Friday, March 27, 2015

It Follows


My View It Follows  (2015)  R  For nineteen-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), life should be all about school and boys. After having sex in what should have been an innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself having visions and the feeling that she is being followed.  This movie is a scary, inventive horror film that keeps building the suspense until the very end.  The film is very reminiscent of the classic 1978 John Carpenter film, Halloween, right down to a perfectly matched musical score.  I loved the performances of the very young cast including Maika Monroe. If you are a fan of horror or suspense films, you will want to see this one.   My Rating: Full Price   It Follows Website

IndiefestMerchants of Doubt  (2015)  PG-13  A documentary that explores the world of pundits-for-hire who present themselves to the media as experts on topics such as global warming and toxic chemicals. This is an interesting film about the how PR people try to change public opinion by misdirection of the facts.  The film looks at some of the great PR stunts of the last 50 years including that smoking isn't bad for you, global warming and use of toxic chemicals to make our furniture flame retardant. I enjoyed this film as it often takes a reverent look at the art of taking facts and shaping them to fit your argument, making the film a highly entertaining experience. My Rating; Bargain Matinee    Merchants of Doubt Website

IndiefestThe Wrecking Crew  (2014)  PG-13  A celebration of musicians you have never heard of but have loved their music.  The wrecking crew was a group of session musicians who backed up everyone from Frank Sinatra to The Beach Boys.  This is a documentary about a group of session musicians who recorded a number of hit songs from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. If you like a hit from the 60’s and 70’s and that album was recorded in L.A., more than likely the music on that album was from the artist on the front cover, and more than likely it was recorded by the Wrecking Crew.  (Not sure what you are saying here – “on the front cover” of what?)  The film is a little too long and focuses too much on the filmmaker’s father, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, but it’s filled with impressive stories and some unique characters.  After seeing this film, you will wonder, is it really the artists listed on the album or is it the Wrecking Crew?    My Take: Bargain Matinee   The Wrecking Crew Website

Indiefest: Deli Man (2014)  PG-13 The deli has been the center of Jewish culture in America for over 100 years. One man, a third-generation deli man, Ziggy Gruber, is keeping the traditions and the delicacies alive in his Houston, Texas deli. His story, along with the great delis in America, such as the 2nd Avenue Deli, Nate 'n Al’s, the Carnegie and the Stage, are told in this documentary. I enjoyed this film and its lovable subject, Ziggy Gruber. Ziggy has a passion for the food and tradition of the deli, determined to preserve as many recipes as he can as traditional Jewish delis are disappearing out at an outstanding rate. It’s a film for foodies and be sure to go see it on a full stomach, or you will be looking for a hot pastrami sandwich right after the film.   My Rating: Full Price   Deli Man Website

Forgotten FilmHousekeeping (1988) PG Two sisters are taken on a sudden trip by their mother to visit a relative.  The mother commits suicide, and the two sisters are passed between family members until they end up with their mother’s sister, Aunt Sylvie (Christine Lahti). Sylvie is a little strange, liking to take long walks at a moment’s notice and collecting tin cans. The sister’s lives are changed forever in the care of the Aunt Sylvie.  Lahti is stunning as the free spirit Sylvie. The film is about love and sometimes you can find it from uncongenial places.   My Rating: Full Price   Housekeeping Info  

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Cinderella:  Pumpkin Carriage Builder


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouAdult Beginners (2014)  A young businessman’s (Nick Kroll) company crashes after an unsuccessful launch.  He moves back to the suburbs to live with his sister (Rose Byrne) and her family.  Little does he know; he’s about to be their nanny.   Adult Beginners Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Wild Tales

IndiefestWild Tales (2014)  R   Six stories of people who have been or think they have been wronged and seek revenge.  If you liked the old TV show, Tales from the Darkside, this movie is for you.  The running theme throughout this film is revenge, sometimes it works out for the person getting the revenge, and sometimes it doesn’t. This is an imaginative film that continues to surprise you up until the very end. This is a strange and violent film that is one of the most creative and enjoyable films I have seen in the past year.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Wild Tales Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): The Transporter Refueled (2015)  A reboot of the popular Transporter series. I don’t recognize anyone in the cast, and not a good sign.  Let’s face it, the only reason the original series worked was the on-screen magnetism of Jason Statham.   The Transporter Refueled Info


Forgotten Film: White Nights (1985) PG  I could explain that plot (expatriate Russian dancer’s plane is forced to land in Russia, then forced to dance with the Bolshoi) but what is important about this film is that you get to see Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines, in their prime, dance!  Nothing else about this movie matters.  My rating: Cable

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Mr. Turner:  Special Effects Teeth

In Case You Missed It (A New Release Out on DVD and Blu-Ray): Song of the Sea (2104)  PG  Saoirse is a child who is the last of the Selkies, a legendary group that can transform from seals into people. Now, she is on a journey to free fairy creatures who are trapped in the modern world. This beautiful and moving film is one of the best-animated films I have seen in the past five years.  It’s destined to become a classic. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Song of the Sea Info

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)  The Avengers was one of the best films of 2012.  Can Marvel do it again?  Let’s hope so.  The trailer looks bonkers.  Avengers: Age of Ultron Facebook page
Until Next Time!



Friday, March 13, 2015

Cinderella

Familyfaire: Cinderella (2015)  PG  A live-action retelling of the classic tale. Ella (Lily James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother (Cate Blanchett) after Ella’s father suddenly dies (Ben Chaplin). Ella’s fortune begins to change when she meets a handsome stranger (Richard Madden) in the woods.  Fans of the 1950 animated film will not be disappointed in this updated version. Lily James makes a very capable Cinderella and has good chemistry with her Prince Charming, played by Richard Madden. The film is fun because of Helena Bonham Carter playing the wacky Fairy Godmother and Cate Blanchett, playing the wickedly evil Stepmother. Blanchett is the highlight of the film, and it’s very obvious that she had a blast playing the over-the-top Stepmother who delights in putting down Cinderella every chance she can. The film is beautifully shot, and the ballroom dance sequence is breathtaking, mostly because Cinderella’s gown seems to come to life on the dance floor. Kids of all ages will enjoy the film, as the film has humor aimed at both kids and adults. The film has kept the spirit of the original film and has added a few touches of its own to a tale we all love.   My Rating: Full Price   Cinderella Website 

Indiefest: Red Army (2014) PG  Documentary on the legendary Soviet Union’s Red Army hockey team, the team that lost the “Miracle on Ice” Olympic game.  This is a superb documentary on one of the greatest sports teams of all time. The film has larger than life personalities, intrigue (one of the men interviewed is a former KGB agent whose job was to make sure the players didn’t defect), and a unique inside look on how the team operated during the height of the Soviet Union propaganda machine. The main focus of the film is one of the best hockey players of all time, Slava Fetisov, a man of enormous ego and personality. The film is fascinating and riveting, giving you a glimpse into a world we never really understood. This is a film that will delight hockey fans and will keep non-fans interested until the end.   My Rating: Full Price  Red Army Website 

Indiefest: Ballet 422 (2015)  PG  A behind-the-scenes look at one of the youngest ever choreographers who has two months to get a new ballet put together before its premiere.  The film is shot in the “Observational Mode’ style of filmmaking, where there is no narration, and the camera is ignored by its subject matter. For people who love dance and ballet, this film is a real treat, as it gives a look at creating a ballet from the ground-up. The film follows choreographer Justin Peck, a 25-year-old member of the New York City Ballet, as he struggles to find the tone in his ballet. It’s a fascinating look at a profession that few have seen so up close and personal. My only quibble with this film is I wanted to see more of the finished product.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Ballet 422 Website 
Forgotten Film: Swimming with Sharks (1994)  R  A young man (Frank Whaley) wants to work in Hollywood. He gets his chance when he becomes an assistant to a big time movie producer (Kevin Spacey). It turns out; the producer is one of the worst bosses of all time, and it’s time for payback. This film is a dark comedy with witty lines and two outstanding performances. Spacey has a ball playing possibly the biggest jerk in the history of film. It’s a very funny film with a very imaginative ending.  My Rating: Full Price   Swimming with Sharks Info 

Weird Credits: From the credits of Cinderella (2015): Cinderella Foot Double 

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Furious 7 (2015)  PG-13 I wasn’t a fan of the Fast and the Furious series until Fast & Furious 6, where the filmmakers said, screw it, we will just make everyone in this film a superhero. All I want to know about this film; will there be another 28-mile runway?   Furious 7 Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

My View:  The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  (2015)  PG   The hotel that Sonny (Dev Patel) manages is now a success, so much so they have only one room available, just in time for Guy (Richard Gere) to move in.  I enjoyed the first film, and it was fun to see actors as Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, and Bill Nighy explore India and its wonders.  This film has very little of that wonderment or exploration.  The film has too many storylines and rushes at the end to tie them all up.  Richard Gere is not given much to do, and Dev Patel’s Sonny is extremely annoying throughout the film.  It’s not a bad film; it just doesn’t bring anything new to the story   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Website  
Indiefest:  Kidnapping Mr. Heineken  (2015)  R   A group of down on their luck men decide to kidnap one of the richest men (Anthony Hopkins) in the world, the heir to the Heineken beer fortune.  The film is based on a true story, and the first thirty minutes are fun and interesting.  There is a great chase scene through the streets of Amsterdam that is thrilling and imaginative.  Unfortunately, the film slows down to a crawl by the time Mr. Heineken is successfully kidnapped.  There is no tension built in the film, and the last portion limps to a very slow and inevitable conclusion.       My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Kidnapping Mr. Heineken Website
Indiefest:  Mr. Turner  (2014)  R The life of legendary artist J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall) considered one of the great painters of the 1800s.  It’s a hard life being a painter and Mr. Turner treats everyone as if they are beneath him.  Mike Leigh wrote and directed this film that takes place over the last twenty-five years of Turner's life. The film plays out in little vignettes, as we see slices of Turner's life. It makes for a rather disjointed film, as you try to figure just how much time has elapsed since the last scene, and Leigh uses his typical character actors to fill out the cast. This allows Spall to dominate the scenes, making his performance even more remarkable. Spall’s performance is outstanding, and it's sad that he didn't get the Oscar nod. Dorothy Atkinson is terrific as the put-upon housekeeper willing to do just about anything to keep her employer happy. Marion Bailey is lovely and a joy to watch as a widow who takes Mr. Turner in first as a border and later as a lover late in his life.  Mr. Turner is a film where the performances are better than the script.  It’s a beautiful film to watch, but there just isn’t enough substance to the script to make this film interesting.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    Mr. Turner Facebook Page
Indiefest:  Human Capital  (2013)    The lives of two families are changed forever when a cyclist is killed on a road by a person driving a Jeep late at night.   This is a stunning film that will keep you guessing until the very end.  The story is interwoven between two families on the opposite sides of the economic and social worlds of Italy.  One family is desperate to become rich; the other family is desperate to keep their lifestyle and status, and both are threatened by the death of the cyclist.  It’s an extremely well-paced and well-written film that keeps the story moving from the first frame to the last.  This is one of those films you will be talking about for a long time.  My Rating:  Full Price  Human Capital Website
Forgotten Film:  The Moderns  (1988) R   A starving artist (Keith Carradine) in 1920’s Paris, is shocked to see the woman he was married to (Linda Fiorentino) is now involved with a ruthless millionaire (John Lone).  The attraction between the artist and his former wife is still there and will complicate their lives forever.  While not a great film, it is an interesting look at a time when the world’s greatest writers and artists all seemed to live in the same city.  Linda Fiorentino gives an outstanding performance as the unlucky in love woman.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Moderns Info

Weird Credits:  From The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:  Crowd Runner

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Salt of the Earth  (2014)  PG-13  Photographer Sebastiao Salgado has taken some of the greatest pictures ever, traveling around the world while witnessing some of the major events of the planet.  Now in this documentary, he goes to discover and document pristine territories of wild fauna and flora.   The Salt of the Earth Website
Until Next Time!




Friday, February 27, 2015

Focus

My View: Focus (2015)  R   Nicky (Will Smith) is a long time con-man who agrees to show Jess (Margot Robbie) the tips of his trade. They get involved, and Nicky breaks it off when Jess gets too entrenched in Nicky’s life. Three years later, Nicky is doing one last con, a con that could set him up for life. The only problem: Jess shows up and throws his plan out the window. Con movies are one of the hardest genres to make; you have to have great chemistry between the leads. Con movies need to have several twists and turns the audience doesn't see coming and an ending that is surprising and creative. A movie like the 1973 classic, The Sting, would be a good example. Focus isn't one those movies as it fails in all aspects. There isn't any chemistry between Smith and Robbie, the plot twists are predictable and easy, and the ending is just plain stupid. It's sad when a cast seems to be just going through the motions except for TV veteran Gerald McRaney, who gives a great performance as a henchman. If you see this film, it will be like someone picked your pocket, but believe me, you will notice.  My Rating: Cable   Focus Website
Indiefest: Leviathan (2014)  R  In a small Russian coastal town, Kolya’s (Aleksey Serebryakov) house is about to be taken away from him by corrupt government officials. Koyla asks an old army buddy, who is now a high-power Moscow attorney, to help him combat the local government. Reminiscent of a mob film by Martin Scorsese, this film is worthy of its Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Picture. The film is filled dread and gloom as Kolya desperately tries to keep his way of life but is beaten down every step he takes by a bureaucracy that is corrupt and evil. The film is marked by three performances of the leads, especially Elena Lyadova, who plays the wife of Kolya, as she tries to stand by her husband and ultimately, his bad decisions, and, ultimately, bad decision after bad decision, herself. You eventually get the idea that the characters in this film are like the wrecked boats along the coast. They are doomed to waste away into nothingness.   My Rating: Full Price   Leviathan Website
Indiefest: What We Do in the Shadows (2015)   It’s hard being a vampire in the modern world. You have to pay rent, do household chores, try to keep up with the latest trends and still keep your vampire coolness. Will this group of vampires get along long enough to survive another 8,000 years? Overall, this film drags a bit and probably should have been a little shorter, but it’s still a fun film to watch, and several times it's just out and out hilarious. The household of vampires has let a documentary crew come in and shoot their lives, which leads up to a big vampire ball. Everything that can go wrong does, including mistakenly taking a human friend to the Vampire Ball (not a good move for the human). The film, at times, seems a little like small skits put together, but some of those scenes work as great comedy.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   What We Do in the Shadows Website
Forgotten Film: Julia (1977)    At the request of an old friend, playwright Lilian Hellman (Jane Fonda), agrees to smuggle money through Nazi Germany to Russia. Complicating things is that Lillian is a Jew. This film stands out due to the stunning performances of Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave as Julia, and Jason Robards as writer Dashiell Hammett. This is one of the better films of the 1970s due to its outstanding cinematography and its depiction of the two leads:  both strong women who are willing to risk anything for a noble cause.  My Rating: Full Price   Julia Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Focus: Assistant Football Coach
In Case You Missed It (A New Release Out on DVD and Blu-Ray): Big Hero 6 (2014)  PG  The Academy Award winning film about 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 superhero 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.   Full Price    Big Hero 6 website  

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (2014)    A young Japanese woman discovers an old copy of the 1996 film Fargo on VHS. She is convinced that it is a treasure map to the location of the big bag of money that Steve Buscemi’s character buried out in the snow in the film.   Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter Website
Until Next Time!





Friday, February 20, 2015

The Duff


My View: 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. Arnell is very believable as the jock with a sense of humor who helps Bianca find the confidence to ask her crush out on a date. The first kiss between Bianca and Wesley (come on we all knew that would happen, so it isn't a spoiler) is what makes this movie work, as the scene goes in a different direction than the ordinary rom-com. Teens looking for a "date" movie could go worse (50 Shades anyone?). My Rating: Bargain Matinee  (*Please note that I work for CBS, this is a CBS Films release)  The Duff Website

My View: McFarland USA (2015)  PG  Jim White (Kevin Costner) has lost every job he has had. Now, he is the cross-country coach of a small town in California, where most of his students are migrant farm workers.  What I really enjoyed about this film is the coach isn't some great savior but comes into a community and a culture he knows nothing about and embraces both, willing to become a part of both, instead of trying to change either. The film is strengthened by the chemistry of Costner and Maria Bello, who plays his wife. They work as a team to make their time in the community a success. Also working in favor of this film is this is a true story. The movie is a story of not only overcoming obstacles, but in believing that you can do anything you set your mind to.  My Rating: Full Price  McFarland USA website  

Forgotten Film: A Perfect World (1993)  PG-13  Butch (Kevin Costner) and Terry (Keith Szarabajka) escape from a prison and then kidnap a young boy (T.J. Lowther) as they escape across the Texas landscape, pursued by a Texas Ranger (Clint Eastwood) and a criminologist (Laura Dern).  On their travel, Butch and the boy discover that they share a very troubled and violent past. Outstanding performances by Costner and Eastwood and the film’s ability to explore the complexities of the human condition, make this film an intense and enjoyable film experience.  My Rating: Full Price  A Perfect World Info

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)   We really didn’t want chapters one or two, so why do need Chapter 3?   Insidious Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blue Ray): John Wick (2015)  R   I enjoyed this film for its nonstop action, and Keanu Reeves doesn’t disappoint as a hit man who comes out of retirement to get revenge for the killing of his dog (given to him by his dying wife). My Rating: Bargain Matinee  John Wick Website  

Weird Credits: From the credits of McFarland USA:  Assistant Cross Country Coordinator  

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: '71 (2014) R  In 1971, a young British soldier (Jack O’Connell) is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot in the deadly streets of Belfast. This film has been wowing film festival audiences worldwide.   '71 Website


Mike’s Fearless Oscar Picks: Click here to see Mike’s picks for this year’s Academy Awards.
Until Next Time!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service

My ViewKingsman:  The Secret Service  (2015)  R  A secret spy agency recruits a young man to join the organization just as a global threat emerges. This film was directed by Mathew Vaughn, who directed the 2010 film Kick-Ass.  If you liked/loved Kick-Ass, you will enjoy this film. If you didn't, then don't see this one, as it is ultra-violent with a sense of humor. I enjoyed Colin Firth as the super-cool secret agent, and Taron Egerton is up to the task as the young apprentice, but there is a major scene in this film that I have a real problem with and, in my opinion, it brings down the whole film. Without giving anything away, the scene is incredibly violent, with people dying in every way imaginable. I don't have any problems with that, but I do have a problem with Colin Firth's character participating and doing most of the killing in the scene. I did enjoy Samuel L. Jackson as the Steve Jobs-like villain with a lisp.  And, the ending of the film is highly enjoyable, but the scene in the middle, which is a game changer, does not fit and makes me not like this film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Kingsman: The Secret Service Website
Indiefest: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) In a town that is full of people doing bad things, no one notices that there is a new woman (Sheila Vand), a woman who just happens to be a vampire. I loved this film, and it has one of the best soundtracks of any film of the  past five years. It's very stylish, shot in black and white, with the main character, the mysterious woman, almost uttering no lines throughout the film. It's a mixture of a  modern vampire film with bits of an Italian Spaghetti Western thrown in. Vand is perfect in the role of the woman who only comes out at night and wears a long, black cape. If you are a fan of horror films  I highly recommend this one.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Website
Forgotten FilmThe Day I Saw Your Heart  (2011)  Melanie Laurent plays Justine, an x-ray technician who refuses to keep a boyfriend.  Every time she starts going out with someone, her father (Michel Blanc) secretly befriends the boyfriend.   She is bored with her job and would rather create art from her x-rays than do her actual job.  Now it’s going to take a major event to propel Justine out of her funk.  Laurent is brilliant as Justine and just shines on screen.  I loved the message of this film, and it’s worth checking out this French gem.   My Rating: Full Price  The Day I Saw Your Heart Info
The 50 (A Movie from My Best / Worst Films of All Time)
#1 Worst FilmPlan 9 from Outer Space (1959)  Directed by the legendary director Ed Wood, who directed some of the worst films of all time, this one is the ultimate in bad filmmaking. The acting is horrible, the special effects are incredibly bad, and the storyline makes no sense. If you tried to make a crappy film, you couldn't do it as pathetically as Wood does in this one. Be sure to look for the flying saucer, which is two paper plates glued together, spray painted and suspended by a string. The legendary actor Bela Lugosi, known for playing Dracula, makes an appearance.  He died before principle shooting, but there were test shots of him done, so producers just put those in the film.  I mean, why wouldn't you have Dracula in a film about space aliens invading the earth and creating zombies?   Plan 9 from Outer Space Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Kingsman: The Secret Service:  fight arranger


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Cinderella (2015)  While it sounds like a bad idea to remake a classic as a live action film, the trailer looks incredible and it’s directed by Kenneth Branagh, so I have hope that this will be fantastic.   Cinderella Website
Until Next Time!