Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Family Faire:  Coco  (2017)  PG  Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) wants more than anything to be a musician, but his family has an ancestral ban on music. Miguel will enter the ‘Land of the Dead’ to figure out why his family has followed the ban for so long. This is a beautiful film, both visually and story-wise. The songs are vibrant and fit the film with the song ‘Remember Me,’ one of the focal points of the movie an Oscar contender. Anthony Gonzalez has a fine voice that is made for Mariachi/Ranchera style songs of this film.This film took me back to my childhood summers that I spent in a small town in Mexico as it extraordinarily depicts life in a tiny town. It lovingly explores how much music means to the Mexican culture, and I love how the filmmakers add in cultural heroes like the wrestler Santo or the beloved artist and icon Frida Khalo.  The film really gets going when it goes to the magical ‘Land of the Dead’ with its incredibly colorful buildings and magical creatures. The movie treats the Mexican culture that few American films have, with love and respect. I will caution you, this film deals with death and with loss of family and abandonment. During the screening I went to a child, probably 6 or 7 started crying pretty uncontrollably, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeing this visually stunning and genuinely touching movie.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Coco Facebook Page
My View:  The Man Who Invented Christmas  (2017)  PG  The journey that led Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) to create his magical ‘A Christmas Carol’ which re-defined what Christmas means to us.  I enjoyed this new and imaginative spin on the Dicken’s tale.  We get to see the writing process of Dickens as he struggles to pen a new book under the pressure of needing to provide for his family. As he struggles to write, we see how Dickens uses his imagination to help him overcome writer's block and a very annoying father. What makes this film is the performance of Christopher Plummer as Scrooge. Plummer is perfect in the role of the crabby and despicable Ebenezer, giving what could be an Oscar nomination performance. I think this is the perfect film to get you in the mood for the Christmas season.     My Rating: Full Price     The Man Who Invented Christmas Website

Indiefest:  Novitiate  (2017)  R  Set in the early 1960’s a young woman ( Margaret Qualley) in training to become a nun struggles with issues of faith, the changing ways of the church and her sexuality.  An impressive feature film debut by writer/director Margaret Betts who gives us what it was like to become a nun in the 60s as the Pope was reforming the church during the era of Vatican II. Melissa Leo gives a tour de force performance as the stern Reverend Mother, and Margaret Qualley gives the performance of a lifetime as Sister Cathleen, a young woman who is determined to become a nun, until she has a crisis of self-doubt.  Qualley is brilliant, quietly filling up the screen with her presence as her love for God is shone in every move that she makes. The film throws emotional punches at us throughout. The girls who want to become nuns are challenged at every turn as the Reverend Mother throws roadblocks at the women from the start. There is a painful scene where Sister Evelyn, played by Morgan Saylor, is forced by the Reverend Mother, in front of all the girls, to confront and expound on her faults, as ‘no one can be perfect.’ The film questions the old ways of the church, the power of faith and if someone like the Reverend Mother should be given so much power and influence over impressionable women. Novitiate is not always a comfortable film to watch, but it is worth your time to see a new filmmaker express her voice.    My Rating: Full Price   Novitiate Website

In Case You Missed It (A movie just released on DVD/Blu-ray):  Good Time  (2017)  R    Connie (Robert Pattinson) and his brother, Nick (Benny Safdie), have money problems and decide to rob a bank. The bank job goes bad, and Nick is caught by police. Connie is on the run and wants, somehow, to get his brother out of prison.  Anchored by an unprecedented performance by Robert Pattinson, this is a gritty crime film about a bank robbery that goes bad very quickly. Pattinson, who has come far as an actor from those early Twilight days, gives a powerful and dynamic performance. I don't know if enough Academy Award voters will see this film, but I think it could be on some Indie and film critic awards lists at the end of the year. The cinematography is brilliantly executed and perfectly enhances the mood and feel of the movie. Good Time is an impressive film with a scintillating performance by Robert Pattinson.  My Rating: Full Price   Good Time Website

Forgotten Film:  Ripley’s Game (2002)  R   Tom Ripley (John Malkovich) is a man you do not want to cross as, not only is he a con man, he is a steely-eyed killer. When his past catches up with him, and he is hired to take down a mob boss, he hires Jonathan (Dougray Scott), a down on his luck picture framer, to become his protégé. Malkovich is mesmerizing as Ripley (and yes, this is the same character that Matt Damon played in the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley) as he doesn’t care what you do or think as long as you stay out of his way. The film has plenty of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.    My Rating: Full Price   Ripley's Game Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Coco: Simulation Technical Director

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Call Me By Your Name  (2017)  R  In Northern Italy in 1983, Oliver (Armie Hammer) is visiting Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his family as they do research for a project. Oliver takes Elio (Timothee Chalamet ), a 17-year-old music prodigy, under his wing and teaches him about life and love. Critics who have seen this film are raving about the performances of Hammer and Chalamet.    Call Me By Your Name Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Justice League

My View:   Justice League  (2017)  PG-13  Batman (Ben Affleck) is inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act in Batman vs. Superman; Bruce Wayne decides to enlist Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to form a team of superheroes to face an enemy that threatens mankind. This film has a troubled history as the director Zack Snyder, left the film right after principal photography finished due to the death of his daughter. Josh Wheadon took over the reigns and reshot about twenty percent of the film, re-writing the script for those scenes. Because Snyder hates Superman (I don’t know why) and likes dark, moody films, his sections of the film seem out of place with the scenes that Wheadon helmed. Like the first Avengers film, the Wheadon scenes have quite a bit of humor and the actors look like they are enjoying playing superheroes, except Affleck who look miserable throughout the film playing Batman. What saves this film from being bad is the absolute delightful performance of Ezra Miller as The Flash. Miller brings joy to the part, giving the film a needed breath of fresh air, as his Flash seems to have maybe a bit of Aspergers syndrome. I also enjoy Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa as Aquaman, both are fun to watch on screen and I liked that Wonder Woman has a bit of character growth, that I am sure will be fully explored in the next film. The biggest problem (beside the fact the the villain of the film sucks) is that unlike The Avengers film, we don’t know some of the characters like Cyborg (I still don’t know who he is and I saw the film) or Aquaman, so I never got that thrill of seeing them all together like I did with the Avengers. I wish Wheadon had directed this film from the start, we would have gotten a film that wasn’t confusing, and at times, dull to watch. Be sure to stay through all the credits as there is a big scene at the end that you will not want to miss.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Justice League Website
IndiefestWonder  (2017)  PG  The story of August (Augie) Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) who was born with a facial deformity, who has been in and out of hospitals for years. Previously homeschooled by his mother, Isabel (Julia Roberts), she decides that August should go to public school so he can try to be an ordinary kid. I absolutely loved this film as it hits all the right notes, touching in come scenes, moving in others and at times very funny. Tremblay is brilliant as Augie, making us feel his joy or his pain as he tries to survive school for the first time. I am not a big fan of Owen Wilson but he is perfect in the role of the supportive father who connects with his kid through humor. Roberts, as you would expect, excels in the role of the mother who loves her kid but realizes that it’s time for him to experience the world on his own. An aspect that I loved about this film is that it’s not always Augie’s centered on Augie’s point of view. We see the story through the eyes of his sister, her best friend, and a couple of Augie’s friends. This gives us more understanding of what Augie’s world is made up of and how Augie doesn’t always know what is going on in his world. Go see this moving film but I warn you, you are going to need a tissue or two.   My Rating:  Full Price    Wonder Website
IndiefestThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri   (2017)  R   After police fail to solve her daughter’s murder, a mother (Frances McDormand), personally challenges the local authorities. Frances McDormand give a tour de force performance as the strong willed mother who doesn’t care who she pisses off to get her daughter’s murder solved. It’s a flawless performance that will get her lots of awards this fall. There isn’t a bad performance in the cast with Woody Harrelson as the police chief who tries to do the right thing and Sam Rockwell as his slightly dim, racist deputy who still lives with his mom and gets drunk on a nightly basis. The film has a few twists and turns to keep your attention but at the heart of this film is the vivid performances that the whole cast gives throughout the film. This is a film that you will be talking about long after you see it.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Three Billboards Website
IndiefestLady Bird  (2017)  R  The adventures of a young woman (Saoirse Ronan), who calls herself Lady Bird, who is living in Northern California as she goes through her senior year of high school, finding love and trying to figure out her future. A lock to be in my top ten films of the year and maybe one of my favorite films of all time. Writer/director Greta Gerwig does the impossible in making an original coming of age film that feels real and shows what it’s like to be young, thinking the world is about to open up for you. You couldn’t ask for a better performance from Ronan, who is so believable as that teen who battles her mom, played by Laurie Metcalf, on a daily basis. As good as Ronan is, Metcalf is even better as the mom who can’t help herself from criticizing her daughter, wanting her to become something more than just a boy crazy girl. The film moves at a quick pace, giving us just slices of Lady Bird life during her senior year. I can’t stress how much I fell in love with this film, but this should give you an idea, I didn’t want it to end.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again    Lady Bird Website
IndiefestMudbound  (2017)  R  Two men (Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell) come back to their small Southern town after serving in the armed services during WWII. The two men share the experience of having fought a war and how it affects you while you try to adjust to ordinary life and the racism that still exists in the town. Heartbreaking and moving, this tale of two men who go off willingly to fight a war that scars them for life is intensely told. The center of this film is families, how they center us and make us feel safe when times are tough. The story is beautifully told and the performances are top notched. I’t s a film that feels large in scope but because we get to know the families in this story, it feels also very intimate and real.    My Rating: Full Price   Mudbound Website
Forgotten FilmBattle of Britain  (1969)  G  In 1940, the British Royal Air Force was fighting in the air a superior fighting force in the Nazi’s, as the fate of the country hung in the balance. Exciting film with an all-star British cast including Michael Caine, Trevor Howard, Ian McShane and Laurence Olivier makes this film worth watching. The dogfight sequences are breathtaking and the cast gives it their all.   My Rating:  Full Price    Battle of Britain Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Justice League:  Make Up Designer to Be Affleck

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Darkest Hour  (2017)  PG-13  During the early day of World War II, the fate of Western Europe was being threatened by the Nazi war machine.  Newly appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Gay Oldman) must decide to either make a stand or negotiate a truce that will surely break his country. I can’t wait to see this film as I love the history of WWII and especially Great Britain’s battle to stay alive.    Darkest Hour Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express

My View:  Murder on the Orient Express  (2017)  PG-13  A murder has been committed on the Orient Express, and the world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh), is on the case. Branagh makes a perfect Poirot, highlighting his quirks (like wanting his two hard boiled eggs the same height) without making it seem weird. The first half of the film works, especially the opening scenes where Poirot solves a crime in Jerusalem, but once he gets on the train and starts to solve a murder, the film slows down. I like when films don’t spell out everything, but, unfortunately, this movie does just that and gives us far more information than we need. There are some brilliant performances that stand out:  Josh Gad, as a bookkeeper to a gangster, does a magnificent job, flop sweat and all, Willem Dafoe gives a clever performance as a German businessman, and the chemistry between Tom Bateman, who plays the train’s manager and is an old friend of Poirot and Branagh, is one of the best things about this film. All characters play off each other exceptionally well, with most of the humor of the film coming from the conversations. Daisy Ridley gives the worst performance of the bunch with a shallow portrayal of her character.  If you are interested in this film, then see it on the big screen because the cinematography is gorgeous. Overall, it’s an interesting murder mystery, but I just wish it hadn’t felt the need to give us so much information.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee     Murder on the Orient Express Website
Indiefest:  The Square  (2017)  R   Christian (Claes Bang) runs a contemporary art museum and is a devoted father of two. His world will change when his phone and wallet are stolen. This is an uncomfortable film to watch, scenes go on too long, the humor in the film is due to absurdity (like a chimp in a reporters room that is never even acknowledged), and the film deals with how we see the homeless in our daily life. The film is two hours and twenty-two minutes, and you feels it’s length. I enjoyed some of the absurd moments of the film but much like it’s contemporary art work in this film (like a pile of chairs with sounds of them crashing or piles of pebbles in a room), it might be something you like, but it’s not for me.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Square Website
Indiefest:  Tragedy Girls  (2017)  R    Best friends Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) are on a mission to boost their social media status as they track down a local serial killer. This is a strange and funny black comedy that uses the tropes of horror/slasher films and turns them upside down. Hildebrand and Shipp have superlative chemistry, making their friendship feel genuine. There are lots of blood and body parts, but the humor makes it seem a bit surreal. The film is helped by a stellar supporting cast including Josh Hutcherson, Craig Robinson, and Kevin Durand. If you liked Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, you will like this film.    My Rating:  Full Price    Tragedy Girls Website
In Case You Missed It (Movies that Just Released on DVD/Blueray):  Ingrid Goes West  (2017)  R  An unhinged social media stalker (Aubrey Plaza) moves to LA and figures out a way to become part of an Instagram Star’s (Elizabeth Olsen) life. Not quite a comedy, more like a drama with a few light-hearted moments, Ingrid Goes West works because Aubrey Plaza is a chameleon of an actress. You both pity her character at the same time that you are rooting for her against all the odds that she will find happiness. The film doesn't always work, but those moments that do work are magical. There is great chemistry between Olsen and Plaza, making their almost instant friendship seem real, though you feel that both characters aren't genuine or telling the truth. The film covers a lot of ground in this day of instant gratification and celebrities that make their living endorsing products online. Aubrey Plaza makes this movie worth seeing, and if you follow some of the 'Instagram stars' you just might find that you want to unfollow them after seeing this film.    My Rating: Full Price   Ingrid Goes West Website
Forgotten Film:  Dead Presidents  (1995)  R    A Vietnam Vet (Larenz Tate) struggles to adjust to life after the war while he tries to support his family. Things become so bleak that he has to turn to a life of crime to survive. The Hughes Brothers wrote and directed this tough-to-watch but touching tale highlighted with an exceptional performance by Larenz Tate. The first half of the film works better than the second as we get to know Tate’s character and how he became the way he is in the present.  This is a flawed film but still worth watching because the main character is so interesting.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Dead Presidents Info

Weird Credit:  From the credits of Murder on the Orient Express:  Drapes Supervisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Wonder  (2017)  PG  The story of August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) who was born with a facial deformity, who has been in and out of hospitals for years. Previously homeschooled by his mother, Isabel (Julia Roberts), she decides that August should go to public school so he can try to be an ordinary kid. Based on the best-selling book by R.J. Palacio, the trailer looks like this could be a winner.   Wonder Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

My View:  Thor: Ragnarok  (2017) PG-13  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization. This is not the Thor movie that you are used to seeing. This film is filled with jokes and makes Thor look like a bit of buffoon. While the plot is a little weak, you won’t notice because this film is a blast to watch. It’ a delight to watch Cate Blanchett chew up the scenery (like a bad guy should do) as the evil Hela. I loved the hilarious conversations that Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor have, even when Hulk has turned back to Bruce Banner. Yes, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) does make his long-rumored appearance, and while it doesn’t add much to the plot, the interaction between Thor, Doctor Strange, and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are one of the highlights of the film. The action sequences are awesome, and the final sequence is spectacular. What makes this film work is the comedic timing of Chris Hemsworth, making this film one that you will want to see more than once. As with most of the Marvel films, stay for bonus scenes all the way through the credits.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Thor: Ragnarok Website
My View:  Wonderstuck  (2017)  PG  Ben (Oakes Fegley) goes on a journey to New York to try and find his long-lost father, and we also see a young deaf girl named, Rose (Millicent Simmonds), 50 years ago, making her way through the streets of New York to see her mother (Julianne Moore). The film is divided into two stories: one takes place in 1927, is in black and white and is shown like a silent film (dialogue is displayed with title cards and a musical soundtrack), and one story is set in the 1970’s, is in color and uses a soundtrack of popular music from that time period. I loved the silent film part of this film, and Millicent Simmonds (who is deaf in real life) is brilliant as the strong-willed Rose. The story drags a bit in the 70s section. I did enjoy the performance of Oakes Fegley, and I especially enjoyed Jaden Michael as Jamie, a kid who befriends Ben, and who breathes some life into the 70s section. This is a film that I wanted to love but only liked. If only the 70s scenes had lived up to the brilliance of the silent film part.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Wonderstruck Website

My View:  A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)  R   The bad moms (Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Kathryn Hahn) are back, and they are tired of creating the perfect Christmas, so they plan on rebelling like the bad moms they are. I liked the first film, but this misses the mark. I only laughed once and giggled a couple of more times, but that’s it because most of the material just isn’t funny. I love the three leads, but they are let down by a very skimpy plot that you can see coming from almost the first frame of the film. I also missed Christina Applegate, who was the villain in the first film but only makes a cameo in this one.   My Rating:  Cable
Indiefest:  Blade of the Immortal  (2017)   Manji (Takashi Kimura), a samurai warrior of immense skill, becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle.  He takes on a mission to avenge the parents of a young girl, Rin (Hana Sugisaki).  Filled with blades flying through the air and blood spirting everywhere, this is a big action picture that also has some heart. The almost father/daughter relationship that develops through time between Manji and Rin makes this movie different than your ordinary samurai film. The chemistry between Kimura and Sugisaki is outstanding, making the relationship feel real. The action sequences are stunning and marvelously choreographed. If you are a fan of action films, then this is a film for you.   My Rating:  Full Price   Blade of the Immortal Website

Forgotten Film: Big Night  (1996)  R  Two brothers (Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci) from Italy have come to America to run a restaurant. The restaurant is failing, and their only hope is when a big-time musician agrees to play a special benefit for the restaurant, but will the two brothers get along long enough to put on the big meal? If you are a foodie, you will want to see this funny and touching film that makes food the centerpiece of the story. I guarantee that you will want some Italian food after seeing this film.   My Rating: Full Price    Big Night Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Thor: Ragnarok:  Dental Prosthetics

Coming Soon to a Year Near You: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  (2017)  R  After police fail to solve her daughter’s murder, a mother (Frances McDormand) personally challenges the local authorities.  From what I am hearing from other film critics, Frances McDormand is a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination.    Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Thank You For Your Service

My View: Thank You For Your Service  (2017)  A three U.S. soldiers (Miles Teller, Joe Cole, Beulah Koale) return home after serving in Iraq. They all struggle to integrate back into civilian life. This is an earnest telling of the story of three damaged soldiers trying to find help to cope with the damage that the war did on their bodies and the psyche. Teller gives a compelling performance as a man, Adam Schuman, who was counted on his men to look out for them in the field and is struggling to do the same now that they are back home.  I enjoyed the performance of Haley Bennett, the wife of Adam, who tries as hard as she can to try and understand what her husband is going through. The film has a been there/done that feel to it, mostly because writer/director Jason Hall wrote the Clint Eastwood directed American Sniper, which also dealt with a soldier trying to cope with what he had been through as a sniper.  Overall, it’s a film filled with outstanding performances that just never delivers the emotional punch that the film needs.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Thank You For Your Service Website
My ViewSuburbicon  (2017)  R  Gardiner (Matt Damon) lives in a quiet family town. The problem is that Gardiner has a secret, he owes money to the mob, and the mob is willing to destroy his family to get what he owes. Gardiner will have to defend his family, and it will be costly. This film isn’t funny enough to be a black comedy and not smart enough to be a satire. This is the combination of two scripts, one written by the Coen brothers and one written by George Clooney and Grant Hesllov. Because of that, there are two main stories; the one story involving Gardiner’s family being threatened by the mob and the other story is about a black family moving into a neighborhood that doesn’t want them there. The two stories are so different in tone that it pulls the whole film down into a sloppy mess. The only time this film shows any life is when Oscar Isaac appears as an insurance investigator, but as soon as he leaves, the film goes downhill quickly. If Clooney had stayed with the Coen script, the film might have worked but by adding the second story to make a statement about racial intolerance just doesn’t work.   My Rating: Cable   Suburbicon Website
My ViewAll I See is You  (2016) R  A blind woman, Gina (Blake Lively) regains her sight and discovers that her husband, James (Jason Clarke) has been hiding some secrets that could destroy their relationship. This is a story about the dynamics of a relationship. When  Gina, who has been blind since being in a car accident when she was young, regains her sight in one eye, she is no longer dependent on her husband, and this causes a rift between the two of them. I got very tired of seeing the point of view of Gina, both when she couldn’t see anything other than blurry shapes, and when she regains her sight, showing us her slightly off view. The film’s trailer makes the film look very different than it is as this movie is a drama about changing relationships. I would like to see Blake Lively in a film that gives her more to do than this film does.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   All Is See Is You Website   
IndiefestGoodbye Christopher Robin  (2017)  PG  A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) has returned from WW I to his wife (Margot Robbie) but is suffering from PTSD.  After the birth of his son, Christopher Robin, he moves his family to the country. There, as he interacts with Christopher, a book idea springs up. That book would become the beloved Winnie the Pooh. This film only works when Christopher Robin and his dad are out in the woods playing. The rest of the film is a depressing view a very dysfunctional family that exploits a child for fame and money. The film never finds its voice and Will Tilston, as the eight-year-old Christopher Robin isn’t up to the spotlight shining on him, with a performance that is one dimensional.  I don’t think fans of "Winnie the Pooh" are going to be happy with this very un-Pooh like film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Goodbye Christopher Robin Website
IndiefestThe Killing of a Sacred Deer  (2017)  R  Steven (Colin Farrell) is married to Anna (Nicole Kidman) and live in a nice house with their two children. After Steven begins mentoring a young man, Martin (Barry Keoghan), things start going horribly wrong that will threaten Steven and his family. I am sure there will be lots of critics that will love this strange and monotonous film, but I am not one of them. I found the film unsettling, which I am sure the filmmaker wanted me to feel that, but I also felt boredom, not something the filmmaker intended.  We are supposed to believe that Steven’s family is happy and that they love each other, but by giving them dialogue that is short and tone deaf, it makes it seem that the family is more robotic than loving. There is absolutely no chemistry between Kidman and Farrell, making their marriage look ready for a divorce. I will say that Barry Keoghan as Martin gives a creepy but powerful performance as the strange and troubled Martin. If you liked (or loved)  2015 film The Lobster which was also written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, then you will probably like this movie. If you didn’t, or you like films that make sense, then stay away from this film.  My Rating: Cable   The Killing of a Sacred Deer Website
Indiefest78/52  (2017)  Documentary on the iconic shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), a sequence so terrifying and dramatic that it changed the bathing habits of a generation.  Fascinating film that breakdowns in detail one of the most famous scenes of all time. What I love about this movie is they have people like director Guillermo del Toro or composer Danny Elfman watch the scene while the camera is rolling on them as they give their thoughts and reactions. I am a big fan of Hitchcock and have read quite a few books about him, and I still learned a bunch of things about the film. I especially enjoyed the interviews with Marli Renfro, who was the body double in the shower scene. She was there for the whole sequence of shooting and gives some valuable insight into what went into the film and why. Even if you aren’t a big fan of Hitchcock, you will enjoy this behind the scenes look at an iconic scene that will never be topped.  My Rating: Full Price   78/52 Info
My ViewActs of Vengeance  (2017)  Criminal defense lawyer named Frank (Antonio Banderas) takes a vow of silence and goes on a mission to find the man responsible for killing his wife and child. This is an old fashion redemption/revenge film made better because, unlike a lot of this genre, the lead actor, Antonio Banderas can act. The film is aided by a stellar cast including Paz Vega, a nurse who helps him recover from a fight, Robert Forster, playing a grieving father, and Karl Urban, a police officer that shows Frank around the world of mixed martial arts. The action sequences are fun to watch, and if you are an MMA fan, you will enjoy the numerous fight scenes. It’s a simple story that knows what it is and accomplishes everything you would want in this type of film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Act of Vengeance Info
IndiefestBarracuda  (2017)  Sinaloa (Sophie Reid) comes to Texas to meet her half-sister  (Allison Tolman) and stake a claim to the family musical legacy.
The film takes place in Austin, and it captures the look and feel of the quirky town. Allison Tolman gives an emotionally convincing performance of a woman who has to deal with someone who may or may not be her relative. Sophie Reid is dazzling as the talented singer who is a troubled soul looking for a family that she may never find. The two actresses work well with each, creating tension throughout the film. It’s a film you don’t want to miss.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Barracuda Website
Forgotten FilmReds  (1981)  PG  The story of John Reed (Warren Beatty), an American journalist that traveled the world to be a part of history. He was in Russia when communists revolted in Russia against the Czar, and then he tried and failed to bring communism to the United States. At the core of this epic film is a love story between John Reed and Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) taking place at a historical time.  Beatty, who also wrote and directed the film, Beatty is brilliant as the man who wanted to change the world and Keaton is sparkling as the woman who wanted to be at his side while he attempted the impossible. The cinematography is beautiful and perfect matches the mood of the story. It’s a love story that is doomed from the start, but we are all the better for going on the ride.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Reds Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of All I See is You:  Boar Wrangler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouLady Bird (2017)  The adventures of a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) living in Northern California for a year. I don’t know much about this film but that doesn’t matter, I see it because Greta Gerwig wrote and directed it.   Lady Bird Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Only the Brave

My ViewOnly the Brave (2017)  PG-13  An elite crew of firefighters, named the Granite Mountain Hotshots, will risk everything to protect a town from an historic wildfire. This film is a fantastic true story about a group of firefighters who risk their lives to protect towns and their people from horrific fires. We get to know the firefighters and their families, and we experience the brotherhood of this group of men. The firefighting scenes are exciting and brilliantly done. There isn’t one bad performance in the bunch, and I loved the chemistry between Josh Brolin, who plays the supervisor of the firemen, and Jennifer Connelly, who plays his fiery but supportive wife. Miles Teller is perfectly cast as the down-and-out man who changes his life by joining the firefighters. Taylor Kitsch is brilliant as a team member who hates Miles Teller’s character at first but then becomes one of his best friends. Only the Brave is a inspiring drama about a group of men who would risk their lives for their brotherhood of firefighters.    My Rating: Full Price    Only the Brave Website
My View The Snowman  (2017)  R  Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) gets put on the case of a woman who has disappeared, and her pink scarf is wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman.  Oh, man this is a bad movie. The film takes place in Norway, but some actors speak perfect English, one actor keeps his British accent, and Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons has an accent from God knows where. The film is titled, The Snowman, and the serial killer leaves snowmen as his calling card, but not once do the detectives mention the snowmen. Val Kilmer has a small but important part, but because he was battling cancer at the time of filming, he had a hard time speaking, so his lines were dubbed in making Kilmer's scenes seem a little unreal. The storyline is confusing and, at times, seems like something is missing. It’s as if the director didn’t film 15 percent of the script. Oh wait, that’s exactly what happened. Those missing scenes probably wouldn’t have helped this mess of a film.    My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   The Snowman Website  
IndiefestMark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House  (2017)  PG-13  Mark Felt (Liam Neeson), the Deputy Associate Director of the F.B.I., is forced to become “Deep Throat,” the inside man who helped journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the Watergate scandal in 1974.  First, if you don’t know much about Watergate, then you should watch All the President’s Men before seeing this film. This film has an all-star cast with Liam Neeson as Mark Felt, Diane Lane as his supportive wife, Kate Walsh, Michael C. Hall, Tom Sizemore, and Tony Goldwyn. The problem with this film is the script never creates any tension even though it deals with a story of a Presidency that was taken down due to Felt’s inside information. The film never gets up to speed, and we never go in depth into Mark Felt’s reasons why he gives out the info. Liam Neeson gives a solid performance as Felt, and Diane Lane is even better as the loyal wife who becomes bitter when Mark is passed over  head of the F.B.I.. These performances, though, just can’t overcome a script that is incredibly dull.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Mark Felt Website
IndiefestBreathe  (2017)  PG-13  The story of Diana (Claire Foy) and Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) whose life is shattered when, at age 28, Robin is paralyzed from the neck down by polio.  Base on a true story, Breathe is an inspirational story of a man who refuses to be locked up In a hospital, tied to a respirator while wasting away. Due to his loving and hardworking wife and very inventive friends, Robin not only was able to go home, but he was able to travel around Europe, lecturing doctors on how to free their patients from a hospital bed. Foy and Garfield have  marvelous chemistry together, and Garfield gives a moving performance. Excellent performances by the two leads are not enough to make this film more than just average as they were let down by a meandering script that never delivered the emotional impact the two characters and two actors deserved.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Breathe Website
IndiefestThe Florida Project  (2017)  R  Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives in an extended stay hotel near Disney World with her mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite). It's going to be a long summer.  This heartbreakingly beautiful film is a brilliant look at people living on the edge of homelessness. Brooklynn Prince as the fiery kid named, Moonee, is the best thing in this film. Her role is an intense and scintillating performance that will cause you to fall in love with her. Willem Dafoe gives a masterful performance as the downtrodden hotel manager who has to deal with a not so reliable client base. He portrays the manager as a man who feels bad for his guests but realizes that he still has a job to do. The Florida Project is not a glamorous film, and it’s quite sad most of the time showing us all the aspects of living with very little, but you will want to spend time with little Moonee and her gang.   My Rating:  Full Price   The Florida Project Website
IndiefestLucky  (2017)  Lucky (Harry Dean Stanton) is a retired US Navy veteran who loves his rituals: his morning exercises, his walk into town, going to the diner to work on a crossword puzzle. Lucky senses that his time on Earth is almost up, and he must reassess his life and what he believes in.  Harry Dean Stanton gives a magical performance that is sure to get an Academy Award nomination. He gives the film heart as he stumbles around his small town meeting his friends at the diner or at the neighborhood watering hole. The entire cast is splendid, especially David Lynch as a friend of Lucky’s whose best friend is a 100-year-old tortoise, Ed Begley Jr. as Lucky’s longtime doctor, and Tom Skerritt as a Marine vet who meets Lucky at the diner. The film lovingly treats Lucky as a treasured soul who loves his routine and his town. Lucky is a beautiful ode to a man who made the world a better place. It’s too bad there won't be more films with Harry Dean Stanton in them, but he couldn't have chosen a better swan song to go out on. We all feel lucky that Stanton could join us for one last walk to his town.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Lucky Website
Forgotten FilmNear Dark  (1987)  R   Caleb (Adrian) is a young man living a dull life in a small town. When he meets a young drifter named Mae (Jenny Wright), he thinks his luck has changed, that is until he finds out she is a vampire. Caleb gets bit by her and is forced to join her gang of vampires that is led by the charismatic Jesse (Lance Henriksen). Now he is part of a group of vampires that is roaming the west, causing death and mayhem. This is a cross between a vampire film and a biker film and it works due to the brilliant cast and a unique storyline. A fun ride from start to finish is a must for anyone who likes a good vampire film.   My Rating: Full Price   Near Dark Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Only the Brave:  Tattoo Manufacturer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Last Flag Flying  (2017)  R  Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, Larry Shepherd (Steve Carell) reunites with his old buddies Sal (Bryan Cranston) and Richard (Laurence Fishburn). They go on a road trip to pick up the body of Larry’s son, who has died in the Iraq War. The funny and touching trailer makes this look like a movie that you won’t want to miss.     Last Flag Flying Info 
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Happy Death Day

My ViewHappy Death Day  (2017)  PG-13  A college student, Tree (Jessica Rothe), keeps reliving the day of her murder. As she relives the day over and over, she starts to figure out who killed her and how to stop them.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which is rare for a slasher genre movie. The film has a sense of humor, making fun of the slasher device in films, as Tree is killed in about every way possible. The film has some twists and turns to keep you interested as Tree (yes that is what everyone calls her) tries to discover who the killer is. Jessica Rothe has a significant screen presence and has a knack for comedy, which helps the film feel light and fun. There are some scary moments; most of them the ‘jump out of the dark' variety but it’s the tongue in cheek humor that makes this film so much fun. It’s not a great film, but it’s enjoyable for its campy theme.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Happy Death Day Website
My ViewThe Foreigner  (2017)  R  An ordinary businessman, Quan (Jackie Chan), seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. They messed with the wrong man as Quan has a past that will help him track down his daughter’s killers.  This is not your typical happy-go-lucky Jackie Chan roll, nor is it your typical Jackie Chan movie. The Foreigner is a grim movie about a grieving father who wants revenge on the killers who exploded a bomb in downtown London. I loved the action sequences with Chan which are fast moving and, as with any film with Jackie Chan, are full of almost impossible stunts. The problem with this film is that it wants to be a revenge film and political drama, which the two don’t mix very well up on the screen. Pierce Brosnan plays a former IRA leader who, for the past nineteen years, has been working with the English government to keep the peace. I wanted more of Jackie Chan and a whole lot less of Pierce Brosnan.  The political stuff is too slow moving and weighs down this almost 2-hour film. I would give this film a lower rating, but Jackie Chan is just too darn good at action scenes to do that.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Foreigner Website
My View:  Marshall  (2017)  PG-13   Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown) is accused of raping his employer, Mrs. Strubing (Kate Hudson). NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) is sent to defend him and is forced by the court to use local lawyer Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), who typically works on insurance cases.  Chadwick Boseman is an unmovable force in this outstanding film about a man who continually challenged the system and won. This is a gripping courtroom drama, which, even though I knew the outcome, kept me on the edge of my seat. There is impressive chemistry between Boseman and Josh Gad, who plays a reluctant lawyer who comes around to Marshall’s ideas on how to run a case. The whole cast is outstanding, including Kate Hudson was the woman who filed the rape charges. This film is worth the price of admission to see Chadwick Boseman work his magic, making Thurgood Marshall come alive before our eyes.  My Rating: Full Price    Marshall Website
IndiefestProfessor Marston and the Wonder Women  (2017)  R    The true story of psychologist William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), who was in a polyamorous relationship between his wife (Rebecca Hall) and his mistress (Olive Byrne). Marston went on to create the legendary and controversial (for its time) comic book character Wonder Woman. This is a movie about the choices we make in our relationships, those choices that sometimes take great courage to make. This film isn’t for everyone as it contains a bit of nudity, along with some bondage. I liked Hall and Evans’ performances, but it’s Rebecca Hall who makes this film worth watching. Playing the hard-headed, opinionated, and brilliant wife, Hall dominates every scene that she is in. I think you will be shocked at Marston’s ideas that he incorporated in his creation of Wonder Woman. This is a complex, moving tale about the exploration of what love means and if it indeed can conquer all that life gives us.   My Rating:  Full Price    Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Website
Indiefest:  The King’s Choice  (2017)  In 1940, the Nazis invade Norway, who, up to that time in the war, had been neutral.  The Norwegian King (Jesper Christensen) must make the tough decision to give in to the German’s demands or fight on and lose countless lives of his own people. The film is the dramatic telling of a King who has to make a hard choice that will have far-ranging consequences. King’s Choice lets us see the workings of not only a Monarchy but how a King deals with a government that can’t come to a decision. We get to know the King’s family, including the hot-headed son, and we also meet the brave soldiers that were fighting for King and country under impossible odds. It’s an entertaining film that lets us see how war affects people, not only the powerful but also the powerless.    My Rating: Full Price    The King's Choice Website
IndiefestM.F.A.  (2017)  An art student, Noelle (Francesca Eastwood), gets creatively inspired when she accidentally kills the man who raped her. After her painting is well received, she decides to become a vigilante, killing men who have wronged women on campus, which fuels her creativity. This is an interesting and sometimes brutal look at a woman who becomes empowered by her revenge. The more she becomes a vigilante and rights what she perceives as wrongful acts on women, the more creative she becomes to where it becomes an obsession. Eastwood gives a robust and compelling performance, making it hard to not root for her even though she is killing men right and left. M.F.A. will leave you thinking about how to stop violence against women on college campuses  in this tale of a woman who seeks solace in revenge.  My Rating: Full Price    M.F.A.Website
Indiefest: The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)   (2017)   An estranged family, two brothers and one sister gather in New York for an event celebrating their father, Harold (Dustin Hoffman), an opinionated sculptor. Danny (Adam Sandler), the oldest son, is a recently separated father whose daughter, Eliza (Grace Van Patten) is about to leave for college. Jean (Elizabeth Marvel), the troubled daughter, is an office manager, who has never gotten over her broken childhood caused by her parents' divorce. Matthew (Ben Stiller), the youngest son, is a highly successful money manager that moved to Los Angeles to get away from his family. Writer/director Noah Baumbach brings us a story about a rather strange family, led by the bullheaded and conceited father who feels he never got the success and recognition that his work deserved. Dustin Hoffman is phenomenal as the center of attention-hungry patriarch. Baumbach gives us almost non-stop dialogue where family members try to get their point in while Harold keeps talking about what he wants to chat about. Both Sandler, as the loving father and Ben Stiller, as the slick Matthew, are exceptional in their performances. While given a lesser role within the film, Elizabeth Marvel, still holds her own as the distressed Jean. Emma Thompson, as the alcoholic fourth wife of Harold, is simply superlative in the film. The film is told short stories, centering on each character of the family. This is a funny and moving film filled with eccentric, complex characters whose layers start peeling back before our eyes.   My Rating: Full Price   The Meyerowitz Stories Website
Forgotten FilmNight Falls on Manhattan  (1996)  R  A newly elected District Attorney (Andy Garcia) finds himself in the middle of an investigation of police corruption that may involve his father (Ian Holm and his father’s police partner(James Gandolfini). This is an absorbing tale where you never know which character is telling the truth. I love James Gandolfini in the film playing the possible corrupt policeman; he is just a blast to watch to perform. It’s a dark film about the intricate workings of a city that is choking on lies and deceit.   My Rating: Full Price   Night Falls on Manhattan Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Happy Death Day: Mascot Mask Designed By

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Snowman  (2017)  Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) gets put on the case of a woman who has disappeared, and her pink scarf is wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman. You had me at Michael Fassbender. The Snowman Website 
Until Next Time!