Friday, October 21, 2016

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

My View:  Jack Reacher: Never Go Back  (2016) PG-13 Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is coming back to the headquarters of his old military unit.  Major Turner (Cobie Smulders) has been helping him solve cases across the country.  When Reacher arrives, he learns that Major Turner is charged with treason. I enjoyed the first Jack Reacher film and, while not as enjoyable as the first, this movie is still a fun ride. This is definitely a leave your disbelief at the door, because Reacher does a lot of impossible stuff (like falling off a roof and walking away), but the fight sequences are a blast to watch, and both Cruise and Smulders are phenomenal in the action scenes.  I will say that Cruise does a heck of a lot of running in this film, so much so that I bet he runs at least a 10K in the movie. While the film steals a little bit from the Bourne and the Taken series, it’s still a great popcorn movie to experience.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Website
Indiefest:  In A Valley of Violence  (2016) R  A mysterious stranger (Ethan Hawke) and his dog travel to the forgotten town of Denton, dubbed as the “valley of violence,” where things quickly go bad. Part comedy, part homage to the “Spaghetti Westerns” of the 60s and 70s with a large dose of ‘revenge films,” it’s a rather uneven film. There were times I really enjoyed this film but there were also scenes that just didn’t work. Hawke is an acceptable hero with what he is given to work with, but I think I would have liked his character to be a little more mysterious, like Eastwood in those “Spaghetti Westerns.”  I did delight in the performance of John Travolta, who plays the Marshall of the town, running it with an iron hand.  I also thought that Taissa Farmiga did an excellent job of portraying a young woman who, after being abandoned by her husband, is stuck in the horrible town and is looking for a way out. Overall, the film never quite balances the comedy with the violence of the movie and only really comes together in the last big shootout sequence.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   In a Valley of Violence Website
Forgotten FilmA Perfect Candidate  (1996) This little scene documentary looks at the 1994 unsuccessful bid for the Virginia Senate seat by Oliver North. The film focuses on North’s campaign strategist, Mark Goodin, and Washington Post reporter, Don Baker. It's a great film made greater by larger-than-life Goodin who is almost mesmerizing to watch.  My favorite scene in this film is when North’s opponent, incumbent Chuck Robb, strolls through the aisles of a supermarket trying to find one person willing to shake hands with him.  My Rating:  Full Price  A Perfect Candidate Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Ghostbusters  (2016)  PG-13 Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) write a book that states that ghosts are real. When ghosts invade Manhattan, the author pair team up with Jillian (Kate McKinnon), a nuclear engineer, and  Patty (Leslie Jones), to try and save the world from an evil and powerful demon, Rowan (Neil Casey). I had a great time watching this film. There are some subtle homage to the first Ghostbusters movies, but it’s really an original idea for a movie. I would have liked McCarthy to be a little more animated in her part, but Kate McKinnon more than makes up for that with a wacky performance. Chris Hemsworth is brilliant as the dumb-as-rocks receptionist who gets the job based only on his good looks. There are a lot of cameos, some really work, but it is very obvious that Bill Murray didn't want to do this film from his performance. The film was shot in 3-D, and it shows, with some of the ghost appearances using the technology to the fullest. There are two bonus scenes, one after the main credits and another, which sets up a possible sequel after all the credits.   My Rating:  Full Price   Ghostbusters Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back:  Construction Auditor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouArrival  (2016)  PG-13  When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers. Amy Adams could just read a phone book on-screen for an hour and a half, and I would watch it.   Arrival Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Accountant

My ViewThe Accountant  (2016)  R  Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a math savant who gets along better with numbers than people. He works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. As the Treasury Department closes in on Christian, he takes on a legitimate client, only to discover that the company is cooking the books. I thought this film was highly entertaining with its unique and unlikely hero, an accountant who probably has Asperger’s Syndrome and is a highly trained killer.  What surprised me was how funny the film is. The film uses Wolff’s quirkiness and his bluntness to great comedic effect. Affleck makes the action sequences seem effortless and believable. My only problem with the movie is that the director tried to pack too much into the plot, giving us almost an overload of information, especially about Wolff’s troubled childhood.  Overall this film is an action film with one of the most unique heroes in the history of cinema.    My Rating:  Full Price    The Accountant Website
My ViewKevin Hart: What Now?  (2016)  R  Comedian Kevin Hart performs in front of a crowd of 50,000 people at Philadelphia’s outdoor stadium, Lincoln Financial Field. I enjoyed this film, but I never had that moment that you want in standup comedy; the laugh so hard you run out of breath moment. The film has a lively and entertaining opening where Kevin Hart goes all “James Bond” on us.  Even the opening titles seem like a “Bond” film. There is a hilarious bit with Halle Berry playing herself.  The most fun part of the Bond section is when Don Cheadle appears in the film. Once the standup starts (about 15 minutes into the movie) the material is funny, but I just don’t know if you will remember much of his act after the film. I did love the set, with the backdrop changing into whatever setting Hart was talking about. It’s a funny standup, but I don’t think it will go down in the history books like Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987) or Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982). Note that after a short bit of credits, there is a bonus scene before the main credit sequence starts.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Kevin Hart: What Now? Website
Indiefest:  American Honey  (2016)  R  Star (Sasha Lane) is living in a bad situation and is looking for a way out.  When she meets a traveling magazine seller (Shia LeBeouf), she hooks up with his group and is about to go on an adventure of a lifetime. I am usually not a fan of movies where everyone in the film is unlikable, and that holds true for this film. The film is too long, goes almost nowhere and has characters that you wouldn’t want to let into your home, much less go on a road trip with. I wasn’t impressed with Shia LeBeouf’s performance, as I have a feeling that this character is much like LeBeouf in real life. The film has a look and a feel that it is set in the 80s but is actually set in the present time. I did like Sasha Lane’s breathtaking performance, and the cinematography is just stunning, capturing the landscape of America in all its vastness.  Overall it wasn’t worth spending 162 minutes with these characters, where the only thing that changes are the members of the group.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   American Honey Website
Indiefest: Command and Control  (2016) During the 60’s and 70’s, the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union was growing at a phenomenal pace. Nuclear missiles were placed in silos all across the world, including right here in the U. S.. Robert Kenner, who in 2010 brought us the Oscar-nominated documentary “Food, Inc.,” brings us a new scary and sobering documentary, “Command and Control.”  The film takes place at a United States Air Force missile launch facility just outside Damascus, Arkansas (50 miles from Little Rock) in September of 1980. Using reenactments, actual footage from the event and modern day interviews with the participants, the film looks at how a simple accident almost caused the detonation of a nuclear warhead on top of the largest missile in the US. Arsenal, the Titan II, an explosion that probably would have wiped out most of the Arkansas’s population.  There is more tension in this film than most Hollywood thrillers, and you will wonder how this could ever happen. It’s a chilling look at an accident that was waiting to happen. What I took away from this film is respect and admiration for the very young men who risked their lives to protect ours.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Command and Control Website
Forgotten FilmHopscotch  (1980) R A CIA agent (Walter Matthau) bungles an assignment and is given a desk job. He decides to write a tell-all book and then go on the lam. This is a thriller/comedy that works because the cast, especially Walter Matthau, is that darn good. By this time in his career, Matthau had perfected portraying the haggard, world beaten down hero, and he is extraordinary in this film. While not a great movie, it’s a blast watching Matthau work on the screen.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Hopscotch Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Accountant:  Life Casting Assistant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouCertain Women  (2016)  R The lives of three women (Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern) from Montana intersect and change all of their lives. I don’t always like director/writer Kelly Reichardt’s films, but they always make me think.   Certain Women Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Girl on the Train

My View:  The Girl on the Train  (2016)  R  Rachel (Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic who recently divorced her husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), after catching him cheating on her.  She takes the train to work daily and often fantasizes about her neighbors, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett). One day, she witnesses something from the train, and Megan ends up missing and is presumed dead. The biggest problem with this film is the time jumps. It seems every few minutes we go back five weeks, then suddenly we are in present time, then we go back two weeks.  With such a large cast and a very complicated and interweaving plot, it’s hard to keep straight what is going on. I liked Blunt's portrayal of a very damaged woman who tries to pin the pieces of a night back together. I didn’t like the performance of Haley Bennett (who could be Jennifer Lawrence’s twin in real life), finding her lifeless and unlikable. The script is just too much of a mess for Emily Blunt to overcome.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Girl on the Train Website
My ViewThe Birth of a Nation  (2016)  R   This is the story of Nat Turner (Nate Parker), an enslaved man and preacher, who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831. The opening scene is magical, but the film spends too much time on Turner’s childhood, making the film seem too slow down to almost a stop.  Once Turner is a man, the film picks up again, and some of its best scenes are in the middle of the film. A caution: the film is very violent with some scenes almost too brutal to watch. Parker is charismatic on the screen as Nat Turner, but it’s the performance of Aja Naomi King, who plays Turner’s wife in the film. She is stunning in the role of the loving wife who will support her husband until the end. The film isn’t perfect. I didn’t like symbolism used continuously throughout the film, as in a shot of an ear of corn bleeding or a child dressed as an angel. The ending is powerful, and there are some powerful scenes throughout the film, but I don’t think this movie is quite strong enough of a work come Oscar time.   My rating: Full Price   The Birth of a Nation Website
My ViewDenial  (2016)  PG-13  Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is in the legal battle of her life, when Holocaust denier, David Irving (Timothy Spall), accuses her of libel in a British court. The film is based on a true story, and that’s what makes it so riveting. Weisz masterfully plays the headstrong woman who makes a stand against a bigoted bully. Her performance is captivating, and, at times you can almost see the steam coming off her head when her character gets intensely mad. Timothy Spall is perfect as the smug so-called “historian,” as he portrays the man as someone who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. Tom Wilkinson gives one of his best performances as the wine drinking lawyer who represents Professor Lipstadt in her case. It’s a compelling and engaging courtroom drama that will have you on the edge of your seat until the end.   My Rating:  Full Price   Denial Website
IndiefestGirl  Asleep  (2015)  Greta (Bethany Whitmore) is a 14-year old girl who wants to stay a kid for as long as possible. Unfortunately, her world will change when her parents give her a birthday party. Girl Asleep is part Adventure Time, part Napoleon Dynamite, and part Where the Wild Things Are. Writer Mathew Whittet (based on his play of the same name) and director Rosemary Myers, have imagined a very creative and whimsical look for this film reminding me of Wes Anderson and Monty Python movies. The film wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is without the brilliant and subtle performance of Bethany Whitmore. She is perfect as the awkward, nervous Greta, who must learn to stand up for herself and take on life’s challenges head-on. She lights up the screen in each scene and has great chemistry with Harrison Feldman, who plays Elliott, the boy with the heart the size of Australia. Their scenes together are some of the best of the film, providing warmth to the movie. I loved this quirky little film (which, by the way, is only a fast and furious 77 minutes long), the way it delves into the life and dreams of a girl who is going on a journey of growth and adventure. Go on this strange adventure with Greta because you won’t be disappointed, but you just might have to do a dance number if you decide to stay.    My Rating: Full Price   Girl Asleep Website
Forgotten Film:  Come Early Morning  (2006)  R   Lucille (Ashley Judd) is a hard drinking, hard working woman who, on the weekends, picks up someone to sleep with and then gets rid of the man as soon as she can. She is trying to reconnect with her father (Scott Wilson), a shy alcoholic man who tries to make up for past sins. Lucille’s world changes when she meets and beds Cal (Jeffrey Donovan), who looks to be the perfect southern gentleman. The question now, is Cal as good as he seems and how quickly can Lucille mess this relationship up?  Ashley Judd gives a riveting and engrossing performance of a woman who has been hurt too many times to let anyone get too close to her. Judd dominates the screen and makes you want to root for her character even though she isn’t all that likable. Judd and Jeffrey Donovan have that instant chemistry, so we see right away that they are meant to be together. This is the best performance by Ashley Judd since she set the world on fire with her performance in Ruby in Paradise (1993)    My Rating: Full Price   Come Early Morning Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Birth of a Nation:  Walla Mixer

Coming Soon  to a Theatre Near You:   The Eagle Huntress (2016)  G  I have heard nothing but great things about this documentary that follows a 13-year-old girl as she trains to be the first female eagle hunter. The trailer makes this film look like it is just magical.   The Eagle Huntress Website

Until Next Time

Friday, September 30, 2016

Deepwater Horizon

My View:  Deepwater Horizon  (2016)  PG-13  Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) is the chief electronics technician on the floating oil rig named, Deepwater Horizon. Williams will need all his skills when the rig explodes and creates one of the worst oil spills of all time.  It takes a while to get this film going but once the explosions start, the film seems to move at breathtaking speed. I loved the action in this movie, and director Peter Berg knows how to film those scenes to get the audience right there in with the characters. The movie has an outstanding cast with Kurt Russell giving a stellar performance as the safety expert of the rig and Gina Rodriquez, who gives a sympathetic and moving performance as the pilot of the rig.  There is tremendous chemistry between Russell and Wahlberg, which makes their characters seem more like father and son than co-workers. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I was mesmerized by the thrilling action sequences and gripping performances.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again    Deepwater Horizon Website
My View:  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children  (2016)  PG-13  Jake (Asa Butterfield) goes on a quest to find the home that his grandfather told so many stories about.  First off I must tell you not to take young children to this film. There are parts that are quite scary, and there is one scene that would be disturbing to young kids (heck, it was disturbing to me). I liked this film and feel it is one of the better adaptations of a Young Adult book genre.  The storyline is fascinating and inventive.  The special effects are well done and fun. I especially enjoyed Eva Green’s performance as Miss Peregrine, as she made her character likable but also very strange. The bad guys, led by Samuel L. Jackson, are creepy and sometimes shocking, which gives a horror tinge to the film.  I enjoyed the ending of the movie and hope there will be more as I would like to revisit this strange world of “peculiar children.”    My Rating:  Full Price   Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Website
My View:  Masterminds  (2016)  PG-13  David (Zach Galifianakis) is a security guard who drives an armored car every day. With a group of half-brained criminals, David does the impossible and steals more than $17 million.  Now, will he be able to keep the money? While I did enjoy that not just one, but two characters share my name, overall I did not enjoy this film.  The laughs were few and far between and most I had already seen from the trailer/commercials. A little of Galifianakis shtick goes a long way, and I grew tired of his character very early on. I did enjoy the quirky performance of Kate McKinnon, who plays David’s weird fiancé. Her character steals the film, as she deadpan’s her way throughout. The plot is based on a true story, but it’s predictable and, at times, just not funny.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Masterminds Website
Indiefest:  The Dressmaker  (2015)  R  A glamorous woman, Tilly (Kate Winslet) returns to her small town in rural Australia.  While she changes the style and dress of the women of the small town, she is there to get revenge on those who did her wrong in the past. I enjoyed this film that is part mystery, part revenge film, and part comedy. Winslet is scintillating as the stylish woman in the couture dresses clashing with the people of a small, isolated town.  Judy Davis is perfect as the crazy mother that Tilly has come back to care for. I loved Hugo Weaving as the police officer in town who has a penchant for wearing women's clothing. And there is great chemistry between Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, who plays her love interest. There are plenty of twists and turns to make the mystery interesting, and you won’t believe the ending. Tilly is a beautiful woman on a mission, someone you might want to meet, but you wouldn’t want to get on her bad side.  My Rating:  Full Price  The Dressmaker Website
Forgotten Films:  The Seven-Ups  (1973)  PG  Buddy (Roy Scheider) is part of an elite police team that is little known and mostly undercover.  The team focuses on crimes that can get more than seven years in prison when convicted.  When investigating the murder of his partner, Buddy uncovers a plot to kidnap mobsters for large ransoms.  This is a smart and gritty film where the cops don’t always follow the rules to get their convictions. Scheider is intense and scintillating as the cop on a mission that may get him killed. There is an rousing car chase that rivals the car chase sequence in the 1968 film Bullitt.   My Rating:  Full Price   The Seven-Ups Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Masterminds:  Props; Silicone Eel

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)  I am a sucker for Kate Beckinsale and her portrayal of the kickass vampire Selene. The first film is still the best one in the series, but I am just happy to have her back killing vamps.   Underworld: Blood Wars Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Magnificent Seven

My ViewThe Magnificent Seven  (2016) PG-13  The small, western town of Rose Creek is under the clutches of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard).  In desperation, the townspeople turn to employing seven outlaws, bounty hunters, and hired guns, to protect them. Against the odds, the seven gunfighters may win this battle, but, at what cost?  This film is a little bit of a letdown.  It’s too long and not enough of the characters, especially Bogue, the villain of the story, are terribly interesting or intriguing. I was disappointed especially in Chris Pratt’s performance which is very low key. I wanted him to be much more fun and over the top. Vincent D’Onofrio steals the movie as a bombastic trapper.  D’Onofrio looks like he is the only one in this film who is actually enjoying his part. I did get into the well-choreographed big fight sequence at the end, but it took way too long to get there.  The title of the film should have been The Ordinary Seven.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Magnificent Seven Facebook Page
Family FaireQueen of Katwe  (2016) PG The film follows the life of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Natwanga), a Ugandan chess prodigy from Katwe who becomes a Woman Candidate Master after her performances at World Chess Olympiads.  This film works because the film treats its subject with such a loving touch. The fact that this is a true story makes it all the more uplifting and impressive. It’s a charming and inspirational film that will have you rooting for the underdog, a young woman with an extraordinary skill and an impressive drive to be the best. It’s a movie you can take your whole family to (though young kids will be bored at times) and enjoy this extraordinary and moving tale of triumph over unbelievable odds.   My Rating:  Full Price   Queen of Katwe Facebook Page
IndiefestTanna  (2015)  Set in the South Pacific, Wawa, is a young girl from one of the last traditional tribes. She falls in love with the chief’s grandson, but, when an inter-tribal war starts up, she may be wed to a rival group to make the peace.  The young lovers must decide to run away or put their love of their tribe ahead of their love for each other.  This is a beautiful looking film, but unfortunately, the film isn’t a documentary but a fictional work about two star-crossed lovers. The film is slowly paced and spends much of its time following the day to day operations of the tribe, making the film seem almost like a travelogue rather than a touching love story.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Tanna Facebook Page
IndiefestAuthor: The JT LeRoy Story  (2016)  R  JT Leroy was the hit of the literary world. Having lived a life of prostitution, drug addiction, and vagrancy, he hit the literary scene with a series of articles and his first novel, “Sarah.” Then it was discovered that JT LeRoy wasn’t a real person but the creation of author Laura Albert. This documentary explores this fascinating story.  This is an improbable and absurd story that, if you made it into a fictional narrative, you wouldn’t believe that it could happen. The film is greatly enhanced by all the phone calls that Albert recorded (most apparently, without their knowledge), including those with celebrities such as singer Tom Waits, director Gus Van Sant, singer Courtney Love and even U2 lead singer Bono. Through those phone calls, we see just how much everyone that “JT” talked to wanted to believe that he was real. The web of lies that Albert weaves is immense and goes on far longer than you think it could. This is one of the most engaging and engrossing film I have seen in quite a while and should not be missed.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Author: The JT LeRoy Story Website
IndiefestGoat  (2016)   After getting over a terrifying assault during the summer, 19-year-old Brad (Ben Schnetzer) starts college.  His older brother, Brett (Nick Jonas), is in a fraternity and very popular on campus. Brett talks Brad into pledging to his fraternity and what happens during “Hell Week” will change both their lives forever. I have never been a fan of fraternities and this film just reaffirms my dislike. That being said, this is an intense and scintillating film that explores a young man’s attempt to deal with the attack while all the while enduring the hazing of the frat. Schnetzer gives an impressive performance as the damaged Brad, creating a character that seems to observe more than participate. Nick Jonas, as the protective and much cooler brother, is perfect in the role. Goat is an engaging and thought-provoking film. You might not want to pledge, but you will want to know what happens to Brett and Brad.  My Rating:  Full Price   Goat Facebook Page
Forgotten FilmOne False Move  (1992)  R  A trio of criminals (Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Beach, Cynda  Williams) commit a string of murders in L.A. to grab a large batch of drugs.  They intend to sell the drugs in Houston but end up in a small town in Arkansas on the run.  A local Chief of Police (Bill Paxton) is aided by two L.A. cops (Jim Metzler, Earl Billings), and the chief is hell bent on taking the trio down.  Bill Paxton is brilliant as the small town chief who is smarter than he looks. The plot is tense and builds to a violent and well-crafted ending. The film takes plenty of twists and turns with a big one at the end that you won’t see coming.  My Rating:  Full Price    One False Move Info  

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Magnificent Seven:  Mechanical Design: Mechanical Horse

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Loving  (2016) PG-13   Richard and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton), an interracial couple are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for the crime of getting married to each other. The film has been the talk of film festivals and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.   Loving Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby

My ViewBridget Jones’s Baby  (2016) R  Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is 43 and single again after breaking up with long-time boyfriend, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Her fortune seems to change when she meets the handsome American named Jack (Patrick Dempsey).  Nothing, though, is ever easy for Bridget, and, suddenly, she realizes she is pregnant and doesn’t know which of the two men are the father. I enjoyed this funny film, mostly due to the slapstick abilities of Zellweger who is brilliant in this movie. Patrick Dempsey, as the cocksure relationship expert Jack is perfect as the opposite of the restrained and stiff Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. I was almost on the floor laughing at one scene which involves a revolving door and a very pregnant Bridget. While it doesn’t quite have the charm of the first film, Bridget Jones’s Diary  (2001), it’s still a great addition to the Jones’s film legacy.   My Rating:  Full Price    Bridget Jones's Baby Website
My ViewBlair Witch  (2016) R  After seeing a video of his sister and her experiences in the woods of Blair Witch, James (James Allen McCune) sets out with friends to find his sister.  It could be the last thing he does in his life. If you are prone to motion sickness, then pass this film by because just like the first “found footage” film, The Blair Witch Project (1999), this is a movie that is all hand-held camera-work. Instead of just one camera, this film has more than you can count, including little ear piece cameras and a drone that allow the director, Adam Wingard, to get even more angles to add to the scary parts of the film. Unfortunately, the film comes off as almost a retelling of the first (with just more camera viewpoints), and I never really got scared. The first film was groundbreaking and scary as heck, but this movie comes off as a tired copy.    My Rating:  Cable   Blair Witch Website
My ViewSnowden  (2016) R  Based on a true story of an American computer professional named, Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who believes that the U.S. government was illegally collecting data on its citizens.  Snowden decides to steal classified information from the National Security Agency and release it to the British newspaper, The Guardian. My biggest problem with this film is that about a third of the movie takes place in the hotel room where Snowden hid out while The Guardian was releasing the data. We have already seen these scenes in the Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour (2014) by Laura Poitras (portrayed in Snowden by Melissa Leo). So why would I want to see a dramatization when I have witnessed the real thing, which by the way had far more tension than Snowden? The film wastes excellent performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley. There is also a fun portrayal of a CIA instructor by Nicolas Cage, though his scenes are too few to make any lasting impact. I came away from this film learning very little about Edward Snowden that I didn’t already know. Maybe it’s just too soon to make a movie about things that just went down a few years ago.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Snowden Website
IndiefestKicks  (2016)  R  Brandon (Jahking Guillory) is a 15-year-old boy living in L.A. who dreams of one day owning a pair of Air Jordans.  Brandon is convinced his life will change if he can just make enough money to swing buying the shoes. While he is right, his life isn’t about to get easier but real complicated real after he gets his “kicks.” This is a gritty, tough film to watch due to its hard-hitting portrayal of life in L.A. Be warned - the kids in this movie live a hard, rough and tumble life, filled with violence and alcohol. It’s a tale of revenge and the quest of a young boy to find his place in this world full of hazards. I did like the way the film was broken up into chapters by hip-hop/ rap songs, and the satisfying ending was the best part.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    Kinks Website
IndiefestThe Hollars  (2016)  PG-13  John Hollar (John Krasinski) is a struggling New York City graphic novelist who is forced to move back home when his mother (Margo Martindale) is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Returning home brings back all the old problems John had with his family and friends before he left for the big city. Complicating matters is his girlfriend (Anna Kendrick), whom he left in New York, just might be pregnant. With a cast that includes Richard Jenkins, Josh Groban, Charlie Day and Sharito Copley, this film should have been better. There are some funny scenes and a few touching ones, but, overall the film never quite finds its footing. Martingale gives a remarkable, moving performance as the mom who holds the family together, and Josh Groban gives a surprisingly winning performance as a youth pastor who helps Copley’s character deal with his failed marriage. Unfortunately, most of the characters come off as very two-dimensional, shallow portraits that don’t help move the story along. This is John Krasinski’s second attempt at directing a feature film (his first was 2009’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men), and it’s obvious that he needs to work on his directing skills.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Hollars Website

Indiefest:  Demon  (2014)  R  Peter (Itay Tiran) has come from England to Poland to get married to Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska). He has been given an old home by his father-in-law, and the wedding ceremony is to take place at the house. One night, Peter finds some old bones buried on the grounds and wakes up in the house with no knowledge of what went on. As the ceremony and the reception go on, the bridegroom becomes possessed by something. It’s a night that the families of this small town will ever forget. This is a strange film that doesn’t always work ( a lot of time is spent leading up to Peter’s possession which slows down the movie). The film is beautifully shot, with lots of strange and creepy shadows contributing to the overall feel of the film. There is an underlying message about giving one's self up to marriage but I never quite figured out what exactly the filmmaker was trying to say. There are a few scary moments but the film never can build momentum, and the ending feels abrupt and unsatisfying.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Demon Info

Forgotten FilmNightwatch  (1997)  R  A law student, Martin(Ewan McGregor), takes a job as a night watchman at a morgue.  He finds himself in the midst of a murder mystery, one where he becomes the main suspect. A detective (Nick Nolte) is obsessed with finding the murderer, and he becomes Martin’s only hope. A great cast that includes Josh Brolin, Lauren Graham, and Patricia Arquette make this film a watch, especially with all the twist and creepy turns.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Nightwatch Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Snowden: Dialog Coach: American Accent Rhys Ifans

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Lovers and the Despot  (2016)  Documentary of the story of a famous film director and an equally famous actress who are kidnapped and forced to make films in North Korea for movie-obsessed dictator Kim Jong-il. Having seen the fascinating documentary on North Korea called, “Under the Sun,” I am looking forward to seeing this film.   The Lovers and the Despot Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, September 9, 2016


My ViewSully  (2016)  PG-13  The story of Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks), “Sully,” who became a hero when he landed his engineless plane on the Hudson River, saving 150 lives. This is an uplifting, engaging, solid effort from both director Clint Eastwood and lead actor Tom Hanks. This film has some problems, mostly with a plot that jumps around in the timeline but overall it hits the right notes.  The action sequences of the water landing (not a crash) is exciting and thrilling, even though you know the outcome. IMAX greatly helps make the film feel up close and detailed. What I liked about this movie is that it highlights not only the great pilot skills and leadership that Sully exhibited but also that there were others that contributed to the fact that all 155 passengers and crew survived. It truly was a team effort and gave a well-deserved shot int the arm to the citizens of New York City. Be sure to stay through the credits for a very emotional bonus. My Rating;  Full Price   Sully Website  
The 50  (A Movie from My Best/Worst Films of All-Time):   #2 Best FilmGone With the Wind  (1939)  The classic love story between the rebellious Southern belle,  Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), and a fiery blockade gunrunner Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) during the Civil War.  Vivien Leigh is the reason that this film works as well as it does. She has the acting chops to make us love a character who isn’t very likable. She dominates every scene she is in, even with acting greats such as Gable, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard. It’s a legendary film that lives up to its billing.  
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Bad Santa 2  (2016)  R  It’s hard to put lightning in a bottle twice, and I just don’t think this Billy Bob Thornton starring role will work a 2nd time.  The first film was greatly aided by winning performances from Lauren Graham and Bernie Mac, both of which will be absent from this film.  Bad Santa 2 Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray)Now You See Me 2 (2016)  I hated this movie about the Four Horsemen getting back together and being pranked by a tech prodigy played by Daniel Radcliffe. I liked the first movie, mostly for the magic scenes which I thought were creative and fun. That’s the problem with this film: it’s a movie about magicians that doesn’t have any magic in it. The closest to believable magic in the film is when the cast throws a playing card around during a heist. The film is boring, predictable and just not much fun.  My Rating: Cable   Now You See Me 2 Website
Forgotten FilmReuben, Reuben (1983)  R  Things are not going well for Scottish poet Gowan McGland (Tom Conti). He has lost his job as a professor, hasn’t written a poem in ages, has developed a drinking problem and is on a lecture tour that he despises.  He is feeling pretty sorry for himself when he meets Geneva (Kelly McGillis) and his world changes. Tom Conti gives a dazzling performance as the forlorn poet who has lost his will to write. McGillis is sensational as the woman who sees Gowan for the man who he really is and it changes his life. While not a funny film, it’s a character study performed by a superb cast worth checking out.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    Reuben, Reuben Infor  

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Sully:  Lead Lighter

Coming Soon to a Theater Near YouThe Dressmaker  (2016)   A glamorous woman (Kate Winslet) returns to her small town in rural Australia.  While she changes the style and dress of the women of the small town, she is there to get revenge on those who did her wrong in the past.  The film has won more than ten awards in Australia and was the toast of the film festival circuit in America.   The Dressmaker Website

Until Next Time!