Friday, January 23, 2015

The Boy Next Door

My View:    The Boy Next Door (2015)  R  High school teacher Claire (Jennifer Lopez) has just come off a messy divorce. She has a one-night stand with a young neighbor (Ryan Guzman) who then develops an obsession with her. I was looking for the door about five minutes into this film. The idea that Jennifer Lopez's character, who looks like Jennifer Lopez and therefore, could get any man out there, would lust for and have a one-night stand with a nineteen-year-old is laughable, but then again, so is the dialogue. The plot holes in this film are about as wide as the empty theatres.  My Rating: Cable   The Boy Next Door Website
Indiefest:   Cake (2014)  R   Claire (Jennifer Aniston) suffers from constant pain. Not only does Claire have physical scars, she also has mental ones. She has driven away everyone, including her chronic pain support group. Now she only has her housekeeper (Adriana Barraza). Claire’s world is shaken when a fellow group member commits suicide. This film was written, it seems, to give Aniston every advantage of getting an Oscar nomination. Make her look slightly ugly but still look like Jennifer Aniston. Check. Make her character slightly unlikable but not so much that she isn't redeemable. Check. Have a bunch of well-respected actors show up for bit parts so we can put their names on the poster. Check. Have something in her past that we don't talk about for two-thirds of the film and then finally reveal what we already knew happened. Check. The one thing the producers missed to get Aniston her Oscar?  Write a good script.  My Rating: Cable  Cake Website
Familyfaire:   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 is one of the best-animated movies I have seen over the past five years, and it will become a classic, I believe. The film is beautiful and moving. The classically done animation is a joy to watch, and the storyline is original. Great blending of classic Celtic folk tales and a modern setting make this film one of the most inventive and imaginative films I have seen.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Song of the Sea Website
Indiefest:   The Humbling (2014)  R   Simon Axler (Al Pacino) is an actor whose world is turned upside down when he starts an affair with Pegeen (Greta Gerwig). This is Al Pacino playing Al Pacino with an insecurity complex. For most actors, the amount of scenery chewing scenes would be overwhelming and tedious, but Pacino pulls it off. There is great chemistry between Pacino and Gerwig. Their scenes together are the best moments in the film. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and watching a esteemed actor in an impressive part was the reason.  My Rating: Full Price   The Humbling Website
Forgotten Films:   Martin (1977)  R   An awkward, teenage boy (John Amplas) has a secret; he thinks he is an 84-year-old blood craving vampire. He has just moved into a new town to live with his cousin and doesn’t know anyone. Trying to make new friends isn’t easy, especially when you tend to kill the people you meet and drain their blood. With an unusual and interesting take on the vampire movie, this film, directed by horror legend George a. Romero, never lets you know if Martin really is a vampire or just nuts. The directors of current horror films could learn a lot from watching this film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Martin Info

Weird Credits:   From the credits of The Boy Next Door: cat trainer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Jupiter Ascending (2015)  PG-13  Not sure exactly what this film is about other than Channing Tatum has a dye job but it got him, Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne, so I will watch it.   Jupiter Ascending Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, January 16, 2015

American Sniper

My View: American Sniper (2015)  Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is the deadliest sniper in the U.S. armed services. This Navy SEAL saves lives of his fellow warriors on the battlefields. Back home, Chris struggles to return to a normal life with his wife (Sienna Miller) and kids. Is Chris’s dedication to his duty going to be his downfall? Bradley Cooper deserves his Oscar nomination for this film as he is perfect in the role of the tough but troubled sniper. I also loved Sienna Miller in the role of the wife he has left behind. They work wonderfully together, and some of the best scenes of the film are their interactions. I didn’t like the way Clint Eastwood directed the film. The film feels very stodgy, and the camera work is extremely unimaginative. The film opens with a great scene but never keeps that momentum. I also didn’t like the way the plot develops during the second half of the film, which feels almost like we are watching some sort of superhero movie. I would have liked the film to spend more time on Chris Kyle’s life after the military and less on trying to pull on the heartstrings.My Rating: Bargain Matinee   American Sniper Website
My View: The Wedding Ringer (2015)    Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) provides a service: he will be the best man in your wedding. It’s a service for guys who are a little socially challenged and don’t have anyone close enough to stand by them. Doug (Josh Gad) has gotten himself into a pickle:  he has fabricated not only his best man but all nine of his groomsmen. Now, Jimmy must come to the rescue.  If you are a fan of Kevin Hart, you will like this movie. If you aren’t, then stay away because he and Josh Gad are in every scene. Luckily they work well together, and the film is helped by their on-screen chemistry. The film is funny at times but never can quite sustain the comedy. The comedic talents of Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting are wasted as she is mostly eye candy as the bride.  My Rating: Cable   The Wedding Ringer Facebook page
Family Faire: Paddington (2014) PG  After Paddington The Bear loses his uncle to an accident in the Peruvian jungle, Paddington makes his way to London where he befriends the Brown family in a train station. They decide to take the bear into their home, and their lives will never be the same.  Whoever made the commercials/trailers for this film should not be working because they don’t do this film justice. This is one of the best family films that I have seen in years. The animation of Paddington the Bear is breathtaking, and this film has humor and heart. It doesn’t hurt that the film has Hugh Bonneville playing the gruff dad and Sally Hawkins playing the loveable mom, both exceptional actors. This film is a blast to watch, and both adults and children will fall in love with Paddington. Oh, and Nichole Kidman makes a pretty good bad guy. My Rating: Full Price   Paddington Website
My View: Spare Parts (2015) PG-13   Four Hispanic students from a high school decide to compete in a robotics competition against schools such as M.I.T. The team only has $800 and no experience, but the students are helped by their high school teacher (George Lopez). I never thought that I would write this about George Lopez, but he gives a very moving and understated performance in this film. He has great chemistry with the kids, which makes this film work. It’s a surprisingly touching film about overcoming adversity and believing in yourself. I also like Marisa Tomei in the role of the fellow teacher who gives Lopez’s character some guidance on how to connect with the kids. This is a great movie for families, and I highly recommend this inspiring film. My Rating: Full Price Spare Parts Facebook page
Forgotten Film: Gloria (1980) PG  Jack Dawn (Buck Henry) is an accountant for the mob and is about to give up evidence to the FBI. Fearing for his son’s (John Adames) safety, Jack sends his son to a neighbor, Gloria (Gena Rowlands), for safekeeping. Unfortunately for Gloria, Jack also sends over the evidence that could put many in the mob in prison. Now Gloria and the kid are on the run. This film has a great performance from Gena Rowlands, who plays a former mob girlfriend with her typical firecracker style. The film was written and directed by Rowlands’ real-life husband, John Cassavetes and gets better every time I see it.My Rating: Full Price  Gloria Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Paddington: special effects teeth

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) Colin Firth as a secret service agent. You had me at Colin Firth.   Kingsman: The Secret Service Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Taken 3

My View: Taken 3 (2015)  PG-13  My View: Taken 3 (2015) Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is accused of a crime he did not commit. As a determined lawman (Forest Whitaker) attempts to capture Bryan, he must use his special skills to track down and get revenge on the men who have caused him so much pain. Can we just stop making these films? The plot is plain stupid, the dialogue is even worse, and don’t get me started on the ending that just doesn’t make sense. For fans of the first film, this will be a big disappointment. The action sequences are too few and far between, and the film takes forever to get going. There is one plus - Maggie Grace, as the daughter, does not scream her head off like in the second film. As Neeson says in the first film, “Quickly now, quickly. There is no time.” Yeah, hopefully for you there isn’t any time to go see this one. My Rating: Cable   My Rating: Cable   Taken 3 Website

Indiefest: Inherent Vice (2014)  R   Larry (Doc) Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a private investigator in Los Angles in the 1970’s. He is asked to investigate the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend. He will soon regret taking the job, though, as it’s a tangled web of lies and deceptions that he encounters.  I felt that there were some great performances in the film, especially Phoenix and Josh Brolin, who plays a police detective who terrorizes Doc, but I also think the movie was let down by the script. You need some sort of lineup card to figure out all the characters who are quickly introduced in the first part of the film. There are some funny parts, but that doesn’t overcome the plot that just doesn’t make sense most of the time. I will say this, there is as much reefer smoking in this film as in any Cheech and Chong movie.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Inherent Vice Website

Indiefest: Predestination (2014)  R   A time-traveling law enforcement officer (Ethan Hawke) goes after the one bad guy who has eluded him all these years - the infamous terrorist known as the “Fizzle Bomber.” During his travels, the officer encounters a man (Sarah Snook) who has a significant tale to tell. I loved this film. It’s quirky and contains so many twists and turns that you will not see the ending coming. Hawke is perfect in the role, and Sarah Snook is a real revelation in a dual role, bringing a complex and complicated role to it full potential. If you like mysteries combined with a little Sci-Fi, then this film is for you.  My Rating : Full Price  Predestination Facebook page

Indiefest: The World Made Straight (2014)   In 1970’s Western North Carolina, Travis (Jeremy Irvine) is just trying to survive in a world of drug dealers and an abusive father. Travis meets Leonard (Noah Wyle), a mild-mannered drug dealer who has an interest in the Civil War. Leonard decides to take Travis under his wing to try to show the boy how to be a man. This reminded me of the 2010 film Winter’s Bone. Both are films about mountain people who do desperate things to survive. Irving is perfect as the bad boy you want to root for. Wyle does a satisfying job as the knowledgeable Leonard. The reason to watch this film is Steve Earle, who plays the bad guy in the film. Earle as a kind of mountain man mafia king, is brilliant, bringing a menacing tone to  each of his scenes.  Earle (a singer /songwriter in real life) sings a haunting ballad that sticks with you long after the movie is over.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The World Made Straight Website
Forgotten Film: Bringing Out the Dead (1999) R   Nicolas Cage plays Frank, a burned-out NYC paramedic, who is haunted by the patients he failed to save. Martin Scorsese directed this film that takes place over three nights. His savior just might be Mary (Patricia Arquette) who is an angry ex-junkie who meets Frank when he attempts to save her father’s life. This is one of the better Nicolas Cage performances giving insight to a man who is a very tortured soul.  My Rating: Full Price    Bringing Out the Dead Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Taken 3: voice actor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Spare Parts (2015) Based on a true story, the film is about four Hispanic high-school students who go up against MIT in a robot building championship. Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis, and George Lopez play the teachers who try to inspire the students.  Spare Parts info
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Bottom Ten Films of 2014

The Bottom Ten (okay, twelve) Films of 2014

1). Left Behind (2014)   How bad is this film? It makes the Kirk Cameron's film (of the same name) from 2000 seem like a masterpiece. This film should have been at least fun to watch because Nicolas Cage can chew scenery with the best of them. Sadly, he looks as if he was severely depressed and possibly on medication while making the film, and he seemed to make no effort to show any emotion. The film is summed up by a Photo-Shopped picture of a family that is so bad it looks as if it was done by a four-year-old with a dial-up modem and a fax machine.
2). Tusk (2014) It was painful and gross to watch this film, as a podcaster (Justin Long) is (spoiler alert) turned slowly into a walrus by a mysterious seafarer (Michael Parks). It's sad how far down writer / director Kevin Smith has come from his glory days of Clerks (1994) and Chasing Amy (1997).
3). Dumb and Dumber To (2014) What made this such a disappointment to watch is how this film totally lost the fun and sweetness of the first film. This film isn't funny and is mean spirited.  Lloyd and Harry, who used to be lovable, now just play horrible practical jokes on each other.
4). Ouija (2014) I think a movie based on "Chutes and Ladders" would have been scarier than this film. The plot never makes sense and is completely confusing. It's if the filmmakers wrote this script on the board itself.
5). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) When Megan Fox is on the screen more than the Turtles, you know you have problems. The filmmakers were convinced that they had to explain everything along the way, going overboard when the opening credits told the story that they then took the next fifteen minutes to explore again.
6).  And So it Goes (2014) It's hard to make a romantic comedy where the male lead (Michael Douglas) plays a character we actually hate. Yes, I know he is supposed to be changed by the love a good woman (Diane Keaton), but by the time it happens, we just don't care anymore. In fact, I want to yell at Keaton's character to run away as fast as she can. Unfortunately, I didn't heed my own advice.
7). Tammy (2014) At one point I started to feel sorry for Melissa McCarthy, handicapped by a bad script and poor jokes, until I remembered that she and her husband were responsible for this dreck of a film. It's a sad thing when the outtakes shown during the credits are the only funny parts.
8). Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) It you love movies with loads of bad dialog and action sequences that make no sense, then this is the movie for you. The script feels as if Michael Bay just followed his son around while he played with some toys and took notes. The film is one long product placement movie that would be a great drinking game...the only way you will enjoy it.
9). Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (2014) This sort of sequel to the Wizard of Oz will bore the kids by the first song (Good news - you will never buy the soundtrack.), and parents will want to leave by the end of the opening credits. Poor storytelling and even worse songwriting make this film so painful to watch.
10A). Transcendence (2014) I never cared if the researcher (played by Johnny Depp) ever got out of the computer he inhabits after he dies (don't ask how that happens). This is one of those films that I wanted to be over five minutes after it started.
10B). The Bag Man (2014) You would think a film noir movie that takes place in the Louisiana swamp and stars John Cusack and Robert De Niro would at least be watchable, but you would be wrong. Horrible dialog and plot that just never gets moving makes this film one of the worst of the year.

10C). Blended (2014) It wouldn't be a worst films of the year list without Mr. Adam Sandler. Sandler likes to make films where he can take his family on vacation. A couple of years ago, it was Hawaii with the horrible Just Go With It (2011). This year, it’s a film about two single-parent families who mistakenly go on an African vacation. The film felt like it was three hours long, had almost no funny material and couldn’t decide if it was a kid’s movie or a film for frat boys. So it did both, poorly.

Dishonorable Mention: Dracula Untold, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, The Judge, Annabelle, The Hero of Color City, The Man on Her Mind, The Identical, Jersey Boys, Need for Speed, 3 Days to Kill, The Nut Job, The Legend of Hercules, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Into the Woods

My View: Into The Woods (2014) PG  A childless couple (Emily Blunt, James Corden) makes a deal with The Witch (Meryl Streep) to get the child they have always wanted. That deal will come back to haunt them. Corden and Blunt are the standouts in this very large cast. Blunt just shines on the screen and has a lovely singing voice. Corden has a knack for comedy and belts out his songs with a strong, clear voice. Be warned - this film can be dark and is not your normal Disney fairy tale. There are deaths, double crosses, infidelity, and not every story ends happily ever-after. While I liked this film, I didn’t love it. It tends to start and stop a bit, and the last third of the film bogs down. Also, Johnny Depp plays the Big Bad Wolf, and his scenes with Little Red Riding Hood are so creepy I almost called the police to report child endangerment.  Meryl Streep gives an brilliant performance, as does Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, but the film lacks energy at important parts and, therefore, is a mild disappointment. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Into The Woods Website
My View: The Interview (2014)  R   Dave Skylark (James Franco) is the star of a popular celebrity tabloid TV show called, "Skylark Tonight." It's the type of show that focuses on such topics as, “Does Miley show too much,” or that Rob Lowe is bald. Skylark’s producer, Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), wants to do more serious news items but is always being shot down by Skylark. When the two discover that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is a big fan of the show, they attempt to land an interview with him, one of the most isolated leaders in the world. They land the interview and prepare to travel to Pyongyang when the CIA comes knocking on their door with a request - take out the Supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. The film starts on a high note with a North Korean girl singing a song that promises the downfall of the U.S. Unfortunately, the film never is as funny as that moment and gives you the feeling that you are seeing a poor man's “Anchorman.” This film is about what you would expect from a film co-written/co-directed by Seth Rogen with lots of jokes about sex acts and bodily functions. While I wasn't surprised by the crassness, I was shocked by the amount of violence. There are some laughs, but the film never sustains any topic very long, which makes it extremely predictable. It’s that un-predictability made Rogen and Franco’s last film, This is the End (2013), so much fun. I think the hackers should have just let the film be released It would have died very quickly, much to the happiness of the Supreme Leader. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  "The Interview" Website  

My View: Selma (2014) PG-13   Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) changed a nation with his civil rights marches at Selma, Alabama. After the bombing of a church in Birmingham which killed four young girls, King decided that the right to vote was his next mission, and Selma was the place to start. Let me start out by saying Oyelowo’s performance is one of the best of the year. He has King’s cadence down pat, and your eyes (as they should) are always drawn to him. The film is moving and shows how hard it was to tackle the issues of the day, not only with the government, but within King’s ranks. Stephan James stands out in this big cast as a very young John Lewis. My favorite scene in this film is where King is driving John Lewis in a car, and Lewis conveys to King, in a very moving speech, just how important King is. I highly recommend this film. My Rating: Full Price  Selma Website

Indiefest: Big Eyes (2014) PG-13   Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) has a secret. Her husband (Christoph Waltz) isn’t the painter the world thinks he is. Margaret is the creator of the “big eyes” portraits that the world has fallen in love with. Both Adams and Waltz give superlative performances, with Waltz bringing another of his trademark disturbed characters to the screen. What I didn’t like about this film is it never could quite decide what type of film it wanted to be. Tim Burton directs, and I don’t know if he meant the film to be a satire, a drama or a comedy. It’s all three but at no time stays in one genre for long. It’s a provocative film that never finds its footing. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Big Eyes Website
My View: Unbroken (2014) PG-13   Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was an Olympic runner who had a bright future ahead of him. After a near-fatal plane crash in World War II, Zamperini now must survive a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Before anyone had seen this film, critics were saying this could become an Oscar contender. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s not. While it does have some excellent performances, especially Jack O’Connell as Zamperini, the film at no time hits the emotional points that it needs to. I wanted the film to peel away the layers of Zamperini’s psyche, but we never get that. Angelina Jolie directed the movie, and while it’s a first-rate film, there never is that spectacular shot nor is there ever the big, moving scene that I needed from this type of film. Instead of marveling about the man, you just walk away thinking “he went through some bad times.”   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Unbroken Website  

Indiefest: The Imitation Game (2014) PG-13   English mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is given the task of breaking the Enigma code used by the Nazi’s during World War II. Cumberbatch gives another one of his compelling and complex performances in this film. It’s an absorbing film about a man who saved lives without the recognition. I would have liked the role that Keira Knightley plays – a woman who works on the project - to have been more quirky. I just didn’t believe that she would still be alone at age 25. I mean, it’s Keira “she’s striking” Knightley, for God’s sake. It’s a thought-provoking film that makes what could have been a rather dull subject into a film that keeps moving at an enticing pace. My Rating: Full Price  The Imitation Game Website

Forgotten Film: We’re No Angels (1955) Three convicts (Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov) escape from Devil Island and find themselves in a tiny French coastal town. The three decide to con a small family until they realize that the family's financial situation is in dire straits. They decide to use their vast criminal skills to help the family out and make their Christmas a little better. Who doesn’t want a little Bogart magic in their holiday film? The three principals have a blast, and it’s just so much fun watching them perform. Do not confuse this with that 1989 stinker of a film that starred Robert De Niro and Sean Penn. My Rating: Full Price  We're No Angels Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Into the Woods: Crashing Tree Sounds

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Leviathan (2014) This Russian film about a man who tries to fight the system in a small coastal village is getting great reviews by critics. It’s nominated for a Golden Globe and is on the short list for the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film.  
Until Next Time!

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

My View:  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) PG-13  When we last left Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), things were in dire straits.  Smaug the dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) had been awakened and released into the world.  Gandalf had been imprisoned, and the dwarves had been separated. Now, Bilbo and the gang  will have to fight off Smaug and a number of combatants from acquiring a massive fortune and keep Middle-Earth free.  This isn't a bad film - it's quite enjoyable, but it doesn't match the scope or punch of the Lord of the Rings films. The film never gives you the big emotional moment you want from a finale, and there are too many "video game" like action sequences. I did enjoy the 3-D effects, and the battle sequences are spectacular (Better, more descriptive word?).  There is a great scene involving some larger than life animals that make the film fun to watch. I just wanted more from the film.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Website
Indiefest:  Foxcatcher (2014) R Mark (Channing Tatum) and Doug Schultz (Mark Ruffalo)  are both Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestlers.  Mark is struggling to make a living, and when the wealthy heir to the Du Pont fortune, John du Pont (Steve Carell), calls him out of the blue to train on his estate, it seems like a godsend.  What should have been a great experience, quickly turns bad and could have disastrous results.  One of the best films of the year! Unbelievable performances by the three main cast members.  Many are talking about Carell's performance as the weirdly creepy du Pont, and it's a great performance, but I loved Channing Tatum as the slow-witted, easily controlled Mark. I think it's the best Tatum has ever done and shows he has great range. Not to be outdone, Ruffalo is amazing as the older, much savvier Doug.  The film slowly builds tension to the final outcome.  A fascinating look at how power and money can overwhelm common sense and can corrupt even the best intentions.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again  Foxcatcher Website 
My View:  Night at the Museum: The Secret of the Tomb (2014) PG The Tablet of Ahkmenrah, which brings all the museum exhibits to life at night, is slowly losing its power.  Larry (Ben Stiller) with the help of his son Nicky (Skyler Gisondo), take Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Jedidiah the cowboy (Owen Wilson), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Octavius (Steve Coogan), Sacagawea (Mizuo Peck) and Dexter the Capuchin monkey to London to try and restore its powers. This film will probably be the last of the series, and they should have stopped after the second one.  This film feels very tired, the actors seem to be just going through the motions and the jokes are all repeats from the other two films. There is a scene near the end of the film with the late Robin Williams that will make some audience members shed a tear or two.  But it's not worth sitting through to get to that moment.   My Rating: Cable  Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Website
Forgotten Film:  Christmas in Connecticut (1945) Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is the most famous food writer in the country, writing about her idyllic life on her farm as she creates some of the most amazing meals while taking care of her husband and child. The problem is Elizabeth is single and lives in a small New York apartment, where the most she does in preparing a meal is dial for takeout. Her publisher has decided to give a returning war hero a Christmas he will never forget, one at Elizabeth Lane’s country farm. Stanwyck’s character was loosely based on a real magazine writer, Gladys Taber, who lived on a farm in Connecticut. This is a warm and funny movie with Stanwyck at her best.  The film has a great supporting cast, and it’s one of the better Christmas films out there.  My Rating: Full Price  Christmas in Connecticut Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb:  Laa prosthetics makeup FX

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near you:  Cake (2014)  Claire (Jennifer Aniston) investigates a suicide of a member of her support group.  As she delves into the woman's life, she begins to tackle demons of her own.  Many critics are saying that Aniston will get an Oscar nomination for her gritty but humorous portrayal.  Cake Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings

My View:  Exodus: Gods and Kings  (2014) PG-13 Moses (Christian Bale) has always known he was different than his brother, the future Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton).  He learns that he was born a slave and that his destiny is to lead his people to freedom. Exodus: Gods and Kings is director Ridley Scott’s latest attempt to dazzle us with big action sequences and lots of brooding by Christian Bale.  Bale plays Moses, whose brother is the future pharaoh Rameses, played by Joel Egerton.  Egerton, doing his best Marlon Brando imitation, is given the task of performing on-screen with the scene chewing Bale. The film wastes a marvelous cast.  Aaron Paul barely says a word, and I think Sigourney Weaver, who plays Rameses's mother, has two lines, at best. It's Egerton and Bale’s movie.  Rameses is written as a real jerk, who is willing to kill any slave who dares to rebel. Moses is portrayed as a man who doubts  that he is worthy of God's faith, constantly debating God's decisions. The story of Moses leading 600,000 slaves out of Egypt has been told many times in film and TV. Ridley Scott brings nothing new to the story. The film feels very cynical and lacks the wonderment that biblical films usually have. The film is 150 minutes long but feels more like the 4 hours that Scott's first cut was rumored to be. The special effects are drab and lifeless.  Even (spoiler alert) the parting of the Red Sea seems boring and almost an afterthought. And it's not worth seeing in 3-D as I rarely noticed the 3 D effects.  It’s a film that you will want to avoid like a plague of locust.  My Rating: Cable  Exodus: Gods and Kings website  
My View:  Wild (2014) R  In 1994, a troubled young woman, Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) decides to hike, alone, more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. This is a very deep and spiritual film that, at times, is funny and, at other times, is quite sad.  Cheryl has made a mess of her life, and it has gotten to the point that she has alienated everyone who is important to her.  To find herself, she decides to go on a hike that even the most experienced hikers have a hard time completing.  Witherspoon is brilliant in this film, and gives a gritty, brave, no-holds-barred performance that is sure to get her an Oscar nomination.  She takes what is a quite unlikable person and makes her sympathetic, getting us to root for her.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Wild Website
Indiefest:  Top Five  (2014) R  A comedian (Chris Rock) is trying to make it as a serious actor.  His fiancée (Gabrielle Union) convinces him to allow their wedding to be broadcast on her reality TV show. Everything is going well until a reporter (Rosario Dawson) shows up to do an interview that just may change his life. I loved this witty, sometimes raunchy comedy written and directed by Chris Rock.  The film, while very funny, also has a lot of heart.  There is great chemistry between Dawson (in one of her best performances) and Rock.  They spend a great deal of the film on screen together, and their back and forth banter feels natural and relaxed.  The cameos are what make this film work, and there are plenty of them.  Cedric the Entertainer stands out as a brash promoter who spends a wild night with Rock’s character involving some ladies of the evening and alcohol.  The film also looks at what it’s like to be successful and still have doubts about your life and your career.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Top Five Website
My View:  The Babadook (2014) A young boy, Samuel (Noah Wiseman) suffers from insomnia when he believes that monsters will come out of his closet or from under his bed.  In order to get him to sleep, his mother, Amelia (Essie Davis) reads the boy bedtime stories.  When the mother reads Mr. Babadook to the boy, both mother and child realize that they have just made a mistake that could cost them their lives.  This is one of the scariest and inventive horror films that I have seen in a long time. Smartly done and with incredibly scary scenes, this film will terrify you.  It’s refreshing to have a horror film that doesn’t get too bloody or go for the cheap “gottcha” scare tactics, but instead builds the tension till you just can’t stand it anymore.  This is one of the best horror films that I have seen in many years.  My Rating: Full Price  The Babadook Website
Indiefest;  Antarctica: A Year on the Ice (2014) PG  This documentary looks at the scientists and researchers that work in one of the most isolated places on earth, Antarctica. It's tough to live there in "summer" but imagine living there in winter, where two months the sun never comes up, and they endure category 1 hurricane winds at least once a week.  This is a fascinating film that has beautiful time lapse photography that capture a place that we will never visit in person. The film does a brilliant job of showcase the people that choose to live their, giving us insight into what draws them there and why they continue to come back. This a must see for any fan of nature documentaries.  My Rating: Full Price  Antarctica: A Year on the Ice Website
Indiefest:  Glen Campbell:  I’ll Be Me  (2014)  PG  In 2011 singer Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Campbell was determined to go public with the diagnosis and also go on one last “Goodbye Tour.”  The tour was only to last for a few weeks but turned into a 151 show nationwide tour as Campbell and his fans got to say goodbye.  At times funny, sad and maddening, this film is an incredible inside look on what it’s like to deal with Alzheimer’s and its impact on not only the victim, but the family and friends that have to take care of the person.  It’s remarkable that Campbell was able to play and sing (with help from a teleprompter) for as long as he did.  This moving film that touches your heart and makes you want to do whatever you can to fight this deadly disease.  My Rating: Full Price  Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me Website
Forgotten Film:  Crimes and Misdemeanors  (1989)  PG-13  This is one of Woody Allen’s strangest films, as half is a comedy and the other half is a drama.  An adulterer (Martin Landau) decides that his mistress (Anjelica Huston) is getting to brash, and he decides to try and kill her.  Allen plays a filmmaker is a loveless marriage, falls in love with a co-worker (Mia Farrow) without much success.  Landau gives the performance of a lifetime and Allen is his usual funny, self-deprecating character. The film is an interesting take on love and relationships.  Just how far are we willing to go to find happiness once again?  My Rating: Full Price  Crimes and Misdemeanors Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Babadook:  brush hands

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Red Army (2014) PG This documentary about the Soviet Union Ice Hockey team is getting great critical acclaim. Who doesn’t want to relive the “Miracle on Ice” ?  Red Army Info
Until Next Time!