome (1979)  PG   A reporter (Jane Fonda) and her cameraman (Michael Douglas) are doing a “fluff” piece on a nuclear power plant. While on a tour of the facility, they witness (and film) a near meltdown, only adverted due to the quick thinking of a plant engineer (Jack Lemmon). The engineer investigates why the plant almost went into meltdown and discovers a mess of problems at the plant and decides to go to the reporter with the story. Now, all their lives are in danger. There are many  movies made in the late 70s and early 80s that are dated and don’t hold up over time. This is one of the exceptions. Lemmon and Fonda are outstanding in their roles, and the tension builds throughout the film. It’s a film that is still relevant today and is expertly directed by James Bridges.   My Rating: Full Price   The China Syndrome Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Jurassic World: Practical Creature Effects


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Minions (2015)    The minions have been the best part of the Despicable Me pictures. This time they get their own movie, and it’s going to be so much fun.    Minions Website
Until Next Time!