Friday, July 21, 2017

Dunkirk

My ViewDunkirk  (2017)  PG-13  Allied soldiers from Britain, Belgium, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army on the beaches of Dunkirk. Now, one of the largest evacuations will take place. This is an incredible motion picture experience…a feast for both eyes and ears. The film follows three aspects of the evacuation; from the land, from the air, and from the sea. We follow two soldiers trying to get off the beach by any means necessary. We follow a father and son as they pilot their small ship from Britain to Dunkirk. The air is represented by an RAF pilot who is trying to fight off the Luftwaffe and keep the men on the beach alive. The visuals of this film are stunning. Director Christopher Nolan used IMAX cameras for almost seventy-five percent of the movie, and the detail is astonishing. The battle sequences are brilliant and keep you on your edge of your seat. The score by Hans Zimmer is one of the best I’ve ever experienced and keeps the tension at a high level. The score is  important as portions of the film don’t have any dialogue. This is one of the best films of the year and is meant to be seen on the big screen.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Dunkirk Website
My ViewValerian and the City of a Thousand Planets  (2017) PG-13  A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast space station and home to species from a thousand planets. Special Ops Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are sent to find out what is happening to the space station and fix it. The film is beautiful, and the special effects are dazzling, but the storyline is slow and confusing. The film ends up being a little annoying. I just didn’t care about the very shallow and un-complex characters. Fans of the comics are going to be disappointed because the film doesn’t come close to capturing the spirit of those stories and varies off so far that you might not even recognize the main characters. I don’t think there is enough fun in the script to keep people coming back to this film like they did with director Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Website
IndiefestThe B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography  (2016)  R  Documentary about the life and work of photographer Elsa Dorfman. The subject of the film is a very colorful woman who has spent most of her life taking portraits on a giant 20x24 Polaroid camera. For those of you who aren’t old enough to know, Polaroid made cameras could instantly print a photograph, and the camera that Elsa uses is huge and prints beautiful photographs in large format. The problem with this film is most of it is spent on Elsa finding an old photograph and telling us about it while she holds it for the camera. This causes the film to drag once the novelty of the photograph wears off. It’s an interesting subject; it just should have been a shorter film.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The B-Side Info
Indiefest:  Band Aid  (2017)  Ben (Adam Pally) and Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) are a couple in trouble. They fight about everything, and the only time they seem ok is when they both are high. They are at the end of their rope until they discover that they can make songs up about their fights. Could it be through their songs that they can reconnect and find the love they once had?  I enjoyed this film because the characters are complex and real. This film is part comedy, part drama with a bit of a musical thrown in. Writer/director Lister-Jones (who also co-wrote the songs) is a delight to watch, and her chemistry is outstanding with Pally. Both characters are haunted by their failures, not only because of the miscarriage but also because their professional lives have not come even close to where they thought they would be. This is a couple who isn’t connecting anymore, and it’s bringing down their marriage. Only when they start creating music, do they reconnect and find the love that was always there. They just need a way to let go of the past and look to the future, one filled with song. My Rating:  Full Price    Band Aid Website
Forgotten FilmMikey and Nicky  (1976) R   In Philadelphia, a small time bookie, Mikey (Peter Falk), steals Mob money and is in hiding. A hitman is on his trail, and it’s up to his good friend, Nicky (John Cassavetes), to help his buddy escape from the hitman. I liked this movie because of its use of natural sound, so you get a real feel of the city. Falk and Cassavetes play off each other, and it’s fun to see the two up on screen together. This isn’t a great film but a fun one to watch.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Mikey and Nicky Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Dunkirk: Weird Music Instruments


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Trip to Spain  (2017)  Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon embark on a trip to Spain, sampling local cuisine and trying to one up each other by doing impressions of famous people. From the same people who gave us The Trip (2010) and The Trip to Italy (2014).   The Trip to Spain Website
                                                             Until Next Time!


Friday, July 14, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes

My View:  War for the Planet of the Apes  (2017)  PG-13  Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are at war with the humans. After suffering heavy losses, Caesar decides to find the man who is responsible for the suffering, The Colonel (Woody Harrelson), and get his revenge.  I have enjoyed this trilogy, and this is the best of the three. If Andy Serkis doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, I will be shocked. It’s a truly spectacular performance and a moving one. Woody Harrelson is fascinating as the villain of the film, an evil man who wants to destroy the apes. The film moves at such a pace that it seems the action doesn’t stop. And, you will fall in love with the chimpanzee named, Bad Ape (played by Steve Zahn).  Don’t monkey around and miss this film. It’s one of the best of the summer and the year!  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again    War for the Planet of the Apes Website
My ViewWish Upon  (2017)  PG-13  Clare (Joey King) is given a mysterious music box. She is surprised to find her every wish coming true, but soon she learns that there is a price for each wish. Wish Upon is an annoying horror movie where the deaths are right out of the ‘Final Destination’ series. Joey King is horrible as the teen who causes many deaths due to her wishing, but it takes almost the whole movie to realize that she is the reason for those deaths.  The film isn’t scary, and all of the dying is predictable. The biggest problem with this movie is that you just don’t care about anyone in the film. Almost everyone, including the lead character, is a jerk. Be sure and look quickly for the un-credited role by Jerry O’Connell. If I had a wishing music box, I would wish that I had never seen this film. If you do go see this movie, stay through the first set of credits, as there is a bonus scene.    My Rating:  Cable    Wish Upon Website
Indiefest Maudie (2016)  PG-13  An arthritic Nova Scotia woman, Maude (Sally Hawkins), works as a housekeeper while she practices her artwork and becomes a beloved figure in the community.  Sally Hawkins gives a powerful and moving performance of a unique woman who, despite her disabilities, became a nationally known artist. Ethan Hawke plays Everett, Maude’s employer, a man who is set in his ways and doesn’t give in to anyone, that is until he has been around Maude. This is a love story, not just between Maude and Everett, but also about Maude’s consuming passion for painting. This is a beautifully shot film that focuses on how Maude sees the world, through the eyes of a painter.  My Rating: Full Price   Maudie Website
IndiefestThe Little Hours  (2017)  R   A young servant (Dave Franco) flees his master and takes refuge at a convent full of emotionally unstable nuns in the Middle Ages.  From the beginning of the movie when the two nuns shout obscenities at the gardener for looking at them, you know that we're not watching an ordinary movie about nuns in the 14th century. The language and actions of the inhabitants of this movie are more like a sitcom on HBO. The language is modern, bawdy and often vulgar with the dialogue mostly improvised. The characters seem to want to sleep with as many people as they can, and they do. The Little Hours is a comedy that pushes the boundaries, like a Monty Python film for 2017. Like Python, the comedy doesn't always work, but don't worry, there will be something new and hilarious right around the corner.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Little Hours Website
Indiefest:  Chasing Coral  (2017)  A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out to discover why the world’s coral reefs are vanishing.  This film is relentless and unforgiving in trying to portray that the cause of the world’s reefs dying at an unprecedented level is due to global warming. This movie works, not just because of its stunning cinematography but also because of two of the stars of the film.  One is a former advertising executive who has made it his mission to save the coral reefs and another is a young “coral junkie” whose passion for the reefs drives him to do very tiring and sometimes dangerous work underwater. I will warn you that parts of this film are tough and emotional to watch. It’s saddening when you see the vast areas of coral reefs that have died and turned an ugly brown.   My Rating: Full Price  The film does not have a theatrical run but can be found on Netflix.   Chasing Coral Website
Indiefest:  To the Bone  (2017)  Ellen (Lily Collins) is a 20-year-old anorexic woman who has spent her teenage years trying to beat her disease through what seems like a million programs without much success.  Her family sends her to a group home for youths, where an unconventional doctor (Keanu Reeves) and the home seem to finally offer a solution. Now, Ellen must do the hard work to make it happen. I wanted to love this film, but I only liked it. I never quite got connected to the lead character, so it was hard to root for her. It’s a heartfelt movie with some moving scenes, but the plot goes for some easy outs in a film that should have had a harder tone to it. I enjoyed Lily Collins performance and especially enjoyed Alex Sharp’s performance as a former dancer who suffered and knee injury and is trying to lick anorexia. I think people that have dealt with eating disorders will enjoy this film, but for others, it will fall a little flat.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The film does not have a theatrical run but can be found on Netflix.    To the Bone Website
Forgotten FilmRead My Lips  (2001)  This French thriller is about a woman, Carla (Emmanuelle Devos),  who is almost deaf but can lip-read. She gets involved with an ex-con (Vincent Cassel). I can’t give away much of the plot which is full of twists and turns, most of which you won’t see coming. I will tell you that Carla’s ability to lip-read is crucial to the plot. This very original film is a lesson about the need to connect to another person and how those connections or dis-connections can affect your life.   My Rating:  Full Price   Read My Lips Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Wish Upon:  Swamper


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouWind River  (2017)  An FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) teams with a town’s best game tracker (Jeremy Renner), with deep community ties and a haunted past, to track down a killer on a remote Native American Reservation.  Hey, I’ll see anything with Elizabeth Olsen in it. She is one of our best young actors out there.   Wind River Facebook Page
Until Next Time!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming

My View:  Spider-Man: Homecoming  (2017)   PG-13  Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holand) is mentored by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). Peter is trying to balance his high school life with his spidey life. Now, a new threat, the Vulture (Michael Keaton), is on the scene, and Peter is determined to bring him down, without the help of Ironman.  I think this is the best Spider-Man movie of all time. It’s funny, has great action sequences, Michael Keaton is a superb villain, and Tom Holland is perfect in the part. Add a few appearances by Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau, and you get a fun ride. The plot has plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested and guessing about what happens next. What I love is that this isn’t a re-telling of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man story, but an all new adventure that fits in with the rest of the Marvel Universe.  You will want to see this film again, not just because the movie is a blast to watch, but because there are times you are laughing so hard you don’t hear the next line.  And, be sure to stay through all the credits as there are two bonus scenes.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Spider-Man Homecoming Website
My View: The Big Sick  (2017)  R  Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is dating Emily (Zoe Kazan), much to the dismay of his traditional Pakistani Muslim family. Now a crisis will test their love.  Based on his life, writer/star Kumail Nanjiani and his wife in real life, Emily V. Gordon, along with director Michael Showalter, have brought us a brilliant film that is part romantic comedy and part serious drama. The film doesn’t feel its 2-hour length, mostly because the laughs keep coming. There are a few behind the scenes at the comedy club that could have been cut, but even then I didn’t mind them because there was usually a joke or two told, mostly at the expense of one of the fellow comics. There are some serious moments in this film, and they are dealt with a loving touch, though always humor is just around the corner waiting until it’s time to break the tension. The Big Sick is one of those great date films, one that has something for everyone.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Big Sick Website
IndiefestThe Journey  (2017)  PG-13  Two implacable enemies in Northern Ireland, Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and Sinn Fein politician Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney), are forced to take a journey together, and it just might change history. Director Nick Hamm gives us a fictional account (though based on actual events) on how two men from seemingly impossible odds put away their profound felt differences to broker peace that seems so far from their grasp. Hamm uses a ride to an airport together to let us get to know the two men and how deeply held their beliefs are. Both Timothy Spall and Colin Meaney give exceptional and stellar performances. Meaney has to work hard in his performance as his character is the one trying to break through the icy exterior of Spall's character, trying everything from jokes to stories to get to the man. While the film stalls, at times, the performances of Colin Meaney and Timothy Spall bring home just how hard it is to create lasting peace, but understanding the other side makes it possible. The Journey is a film that you will want board and take.   My Rating: Full Price   The Journey Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray)The Zoo Keeper’s Wife  (2017)  PG-13  Based on a true story, this film tells the story of Antonina (Jessica Chastain) and her husband Jan (Johan Heldenbergh), who own a small zoo in downtown Warsaw. When the Nazis took over, Antonina and Jan save hundreds of Jews in their zoo, right under the German’s noses.  Jessica Chastain makes this film worth watching as she gives a compelling and moving performance of a brave and loving woman who risks everything to save the lives of over 300 strangers. Being a big fan of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (a co-sponsor of the screening I went to), I have seen a lot of films about the Holocaust. Where this movie is lacking is in its depiction of the Warsaw ghetto and the horrors that went on there.  The husband travels into the ghetto numerous times (to transport Jews out under the ruse of collecting garbage for his pigs), but its depiction feels frail and sanitized. The Zoo Keeper’s Wife is a fascinating tale about two people who have the courage to step up and help their fellow man.  I just wish this film was as powerful as Chastain’s acting.   My Rating: Full Price    The Zookeeper's Wife Website
Forgotten MovieGo  (1999)  R  Three stories intertwine over the course of 24 hours during Christmas.  All the stories are connected to a drug dealer (Timothy Olyphant), and the three stories converge at an all-night rave.  This movie goes all over the place, part comedy, and part drama. The cast is the reason to watch this strange film. Katie Holmes, Scott Wolf, Jay Mohr, William Fichtner and the brilliant Sarah Polley make this movie so much to watch.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Go Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Spider-Man: Homecoming:  Water Truck Driver


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouAtomic Blonde  (2017)  R  The Berlin Wall is about to fall, and Lorraine (Charlize Theron), an undercover MI6 agent, is sent to the Communist side to find a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.  Charlize Theron as a James Bond-like kickass spy?  I’m in!   Atomic Blonde Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, June 30, 2017

Baby Driver

My View:  Baby Driver  (2017)  R   Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the best getaway driver out there, and he works for a veteran kingpin (Kevin Spacey) who he owes big money to. Baby’s world changes when he meets a young waitress (Lily James) who gives him something other than driving to live for. This is a stunning, highly enjoyable film. The best way to describe it is a car chase musical. Baby has a permanent case of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and to drown it out; he is constantly listening to music. Music is an important part of his life, so he lives his life with a constant soundtrack. Elgort sings, dances and drives to the beat of 30 different songs that make of the film’s soundtrack. The action sequences are brilliant, timed to the music that Baby is listening to (at one point he has to re-cue a song before he can drive away from the cops) and were done with no CGI (computerized special effects). The car chases are some of the most exciting chase sequences I have ever seen. The cast is brilliant, with Kevin Spacey as the planner of the bank robberies and Jon Hamm as one of the robbers, making the most of their parts. The star of the film is Ansel Elgort, and he gives a dazzling performance that is mesmerizing. Go see this magical film. You just might drive home from the theatre a little faster with your sound system blasting after seeing this movie.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Baby Driver Website
My View:  The Beguiled  (2017)  R  At a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, the young women have been sheltered from the outside world. A wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) is taken in, and it changes the school forever. The Union soldier charms his way into getting to stay longer than he should, but trouble starts when the women all start to think that he is in love with each of them. This is a beautiful looking film that, at times, almost seems like a dream. The film is a little slow, but it works, as the undercurrents start to build tension. The film is a remake of a 1971 movie of the same name, with Clint Eastwood starring as the Union soldier. I didn’t like that film, as I never felt the danger that is in this movie. While I like Farrell’s performance, it’s Nicole Kidman that makes this film work. She plays the woman who owns the boarding school, and she plays the part with a restraint that slowly gets broken down by her desires for the soldier. While not a horror film, there are quite a few suspenseful moments and an ending that may shock you.  My Rating: Full Price  The Beguiled Website
Family Faire:  Despicable Me 3  (2017)  PG  Gru (Steve Carell) has lost his job and has decided to go back to being a villain. His long-lost twin brother, Dru (Steve Carell) shows up, and they go on a criminal heist together. I am not a fan of the Despicable Me franchise, and as they keep making these films, it seems that they are writing them for six-year-olds. The plot is thin, and I have always felt that the bad guy (this time voiced by South Park co-creator Trey Parker) is never well-thought-out. Even the Minions are not utilized, and they leave Gru because he doesn’t want to be a villain. I will admit there are a couple of funny scenes when the Minions get thrown in jail, but those are few and far between. The film is so boring, a critic next to me looked at his watch to see how much longer we had until the movie would end, and then 3 minutes later he did it again. This film may be okay and entertaining for little kids, but grownups may want to take a nap in the theatre, or you might be like my fellow critic and think that time has stopped.   My Rating:  Cable   Despicable Me 3 Website 
IndieFest:  Okja  (2017)  TV-MA  A young girl named Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn) has raised a giant pig named Okja for the last ten years in Korea.  A massive agricultural company now wants the pig back and will do anything to return it to their headquarters. Mija will have to travel far and wide, battling bad guys and a mean CEO (Tilda Swinton), to save her beloved Okja. I want to warn you; this is not a film for kids. It deals with subjects like industrial farming, animal cruelty, and can get very graphic and disturbing. But this film isn’t all dark. You will fall in love with Okja and Mija. There is humor in this film and shows up at odd or dark times due to the absurdity of the situation or the weird and wild cast of characters.  Jake Gyllenhaal stands out as a TV show host of a popular TV animal program. Gyllenhaal is hysterical as the over-the-top, self-centered host (think an over-caffeinated Steve Irwin with a little Richard Simmons mixed in).  The storyline is moving, funny and scary, sometimes in the matter of minutes of each other. Ultimately you will want to go on this journey with Mija and Okja.  Note: this film is not in theatres but available on Netflix.  My Rating: Full Price   Okja Website
Forgotten Film:  Matchstick Men  (2003)  A con man, Roy (Nicolas Cage), who has all sort of obsessions that dominate his life, and his partner in crime (Sam Rockwell) stumble upon a great con game when Roy’s teenage daughter (Alison Lohman) comes back into his life. Cage gives a performance of a lifetime as the clever conman who can have a panic attack at a moment’s notice and wants desperately to connect with his brash daughter.  I think it’s a real shame that Cage didn’t get an Oscar nomination for this brilliant and complex role. The storyline will keep you guessing if they can pull off the con, and I loved the end of this film.    My Rating:  Full Price   Matchstick Men Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Beguiled:  Sticher

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Breathe  (2017)  PG-13  The true story of Robin (Andrew Garfield), a man who loves adventure, meets a woman (Claire Foy) and quickly falls in love with her.  Their life is idyllic until he’s afflicted with polio that leaves him paralyzed. I can’t think of anyone else but Garfield who could play this man who decides that polio won’t stop him from living his life the way he wants to.   Breathe Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, June 23, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight

My ViewTransformers: The Last Knight  (2017)  PG-13  In the absence of Optimus Prime, a war has been started between the human race and the Transformers.  To save the world, Cade (Mark Wahlberg) forms an alliance with Bumblebee to try and learn why the Transformers keep coming back to Earth.  If you paid me to explain the plot of this film, I would have to give back your money because I have no clue what this movie is about. It’s a film that introduces a main character in the first 20 minutes and forgets about that character until the last portion of the film. The main Transformer, Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) is missing for at least a third of the movie, and you have a character, Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins), who gives us a backstory that is so complicated it would take a flow chart to know what he is talking about. It took six editors to make this film, and I think that’s part of the problem - the film seems like it wants to be 3 or 4 different films, skipping storylines all over the place. This movie is all noise and no plot, at least not one I could figure out. There is an extra scene during the closing credits, but typical of the whole movie, I have no clue what it’s supposed to set up for the next film. The film was shot in 3D, so it’s worth the money to see it in that format, but you really should see something else…or just watch some of the animated series from the 80’s. At least those shows had plots you could follow.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Transformers: The Last Knight Website
IndiefestThe Hero  (2017)  R  Lee (Sam Elliott) is a Western icon whose best roles are in his past.  He makes most of his living by doing voice overs. He finds out that he has cancer, and the prognosis is not good. But Lee has a good friend, Jeremy (Nick Offerman) and a new love, Charlotte (Laura Prepon), who give him something and someone to live for. I loved this film, and saw it at both the SXSW Film Festival and the Atlanta Film Festival. Sam Elliott is masterful as the actor who is known for one iconic film, a western called The Hero that was made over forty years ago. Lee is a role that was tailor-made for Elliott, and he gets every bit he can out of it. Appearing in every scene, Elliott gives what is surely his finest performance of a world-weary man who is near the end of his life, a life that is full of regrets and missed opportunities. Co-writer/director Brett Haley, as he did with the last years I’ll See You in My Dreams starring Blythe Danner, gives Sam Elliott a movie in The Hero he can be proud of and that is moving, funny and full of life. Heck, I would see that western that Lee wanted to make just to see Elliott star in another movie.    My Rating: Full Price   The Hero Website
Indiefest:  The Exception  (2017)  R  Set during World War II, a German soldier (Jai Courtney) is sent on a mission to investigate exiled German Emperor Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer).  As the soldier begins his investigation, he falls for a maid of the Emperor, Mieke (Lily James). This is a well made thriller with lots of romance thrown in. The chemistry between Courtney and James is amazing and their love scenes are a bit steamy. The plot keeps you guessing on how it will end and it's a fascinating look at a bit of history that is forgotten. Christopher Plummer gives a brilliant performance as the cranky but somewhat lovable German Emperor, he makes buying a ticket to this movie worth it.   My Rating: Full Price  The Exception Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray): John Wick: Chapter Two  (2017)  R  John Wick’s (Keanu Reeves) retirement didn’t last long as he now has to travel to Rome to take on a squad of assassins to defend a former associate who has seized control of the assassins’ guild. The first John Wick film was one of the biggest surprises of 2014, as it was a highly enjoyable full-out action-fest.  I enjoyed this movie as much as the first and love that it tries to outdo the first film on ways to kill the bad guys. The action sequences are fast, well done and, unlike some recent films, don’t rely on the use of “shakycam” to cover up the lack of real action. If you like action films and especially up close hand-to-hand fighting, then this is the movie for you. And, by the way, a third film is in the works.   My Rating:  Full Price   John Wick: Chapter Two Website
Forgotten FilmThe Sterile Cuckoo  (1969)  M  Two college freshman start a relationship that is doomed to failure due to both of their inabilities to connect on a personal level. Liza Minnelli gives a performance of a lifetime as Pookie, a loony, lonely girl who has no family and doesn’t get along with others. It’s a brilliant performance by Minnelli, who takes an unlikable person and makes us want for her to succeed.  Wendell Burton gives an equally profound performance of Jerry, a young man unprepared to be swept up in Pookie’s world.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Sterile Cuckoo Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Transformers: The Last Knight:  Rattle Snake Safety


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: War for the Planet of the Apes  (2017)  PG-13  After a raid on his apes by an elite military force, Caesar (Andy Serkis) decides to go on a quest for revenge.  I really enjoyed the first two films, so I am looking forward to the final installment of the trilogy. Could Andy Serkis get an Oscar nomination for this role that is entirely CGIed (Special Effects) of the ape Caesar?    War for the Planet of the Apes website  
Until Next Time!

  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Cars 3

Family FaireCars 3  (2017)   G  After losing his racing title to Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) decides he will retire after the season. Lightning decides to make one last stand at the Florida 500 and starts training with a spunky race technician named, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), who has her own racing dreams. Certainly the weakest franchise in the Pixar family, I can say that this film is a step above the horrible Cars 2 (2011), but that isn’t saying much. I cringe just thinking about how many times we had to hear that awful catch phrase, “Git her dun,” said by Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) in that film. Luckily, Mater is just a minor character in this movie, so right there, it’s an improvement. I liked the storyline and especially enjoyed the finish, but, man, it takes way too long to get there. At an hour fifty (which does include a Pixar short named LOU), it seems every second of that length. The animation is top notch, but I just wish more time was spent on the script. The film was not shot in 3-D, so save some bucks. There is a bonus scene at the end of the credits, but it’s really not worth sticking around for.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Cars 3 Website   
My ViewRough Night  (2017)  R  Five best friends from college (Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer) reunite ten years later for a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami. While partying, they accidentally kill a male stripper and then try to conceal the death. Talk about a buzz kill. I did not enjoy this film; it seemed much longer than the 1 hour and 40 minutes that is listed in IMDB.com. The film tries to be a hard R comedy in the vein of The Hangover or Bridesmaids, but it fails miserably in its attempt, with few and far between comedic moments lost in its over-the-top attempt to be raunchy. I was hoping that Kate McKinnon would take over the film, but her scenes seemed forced and just aren’t funny. I have a real problem with comedic films that trivialize the use of hard drugs as a vehicle for jokes. In this case, both Coke and Meth are seen as just fun drugs that have no consequences and are portrayed as fun drugs the characters use to act even goofier. The fact that this film centers on the accidental death of someone (which, by the way, is seen by the end of the film as a good thing) should clue you in on how bad this film really is.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Rough Night Info
IndiefestThe Book of Henry  (2017)  PG-13  In a small town, a single mom (Naomi Watts) is raising her two boys, an 11-year old genius named, Henry (Jaeden Lieberher), and his younger brother, Peter (Jacob Tremblay). Henry has a crush on his neighbor Christiana (Maddie Ziegler), and when she is threatened by her stepfather, Henry comes up with a plan to rescue her. This is a film that has no clue what it is and, the audience I saw it with thought it was a comedy for the first half of the movie. This is a bizarre film, dealing with loss, abuse and the idea that it’s okay not to always fit in. Without giving anything away, the film takes a big turn at around at the halfway point, but it never recovers from that major twist. I enjoyed the performances in this film, including Naomi Watts, who plays a mother who would rather play video games than worry about finances and Jaeden Lieberher, who plays Henry, a kid, who at age twelve, is smarter than any adult he deals with.The biggest problem with this film is that it has a central character that is a genius but his solution isn't well thought out. Lee Pace, whom I love as an actor, is wasted in a too small part as the family’s doctor. I loved the first half of this film, but the second half is such a wreck of a film with a plot that just doesn’t make sense and a message that is just too messy to deliver.  My Rating:  Cable   The Book of Henry Website
Indiefest Dean  (2016)  PG-13  A New York illustrator, Dean (Demetri Martin) is still not over the death of his mother. To make matters worse, his love life is nonexistent, and his father (Kevin Kline) is thinking about selling the family home.  At a party, Dean meets Nicky (Gillian Jacobs), whom he clicks with right away. Learning Nicky is about to go back to L.A., he uses a business opportunity to follow her.  Will Dean’s history of bad luck end with Nicky? I loved this film! It’s got heart and a bit of heartbreak too. The whole cast is so much fun to watch, and Martin has marvelous chemistry with Jacobs, both playing off each other with great comedic timing. Their ‘meet cute’ is priceless and humorous. Kevin Kline gives a very understated but beautiful performance as Dean’s dad, who is ready to move on with his life. Mary Steenburgen is delightful as the real estate agent who keeps figuring out ways to meet up with Dean’s father. Demetri Martin does all the illustrations that his character draws, and they are flat out funny. It’s an unconventional story about trying to get over a loss in the best way you can. You won’t be sorry if you take the trip out west with Dean in his pursuit of love.  My Rating:  Full Price   Dean Website
Indiefest:  Wakefield  (2017)   R  Howard (Bryan Cranston) suffers a nervous breakdown, which causes him to leave his wife (Jennifer Garner) without telling her and living for months in their attic while she believes that he has been abducted or worse, is dead. This is a strange but enjoyable film about a man who decides to go off the grid and observe his family from the garage attic to see how they deal with him no longer around. The film is told through the eyes of Howard, who observes not only his family, but the neighborhood from his perch in the attic. He reflects on his life, mostly through flashbacks, as he evaluates his relationship with his kids and his wife. This film is part black comedy and part drama that takes on subjects like materialism, infidelity, the hard work of marriage and how we treat the homeless. While it’s Cranston’s movie (he’s in every scene), I loved the performance of Jennifer Garner, whose role is seen through Howard’s eyes and often times from afar. Garner gives a powerful performance that centers the film and gives it a shot of reality when it’s needed. This isn’t a movie for everyone, and some will find it a bit maddening or confusing, but I enjoyed the experience of hanging out with Howard in the attic.  My Rating:  Full Price   Wakefield Info   
Indiefest:  Past Life  (2016)  Nana (Nelly Tagar) and Sephi (Joy Reiger) are two very different sisters living in Israel in the 1970’s. Nana is a fiery writer who is fast with sharing her opinion. Sephi is a singer who is going to school to try and become a composer in the man-dominated field. On a chance encounter, Sephi is confronted by a woman who accuses her father (Doron Tavory) with murder.  Now the two sisters are determined to find out what happened to her father during World War II. This is a moving tale of sibling rivalry, a past that could destroy a family and the determination of Sephi to find the truth, while she struggles to survive in an environment that is trying to get her to quit her dreams. Both Tagar and Reiger give powerful, multilayered performances as Tagar is always bringing her anger to the forefront and Reiger, giving her character a quiet restraint. The storyline has plenty of twists and turns, which keeps you riveted to your seat until the end.   My Rating:  Full Price   Past Life Website
Forgotten FilmThe Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!  (1966)  A Russian sub has run aground off the New England coast.  The Russians come ashore to find a small town that is ready to take them on, if only they knew how. This comedy by Norman Jewison is a reflection of the Cold War that was at its height in 1966. The film was nominated for four Oscars and has a brilliant cast including Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Alan Arkin, Brian Keith, Jonathan Winters, and  Richard Shaal. While the film is a little dated, it’s still funny as heck.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Book of Henry:  Rube Goldberg Machine Creator


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:    Dunkirk   (2017)  PG-13  Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and make one of the greatest evacuations in the history of warfare. Christopher Nolan directs this film, and the trailer looks astounding.   Dunkirk Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Mummy

My ViewThe Mummy  (2017)  PG-13  An ancient Egyptian princess, whose destiny was unjustly taken from her, is awakened from her crypt. Now she seeks revenge on mankind. This movie is the first in what Universal Studios calls its “Dark Universe” (think the Marvel Universe for monsters). Universal Studios is known for its classic horror films like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Universal has scared generations by creating truly horrific characters in their classic monsters. The big problem with this Mummy reboot is it isn’t scary but feels more like a weird edition of Mission Impossible, including a scene with a plane that seems to take five minutes to crash. In fact you could call this film Mission Impossible with Sand. In a bit of a gender swap, this story is about a princess who has been wronged and seeks revenge. She finds Cruise’s character and decides he is the perfect beloved to help her evil plan. The problem is we don’t care about any of these characters, as producers give us almost no backstory. Cruise looks a little lost in portraying the pursued one (instead of his usual suave ladies’ man). Finally, the main character’s chief weapon is she uses sex to drain the life out of her victims and then make them zombie-like slaves. The use of sex as a weapon just seems wrong.  I don’t remember the classic mummy characters doing that; they just killed people. This is a film that is filled with so much CGI (special effects) that it becomes boring. The few attempts at humor (much needed in this movie) are shallow and don’t work. This is a very shaky start to Universal Studios’ plan to start a franchise. Hey, here’s a clue:  make your horror films scary. By the way, the film was not shot in 3-D and doesn’t have any post credit scenes.  My Rating: Cable   The Mummy Website
My ViewMegan Leavey  (2017)  PG-13  Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) is a troubled soul who has lost her best friend. She decides to join the Marines and become a bomb-sniffing dog handler. The bond she develops with her dog allows her to save many Marines’ lives on more than 100 missions. I loved this film about a woman who has no purpose in life until she meets a dog named, Rex, who teaches her how to love. This is Kate Mara’s finest performance, and it’s a brilliant one. Touching and heartwarming, she gives us a woman who fights for her best friend, her dog.  The story is a true one, and that makes the film even more poignant and moving. Skip the recent superhero films and see a movie about two real life heroes.  My Rating: Full Price   Megan Leaves Info
IndiefestIt Comes at Night  (2017)  R  A family lives in the isolated woods as the world is engulfed in a breakout of some deadly plague. Now their family is threatened when a young family arrives at the home wanting refuge.  While not a true horror film, this movie has plenty of scary moments that keep the tension building and nerves frazzled.  We never learn what has created this plague or how it has affected other parts of the country, but that doesn’t matter because it has completely engulfed the daily life of this family. This is a film that, at its root, is about only trusting your family, how far you will go to defend them, not letting the outside world in and finally suffering the consequences when you leave your heart to rule by your head. My only quibble with this film is I would have ended it about two minutes early, but that is minor compared to the brilliance of this film. Big Hollywood blockbusters should learn a lesson: you don’t need a huge budget to make a great movie.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   It Comes at Night Website
IndiefestParis Can Wait  (2017)  PG  The wife (Diane Lane) of a successful movie producer takes a car trip from the south of France to Paris with one of her husband’s associates (Arnaud Viard ). To say that they are going to take the scenic route would be an understatement. If you are a foodie, this is the film for you. The couple takes a leisurely trip through France, centering their journey on the fine cuisine of the country.  Lane’s character loves food, so much so, that she takes endless pictures of her plates, and we see the results (some of which could grace the cover of Bon Appetit magazine). Lane and Viard play off each other extremely well, and there is quite a bit of sexual tension between the two that keeps building to the very end. The scenery is beautiful, and the food looks almost too beautiful to eat. If you want to imagine eating your way across France, this film isn’t a bad way to go.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Paris Can Wait Website
Indiefest:  I, Daniel Blake  (2016)  R  Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a 59-year-old man who has a heart attack at work. He is now caught in the system as his doctor tells him not to work, but the government says that he is fit to do so.  Take an exceptional performance by Dave Johns, add in a script that is moving and full of empathy, with just a bit of wit and wisdom, and you get a film that will fill you with multiple emotions. It’s a film that is filled with controversy, and it will make you mad how someone can fall through the cracks but still keep his humanity. You may want to scream at times because of the indignity that this man goes through, but it’s tears in the end that will fill your soul.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   I, Daniel Blake Website
IndiefestThe Hunter’s Prayer  (2017) R   Lucas (Sam Worthington) is an assassin hired to do a hit on a young woman, Ella (Odeya Rush). When he can’t pull the trigger, the two join forces to get away from the people who want them dead.  We know that Sam Worthington can do action pictures, and he does yeoman's work in this film as a hit man with a big secret. I like the chemistry between Worthington and Rush, as they work well on screen together.  The problem with the film is the very simplistic plot that never gives us the twist that we need. Everything that happens is predictable which makes the action sequences a little annoying. It would have been interesting to see what the two leads could have done with a more complicated script. If you are into action films, this film might fit the bill, but anyone wanting a little more plot is going to find the movie lacking.  My Rating:  Cable   The Hunter's Prayer Info
Forgotten FilmSet it Off  (1996)  R   Four inner-city women (Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Kimberly Elise) have come to their wits end and decide robbing a bank will solve at least some of their problems.  Little do they know that their problems have just started.  There are plenty of shoot-outs and car chases for the action film fan to like, but what makes this film work is the well-rounded characters.  We get to know these women and why, in their desperation, they would turn to robbing banks. My favorite part of the film is when the four women are sitting around the table and start doing a scene from The Godfather. Yes, this is a bank heist film, but it’s a bank heist film with heart.  My Rating:  Full Price    Set It Off Info   

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Mummy:  Dunes Assistant Location Manager

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Big Sick  (2017)  R  A couple (Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan) think they are perfect for each other, but just about everyone else thinks otherwise.  This film was the talk of SXSW and is being compared to Little Miss Sunshine and The Way, Way Back in its feel and look.    The Big Sick Website
Until Next Time!