Friday, February 23, 2018

Game Night

My View:  Game Night (2018) R    A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve an actual murder mystery.  First, don’t judge a movie by its trailer because this film is so much funnier than I thought it was going to be. The film moves at a fast pace, and the humor of the film is outstanding. Jessie Plemons is a riot as a stoned-faced cop who lives next door to Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. His character wants to desperately be a part of their game night, but they think he is just too creepy to play (and he is creepy). I loved Rachel McAdams in this film as she has a knack for comedy, including physical comedy. The film has plenty of twists and turns, a plot that gets more complicated and funnier by the minute and a sensational cast that gets every drop of joyfulness out of the script. Game Night is a perfect date night film as the center is the excellent relationship that McAdam's and Bateman's characters have.    My Rating: Full Price   Game Night Website
My View:  Annihilation (2018) R   A biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition, going into an area called Area X, where the laws of science and nature don’t apply.  The film is one-thirds horror film and two-thirds sci-fi film. This is a gorgeous film to watch, and the art department did an outstanding job, as plant life and animals have morphed into fantastic looking flora and beasts. The horror aspects of this film are frightening, with one scene that matches the intensity of a scene in Alien. The full cast does a phenomenal job with Gina Rodriquez standing out as a tough as nails paramedic. It’s a very different role than her portrayal of Jane the Virgin on TV, and she makes us believe that she is the toughest of the group. I will warn you that the violence in this film is horrific and graphic, with one scene so gross that a lot of the audience with whom I saw the movie turned away. If you like Sci-Fi films that are a little trippy, and you don’t mind strange endings that don’t answer all your questions, then this film is for you.   My Rating: Full Price   Annihilation Website
Indiefest:  A Fantastic Woman  (2018)  R  Marina (Daniela Vega), a transsexual woman who works by day as a waitress and, at night, sings at a nightclub, is bowled over by the death of her boyfriend.  This is a tough film to watch because Marina’s life and lifestyle are being attacked on almost every side. Her boyfriend’s family doesn’t approve of their relationship and shows it in many ways including violence. Marina is threatened by the police because of the sudden death of her boyfriend and the fact that they don’t believe she was in a long-term relationship with him. Life keeps knocking Marina down, but she keeps getting up and perseveres. Daniela Vega, a transgender woman, and trained singer, is stunning, and gives a meaningful and heart-wrenching performance. It’s a splendid film that is worthy of its Academy Award nomination.    My Rating: Full Price   A Fantastic Woman Website
Forgotten Film:  Waking Life  (2001) R A man (Wiley Wiggins) seems to be stuck in a dream as he meets various people discussing the meaning and purpose of the universe. This animated film is beautiful to watch, and you will get joy from the conversations that happen. The animation is a type of rotoscoping, where they shoot the movie on film and then animate over those images, making the visuals of the film pop on screen. This is a movie that will make you think about life and its mysteries. The great thing about this film is that everyone is going to take something away that is different.    My Rating: Full Price   Waking Life Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Annihilation: Hair Puncher

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Love, Simon  (2018) Pg-13  Simon (Nick Robinson) is gay high school student who hasn’t come out. He is in love with an anonymous classmate whom he has only talked to online.  Now, Simon’s life is going to change in a big way.  I love the trailer for this film, so I have high hopes.   Love,Simon Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Black Panther

My ViewBlack Panther (2018)  PG-13  After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his country only to be challenged by a rival faction. Now T’Challa as the Black Panther teams up with C.I.A. agent Ross (Martin Freeman) to try and defeat the evil Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and keep his countrymen free.  This is a groundbreaking superhero movie because it doesn’t focus on the action sequences (though they are incredible) but focuses on the people and their back stories. The film feels extraordinarily personal and close up. You get to know why the heroes and villains become who they are now and why they are so driven. Michael B. Jordan’s character, Erik Killmonger, is the best Marvel villain ever. His backstory is exceptional and riveting. He is a character whom you hate, but you also understand why he does what he does. What I loved about this film is how many female characters kick butt. Letitia Wright, as the younger sister of T’Challa, steals every scene that she is in as the smart but snarky woman who is the brains behind the technology that T’Challa uses as Black Panther. I loved the humor in this film, which feels real and personable. This is one of the best Marvel films out there, but it’s also one of the best films of the year. Be sure and stay through all the credits as there are two bonus scenes.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again
Family Faire:  Early Man  (2018)  PG  Forced out of their homeland by the evil Lord Nooth, Dug, and his fellow tribe members unite to take on the Bronze Age City dwellers in a game of soccer.  I loved this film as I do much of the movies by Nick Park, creator of the Wallace and Gromit films. The film has a great comedic feel about it and is so much fun to watch. The stop-motion animation is bright and brilliantly done, giving the film a light tone. The storyline is funny and moving, hitting all the right notes. The voice actors are perfect for the roles, and I especially loved Eddie Redmayne as our hero, Dug. The film is a blast to watch, and I had a great time seeing it.  My Rating: Full Price
IndiefestHappy End  (2017)  R  Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), the patriarch of the family, is gradually succumbing to dementia.  His son (Mathieu Kassovitz) and daughter  (Isabelle Huppert) are slowly destroying his business. This is a dark and bleak look at a family that is falling apart at the seams. From the patriarch who continually tries to kill himself to the young daughter who has killed her mother, the film paints a bleak picture of a family who seemingly has everything but is rotten to the core. Not one person in this Michael Haneke film is happy in their lives, and we see their pain scrawled across the screen. This is a brutal film to watch but is worth seeing.   My Rating: Full Price
Forgotten Film:  My Blueberry Nights  (2007)  PG-13 A lonely young woman (Norah Jones) trying to get over a broken relationship takes a trip across America and encounters a series of offbeat characters along the way. This is a beautiful film about relationships and how they define us. The heart of this film is the performances of a brilliant cast, including Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, and David Straitharm. The film explores a person who is broken but heals herself through helping others find their way in life.  My Rating: Full Price

Weird Credits: From the credits of Black Panther:  Creature Technical Director

Coming Soon To a Theatre Near YouAnnihilation  (2018)  A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don't apply. I’m not sure what this film is about, but the trailer looks impressive and advanced word from film critics is excellent.
Until Next Time!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Fifty Shades Freed

My ViewFifty Shades Freed  (2018) R  Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Doman) are married, but their marriage is threatened by Jake Hyde (Eric Johnson). For a movie that has a ton of sex scenes, this is one unsexy film. With a plot that makes very little sense, the film moves from one sex scene to another; sometimes there is almost no space between them. The dialogue is laughable. Early on Anastasia says, “Boobs in Boobland” to give you an idea of the sparkling wit this film displays. The two leads have absolutely no chemistry on screen, and the sex scenes feel like two actors doing a sex scene instead of two passionate people in love. You can almost hear the director off camera giving them cues on what they should do to each other next. If you took out all the sex in this movie, you would have a beautiful travelogue about some very rich tourist spots, but it would still be a very dull movie.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again   Fifty Shades Freed Website
Indiefest:  Spilled Milk  (2017)  A documentary about two lifelong friends, Omar and Jaqai (the director of the film), and how Omar’s Sickle Cell Disease affects both of their lives. Using animation and humor, the film explores what Sickle Cell Disease is, the effects that it has on the people who have it, and the possible cure for it. We get an inside look at just how devastating this disease is as it continually puts Omar in the hospital when he experiences so much pain. The film also spotlights just how little doctors and nurses know about the disease since they rarely encounter someone who has it. Spilled Milk is an imaginative and fascinating look at a disease that I knew very little about, but this isn’t just a documentary about a disease, it’s also about friendship.   My Rating:  Full Price   Spilled Milk Website
In Case You Missed It (Movies just released on DVD/BluRay):  A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)  R   The bad moms (Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Kathryn Hahn) are back, and they are tired of creating the perfect Christmas, so they plan to rebel like the bad moms they are. I liked the first film, but this one misses the mark. I only laughed once and giggled a couple of more times, but that’s it because most of the material just isn’t funny. I love the three leads, but they are let down by a very skimpy plot that you can see coming from almost the film’s first frame. I also missed Christina Applegate, who was the villain in the first film but only makes a cameo in this one.   My Rating:  Cable    A Bad Moms Christmas Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Acrimony (2018)  R  A faithful wife (Taraji P. Henson) tires of standing by her cheating husband (Lyriq Bent) when she discovers that he is leaving her for another woman. Now it’s time for revenge. Look, I love Taraji P. Henson, but all I have to say about this film is that it’s written and directed by Tyler Perry.    Acrimony Info
Forgotten FilmZathura: A Space Adventure  (2005)  PG  Two brothers (Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson) began playing an old board game, and suddenly their home is hurled through space. Think Jumanji in space, but a whole lot more fun. As the brothers play the game (they figure out that the only way they are going to get back to earth is to finish the game) their actions become more dangerous. The film is a blast to watch, and the two kids work well with each other on the screen. I enjoyed the performance of Dax Shepard who plays an astronaut they pick up along the way.    My Rating: Full Price   Zathura: A Space Adventure Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Fifty Shades Freed:  Truck Costumer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Deadpool 2 (Untitled Deadpool Sequel)  (2018)  I have no clue what this film will be about (read the IMDB summary, it’s hilarious). All I know is I loved the first one and can’t wait to see this one.   Untitled Deadpool Sequel Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, February 2, 2018


My ViewWinchester  (2018)  PG-13  An eccentric firearm heiress (Helen Mirren) believes she is haunted by the souls of people killed by the Winchester repeating rifle. I was hoping because it is based on a true story and it has Helen Mirren in it that it would be good. Instead, we get a rather ordinary jump out of the dark, scary movie. Mirren is ok in the role, but I would have liked her to camp it up a bit just to make the storyline more interesting. The special effects are few and far between, though I did enjoy the house (which is still around and a big tourist draw) which is full of dead ends and staircases that go nowhere, much like this film.  My Rating: Cable   Winchester Website
Full disclosure: This film is released by CBS Films and I work for a CBS owned station.
In Case You Missed It (Movies just released on DVD/BluRay):  Professor Marston and the Wonder Women  (2017)  R    The true story of psychologist William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) who was in a polyamorous relationship with his wife (Rebecca Hall) and his mistress (Olive Byrne). Marston went on to create the legendary and controversial (for its time) comic book character Wonder Woman. This is a movie about the choices we make in our relationships and how those choices sometimes take great courage to make. This film isn’t for everyone as it contains a bit of nudity, along with some bondage. I liked Hall and Evans’ performances, but it’s Rebecca Hall who makes this film worth watching. Playing the hard-headed, opinionated, and brilliant wife, Hall dominates every scene that she is in. I think you will be shocked at Marston’s ideas that he incorporated into his creation of Wonder Woman. This is a complex, moving tale about the exploration of what love means and if it, indeed, can conquer all that life gives us.   My Rating:  Full Price   Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Sherlock Gnomes  (2018)  The garden gnomes, Gnomeo & Juliet are back, and this time they get the help of detective Sherlock Gnomes to find out what happened to the other lawn ornaments in the yard that went missing. I heard the first one was pretty bad, so I doubt a sequel will be any better.   Sherlock Gnome
Forgotten FilmThe Late Show (1977)  PG  An old, retired Private Investigator (Art Carney)decides to take on one last case - find the lost cat of a woman (Lily Tomlin). While searching for the cat, the P.I. gets involved in solving a robbery and a murder. Part comedy, part crime drama (there is quite a bit of violence) this film is a blast to watch and will keep you guessing up until the end. Tomlin and Carney work off each other brilliantly, and the dialogue is smart and, at times, hilarious. While an amusing film, The Late Show also captures the look and feel of the classic gumshoe crime films of the 40’s and 50’s.  My Rating: Full Price    The Late Show Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Winchester: Stand By Props Assistant: Casual

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouI Kill Giants  (2018)  Barbara (Madison Wolfe) is a young loner who struggles through life by escaping into a world of magic and monsters. Barbara is convinced that her town is going to be attacked by giants. The question is, is Barbara crazy or does she know something that no one else knows?  The trailer looks phenomenal, and it has one of my favorite actresses in it, Zoe Saldana.   I Kill Giants Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, January 26, 2018

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

My View:  Maze Runner: The Death Cure  (2018)   PG-13   Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his band of escaped Gladers must travel to and break into the legendary 'Last City' to find a cure for the zombie bites. The 'Last City' becomes their most complicated maze yet. Will Thomas and his gang find what they are looking for?  I liked the first two films in the series but, I find this one dull, and it feels longer than its 144 minutes run time. It’s been almost three years since we saw the 2nd film in the series, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, so it’s a little hard to remember who everyone is and their relationships to each other. I liked the action sequences, which are exciting to watch but there are long sections between them. The end seems very contrived and not well thought out. I think fans of the YA book series are going to be disappointed in this film.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Maze Runner: The Death Cure Website
In Case You Missed It (Movies just released on DVD/BluRay): Goodbye Christopher Robin  (2017)  PG  A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) has returned from WW I to his wife (Margot Robbie) but is suffering from PTSD.  After the birth of his son, Christopher Robin, he moves his family to the country. There, as he interacts with Christopher, a book idea springs up. That book would become the beloved Winnie the Pooh. This film only works when Christopher Robin and his dad are out in the woods playing. The rest of the film is a depressing view of a very dysfunctional family who exploits their child for fame and money. The film never finds its voice, and Will Tilston, as the eight-year-old Christopher Robin, isn’t up to the spotlight shining on him, as his performance is one dimensional.  I don’t think fans of "Winnie the Pooh" are going to be happy with this very un-Pooh like film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Goodbye Christopher Robin Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Samson  (2018)  PG-13  The story of Samson (Jackson Rathbone) from the Bible, where he takes on a cruel Philistine prince (Billy Zane) who is responsible for killing Samson’s love of his life. When the biggest stars of the film are Billy Zane, Rutger Hauer, and Lindsay Wagner, you just might have a bad movie.   Samson Website
Forgotten Film: The Thin Blue Line (1988)  This documentary by legendary filmmaker Errol Morris, feels more like a drama because Morris uses actors to recreate the murder of a police officer and then the actions of the police department to wrongly try and convict a man of a crime he didn’t commit. This is a different type of documentary as there isn’t a narrator. Instead, the film uses newspaper clippings and other documents to fill in the story. Many of the recreated scenes are shown from two or three perspectives, giving you all the information you need to make up your own mind about who killed the police officer. This engrossing film is one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen.  My Take:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Thin Blue Line Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Maze Runner: The Death Cure:  Animal Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Isle of Dogs  (2018)  Set in Japan, a young boy goes on a search for his lost dog.  Hey, it’s directed by Wes Anderson, and it’s animated, so I’m in.    Isle of Dogs Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, January 19, 2018

Forever My Girl

My View:  Forever My Girl  (2018)  PG  A big country music star (Alex Roe) returns home after being gone for ten years and rediscovers his true love, a woman named, Josie (Jessica Rothe). This is your ordinary romance film about a jilted-at the-altar girl who stayed in her hometown when the man who left her returns. It’s precisely what you think it would be, a little schmaltzy and too sweet, at times. What makes this film watchable is the excellent group of songs that Alex Roe and others (including one by Travis Tritt) that are preformed in the film and the performance of Abby Ryder Fortson, who steals the spotlight from the rest of the cast. She is adorable as Josie’s headstrong and precocious daughter, Billy. You instantly fall in love with Billy as Ryder Fortson delivers lines like a seasoned pro. This isn’t a bad date movie if you like romantic films and country music.    My Rating:  Cable   Forever My Girl Website 
Indiefest:  Small Town Crime  (2017)  R  An alcoholic ex-cop (John Hawkes) finds the body of a dead young woman and decides to find her killer. This is an old-fashioned hard-drinking murder mystery from writer/directors Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms. Small Town Crime is the kind of story where the hero isn’t above breaking a few laws to solve the case. Part dark comedy, part private eye film, it’s a look into the sleazy life of the world of dive bars, boozy patrons and prostitution with a little bit of backstabbing thrown in for fun.  This film is a trip you will want to take because of John Hawkes. Hawkes is one of those rare actors that, as soon as he appears on the screen, we are already rooting for his character, no matter how many flaws his character has.   This is a film that someone like old pulp fiction writer Mickey Spillane or even any character that the Coen brothers have created would be happy to be in. It’s a world of booze, dead bodies, and bad intentions; thank God we have John Hawkes to lead us through it!    My Rating: Full Price   Small Town Crime Website
IndiefestThe Final Year  (2017)  Documentary on President Obama’s last year in office where Filmmaker Greg Barker was given unprecedented access to the last year of President Obama’s foreign policy team.  The film focuses on Obama and his team made up of Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice, American Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, and Deputy National Security Adviser/speechwriter Ben Rhodes.  The film follows the President, Kerry, and Powers as they travel around the world visiting 21 countries. At times the film feels like a puff piece for the Obama administration, but you do catch moments where there are personal glimpses with just the right bit of humanity, like a young woman asking the President how to balance a successful marriage. Best moment of the film, which was also one of the saddest, was when speechwriter Ben Rhodes, on election night, is sitting outside on some steps trying just to say, "I have no words" into the camera and tries at least ten times to say it.  A guy who writes speeches for a living was speechless.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Final Year Website
In Case You Missed It (Movies just released on DVD/BluRay):  Loving Vincent  (2017)  PG-13  The complicated life and controversial death of one of history’s most celebrated artists, Vincent Van Gogh. This film took six years and used more than 125 artists to animate this movie using oil paints and more than 65,000 panels. The movie takes 120 of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings and incorporates them into the scenery and the characters. It makes his paintings come to life right before your eyes. The film is told through the travels of a Postmasters son, Armand (Douglas Booth) who is given the task of taking a letter Van Gogh wrote on the day of his death to Vincent’s brother. As Armand travels, he begins seeking information on why Vincent committed suicide making the film more of a mystery than just your typical biographical picture. The animation is gorgeous, and fans of Van Gogh will love how his paintings fill the screen. To fully appreciate the wonder of this film, it has to be seen on the big screen as this movie creates a love letter to Van Gogh’s magnificent, stunning paintings. Van Gogh produced works that continued to bring joy to a world, even if that world didn’t understand him at that time. As Vincent used to sign his letters to his beloved Theo with the saying, Loving Vincent, you, too, will be loving Vincent if you see this film.   My Rating:  Full Price   Loving Vincent Website
Forgotten Film:  Soapdish  (1991) PG-13  An up-and-coming actress (Cathy Moriarty) on a daytime drama plots with her producer (Robert Downey Jr.) to get the longtime star (Sally Field) of the soap off the show. Like the soap TV show itself, Soapdish has tons of plot twists, backstabs and outlandish affairs that make this film so much fun to watch. The outstanding cast includes Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Kline, Elisabeth Shue, Carrie Fisher and Garry Marshall who is hilarious as the put-upon network boss. Everyone looks to be having a great time on screen as you will be, too, watching Soapdish.   My Rating: Full Price   Soapdish Info

Weird Credit:  From the credits of Small Town Crime: Crafty / Production Assistant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The 15:17 to Paris  (2018)  PG-13  Based on a true story where American soldiers discover a terrorist plot on a Paris-bound train. Clint Eastwood has been uneven in his films lately, but I have hope for this one.   The 15;17 to Paris Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Paddington 2

Family Faire:  Paddington 2  (2017)  PG  Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw), who is happily living with the Brown family (Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville), picks up a series of odd jobs around the neighborhood to buy the perfect present for Aunt Lucy’s (voiced by Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday party.  I loved the first Paddington film and found it fun and delightful. I am happy to say that this movie is even better than the first. The CGI special effects are breathtaking, as the film has a number of close-ups of Paddington that show fantastic detail. The film is full of funny scenes, and I love how Paddington is so nice and polite that he even wins over hardened criminals to his way of positively looking at life. Paddington 2 is a film that the whole family can love and enjoy. We all need a little Paddington in our lives. Be sure to stay through the credits as there is a wonderful surprise at the end.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Paddington 2 Website
My View:  The Post  (2017)  PG-13  When a government cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents is uncovered, the country’s first female publisher, Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), must put her reputation and her paper at risk to publish the story at the urging of a hard-headed editor by the name of Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks). The Post has one of the best ensemble casts I have ever seen. Streep and Hanks have never worked together before, but you wouldn’t know it as their timing and chemistry is flawless. Streep gives a brilliant performance as a woman who, due to the death of her husband, is asked to do things out of her comfort zone but steps up to the task. The dialogue is smart and makes the film move along at a quick pace. The storyline is strong and compelling, and even though I knew the outcome, the film still has plenty of twists and turns. This is a film you will not want to miss.     My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again    The Post Facebook Page
My ViewThe Commuter  (2017)  PG-13  Michael (Liam Neeson) is an insurance salesman who is on his way home via the subway. A stranger contacts him and offers Michael $100,000 if he can identify a hidden person on the train before he gets to his stop. Michael soon realizes that the passengers and his family are in danger if he doesn’t solve the puzzle.  You get what you expect with this Liam Neeson vehicle, some close action fights, suspenseful scenes and Liam being Liam. The film does contain a satisfying mystery that I never figured out before it was revealed. The ending is a little far-fetched, though it does contain a rather exciting action sequence. If you like Neeson action movies, you will like this one.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Commuter Website
Forgotten FilmBurden of Dreams  (1982)  A documentary on the making of the classic Werner Herzog film, Fitzcarraldo (1982). Almost everything that could go wrong does when this film was being made. From losing major cast members halfway through production to getting caught up in a war between Peru and Ecuador, it’s amazing the film was completed, much less turned out as an outstanding classic film. It’s a brilliant documentary that shows just how hard it is to make a film.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again    Burden of Dreams Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Paddington 2:  Special Effects Teeth

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Upside  (2017)  An unusual pairing of an unemployed man (Kevin Hart) and a wealthy paraplegic (Bryan Cranston) that will change both their lives. The film is a remake of the 2016 French film called, The Intouchables.  If it is half as good as that film, it will be outstanding.    The Upside Info
Until Next Time!