Friday, March 30, 2012

Wrath of the Titans

My View:  Wrath of the Titans (2012) Sam Worthington is back as the hero, Perseus, on a new quest – to rescue his father, Zeus.  Ares, the God of War, and Zeus’s brother, Hades, have devised a plot to use the powerful Titans to unleash the father of all Gods, Kronos, and destroy Zeus.  Perseus must stop them in time or the human race will cease to exist.  I didn’t like the first Clash of the Titians (2010) and, while I liked the action sequences more than the previous film, I still didn’t like the overall feel of this film. The storyline is very confusing, and we get tired, very quickly, of Perseus’ refusal to help his father, Zeus. The lone, bright spot in this film is Koby Kebbell’s role of Agenor, another half-god who is the son of Poseidon.  Kebbell gives some life and a little comic relief to a script a role that is just a little too somber for this type of film.   My Rating: Cable   Wrath of the Titans Website
Family FaireMirror Mirror (2012) This film is a new take on the old fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Julia Roberts plays the evil queen who has stolen control over a kingdom. Her only threat is an exiled princess, Lily Collins, who enlists the aid of seven small rebels and a handsome huntsman, Armie Hammer, to help her win her birthright if she can defeat the evil queen. This is an enjoyable, family film where Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen, seems to be having the time of her life in this role, as she spits out her lines with sarcasm and wit.  Lilly Collins is beautiful as the spunky Snow White, but this film is at its best when the dwarves are on-screen. This film presents a very different version of the dwarves (as opposed to the meek and kind Disney version), as theses dwarves are thieves and proud of it.  Armie Hammer stands out as the handsome Prince who falls in love with Snow White but keeps getting held up by the dwarves who steal his pants upon each meeting.  If you are looking for a fun family film that will keep the kids and the adults equally amused, this film is for you.   My Rating: Full Price   Mirror Mirror Website
IndiefestW.E. (2012) Madonna co-wrote and directs this film that explores the love affair that shocked the world – the romance between American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, and the man she fell in love with, the soon to be King, Edward VIII.  W.E. is intercut with a contemporary romance between an unhappily married woman and a security guard at Sotheby’s Auction House. While I liked Abbie Cornish, who played Wally, the contemporary married woman, and Andrea Riseborough, who played Wallis Simpson, much of the rest of the cast is unimpressive in their roles. Madonna seems to have suffered from A.D.D. when she directed this film, as she can’t seem to stay on one shot for more than a few seconds.  I also got very tired of newsreels with audio narration, used constantly in the film, which makes it seem she doesn’t trust that we can figure out what happened in the past.  Madonna has created an uninteresting film about a very interesting subject.  My Rating: Cable   W.E. Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#23 Worst Film:
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) A sequel to the classic horror film The Exorcist, this movie was cursed from the start when most of the original cast, director, or writer wouldn't sign on. The only cast member to reprise her role was Linda Blair, and it was with the understanding that she would not have to put back on the demon makeup from the first film.  Richard Burton plays a priest who is battling the devil, and it’s said that as the film progressed, Sir Richard drank more and more, which is very evident on-screen. Meant to be a “metaphysical thriller”, the movie had audiences laughing at its premiere, and Linda Blair’s career was left on the table like a cold bowl of split pea soup.   Exorcist II: The Heretic Info
Forgotten FilmThe Reivers (1969) This film is a turn of age film about a small boy named Lucas (Mitch Vogel) who grows up in a Mississippi town at the turn of the century. When Lucas is left in the care of his half-brother, Boon (Steve McQueen), no one could predict that they would soon be on a journey involving gambling, ladies of the evening and a horse race or two.  This is a very different role for McQueen as he plays a rather simple guy who would rather sleep than work - not the cool persona that he normally played. This film perfectly captures the magic of the William Faulkner novel of the same name.   My Rating: Full Price   The Reivers Info
In Case You Missed it ( A Film Just Released on DVD) The Muppets (2011) One of my top ten movies of last year, The Muppets is a brilliant, funny film with great songs (one that won an Oscar) and a great message about being happy with the person you are.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Muppets Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Looks Like a Bad Idea)The Three Stooges  (2012): It’s got to be the bottom of the barrel when Hollywood decides to do this type of remake. I think the studio that is releasing this film deserves a two-finger poke to the eyes.   The Three Stooges Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Mirror Mirror: Crowd Wardrobe Master

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Hunter (2011) Willem Dafoe is always one of those actors who brings everything he has to a role, so it will be fascinating to see him play a hunter in the wilderness who searches for the last Tasmania tiger in existence.   The Hunter Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games

My View:  The Hunger Games  (2012)  In a film based on the bestselling book by the same name, Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss, a girl who tries to help her family survive everyday life.  This film, set in the future, is about the country of Panem, which is divided into 12 regions, where most citizens are suffering from starvation and poor living conditions. Each region has to submit one boy and one girl to compete in a deadly fight that is telecast live to the entire nation.  Katniss volunteers, instead, when her younger sister is picked for the games. Now Katniss must compete in the deadly game, a game that will only leave one survivor. Fans of the book will be very happy as the film follows most of the book plot with almost no exceptions. Jennifer Lawrence is perfect as the rebellious Katniss, a fierce hunter who isn't afraid to stand up for herself.  The rest of the cast is sound with outstanding work from Josh Hutcherson who plays Katniss's Hunger Games partner, Peeta, and surprisingly, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, the designer of Katness's look at the games (think Project Runway on steroids).  This film doesn't disappoint, and it’s fans will be counting down until the sequel.  My Rating:  Full Price  The Hunger Games Website

My View:  Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2012) Things are not going well in Afghanistan, and, meanwhile, the British government is looking for a feel good story. The PR person (Kristin Scott Thomas) for the Prime Minister discovers that a sheik’s (Amr Waked) dream is to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen river. A fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) is brought in by the sheik’s advisor (Emily Blunt) with the sole mission to make salmon fishing a reality. This is one of those films you fall in love with because it has strong, unique, romantic characters and roles that McGregor and Blunt fill out perfectly as they play off each other extremely well. Thomas is very funny as the PR person who won’t take "no" for an answer, and there is a quiet dignity to Waked’s performance as the sheik with a vision that won’t be denied. See this romantic film and be charmed as much as I was.   My Rating: Full Price    Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Website       Disclaimer: This film is being distributed by CBS Films and the reviewer is an employee of CBS.

Indyfest: The 36th Annual Atlanta Film Festival Opening Weekend

Saturday March 24 4:00 pm Midtown Art Cinema
Flat Daddy  (2012)   This documentary is about 4 families and how the deployment of an armed service family member has impacted their lives. This film does a good job showing, not only the sacrifices our military men and women make, but also the strain that it puts on the lives of the families left behind. The title of the film comes from the idea that  life-size photo cutouts of the deployed are used to keep their children aware of what their military parents look like. A touching film that makes you appreciate what our military families deal with to protect our way of life.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee

Saturday March 24 9:15 pm Midtown Art Cinema
Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy  (2011)   In this drama, based on the book written by Irvine Welsh (Trainspoting), Lloyd (Adam Sinclair) is a party boy who works part-time as a drug mule for a local Scottish mob boss (Carlo Rota), a mob boss that he is in debt to. Lloyd lives for the club scene and becomes hooked on Ecstasy, until he meets Heather (Kristin Kreuk), an American who is in an unhappy marriage to a Scottish businessman. They instantly connect, but soon, Lloyd realizes that he will have to choose between his dangerous lifestyle and the woman he loves. Sinclair is perfect in the role of Lloyd, who, at the start of the film, never takes anything seriously, even the drug smuggling. He soon realizes, though, that he must become a better man if he is to have any life with Heather. Kreuk is cute as the girl who changes everything for Lloyd in this admirable film about a man who tries to redeem himself.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee

Sunday March 25 12:30 pm Midtown Art Cinema
Beauty Is Embarrassing (2011)  This is a funny and fascinating documentary about the amazing life of artist and performer, Wayne White. Wayne grew up in the Tennessee mountains and, after graduating college, moved to New York City. There he got a job designing sets and puppets on the first season of the Saturday morning TV show, Pee-wee’s Playhouse. He was the creative force behind the legendary music videos, Peter Gabriel’s, "Big Time" and The Smashing Pumpkins', "Tonight, Tonight."  He also branched out as an artist of paintings and sculptures. White is a fascinating man, and the film does an exceptional job capturing his humor and his energy in a film about a highly creative man.   My Rating: Full Price

Sunday March 25 12:30 pm Midtown Art Cinema
Shuffle  (2011)   Lovell Milo (T.J. Thyne) suddenly begins to experience time travel.  Every time he falls asleep, he wakes up in a different time in his life and moves back and forth between the years. In his time travels, he discovers that he falls in love and marries his childhood sweetheart (Paula Rhodes), only to lose her to some sort of accident. It’s an accident, that, if he can figure out how and when she died, he just might be able to prevent it. This film is part romance, part sci-fi mystery and, overall, it was a entertaining experience to watch.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee

Sunday March 25 4:30 pm Midtown Art Cinema
All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert  (2011)   This documentary shows that Winfred Rembert is not only an incredible man, he is a brilliant artist. Rembert grew up in the small town of Cuthbert, GA. While he did go to school, he spent most of his childhood time working in the surrounding cotton fields. As a young man, he participated in a voter rights protest in the 60’s. The police brutally broke up the protest, and Rembert was put into jail for seven years after convicted stealing a car while trying to run from the unlawful protest. In jail, he learns the art of leatherworking, and when he was released, began creating leather paintings of scenes from his past life. Rembert is as unique as his paintings, is a man who is quick to laugh and doesn’t dwell on his past hardships and is a man who has created art to share his life with others.   My Rating: Full Price

Sunday March 25 6:30 pm  Landmark Midtown Art Cinema
The Last Fall (2011) After spending a few years in the NFL, Kyle (Lance Gross) is at the end of his short career.   When he is released from the NFL, he returns to his hometown to figure out what to do with his life. He begins a relationship with his high school sweetheart (Nicole Beharie) , who is now a recent single mom. Life, though, gets complicated for them when her ex tries to get her back her, and Kyle is confronted, unexpectedly, with a tryout for an NFL team.  Will Lance fight for the love of his life or for his NFL career? This is a engaging film, and contains satisfying performances with Lance Gross’s acting standing out in this modest little romance.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee

Sunday March 25 6:45 pm  Landmark Midtown Art Cinema
Sweet Old World (2012) A family of four has been torn apart seven years ago by the death of an older son. The younger son, Ethan (Jacques Colimon), is a promising musician in the high school band with hopes of going to Julliard. His father is a wedding photographer who can't  seem to connect with his son. Things change when Jimmy, the older son’s former best friend, comes back into town. Ethan begins hanging out with Jimmy just to find out more about his dead older brother. The problem is that Jimmy is a bad influence and may bring Ethan down with him. While I liked this film, actual students were used for roles in the film, and this gives the film somewhat of an amateur feel.  My Rating: Cable

Friday, March 16, 2012

21 Jump Street

My View21 Jump Street (2012) In this comedy, based on the 80’s TV show of the same name, Jonah Hill plays a high school nerd, and Channing Tatum plays the big man on campus who gets all the girls with his looks and attitude. Seven years later, the two decide to help each other graduate from the Police Academy. After graduation, they join the 21 Jump Street program and go undercover in high school to stop a drug gang. This is Jonah Hill’s film (he co-wrote the story), and his type of humor is very evident throughout. There is good chemistry between Tatum and Hill, and both do a good job of playing off of each other. There are some very funny bits, like an extended chase sequence with a running gag that has a hilarious payoff.  Sometimes, though, the film goes just a little too far or goes for the easy joke. My Rating: Bargain Matinee    21 Jump Street Website
Indiefest (A Look at a Small, Indie or Foreign Film):  Friends with Kids (2012) Writer/Director Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein) is back with a look at a couple (Westfeldt and Adam Scott) who examine their unhappy married friends and decide they can raise a kid in a better environment by just staying friends and not complicating things with love/marriage. This is a highly entertaining film with a marvelous cast, including Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd all who play the two married couples.  Megan Fox and Edward Burns play the love interests of Scott and Westfeldt, but it’s Westfeldt who makes you love this film. She is perfect in the role of the insecure woman who wants a kid but also wants the dream man. As with Kissing Jessica Stein, Westfeldt brings a film to life that is an entirely new look at the romantic comedy. My Rating: Full Price   Friends with Kids Website
My ViewSeeking Justice (2012) Continuing in the vein of crappy movies he has been making lately, Nicolas Cage plays the husband whose wife (January Jones) is brutally raped. In the hospital, Cage's character is approached by a man who says he knows who the rapist is and, if Cage gives the word, the rapist will be killed.  The only catch is that someday Cage will have to do a “favor” for the secret organization the man works for.  Cage agrees, the rapist is killed, and Cage must start doing what the secret organization wants him to do. This is a film that has the words “straight to video” plastered all over it, with bad writing (at times the plot becomes laughable), bad acting (January Jones is so robotic that I wonder if she is a Stepford wife) and a plot so transparent, the audience figures out things ten minutes before the characters on the screen do. My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Seeking Justice Info
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Film of All Time)
24th Best Film:
Notorious (1946) Alfred Hitchcock directs this tale of intrigue, set in post World War II Brazil, full of spies, Nazis and love. A woman (Ingrid Bergman), whose father was convicted of helping the German government during the war, is approached by a US spy (Cary Grant) to help infiltrate a group of men who are members of the Nazi government in hiding. Using the connections of her father, the woman starts dating one of the leaders of the Nazi party while she is falling in love with the U.S. spy. This film has amazing suspense, and Bergman and Grant heat up the screen with their fiery romance. This classic film has one of the greatest camera moves in the history of cinema with a shot that starts high above a party scene and slowly lowers to a close-up of the hands of Bergman as she clutches a key behind her back.  It's a remarkable shot that makes this one of the best of Hitchcock’s films.   Notorious Info
Forgotten FilmThe Hot Rock (1972) Robert Redford plays Dortmunder, a convicted thief who, upon his release from prison, is convinced by his brother-in-law (George Segal) to go on one last big score and steal a precious diamond from a museum. They hire a crew to do the job and plan an elaborate scheme to make the diamond heist. But, things don’t go as planned and get very complicated very fast. This is a very funny film with lots of twists and turns that have hilarious results, and Redford is perfect as the thief who, as things get more complicated, masterminds a break into not one, but two prisons.  My Rating: Full Price   The Hot Rock Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD)The Descendants (2011) A film that I considered one of the best of 2011 and certainly deserving of its Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. George Clooney is excellent as a father who tries to keep his family together after his wife is in an accident.  It's Shailene Woodley, though, as Clooney’s rebellious daughter, who makes this film work so well. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Descendants Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Looks Like a Bad Idea)American Reunion (2012) Do we need another sequel to the American Pie franchise? Someone please make it stop!   American Reunion Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Seeking Justice: Special Thanks to Frye Boots

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Cabin in the Woods (2012) This horror film comes from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer team of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard and was a big hit just recently at SXSW. The film will be the closing night film of the Atlanta Film Festival at the end of this month.   The Cabin in the Woods Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 9, 2012

John Carter

My ViewJohn Carter (2012)   A Civil War veteran, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), is mysteriously transported to Mars, which is experiencing a war between different ethnic races, each vying for control over the planet. Because Mars has less gravity than Earth, Carter soon discovers that he has almost super-human powers. Those powers come in handy when he gets involved with a princess (Lynn Collins) whose whole race is threatened with destruction by a rival race. Carter will have to choose between his desire to return to Earth and his passion for this beautiful princess. This is a big, sweeping film with stunning special effects that make you believe in 12-foot tall, armed, green warriors. I am a big fan of the books.  This film exceeded my expectations and delivered an exciting tale of swashbuckling adventure. Kitsch gives a first-class performance as the soft-spoken man of action, but it’s Collins who makes this film so much fun to watch - a beautiful actress who also can fight with the best of them.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   John Carter Info
My ViewSilent House (2012) A young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) is in the process of helping her father and brother renovate their family lake house when things start mysteriously happening. At first, it’s just noises and odd shadows, but very soon it’s evident that someone or something in the house is not happy with the home-occupiers.  Things go from bad to worse when Olsen discovers her father was beaten. This film is shot to look like it is one long continuous take, a noble experiment that gets old very quickly and, at times, almost makes you sick from the camera shaking so much. It’s very sad that a lot of audiences will get their first look at Olsen from this film because she is so much of a better actress (as proven in last year’s Martha Marcy May Marlene) than she exhibits in this film. This film wasn’t nearly scary enough, was easy to figure out and just wasn’t the exciting ride of a film that the trailer made it out to be.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Silent House Info
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#24 Worst Film
Glitter (2001) A rags-to-riches story of a singer (Mariah Carey) who makes it from the small time club-scene to jam-packed arenas. Based loosely on Carey’s own life, the sound track of this film was the worst-selling CD in her career-to-date, and the making of this film left Carey hospitalized for “exhaustion," something anyone could understand after watching her attempt at acting.   Glitter Info
Forgotten Film: Jason and the Argonauts (1963) Legendary Greek hero Jason leads a band of warriors on a quest to find the Golden Fleece. Along the way, they encounter rough seas, a hydra, harpies and an animated skeleton army, all brought to life by the legendary special effects man, Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen was the master of stop-motion animation, meaning he did all his special effects with clay figures that he manipulated one frame at a time by hand. His wizardry is shown at its finest in the battle between Jason’s men and the skeleton army, where live action characters swordfight with the animated skeletons. My Rating: Full Price   Jason and the Argonauts Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD)Footloose (2011) A remake of the 1984 film with newcomer Kenny Wormald in the role of the man who brings dancing back to a small Georgia town that has banned it. I didn’t like this film when I reviewed it in October, as I feel the soundtrack has too many Country songs, and Wormald just doesn't have the charisma that Kevin Bacon exhibited in the original.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Footloose Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Wrath of the Titans (2012) Do we really need a sequel to a film that nobody cared about, other than it gave us the catch phrase, “Release the Kracken?"   Wrath of the Titans Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of John Carter: Spray tanning in England

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Hunger Games  Can a film measure up to the excitement that the book created?  I certainly hope so, and I do feel a perfect Katniss was cast in Jennifer Lawrence, who showed she can carry a picture in last year’s Winters Bone. I am still worried a little about Woody Harrelson playing the part of the alcoholic former champion Haymitch, as my wish for the part was Hugh Laurie.   The Hunger Games Website
Until Next Time!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Indyfest (A Look at a Small, Indie or Foreign Film):   We Need to Talk About Kevin  (2012)  A mother (Tilda Swinton) deals with bringing up a difficult child, who, from day one, behaves badly towards her but acts lovingly towards his father (John C. Reilly) which creates a more troubling experience for the mother.  Swinton is astonishing as the mother who, no matter what she does or says, is treated badly by her son.  It's sad that the Academy Awards didn't honor Swinton with a nomination because she was just as good as the five women that got them.  Several actors play the boy's character through the years, but Ezra Miller stands out as the teen boy who commits an act of violence that destroys his family and also his community.  This is an extremely tough film to watch if you are a parent, but is worth seeing for the amazing performances of this talented cast.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   We Need to Talk About Kevin Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time) 
25th Best Film:
The Third Man  (1949)  This classic mystery is set in postwar Vienna where novelist, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) travels to the city at the invitation of his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) with the promise of a job. When Martins arrives, he discovers that his friend, Harry, has died under very mysterious circumstances.  Martins decides to investigate and becomes involved in the seedy world of liars, black markets and espionage.  This film is a beautiful example of Film Noir , with bewitching Black and White cinematography, where everything seems to be covered in long, dark shadows.  Welles gives one of his better performances in a career of memorable roles.   The Third Man Info
Forgotten Film:  Fantastic Voyage  (1966)  A defecting scientist is nearly assassinated and develops an inoperable blood clot in his brain.  The only way to save him is to use a top secret technology that allows people and machines to be shrunk to almost microscopic size.  A team, led by top scientists (Arthur Kennedy and Donald Pleasance) and a submarine filled with wonderful gadgets undergo the procedure, are inserted into the body of the stricken person and have only one hour to destroy the blood clot before they return to their normal size. The special effects are really excellent, but who am I kidding, the reason to watch this film is Raquel Welch, who plays a doctor's assistant, wearing one stunning looking form-fitted suit.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Fantastic Voyage Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Hugo  (2011)  This five time Oscar-winning film, directed by Martin Scorsese, is the story of a young orphaned boy (Asa Butterfield) who lives in a Paris train station in the 1930s.  He goes on a quest to solve a mystery of an object that his dead father left behind, a quest that leads him to interact with some rather interesting characters.  This film will lose something if you do not see it in 3-D, and I did not enjoy the "bad guy" of the film, the Station Inspector, who was played way-over-the-top by Sacha Baron Cohen.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Hugo Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  A Thousand Words  (2012)  Remember when Eddie Murphy used to make good adult-oriented films, like 48 HrsTrading Places and Beverly Hills Cop?  Unfortunately, this film, about a literary agent who gets cursed with a magical tree, looks more like the Eddie Murphy of recent flops, such as Norbit and Meet Dave.   A Thousand Words Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Vow:  Channing Tatum's Music Coach

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Silent House:  A young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) becomes trapped in her family's lakeside home and, as minutes tick by, it becomes very apparent that something or someone does not want her to leave.  This film was shot in one long, continuous take and takes place in real time.  Olsen showed she can act in last years Martha Marcy May Marlene, so lets hope this material is worthy of her acting talents.   Silent House Website

Until Next Time!