Friday, July 22, 2016

Star Trek Beyond

My ViewStar Trek Beyond  (2016)  PG-13  The USS Enterprise is halfway into their five-year mission. The ship is attacked by an unknown alien force and, after having to abandon ship, the crew finds their lives are hanging in the balance. This is the first for the reboot series not to be directed by J.J. Abrams, so no more lens flare in every shot. What I liked about this film is that this series is no longer the Kirk and Spock show as this movie allows the rest of the cast to share the spotlight, especially Zoe Saldana, who plays Uhura, whose character is just as important to the plot as Kirk and Spock. Idris Elba is everything you want in the bad guy, strong and powerful with a great screen presence. The film moves at a fast pace, the action sequences are well done, and the film deals well with the passing of Leonard Nimoy, who was such a vital cog in the first two reboot films. You will love how they battle the bad guys near the end of the film. Overall, even a mild Star Trek fan is going to thoroughly enjoy this movie. Beam me up Scotty!  My Rating: Full Price   Star Trek Beyond Website
Family FaireIce Age: Collision Course  (2016)  PG   Manny (Ray Romano), with the help of Buck (Simon Pegg), must lead his family and friends on a journey to try and find a way to stop an asteroid from hitting the earth.  Can Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox please stop making these films?  The series wasn’t the strongest of animated ideas, to begin with, but now it’s downright annoying.  The film features the weakest of the Ice Age characters, Scrat, the acorn-addicted squirrel. This movie isn’t fun or funny, and the kids that were at my screening couldn’t care less about the film. You know it’s a bad film when you look at your watch two hours into the movie, and it’s really only been thirty minutes.    My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again   Ice Age: Collision Course Website
My ViewLights Out  (2016) PG-13   Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) and her brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) are being tormented by a spirit that is only visible in the dark.  I normally don’t like the “jump out of the dark” kind of scary movies, but this is the exception to the rule. The bad guy in this film is some sort of Demon who lives in the dark and can’t stand the light. Teresa Palmer is perfect as the strong-willed and slightly flawed Rebecca.  Maria Bello, as Rebecca’s mentally unstable mother, is ablaze on the screen, giving a frenzied performance of a woman on the hinge of insanity. There are plenty of screams built into this rollercoaster ride of a horror film.    My Rating: Full Price   Lights Out Website
My ViewAbsolutely Fabulous: The Movie   Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are having to hide out in the south of France after causing a worldwide incident by knocking Kate Moss into the River Thames.  I was a big fan of the TV show so I’m sorry to say that the Ab Fab girls should have stayed away from the big screen.  The laughs are too few and far between, and the humor is very broad, which most of the time lands with a thud. The film feels as if it was only made for a British audience.  I didn’t recognize some of the countless cameos in the movie that maybe were lost on me.  I guess we just can’t revisit the 90’s, at least not with these two.  My Rating: Cable   Absolutely Fabulous Website
IndiefestCaptain Fantastic  (2016) R  Ben (Viggo Mortensen) is raising his family of six kids “off the grid” in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. His wife suddenly dies while she was away in an institution for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Ben, against the wishes of his wife’s parents, decides to take the family on a road trip to his wife’s funeral.  Mortensen is a force of nature on the screen as the father who is trying to keep his very unusual family together. Right from the start you know this is not a normal family, as we see the kids hunt down and kill a deer with only a knife. We see the family dynamic at work as the family returns to their home out in the wilderness.  Some of the kids are dressing the deer as others read or make art, all the while the father tells them they have training in an hour. This film is a treat to watch, mostly due to the kids in the cast.  Each one of them has great chemistry with Mortensen, making this strange family seem real. This is part a coming of age film and part travel film, as the family experiences things like junk food for the first time. This movie is a joy to watch, and you will root for this family to succeed in its “mission.”    My Take:  Full Price   Captain Fantastic Website
IndiefestMicrobe and Gasoline  (2015)  R  Daniel (Ange Dargent) and Theo (Theophile Baquet) are two misfit kids who decide to build their unique car and travel across the country.  I enjoyed this coming of age adventure which explores two boys trying to figure out their place in the world. Microbe comes off as the much more serious of the two, with his several perceived problems always weighing him down. Theo is more of a fun-loving kid with a devil-may-care attitude. What I liked about this film are the conversations that the two boys have as they are on their adventure.  The chemistry between Theophile Baquet playing Theo and Ange Dargent playing Daniel is spectacular. The two share a bond on the screen that makes this film entertaining and work so well. Microbe & Gasoline is an adventure with two boys on their way to manhood.   My Rating: Full Price   Microbe & Gasoline Info 
Forgotten FilmThe New Centurions  (1972) Roy (Stacy Keach) is a rookie cop who has joined the LAPD to make ends meet while he finishes law school. His partner is a gruff veteran (George C. Scott) who breaks all the rules to keep the streets of L.A. safe.  This is a gritty look at what it looked and felt like being a cop in a big city in the early seventies.  Scott is brilliant as the vet cop. I especially enjoyed the performance of Rosalind Cash, who plays the love interest for Keach. The film has a few flaws, feeling especially dated from time to time, but Scott and Cash make it worth a watch.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The New Centurions Info   

Weird Credits: From the credits of Star Trek Beyond: Off Camera Singer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Suicide Squad  (2016) PG-13  A secret government agency turns to a group of super-villains to stop a black ops mission.  If the movie is half as good as its trailers, it’s going to be astonishing. I think this will make Margot Robbie a superstar.    Suicide Squad Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, July 15, 2016


My View: Ghostbusters  (2016)  Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) write a book that states that ghosts are real. When ghosts invade Manhattan, the author pair team up with Jillian (Kate McKinnon),  a nuclear engineer, and  Patty (Leslie Jones), to try and save the world from an evil and powerful demon, Rowan (Neil Casey). I had a great time watching this film. There are some subtle homages to the first Ghostbusters movies, but it’s really an original idea for a movie. I would have liked McCarthy to be a little more animated in her part, but Kate McKinnon more than makes up for that with an incredibly wacky performance. Chris Hemsworth is brilliant as the dumb as rocks receptionist who gets the job based only on his good looks. There are a lot of cameos, some really work but it is very obvious that Bill Murray didn't want to do this film from his performance. The film was shot in 3-D, and it shows, with some the ghost appearances using the technology to the fullest. There are two bonus scenes, one after the main credits and another, which sets up a possible sequel, after all the credits.   My Rating:  Full Price   Ghostbusters Website
My ViewThe Infiltrator  (2016)  R  A U.S. customs official (Bryan Cranston) uncovers a money laundering scheme that traces all the way back to drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. I kept thinking  as I watched this film, this is a really good TV movie, the kind that you used to see every week back in the 70’s. But this isn’t a TV movie, and it’s just too slow and procedural to be interesting. Bryan Cranston gives what he can to the film, and he does an excellent job, but he is let down by the pacing and the script. The rest of the cast isn’t given much to do with the exception of Diane Kruger, who does an excellent job playing Cranston’s undercover partner. I just wish that this film had given Cranston more to work with.  My Rating; Bargain Matinee  The Infiltrator Website
IndiefestBreaking a Monster  (2015)  Documentary about three 13-year-old boys who form a Metal band, get discovered playing on the streets of New York, and, within a year, are on the bill of big outdoor concerts. Documentary about three 13-year-old boys who form a Metal band called "Unlocking the Truth," get discovered playing on the streets of New York, and, within a year, are on the bill of big outdoor concerts.  This is an entertaining film that follows the trials and tribulations of three teen boys dealing with school, girls and video games while trying to become rock stars. We get to the see the band perform live at concerts, and we see them record their first single. The most interesting is how their manager (who created Welcome Back Kotter and discovered the Jonas Brothers) tries to keep them focused on music, not on what normal kids are interested in. The band becomes disillusioned when the record company is slow to get them into the studio, and we get to see the kids act out a bit. The film does get you to worry about the kids and if they are being taken for a ride. And, oh, by the way, the kids can actually play music!   My Rating: Full Price   Breaking a Monster Website
IndiefestThe Innocents  (2016)   In 1945 Poland, a young French Red Cross doctor (Lou de Laage) is dealing with the aftermath of World War II. She is sent to assist the survivors of a German prison camp.  She soon discovers in a local convent that several of the nuns there are in advanced stages of pregnancy.Lou de Laage gives another breathtaking performance as the doctor who decides on her own to help the nuns with their pregnancies. De Laage is brilliant in the role, making her character someone that we want to know. The cinematography in the film is a wonder as the film looks almost as if it is shot in black and white, contributing greatly to the starkness of film.  This is a tough movie to watch due to its subject matter but ultimately it’s worth the effort.   My Rating: Full Price   The Innocents Info   
IndiefestHunt for the Wilderpeople  (2016)  PG-13  Ricky (Julian Dennison), a 12-year-old Maori boy, obsessed with rap songs, is brought to a remote New Zealand farm run by Hec (Sam Neill) and his wife, Bella (Rima Te Wiata). Hec and Bella are going to be his foster aunt and uncle for the next few months. Slowly but surely Bella works her charm, and Ricky gradually grows to like living on the farm; that is if he can stay out of the sights of Hec, who barely tolerates the boy.  Just as Ricky starts feeling apart of the family, Bella dies unexpectedly. Ricky decides to run away, and Hec goes after him, taking them on a trip that will change both their lives. This is a joyous film that celebrates that people, no matter how different their personalities are, can still find comfort and love in shared experiences. Waititi is subtle in his building of scenes, letting us enjoy small moments like Ricky pretending to dance to a Walkman he made of grass as Hec looks on in wonderment. It’s those little scenes that let us get inside the characters and see how they interact with each other. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is a beautiful, magical film that you won’t want to end. I am in fact ready to go on another adventure with Hec and Ricky.   My Take: Full Price   Hunt for the Wilderpeople Website 
Indiefest:  Undrafted  (2016)  12 ragtag teammates are playing a playoff game in an intermural league. Their opposing team is filled with ringers, but there is hope because John, is about to be a professional ballplayer. Right before the start of the game, the team finds out that John wasn’t drafted, and his professional career is over before it even started. Can the team rally and beat the semi-pros or will John’s undrafted status cause the team to fall apart? This is a fun and funny film filled with outlandish characters. I especially enjoy the performances of Ryan Pinkston, who plays an overzealous catcher, Joe Mazzello (who wrote and directed the film) as an outfielder with anger issues, and Tyler Hoechlin, who plays a relief pitcher suddenly having to become a starter.  There are some absurd and ludicrous moments that are just brilliant. The film does lose some of its momentum when it gets just a little too serious a time or two but otherwise it’s a blast to watch.  My Rating: Full Price    Undrafted Info
Forgotten FilmDivorce – Italian Style (1962) Marcello Mastroianni is scintillating as a Sicilian nobleman who has fallen in love with another woman and because of Italian divorce laws being so strict, he must now plot how to kill his wife. This is a dark comedy that is brilliantly zany in its storytelling. The film moves at a quick pace and is hilarious as Mastroianni’s plan gets quickly out of hand.  This may have been Marcello Mastroianni’s best work.   My Rating: Full Price    Divorce Italian Style Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ghostbusters: Render Wrangler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouGleason (2016)  Documentary on former professional football player Steve Gleason, who at age 34, was diagnosed with ALS. This film was one of the most talked about films at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, and I look forward to seeing this movie about a very courageous man and his family.   Gleason Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Secret Life of Pets

Family FaireThe Secret Life of Pets  (2016) PG   Max (Louis C.K.), a Terrier, is living the good life. He has an owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), who spoils him.  He has great friends like Gidget (Jenny Slate) whom he talks to on a daily basis. That all changes when Katie brings home another dog named Duke (Eric Stonestreet).  Now Max is going to have to show Duke that he is running the show in this apartment. While not in line with recent animated films like Zootopia (2016) or Inside Out (2015), this is still a fun and enjoyable film. The plot gets a little bogged down in too many storylines, but there are plenty of jokes to keep the film from slowing down too much. The film has a fantastic cast with Jenny Slate as the over anxious Gidget and Eric Stonestreet as the bumbling Duke. Kids and adults will have a good time with this film. The film was shot in 3-D, and, it looks it, as many of the sight gags utilize the technology to its fullest. There is a hysterical short film starring the Minions before the movie, proving once again that the Minions should stay as a supporting role in films and not a full-length headliner.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Secret Life of Pets Website
My ViewMike and Dave Need Wedding Dates  (2016) Michael (Adam DeVine) and David (Zac Efron) have a history of ruining their family events. They are told by their parents that they must attend their sister’s upcoming wedding with respectable dates. They meet Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), and they seem like the perfect date material. Little do they know that Tatiana and Alice are a parent’s worst nightmare. I found this film mildly amusing, which is sad with a cast like this movie has. The best jokes/stunts were in the trailer, so what was hilarious, was just fun the second time around. The plot is incredibly predictable, though I did like the song and dance numbers at the end of the film. I just wish the producer and the director of the film had added a third scriptwriter to punch up the script so that the laughs were sustained throughout the movie.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Website  
IndiefestZero Days  (2016) PG-13  The documentary explores the scary world of malware software that is threatening to shut down the inter-structure of the world.  When you watch this film, you will be at times frustrated, angry and downright scared. Gibney presents the information about “Stuxnet” in tidbits, bringing the mystery to a full and complete tension-filled reveal that just might have your jaw on the floor. He crafts this film as if we are on a spy mission with him, delving into topics we could get in trouble investigating. A few times during the movie I worried about Gibney, wondering if he was pushing this subject too far. Would he end up like some of the people in the film, mysteriously dying in car bombs or disappearing into the mist, like a John Le Carre novel? While not one of Alex Gibney’s best, “Zero Days” is an important film that will be the subject of much discussion by the media and its audience. Just be warned, after seeing this movie, you may invest in new antivirus software because you are going to get a little paranoid at the end.    My Rating: Full Price   Zero Days Website
Forgotten FilmNight Moves  (1975) Harry (Gene Hackman) is a private detective who is hired by a former actress to find and return her daughter.  He travels to Florida and begins to unravel a plot that involves a murder and a connection back to Hollywood. Hackman is brilliant this modern day film noir. This is a stylish film that has plenty of twists and turns, making you guessing until the very end. Look for an incredibly young Melanie Griffith in the movie.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Night Moves Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates: Special Makeup Effects Artist: Animatronic Pigs

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouBleed for This (2016)  World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) is in an automobile crash and is told he might never walk again. Vinny is determined not only to walk again but to fight again.  I am eager to see Miles Teller, who I think is one of the best young actors out there, perform this role.   Bleed For This Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan

My ViewThe Legend of Tarzan  (2016)  PG-13  Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) and Jane (Margot Robbie) travel back to Africa from their home in England. There Tarzan finds that the Dutch government is about to enslave the people of the Congo, and he sets out to stop them.  Let me tell you right off the bat, I am a huge Edgar Rice Burroughs fan (he created Tarzan and wrote over 80 Sci-Fi / Fantasy books), and I was one of the few critics who loved the 2012 film, John Carter (based on another creation of EBR). While this film does leave a few things out, this is closest that anyone has come to capturing the book, with the exception of the 1999 Disney film Tarzan. Skarsgard makes a remarkable Tarzan and perfectly captures his spirit of daring and adventure. Robbie is an adequate Jane, but she isn’t asked to do much more than be the love interest and the damsel in distress. I loved the action sequences, especially those involving the great apes, as finally technology is at a point where techno apes seem real. I didn’t like all the flashbacks, which tell the story of how Tarzan was left in the jungle and how he met Jane, as they have a tendency to slow the film down, and some are unnecessary.  Overall, I enjoyed this movie and hope there will be more.  My Rating: Full Price   The Legend of Tarzan Website
My ViewThe Purge: Election Year  (2016)  R  U.S. Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell) has fought to stop the annual purge, the one day anyone can kill anyone else without fear of arrest. On the night of the purge, she and her security agent (Frank Grillo) are forced out on the streets and must try to survive the night.  I did not like the first film in the series The Purge (2013), but I really enjoyed the second film of the series, The Purge: Anarchy (2014), which was a quick moving “video game” style of film. Unfortunately, the script for this movie is horrible, with predictable outcomes, bad dialogue and some crappy acting thrown in to help make this film boring and almost unwatchable. Let’s hope the studio “purges” this film out of its rotation.   My Rating: Cable   The Purge: Election Year Website
Family FaireThe BFG  (2016)  PG  An orphan girl (Ruby Barnhill) befriends an elderly giant (Mark Rylance) and accompanies him on a mission toward stopping a group of man-eating giants.  This is a beautiful looking film with special effects but a storyline that is rough and uneven and moves at a very slow pace. The story never quite hits the emotional tone that it needs. Mark Rylance does give a warm and impressive performance as the lovable giant who befriends a human girl. I think older kids will enjoy the film, especially if they have read the book, but younger kids might get bored by the movie’s overall length of almost two hours.  And parents are warned, your kids are going to love a scene that is full of farting. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The BFG Website
IndiefestSwiss Army Man (2016)  R  Hank (Paul Dano) is shipwrecked on a deserted island and is contemplating suicide. He finds a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) which he then befriends and uses to survive in a unique way. Right off the bat, I will warn you that this film isn't for everybody. It takes a bit of a strong stomach for a few of the scenes and at my Atlanta screening, two couples left at different times, deciding that this film wasn't for them. If you like weird, offbeat films that have a strange sense of humor, then this just might be your type of movie. Dano and Radcliffe do a remarkable job on the screen as the unlikely duo, playing off their great comedic timing and strong chemistry together. “Swiss Army Man” is a different type of film, mixing broad comedy aspects with some very sweet, tender moments and combines a unique script with two strong performances.   My Rating: Full Price   Swiss Army Man Website
IndiefestWeiner-Dog  (2016)  R  A dachshund passes from one owner to another as their lives are impacted in different ways by the dog. The film is written and directed by Todd Solondz, who gave us films like Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) and Happiness (1998). If you like those movies, you will probably like this one, but if you didn’t like those films, you will probably hate this one. As with most of his films, the characters in this film are all unhappy with their lives and looking for something more fulfilling. The film is made up of four stories, all centering around the ownership of a dachshund. The film has a strong cast with outstanding performances by Greta Gerwig and Ellen Burstyn. I enjoyed the 2nd and 3rd sections of the film but hated the 1st and the 4th sections. I especially hated the ending of the movie, feeling that Solondz created this ending (which I saw coming) just to make an impact, not caring if it helped or hurt the storyline. Most of the characters in this film are highly unlikable people, and when the film ended,  I was happy I didn’t have to spend any more time with them.    My Rating: Cable   Weiner-Dog Website
IndiefestTickled  (2016)  R  Filmmaker David Farrier delves into the mysterious world of competitive endurance tickling.  This film starts out very light and funny but, in an instant, it becomes dark and full of intrigue. I won’t go into details; I’ll just tell you the story gets more intriguing as the film delves into the tickling world (it’s weirder than you can imagine). It’s full of twists and turns that’s better than most Hollywood dramas. Farrier tells the tale with a deft touch and builds the tension until the surprising ending. This is one of the better documentaries of the year and well worth the price of admission.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Tickled Website
IndiefestOur Kind of Traitor  (2016)  R  A British couple (Ewan McGregor, Naomie Harris) gets involved with a Russian money launderer (Stellan Skarsgard) who soon involves them in a high-stakes journey through Paris, the Swiss Alps, and London.  This is a good old-fashioned spy thriller that fans of novelist John LeCarre will enjoy. While the film does have a couple of action sequences, the film is more about the intrigue that governments get into to spy on each other and the chess games that they play with people’s  lives. I enjoyed McGregor in the role of the professor who is in over his head, but the real treat of the film is Skarsgard, who chews up the scenery with relish as the Russian money mover. He is a blast to watch as he bulls his way to get people to do what he wants. There are plenty of twists and turns in the film to keep you guessing until the end.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Our Kind of Traitor Facebook Page
Forgotten FilmHandle With Care (1977)  PG   The film, when it was the first release, was called Citizens Band. A small town has been taken over by the CB craze of the mid-seventies. A local CB coordinator (Paul LeMat) is struggling to regulate the town’s overuse of their CB’s.  This is strange, funny film that is creative with its use of quick cuts from scene to scene.  The film is filled with interesting, oddballs that make the town they live in seem like it’s inhabited by the residents of a mental institution.  LeMat and Candy Clark are hilarious as an on again/off again couple.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Handle with Care Info

Weird Credits: From The Legend of Tarzan:  Thatcher

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Jason Bourne (2016)   R  Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has gotten his memory back, and people are going to pay.  I like Matt Damon as Bourne and enjoy this film series.   Jason Bourne Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

My ViewIndependence Day: Resurgence  (2016)  PG-13  Two decades after the first alien invasion on Independence day, the Earth is facing a new attack. It’s time to see if Earth is ready for another fight. The 1996 film Independence Day was a fun movie to watch with great special effects (won an Academy Award for them), goofy lines, and actors like Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum chewing up scenery like there is no tomorrow. While not a bad movie, this film just isn’t as much fun as the original. I think some of it has to do with the fact the 1996 movie was our time, our world.  In this film, the world has had twenty years to adapt to alien technology and has united in its quest to prepare for the alien invasion part 2. It was fun watching Will Smith fly a 20th-century fighter jet against aliens. Old school technology defeated new tech. Now it’s not our world but a parallel universe, so it’s not us defeating the aliens. I will say that both Pullman and Goldblum give it their all, but some of the new cast, including Liam Hemsworth, just don’t have the star power that Will Smith had. The film was not shot in 3-D, so save some money and see it in 2-D.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Independence Day: Resurgence Website
My ViewFree State of Jones  (2016)  R   During the Civil War, a Mississippi farmer (Matthew McConaughey) decides to quit the Southern army and lead a rebellion against the Confederate army. While watching this film, I looked at my watch thinking the film was about fifteen minutes away from ending. Instead, to my despair, it had only been playing for an hour, and we had an hour and twenty minutes to go. The film is incredibly slow placed. Even the dialogue seems slow people make speech after speech in this movie. There are very few action sequences, and the best one is used in the trailer, so the element of surprise is gone when you watch the scene.  Over the past ten years, Matthew McConaughey has become one of my favorite actors, but he isn’t given much to work with in this role. I didn’t recognize Keri Russell, who plays McConaughey’s wife, until near the end of the film. There is a strange side story that is set in the 1950’s that makes the film stop and start with glaring suddenness and almost no explanation.  If you want to explore that time, rent 12 Years a Slave (2013) or wait until The Birth of a Nation (2016) comes out later this year.     My Rating: Cable   Free State of Jones Website   
IndiefestThe Neon Demon  (2016)  R   Jesse (Elle Fanning) is an aspiring model who has just moved to Los Angeles. She knew that the modeling world would be harsh, but she didn’t know that it could threaten her life. I am not a fan of writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn’s films Drive (2011), which I gave a Cable rating, and Only God Forgives (2013), which I gave a You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again. This film is all style over substance.  It’s a beautiful looking film, and some of the scenes in this movie are breathtaking, but the storyline is slow, meaningless and confusing. I usually like Elle Fanning’s performances, but she comes off dull and lifeless. Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks are both wasted in very small, unimportant parts. The only performance that has some life to it is the one by Jena Malone, who plays a makeup artist who befriends Jesse. Several people walked out of our screening during scenes of necrophilia and cannibalism.    My Rating: Cable   The Neon Demon Website
IndiefestArt Bastard  (2016)   A documentary that tells the fascinating story of New York painter Robert Cenedella, a contemporary of Andy Warhol. It’s an intriguing story of family secrets, money, fame and an artist who refuses to compromise.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film about one of the art world’s most talented and outspoken artists.  Cenedella doesn’t just paint for painting sake; he makes commentary on life inside his paintings. His paintings are full of satire and often use his beloved New York City as the setting of his work. The film does a superb job of showing us Cenedella’s artistic ability, where the camera goes in tight on his paintings (most of which are enormous) so that we see each and every face in crowds.  Cenedella is a fascinating man, with a rich history of stories about his life and his work. Art Bastard does a wondrous job of letting us get to know the artist’s work and his life.    My Rating: Full Price   Art Bastard Website
My View: The Shallows (2016)   PG-13   A young pro surfer, Nancy (Blake Lively), takes a break from medical school and surfs on a secluded beach in Mexico. The beach and the waves are perfect; that is until an enormous great white shark attacks Nancy. She takes refuge on a rock 200 yards from shore and must now figure out show to outfox the shark and get back to shore in one piece. This is a splendid thriller/escape genre film with a little dash of suspense/thrills mixed in. This movie is a death match between Blake Lively’s character and a massive shark that is pissed off and isn't leaving anytime soon. The film moves at a swift pace, and the action sequences (though a little unbelievable) are fun and thrilling to watch. I enjoyed Lively’s performance, as she looks the part of a surfer girl that has the guts and the smarts to survive. If you liked Jaws and it’s shark, then see his great grandchild terrorize a young woman in Mexico. Nancy doesn’t need a bigger boat, just a larger surfboard.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Shallows Website
Forgotten FilmRachel, Rachel  (1968)  R  Rachel (Joanne Woodward) is a 35-year-old school teacher who has never been married, doesn’t have a man in her life and she still lives with her mother.  When Nick (James Olson), an old high school friend, comes back into town, her world starts crumbling.  This is a very stark and understated film about taking chances and learning from your mistakes. Woodward is brilliant as the downtrodden school teacher who can’t win for losing, which makes us fall in love with her, hoping that she will succeed in life. Woodward’s dazzling performance was undoubtedly aided by the fact that her husband, Paul Newman, directed the film.  My Rating: Full Price   Rachel, Rachel website   

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Free State of Jones: Hair Puncher

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Life, Animated (2016)  R   A documentary about an autistic boy and his family who learn to communicate with each through the animated films of Disney.  The film was a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival, and I have not seen one bad review. This beautiful, touching film has been winning audience awards at a number of film festivals.   Life, Animated Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Finding Dory

Family FaireFinding Dory  (2016)   PG  It’s been six months since the gangs last adventure, and suddenly Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) remembers stuff from her childhood. She remembers something about “the Jewel of Morro Bay. Dory takes off on an another adventure with Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks) in tow, this time, to find her family. While not as perfect as Finding Nemo was, it’s still a beautiful, funny and touching film that has an incredibly meaningful message about overcoming disabilities by having faith in yourself and your ability to persevere. Both kids and adults are going to fall in love with this film, and the 3-D animation is worth the extra bucks. There is a whole host of new characters in this movie with Ed O’Neil as a crusty octopus being the standout. This film has lots of heart, and you just might find yourself seeing it more than once. There is a small bonus scene after all the credits, and I really enjoyed the short film, Piper, about a baby bird learning to eat on his own that played before the feature film.   My Rating: Full Price    Finding Dory Website
IndiefestGenius  (2016)  PG-13  The story of Max Perkins (Colin Firth), who worked for the famous publishing house Scribner, oversaw  some of the greats writers of all time, including Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West)  and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce.) Now a new author is on the scene, Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law), and Max is going to be challenged like never before. I enjoyed this film about the close and sometimes contentious relationship between brilliant writer and his equally brilliant editor. It’s a unique partnership, and Firth and Law are up to the task. Law portrays Wolfe as a man who is so full of life that he can’t contain himself, Firth portrays Max as an almost the exact opposite, a man who is fully in control of himself and his surroundings, his only quirk is that he rarely takes off his hat. Both men are brilliant in the roles. Law chews up scenery like it’s his passion and that ok for this part, as Wolfe was a larger than life personality that commanded and demanded attention. Firth is perfect as the restrained Max, who only wants his writers to produce their best work and is willing to give it his all to see that they do. My only quibble with this film is the part that Nicole Kidman plays. She portrays the lover and benefactor of Wolfe, and it seems that her part is there only to move to plot along at times or to show what the future of Max’s relationship with Wolfe will be, but that’s a minor aspect of the film. What this movie does the best is show us the incredible talent that Thomas Wolfe had, letting his words just flow on the screen. If you love books and reading, this is a film that you will want to explore. My Rating:  Full Price   Genius Website
IndiefestDe Palma  (2016)  R  This is a documentary about the writer and director, Brian De Palma, who directed some of the greatest films of the Twentieth century including Carrie and The Untouchables.  I have never been a big fan of Brian De Palma’s movies, though I do like The Untouchables and Sisters is one of my Forgotten Films, but I enjoyed this documentary and found it fascinating as De Palma goes through his entire career. He is extremely frank and probably hurts quite a few filmmakers and especially, some actors feelings. De Palma has always been accused of ripping off the work of Alfred Hitchcock and in this film he basically says, “yeah, so what?” The film goes back and explores this concept throughout his career, and we do see how much he was influenced by Hitchcock, especially what many consider his masterpiece, Vertigo. I have much more respect for De Palma and his craft because he never sold out to Hollywood but always stayed true to his work. Even if you aren’t a movie buff, you will thoroughly enjoy this documentary about a fascinating man who loved his work.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   De Palma Website
Forgotten FilmThe Last American Hero  (1973)  PG  Junior (Jeff Bridges) is a bootlegger who works alongside his brother (Gary Busey)  for their father (Art Lund).  When Junior’s dad is arrested, Junior decides to go on the racing circuit to make some money. There are some thrilling races in this film and Bridges gives a sizzling performance as the brash Junior.  The supporting cast works well in this movie, especially Valerie Perrine, who plays a girl that’s never met a stock car driver she did like.  It’s a fun story that works because of the winning performances of the cast.  My Rating: Full Price    The Last American Hero Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Finding Dory: Music Copyist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Legend of Tarzan (2016)  PG-13  Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) is called back home to Africa when he hears of natives being treated unfairly by a mining company.  As a kid, I read every book that Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan) wrote, so I am looking forward to this film. Plus, the film has a killer cast including Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Hounsou, and Jim Broadbent.   Legend of Tarzan Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Conjuring 2

My View The Conjuring 2  (2016)  Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) head to North London to battle malicious spirits that are terrorizing a single mom and her four kids. I loved the first film because it truly was scary and had some great acting, both rare for horror films. While this movie is a slight letdown from the first, it still delivers scary scenes, and it still has Farmiga and Wilson in the lead roles. The film stalls a little in the middle, but the opening and closing scenes are chilling and move at a quick pace. Vera Farmiga gives a stunning performance as the paranormal investigator who can talk to the spirits and demons that terrorize families and homes. If you like horror films. this is the one for you.  You will be in for a wild ride.    My Rating;  Full Price    The Conjuring 2 Website
My ViewNow You See Me 2  (2016)  It’s been eighteen months since the Four Horsemen stole all that money from a Paris bank. They decide to make a comeback appearance, but their plans are thwarted by a tech prodigy (Daniel Radcliffe). He threatens to kill them if they don’t pull off a major heist. I liked the first film, 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 movie is when the cast throws a playing card around during a heist. The film is boring, predictable and just not much fun. I did enjoy Lizzy Caplan’s performance as Isla Fisher’s replacement in the “Four Horsemen” because she looks like the only one in the cast who is having a good time. Most of the cast look like they are just going through the motions for a big paycheck. It makes me wonder if Isla Fisher didn’t really appear in the film because she was pregnant but because it was such a bad script.    My Rating: Cable    Now You See Me 2 Website
IndiefestMaggie’s Plan  (2016)  Maggie’s (Greta Gerwig) life turns upside down when she falls for a “ficto-critical anthropologist” named, John (Ethan Hawke), who is in an unhappy marriage with Georgette (Julianne Moore). John leaves Georgette, but soon Maggie realizes that John just might not be the man for her. She hatches a plan to get Georgette and John back together. While Maggie’s Plan is rarely laughing out loud funny, it is a sly, humorous look at a modern-day woman and the choices she makes in her life. Julianne Moore is priceless as John’s wife, Georgette, who has a personality full of hostility that dominates everything in the room. I am sure that Rebecca Miller wrote this film with Greta Gerwig in mind because I would have a hard time with anyone else in the role. Gerwig has great comedic timing that the movie uses to the utmost. She gives us a memorable performance where she commands you to concentrate on her character even when you have scene stealers like Rudolph and Moore up on the screen. Gerwig gives a performance that, while sweet, doesn’t go overboard, making us root for Maggie even more. Maggie’s Plan is a funny and surprisingly moving film that capitalizes on sharp, witty writing and cast that gives us as a pleasurable and gratifying film centered around a woman. We need more of these type of films, and I hope Rebecca Miller keeps giving them to us.   My Rating: Full Price     Maggie's Plan Website
Indiefest:  Dheepan  (2015)  Dheepan (Jesuthasan Antonythasan) leaves his life as a Tamil Tiger soldier during the last days of the Sri Lankan Civil War. He buys the passport of a dead man and, along with a woman (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) he doesn’t know and her child, travels to France to start over. There he gets a job as a caretaker of a building in a housing project that turns out is its own war zone.  Jesuthasan Antonythasan and Kalieaswari Srinivasan give moving performances that are multi-layered and thrilling to watch. The film is full of brilliant slices of life in an area of Paris that feels more like a war zone than a suburb. This is a film that will stay with you for days because it’s a movie that has complex issues at every turn of the story, and those issues don’t really have a solution. This is a fascinating film that keeps you guessing until the end.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again    Dheepan Website
Forgotten FilmStay Hungry (1976)  The mob has bought every house in a district to rebuild it. Every building is purchased but one, a small gym where Mr. Austria Joe Santo (Arnold Schwarzenegger) prepares for a major body building competition. Jeff Bridges plays a rich kid named, Craig, who is brought in to be a patsy to buy the gym. He quickly likes the people in the gym, especially Joe’s friend, Marie (Sally Field). He decides to stand up to the mob with the help of his new found bodybuilding friends. While not a great film, it was the director, Bob Rafelson’s favorite film because they had so much fun making it. Bridges and Field are a delight to watch and have great chemistry. Arnold isn’t the best actor in this film, but it’s fun to see him in his bodybuilding prime.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Stay Hungry Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Now You See Me 2:  Charge Hand Dressing Prop

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouSwiss Army Man (2016)  A man (Paul Dano) is stranded in the wilderness and finds a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) he uses to help him get back home. This film looks and sounds so weird that it has to be seen.    Swiss Army Man Website
Until Next Time!