Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Family FaireFrozen  (2013)  PG   In the kingdom of Arendelle, there are two Princesses: Elsa (Idina Menzel), who is soon to be Queen and who has the strange ability to make snow and ice out of nothing, and her sister, Anna (Kristen Bell). When Elsa lets her emotions get the better of her, she accidentally triggers a magical winter that freezes the entire kingdom. Elsa, known now as the “Snow Queen,” goes into hiding, and Anna must set out on a journey with a mountain man named, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and a reindeer sidekick named, Sven, to find her sister and save the kingdom.  This the best Disney film in years with great songs, fun sidekicks and a winning cast.  Both Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel have beautiful singing voices, and several of the songs in the film are breakout hits.  The storyline has plenty of twists and turns, and the animation is eye-popping.  The film is worth seeing in 3-D if just for the opening animated short that is one of the best uses of 3-D animation that I have ever seen.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again

IndiefestPhilomena  (2013)  PG-13   In an effort to resurrect his journalistic career, Martin (Steve Coogan) agrees to do a human interest story on Philomena (Judi Dench), a woman who is searching for her son and whom she gave up for adoption almost 50 years ago. Judi Dench is amazing in this touching, and, at times, funny film.  Her portrayal of Philomena, a kind-hearted, religious woman who is determined to find her long lost son, is worthy of an Oscar.  She plays her part perfectly and matches up well with Coogan, who plays a hard-hearted journalist who is very full of himself and really thinks her sob story is beneath his talents.  As the film develops, Philomena’s charm works over Martin, and he comes to truly enjoy his time with her.  But, it’s Dench who is the film's star, and she carries it off beautifully.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again  Philomena Website

IndiefestNebraska  (2013)  R  Woody (Bruce Dern) is convinced that he has won a million dollars and wants to travel from Montana, where he lives, to Nebraska to collect the winnings. Against the wishes of Woody’s wife, Kate (June Squibb), and brother, Ross (Bob Odenkirk), David (Will Forte), Woody’s youngest son, decides to take his father cross-country to the company that has issued the ticket.  This is a brilliant film and my favorite at this year’s Austin Film Festival.  Dern gives a performance of a lifetime as the broken down, alcoholic Woody.  We never really know what Woody is thinking as Dern plays him as a man of very little words.  Forte does a nice job playing the son who desperately wants to reconnect with his father.  June Squibb steals the film as Woody’s opinionated, speak-her-mind wife.  The film is a road trip film where the people don’t seem to ever move.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Nebraska Website

My ViewBlack Nativity  (2013)  PG  After Langston (Jacob Latimore) and his mom (Jennifer Hudson) have been evicted from their apartment, he is sent to New York City to spend the holidays with the Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) and his family. There Langston discovers the strength of family and friends.  This musical works much better when the cast is singing as both the dialouge and the storyline are very weak.  I did enjoy the songs, especially when Jennifer Hudson sang but that doesn't make up for the very predictable story.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Black Nativity Website

Forgotten FilmCitizen Ruth  (1997) Ruth (Laura Dern) is an unlikely poster child for the “Right to Life” movement.  She is a drug-sniffing addict who has had four children taken away from her, and the cops know her by name.  When she is arrested again, and a judge finds out that she is pregnant, he orders her to have an abortion.  A group called “Baby Savers” finds out about the judge’s order and they take up her cause.  She then becomes a pawn in the game between the Baby Savers and a pro-choice group.  This is a smart, and, at times, a very funny satire directed by Alexander Payne (The Descendants) that makes fun of both sides of the abortion battle.  Dern is brilliant as Ruth, who really doesn’t care about anything other than her next high.  The film is full of amazing performances and interesting characters who make this a fun film to watch.  My Rating:  Full Price  Citizen Ruth Info

Weird Credits:  From the film Philomena:  Snow effects floor supervisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouAnchorman 2: The Legend Continues  (2013)  Just in time for Christmas, the further adventures of our favorite TV anchorman (Will Ferrell) who takes the gang to New York to be on a 24 hour news channel.  The big question:  Will we be quoting lines from this film as much as we do from the first?  Anchorman 2 Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

My ViewThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)  PG-13  Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) have returned triumphantly from the Hunger Games. Their victory has sparked a rebellion, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has made it his mission to squash the rebellion, even if it means the destruction of Katniss.  Just like the first film, this film is very similar to the book, including changing the color of the Prim’s cat from black and white in the first film to the correct shade of orange.  I think that the action sequences in this film are better than in the first film, and Lawrence does an brilliant job as the valiant Katniss.  I do think this film does not have the same emotional level that the first film had but that may be just because we now understand the world that Katniss is trying to survive in.  It is worth seeing it in IMAX, since almost 50 minutes was shot in the IMAX format.  I look forward to the next two films in continuing on the adventure with Katniss and her friends.  My Rating:  Full Price   The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Website
My ViewDelivery Man  (2013)  PG-13 David (Vince Vaughn) basically skates through life, making almost no effort in his relationship with his girlfriend (Cobie Smulders) or at his family owned business. This all changes when David is told that, through a mistake at a fertility clinic, he has fathered more than 500 children. Now more than 100 of his kids are suing to find out who is their real father. How can a man who has escaped responsibility his whole life be a father to so many children?  This film is a remake of the French-Canadian film Starbuck, which I really liked last year.  The problem with this film is it is exactly like Starbuck, except shot in English.  Most of the scenes in this film match the earlier film shot for shot.  The big difference is the casting.  I like the casting in the Starbuck film much more than in the American film.  The lead in Starbuck was much more of a sad-sack looking guy, while Vince Vaughn looks too much like his role in Swingers.  The woman who played his girlfriend in Starbuck looked like she could beat him up, where I just don’t believe Cobie as a cop (and yes, I know she is an agent of Shield in the Marvel world, but she just looks out of place in a cop uniform).  The film absolutely brings nothing new to the screen, so if you want to see this film, rent Starbuck and skip the theatre  My Rating:  Cable  Delivery Man Website
Indiefest: The Book Thief (2013)  PG-13  Liesel (Sophie Nelisse) is handed over, by her mother, to a foster family in pre-World War II Nazi Germany. Liesel tries to fit in with her foster parents, the kind-hearted Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and the strict Rosa (Emily Watson). Soon, a new houseguest arrives, a Jewish refugee (Ben Schnetzer) whom the family must hide from the authorities, as his very presence threatens Liesel’s new family.  Fans of the bestselling book may be slightly upset at some of the changes the film makes from the book, but the heart and message of the book are still there, inside the film.  It’s an inspiring story of the power of words, and the movie is expertly cast. Nelisse is spot on playing Liesel, a girl who is trying to overcome so much with the help of her adopted family.  Geoffrey Rush gives one of his better performances as the kind-hearted Hans.  The film can be tough at times to watch as it is about the Holocaust, but ultimately, it’s inspiring.  My Rating:  Full Price   The Book Thief Website
IndiefestKill Your Darlings (2013)  In 1944, Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) enrolls in Columbia University to become a poet in the big city of New York. He soon encounters Lucien (Dane DeHaan) a ringleader of the ragtag group of writers, including William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), who are bent on changing the world, one word at a time.  This is a film about the origins of the “Beat Generation” of writers.  I especially like Radcliffe in the lead role of Allen Ginsberg.  He plays Ginsberg as a young man who is in search to find his voice and to come to terms with his sexuality.  Foster, as the weird and eccentric Burroughs, is perfect in the role and Michael C. Hall, who plays the key part of a former lover of Lucien, is his usual creepy self.  The film is an interesting look at a time that the world was at war, and it’s young generation was trying to find a way to express themselves.   My Rating:  Full Price  Kill Your Darlings Website
Forgotten Film:  What’s Up, Tiger Lily?  (1966)  PG   Before there was Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and Rifftrax, there was Woody Allen, who took making fun of bad movies to new heights.  Allen bought a Japanese action film titled “International Secret Police: Key of Keys” , took out the dialogue track and redubbed with English speaking voices, using a script that isn’t even close to the original plot.  Not all the jokes work, but there are so many of them, that it’s just a fun film to watch.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   What's Up, Tiger Lily? Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray):  The World’s End (2013)  R   loved this film from the makers of Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007).  Five friends decide to reunite to relive a pub-crawl, and things start going very badly from almost the beginning.  This is one of those films you will have to see twice since you will be laughing and not hear all the lines.  My Rating: Full Price  The World's End Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire:   Ethnic Flute

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouMandela: Long Walk to Freedom  (2013) PG-13  This should be a sure thing Oscar nomination for Idris Elba in the lead role.  This film has been ten years in the making about the legendary South African Nelson Mandela.  Mandela:The Long Walk Home Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Best Man Holiday

My ViewThe Best Man Holiday (2013)  R When old college friends get together for the Christmas holidays, they find out just how easy it is to pick right back up where they left off, which is good in the romance department but not so much when dealing with a rival.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first film in the series, The Best Man, and while this film isn’t as good as the first one, it’s still a fun movie with a great message about love and family.  It’s fun to watch a film where it's evident the cast really enjoys working together.  Taye Diggs and Regina Hall stand out in this ensemble piece that is both funny and touching.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  The Best Man Holiday Website

IndiefestDallas Buyers Club (2013)   A Texas electrician / part-time cowboy named, Ron (Matthew McConaughey), is diagnosed in 1986 as HIV-positive.  When told he has only 30 days to live, he researches and discovers that there are experimental drugs in Mexico and overseas for treating AIDS, but these drugs are not allowed in this country.  Ron figures out a way to get the drugs and help other HIV-Positive patients live longer.  McConaughey is amazing in this film and brings a multi-layered performance to the screen that only he can.  Jared Leto is also outstanding as a transvestite who is, at first, Ron’s contact to the gay lifestyle, but later becomes one of his best friends.  This is a moving and powerful film about overcoming obstacles and working against odds to triumph in life as a better person.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again  Dallas Buyers Club Website 

Forgotten FilmDark Star  (1974)  This John Carpenter directed black comedy was a student film at one time that became a feature film.  It’s the story of a group of astronauts who are in charge of blowing up unstable planets so that their star systems can be colonized.  The mission starts to go wrong, and just about everything that can happen badly, does, including a “smart bomb” that goes rogue and thinks that it’s God.  This is a crazy, strange film that shows even though you may have a small budget, you can still make well done, interesting movie.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Dark Star Info

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)Endless Love (2014) Remake of the 1981 stinker of the same name that starred Brooke Shields.  The 1981 film made my “Bottom 50 Bad Films of All-time” list, so I guess I should hold a spot for this one.  Endless Love Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray)Man of Steel (2013)  PG-13  I thought this retelling of the Superman story was overly long with a closing fight scene that destroys New York and goes on forever.  It’s not a bad movie but not a really good one either.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Man of Steel Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Best Man Holiday:  Buffalo stunt

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouDelivery Man (2013)  Ken Scott co-wrote and directed the French-Canadian film Starbuck (2011), which I really enjoyed.  He is now bringing the same film to American audiences with Vince Vaughn starring as the underachiever who finds out that through a mistake at a sperm bank, he has fathered over 500 kids.   Delivery Man Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thor: The Dark World

My ViewThor: The Dark World   (2013)  PG-13   Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must team up with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), to take on the Dark Elves who threaten everything that Thor loves, including Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).  I enjoyed this film, especially the scenes with Loki as they added quite a bit of humor.  Hemsworth is becoming a really fine action star and is very believable as the almost invincible Thor.  There is great chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman, that makes their scenes work extremely well.  There are some great action sequences in this film, and it is a fun ride to watch.  I did feel that the first half of the film was a little slow, too much setting up of the storyline, but as the film moved along, it picked up its pace.  Be sure and stay through all the credits as there are bonus scenes.  My Rating:  Full Price  Thor: The Dark World Website
Forgotten Film The Secret Garden (1993)  G  A young British girl, Mary (Kate Maberly), has lost her parents due to an earthquake in India.  She goes to live with her uncle in England, a widower  who lives on a neglected estate in the country.  She discovers a garden that has been forgotten on the estate, and, with the help of a servant's son, she starts restoring the garden to its former glory.  This is a beautiful and magical film about love and finding a purpose in your life.  Kate Maberly perfectly captures the innocence of a child, someone who can only find the good in every person that she meets.  The cinematography gives the film a special feel, which makes this movie work on every level.  My Rating:  Full Price The Secret Garden Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): 47 Ronin  (2013)  PG-13  Keanu Reeves as a samurai is bad enough, but the film went way over budget, the studio took over the edit of the film and they keep moving the release date, which tells me that this film will be a stinker.  47 Ronin Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD Blu-Ray)Monsters University  (2013)  G  I liked this film but felt that it didn’t meet the standards of the first film or of Pixar’s other films. While I found the film enjoyable, it brought nothing new to the story-line.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Monsters University Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Thor: The Dark World:  Crowd hairdresser

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouSaving Mr. Banks  (2013) PG-13  Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney in this story of how the 1964 film Mary Poppins was made.  Emma Thompson plays the author P.L. Travers, who fights with Disney on how Mary should be portrayed on film. Saving Mr. Banks Website 
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 1, 2013

About Time

My View:  About Time (2013)  R  When Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) turns 21, he discovers that the men in his family can travel in time and gain the ability to change what has happened to them in the past.  He then meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and is determined to do anything in his power to make her his girlfriend.  The surprising thing about this film is that while it has aspects of a romantic comedy, it's more about the love of family and the small choices you make in your day that can enrich your life.  Gleeson and McAdams have excellent chemistry, and you can see early on in the film why they are attracted to each other.  The more significant relationship in the film isn't between Gleeson and McAdams, but Gleeson and Bill Nighy, who plays Gleeson's dad.  When the dad reveals the time travel aspect of their life, he uses it to teach his son how to be a better husband and man.  This is a warm, touching film that fans of director / writer Richard Curtis (Love Actually) will enjoy and savor for years to come.  My Rating:  Full Price  About Time Website
My View:  All Is Lost  (2013)   PG-13  On a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean, a man (Robert Redford) finds that during the night, his 39-foot yacht has collided with a shipping container floating in the sea.  The man makes a desperate attempt at repairing his boat before it takes on too much water. If he doesn’t make the repairs in time, he could be in left in the middle of the ocean with little or no hope of being rescued.  In a tour de force performance, Robert Redford is impressive in the role of a lifetime, a man who must overcome odds just to survive on the high seas.  Redford has rarely been better, and the film does a masterful job of creating tension out of the little things that he must overcome, like trying to figure out how to repair his two way radio.  The film keeps a satisfying pace and never gets boring, even though there is almost no dialogue. This is a film that truly inspires as it shows the travails of a man battling the elements and at times, himself, surmounting incredible odds by just having faith and trusting in his instincts.  My Rating:  Full Price   All Is Lost Website

Indiefest:  Let the Fire Burn (2013)  In 1985, the Philadelphia police lay siege to a building occupied by a radical group known as Move. By the end of the siege, the police have dropped, via helicopter, two pounds of explosives on the building which results in a fire that kills five adults, six children and wipes out sixty houses in the area.  This is a fascinating documentary that doesn't take sides - it shows you when people don't communicate, things can quickly unravel and create confrontations that have disastrous results.  Using Television footage from the siege and from the governmental hearings held later, the film gives insight into a horrible day in Philadelphia history.   My Rating: Full Price  Let the Fire Burn Website
Forgotten Film:  The Straight Story (1999)  G  This film tells the true story of Alvin (Richard Farnsworth) who lives on the family farm with his daughter, Rose (Sissy Spacek).  Alvin is in poor health and knows he doesn't have much time.  Not having a driver's license, he decides to get on his riding lawnmower and travel from Wisconsin to Iowa to see his ailing brother.  This could have been an incredibly sappy film, but under the skillful touch of director David Lynch and the brilliant acting of Richard Farnsworth, this becomes one of the best, most moving films of the 1990's.  Farnsworth is perfect in the role of the tough, grizzled old man who wants to make one last journey on his own terms.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again  The Straight Story Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-Ray):  R.I.P.D.  (2013) PG-13   One of the worst films of this year.  Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges are supernatural cops in a film that was so bad I looked at my watch thirty minutes into the film, thinking it had been going on for two hours.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  R.I.P.D. Website  

Weird Credits:  From the credits of About Time:  Clapper Loader

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Nebraska  (2013)  R  One of the best films that I saw at this year's Austin Film Festival.  Alexander Payne directs this moving film about a son (Will Forte) who is desperate to reconnect with his father (Bruce Dern).  They travel across four states on a quest to turn in what the father thinks is a winning million dollar sweepstakes ticket.  Nebraska Info
Until Next Time!