Friday, October 26, 2012

Chasing Mavericks

My View:  Chasing Mavericks (2012) Based on a true story, a high school student, Jay (Jonny Weston), lives for surfing, and he discovers that a legendary wave formation, “The Mavericks” is just down the road from where he lives. He becomes determined to ride one of the biggest waves on Earth, but he needs the help of a legendary surfer, Frosty (Gerald Butler), to train for this death defying ride. The best part of the film is the spectacular, vivid surfing footage, and the sound track that features some of the better rock songs of the late 80’s (the time period when the film takes place). But, I found that the storyline was very clich├ę from the best friend getting jealous when Jay gets a girlfriend to the alcoholic mother (Elizabeth Shue) whom Jay takes care of. There is good chemistry between Butler and Weston, as slowly but surely, Frosty becomes the father whom Jay never had, but that sincerity gets wasted with dialogue that just doesn’t work.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Chasing Mavericks Webpage

IndiefestPusher  (2012)  Frank (Richard Coyle) is a drug pusher working the streets of London. He has a sometime girlfriend, Flo (Agyness Deyn) and a partner in crime, Tony (Bronson Webb). Things start going bad when Frank’s drug mule, Danka (Daisy Lewis), goes missing and Milo (Zlatko Buric), a local mob boss, wants his money back  money that Frank borrowed to make the drug deal.  Richard Coyle is the reason to see this film, as he gives a powerful performance.  This is a remake of the Danish 1996 film of the same name.  If you haven't seen the original (there were also two sequels), then it is worth seeing this movie.  If you have seen the original, there are very few changes in plot other than setting the film in London instead of Copenhagen.  The supporting cast is good, especially Agyness Deyn, as the stripper/girlfriend who is ready to leave the drug way of life.  This film isn't bad, it's just been done before.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Pusher Info
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#13 Worst Film
Baby Geniuses (1999)  Two evil scientists (Kathleen Turner and Christopher Lloyd) have discovered a way to tap into a baby's mind before it turns two and becomes a normal kid.  Already confused?  Yeah, so were audiences back in 1999.  There is a very slim plot where twin babies are separated at birth. One goes to a normal family, and the other is sent to the mad scientist's lab.  The baby with the normal family finds out his twin is being held hostage and decides to break him out.  The film is full of bad jokes, mostly told by the babies, and some of which are inappropriate for kids (good going studio).  It's sad to see Kathleen Turner, who at one time was one of the biggest box office draws, be forced to make this bad of a movie.  Skip this movie unless you want to see something that is as smelly as the baby geniuses diapers.    Baby Geniuses Info
Forgotten FilmCan't Buy Me Love  (1987)  Ronald (Patrick Dempsey) is a nerd who mows people's lawns so that he can save money to buy a high power telescope.  Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson) is the most popular girl in school.  When Cindy borrows her mother's suede outfit and ruins it at a party, she is desperate to replace it.  In walks Ronald, who is tired of being unpopular and picked on at school.  Ronald finds out that Cindy needs money to buy the outfit, so he makes a deal with her.  If she will make him popular, he will give his lawn money to buy her mom a replacement outfit. And so, Cindy takes Ronald under her wing, transforming him from nerd to big man on campus.  This film has a little more heart than most of the high school comedies that came out of the 80's, as the relationship between Cindy and Ronald is allowed to slowly build.  Cindy learns that people can't be taken for granted, and Ronald learns that it's more important to have friends than to be popular.     My Rating:  Bargain Matinee     Can't Buy Me Love Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD)Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012) I liked this film about an asteroid that is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth and will destroy life on the planet.  Steve Carell plays Dodge, who, after his wife leaves him, decides to find an old high school sweetheart.  He gives a ride to the next door neighbor, played by Keira Knightley and they go off on a road trip, literally to end all road trips.  Carell does a masterful job as the sad sack man who is desperate to find love and just might find it in an unexpected place.  This is a film that is surprisingly uplifting, a film where love becomes more important than any asteroid.   My Rating:  Full Price    Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)The ABC's of Death (2012)  I can't find much about this film, but it has a million cast members and just like your ABC's, it has 26 parts…and that may be 25 too many.   The ABC's of Death Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Least Among Saints:  Atmosphere Casting

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouA Late Quartet  (2012)  Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir are members of a long standing, popular and critically successful string quartet.  But the quartet may not survive the coming changes that are on the horizon.  The cast, alone, makes this a film to go see.    A Late Quartet Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Tai Chi Zero


IndiefestTai Chi Zero  (2012)  Chen Village is a place where everyone is a master of martial arts, even children. A young man, Lu Chan (Jayden Yuan), comes to the village to learn the Chen fighting style, even though it is forbidden for outsiders to learn. When the village discovers that there are plans to destroy their village to build a railway, they decide to trust Lu Chan with their sacred style fighting in hopes that he will lead them to victory.  This is a film that mixes a number of different genre into its mix, including Steam Punk (think large steam powered machines with lots of wheels and levers, combined with Victorian era style clothing), Silent Film, Animation and Video Games.  Lu Chan is called "The Freak", as he has a small horn protruding from his head, and he can mimic any style of Kung Fu after he has seen it just once.  But, this small horn could be his un-doing, as it is magical and will take over his body and kill him if he doesn't learn how to overcome its mystical ways.  While some of the attempts at mixing genres doesn't always work (the silent film part showing his childhood comes off too comical), the action sequences that mix the video game visuals with the modern music work extremely well and are highly entertaining.  As with most Martial Arts films, the acting isn't always the best, but the extremely creative fight scenes more than make up for it.  This is the first of three films in the series, and be sure to stay through the first series of credits to see a scene that sets up the next film and a trailer for the next two films.  The film is from China and is in Mandarin with English subtitles.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Tai Chi Zero Info
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#14 Best Film
The Apartment  (1960)  Groundbreaking for its frankness about sex and the people who have affairs, this film comedy/drama was written and directed by Billy Wilder, who won a Best Director for the film.  C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) works for a successful insurance company, and C.C. has plans to make it big in the insurance business.  He finagles good reviews and other perks by lending out his apartment to his immediate superiors, who use his apartment to have affairs with various women.  When the big boss, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) gets wind of the apartment, he promotes C.C. with the understanding that Sheldrake now has exclusive rights to use the apartment any time.  One problem, the woman (Shirley MacLaine) that Sheldrake is having an affair with is the same woman that unknowingly, C.C. is in love with.  This is an incredibly funny but touching film, one that is still relevant today, and which doesn't feel at all dated.  MacLaine is lovely as Fran Kubelik, the elevator girl whom C.C. secretly loves, and MacMurray is perfect as the slimy Sheldrake who wants to keep his marriage and his affair going at the same time.  But, it's Jack Lemmon who makes this movie the sensational film that it is.  Lemmon is perfect as C.C., with great comic timing and an ability to utter very quick, funny lines with ease.    The Apartment Info
Forgotten FilmThe Razor's Edge (1946)  Tyrone Power plays Larry, a dashing young man, who, at the last minute, breaks off his engagement to Isabel (Gene Tierney).  Larry wants more out of life than fine living and goes on a ten year journey to seek enlightenment.  His travels finally take him to India where he encounters a guru who guides him and teaches Larry how to delve deep inside himself.  Years later, Larry finds his way to Paris and encounters his former love, Isabel, who is now married but not happy, and Sophie (Anne Baxter), a childhood friend who has fallen on hard times.  Larry uses his new-found personal insight to try and help his friends find love and happiness.  Tyrone Power is outstanding in the role of Larry, and shows great range in his acting skills moving from the young, carefree man to someone who has found happiness from within.  But it's Anne Baxter who steals the film and your heart with an Oscar winning role as the woman who is seemingly cursed and doomed.     My Rating:  Full Price   The Razor's Edge Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD)That's My Boy (2012)  No matter what I see for the rest of the year, this film will make my bottom ten list.  Todd (Andy Samberg) is getting married, and guess who shows up to wreck all the plans? His father Donny (Adam Sandler), who became a celebrity at a young age when he got his middle school teacher pregnant.  It says a lot about a film when you know the only performance you enjoyed in the film was Vanilla Ice's.    My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again   That's My Boy Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  The Guilt Trip (2012)  Just the title alone makes you want to avoid this film, but then you find out it's a road trip film with Seth Rogan as the son and Barbra Streisand as the mom.  If I were hitching a ride and they stopped for me, I would just tell them never mind, move along.    The Guilt Trip Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Taken 2:  Tea Men

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouLes Miserables (2012)  Just in time to qualify for the Oscars this film based on the Broadway musical hit, arrives. The film has an all star lineup, including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter.  The unusual thing about this film is that production did not pre-record the sound track - all the singing was done live on-camera, something that has never been done to this extent and should produce very real and intense performances.   Les Miserables Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Argo


My View:  Argo (2012) Based on a true story, Ben Affleck directs this film and stars as a CIA agent who tries to save six Americans hiding at the Canadian ambassador’s home in Iran during the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979. His idea: Pose as a Canadian filmmaker and have the Americans escape by acting as his Canadian crew. Affleck keeps getting better as a director, and he gives this film a wonderful pace that builds toward an incredible ending. What I really liked about this film is that it isn’t all drama based; there are some very funny moments in this film, most of the time, supplied by Alan Arkin and John Goodman, who play two Hollywood filmmakers who help Affleck’s character set up the fake movie, including providing a script and publicity. This is a film that, at its conclusion, you just might feel the urge to clap. Be sure to stay through the first series of credits as the film shows you side-by-side with the actors and pictures of the real people the parts were based on.    My View: Full Price   Argo Website
Indiefest:  Seven Psychopaths (2012) A screenwriter, Marty (Colin Farrell), is struggling to come up with his next script. All he has is a title, “Seven Psychopaths.” His best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell), makes a living by stealing dogs and returning them to their owners for a reward. But, Billy makes a big mistake – he has stolen the dog of a psychopathic mob boss (Woody Harrelson) who has vowed to find and kill the perpetrator who stole his beloved dog. Think of this film as if the director of Pulp Fiction (1994), Quentin Tarantino, and the writer of Swingers (1996), Jon Favreau, got together and had a film baby. This is a wild, hilarious film that is non-stop fun from the start, where one of the first scenes show two hit men arguing over whether shooting someone in the eye is hard to do. Colin Farrell is funny as the meek Marty, a guy who gets caught in some very dangerous situations with some very dangerous men. But, it’s Sam Rockwell as Marty’s unstable buddy and Christopher Walken, who plays Hans, Marty’s dog-stealing partner, who make this film go. Walken steals every scene he is in, and Rockwell plays off Farrell’s character so well, you almost think they are brothers in real life.    My View: I Would Pay to See it Again    Seven Psychopaths Website    Please note: This film is being releashed by CBS Films and I work for CBS, Inc.
Indiefest:  The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a shy, introverted freshman just trying to survive in high school. He is taken under the wings of two seniors, the openly gay Patrick (Ezra Miller) and the beautiful girl that Charlie quickly falls secretly in love with, Sam (Emma Watson). Charlie’s two new friends soon discover that Charlie has had mental problems and is having trouble getting over the suicide of his best friend and the death of his Aunt. I absolutely loved this film and how it shows how strange, off beat people can find and support each other, even in the scary world of high school. This is an enjoyable film that has terrific dialogue and some excellent performances, especially Lerman, who gives heart to the role of Charlie. This is one of those films that young people will watch over and over again because it so realistically and lovingly shows what it’s like to be a teenager in high school.   My Rating: Full Price    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All time)
#14 Worst Film
Showgirls (1995)  A young girl named Nomi(Saved by the Bell’s Elizabeth Berkley), hitches a ride to Las Vegas with aspirations of becoming a Vegas showgirl. Isn’t that what every little girl dreams about? But, life is hard in Vegas, and Nomi will have to sleep her way to the top, leaving her friends (other showgirls) and boyfriends (why are you in this movie Kyle MacLachlan?) behind. For a film that has tons of nudity, it’s one of the most un-erotic films I have ever seen. The sex scene between Berkley and MacLachlan in the pool is so bad, it’s almost scary. The dialogue is horrible.  It’s as if the writer (Joe Eszterhas) thought the opinions and plot of this film won’t matter because everyone will be staring at the nude girls.   Showgirls Info
Forgotten Film:  Heathers (1988) Veronica (Winona Ryder) is one of the popular girls in Westerburg High School. Her three best friends are all named Heather (Kim Walker, Shannen Doherty and Lisanne Falk), and, as a group, they rule the school with their looks, their attitude and their ability to put down anyone who attempts to stand up to them. Things change when Veronica becomes interested in a new student, J.D. (Christian Slater), who, to put it mildly, is a bit of a rebel. This is a black comedy filled with murder, revenge and very funny lines. Ryder is perfect as the smart, but in-over-her head Veronica, and Slater plays J.D. like a 40 year old psychopath in a teenager’s body.   My Rating: Full Price   Heathers Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Prometheus (2012) Ridley Scott directed this “prequel” to his 1979 film, “Alien,” where a team of scientists are exploring space when they become stranded on an alien world; a world that has many hidden dangers. The cast includes Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba. The DVD/Blu-ray contains not only alternate endings, but also alternate beginnings.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    Prometheus Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012) Do you really care what the plot is or what the child of Bella and Edward looks like? Can I just look at the poster and say that I have seen the film, because I think the plot will be about as thin as the poster, itself.

Weird Credits: From the film Seven Psychopaths: Construction Medic

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Lincoln (2012) Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role, so, sign me up to see this film. The film that just got rave reviews at the New York Film Festival and has an almost perfect cast, including Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Hawkes and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.   Lincoln Info
Until Next Time!



Friday, October 5, 2012

Taken 2


My View:  Taken 2 (2012) In this sequel to the 2008 film, Bryan (Liam Neeson), is on a business trip to Istanbul when he gets a surprise visit from his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen). But Bryan has enemies, and his wife and daughter are now the bad guys’ targets. Taken was a surprise hit when it came out in 2005, but Taken 2 isn’t going to be one. It’s silly, stupid, and you can tell when an action guy is getting old - the film uses the shaky camera for all the action sequences. This is a film, where you just want to tell Maggie Grace’s character “shut up, already!”, as she seems to scream and cry out throughout the entire film. If you were a fan of the first, don’t see this one because it will ruin it for you.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Taken Info
Family Faire:  Frankenweenie (2012) Victor Frankenstein is a child scientist whose best friend is his dog, Sparky. When Sparky suddenly dies, Victor decides to conduct a science experiment in an effort to bring his trusted pedigree friend back to life. Victor is successful, but a re-animated Sparky may be just too much for him to handle. I would suggest that the 6 year-old and under crowd not see this film because it’s a little scary, there are some deaths in the film (including Sparky), and they will be bored by all the dialogue. The film was shot for 3-D, but because it’s in Black and White, the 3-D doesn’t really stand out at all. There are very few laughs in this strange film, and you'll probably only really enjoy it if you are a huge Tim Burton fan. If you want to see a better film, go online and see Burton’s 1994 project of the same name.  It’s so much better.    My Rating: Cable    Frankenweenie Website
My View:  Looper (2012): This film is set in the future. When the mob wants to rub out someone, they send them 30 years into the past where Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is waiting to commit the perfect crime. The mob has a surprise for Joe, though. They are sending him his future, older self (Bruce Willis) to be killed. Will Joe do the deed? I enjoyed this film and especially enjoyed Gordon-Levitt’s performance as the young Joe. There are some really cool special effects, but if you think this film will be as interesting and complicated as the 2010 Inception, you will be wrong. This is a much simpler film, and, while that’s not a bad thing, it is somewhat easy to figure out.    My Rating: Full Price   Looper Website
IndieFest:  The Oranges (2012)The Wallings (Hugh Laurie and Catherine Keener) live across the street from their best friends, the Ostroffs (Oliver Platt and Allison Janney). Their normal, suburban world is turned upside down when the Ostroff’s daughter, Nina (Leighton Meester), comes home for Thanksgiving after being on the road for five years. This is an intriguing film with plenty of humor.  It’s nice see Hugh Laurie play something very different from his House character. The best thing about this movie is Leighton Meester, as she brings some grace and intelligence to a part that isn’t always likeable. While this film isn’t a great comedy, it’s a fun film to see.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Oranges Website
IndieFest: Chicken with Plums (2012) A violinist in 1950’s Tehran loses his love of music, and, therefore decides to die. Over the next 8 days, we see how he and his family deal with his decision. As the man slowly dies, the film shows how he made this decision with a series of flashbacks that take us through the big events in his life. This is a beautiful film, and it’s one that I wasn’t really liking, that is, until the last fifteen minutes when everything we have seen earlier in the film suddenly fits together. It was then that I loved this film.   My Rating: Full Price    Chicken with Plums Info
IndieFest:  Butter (2012) Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner) is married to Bob (Ty Burrell) the 15 time winner of the Iowa State Fair Butter Sculpting competition. Bob is forced to retire, so Laura decides to enter the competition. Little does she know that Destiny (Yara Shahidi), a ten year old girl, has also decided to enter. Laura will do everything she can to win the contest, even if it means she has to cheat and play dirty tricks. This is a funny film that has a great deal of heart. I especially liked Olivia Wilde’s performance as the stripper, Brooke, who, after meeting Bob, is convinced that he is now her man. Garner is good as the determined Laura, and Yara Shahdidi is perfect as the child who has been shipped from foster family to foster family while hoping that her long lost mother will eventually show up. The large cast also has Hugh Jackman, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry, and Phyllis Smith. Be sure to stick around after the first end credits, there are a number of very funny outtakes.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Butter Info
Forgotten Film: To Sir, With Love (1967) Sidney Poitier plays Mr. Thackeray, who, after not getting work as an engineer, agrees to become a teacher at a school in London’s East End slums.  To reach his students, Mr. Thackeray decides to put away the textbooks and, instead, teach his students about life.  Poitier is his usual brilliant self as a man who cares about his students, and the cast of students are outstanding in their roles, especially Judy Geeson, who plays a student who idolizes her teacher. Lulu, a British pop star from the 60's, sings the title song near the end of the film which was a big hit in 1967 and made her a star.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    To Sir, With Love Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Frankenweenie: Puppet Hospital Assistant Coordinator

In Case You Missed It (A Film just Released on DVD):  Cinderella (1950) Disney is releasing this timeless classic animated film about Cinderella, the young woman who dreams of a better life as she is tormented by her evil stepmother and stepsisters. With the help of her Fairy Godmother, Cinderella gets to go to the Ball and meet the man of her dreams – but will the story end happily ever after? The great thing about the classic Disney films is the great music and songs, such as Biddidi-Bobbidi-Boo and So This is Love.  My Rating:  Full Price    Cinderella Website
Until Next Time!