Friday, June 28, 2013

The Heat

My View:   The Heat (2013)  R  FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) has made it her life’s work to take down the bad guys, and, to the point where she has no social life. Now she’s hot on the trail of a ruthless drug lord, and her investigation takes her to Boston. But, her worst nightmare happens when she gets partnered with a local Boston cop, Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy), who hasn’t had a partner in years for good reason - no one can get along with her.  The film is directed by Paul Feig, who directed the 2011 comedy hit, Bridesmaids.  Melissa McCarthy is brilliant as the tough Boston cop whose own police force even fears her.  Bullock holds her own with McCarthy and is able to keep up with her in every scene, which is amazing as McCarthy, in this film, is a bulldozer in a china shop.  The storyline is one we have seen before, but because of the talents of the two leads, the film seems fresh and moves at an incredibly quick pace.  This is one of those films you will have to see twice because you will be laughing so hard, you won’t hear all the lines.  One bit of warning - McCarthy says the F word about every other line (that’s part of a gag near the end of the film), so be warned the language in this film is filthy.  But it’s so much fun, I just want to know how much of McCarthy’s lines were scripted, and how much did she just make up on the set.   There is a bonus scene right after the first of the closing credits.  My Rating:  Full Price   The Heat Website

My View:   White House Down  (2013)  PG-13  A capitol policeman, John Cale (Channing Tatum), with dreams of someday working in the Secret Service, is on a White House tour with his daughter (Joey King) when it’s attacked by a terrorist group. Now Cale may be the only thing between the terrorists and the President (Jamie Foxx).  This is a film that goes way over the top, but in a good way.  It’s as if when the idea for the film was created, the director said “we could do this as a serious picture or we could just say screw it and have fun with it."  There is more comedy in this film than some of the recent Adam Sandler films (I know, that’s not saying a lot), as the characters spew out lines that are meant to be outrageous and possibly repeated by the audience as they leave the theatre.  The action is fast and well done, with each explosion getting bigger as the film goes on (so do the weapons).  The film doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, though.  You can see where the film is going from the start as it really doesn’t try and hide its villains, but it’s a blast (no pun intended) to watch and Foxx /Tatum are fantastic playing off each other in their bromance.  Don’t expect much from this film, but do expect to be entertained.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   White House Down Website

Indiefest:  Fill The Void  (2013)  PG  An 18-year old girl named Shira (Hadas Yaron), who lives in a Tel Aviv ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community, is about to meet her potential husband in this world of arraigned marriages. But Shira’s life changes when her older, married sister dies giving birth to her first child. Suddenly, Shira is pressured by friends and family to marry the husband of her late sister. If she doesn’t marry him, he may move with his newborn to another country.  This is an interesting film about a world we know little about.  Hadas Yaron gives a moving and complex performance as she tries to decide between her happiness and her family’s wishes.  It’s a well done film about a complex world where religion rules over people’s lives.   My Rating:  Full Price   Fill the Void Website

Forgotten Film:  Election  (1999)   A high school civics teacher (Matthew Broderick) decides that he will teach his students about the democratic process.  So, he enlists the school’s star football player (Chris Klein) to run against Tracy (Reese Witherspoon), an overachiever who is determined to win at any cost.  Reese Witherspoon has never been better as the student who sees the election as a life or death moment.  Broderick is funny as the teacher who doesn’t like Tracy and will do try, at all costs, to see her defeated.  But it’s Jessica Campbell as the football player’s sister who steals the movie when she decides to run as well and gives an incredible speech about government being a sham in front of the student body.  This film is funny with incredibly quick dialogue and brilliant performances by the cast.  My Rating:  Full Price   Election Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Quartet  (2012)  PG-13  Directed by Dustin Hoffman, this film stars Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly and Tom Courtenay as residents of a retired musician's home. The annual fundraising concert is disrupted by the arrival of Jean (Maggie Smith), an Opera diva who is the former wife of one of the residents. Think The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel but set in Great Britain and with music.  It’s an enjoyable film where the actors are far better than the script.  My Rating:  Full Price   Quartet Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of White House Down:  Pre-visualization artist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  20 Feet from Stardom  (2013)  PG-13   A film about the world of backup singers,  like Merry Clayton and Darlene Love, who, while in the background, really shape the music we fall in love with.  The film features interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and others while featuring old performance clips from TV and concerts.    20 Feet from Stardom Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 21, 2013

World War Z

My ViewWorld War Z  (2013)  PG-13   Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) just might be the world’s only hope to stop the zombie apocalypse that is at the brink of destroying all mankind.  Pitt is a former UN investigator who served in some of the world’s worst war-torn areas.  He is given the job to find out where the Zombie outbreak came from and determine if he can find some sort of cure. First, do not pay the extra money to see it in 3-D as the film wasn’t shot in 3-D, and the 3-D aspect gives the film a somewhat muted look.  I did like most of the action sequences with a much different take on the Zombie genre. These zombies are quick, fast moving and if you get bitten by a Zombie, you turn into one in a matter of seconds.  But, the film has quite a few dull moments, mostly where Pitt is trying to get from one location to another, as his character just never connects to anyone in the film, and I just didn’t care about Pitt or his family that he leaves behind on a UN aircraft carrier. Another problem I had with the film, is most of the zombie attacks are shot in long shot, not a lot of close ups, so you never get a feel of what the zombies really look like.  I also felt that the ending of the film was ill-conceived and seemed a little forced.    It's a horror movie that's not scary.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    World War Z Website
Family FaireMonsters University  (2013) G  We get to see how the friendship began with Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) when they meet up at Monsters University. The guys weren’t always best friends.  In fact, when they first met, they couldn’t stand each other.  The sad thing about watching Pixar films now is that the animation shorts they put before their feature films are far more interesting and creative than the full animated story that follows.  With Monsters University, the pattern is repeated again (as was it with Cars 2 and Brave).  There is a brilliant, beautiful short, The Blue Umbrella, that is an awesome and magnificent little film.  Unfortunately, Monsters University doesn’t live up to Pixar standards of artistic and imaginative film making.  It’s a new storyline, but because we already know the characters so well,  it’s like seeing the first Monsters, Inc. all over again.  This isn’t an awful film, in fact, at times it is enjoyable, but I expect higher standards from Disney/Pixar, and this film just doesn’t live up to what we want in an animated family film.  Disney/Pixar needs to go back and look at their classic films like Up!, Cars, WALL-E and Toy Story and get inspired to create something that is more than just a retread. Do stay through all the credits as there is a fun, clever bonus scene at the very end.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee
Indiefest:  Much Ado About Nothing  (2013)  PG-13   A modern retelling of the William Shakespeare comedy by the same name about Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) who are two life-long single people whom everyone else is determined to get together.  I absolutely loved this magical film that was shot in Black and White at Joss Whedon’s home.  Most of the cast are actors who have worked on Whedon’s other films or TV series, and there is a sense that the actors are very comfortable and secure under his direction.  Amy Acker is delightful as the feisty Beatrice, and there are definitely sparks between her and Alexis Denisof’s Benedick.  But, it’s Nathan Fillion and Tom Leck who steal the film as two bumbling police officers who continually mess up things more than they fix.  The film is fun to watch and has great pacing and energy.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again     Much Ado About Nothing Website

IndiefestBefore Midnight  (2013)  R   It’s been nine years since we have seen Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). They are now living in Paris with their twin girls. Can love be enough to keep them together? This is the third film in the series about Jesse and Celine but, unlike the first film, Before Sunrise (1995) which was about falling in love with a stranger you have a connection to, or Before Sunset (2004) which was about reconnecting with someone, this film is about the ramifications of a love affair.  In the first part of the film, the couple seems to be happy, but as the story progresses, the conversations between the two get more tense, and the fights get more frequent.  This is probably a more realistic film of these character's relationship, but I missed the superb moments of laughter and discussions that made the first two films so enjoyable.  My hope is that they make another film in nine or ten years with these two characters still together and in a much better place.   My Rating:  Full Price    Before Midnight Website

Forgotten FilmLet The Right One In  (2008) R  This Swedish horror film is about a 12 year-old boy, Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), who is constantly bullied by his classmates.  His world changes when a mysterious girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves into his neighborhood.  Oskar now has a friend, but this friend has a dark secret, one that could threaten his life.  This is a dark, gritty, grim film that doesn’t celebrate childhood as a happy time but one to just survive.  Lina Leandersson gives an intelligent performance as the cryptic Eli in this film about kids for adults. If you like intelligent horror films, then this one is for you. And, don’t bother seeing the bland U.S. remake called Let Me In (2010).   My Rating:  Full Price    Let The Right One In Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Jack the Giant Slayer  (2013)  PG-13    I did not like this film about a young man named, Jack (Nicholas Hoult), who discovers a long, lost way to the land of the Giants.  I felt the script was clunky, and it took too long to get to the action sequences.   My Rating:  Cable     Jack the Giant Slayer Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Much Ado About Nothing:  Electronic Music Programming

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouUnfinished Song  (2012)  PG-13  Terence Stamp plays Arthur, a grumpy old man who is set in his ways.  The lovely Gemma Arterton plays Elizabeth, who runs a local choir and gets Arthur to join the group.  Arthur is in for one bumpy ride.    Unfinished Song Website
Until Next Time!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Man of Steel

My View Man of Steel (2013)  PG-13   Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) has always known he was different and could do what other boys his age could only dream about. In time, Clark discovers that he is from another planet and has been sent by his parents to protect mankind on Earth with his superhuman powers. His adopted world is suddenly threatened by an invasion of men - men who happen to come from his home planet and are bent on destruction.  First, pack a lunch when you see this film.  It's 147 minutes long, and it seems to take that long for any sort of action to happen. This film is almost a total reboot of the legend of Superman, and, much like Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight series, this is a different take on the origin of Superman.  Cavill is impressive in the superhero suit, but he dons the cape with almost no humor to the role as if his real Kryptonite is a smile or a laugh.  As always, Amy Adams is cute as Lois Lane, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of chemistry between Miss Lane and the Man of Steel.  The last 45 minutes is one big punch 'em out fight that goes on so long at one point I thought some of the Transformers were going to get into the action.  The special effects are impressive, but the 3-D wasn't worth the extra price.  Man of Steel isn't a bad movie, and I think action fans will enjoy the last part, but man, it takes it's sweet time getting there.     My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Man of Steel Website
My View:  This Is The End  (2013)  R  Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel are the best of friends who hangout when Jay comes into L.A.from Canada on a visit. Seth and Jay go to a party at James Franco’s house, but while they are there, it looks as if the world just might be coming to an end. Will anyone at Franco’s party know the difference?  This comedy is not for everybody as it is incredibly raunchy with curse words being thrown about like rice at a wedding, and every scene seems to push the boundaries of the censors.  That being said, it’s also one of the funniest films of recent years.  It’s a film where the actors, who are playing themselves, don’t mind looking like complete jerks or in some cases, complete idiots.  Rogen and Baruchel play off each other extremely well and James Franco steals every scene that he's in.  The film is filled with cameos, some of which are really surprising due to how the cameo stars let the film portray them.  But, be warned.  If the idea of pushing around a gigantic penis sculpture for comic relief isn’t your idea of fun, then this film isn’t for you.   My Rating:  Full Price        This Is The End Website

The 50  (A Movie from My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#6 Best Film:
The Best Years of Our Lives  (1946)  Three servicemen return to small town America right after the end of World War II.  There is the sergeant (Fredric March), who now must return to his wife (Myrna Low), his kids and his job at the bank after serving on the front lines.  There is the dashing Lieutenant (Dana Andrews), who returns from being an airman and an officer, to a wife (Virginia Mayo), he barely knows, and no job.  And, there is the seaman (Harold Russell) who returns to his family and his girlfriend (Cathy O’Donnell) with hooks where his hands used to be.  This is an incredibly moving film that shows just how hard it was to return to civilian life after serving in the war and also how hard it was on the families to adjust to their men being away and who have to fit the pieces of their lives back together.  Beautifully directed by William Wyler, this film won seven Academy Awards, including an honorary Oscar for Harold Russell, who did lose his hands while serving in the Navy.  The film is filled with moving scenes that are tender and treat its characters as real people.  This is one of the greatest films of all time and a true treasure to watch.    The Best Years of Our Lives Info

Forgotten Film:   7 Faces of Dr. Lao  (1964)  Dr. Lao (Tony Randall) rides into town, at the turn of the century, to change the lives of the people of Abalone with his magical circus.  Dr. Lao’s circus just doesn’t entertain, it teaches valuable life lessons to the town folk, as Dr. Lao says, "The whole world is a circus , if you look at it the right way…”.  Throughout this inventive and funny film, Tony Randall takes the shape of Merlin, the magician, Pan, the God of Love, Medusa, a serpent, a Yeti and a blind fortune teller, interacting with the townspeople with stories and situations that mirror their lives.  This is a George Pal production, and Pal was known for marvelous special effects, especially stop motion animation.  This film has the legendary producer's handy work all over it, including the snakes for hair Medusa.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    7 Faces of Dr. Lao Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Warm Bodies (2013)  PG-13  A teen romance with a twist - she’s (Teresa Palmer) a beautiful human girl, and he (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie but with feelings and a heart.  I loved this funny, warm film that guys will like just as much as the girls.  I mean, there are zombies and guns.  My Rating:  Full Price    Warm Bodies Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): The Smurfs 2 (2013)    Does Neil Patrick Harris really need the money that bad or is he just doing this for his kid?  Either way, just stop it Neil!  You more talented than this!   The Smurfs 2 Website

 Weird Credits:  From the credits of This Is The End:  Photo Double

 Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You Blue Jasmine  (2013)  Woody Allen directing Peter Sarsgaard, Cate Blanchett, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, Sally Hawkins and Alec Baldwin.  His movies aren’t always interesting, but his casts sure are.    Blue Jasmine Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Internship

My View The Internship (2013)  PG-13  Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are salesmen who see the business they work for destroyed by the digital world. They decide, when you can’t beat them, join them, as they talk their way into an internship at the ultimate digital workplace, Google. Now, they must compete with fellow interns who are younger and much more tech savvy to land a job in the fast paced, high tech world.  The film is one long, and I do mean long, infomercial for Google.  The Google name is plastered across the screen so much that, at times I thought I was watching an instructional video on how to do a search on the web.  The characters are all one dimensional, the scenes are all predictable and the film rarely is funny. While Vaughn and Wilson do play off each other well, there just isn’t much to the script to make it interesting.  If you are asked should you see this film, you don’t need to Google it - just say no.  My Rating:  Cable   The Internship Website

My View:  The Purge  (2013)  R  In the near future, all crime has been eliminated due to The Purge. It’s one night, where, in a twelve-hour period, anybody can commit any crime and get away with it. The Sandin family is set for the night, as their house is literally a fortress. But a stranger begs his way into their home and, suddenly, they are the target of some devious hit-men out to get the stranger.  This is a violent film that uses the “shakey cam” (where the camera shakes for effect) for much of its action sequences.  In this Hunger Games for adults, the people in this film don’t really seem real, as their character development is almost paper thin.  Ethan Hawke and Lena Headly aren’t given anything to work with, and Headly, whom I like as an actress, comes off as a screaming crybaby.  I couldn’t tell if the filmmakers wanted this film to be a satirical look at American society or if they just wanted to make a siege picture with lots of killing.  Either way, it doesn’t work.   My Rating:  Cable   The Purge Website

IndiefestThe Kings of Summer  (2013)   Three teenage boys (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias) decide to get away from their rather strange and controlling parents by running away to build a house in the middle of the woods.  This is a great film for the summer.  It’s funny, moving and full of fine performances.  While viewers will see this film for the supporting cast, which is full of great comedians like Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, it’s the three lead boys (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias) that make this film so exceptional and a joy to watch.  Nick Robinson, playing the leader of the gang, Joe, is absolutely perfect in the role of a kid who is so tired of his life that he just wants to run away.  Gabriel Basso does a terrific  job of portraying Patrick, the boy who just goes along with Joe’s ideas, and Moises Arias steals the  movies as he plays the strange but loveable Biaggio.  The film is a wonderful coming of age story where the boys find out that running away doesn’t always solve problems.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See It Again   The Kings of Summer Website   Please note that the film is being released by CBS Films and I work for the CBS Television Stations Group.

Indiefest:  Stories We Tell  (2013)   PG-13   In this documentary, Actress/Director Sarah Polley has known that her family has harbored some secrets for some time now. So, Sarah decides to interview members of her family and let them, in their own words, tell what really happened.  This is an incredibly moving documentary about a woman who is determined to get to the truth.  It’s a fascinating film that explores how people remember events in their lives and how those stories are shaded by their own beliefs.  It’s a funny and touching film that is not to be missed.  My Rating:  Full Price   Stories We Tell Website

Indiefest:  Violet & Daisy  (2013)  R  Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) are not just your ordinary teenager girls. They do love clothes and the music of their favorite pop star, Barbie Sunday. But, the girls are a little different from your average teenager, as they are assassins for hire. When they discover that Barbie Sunday has designed a costly dress, they take a hit job – a job that may change their lives forever.  This is one of those strange “Indie” films that just doesn’t quite hit the mark.  It tries to be quirky but ends up being kind of clunky in its storytelling.  I liked Bledel and Ronan as the two lead characters, but the film tries too hard to be unconventional, making the film hard to really like.  Visually, it’s an interesting picture, but the storyline and the wordy dialogue slow down the picture to a degree that you really hope for any sort of action to speed things up.  It’s an ambitious film that never quite figured out what kind of film it wanted to be.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Violet & Daisy Website

Forgotten Film:  The Warriors  (1979)  R   Set in the future, gangs control New York.  A dynamic gang leader has decided that now is the time for all of the gangs to come together and take over the city.  But the gang leader is assassinated,  and the gang from Coney Island, The Warriors, have been framed for his murder.  Now this one gang must make it across the city with everyone out to get them.  This is a fun film to watch, as long as you don’t take it too seriously, with each gang wearing different outlandish outfits.  The film moves incredibly quick and most of the film was shot at night, on location, which gives the film an almost surreal feel to it.  Fast, action-packed, it’s a film that was way ahead of its time.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    The Warriors Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Internship:  Personal Makeup Artist for Mr. Owen

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Way, Way Back  (2013)   PG-13  A big hit of the Sundance Film Festival, this film is brought to you by the same writers that did The Descendants (2011).  The film is about a teenager (Liam James) who, during a summer vacation, works at a water park and grows from being a withdrawn, shy kid to a confidant man with a girlfriend.  The cast includes Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Amanda Peet, Rob Dorddry, Toni Collette, Allison Janney and Maya Rudolph.    The Way, Way Back Website
Until Next Time!