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

Sully


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

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Until Next Time! 


Friday, September 2, 2016

Morgan

My ViewMorgan  (2016)  R  Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) is not like other teenagers.  She was created in a laboratory by a group of scientists led by Dr. Lui Cheng (Michelle Yeoh). Corporate troubleshooter Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is sent to investigate the program when Morgan violently attacks one of the scientists (Jennifer Jason Leigh). What will Lee find when she gets to the compound? This felt like a made-for-TV movie on one of the cable networks aimed at teens. With a plot that was too simple and an ending that was predictable from the start, the movie never gets started. The cast seems to be just going through the motions, and I was especially disappointed by Anya Taylor-Joy, who was so good in last year’s The Witch. Her performance is shallow and never intimidating (something her character was supposed to exhibit). The action sequences are few and done with “shaky-cam,” so as an action film, it fails, which it also fails as a suspenseful film.   My Rating:  Cable   Morgan Website

My ViewThe Light Between Oceans  (2016)  PG-13  Tom (Michael Fassbender), a lighthouse keeper, and his wife, Isabel (Alicia Vikander), are living off the coast of Western Australia soon after the end of World War I.  A rowboat with a baby inside washes on shore, and the childless couple decide to raise the child they name Lucy as their own. Years later their lives are changed when they encounter a woman (Rachel Weisz) on a visit to the mainland. My biggest problem with this film is I never emotionally connected with the characters. The movie is beautiful to look at. The cinematography by Adam Arkapaw is gorgeous and captures the raw beauty of the rustic coast of Australia, with sweeping shots from high above which gives us a bird’s eye view of the land. Those shots are greatly aided by a score by Alexandre Despiat that adds to the feel and tone of the film. It looks like Director/writer Derek Cianofrance may have fallen in love with this part of the country because after the fourth overhead shot of the coast, you become a little bored with the same shots. The film moves at a slow, almost snail’s pace, making the film feel much longer than its 2-hour 12-minute length.  Ultimately, the film wears down over the constant twist and turns, never quite getting out of the darkness that it has created. The ending of the movie feels like it was added on by the studio to try and fix the mess that the filmmaker created, but it doesn’t fix anything.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Light Between Oceans Facebook Page

My ViewComplete Unknown  (2016)  R  Tom (Michael Shannon) is invited to a dinner party. There Tom meets a woman (Rachel Weisz) whom he is convinced he has met before, but she says he is mistaken. When the woman makes a hasty exit, Tom follows, and they go on an all-night odyssey where Tom will discover the woman’s hidden secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed this film due to the superlative performances by Shannon and Weisz. I especially enjoyed Weisz’s performance as the mysterious woman with a multi-layered past. Shannon works off Weisz extremely well, creating sparks between the two on-screen. It’s an entertaining film that has plenty of twists and turns. It’s a well-crafted tale that is fun to watch.   My Rating: Full Price   Complete Unknown Website

IndiefestMorris From America  (2016)  R  The film centers on a 13-year-old boy named Morris (Markees Christmas) and his single father, Curtis (Craig Robinson), while they live in a town in Germany. Morris is a “fish out of water” and only wants to write rap lyrics in his room until he meets an older teen girl, Katrin (Lina Keller).  She is way out of his league, but Morris is going to fall in love, regardless. Craig Robinson does a masterful job as the single father who loves his son and is willing to make this experience in a foreign country work. Robinson has just about the right amount of smart ass in him to make his caricature credible while also showing that his character has a sweet and loving side. I loved his interactions with Markees Christmas and their timing together is about as good as it gets, making their scenes seem believable and, at times, moving. Overall, this is a movie that works due to its highly creative storyline, great chemistry between Christmas and Robinson and a script that treats its characters like they are living, breathing people. Director Chad Hartigan creates a world that feels real while being charming, funny and, at times, moving.  Let’s hope that someday Morris does become a rap star, because he has quite a bit to say.    My Rating: Full Price   Morris From America Website

IndiefestThe Sea of Trees (2016)  PG-13  An American professor(Matthew McConaughey) travels to Japan and is contemplating suicide. He befriends a Japanese man (Ken Watanabe) lost in a forest near Mt. Fuji and, as they search for a way out, the two embark on a spiritual, life-changing journey of friendship, discovery, and healing; one which may ultimately re-connect Arthur with his love for his wife (Naomi Watts). This is a film full of regrets, betrayal, and redemption. McConaughey gives an understated performance of a man who is full of guilt and is looking for a way out of his pain. I greatly enjoyed the performance of Naomi Watts who plays Arthur’s wife. She is a breath of needed fresh air in a film that can get very depressing. While not a great film and I did not like the twist at the end, I still enjoyed watching McConaughey up on the screen.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Sea of Trees Website

Indiefest Little Men  (2016)  PG  When 13-year-old Jake’s (Theo Taplitz) grandfather dies, his family moves from Manhattan to his grandfather’s old Brooklyn home. Single mom Leonor (Paulina Garcia) has a dress store below Jake’s new home. He soon befriends Tony (Michael Barbieri), Leonor’s son and they become fast friends. That friendship will be tested when Jake’s father, Brian (Greg Kinnear) decides to raise the rent on Leonor’s store.  A film that on outward appearance seems light but when you think back at all the characters went through, is nuanced and full of drama. Greg Kinnear gives one of the best performances of his career and the two kids, Taplitz and Barbieri, are a joy to watch. This is a film not to be missed about the friendship of two very different boys who find common ground. If only their parents could do the same.   My Rating: Full Price   Little Men Website

Forgotten FilmBig Wednesday  (1978)  PG   Matt (Jan-Michael Vincent), Jack (William Katt) and Leroy (Gary Busey) are living the carefree life of California surfers. It’s the 1960’s, and everything is wonderful in their lives full of beaches, girls and big waves. Unfortunately, the Vietnam War is looming on the horizon, and the guys wonder if they will survive “Big Wednesday,” the mythical day when the ultimate wave will come. The film is directed by John Milius (Conan the Barbarian (1982), Red Dawn (1984)) and he gathered some of the greatest surfers of all time to do the stunts. This film has some stunning surfing footage, is fascinating to watch, and anyone who has an interest in the surfing world will enjoy this film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Big Wednesday Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Light Between Oceans:  Specialty Costume Elements


Coming Soon to a Theatre NearSully  (2016) PG-13   The story of Chesley Sullenberger, “Sully”, who became a hero when he landed his engineless plane on the Hudson River, saving over 150 lives.  Hey, the film stars Tom Hanks, Laura Linney and is directed by Clint Eastwood.  That’s enough reason to the see the movie for me.    Sully Website
Until Next Time!

 
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Friday, August 26, 2016

Don't Breathe


My ViewDon’t Breathe  (2016)  R  Suspenseful film about a group of friends who break into a house inhabited by a blind man. They think it will be an easy heist…boy are they wrong.  I enjoyed this film, but let me tell you, there is a lot of violence, gruesome, bone-cracking violence in this film. Also, there is a scene that is so gross, the audience I saw the film with let out a huge “eew.” There is a lot of suspense in this movie, and it builds extremely well. I thought that Jane Levy did an outstanding job as the cat burglar, Rocky, who steals to get enough money to take her and her sister out of state and away from their abusive mother. There is an excellent use of sound in this film, making the scenes incredibly tense. What I liked about this movie is that takes a very simple premise and makes it a highly entertaining film. But, be warned, it is very violent, and you will be talking about the gross scene long after the movie ends.   My Rating: Full Price   Don't Breathe Website

My ViewHands of Stone  (2016)  R  Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) was one of the toughest fighters ever. He fought from age 16 to age 50. In 1980, he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher) to capture the WBC welterweight title. That was just the start of the story.  The film takes what is a remarkable tale and makes it seem generic. The script, which has some horrible dialogue,  lets down the cast, especially Edgar Ramirez, who, in spite of the script, gives a phenomenal performance. Robert De Niro didn't seem to break a sweat playing the legendary trainer, Ray Arcel, who takes Duran under his wing. I hated the editing of the fight sequences, which were choppy and hard to follow. The film tries to cover too much of Duran’s life and so seems to drag in certain places. The film takes a fascinating, dynamic fighter and makes him seem dull.    My Rating: Cable   Hands of Stone Facebook Page

Indiefest:  Southside with You  (2016)  PG-13  The film chronicles the first date in 1989 Chicago of future President Barack (Parker Sawyers) and Michelle Obama (Tika Sumpter). I enjoyed this romantic drama by director/writer Richard Tanne, as it has a nice light touch of romance with some smarts to it, much like the subjects it profiles. The film concentrates on two people getting to know each other, both confident in their abilities to express themselves and make a point. Tanne creates a world where we see the potential in both of these people individually and as a team. It’s the dialogue that makes this film interesting and fun to watch. The heart of this movie and why it works so well is the performances by Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers. Sumpter gives a spirited and fiery performance as Michelle, while also being a little reserved, almost cold, especially early on. Sumpter plays off Parker well, with the patter between the two seeming natural and effortless. Sawyers does an excellent job capturing the future President’s speech pattern and mannerisms. It’s a delightful romance that works on every level.   My Rating:  Full Price   Southside with You Website

IndiefestMiss Sharon Jones!  (2016)  This documentary follows R&B singer Miss Sharon Jones in the most challenging year of her life when she confronts pancreatic cancer. Cancer will soon learn that you can’t keep a Grammy nominated powerhouse down for long. This documentary is from the two-time Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple. Kopple’s camera follows Jones, who is talkative and mostly upbeat, as she goes from surgery to remove and reroute her organs, to moving in with a holistic nutritionist to help her with recovery from her chemo. The film contrasts the concert scenes of the past, where Jones is a whirling dervish, to a woman who has lost her strength so much that she struggles to walk up a flight of stairs. We get to see the smaller moments of Jones’s struggle. You are constantly amazed at her positivity and her lust for life, such as when she revels in telling the camera of her seemingly endless list of daytime TV watching or when she interacts with other chemo patients, always with a positive attitude and ear to listen to their stories. You are going to want to go on this journey with this fireplug of a singer who, through her grace, spirit makes you feel better about the world, a world filled with the beautiful music that she creates.   My Rating:  Full Price   Miss Sharon Jones! Website

Forgotten FilmThe Whole Wide World  (1996)  PG  In a small Texas town in the 1930s, a young schoolteacher, Novalyne (Renee Zellweger), meets a young man named Robert Howard (Vincent D’Onofrio). Robert is the writer of the Conan the Barbarian stories and is quite shy and a little strange. They start up a friendship that just might lead to better things. This is a beautiful story about two people who seem exact opposites but find common ground to relate to each other. Zellweger is dazzling as the school teacher with the heart of gold, and D’Onofrio gives one of his best performances.   My Rating: Full Price   The Whole Wide World Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Don’t Breathe:  Standby Props


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   The Magnificent Seven (2016) PG-13   Two of my favorite films are  Seven Samurai (1954), the original source for both westerns and The Magnificent Seven (1960), so I am looking forward to this retelling of the tale of seven gunfighters coming to the defense of a western town. The cast includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke.   The Magnificent Seven Facebook page
Until Next Time!



Friday, August 19, 2016

Ben-Hur


My ViewBen-Hur  (2016)  PG-13  A nobleman, Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), is falsely accused of an assassination attempt by his childhood friend and adoptive brother, Messala (Toby Kebbell). After years of being a slave under the Romans, Ben-Hur returns home to seek revenge, but, instead, he finds redemption.  The problem is when you remake a big, old-school Hollywood spectacle like Ben-Hur, you have to be bigger, more spectacular than the original, and this movie does the opposite. Other than a dazzling, impressive chariot race, this film feels and look flat, almost subdued. One of the mistakes is when we meet Jesus, we never feel that he is different than other people, except that he is preaching a nonviolence message. We should believe he is the son of God, but I never got that feeling. The water scenes in the 1959 film were much more moving, mostly because we never see Jesus’s face, just the reactions that everyone has when they see him. I was most disappointed in the screenplay because I greatly respect one of the screenwriters, John Ridley, but the storyline is slow moving, and the ending seems to have been written by a ten-year-old. I never thought Charlton Heston was a great actor, but he had a great “movie star” presence and charisma, which Jack Huston doesn’t have. It's not worth paying the extra money to see it in 3-D or IMAX for just the chariot scenes and it wasn't shot in 3-D. While not a bad movie, Ben-Hur (besides the race) is dull and lifeless. Maybe they should call it Ben-Blah.  My Rating:  Cable    Ben-Hur Website
IndiefestHell or High Water  (2016)  R  A divorced father (Chris Pine) and his ex-con brother (Ben Foster) plan a series of bank robberies to save the family farm from foreclosure. A tough Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) and his partner (Gil Birmingham) are hot on the heels of the bank robbers. One of the best films of the year, mostly due to the outstanding, spot-on performances by the full cast. Writer Taylor Sheridan (who wrote the excellent “Sicario’) and director David Mackenzie have conceived a moving and exciting modern western set in the small towns of West Texas. The characters, even down to the smaller parts, like a grumpy old waitress, are rich and complex. The backbone of this film is the performances by the main cast. Foster and Evans play off each other so well; it makes the idea that they are brothers easy to believe and even easier to understand their relationship and motives. Jeff Bridges is scintillating to watch as he melds into the Texas Ranger who just might be hoping to go out in a flurry of bullets rather than fade away in retirement.  This is one film you will not want to miss.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Hell or High Water Website
My ViewWar Dogs  (2016)  R  Two young men (Jonah Hill, Miles Teller) win a 300 million dollar contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. Let me stress that this is not a comedy, because the TV ads and the trailer make it look like one.  Yes, there are comedic bits, but this is a drama about two men whose friendship is threatened when they get in over their heads with a contract they may never fulfill. I like the performances of Teller and especially Jonah Hill, who plays a man so unlikeable you began rooting against him from almost the start of the movie. My problem with this film is it’s too long and takes way too much time to get the story going. The backstory of Teller’s character takes almost the first third of the film, and it makes the film drag, so that by the time the story picks up, you just don’t care what happens.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   War Dogs Facebook Page
Family FaireKubo and the Two Strings  (2016)  PG  A young boy named Kubo, aided by a talking monkey and samurai beetle, must locate a magical suit of armor that was worn by his late father to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.  Unbelievably beautiful stop-motion animation combined with a brilliant storyline make this film one of the best movies of the summer. The plot is simple but nuanced with a great message about believing in yourself and your abilities. The animation is beautiful and some of the best I have ever seen. Kids will enjoy the fast moving storyline, and grownups will thoroughly drink in the gorgeous animation. Outstanding voice work by a cast that includes Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, and Rooney Mara add flavor and texture. The film is worth the extra money to see it in 3-D, as it was made in 3-D and uses the technology to it's full extent. Go on an adventure with Kubo and his friends this summer; you won’t be disappointed.   My Take: I Would Pay to See it Again    Kubo and the Two Strings Facebook Page 
Forgotten FilmThe Hospital  (1971)  An overly stressed doctor (George C. Scott) tries to stay sane while a hospital is collapsing around him. This movie, written brilliantly by Paddy Chayefsky, is part farce, part drama with a bit of a mystery thrown in. The movie starts out with a series of deaths, most due to the incompetence of the staff, making the film seem like this will be a comedy of errors. By the middle of the movie, it takes a turn and becomes a riveting drama bolstered by the dazzling performances of Scott and Diana Rigg, who plays his love interest. Scott gives one of his best performances as the Doctor who might not survive, either by his hand or someone else’s. You wouldn’t want to be a patient at this hospital, but you will enjoy watching the staff.   My Rating:  Full Price   The Hospital Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Ben-Hur:  Leather Master

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouHidden Figures  (2017)  Three African-American women provide NASA with critical mathematical data which enables the launch of the program’s first successful space missions.  The trailer looks awesome and with a cast of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, how could it not be a hit?   Hidden Figures Website 
Until Next Time!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Pete's Dragon

Family Faire: Pete’s Dragon (2016) PG In the Pacific Northwest, Forest Ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) finds a young boy named, Pete (Oakes Fegley), who has remarkably lived in the woods for six years.  Pete claims that he was under the protection of a dragon named, Elliott. Could Elliott be real? I am not a fan of the original 1977 Disney film, but this movie does improve on the story, mostly due to a fantastic and imaginative dragon (think a giant puppy with wings) that clearly loves Pete and is his best friend. Kids will enjoy the film, but parents may get a little bored with the simple storyline. The kid who plays Pete, Oakes Fegley, is a joy to watch, especially in the first half of the film where he is solely interacting with Elliott. The flying sequences are well done, but it’s not necessary to see it in 3-D. My biggest objection to the film is that the villain of the story is so broadly and clumsily written that he belongs in a 1950’s comic book. Pete’s Dragon is not a bad film, but I just wish it was a little more complex.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Pete's Dragon Website
My ViewSausage Party  (2016)  R  Food has one objective at the grocery store, to be chosen to go home with humans. A hot dog sausage named, Frank (Seth Rogen), learns the horrible truth that humans want to cook and eat food.  Now Frank must convince his friends in the grocery store that they must fight back if they want to live. A bit of a warning: If you are easily offended, don’t see this film. If you don’t like cursing in movies, don’t see the film. If crude jokes about sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or just about any other subject offend you, don’t see this film. This is a hilarious movie, but man, is it weird. At one time, I had my hand in front of my face because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This film is looks like the creators took all the raunchy parts from This Is the End, Neighbors and Knocked Up, decided to animate it and then said, “Well, that’s a start.” This is a hilarious film that basically takes the tried and true formula of a quest to get back home and turns it on its ear.  Though even with all of its crude jokes and over-the-top stereotypes, it’s got a deeper message about religion and race/ideological relations. But be warned, you are going to have to hear/see a lot of jokes about sex to get to that message. By the way, producers had to cut scenes to avoid an NC-17 rating.  After seeing this film, I can’t imagine what those scenes showed.   My Take:  Full Price   Sausage Party Website
My View:  Florence Foster Jenkins  (2016)  PG-13  Florence (Meryl Streep) is a beloved socialite who entertains her friends and family with her Opera singing. Urged on by her husband (Hugh Grant), she decides to record an album and play Carnegie Hall.  The only problem: she can’t correctly sing even one note. This delightful film is reminiscent of the screwball movies of the thirties, though it never gets to a frenzied level of the comedies of the past. The film is funny, moves at a quick pace and has a few twists and turns (one which you won’t see coming). As with any comedy, it does have serious moments as well as an underlying sadness of what Florence’s life could have been, but her “can do” attitude and perseverance dominate which makes for an upbeat and joyful film. I liked Grant as the supportive but caddish husband and especially Simon Helberg as Florence’s quirky accompanist. This is, of course, Meryl’s movie, and she jumps with both feet into the deep end with relish portraying this fascinating woman. It’s a high energy performance that makes Florence extremely likable, making us root for her to succeed, even though we are aware Florence can’t sing. It doesn’t matter because, against all the odds, she thinks she can. Not everything is perfect in Florence’s world, particularly when her husband leaves her every night to sleep with someone else, and Streep allows her character to have that sadness just in the background of her character’s actions.  It's Streep’s boisterous performance that makes this film so much fun to watch.  You may not always enjoy the singing, but you certainly will admire the gusto.    My Rating:  Full Price   Florence Foster Jenkins Website
IndiefestDon’t Think Twice  (2016)  R  A long time New York improv group loses their lease, and one of the members lands a TV show.  I loved writer/director Mike Birbiglia’s first picture “Sleep Walk With Me,” which was about the trials and tribulations of being a stand-up comic on the road. I am happy to say that Birbiglia has done it again with “Don’t Think Twice,” as this movie is as humorous and inventive as his first film. The joy of this movie is the improv scenes (some were scripted, and others were improvised) that will have you on the floor laughing. Even some of the scenes away from the club are fun to watch as the group makes fun of each other constantly, though, sometimes the kidding can go too far and touch a nerve or two. This is a heartfelt, funny film that deals with all the pain, sacrifice and lows that comedians face in their everyday life just so that they can get those few minutes in the spotlight. “Don’t Think Twice” is a film that shows us that as painful as those struggles are, if you can make someone laugh, it’s all worth it.    My Rating: Full Price   Don't Think Twice Website
IndiefestGhost Team  (2016)  PG-13  Louis (Jon Heder) is obsessed with the paranormal and decides to investigate a possible ghost-filled sight. He brings along his depressed best friend (David Krumholtz), a cable access medium (Amy Seders), a girl who works next door (Melonie Diaz) and an over-eager security guard (Justin Long) to help him with his investigation. With this cast, this film should have been funnier, but the script lets them down. The film has an interesting premise, but after a promising start, becomes bogged down in a plot that is too transparent and light. There are some funny moments, but they are far too scarce. I also felt the creators dropped the ball and didn’t make the ghost element in the film scarier, which would have created some much-needed tension. Of the cast, Justin Long stands out as the wannabe cop who has a tendency to cry in pressure situations. I just wish this had been a much more enjoyable film.   My Rating:  Cable   Ghost Team Facebook Page
Forgotten Film: A Kiss Before Dying  (1991)  R  Jonathan (Matt Dillion) has been secretly dating Dorothy (Sean Young), a twin daughter of a wealthy tycoon. Realizing that her pregnancy will destroy his plans for his future (she won’t get the family money due to the scandal of an out of wedlock pregnancy), he pushes her off a building and makes it look like a suicide. He then sets his sights on Dorothy’s twin with the plan of marrying into her family’s money.  But Dorothy suspects that something isn’t right with Jonathan and begins questioning if her sister committed suicide. While I am not entirely happy with this thriller (there are a lot of plot holes that have to be ignored), this film is worth watching due to Mat Dillion’s brilliant and mesmerizing performance. Dillion is creepy and attractive all in one, an almost impossible task to perform on the screen, but he carries it off. I also really enjoyed the ending that ties in well with the opening scene.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   A Kiss Before Dying Info

Weird Credits: From Pete’s Dragon:  Fur Groomer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Don’t Breathe  (2016)  R  I am hearing great things from film critics about this suspenseful film about a group of friends who break into a house inhabited by a blind man. They think it will be an easy heist…boy are they wrong.   Don't Breathe Facebook Page

Until Next Time!