Friday, June 29, 2012

Magic Mike

Thursday, June 28, 2012 6:52 PM

My View:  Magic Mike (2012) Mike (Channing Tatum) is the hot star of a male strip club and takes “The Kid” (Alex Pettyfer) under his tutelage to show him the lifestyle of partying, women and money. Mike, though, is about to meet his match in a woman (Cody Horn) who is unimpressed with his job or his lifestyle. I liked Tatum in this role.  He has a likeable quality that makes you want to root for him, and you can see why both men and women want to be his friend. Oh, and by the way, Tatum can dance. I loved Matthew McConaughey, who was picture-perfect as the slick talking, high energy club-owner / host.  I felt that Cody Horn wasn’t up to the part of being the romantic interest for Tatum, and I expected more from a Steven Soderbergh directed film, as I was left wanting more of a storyline and less of a floor show.   My Rating: Cable   Magic Mike Website
Indiefest: Your Sister’s Sister (2012) After the death of his brother, Jack (Mark Duplass) is in a dark place. To cheer him up, Jack’s friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), invites him to stay at the family island cabin. Things become interesting when Iris’s sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), has a drunken night with Jack. I enjoyed this film which is mostly made up of conversations between the two sisters and Jack, with the chemistry working extremely well between Blunt and DeWitt.  The two actresses make us believe they really are sisters. Duplass is very funny as the depressed Jack who is secretly in love with Blunt’s character. This is the type of film where you want a sequel made just so you can see where the characters are later in life.    My Rating: Full Price   Your Sister's Sister Website
Indiefest: People Like Us (2012) After his estranged father dies, Sam (Chris Pine) finds out that he has a sister , Frankie(Elizabeth Banks), about whom he never knew. Now, as ordered in his father’s will, he must find his sister and give her $150,000, an amount of money he could desperately use, himself. Pine is first-rate in the role of the salesman who is always looking to make a deal. Michelle Pfeiffer brings her usual star quality to the role of Sam’s mom who knew about Frankie but never accepted her husband's daughter.  It's Banks, though, who makes this movie in her best role to-date as the damaged single mom who attends AA meetings and works two jobs so she can properly raise her son.    My Rating: Full Price   People Like Us Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#18 Worst Film:
Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971) Considered the worst Godzilla film ever made (which is saying a lot), an alien monster who feeds on and spews out pollution starts attacking Tokyo. So, who comes to the rescue? Godzilla, of course! There is even animation and musical numbers in this film which even has a message that pollution is bad, and we must stop our polluting ways before another monster comes a calling.   Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster Info
Forgotten Film: Harry and Tonto (1974) Harry (Art Carney) is a widow living in an apartment building in New York with his cat, Tonto. When he finds out his building will be torn down, he decides to take his cat and go on a trip across the country. Along the way, Harry meets and interacts with a number of people, including a Native Indian chief (Chief Dan George), a runaway girl (Melanie Mayron) and a hitchhiker (Michael Butler) who likes to quote the bible. This is a wondrous character study, and Carney deserved the Oscar for Best Actor that he won in 1974.   My Rating: Full Price   Harry and Tonto Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD): The Artist (2011) The Artist Is a wonderful silent film that won the Academy Awards Best Picture last year. It’s a story of a dashing silent screen star who sees his career go downhill due to the advent of sound just as the girl he falls in love with becomes a rising film star.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Artist Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  The Apparition (2012) A young couple are haunted by some sort of paranormal presence that feeds on their fear. Could it be that the couple is just being haunted by a bad horror film?   The Apparition Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Your Sister’s Sister: Beer Graphics

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Queen of Versailles (2012) A documentary that follows a billionaire couple as they build one of the largest homes in the United States while the economy is tanking.   The Queen of Vesailles Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

My View: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012): An asteroid is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth and will destroy life on this planet, as we know it. Dodge (Steve Carell) is a mild-mannered insurance salesman whose wife takes off running when they get the bad news. Dodge decides to find his high school sweetheart and, with the help of his next door neighbor (Keira Knightley), he sets out on a road trip before the asteroid arrives. This is a sometime funny but mostly bittersweet romantic film with outstanding performances by Knightly and especially, Carell. His sad-sack, abandoned husband is a very understated acting job that required him to stay restrained as he mostly reacts to situations in the role. This film, with an end-of-the-world subject matter, is actually uplifting, where love becomes more important than any asteroid.  My Rating: Full Price   Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Website
Indiefest:  Where Do We Go Now?  (2012)  In a Lebanese town that is made up of both Christians and Muslims, the women of the village do everything in their power to keep the peace while the country around them is on the brink of civil war. This is a film that explores the conflict in the Middle East told from the vantage point of the people who are trying to live in a time of conflict. The film has a funny side as the women manipulate the men in the village with everything from a fake miracle to bringing a dancing troupe to their village, all with the idea that if they can distract the men long enough, they will forget about the conflict around them. The film isn't perfect, though. There is a musical number that seemed very out of place with the rest of the film, but overall it's a picture that can be enjoyed as you learn a little about another culture. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Where Do We Go Now? Website
The 50 (A Movie from My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#19 Best Film
Singin' In The Rain (1952) This landmark film has everything you want in a musical - great performances, incredible songs, a funny and touching storyline and of course, some of the greatest dancing ever seen in the history of the big screen. Gene Kelly, at the height of his dancing prowess, is incredible with his iconic dancing on the rainy streets of Hollywood as one of the greatest film moments ever. Debbie Reynolds is very cute and keeps up with Kelly in their dance scenes, but Donald O'Conner is brilliant as Kelly's writer sidekick. His song and dance performance in the "Make 'Em Laugh" sequence is just brilliant and amazing. This is a film that is a timeless joy to watch and is one that never gets old with repeated viewings.   Singin" In The Rain Info
Forgotten Film: Bottle Rocket (1996) This debut film from Director Wes Anderson is a story about the friendship between two friends. Dignam (Owen Wilson) has helped his friend, Anthony (Luke Wilson) "escape" from a mental hospital. They come up with a "75 year" plan to do a series of robberies while traveling the country and express interest in meeting and joining up with the "legendary" criminal known only as Mr. Henry. They enlist the help of their friend, Bob (Robert Musgrove), to be their get away driver, but as the boys start their criminal carrier, things go from bad to worse, and soon they are on the run. Luke and Owen have great chemistry together (as you would expect to real life brothers to have), and James Caan's appearance as Mr. Henry is not to be missed. This is a typical Wes Anderson film where the storyline isn't as important as the characters.  My Rating: Full Price   Bottle Rocket Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD): Big Miracle (2012): Based on a true story, this film is about a TV reporter (played by John Krasinski) in a small, far-north Alaskan town, who discovers that three grey whales are trapped by rapidly forming ice. He recruits his ex-girlfriend (played by Drew Barrymore), a Greenpeace worker, to mount a rescue effort. I enjoyed this family film, though I did find it a little sappy at times, and Drew Barrymore's performance got on my nerves.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Big Miracle Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Seen Only in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012) A Katy Perry concert film in 3-D.   If I have the option of seeing the film in 3-D, do I also have the option of turning the sound off?   Katy Perry: Part of Me Website

Weird Credits: From the Credits of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: Steven Carell's Costume Designer (he wears plaid shirts and khakis. How difficult is it to select those clothes?)

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): This film about a father and his child trying to survive in the depths of the Louisiana coast and has been wowing audiences at film festivals worldwide.   Beasts of the Southern Wild Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rock of Ages

My ViewRock of Ages (2012) Set in 1987 Los Angeles, a small town girl (Julianne Hough) and a city boy (Diego Boneta) meet while trying to make it in the big city. Both work at the hottest bar in LA, The Bourbon Room (think Whiskey Bar), where rock legend, Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) is scheduled to perform. Will do-gooder, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who sees the bar as the root of all things evil, succeed in shutting down the bar before Jaxx can perform? Tom Cruise is the reason to see this film, as his portrayal of Rock God Jaxx, is spot-on perfect, and he brings down the house with his performance of the Bon Jovi song “Wanted,Dead or Alive.” I was also pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the banter/interaction between Alec Baldwin, as the owner of the bar, and Russell Brand, his right-hand man. The film never can decide if it loves the 80's or it should make fun of the 80's, so the audience never knows how to react to the musical numbers.  Ultimately, this film is brought down by its overall length, coming in at 123 minutes (way too long with too many songs), combined with the lack of charisma and singing forte' of the two principal stars of the film, Hough and Boneta.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee Rock of Ages Website 
My ViewThat’s My Boy (2012) As a teenager, Donny (Adam Sandler) has an affair with his high school teacher and she gets pregnant with his child. The teacher goes to jail for seducing Donny, and he has to raise his son on his own. The son, Tom (Andy Samberg), leaves his dad when he turns eighteen and is determined to never see his father again. When Tom is settled in his new life and gets engaged to be married, Donny shows up, unexpectedly, and is determined to participate in the wedding plans and get back into his son’s life.  So, this is an R rated comedy, and, while it doesn't go as far as some of the recent R rated comedies, it still pushes the boundaries of good taste, and too often goes for the easy joke. Sandler's character gets old very quickly.  He is the type of guy who is so proud of himself when he gets into a fight and doesn't spill his beer, and he's the guy who wants to be the center of attention and isn't too proud to sleep with not only your mother, but your grandmother.  While 80's star Vanilla Ice is funny at first, his bad acting dominates his appearances, and Andy Samberg is wasted as the prim and proper son. I did enjoy Milo Ventimiglia as the Marine brother of Tom's fiancée (Leighton Meester), but his scenes are too few to make a big difference in a film that just isn't that funny. My Rating:  Cable   That's My Boy Website
IndiefestLola Versus (2012) Lola (Greta Gerwig) seems to have it all with a great boyfriend, a nice apartment, and supportive friends.  It all ends, however, when Lola is dumped by her fiancée’ three weeks before her wedding day, and she decides to go on a series of adventures to prove that she still “has it” before she turns thirty.  Gerwig is brilliant as the quirky Lola, but she is let down by a script that, like her character in the film, isn’t sure where it wants to go. Lola is one of those characters that make one bad choice after another, so much so, that you want to reach into the big screen and shake some sense into her.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Lola Versus Website
IndiefestPeace, Love & Misunderstanding (2012) An uptight, big city lawyer (Catherine Keener) takes her two teenagers to her mother’s farmhouse in upstate New York.  Mom (Jane Fonda), though, isn’t an ordinary grandmother. In fact, you could say that she never left the 60′s. What is meant to be a weekend becomes a summer of romance, music, and, just watch, a few family secrets might spill out. Jane Fonda is phenomenal as the stuck-in-the-60’s woman who continues to live the hippy lifestyle. I also liked Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Keener’s daughter, and whose character is unhappy with a weekend trip that turns into a week long stay, that is until she discovers the local butcher (Chace Crawford). This is one of those films you wish was just a little bit funnier and smarter.  You may end up liking the film, but you may not love it.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Peace, Love & Misunderstanding Website
Forgotten Film: Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) John Cusack plays Martin, a professional hit man. At the urging of his secretary (played by the very funny Joan Cusack), Martin takes a job in his old hometown. He discovers that they are having his ten year high school reunion and his old flame, Debi (Minnie Driver) is still in town. So, Martin decides to take Debi to his reunion.  Life, though, isn’t easy for Martin. He has Federal agents breathing down his neck, and the head of the hit man union, called Grocer (Dan Aykroyd), is pressuring Martin to join up.  If he decides not to join, Grocer has promised to bump him off.  All Martin wants to do is have a dance with Debi, but he has to dodge bullets and bombs before making it to the reunion.   My Rating: Full Price    Grosse Pointe Blank Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) I enjoyed this film and felt it was better than the first Sherlock Holmes film that starred Robert Downey Jr. I especially enjoyed how Jude Law and Downey Jr. played off each other with humor and ease.   My Rating: Full Price   Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Seen Only in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  The Watch (2012) Okay, so the plot of this film is a bunch of suburban dads who form a neighborhood watch program only to discover that Aliens have invaded the neighborhood. Ben Stiller stars in what looks like another one of his very forgettable films.   The Watch Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Rock of Ages: Tom Cruise’s Makeup, Tattoo design and application

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouDjango Unchained (2012) A western written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio. Can’t wait!     Django Unchained Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 8, 2012


My ViewPrometheus (2012) Director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade RunnerGladiator) brings us a film about a team of explorers sent on a journey to the edge of the universe to piece together a vast puzzle of clues that may lead to the origins of mankind on Earth. When they arrive at a distant planet, a destination guided by numerous cave drawings on Earth and a clue, they discover something that may end their lives and ultimately destroy the human race. This is a lush, beautiful film, reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.  It's a film, though, that lacks enough tension and horrifying moments to make it a truly scary film.  I did like some of the acting, especially Noomi Rapace, who plays a scientist determined to get to the bottom of things and Michael Fassbender as the creepy android servant, but they weren't enough to save this over-long, too-drawn-out possible "prequel" to Scott's earlier Alien film.  Watch Alien or its sequel, Aliens.  You will have a better time and save a few bucks.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Prometheus Website
Indiefest:  Moonrise Kingdom (2012) Sam (Jared Gilmian) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) are two unhappy teenagers in the early 1960’s, who, after a chance meeting, decide to run away together. The problem is that they live on an Island that is only 13 miles long, so their escape maybe cut a little short. Writer/Director Wes Anderson (RushmoreFantastic Mr. Fox) has created another one of his magical worlds where normal is the exception, not the rule. This film has an all-star cast and makes the most of it with Edward Norton as the uptight Scout Master, Bruce Willis as the mild-mannered police chief, Captain Sharp, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as Suzy’s parents, who are more interested in their law briefs than their child. This is a funny, quirky film that celebrates love and the adventuresome sprit of childhood.  This is definitely a film not to be missed.  My Rating: Full Price   Moonrise Kingdom Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#19 Worst Film:
At Long Last Love (1975) Peter Bogdanovich (Oscar nominated director of The Last Picture Show (1971) and Paper Moon (1973) had already made one clunker starring his then girlfriend, Cybil Shepherd, 1974’s Daisy Miller. Undeterred, he decided to make another film with Shepherd, a musical comedy set in the 1930’s. So, he cast Burt Reynolds, then one of the top box office draws, to be his leading man, ignoring that fact that Reynolds can’t sing or dance. The film was made worse when Bogdanovich decided to shoot all the musical numbers without lip syncing and shot the film with “live performances."  The film turned out so badly that Bogdanovich published a letter of apology in major newspapers to filmgoers who had endured this musical catastrophe.   At Long Last Love Info

Forgotten FilmLittle Darlings (1980) Ferris (Tatum O’Neal) and Angel (Kristy McNichol) are two teenage girls who go to a summer camp and take an instant dislike for each other. At the urging of other girls in the camp, the two girls make a bet as to which one will lose their virginity first.  Ferris is the pampered rich girl, the more romantic of the two, and sets her sights on the hunky camp counselor (Armand Assante). Angel is the more street-wise of the two and she goes after the bad boy of camp (played by Matt Dillon).  Soon, though, the bet takes a life of its own, as the whole camp has made wagers on the girls, and the camp becomes divided between the Angels and the Ferris’. In the end, the girls learn valuable lessons about life, love and the consequences of sex.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Little Darlings Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD)John Carter (2012) This film, due to a bad title and even worse marketing, never got its due. When I reviewed this film a couple of months ago, I felt this was an excellent adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' book about a 1860’s Civil War Vet, who, when mysteriously transported to Mars, learns he has almost superpowers and get's stuck in the middle of Mar’s own version of the Civil War.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   John Carter Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Ted (2012) Seth MacFarlane (The Family Guy) wrote and directed this film about a man and his teddy bear, a stuffed animal who comes to life during a childhood Christmas miracle. But, now the man is grown, and the Teddy Bear has been become a trash talking, always inappropriate companion.   Ted Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Moonrise Kingdom: Book Cover Artwork

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012) From the writer of Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist comes a film starring Steve Carell as a sad sack of a man who, when it is discovered that the world will come to an end in three weeks due to a massive asteroid that is going to crash into the Earth, decides to go on a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him on the trip is a neighbor (played by Keira Knightley) who wants more than anything to see her family one last time.    Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

My View:  Snow White and the Huntsman  (2012):  In this retelling of the fairy tale, the Evil Queen (played by Charlize Theron) plots to kill Snow White (Kristen Stewart), the only person in the land who is fairer than the Queen. The Queen sends a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to kill Snow, but when he can’t bring himself to do the deed, he decides to train her to take on the Queen and her evil minions.  My biggest problem is that while Kristen Stewart is a pretty girl, she isn't the great beauty that they make Snow White out to be in the film, nor does she possess the charisma that her character needs to inspire an army to overcome the odds.  Plus, she just doesn't impose an impressive picture of a fighter, which you are supposed to believe that she has become (with very little training) by the end of the film.  I did like Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen, as she milks her scenes for everything they've got.  Hemsworth makes a fine huntsman and does well in the battle scenes but the film lacks an overall air of excitement that a film of this scope needs.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Snow White and the Huntsman Website
My View:  Chernobyl Diaries  (2012):  Six tourists hire a guide to take them to the abandoned city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Soon after arriving, they realize that this isn’t any normal tour and discover they may not be alone...something was possibly left behind after the disaster.  People love being scared, and that's why Hollywood keeps making Horror films.  If you want to be scared, go see anything else, but don't see this film.  Horribly acted, badly written and worse yet, boring, this film isn't scary at all.  It tries to build a sense of foreboding with dark shadows and things that go bump in the night, but this film is highly predictable, and you'll want a refund from that shady travel guide from whom you bought your trip.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Chernobyl Diaries
Indiefest:  High School  (2012): After a night partying with a childhood friend, Henry (Matt Bush) realizes that, by agreeing to smoke the joint that Travis (Sean Marquette) gave him, he just kissed his valedictorian/college career good-bye. That is until Travis hatches a scheme to get the whole high school high on high grade pot before the mandatory drug test on finals day.  This is a stoner film with a capital S, with our heroes trying to outwit the principal (played by an almost unrecognizable Michael Chiklis) who makes it his mission to rid the school of drugs while trying to dodge the drug dealer (played by Adrien Brody).  This film is a one joke movie, and it just doesn't have the wit or wisdom to carry it off for longer than the first fifteen minutes.  While it's fun to watch an Oscar-winning actor (Brody) go absolutely nuts with his role, this film gets old very quickly, and it has an ending that most of the audience (even the stoners) could have written while watching the opening credits.  My Rating:  Cable   High School Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time) 
#20 Best Film 
Lawrence of Arabia  (1962)  This epic film won 7 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for David Lean, and the film probably should have won more, with, at least, Best Actor for Peter O'Toole for his outstanding work as the title character of the film.  The film is based on the historical figure T.E. Lawrence who, as a young British intelligence officer working in Egypt, rises to power leading an Arab revolt against the Turks during WWI and defeats the Ottoman Empire.  O'Toole is mesmerizing as the charismatic Lawrence who brings together unorganized Arab tribes to mount a successful guerrilla campaign.  Lawrence, though, is a flawed man, and his bravado eventually is his undoing.  This is a sweeping film with brilliant cinematography that shows what a vast open space the desert can truly be. It's truly a film that can be watched again and again.    Lawrence of Arabia Info
Forgotten Film:  King of Hearts  (1966)  Near the end of WWI, the German army is in retreat and has left a small French village booby trapped, set to blow up the whole town.  A Scottish solider (Alan Bates) is sent to the town to disarm the bomb.  When he arrives, he finds the town has been abandoned, with the exception of inmates from an insane asylum.  To escape a few remaining Germans, the soldier hides in the asylum and releases the inmates when he leaves to dismantle the bomb.  The inmates promptly take over the town and make the solider the King of Hearts, the leader of their ragtag bunch.   This is smart, funny film that is one of those films that will have you smiling from start to finish.  Bates is a blast to watch as he has to continually react to his new friends, and Genevieve Bujold is just beautiful as his love interest, a girl who is quite happy living in her strange little world inside the asylum.  My Rating:  Full Price   King of Hearts Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Man on a Ledge  (2012)  I found the leads of Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks lacking in this caper of a film about a man who is trying to clear his name while pulling off a heist.  I did enjoy the performances of Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriquez, who play a bickering couple and the mostly unlikely of cat burglars you will ever meet.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Man on a Ledge Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Film I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks like a Bad Idea):  Step Up Revolution (2012)  Do we really need any more of these Step Up films?  How about Step Off the Cliff?   Step Up Revolution Website

Weird Credits:  From the film Chernobyl Diaries:  The Producers wish to thank the Antiterrorist UnitSerbia

Coming to Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Safety Not Guaranteed  (2012)  Three magazine writers head out to interview a guy who places a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel.  You had me at time travel and classified ad.   Safety Not Guaranteed Website
Until Next Time!