Friday, May 29, 2015

San Andreas


My View: San Andreas  (2015)   PG-13   For years California has been trying to prepare for the “Big One,” and now it has happened. A series of earthquakes occur, and rescue chopper pilot, Ray (Dwayne Johnson), is making every effort to find his daughter (Alexandra Daddario). This is your standard disaster film where California, especially San Francisco, is falling apart due to massive earthquakes. Dwayne Johnson plays a fire and rescue guy who forgets that he is a public servant, passing up thousands of people in need of rescue to go and find his wife and daughter. In this two-hour movie, he rescues a total of four people…four, which is the same amount of vehicles that he flies or rides. The effects are fun to watch and there are a couple of scenes that are spectacular looking (the start of the film is some of the best part of the film), but the storyline is weak and some of the dialogue is laughable. The film is a disaster movie that doesn’t bring anything new to the screen. The film was shot in 3D, but I didn’t notice the 3D effects, so save your money and see it on a regular screen.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   San Andreas Website 
My View: Aloha  (2015)  PG-13  Brian (Bradley Cooper), a former Air Force pilot, comes back to the site of some of his biggest triumphs and his most spectacular failures. As a private defense contractor, he has to work closely with a gung-ho Air Force Pilot (Emma Stone), and against his better judgment, he starts to fall for her. Complicating matters is his ex-wife (Rachel McAdams) who still lives in the area. Watching this movie is like walking into a conversation that has been going on for two hours. It took me a long time into the film to figure out what was going on, and I still don’t know exactly what Bradley Cooper’s job is. Is he a fighter pilot? Is he a computer coder? I just don’t know. I didn’t like how Emma Stone’s character was such a strong, independent woman at the start of the film and then boom, she is in love and can’t do anything without Bradley Cooper’s character. Bill Murray is fun as an owner of a private company that is launching a satellite, but his scenes are few and far between. Rachel McAdams is wasted as the ex-wife of Cooper’s character, and John Krasinski is used even less. There is a comedic scene near the end of the film that is quite funny, but the scene’s tone (broad comedy) doesn’t fit the rest of the movie. This is another one of those films whose cast is let down by the film’s script and director. By the way, there is a bonus scene during credits but like most of the film, I have no idea what is going on during them.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Aloha Website 
Indiefest: I’ll See You in My Dreams (2015)  PG-13   Carol (Blythe Danner) is a widow who lost her husband 20 years ago. Her beloved dog dies, which propels her to make changes in her life. With the help of her pool guy (Martin Starr) and a possible romantic encounter with a rich man (Sam Elliott), she just might succeed. "I'll See You in My Dreams" is that rare film, part romantic comedy, part drama, whose main character is over sixty and a woman. The film doesn't always work, but it's an earnest attempt at exploring the possibilities of life when older and alone. Danner and Elliott have incredible chemistry on screen, and their scenes together are some of the best of the film. I also loved the scenes between Martin Starr and Danner. They work well on screen, and their experience at a Karaoke bar is a lot of fun. The weakest points of the film are when the film tries to go into broader comedy, especially the scene where Carol and her friends try marijuana. Overall, this is a sweet and moving film with some outstanding performances.   My Rating: Full Price   I'll See You in My Dreams Website 
Indiefest: Sunshine Superman (2015)  PG   A documentary about Carl Boenish, who started the sport of BASE jumping – where you skydive off of buildings, bridges, and mountains. I loved this documentary. Boenish is a character and is extremely likable. He gets excited just talking about jumping off of buildings or cliffs. The footage is remarkable as Boenish was an early adopter of the helmet mounted camera. While the film documents Boenish’s attempts to make BASE jumping a legitimate sport (you see how they avoided the police after jumping off of a downtown building), but it’s also a love story, as he finds his future wife through the sport. I highly recommend this beautiful and exciting film that is a blast to watch. It’s a sport that I would never participate in, but I could watch this movie over and over.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Sunshine Superman Website    
Indiefest: Good Kill (2014)   R   Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) used to fly fighter jets. Now he flies drones from an air-conditioned building in Las Vegas. His job is to hunt the Taliban, and he is very good at it. After fighting a war from thousands of miles away, Egan starts questioning if this war is creating more terrorists than he’s killing. The film tries to explore too many ideas, making the film feel full of stops and starts. The problem is the film never fully explores these ideas with any conviction or purpose, making it those scenes seem just another part of the film. Ethan Hawke, as the brooding pilot is at no time asked to do too much, and much like the character that he plays, it's a lackluster performance. Hawke's character rarely interacts with anyone, never giving him a chance to explore his character. The film never quite connects with its audience, failing to give anything other than a rather predictable story that can't settle on what its message is.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Good Kill Info


Forgotten Film: Reversal of Fortune (1990) The film is based on the true story of Sunny von Bulow (Glen Close), who was in a coma, possibly at the hand of her husband Claus (Jeremy Irons). He is put on trial and convicted. He then hires the brilliant lawyer, Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver). The whole cast is dazzling with Jeremy Irons standing out as the creepy, egomaniac Claus. The story is fascinating, and the tension builds as you, along with Dershowitz, try to figure out what happened.  My Rating: Full Price   Reversal of Fortune Info 

Weird Credits: From the credits of Aloha: Pashto Voice Actor 

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Me and Earl and Dying Girl  (2015)  PG-13   It’s the senior year of Greg (Thomas Mann), his friend Earl (R.J. Cyler), and Rachel (Olivia Cooke). Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia and is determined to live a normal life as possible. Any film with Connie Britton and Nick Offerman (who play Rachel’s parents) is a film I want to see.  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, May 22, 2015

Tomorrowland



My View: Tomorrowland  (2015)  PG  Two opposites, Frank (George Clooney), a jaded former “boy genius,” and Casey (Britt Robertson), an optimistic teenager, embark upon a mission to unearth the secrets of a mysterious place - a place that, somewhere in time and space, exists in their collective memory.  While I liked the look of the film and enjoyed Clooney and Robertson’s performances, I found the film slow to start and very confusing. I have no idea what was done or why it was done to resolve the plot of the film, and because the plot was so sluggish, I just wanted it the movie to be over. This movie should have been a joy to watch, but it’s filled with too many plot points, way too much talking and not enough real action. I also didn’t enjoy the overall tone of the film, which I felt was a little insulting. The film has quite a bit of violence and I think would be too confusing for small children.  I expected more from this cast and director Brad Bird, who I have admired for quite a while. This film is a big, disappointing mess.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Tomorrowland Website 
My View: Poltergeist (2015)  PG-13  A married couple (Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt) move into a new house with their children. They start experiencing mysterious things happening inside the house. Now, their daughter is missing, and it seems there is a ghost in their home holding their daughter captive. It’s sad when the trailer and even the poster are scarier that the film itself. The wastes the talents of Rockwell and DeWitt, though it does let Rockwell be funny in early, relaxed scenes with the family. The plot is somewhat similar to the original 1982 film of the same name but doesn’t have the thrills and scary moments of the first film. All of the scary moments of this film are the type where something jumps out of the dark at you. The film has numerous stops and starts, never letting the tension build.  While it was shot in 3-D, it’s not worth the extra money. There is a short bonus scene after the first credits that is worth seeing if you haven’t left the theatre to get your money back.    My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Poltergeist Website
Indiefest: Slow West (2015)  R  16-year-old Scottish aristocrat, Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), abandons his birthright and heads to the American frontier to find the love of his life, Rose (Caren Pistorius). Jay travels across the frontier of 19th-Century America with the help of a mysterious stranger named, Silas (Michael Fassbender). This is a moving, dramatic film that also has a good bit of humor. Fassbender is the reason to see this movie, and he is impressive in the role of the cowboy who takes Jay under his wing. There is great chemistry between Kodi Smit-McPhee and Fassbender, which makes their scenes together the highlight of the film. The film moves along at a steady pace, captures the time period perfectly, has plenty of twists and turns and packs a punch at the end. If you like westerns or impeccable acting, this is a film for you.    My Rating: Full Price   Slow West Website 
Indiefest: About Elly (2009)      Elly (Taraneh Aldoosti) is invited to join three families who go on a vacation to the beach. When Elly suddenly disappears while babysitting the kids, the group of friends begin to search for her. What became of Elly?  This is another fascinating film from the writer / director, Asghar Farhadi, who brought us the Oscar-winning film A Separation (2011). In the beginning, we get to know all the characters, just as Elly does (she is new to the group). Then, Elly disappears, and the mystery and suspense begin to unfold. Farhadi builds the tension until we find out what did happen near the end.  This movie is a brilliant piece of film-making and well worth seeing.   My Rating: Full Price   About Ely Website 
Forgotten Film: Frances (1982)  R  A fascinating film that looks at the life of actress Frances Farmer (Jessica Lange). Lange is brilliant as Farmer, an actress who was highly independent and creative but battled the Hollywood system and lost.  It’s a tragic tale that allows Lange to show her stunning acting range.    My Rating: Full Price   Frances Info 

Weird Credits: From the credits of Tomorrowland: Truck Costumer 

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Gemma Bowery (2014)  R  Modern day re-telling of the Madame Bovary story. Any movie with Fabrice Luchini and Gemma Arterton is going to be a winner in my book.   Gemma Bowery Info
Until Next Time!



Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

My View:   Mad Max: Fury Road  (2015)  R  In a world where everything and everyone are fought over, a man called, Max (Tom Hardy), just might be the man to restore order. If you haven’t seen any of the Mad Max films, don’t worry, though this one does reference the past films during the credits. This film gets moving right from the start and never lets up on the accelerator. The film is a blast to watch, and Tom Hardy is brilliant as Max. Even finer is Charlize Theron, who brings a tough, multilevel performance to the screen as Imperator Furiosa, a woman who is trying to escape to a better place. Nicholas Hoult is hilarious as Nux, a sad sack bad guy who can never get anything right. The action sequences are breathtaking, and there is so much going on, you might want to see this film twice. This is a car lover’s dream, as there is an array of custom cars of all types in the film, and it’s a usual world that director George Miller always creates. This world is not a place where you would want to live, but you will definitely want to visit.  Don’t worry about seeing this one in 3-D (the 3-D was added post production), but do see it on the big screen.     My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again    Mad Max: Fury Road Website
My View:   Pitch Perfect 2  (2015)  PG-13  After a humiliating command performance, the Bellas must enter an international competition that no American group has ever won. The Bellas must win the competition to regain their competition status. I enjoyed this film and feel it is funnier than the original movie. While this sequel doesn’t have the magic moments of the first film (e.g. cup song audition), it does have some phenomenal singing, with Anna Kendrick giving us her usual outstanding performance. In addition, two newcomers, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, and Flula Borg steal the stage as the leaders of a German A-Capella group that becomes the Bellas’ rivals. Rebel Wilson once again steals the comedy spotlight as the very inappropriate, “Fat Amy.” John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks have some of the funniest lines of the movie as the two commentators, back from the first Pitch Perfect. The film does have more songs and cameos to surprise the audience, and, overall, while not as pleasing as the first film, this sequel still delivers some fantastic laughs, music and vocal talent. Be sure and stay through the first bit of credits as there is a very funny and well done bonus scene.   My Rating: Full Price   Pitch Perfect 2 Website
Indiefest:   Where Hope Grows  (2014)  PG-13   Calvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) was a professional baseball player who has to take early retirement due to panic attacks at the plate. He is struggling to raise his daughter (McKaley Miller) and feels as if life isn’t working anymore. Then Calvin meets Produce (David DeSanctis), a young grocery worker with Down syndrome. Calvin is about to make a lifelong friendship.  This is one of the best faith based films that have come out of the last few years, and it’s all due to the winning performance of David DeSanctis. He just lights up the screen with his enthusiasm for life and his great chemistry with Kristoffer Polaha. It’s a tremendous performance and makes this film work. The film has a fantastic supporting cast, including Brooke Burns, Kerr Smith, William Zabka and Danica McKellar. The film gets a little sappy at times but, unlike a lot of Christian-oriented films, the religious aspects don’t hit you over the head. The message is if you stay positive and live life to the fullest, you can find happiness. That happiness is what David DeSanctis delivers throughout the movie.   My Rating: Full Price    Where Hope Grows Website

Indiefest: Iris  (2014)  PG-13  Documentary about Iris Apel, a quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93 year-old style maven who has been on the New York fashion scene for decades. Mrs. Loehmann (yes, that Loehmann) told Iris when she was a young woman “You’re not pretty; you never will be pretty, but you have style!” and she was right. This film by the legendary late documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles is an outstanding film about a woman who has been influencing both the fashion world and the home designer world for over 75 years. The film captures Iris’s style and wit, as she dispenses wisdom to anyone who will listen, and many want to her what she has to say. The movie also documents her love affair with her husband (who near the end of the film celebrates his 100th birthday). If you love fashion and want to be wowed by one of the great fashion collections the world has ever seen, then this movie is for you.    My Rating: Full Price   Iris Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   The Gallows  (2015)   Twenty years after a horrifying accident at a school play, a group of students decide to put on the same play, and people start dying. I don’t need a horror movie about a school play; they are usually horrific enough on their own.  
Forgotten Film: Marooned  (1969)  G  Before there was Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 (1995) there was Marooned. Three astronauts (Richard Crenna, Gene Hackman and James Franciscus) are stranded in a capsule orbiting the earth and are quickly running out of air. A rescue mission is hampered by a hurricane at the launch site. This film, while a little slow moving, has some intense acting, and the special effects aren’t bad for their time. I especially enjoyed the performance of Gene Hackman, who gives one of the best preformances of his long career.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Marooned Info      

Weird Credits: From the film Mad Max: Fury Road: Bike cosmetics

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Aloha  (2015)  PG-13  This film is written and directed by Cameron Crowe and stars Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, and Bradley Cooper. I don’t care what the story is; I was in when you said Cameron Crowe and Emma Stone.   Aloha Info    
Until Next Time!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Hot Pursuit

My View:  Hot Pursuit  (2015)  PG-13   A by-the-book cop (Reese Witherspoon) and a widow of a drug kingpin (Sofia Vergara) are on the run as they race through Texas trying to avoid mobsters and crooked cops.  Let me say that this film is guaranteed a spot on my Bottom Ten Films list for 2015. I kept thinking, why would Reese Witherspoon, hot off an Oscar nomination, make this crappy film?  The movie is full of bad jokes with a script full of loopholes. Vergara’s acting is horrible, and Witherspoon’s isn’t much better. It’s sad when even the outtakes (shown during the credits) are unfunny.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Hot Pursuit Facebook Page
My View:  Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)  PG-13  In Victorian England, a beautiful, headstrong, independent woman named, Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan), is courted by three suitors.  Carey Mulligan is exceptional as the self-sufficient woman who holds her own. There are some superb scenes between Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays the sheepherder who falls in love with Bathsheba. The film is beautifully shot, showing off the glorious English countryside. The problem with the film is the story, itself. It has this strong woman who falls for a guy because of his looks alone, which makes her seem very shallow.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Far From the Madding Crowd Website
My View:  The D Train (2015)  R  The head of the high school reunion party, Dan (Jack Black), is worried that no one will come. So he decides to travel to Los Angeles to track down the most popular guy, Oliver (James Marsden).  Dan knows if Oliver attends, everyone else will too.  Be careful what you wish for!  There is a huge twist in this film and, while I didn’t mind the twist, itself, I hated everything that happened after the twist. I rarely laughed at the jokes, and I thought the plot was downright stupid. Black and Marsden do work well together on screen, but the film wastes the talents of the supporting cast of Kathryn Hahn and Jeffrey Tambor. The ending of the film is just awful and insults the audience. There will be some critics who will love this film, but I am not one of them.  My Rating: Cable   The D Train Website
Indiefest:  5 Flights Up  (2015)  PG-13  Alex (Morgan Freeman) and his wife, Ruth (Diane Keaton) have been living in the same apartment for forty years. They decide to move to a more convenient neighborhood, but is it worth giving up the place where they have made so many good memories?  The film follows the couple for a few days as they try to sell their home and buy a new one. Keaton and Freeman have a nice rapport, but the film has few dramatic moments and feels very slow moving. I did like Carrie Preston and Cynthia Nixon as two real estate brokers. Both are very funny in their roles. This isn’t a bad film, but you just want it to be more with the cast it has.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   http://www.focusfeatures.com/5_flights_up       
Indiefest:  Noble  (2014)  PG-13  A woman, Christine Noble (Deirdre O'Kane),  overcomes her harsh childhood to help orphans in Vietnam.  Noble is a moving, heartfelt true story, and O’Kane shines as Christine as an adult. She is insanely likable in the role and works well with the children in the film. This is a film that celebrates a woman who refused to be told she couldn't succeed. Instead, she kept moving forward and spread her love to the children of Vietnam, making a real difference in their lives. You will come away from this film inspired and hopeful, a rare feat these days.   My Rating:  Full Price   Noble Website  
Indiefest:  The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013)  R  After traveling the world and experiencing the most unbelievable things, Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) finds himself stuck in a nursing home. On his 100th birthday, he climbs out his window and starts a new adventure.  This film is supposed to be a comedy, but the humor falls flat, and I have misgivings about a film that mixes violent death with comedic elements.  The film jumps back and forth between when Allan was a young man and present day, which never lets the film pick up steam.  The film is a poor man’s version of Forest Gump without the humor or the heart as Allan interacts with a number of famous people in flashbacks from the past. The film has an interesting premise but never delivers its potential.   My Rating: Cable   The 100-Year Old Man Website
Indiefest: Maggie (2015)  PG-13   A zombie outbreak has hit the U.S. hard, and society is hanging on by a thread. Humans bitten by a zombie do not turn right away, but take weeks, sometimes months before they become fully controlled by the virus. Maggie (Abigail Breslin) has become infected, and her father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has brought her home so she can be with her family before she turns. Breslin is dazzling as the headstrong girl who wishes she had treasured her family before all this happened. As good as Breslin is, it's Schwarzenegger who makes this movie so moving and heartfelt. In an incredibly restrained portrayal, Arnold gives possibly his best performance of his life. He is brilliant in the role of the father that holds out hope that his daughter will survive. I loved everything about this film, and especially it's touching finale.    My Rating: Full Price    Maggie Website
Forgotten Film:  Cactus Flower  (1969)  A dentist (Walter Matthau) pretends to be married to avoid a long term commitment. He falls for his girlfriend (Goldie Hawn) and proposes.  The only problem is that his girlfriend thinks he is still married. So he needs a wife to divorce…enter in his long-time nurse (Ingrid Bergman).  This film is so much better than the remake (Just Go With It) that starred Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Goldie Hawn, in an Oscar-winning role, is brilliant as the loveable, slightly goofy girlfriend. Matthau is outstanding as the playboy dentist, and Ingrid Bergman shows a real talent for comedy (I wish she had done more).  Cactus Flower is an excellent film that still holds up 45 years later.   My Rating: Full Price   Cactus Flower Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Hot Pursuit:  Dialect Coach: Pre-production

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Tomorrowland (2015)  PG   George Clooney and Britt Robertson in Sci-Fi film? Yes, please.   http://movies.disney.com/tomorrowland/
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Until Next Time!



Friday, May 1, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron


My ViewAvengers: Age Of Ultron   (2015) PG-13   Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) attempts to re-start a dormant peacekeeping program. Things go bad and, what should have helped mankind, threatens to destroy it. Now the Avengers must stop the evil Ultron from completing his evil plans. While I didn't like this film as much as I liked the first, it's still an excellent addition to the Marvel universe. Unlike the first Avengers film that Robert Downey Jr.'s Ironman dominated, this film does a better job highlighting each superhero, even giving quite a bit of background on Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). While it's primarily an action film, there are a number of places where you will be laughing out loud, mostly due to the quick and witty dialog. I found that the villain of the movie, Ultron (voiced by James Spader), was a bit bland, but the plot moves along at a good pace, and the action sequences are numerous and well thought-out. I thought that 3-D did add to the experience, so I can recommend that you see it that way. There is a bonus scene at the end of the first series of credits. Unlike the first Avengers film, there is not a bonus scene at the very end of credits.   My Rating: Full Price   Avengers: Age of Ultron Website
IndiefestThe Mafia Kills Only in Summer  (2014)  Arturo (Alex Bisconti) grows up in 1970s Sicily with an obsession for the Mafia. It seems that everyone whom Arturo meets by chance ends up dead or missing. The only thing that keeps Arturo from thinking about the Mafia is Flora (Ginevra Antona), a girl in his class he loves from afar. I loved this surprisingly funny and touching film. The first half of the film is what makes this movie so much fun to watch. Bisconti is hilarious as the kid who can't catch a break. Unfortunately, the film loses steam when Arturo is an adult. Writer/director Pif Diliberto plays Arturo as an adult, mugging at the camera every chance he gets. I did enjoy the scenes that he has with Cristiana Capotondi, who plays Flora when she is an adult. The film is an interesting mix of fiction with fact, as it uses actual news footage from the time giving us a good background into what was happening in the region. It's a fun film that touches the heart as well as the funny bone   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Mafia Kills Only in the Summer Website
IndiefestHyena  (2014) A brutal undercover cop, Michael (Peter Ferdinando) has been targeting London's most violent drug traffickers. Michael and his team are known to take a bribe or two and because of that, he and his team have been threatened with exposure. Now Michael may have to change it up and sell out his allies to stay alive. This is a dark and gritty crime drama that sucks you in right from the start. Peter Ferdinando is brilliant as the cop who tries just about everything to stay alive as his world collapses around him. The film has a unique look, with most of it bathed in a dull blue light. Director / writer Gerard Johnson takes us quickly into this intense, grimy world where you can't trust even your best friend. It's a film that isn't always easy to watch and doesn't quite have the finish that you want, but Ferdinando makes it a film to experience.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Hyena website
Forgotten FilmThe Friends of Eddie Coyle  (1973)  R  Eddie (Robert Mitchum) is a two-bit criminal who, in order to get out of long prison sentence, decides to snitch on his friends. This is one of the best performances that Robert Mitchum has ever given. I love how this film slowly drags you into Eddie's world, giving us time to know and sympathize with the main, timeworn character. Mitchum dominates every scene and, by the end of the film, we really feel for Eddie, as we know it isn't going to end well. There isn't a lot of action in this film, but wow, can Mitchum act!    My Rating: Full Price    The Friends of Eddie Coyle Info   

Weird CreditsFrom Avengers: Age of Ultron:  Personal Hair Designer and Stylist for Mr. Chris Hemsworth.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouI Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (2014)  Who doesn’t want to see a documentary about the man who is Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch?   I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, April 24, 2015

The Water Diviner


My ViewThe Water Diviner  (2015)  R   An Australian farmer, Conner (Russell Crowe) is sent by his wife to Turkey to find his dead sons’ bodies after WWI.  If you long for the epic, big screen films of the past, this is your movie. Sweeping across both the ranchland of Australia and the coast of Turkey, the film moves at a quick pace, especially during the action sequences. Crowe directed this film, and he does a fine job helming a very expansive movie.  I was entertained by Olga Kurylendko’s performance as the widow who owns the hotel where Conner stays. Kurylendko and Crowe work well on screen together, and she lights up their scenes. While not a great film, it’s a sound start for a first-time director.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    The Water Diviner Website  
My ViewThe Age of Adaline  (2015)  PG-13   A young woman (Blake Lively), born at the turn of the 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. She meets a man (Michiel Huisman) who is worth losing her immortality for. This is a charming romantic film that somehow makes an unbelievable storyline work. Lively is tremendous as the woman who never ages. Huisman has terrific chemistry with Lively, and he makes an interesting leading man. My big problem with this film is the amount of voice overs that are used to explain what’s going on.  It’s just not necessary and gets very annoying. The film is saved by the performance of Blake Lively, and she makes this film delightful to watch.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Age of Adaline Website
IndiefestClouds of Sils Maria   (2014)  R   A veteran actress (Juliette Binoche) decides, at the urging of her assistant (Kristen Stewart), to take a role in a revival of a play that started her career twenty years earlier. This film is a master class on how to act in a film.  Binoche is her best in this film, and Kristen Stewart is extraordinary in her role. Stewart holds her own with Binoche on the screen, and their chemistry works to reveal their characters issues. My only problem with the film is that it drags a few  times when the two are running lines from the play. I know a lot of people aren’t fans of Kristen Stewart, but between this performance and her work in Still Alice, I have become a fan.  My Rating: Full Price   Clouds of Sils Maria Website   
IndiefestLambert and Stamp  (2014)  R   Documentary about the partnership of filmmakers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert, who produced one of the greatest rock bands in history, The Who.  Lambert and Stamp is an excellent film with tons of behind-the-scenes footage. It’s fascinating how little I knew about the early days of the band.  The fact that they survived as long as they did is a miracle. There are some tremendous interviews and, of course, the music is outstanding.  The film is full of interesting facts about the band, and it never slows down.  Any fan of The Who or rock and roll history will love this film.  My Rating:  Full Price   Lambert and Stamp Website
Indiefest5 to 7    (2014)  R   An aspiring novelist, Brian (Anton Yelchin), has an affair with the beautiful wife (Berenice Mariohe) of a French diplomat. The couple can only meet between the hours of 5 and 7 each evening.  I absolutely adore this funny, romantic film. It’s not going to be for everyone since the film deals with cheating on a partner, but it surprised me how well it worked. Yelchin makes an appealing everyman, and Mariohe just dazzles on the screen. I also enjoyed the performances of Glenn Close and Frank Langella, who play Brian’s very opinionated parents. This is one of my favorite romantic films of the year.    My Rating:  Full Price   5 to 7 Website

Forgotten Film: Yanks  (1979) R   During WWII, Americans were stationed in army bases in Great Britain. Not every Brit is happy with the Yanks, as American men are hitting on lonely British women, some who have boyfriends away fighting in the war.  This is one of Richard Gere’s early films, and his charisma just pours out on the screen. Lisa Eichhorn is terrific as Gere’s love interest. I also enjoy William Devane, as an Army captain who falls in love with a married woman (Vanessa Redgrave). Yanks is an enjoyable film about an important time in the world’s history.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Yanks Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Water Diviner:  Webbing Master

Coming Soon to a Theatre NearFar from the Madding Crowd  (2015)  PG-13    Based on the Thomas Hardy novel set in Victorian England, a young woman (Carey Mulligan) has to choose between three very different suitors. I love Carey Mulligan, who never gives a lackluster performance.     Far from the Madding Crowd Info
Until Next Time!



Friday, April 17, 2015

Ex Machina

My View:  Ex Machina (2015)  R   A computer coder named, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), wins a chance to spend the week at the mountain home of Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the man who owns the company where Caleb is employed. It turns out, though, that Caleb is there to test Nathan's latest experiment, a life-like robot named, Ava (Alicia Vikander). Ex Machina is one of the best pictures I have seen this year and is an outstanding film with a highly creative script. Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson are perfect on the screen together, giving us a great "cat and mouse game" of a film. The story line is rich, and the characters are complex, which makes this film an extraordinary experience. This is a film that will be the standard-bearer of great Sci-Fi films for years to come.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again   Ex Machina Facebook page
Family Faire:  Monkey Kingdom  (2015)  G   A nature documentary about a family of monkeys that live in the ancient ruins of an area of Sri Lanka. This is a funny, sweet film the whole family will enjoy. Narrated by Tina Fey, the film centers around the life of a female adult monkey named, Maya. We follow Maya and her newborn son as they struggle to survive in the jungle of an ancient temple. The film is beautifully shot, and the storyline keeps you riveted as you root for Maya to succeed. The monkeys are fascinating to watch, and you will leave the theatre with a smile on your face. My Rating: Full Price   Monkey Kingdom Website
Indiefest: Queen and Country (2014)    Bill Rohan (Callum Turner) has had to leave his beloved home and family to join the army. During boot camp, he meets Percy (Caleb Landry Jones), and they strike up a friendship that lasts through their next assignment. Now they are dealing with lazy subordinates, crazed officers, and, all the while, looking for love from the local girls. This is a sequel to the brilliant and entertaining 1987 film Hope and Glory (see Forgotten Films below). Unfortunately, this film isn't very funny, and a lot of its characters are mean-spirited. The film only comes alive when Bill goes back home on-leave and interacts with his quirky family. While there are some excellent performances by the supporting cast, both Rohan and Jones disappoint in their portrayals. Jones overacts in almost every scene, and Rohan is dull and lifeless. Instead of making a film about life in the drab 1950s, director/writer John Boorman should have set his film in the 60s, where life was fast-moving and changing.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Queen and Country Website
Indiefest: The Riot Club (2104)  R  Alistair (Sam Claflin) and Miles (Max Irons) are new to Oxford University and make their goal to join the social group called, "The Riot Club. I am guessing that this film was meant to be a biting satire on the excesses of the privileged upper class. Instead, this film leaves a bad taste in your mouth as each member of the club becomes more and more outrageous and gruesome as the night goes on. The film never lets us understand why these characters feel the way they do, which makes the film seem hollow. Most of the characters are unlikeable, which is fine, but we end up not liking even the one character who had some redeemable traits. It's a film that, at the end, I felt that I had just wasted two hours of my time.   My Rating: Cable   The Riot Club Info 
Indiefest:  The Salt of the Earth (2015)  PG-13   Documentary about award-winning photographer, Sebastiano Salgado, who has traveled the world documenting it with his camera.  A moving documentary that, at times, is breathtaking as Salgado's pictures are displayed, most of which are in gorgeous Black and White. It is also a heartbreaking film because a great deal of his work dealt with war-torn areas of Africa. I will warn you that there are quite a few shots of dead and dying people, some due to starvation. Ultimately, it's an uplifting film because Salgado's uncanny ability to get into the heart of a picture, allowing us to see the humanity in his work. The film perfectly captures a remarkable man who has taken some remarkable and vibrant pictures.   My Rating: Full Price   The Salt of the Earth Website
My View: True Story (2015)  R  A newspaper reporter, Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), has just lost his job due to a scandal. One day he receives a phone call from prison. The call is from a recently captured prisoner, Christian Longo (James Franco), who has been accused of murdering his own family. Michael may regret answering his phone after he gets involved with investigating Christian's story.  At first, the film was compelling as Finkel discovers who Christian Longo is. But the film's use of close-ups, when the characters were interacting in Longo’s prison, was claustrophobic and dull. The film failed to keep me involved with the storyline, and by the end, I didn't care about either character and found both rather uninteresting.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  True Story Info
My View: Unfriended (2015)   Six friends get together via Skype when a seventh unknown person joins them. The unknown person begins to reveal that they know a lot about the group, including that the six friends bullied a fellow classmate into killing herself.  It's a great idea for a film; a movie that takes place only on a computer, with other characters interacting using Facebook, Skype, Instagram, and Twitter. Unfortunately, the movie is let down by a script that is un-imaginative and worse yet, for a horror movie, not scary. The first part of this film works, as the characters interact with each other on one of the character's computer screens. The film starts breaking down when the killing starts, and what started out as an interesting idea becomes tedious and predictable.   My Rating: Cable
Forgotten Film: Hope and Glory (1987) This is a warm, joyful film about a boy living in war-torn London during, “The Blitz.” We see the story through the eyes of Bill (Sebastian Rice-Edwards), who treats the rubble of bombed homes as his playground. His family is full of eccentric people who are trying to deal with a war and all its consequences. My favorite scene in this film is when Bill rounds a corner and finds his classmates happily dancing around the playground because a bomb has been dropped on his school the night before.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Hope and Glory Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ex Machina: Additional Greens: For Palmbrokers


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Misery Loves Comedy (2015) A documentary directed by Kevin Pollack that asks more than 50 comedians, “ Do you have to be miserable to be funny?”  Misery Loves Comedy Info  
Until Next Time!