Friday, June 23, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight

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

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

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


Friday, June 16, 2017

Cars 3

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

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

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Mummy

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

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

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

Wonder Woman

My ViewWonder Woman (2017)  PG-13  Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, Princess of the Amazons and a trained warrior. When a pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane on the Amazons island, he tells Diana about a war that is going to end all wars.  Diana decides to go with Steve to help defend liberty.  Wow, we finally have a DC film that gets it right. All it took was a woman director with a story about a female superhero. What has been severely lacking in the DC universe has been a lack of humor in their films (something Marvel excels at). Due to incredible chemistry and timing of the two principles (Gadot and Pine), this movie works. I loved the fight scenes, and we already knew from her appearance in Batman v. Superman, that Gal Gadot can do action sequences.  The first big fight sequence is a spectacular example of choreography and directing, with Amazon warriors flying off of massive cliffs while shooting arrows at their enemy.  This big, dramatic action movie is meant to be seen on the big screen, but it was not shot in 3-D, so save a few bucks.  There is no bonus scene in the closing credits.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Wonder Woman Website
Family FaireCaptain Underpants: The First Epic Movie  (2017)  PG   When two school pranksters (Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch) are threatened by the Principal (Ed Helms) to be sent to separate rooms, the boys use a magic ring to hypnotize the Principal and turn him into the superhero Captain Underpants. I loved the first half of the movie, with the friendship of the two boys being the center of the film and they creatively use three types of animation. My problem with this movie, though, is it starts to go downhill when they introduce the bad guy, Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll), whom I found very annoying and one dimensional.  From talking to kids at my screening, the film does an excellent job of making the characters of the book series come alive. This is another one of those family films that kids will love, and parents will be very bored.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Website
Indiefest Obit  (2017)  A look at the staff obituary writers at the New York Times, having, to sum up, a life in a 500-word article.  Obit is a fascinating film about one of the last newspaper obituary staffs. The writers of the obituaries often have to do research, question loved ones of the deceased and write a story in a matter of hours.  What I adore about this movie is you get to hear the stories behind the writing of the obituary, why the writers write what they write, how they pick the pictures they use, what the writers leave out, and whom they talked to. Some of the obits in the film are about very famous people, and then others are about equally interesting people who are not well known.   My Rating:  Full Price   Obit Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray)Before I Fall  (2017)  PG-13  Samantha (Zoey Deutch) is a high school student who keeps reliving the same day over and over. If you had one day to do all over again, how would you do things differently?  This is a “groundhog” type of movie which doesn’t work because the main character keeps doing the same things. This film wants us to root for Samantha, but the problem is she isn’t a likable person. She is part of a “mean girls” group of friends who are self-centered and only concerned about having a good time.  The storyline is boring and predictable with an ending that is too simple to work.    My Rating: Cable   Before I Fall Website
Forgotten FilmTop Five  (2014) R  It’s sad that this film only made 25 million at the box office (it got lost on a weekend that Wild got released). This amusing and touching film is about a comedian (Chris Rock) who is trying to make it as a serious actor. His fiancée (Gabrielle Union) convinces him to allow their wedding to be broadcast on her reality TV show. Everything is going well until a reporter (Rosario Dawson) shows up to do an interview that just may change his life. I loved this witty, sometimes raunchy comedy written and directed by Chris Rock. The film, while very funny, also has a lot of heart.  There is great chemistry between Dawson (in one of her best performances) and Rock. The film also looks at what it’s like to be successful and still have doubts about your life and your career.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Top Five Facebook Page 

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Wonder Woman:  The filmmakers would like to thank Linda Carter.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Mountain Between Us  (2017)   Two people (Idris Elba, Kate Winslet) are in a small plane that crashes on the side of a remote snow-covered mountain. These two strangers must now come together to survive a perilous journey across miles of wilderness. Two incredibly gifted actors and a trailer that looks stunning makes me wish this film was coming out today and not in months.   The Mountain Between Us Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

My ViewPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales  (2017)  PG-13   Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back and so is his old nemesis, Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) who has escaped from the Devils Triangle and is determined to kill every pirate at sea.  Captain Jack’s only hope is to find the legendary Trident of Poseidon, which will help him defeat Salazar. This film series must stop. I don’t care what happens to these characters, and the last two films have been a waste of time. To say that Johnny Depp doesn’t give any effort in his performance would be an understatement.  The storyline is confusing and not well thought out, and it seems that some of the plot points are just there to add more action sequences to the film. If you do see this film (and I hope you don’t) stay through all the credits as there is a bonus scene that unfortunately sets up the next Pirates movie.   My Rating: Cable   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Website
My ViewBaywatch  (2017)  R  Lifeguard Mitch Buchanan (Dwayne Johnson) is known for running the beach his way. He is being challenged by a brash new lifeguard (Zac Efron) and a threat of a local criminal plot that harm the future of the Bay. I was a big fan of the original TV series, and I loved how campy and goofy it was. I just wish the filmmakers of this movie had captured more of that stupid magic that the series had. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t know what kind of film it is. Is it an R-rated comedy like 21 Jump Street, making fun of the TV series it’s based on, or is it an action film, or maybe, it’s a coming of age film? Because the movie never finds its footing, it feels uneven and choppy and every bit of its almost 2 hours length. I did like the chemistry between Johnson and Efron as both actors play off each other extremely well. I enjoyed the performance of Kelly Rohrbach, who plays the part of CJ Parker, a woman who doesn’t know how beautiful she is and thinks she is just one of the guys. On a side note, I hate that the opening credits did not use the original Baywatch theme song from the TV series. I think it would have been perfect for the opening scene of the film. This is not a bad film; it just could have been so much better.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Baywatch Website
IndiefestThe Wedding Plan (2016)  PG  Michal’s (Noa Koler) fiancé leaves her on the eve of their wedding.  Michal refuses to cancel the wedding, convinced that God will supply her a husband, but the clock is ticking. I loved this film and Noa Koler’s performance. Koler is stellar in the role and makes you want to root for her character.  It’s a brilliant look at a woman who is tired of looking for a man to marry and decides that God will find a way to get her a groom. It’s a film that takes a number of twists and turns and keeps you guessing. This is an engaging, inspiring and beautiful film filled with interesting characters.  I definitely enjoyed going on this strange journey with Michal.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Wedding Plan Website
Forgotten FilmOn Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)  PG  James Bond (George Lazenby) goes undercover to find out the true reason for Blofeld’s allergy research being done in the Swiss Alps.  Along the way, Bond falls in love with a mob boss’s daughter (Diana Rigg). George Lazenby had the task of taking over the 007 franchise after Sean Connery decided to quit the series. This is probably one of the few Bond films that feels like the book. Lazenby is perfect as Bond, bringing a bit more of a tough guy to the part. There is an excellent chase sequence on skis that works better than some of the current film chases that use CGI computer special effects.  My Rating:  Full Price   On Her Majesty's Secret Service Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Baywatch:  Weather Consultant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouMegan Leavey  (2017)  PG-13  Based on a true story of a young Marine (Kate Mara) who bonds with her military combat dog to save many lives during her deployment in Iraq.  I am a sucker for movies that involve dogs, and the trailer makes this film look like a winner.   Megan Leavey Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Alien: Covenant

My View Alien: Covenant  (2017)  R  The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted planet that, on the surface, seems perfect. The perfect world quickly becomes deadly, and the crew must scramble to retreat.  Talking to my fellow critics, I found that a lot of them hated this film. I didn’t; in fact, I had a good time watching it. After the weird and disappointing Prometheus (2012), director Ridley Scott has gotten back to what made Alien (1979) one of the all-time scary movies, the ”Alien” monster on a ship in space with humans. This movie has plenty of scary scenes, and I enjoyed the performance of Katherine Waterston, who has to match wits with the monster. I will warn you that if you got queasy during the chest burst scene in the first film, there are quite a few more scenes just like that one. The film moves at a quick pace, and the action sequences are extremely well done. My biggest problem with this movie is how stupid the crew is; from deciding to endanger the colonists they are shuttling to exploring an unknown planet without any sort of protection or protocol is just plain dumb. Overall, I found the film exciting and quite scary.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Alien: Covenant Website 
IndiefestEverything, Everything  (2017) PG-13  Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) is a 17-year old girl who, due to a rare disease, has to stay inside her sealed, filtered air home. Her life is changed when Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door.  This is a satisfying film about first love and all its complications. I enjoyed the performances of the two leads, as Stenberg and Robinson have a charming chemistry together. The plot is a little shallow, but the romance that develops between two people that can’t meet in-person is delightful. There are a few twists and turns to the plot, especially one that I didn’t see coming, that help the film feel fresh. Overall, Everything, Everything is not a bad attempt at a young adult type of film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Everything, Everything Website
Family FaireDiary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul  (2017)  PG  The Heffley family is going on a road trip to Meemaw’s 90th birthday party.  Greg (Jason Drucker), though, needs to find a way to re-route the trip so that he can go to a video gaming convention.  If jokes and pratfalls involving peeing into a bottle, pigs farting, vomiting on a carnival ride and hearing someone go to the bathroom are your ideas of funny, then this is the movie for you. I don’t think I laughed once, and the kids at my screening were bored. It’s sad to see how far down Alicia Silverstone's once promising career has gone when you see her playing the mom in this film. Hey, it should tell you a lot that a kids movie is rated PG. This movie has already been placed on my worst films of 2017 list.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul Website
IndiefestThe Lovers  (2017)  R   Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger) are in a marriage that has seen better days. Both of them are having affairs, and, as soon as their son finishes his visit, they plan to break up. Their relationship becomes more complicated when a spark between them suddenly ignites, leading them into an impulsive romance.  I didn’t like this film because I could not tell if the film was supposed to be a drama, comedy or a dark comedy. It’s almost if writer/director Azazel Jacobs had written two versions of the script and then combined the two into this mess of a movie. I did enjoy Debra Winger’s performance as a woman who starts to reconsider her choices in life. It’s just a shame it’s wasted in this film that some “art house” critics are going to say is a masterpiece.  I just say it’s a mess of a film.   My Rating: Cable   The Lovers Info
IndiefestGraduation  (2016)  R  Romeo (Adrian Titieni) has raised his daughter, Eliza (Maria-Victoria Dragus), with the idea of her going to college. After she gets assaulted a day before her final exams, her scholarship could be in jeopardy.  This is an absolutely brilliant film about a man who, in trying to ensure the future of his daughter, gets caught in a web of intrigue that slowly spirals out of control. Titieni is brilliant as the father who is good at heart but is willing to do anything to make sure that his beloved daughter gets out of Romania, even if it means that he will have to suffer consequences.  It’s a heartbreaking film that is beautifully told. You want to reach up and shake Romeo, warning him what’s about to happen if he goes through with his actions. I hope we hear about this film again come Oscar time.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Graduation Website
Forgotten Film: Me and Orson Welles  (2008)  PG-13  Richard (Zac Efron) is a young man who hopes to be an actor. A chance meeting with the legendary Orson Welles (Christian McKay), gets Richard a part in Welles’ latest production. Richard is star-struck and in over his head, especially after meeting Sonja (Claire Danes) with whom he quickly falls for. Will Richard make it to opening night or will his lack of experience finally catch up with him?  The reason to watch this film is the performance of McKay as Orson Welles, the larger than life actor who, when at the top of his game, was an egomaniac but had the talent to back it up. McKay is perfect in the role, so perfect that I forgot at times that it wasn’t Welles, himself, on the screen.  My Rating:  Full Price   Me and Orson Welles Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul:  Animatronic pig and Manny effects

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Dean  (2016) PG-13   A New York City illustrator, Dean (Demetri Martin), is not dealing well with the death of his mother and the fact that his father (Kevin Kline) is thinking about selling the family home.  He meets a woman (Gillian Jacobs) at a party and, after hitting it off with her, decides to follow her to California.  This film was one of the movies that people were talking about at this year’s Atlanta Film Festival. Demetri Martin wrote, directed and stars in this film.   Dean Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, May 12, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

My View:  King Arthur: Legend of the Sword  (2017)  A young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) runs with his crew on the back streets of Londinium, unaware of his royal lineage. He then draws the sword Excalibur from the stone. With the sword and a mage (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), he is ready to take on the tyrant Vortigern (Jude Law) – the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown. The director of this film, Guy Ritchie, also directed the two Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr. This movie feels like Sherlock Holmes goes to the Middle Ages. It has modern dialogue, fast quips and big action sequences that are done in slow motion, with the hero avoiding arrows “Matrix” style.  There is a lot of flash in this film but very little substance. I hated the performance of Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey who plays the mystical mage like she is a geek girl in high school. Hunnam does well in the action sequences, but the star of the film is Jude Law, whose scenes are fun to watch because he just goes over the top with his performance.  Overall, this retelling of the legendary tale just doesn’t work.    My Rating: Cable   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Website
Indiefest Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer  (2016)  Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is a small time operator who befriends a young Israeli politician (Lior Ashkenazi) at a low point in his life.  Little did the two friends know that the young politician was bound to become the Prime Minister of Israel. This is a fascinating tale and Gere, as the well-worn small time “fixer,” is brilliant. You feel sorry for Norman almost as soon as he appears on screen due to Gere making himself almost disappear before our eyes in his frumpy suit. It’s an enjoyable tale of a man who, by accident, gets what he has always wanted and then loses it, mostly due to his past transgressions.  This isn’t a perfect film as it gets bogged down toward the end, but it’s worth seeing to experience Gere in this role.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Norman Website
My ViewSnatched  (2017)  When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, Emily (Amy Schumer) talks her ultra-cautious mother (Goldie Hawn) into taking the vacation with her. They will go on a trip of a lifetime if it doesn’t kill them.  I was surprised by how much I laughed during this film because I hated the trailer, but the film is saved due to the great chemistry between Schumer and Hawn. Amy Schumer threatened to leave the project if Goldie Hawn wasn’t hired as her mother in the film, and thank goodness the studio listened. Hawn perfectly plays off of the sarcastic alcohol-fueled Schumer. Christopher Meloni is hilarious as an American adventurer who vows to help the women get back to the U.S. There is a scene in this film with Meloni that I thought a fellow film critic was going to die because he was laughing so hard. There are a few dumb gags, and the film does justice to its R rating, but overall this is a funny movie.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Snatched Website
IndiefestCitizen Jane: Battle for the City  (2016)  A documentary about the writer and urban activist Jane Jacobs, who fought to save historic buildings in New York City in the 1960’s. This is an intriguing film about the little guy being able to take on and win against big government. The film moves at a brisk pace and never becomes dull, using extensive archival footage to show what was happening in the battle to shape a city. Jacobs was an accomplished strategist who studied the streets of New York City and its people. The film does an excellent job of giving us both sides of the story; a battle between a very smart woman and a government who thought it could solve its urban problems with bigger and newer buildings. After seeing this film, you will come away with a feeling of respect for old neighborhoods in big cities and you might be inspired to fight for them.  My Rating:  Full Price   Citizen Jane Website
Forgotten Film: Smashed (2012)   (I reviewed this film back in 2012, but after talking to some friends, I realized that not many people have seen this film.)  Married couple Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul), whose love is built on their drinking habits, are tested when Kate decides to get sober. This is one of those films that is very hard to watch, just because the characters go through so much pain. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is outstanding as Kate, who lies at the drop of a hat to cover up her drinking but realizes, after waking up too many times in strange places, that she must change her life. Aaron Paul doesn’t do a bad performance as her husband, but this is Winstead’s movie, and she runs with it. You sincerely hope that she can get her life together, but you also know that it’s going to take some significant changes and sacrifices, including, probably, the sacrifice of her marriage.    My Rating: Full Price   Smashed Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Snatched:  Textile Breakdown Artist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   The Mummy (2017)  Universal Studios is attempting to redo their lineup of classic monster movies, and this film looks like it could work. A stellar cast, including Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, could go a long way to making this film special.   The Mummy Website
Until Next Time!