Friday, September 28, 2012

Pitch Perfect

My View:  Pitch Perfect  (2012)  Music is Becca’s (Anna Kendrick) life, so much so that she wants to move to Los Angeles to become a music producer. Her father, who is a professor, though, wants her to get an education first, so he makes a deal with Becca  stay at the university for one year and join at least one group activity. So, Becca joins “The Bellas,” an all-female A Cappella group as they work to reach the A Cappella national championship. The only problem is their main competition is an all-male group on their own campus called, “The Treblemakers.”  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this film.  The singing is highly entertaining and includes some fun sing-offs,  but I really was suppressed by the quality of  the humor in the film, especially anytime scene stealer Rebel Wilson was on-screen.  Anna Kendrick has a beautiful voice, and her auction for the group is an amazing performance piece.  Yes, this film is predictable and a little cheesy, but it's a whole lot of fun.  Think of this film as "a mix of Glee and Mean Girls."    My Rating:  Full Price    Pitch Perfect Website
My View:  End of Watch  (2012)  Two young police officers, Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike (Michael Pena), are out to make a name for themselves on the mean streets of Los Angeles. When an ordinary traffic stop turns into a big drug bust, the officers lives may never be the same. It turns out the drugs belong to a Mexican drug cartel, and they won’t stop till they get their revenge.  I must admit, I had a little trouble getting my head into the film due to its language and heavy violence but as the film progresses, I really enjoyed it.  What makes this film is the relationship between the two young cops who are just trying to do the best job they can in a hard, hard world.  The director does a nice, new take on the "found footage" gimmick that a lot of films are using, and its use never gets old.  Yes, there is the drug cartel aspect of the film, but this film's heart and soul exhibits the day-to-day life of a cop on the street and off the street, when they go home to their families.  Be warned, there is not only extreme, realistic violence in this film, but there are disturbing scenes where you see the end result of violence the cartels dish out.  I liked Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick, who plays his girlfriend, but it's Michael Pena, his partner, who shines in this film.  There is Oscar talk about his performance.    My Rating:  Full Price     End of Watch Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#15 Best Film
The Philadelphia Story  (1940)  Before this film came out, the star of the film, Katharine Hepburn, was labeled by the press as "Box Office Poison," as she had been in a number of films that had done nothing.  The Philadelphia Story is the film that made her a star, and rightly so, as she plays Tracy Lord, a wealthy divorcee who is about to remarry.  A reporter, named Macaulay (James Stewart), teams up with Tracy's ex-husband, Dexter (Cary Grant) to get the story behind the wedding of the year, though, it seems, Dexter wants to just cause a little mischief.  But, Tracy is in for the ride of her life as she begins to fall in love with both Macaulay and Dexter, all right before her big day.  This film is one of the best examples of the comedies of the 1940s with Hepburn, Stewart and especially, Grant at the height of their comedic talents.  This is a funny film that is also touching, as Tracy discovers that she has a lot to learn about her place in the world and with whom to fall in love.   The Philadelphia Story Info
Forgotten Film:  The Paper Chase  (1973)  Timothy Bottoms plays James, a first year law student who is struggling to find his way in the hard academic life at Harvard Law School.  His toughest professor is Professor Charles Kingsfield (John Houseman), a demanding but brilliant teacher. James, at first, is in over his head, but then he realizes that everyone else in the school is also underwater.  In fact, he discovers that he is doing better than some of his fellow classmates.  His life changes when he meets Susan, and he soon falls in love with her.  But, there is a catch.  James discovers, to his horror, that Susan has a secret - one that could wreck his career.  John Houseman won a Best Supporting Oscar for his role of the tough, but great teacher, Professor Kingsfield.  This film is full of complex characters with rich acting performances from such future stars as Edward Herrmann and Blair Brown, and gives us a satisfying ending to a wonderful and vibrant story.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    The Paper Chase Info
In Case You Missed It ( A Film Just Released on DVD):  The Avengers  (2012)  The big summer blockbuster hit was successful at the box office not only for its high energy action sequences, but also for the humorous dialogue.  I feel that audiences would have to see the film two or three times to be able to hear all the funny lines that were spit out like gunfire. Robert Downey, Jr. as Ironman, is what the storyline revolved around, but for many people, it was The Hulk, and his smashing everything in sight, that made this film so enjoyable.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Avengers Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   Alex Cross  (2012)  Tyler Perry plays Alex Cross, aWashington DC detective, who has to take on a madman (played by a super ripped/0% body fat Matthew Fox).  The film has a good cast with Rachel Nichols, Jean Reno and Edward Burns, but will audiences accept a guy who usually plays an overweight woman as a bad ass P.I.?  I don't think so.    Alex Cross Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of End of Watch:  Special thanks to the United States Submarine Force

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Flight  (2012)  Denzel Washington stars as an airline pilot who saves a flight from crashing, but soon, an investigation reveals that he may have been the fault of the near crash.  Lots of Oscar talk surrounding Denzel for this role.   Flight Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Trouble with the Curve

My ViewTrouble with the Curve (2012)  Baseball scout, Gus (Clint Eastwood) could lose his job if he doesn’t sign the latest hot prospect. His boss (John Goodman) is worried that he can’t do the job without help, so he talks Gus’s daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams), into accompany him on his trip. The biggest problem isn’t Gus’s failing eye sight; it’s that he and his daughter don’t really get along.  I enjoyed this film, especially the chemistry between Adams and Timberlake.  Eastwood doesn’t disappoint as the gruff father of Adams who has guilt over leaving his daughter in the hands of someone else after his wife died.  This is a good date night movie.  It has baseball for the guys and  romance between Adams and Timberlake for the girls.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Trouble with the Curve Website
My ViewHouse at the End of the Street  (2012)  A mother (Elisabeth Shue) and daughter (Jennifer Lawrence) move to a new town. They find out that the house next door was the site of a gruesome murder  where a young daughter killed her parents. The surviving brother is still living in the house and things there are just not right.  Unfortunately, this is a suspense film with very little suspense, and Lawrence isn't asked to do much more that act pissed at her mother and go all mushy at her potential boyfriend.  This is a film that probably looked good on paper (hence getting Lawrence and Shue as cast members), but it needed a much better director to get the most out of the material.  There is one good thing that comes from this film - we found out that Jennifer Lawrence can sing.   My Rating:  Cable   House at the End of the Street Info
My ViewDredd 3D  (2012)  Set in the future, the U.S. has become one big high-rise city, and the police can only respond to 6 percent of crimes. To expedite things, they have become judge, jury and possible executioners who try criminals on the spot. Now Dredd (Karl Urban) is teamed with a rookie on her first day, and they investigate a triple homicide at a high-rise called Peach Trees. It’s a place that they may never get out of alive.  This is a bloody, violent, high action film that uses the 3D effects to great result.  The action sequences are fast and furious, and Karl Urban pulls of the Dredd character with  bravado.  There is much less camp in this film that the 1995 Sylvester Stallone starring Judge Dredd.  This film takes its self far more serious.  I liked Olivia Thirlby as the rookie partner of Dredd and Lena Headey gives a fine performance as Ma-Ma, the head of the gang that wants to kill Dredd and his partner.  This film is not for everybody due to the violence, but if you are an action film fan, this film is for you and it is worth the extra money to see it in 3D.   My Rating:  Full Price    Dredd 3D Website
IndiefestThe Master  (2012)  Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix), a troubled war vet, is taken in by “The Master” (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the leader of a mysterious faith-based organization named “The Cause.” Now, will Freddie become an invaluable member of the organization or its downfall?  The reason to see this film is for the performances of Hoffman and especially, Phoenix.  It is a fascinating character study by Phoenix, who really gets into the skin of the troubled and dangerous Freddie.  This is a film that you probably should see twice  because I am sure that I missed a great many of the more subtle nuances of the film with just one viewing.  My only drawback with this film is that it is really long (137 minutes) and some of the scenes are incredibly slow moving but it’s the performances of the actors that make this film a must see.     My Rating:  Full Price     The Master Website
IndiefestSleepwalk with Me  (2012)  Matt (Mike Birbiglia) is a struggling stand-up comedian whose career has come to a standstill. To make things worse, his relationship with his girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose) is also is failing, and Matt has a nasty case of sleepwalking.   This is a funny, smart film based on writer/director/lead actor Mike Birbiglia’s own life.  Birbiglia shows how hard it is to break into the stand-up comic business, and once you get into the business, how hard the life is.  He does it with humor, and his dialogue is just so dead on, and captures a sort of sad sack type of humor.  Ambrose is excellent as the girlfriend who supports Matt at first but soon learns that their relationship will be tested by his profession, especially after he starts using his real life experiences for material.  This is one of the best films I have seen this year.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Sleepwalk with Me
IndiefestLiberal Arts  (2012)  Jessie (Josh Radnor) returns to his alma mater for his favorite professor’s retirement ceremony. While on campus, he meets Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen), a 19 year old undergraduate. Now Jessie is torn between the age difference and his attraction for Zibby.   What I loved about this film was the great chemistry between Radnor and Olsen.  They just play off of each other really well.  Olsen has turned into one of the best young actresses out there, and she is perfect in the part of the “old soul” Libby.  Radnor does a marvelous job of taking a story that could have been a little creepy (with the whole age difference) and  making it into a fun and romantic film.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Liberal Arts Info
Forgotten FilmFandango  (1985):  Five college friends, part of a group called the Groovers, decide to make a cross-country trip after two of the members find out that they will to be drafted for the Army.  Kevin Costner (in one of his best roles) is Gardner, the leader of the group, filled out by Judd Nelson, Sam Robards, Chuck Bush and Brian Cesak.  This film does a great job blending comedy with really heartfelt drama.  It’s a coming of age film where the guys know this could be their last time together, and it should be savored, just like this film should be by the viewing public.   My Rating:  Full Price   Fandango Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Sleepwalk with Me:  GPS Voice

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You Cloud Atlas  (2012)  This film starring Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry and a host of others, is about how our lives can touch people over time.  This film takes place over a great period of time (hundreds and hundreds of years) and most of the cast members play numerous parts.  The film was one of most talked about movies at the Toronto International Film Festival.    Cloud Atlas Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Finding Nemo 3D

Family Faire:   Finding Nemo 3D (2012) This is an animated classic adventure that involves the father and son clown fish, Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Alexander Gould). After Nemo is taken by a human diver, Marlin must make a dangerous journey to try and save his son. I consider this film one of the best animated films that Disney/Pixar has put out. It has humor, warmth and is overall an outstanding adventure film. But I didn’t find that the 3D added anything to the viewing experience of the film. In fact, the 3D kind of took away from the brilliant colors and wonderful animation that made this film such a gem to watch originally.  By the way, there is a very funny short at the start of the film named Partysaurus Rex, featuring Rex from the Toy Story films.  He gets to redo his image into a party animal by joining the gang of toys that come to life when water is added to the bathtub.   My Rating: 3D: Cable, Film itself:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Finding Nemo 3D Website
Indiefest:  Arbitrage (2012) Hedge fund manager Robert Miller (Richard Gere) has a number of secrets that are threatening to bring down his world. Now, he makes the one mistake that could cost someone their life and could ruin everything he has worked for. What makes this film worth watching is the outstanding cast, including Susan Sarandon as Miller wife and Brit Marling as his daughter and heir apparent in the company. The biggest problem with this film is that you are asked to root for a very unlikable person in Miller, he appears to be a great father/husband at first but we learn that it's all a fa├žade. You almost get to the point of wanting to see Miller’s world come crumbling down.   My RatingCable    Arbitrage Website
Indiefest:  Searching for Sugar Man (2012) I first saw this fascinating film at the L.A. Film Festival. The film is about a little-known early 70′s singer called Rodriguez, who cut two albums in the U.S. that were soon forgotten. One of the albums became a huge hit in South Africa. Due to its songs about changing the system and became an inspiration to many of South Africa’s musicians who were trying to start a campaign to end apartheid. Remarkably, Rodriguez never knew of his success because he had given up the music business to work as a manual laborer in construction. Part of the appeal of Rodriguez was the legend that he had committed suicide on stage in protest. In the mid 90′s, a South African reporter and a music fan decided to track down any information on the artist.  What they found surprised and shocked them. This is one of the best documentaries I have seen in the past year. It perfectly uses Rodriguez’s music to highlight the story with interesting interviews and an intriguing use of animation to recreate scenes in the past that builds an interesting story and makes this a film to be enjoyed. This is a great film that celebrates a long lost musician who was never appreciated in America but became an important musical figure for so many people he never knew.   My Rating: Full Price     Searching For Sugar Man Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#15 Worst Film
The Conqueror (1956) John Wayne in truly horrible makeup and one of the worst mustaches ever on screen is the Mongol emperor, Genghis Khan. What makes this film so bad is that half the cast, such as Wayne, tries to look Asian. Yet, the other half doesn’t even come close, such as the romantic interest for Wayne, Susan Hayward. The dialogue sounds as if the cast is part of a bad Shakespeare high school production. Even the specials effects are horrible. At one point a spear is thrown and you can see the guide wire that it’s running on. One sad note about this film, it was shot near a nuclear testing ground and a number of the cast and crew later developed cancer, including Wayne, Hayward and the director of the film, Dick Powell.   The Conqueror Info
Forgotten Film:   Pretty Poison (1968) Anthony Perkins plays Dennis, a young man who has just been released from a mental institution. He meets Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld), a high school cheerleader and in order to impress her he convinces her that he is with the CIA and is about to go on a mission. Sue Ann gets him to take her on the “missions” and they start a life of crime. But Dennis is in way over his head and doesn’t realize it until too late that Sue Ann is just using him for her own agenda. This is a strange, but brilliantly written film that has many twist and turns. Perkins is his usual creepy self and Weld is just gorgeous in a role where we see that she isn’t quite the all American girl we thought she was.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Pretty Poison Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) I didn’t like this film about the retelling of the old Snow White legend. Mostly because I didn’t think Kristen Stewart was up to the lead of the film. She isn’t as beautiful as Charlize Theron (who plays the evil queen) who she is supposed to surpass as the fairest of the land and she never looked comfortable in the fight sequences.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Snow White and the Huntsman Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)Here Comes the Boom (2012) Kevin James stars as a high school biology teacher who wants to become a Mixed-Martial Arts fighter. Selma Hayek plays his love interest, so it’s a true story right?    Here Comes the Boom Website

Weird Credit: From the credits of Arbitrage: Stand In Male

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Argo (2012) Ben Affleck stars and directs this film based on the true story of six Americans that were freed from Iran during the 1970s Iranian Hostage Crisis. Affleck plays a CIA agent who comes up with a plan to rescue them using the story-line that they are Canadian Film makers.    Argo Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Words

My View:  The Words (2012) A struggling writer, Rory (Bradley Cooper) is given an old briefcase that contains a manuscript. Rory decides to submit the work as his own, and the manuscript is a success. He must now, though, deal with the consequences of his actions. I did not like this film; it’s very confusing as it is a story within a story that is within another story. I think that the Dennis Quaid/Olivia Wilde storyline doesn't add anything to the film as Quaid's character has written a book about Bradley Cooper stealing the novel, and Wilde is a grad student who is flirting with him. It’s a part of the story that was just unnecessary and kind of pointless. Plus I just don’t feel that Bradley Cooper has the acting skills to take on a part that asks him to carry the picture. Jeremy Irons, on the other hand, was his usual, capable self, playing the old man near the end of his life who wants Cooper to admit that he stole the book. I enjoyed the scenes in 1944 Paris but they were few and far between.   My Rating: Cable   The Words Website  Please note that I work for CBS, Inc. and this film is a CBS Films release.
Indiefest:  For a Good Time, Call (2012) College rivals, Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor) who, through a mutual friend (played by Justin Long), are forced to become roommates due to financial circumstances.  Lauren learns that the job she moved to New York City for is gone and discovers that Katie makes ends meet by being a phone sex operator.  The two girls then team up to open their own sex chat line, but, will success go to their heads?  I really liked this film.  While it’s a little raunchy, it never goes too far with its comedy. Miller is cute in the role of Lauren who tries to make it in the big city, and Graynor is marvelous as the more adventurous Katie. There are quite a number of cameos in this film as we see the male and sometimes female callers, who seem to call at the most inappropriate times (i.e., in an airport bathroom). This is an enjoyable and entertaining film with a great cast, including Justin Long who plays the gay best friend of the two girls.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   For a Good Time, Call Website
Indiefest:  Bachelorette (2012) Three women (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan) who were jerks to a fellow student, Becky (Rebel Wilson), while in college, are now asked to join her wedding party. They are determined to give Becky a bachelorette party that she will never forget, and they succeed … maybe a little too successfully. This is a Bridesmaids rip-off without the heart. The only character I remotely liked was Rebel Wilson's, but she only appears in the first part of the film and the last 20 minutes.  Kirsten Dunst's character is just not funny and is so unappealing, and she never seems to figure out that she is just a horrible person. The laughs in this film are few and far between. Let's hope you never have to attend one of these characters' weddings.   My Rating: Cable   Bachelorette Website
Indiefest:  The Imposter (2012) This is a documentary about a 13 yea- old boy who went missing in San AntonioTX.  No traces were found of the boy until three and half years later, the family gets a call from that he has been found and wants to come home.  But all is not what it seems in this true story that has more twists and turns than a Hitchcock thriller. This is an amazing story, and the filmmakers do a masterful job of keeping the suspense and mystery in the film, right up to the last frame. This is one of the best documentaries that I have seen this year and shouldn’t be missed.   My Rating: Full Price   The Imposter Website
Forgotten Film:  Starman (1984) John Carpenter directed this Sci-Fi story of an alien who crashes his spaceship near the home of Jenny (Karen Allen), a woman who is mourning her recently deceased husband.  Jeff Bridges plays the alien, who, from a strand of hair, takes the form of Jenny’s dead husband.  The “Starman” persuades Jenny to help him reach a rendezvous spot that he must achieve in three days (the length of time that he can stay on Earth before perishing), but now they must travel cross country to stay ahead of the government who know that the Starman has landed on Earth.  Bridges was nominated for an Academy Award for this role, and rightly so, as he perfectly plays the curious alien who has to quickly adapt to human way of life.  Karen Allen is perfect in the role of the woman who slowly falls in love with the Starman.   My Rating: Full Price   Starman Website
In Case You Missed it ( A Film Just Released on DVD): The Hunger Games (2012) I thought this film did a great job of turning the bestselling book into an exciting and highly watchable film. Jennifer Lawrence is perfect as Katniss, a girl who tries to help her family survive in a future where food is scarce, and life is very hard.  Katniss must participate and win the Hunger Games, a battle to death.   My Rating: Full Price   The Hunger Games Website
In Memory of Ed Wood ( A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   Stolen (2012) Nic Cage is at it again where he plays a former thief whose daughter has been kidnapped and is locked in the trunk of a taxi cab.  Maybe he will turn back into that skull guy with the flames and the bike to spice things up in this turkey of a film.   Stolen Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Words: Additional Focus Puller 

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Won't Back Down:  Two mothers band together to take on the bureaucracy of a school system and change it so that their failing inner city school gets the help it needs. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Holly Hunter.   Won't Back Down Website
Until Next Time!