Friday, February 22, 2013

Snitch and Mike's Fearless Oscar Picks

My View:   Snitch (2013) PG-13   When his son is wrongfully convicted of distributing drugs, John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) makes a deal with the Feds. He agrees to become an undercover informant and gather information on the leader (Benjamin Bratt) of a drug cartel. But, has the love for his son gotten Matthews in a situation that John and his family may not survive? This is an action movie (at least that is what the trailer made it look like) without any action. There are only three action sequences in the film, and in two of them, all Dwayne “The Rock” is doing is driving a big semi.  Not too thrilling. I mean, here is a guy that is as big as a house, and we are supposed to believe that he is just an ordinary guy, a guy that has to act meek to drug dealers. The drug dealer’s dialogue is right out of a Charles Bronson Death Wish movie from the eighties, and Benjamin Bratt’s character speaks as though he is auditioning for a remake of Scarface. Johnson is asked to act way too much in this film and action fans will be bored by the slow moving script.    My Rating: Cable    Snitch Website
Mike's Fearless Oscar Picks

The 85th annual Academy Awards are on this Sunday, Feb. 24th. Here are my Fearless Oscar picks, along with any picks that I foresee as possible upsets:  I got 11 out of 13 right. 


Best Picture:    Argo     Argo has been picking up a lot of steam lately, with Ben Affleck (who is not nominated for Best Director) winning almost every major Directing award including the Golden Globes. Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg could win this.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:   Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln.     They might as well have a statue with his name on it because this is a sure thing.

Best Actress in a Leading Role:    Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook.      Lawrence was the best one of a cast where all four major roles got nominations. Emmanuelle Riva for the French film Amour could garner enough votes for her outstanding work in the film.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:     Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook.       De Niro gave one of his best performances in recent years. Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln, stood out in a very large cast.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:     Ann Hathaway in Les Miserables.       She wasn’t on the screen longer than ten minutes but boy, did she make an impact. Sally Field in Lincoln is always a good bet because the Academy really likes her.

Best Director:     Stephen Spielberg for Lincoln.        Spielberg is highly respected and for an historical drama, the film did extremely well at the box office. David O. Russell did a masterful job directing the cast of Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Adapted Screenplay:     Argo written by Chris Terrio

Best Original Screenplay:     Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino

Best Animated Film:      Brave

Best Foreign Language Film:      Amour

Best Documentary Feature:     Searching for Sugar Man

Best Cinematography:      Life of Pi - Claudio Miranda

Best Song:     Skyfall - Adele and Paul Epworth

Until Next Time!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard

My View:   A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) R   John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to try get his son (Jai Courtney) back on track. What John doesn’t know is his son isn’t a kid bumming his way through Europe - he’s a CIA operative trying to stop the sale of nuclear weapons. Now John must team up with his son to keep the world safe. Yippee Ki yay bad! This is one of those films where the plot is so badly thought out that, at the end if the film, you have no idea how you got there. There are lots of daddy issue jokes/situations and unlike some of the other Die Hard films, this one just isn't fun. The film feels like it’s just one long explosion of a movie, and I have no idea who the villain of the film is, though it could possibly be the screenwriter.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   A Good Day to Die Hard Website

My View:  Safe Haven (2013) PG-13    Katie (Julianne Hough) is running away from a dark secret, one that no one can ever find out about. She suddenly finds herself in a small North Carolina costal town, trying to make a new life. Her world starts looking up when she meets a young widower (Josh Duhamel) and his two children. But Katie’s past may catch up to her and hurt the people she has started to care about. This is the first Julianne Hough movie that I have seen that I didn't mind her performance, but that may be because she doesn't sing in this film. Dumel and Hough are a cute couple, but you never see any sparks between the two as Hough has better chemistry with the two kids. The storyline is very predictable, even the twists are easy to see coming (and hey, it's a Nicolas Sparks film, so you know there will be some). It's not up to the Notebook standards, but it’s no Miley-bad-acting weep-fest either.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Safe Haven Website

The 50 (A Movie from My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#9 Best Film
The General (1926) Buster Keaton stars in this classic silent film about Johnnie, the train engineer. When the Civil War breaks out, much the disappointment of his girlfriend, Annabelle (Marion Mack), Johnnie is turned down to join the Southern army. When Union spies capture the locomotive named The General, Annabelle is aboard. Johnnie goes on a mad, wild ride to rescue his train and his beloved Annabelle. This is Buster Keaton’s finest film, one that is full of amazing sight gags, and Keaton is at his best with the incredible stunts he performs throughout the movie. The film also has a heart and with most Keaton films, his performance is full of great warmth and astounding comic timing. The ending has one of the greatest scenes ever, a stunt that has to be seen to be believed.   The General Info

Forgotten Film:  How to Steal A Million (1966) The beautiful Audrey Hepburn plays Nicole, the daughter of an art collector (Hugh Griffith). But, not only is Nicole’s dad an art collector, he is an art forger. Nicole learns that a statue that her father has loaned to a Paris museum is not an original but is a forgery. Now Nicole, with the help of the dashing burglar, Simon Dermott (Peter O’Toole), must break into the museum and steal the statue before the museum can perform validity tests. Hepburn and O’Toole fit perfectly together, making this funny film a delight to watch.   My Rating: Full Price   How to Steal a Million Info

In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD):   Skyfall (2012) PG-13    Daniel Craig stars as 007 in not only one of the best James Bond films but in one of the best films of 2012. The fact that this film did not get a Best Picture nomination is a crime.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Skyfall Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)     Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis as the original Joe, what could go wrong? How about a film that was shot in 2-D, then delayed for 6 months to turn it into a 3-D film. I have seen a couple of scenes from this film and all it did was give me a headache.    G.I. Joe: Retaliation Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Safe Haven: Helicopter Ground Safety

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   The Heat (2013) R    From the writer/director of Bridesmaids, Paul Feig, comes this comedy starring Sandra Bullock as a straight-laced FBI agent who is forced to work on a case with Melissa McCarthy’s character a Boston cop. Let’s hope director Feig lets McCarthy does what she did in Bridesmaids and steal every scene that she is in.    The Heat Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Identity Thief

My View:   Identity Thief  (2013)   Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) discovers that his identity has been stolen, and it’s causing him a world of problems. Sandy finds out that the identity thief is a woman named Diana (Melissa McCarthy) and that she is living large in another state. So, Sandy goes on a road trip to hunt down Diana and bring her back to clear his name. This film just isn't funny, and it’s a film that desperately wants you to like the two main characters, but you never really connect to either of them. The first twenty minutes, and yes it takes that long to set up the premise, feel more like a drama or a horror film, as it is really scary how quickly Sandy’s identity is stolen and how quickly his life gets torn to shreds. The plot is full of holes the size of Montana, and there are “comedy” bits that are so obvious, they might as well be put on a billboard. It seems that at no point in the film did the director let McCarthy loose and improvise her part, something that she has done so well in Bridesmaids and This is 40 . At one point, the mob is trying to kill Diana, and you begin rooting for the hit-men, just so that the film can end. And my advice to Melissa McCarthy, get a new agent, because you are far better actress than this and one who doesn’t need to be constantly put down by an array of fat jokes/situations. And a word of warning, the film is almost two hours in length but feels like three.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Identity Thief Website
My View:   Side Effects  (2013)   Emily’s (Rooney Mara) husband Martin (Channing Tatum) is just released from prison for serving time for insider trading. But life is getting her down and, after an apparent suicide try, Emily agrees to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). He decides to treat Emily with a new product recently introduced to the public, a product that may cause deadly consequences. The best part of this film is the first twenty-five minutes, which has an incredible amount of twists and turns in the plot. The film does slow down after that, and I only really enjoyed it again near the end when some of the better plot twists were revealed. I liked Jude Law as the psychiatrist that gets in over his head but found that Mara’s portrayal of the troubled wife of Martin was lacking, as she didn’t quite give the performance that I expected.  I hope this isn’t the last film that Steven Soderbergh directs as it certainly isn’t one of his best.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Side Effects Website

Indiefest:    Café de Flore (2013) This film is about  two love stories set forty years apart. One, set in present day, is about a divorced woman, Carole (Helene Florent), who is convinced that her ex-husband, Antoine (Kevin Parent), is still the love of her life, and she is determined to get him back. The second story, set forty years earlier, is about the love a single mother, Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis), has for her son, Laurent (Lucas Bonin), who was born with Down’s syndrome. She is determined to provide the best for her son, but it’s a struggle to keep him alive and well. This is a film that will stay with you quite a while and will be sure to trigger discussions. The two lead actresses are unbelievably good, especially Vanessa Paradis, who brings such passion to her acting that you can almost see the worry for her son dripping off her brow. This is a film that may not give you all the answers you want, but it will definitely make you think.    My Rating: Full Price   Cafe de Flore Website

Forgotten Film:   Run Lola Run (1998) This German film starring Franka Potente as Lola, is about a woman, who’s boyfriend has lost 100,000 German Marks that belong to the mob. The boyfriend is desperate, knowing that if he doesn’t provide the money, they will kill him. Lola convinces her boyfriend that she can get the money in twenty minutes before the mob shows up. The film then portrays three different “runs," all taking 20 minutes but all three take different directions, with the storylines changing due to the decisions/actions that Lola makes. The film is incredibly fast paced with numerous edits and transitions and reveals how even the littlest thing can change our future.   Some decisions we make in an instant, and some of these are the most important decisions of our lives. It is left to the viewer to decide which of the runs really happened.    My Rating: Full Price   Run Lola Run Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):   Flight (2012) This is one of those films where the lead actor is better than the part he is given. I love Denzel Washington as the brash, alcoholic pilot, but I felt the script was too full of clichés and was much too long.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Flight Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Film I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Beautiful Creatures (2013) Another in a long line of Young Adult based books turned into movie to try and replace the Twilight franchise. The characters in the trailer look and feel like they belong in a high school production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.   Beautiful Creatures Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Side Effects: Blood Supplier

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Room 237 (2013) A documentary about the possible hidden meanings in the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining. I don’t know if I will believe any of the theories of the film, but it should be a blast seeing the filmmakers try to come up with ideas, such as the film, which is about how a haunted hotel drives a man to madness, is in reality a film dealing with the Holocaust.    Room 237 Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Warm Bodies

My View:  Warm Bodies  (2013)  The zombie apocalypse has happened, and humans are barely hanging on. R (Nicholas Hoult) isn’t your ordinary zombie, as he is very aware of his surroundings and thinks too much. His world changes when he saves Julie (Teresa Palmer) from his fellow zombies. But the big questions are – why did he do it and can he keep her alive?  We now have a movie genre called Zombie comedies, with 2004's Shaun of the Dead, 2009's Zombieland and now Warm Bodies.  This zombie film is different than others because, for the first time, a zombie film is being told from the perspective of the zombies and not the humans.  This film is funny, has heart and also has a very well-thought-out Romeo and Juliet type of romance between R the zombie and Julie, the human.  While not for kids, the film is perfect for teens, especially young girls who love these young adult type of books.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film, a film that doesn't really fit any other description than it's a  Zombie Romantic Comedy with brains!   My Rating:  Full Price   Warm Bodies Website
Indiefest:  Stand Up Guys  (2013)  Val (Al Pacino) has just gotten out of the pen after 28 years. His best friend, Doc (Christopher Walken), picks him up when Val is released. The former mob guys go out to celebrate like it’s going to be their last night on the planet. And, since Doc has been given orders by the local mob boss to kill Val, it could be their last night on the planet. I enjoyed watching Walken and Pacino act together, but this film feels like it's just one long excuse to put the two on-screen together.  Only when the getaway driver, Hirsch (Alan Arkin), shows up, does the film get a little life in its plot; otherwise, it's just a very long dialogue between two old hit men.  Only diehard fans of Pacino and Walken will enjoy this film. For the rest of us, the film is just a little too slow.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Stand Up Guys Website
Forgotten Film:  Oliver!  (1968)  It's hard to say that a film that was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 5, including Best Picture and Best Director, belongs on this list, but by and large, this film is rarely talked about.  Based on the book, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, Oliver! tells a story of the orphan, Oliver (Mark Lester), who escapes to London to hook up with Fagin (Ron Moody), a man who heads a large group of boy pickpockets who go about stealing on the streets of London. The film has an outstanding cast with standouts Ron Moody, who brings a heartfelt performance to the role of Fagin, and Mark Lester as Oliver.  The film is full of fantastic songs that seem to pop right off the screen when performed, including the classics "Food Glorious Food" and "Consider Yourself".  This is a film, that, just like Oliver in the food line at the Orphanage, you will be asking "Please sir, I want some more."  My Rating: Full Price   Oliver! Info
In Case You Missed It:  Searching for Sugar Man (2012)  The best film that I saw at the L. A. Film Festival and my pick to win the Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards.  The remarkable story of a little-known American singer from the late sixties who becomes the voice of the movement in a foreign country he has never visited.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Searching for Sugar Man Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A film I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Hummingbird (2013)  All I have to say is it stars Jason Statham as an ex-Special Forces soldier who is now living on the streets.  You can figure the rest of the plot out from there.    Hummingbird Info

Weird Credits:  From the Credits of The Last Stand:  Script Translator

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You:    A Good Day to Die Hard  (2013)  Having watched the original Die Hard again over the Christmas Holidays, I am looking forward to this installment of the series.  Having Jai Countney play John McClane's son should help energize the series.  Place your bets on when McClane say's "Yippie-ki-yay, MF!"   A Good Day to Die Hard Website

Until Next Time!