Friday, March 29, 2013

G. I. Joe: Retaliation

My View:   G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)  PG-13 The G. I. Joe team is in a world of trouble as they have been framed as traitors – traitors to their own country. To make matters worse, Cobra’s own Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) is in power, impersonating the President of the United States. The Joes are going to need help getting their country back, so how about the original Joe, General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis) joining back up with the team? Do not see this film in 3-D! The film was not shot in 3-D but converted later to the format, and combine that with the shaky-cam used in most of the action sequences, and it will be either sick to your stomach or headache time for you. Additional scenes with Channing Tatum were added, but these “Bromance” scenes with Dwayne Johnson seemed forced. The dialogue for most of the film is so bad that you will groan at some of the lines, but hey, you don’t go to a G.I. Joe film for the witty banter, you go for the action scenes, and there are plenty. I especially enjoyed the ninja battle via rappelling gear on the side of a huge mountain - fast and inventive. But Willis is mostly wasted as Gen. Joe Colton, and the plot becomes just one big mess, especially near the end, making the film just one loud explosion.     My Rating: Cable   G. I. Joe: Retaliation Website

My View:   The Host   (2013)  PG-13    Aliens have invaded the Earth and have taken over the minds and bodies of most of the population. Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) sacrifices herself to let her boyfriend and brother escape and allows an alien named, the Wanderer, to take over her body/mind.  But, to the alien’s chagrin, Melanie hasn’t given up. It turns out Melanie is sharing her body, mind and memories with the alien, an experience that will change both of their lives.  From the same novelist, Stephenie Meyer, who gave us the Twilight series, this film has much better acting and better dialogue than that series with the sparkly vampires. Saoirse Ronan doesn’t disappoint in the multi-role of Melanie and The Wanderer, portraying basically two roles in one body. The film is very typical of the Young Adult films with lots of dialogue and a female lead that is attracted to two very different young men (Jake Abel and Max Irons) whom she will have to choose between. The film is bolstered by the excellent supporting cast, especially William Hurt and Frances Fisher. Action fans will be slightly disappointed as the film is mostly about relationships and family, but there are a couple of good chase scenes. While not a great film, it’s not cringe-worthy like the Twilight films.     My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Host Website
Indiefest:  NO   (2012)  R   Chile in 1988 is ruled with an iron fist by the dictator Augusto Pinochet. When increasing international pressure is mounted against the ruling government, Pinochet agrees to a national vote. A vote Yes means that he stays in power, and a vote No means democracy stands a chance in the country. A young ad executive (Gael Garcia Bernal) is asked to head a campaign against overwhelming odds to convince a country to vote NO. Bernal is the reason to see this film, as he gives an inspiring performance of the ad executive who risks his life for the democracy movement. It is an interesting film that gives you appreciation of the power of democracy and how people all over the world are fighting for the right of self-determination.    My Rating: Full Price    NO Website
The 50 (A Movie from My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#7 Worst Film
Monster a-Go Go  (1965)  PG  Production was started on this Black and White film in 1961 but was shut down half-way through and then started up again in 1964 using different actors for the same parts. I could try and tell you the plot, but it’s better that you only know one thing about this film - there isn’t any monster!    Monster a-Go Go Info
Forgotten Film:  The Tao of Steve   (2000)  R  Dex (Donal Logue) is an overweight, underachieving kindergarten teacher, who has incredible success with bedding women by using what he calls the “Tao of Steve," a philosophy based on the question, “What would Steve McQueen do?” At his ten-year college reunion, Dex meets Syd (Greer Goodman) , but all of his charms may not be good enough to get the girl of his dreams. The dialogue in this film is smart, witty, and the characters are complex and real. It’s a fun, romantic comedy that is easy to watch and Donal Logue plays the frisbee golf loving Dex to perfection.    My Rating: Full Price    The Tao of Steve Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):   Killing Them Softly   (2012)  R   I did not like this film about a hit man (Brad Pitt) sent to find a couple of guys who robbed a mob-controlled poker game. I found the action was too few and far between which made the film seem like it was about uninteresting characters talking about nothing to each other.    My Rating: Cable    Killing Them Softly Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   6 Souls ( 2013)   This film, about a forensic psychiatrist (Julianne Moore) who discovers that one of her patients is murdering people, just looks like a stinker. This film was made back in 2010 but is just being released now.  Never a good sign.    6 Souls Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Host:  Construction Medic

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You:   Mud (2013)  PG-13   One of my favorite films from the 2013 Atlanta Film Festival starring Matthew McConaughey in the title role, but it’s the two teen boys in the film, Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland, who make this film such a pleasure to watch.    Mud Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen

My View:   Olympus Has Fallen  (2013)  R   After a tragic accident, Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) has been taken off the Presidential Detail and has been given a desk job. Banning finds himself trapped in the White House, just as it is invaded by terrorists and the President captured. Now Banning must use his Special Forces training, along with his Secret Service knowledge to rescue the leader of the free world. While not a perfect film, it is a fast moving, well-paced action film.  Butler is impressive and believable as the Secret Service agent who can take a man down with one karate shot. The film has an all-star cast, with Aaron Eckhart as the President, Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House, Melissa Leo as the Secretary of Defense and Angela Bassett as the Director of the Secret Service. The villain in the film is a little one-dimensional and the special effects for a few action sequences are a little cheap looking, but overall the film gives the action film fan a good run for their money.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    Olympus has Fallen Website
Family Faire:   The Croods  (2013)  PG  The Croods consist of Grug (Nicolas Cage), his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), grandmother Gran (Cloris Leachman), son Thunk (Clark Duke) and daughter Eep (Emma Stone) are your ordinary, run-of-the-mill caveman family. Their world is turned upside down when their beloved cave is destroyed and they must find a new place to live. Then, Guy (Ryan Reynolds), a nomadic cave boy who would rather use his brain than his brawn, enters the picture and their lives will never be the same. This is a fantastic film that kids and adults will find amusing and enjoyable. I loved Emma Stone as the headstrong Eep, but the actor that makes this film is Nicolas Cage as the loveable father Grug. Cage is perfect for the ridged but caring Grug. The film is filled with almost Dr. Seuss style animals, which will make it enjoyable for even the youngest of filmgoers. It is worth seeing in 3D, as there are a number of action sequences that utilize the technology to its fullest. This is a fun, funny film that everyone will enjoy.    My Rating:  Full Price    The Croods Website
Indiefest:    Admission  (2013)  PG-13  Portia (Tina Fey) is an admissions officer for Princeton University, who is up for a promotion. She is determined that no stone will go unturned looking for the best and brightest students in the country for her university. When she visits a small alternative school, at the behest of a former classmate (Paul Rudd), she discovers a secret that she had hoped would forever be forgotten. This is one of those films that you really want to love but you end up just sort of liking it. The biggest problem with this film is the lack of chemistry between Fey and Rudd, as you just never quite see the attraction between the two. I also did not like the ending to this film, as Fey’s character does something so wrong that it makes you uncomfortable to witness it. The supporting cast, including Wallace Shawn as Fey’s boss and Lily Tomlin as her ultra-pro woman mom, are fun to watch but overall this film doesn’t quite hit the mark.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Admission Website
Indiefest:   The Gatekeepers  (2013)  PG-13  A documentary that for the first time gives you an inside look at the Israeli Shin Bet, the secretive governmental group that is in charge of Israel’s security service. The film combines interviews, archival footage and computer animation to show the role of this government faction that has been around since the Six-Day War. This is a fascinating film that is worthy of its Academy Award nomination. This film gives the filmgoer an insight into the complex puzzle of how Israel has dealt with the Palestinian population since the Six-Day War. The filmmakers interview six former heads of the Shin Bet, something that is utterly unheard of since the organization is highly secretive and usually doesn’t give interviews. This is the type of film that you will learn things about a subject matter that you thought you knew and one that will prompt many discussions afterword.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again    The Gatekeepers Website
Forgotten Film:   Lucas  (1986)  PG-13  Lucas (Corey Haim) is a shy, nerdy 14-year old boy who has never been popular at school. During the summer, Lucas develops a friendship with Maggie (Kerri Green), a beautiful girl that has just moved to town. Lucas becomes infatuated with Maggie, but when she becomes a cheerleader and becomes interested in a football player (Charlie Sheen), Lucas’s world seems to crash down upon him. This isn’t your typical 80’s teen comedy, but rather a film that has a heart and soul, that treats the main character with compassion and warmth. Haim gives one of the better performances of his career and the rest of the cast, including Sheen as the football player who actually cares about Lucas, does an impressive job of giving us real teenagers, not just charactures of high schoolers.    My Rating:  Full Price   Lucas Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Olympus Has Fallen:  Creative Executive for Gerard Butler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Frances Ha  (2013)  R  I think Greta Gerwig is one of the best young actresses out there and I can’t wait to see her in this film about a single girl in New York that is trying to chase her dreams.     Frances Ha Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dead Man Down

My View:   Dead Man Down  (2013)  R  Victor (Colin Farrell) is the right-hand man to a New York City crime boss (Terrence Howard).  Victor must find the killer who is threatening his boss. A woman named, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), who seduces Victor and complicates things even more, may push him into a situation that he may never escape. This is one of those films that takes so many twists and turns that you fully don't understand what is happening until about three fourths of the way through the film.  Noomi Rapace is wasted in the character of a damaged woman (literally, her face is severely cut up in a car accident) who meets Victor after a series of flirting glances.  In a film where Farrell is playing a thug enforcer for a mob boss, there is very little action with only one really good action sequence near the beginning, and the climax at the end is highly predicable and totally unbelievable. This film was a waste of a really good cast, especially Rapace, whom, I hope, can find another role worthy of her Dragon Tattoo heritage.     My Rating:  Cable   Dead Man Down Website
Indiefest:  Emperor  (2013)  PG-13  World War II has ended, and General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) has landed on Japan soil. Emperor Hirohito may now be charged as a war criminal. MacArthur has picked General Fellers (Matthew Fox) to investigate and decide if the Emperor is to be put on trial; a trial that could destroy a country.  The film centers on two stories:  the investigation into if the Emperor ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor and the love story set in the past between Fellers (Fox) and a Japanese girl named Aya (Eriko Hatsune) whom he meets while both are in college in the states.  Fellers sets about trying to put together who made the decisions to attack the US but is hampered by the fact that Japan is in total disarray due to the war, and under the gun to find evidence in ten days time, he is distracted in his quest to try and locate Aya to see if she survived the war.  This film left me wanting more of the war side of the story and much less of the love story.  I think I would have preferred to see a film about the rebuilding of a country with Tommy Lee Jones's MacArthur as the central character instead of him being a supporting character to Fox's love-worn general.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Emperor Website
The 50 ( A Movie from My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
# 8 Best Film
Sunrise  (1927)  This silent film directed by the great F.W. Murnau is a stunning example of a film that was way ahead of its time in both its complex storyline and its visuals.  It's a film about a married farmer (George O'Brien) who meets a "city woman" (Margaret Livingston) who convinces the farmer that if he runs away to the city with her, his life will be full of joy.  But, before the farmer can leave, the city woman wants him to do one thing - kill his wife (Janet Gaynor).  Every scene in this film is shot to showcase the drama, the suspense and the conflict the actors portray.  The acting of the three principles is exceptional, especially Gaynor, who plays the unsuspecting wife so perfectly.  This film was groundbreaking, its special effects are better than some Hollywood films made today, and its plot could stand up to any of today's scripts.   Sunrise Info
Forgotten Film:  Thief  (1981)  R  James Cann plays Frank, a man who dreams of having a family, the two-car garage, kids and the white picket fence.  But Frank isn't your ordinary guy; he makes his money by being a professional thief.  When Frank meets and marries the girl of his dreams (Tuesday Weld), he decides to speed up his plan and make a big, final score so he can retire from the business.  Frank makes one mistake - he takes a job for the mob, a job that may be his last, not because he is going to retire but because he won't survive.    My Rating:  Full Price    Thief Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Life of Pi  (2012)  PG  A young man survives a shipwreck only to be lost at sea on a large lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger.  I picked this film as one of the best of 2012, as the cinematography showcases the unbelievable 3-D scenes, making for an amazing visual experience.  I am afraid, though, that viewers who select to wait for the DVD will not fully be able to experience the wonders of this film.     My Rating:  Full Price    Life of Pi Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   Scary Movie 5 (2013)  PG-13  You know studios are scraping the bottom of the barrel when you see the names, Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan on the same bill.  Just stop it! Stop the madness!     Scary Movie 5 Info
Weird Credits:  From the credits of Emperor:  Animal Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Place Beyond the Pines  (2013)  R  A motorcycle stunt man turns to robbing banks to support his family. Just the cast of Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne makes me want to see this film.  Forget the great storyline.   The Place Beyond The Pines Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful

My View:   Oz The Great and Powerful (2013)  PG    A small-time touring magician (James Franco) dreams of being a huge success. Little does he know that he is about to travel to a magical place called, Oz, where he will have to decide if he is of legend-making material. I liked this film because of its great cast with Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams playing the witches, three very distinctive striking actresses who can act. Franco is a proficient con man in Oz and uses his good looks and his Cheshire Cat style grin to get by when he can’t talk his way out of a sticky situation. This film does a great job of giving us background on the characters who make up the Land of Oz. It’s a beautiful film and well worth seeing in 3-D as the director, Sam Raimi, uses the technology to gives us a sense of  wonder and adventure that fill the screen. It’s a film that both children and adults can enjoy, though both (just like in the original Wizard of Oz) might be just a little afraid of the flying baboons.     My Rating: Full Price   Oz The Great and Powerful Website
The 50 (A Movie from My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#8 Worst Film
Howard the Duck (1986)  PG   A live action film produced by Lucas films (George Lucas of Star Wars fame) starring Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins (he isn’t Howard). The main star of the film is a cigar smoking, foul (no pun intended) mouthed duck about 3 feet tall based on a series of best-selling comic books. The film is filled with bad jokes, horrible dialogue, crappy special effects, and what makes this film almost unwatchable is the sexual attraction the Howard the Duck and Lea Thompson’s character develop.    Howard the Duck Info
Forgotten Film:   The Hunger (1983)  R The beautiful Catherine Deneuve plays Miriam, a vampire who lives on the blood of her lovers, lovers that are promised eternal life. David Bowie plays Miriam’s lover, John, who discovers that he may receive eternal life but not eternal youth. John finds Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) who specializes in the study of aging, in hopes that she can slow or stop his older appearance. This is a lush, seductive horror film where sex is a weapon and a tool for controlling people. Sarandon is amazing in the role of the doctor who gets pulled into this complex world, a world that she may never escape.    My Rating: Full Price    The Hunger Infor
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  The Master (2012)   This is a film that you want to see, not because of the storyline, but because the performances in the film are so great, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix giving it their all. Be warned though, the film is extremely long (137 minutes), and some scenes feel like they are way too drawn out.    My Rating: Full Price     The Master Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   Tyler Perry’s Temptation (2013)  PG-13 A film about a marriage counselor whose own marriage breaks apart as she becomes obsessed with another man. All I have to say about this film is Kim Kardashian has a supporting role.    Tyler Perry's Temptation Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Oz The Great and Powerful : Carnival Choreographer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Admission (2013)  PG-13  Tina Fey stars as a Princeton admissions officer who goes on a recruiting trip to an alternative school and meets its innovative director (Paul Rudd). The part looks perfect for Tina Fey, and Rudd is always good as a love interest.     Admission Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer

My View:    Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) PG-13   Jack (Nicholas Hoult) accidentally discovers a long, lost way to the land of the Giants, a race that the humans had fought and defeated long ago. Now Jack is forced to defend his family and those in the kingdom from a group of super-beings hell-bent on recovering land that, they feel, belongs to them. The biggest problem with this film is that it can never figure out if it's a film for kids with humor and romance or is it an adult action film with people dying left and right. I liked Nicholas Hoult in the role of the everyman Jack, Ewan McGregor is brilliant as the dashing warrior Elmont and Stanley Tucci is perfect as the slimy, scamming Roderick, but they can’t overcome a clunky script that takes way too long to get to any action sequences and an ending that is almost laughable. The film really isn’t worth paying extra to see it in 3-D, as there wasn’t one scene that stood out from use of the technology.    My Rating: Cable    Jack the Giant Slayer Website
My View:    21 and Over (2013) R    Jeff (Justin Chon) is a straight-A college student with a very promising life ahead of him. It’s the night before an important interview with a prestigious medical school, and Jeff just wants to stay at home and sleep. But, his two buddies (Skylar Astin and Miles Teller) convince Jeff to go out to celebrate his birthday. It’s a birthday he will never forget, but only if he survives it. If you think a scene where a person throws up in slow motion while on a spinning mechanical bull is funny, then this film is for you. For most of us, the film will seem long and tedious, as the funny scenes are few and far between. Sarah Wright, playing the love interest is the one character in the film that I liked, but the three main characters are all jerks to each other.  They claim to love each other like brothers, but they are willing to sell each other out at a moment’s notice.    My Rating: Cable    21 and Over Website
  Indiefest:    Phantom (2013) R   Set in the late 1960’s, Demi (Ed Harris) is the captain of a Russian missile submarine, and he’s embarking on his last mission before he retires. But, the mission is classified, and Demi must deal with a KGB agent (David Duchovny) who won’t say what the mission is about or where the sub is going. Demi soon discovers that it’s a mission that just may drag the world into another war. This is a film that works a lot like a mystery.  As the story develops, we learn more and more about not only the mission the sailors are on, but also about each character. Ed Harris gives a multilayered performance as the Submarine commander whose past comes back to haunt him. Duchovny is brilliant as the KGB agent who may have a hidden agenda, an agenda that could have deadly consequences. Overall, this is an interesting film that has more substance to it than the latest Hollywood CGI spectacular.     My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Phantom Website
  Indiefest:    West of Memphis (2013) R    West of Memphis (2013)   A documentary exploring the attempts to free three men known as the West Memphis Three who were convicted of murdering three eight year-old boys in the early 90′s. The film gives the audience extraordinary access into the lives of the three men in prison and the men and women who have been working to free them. This is a film that will make you both mad at the justice system and amazed at the dogged persistence of the people who worked to free the three men. One of the best documentaries of the year - this film is worth seeing.     My Rating: Full Price    West of Memphis Website
 Forgotten Film:     Next Stop Wonderland (1998) R      Erin (Hope Davis) is a nurse who has recently been dumped by her longtime boyfriend. Her mother, Piper (Holland Taylor) decides to place a personal ad for her daughter and throughout the film we see Erin go on one disaster date after another. On the other side of town, Alan (Alan Gelfant) is a plumber who dreams about becoming a marine biologist and is also unlucky in finding the right girl. Are the two people who would be perfect for each other ever going to meet or are they destined for unhappiness? This is a fun romantic comedy with a twist, and Hope Davis is absolutely amazing as the headstrong, determined Erin, who refuses to give up her dream of finding the one guy perfect for her.    My Rating: Full Price    Next Stop Wonderland

Weird Credits:   From the credits of Jack the Giant Slayer:   Pantomiming consultant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:    The Sapphires (2012) PG-13     An Australian film about four Aboriginal girls who form a singing group and travel to Vietnam to entertain the troops. Chris O’Dowd plays Dave, the man who convinces the families of the girls that they will be safe on their tour, a tour that will change all their lives.   The Sapphires Website

Until Next Time!