Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Wolverine

My View:  The Wolverine  (2013)  PG-13  Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) realizes that everyone he has ever loved has died. After being summoned to Japan by an old friend whose life he once saved, he will have to face his demons and decide if he really wants to continue being The Wolverine.  Jackman is back for his six appearance as the man with the bad attitude and  even badder sideburns.  This film has much more substance behind it than 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  In this film, Wolverine is pining for Jean Gray (Famke Janssen), his one true love, feeling guilty that in order to stop her from killing innocent people, he had to destroy her. Now, Wolverine is given a choice by his old friend, he can go on living an immortal life as the Wolverine or he can choose to become mortal.  There are some really marvelous action sequences and Jackman, as usual, gives the part his all. Overall, I enjoyed this film, though I was slightly disappointed by the final battle sequence as it seemed just too contrived.  The film was not shot in 3-D, so don't spend the extra bucks.  Be sure and stay through the first part of the credits, as there is a really cool bonus scene.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    The Wolverine Website
 Indiefest:  I'm So Excited  (2013) R   On a flight from Spain to Mexico City, a plane full of passengers must confront their fears and evaluate their lives when they find out the plane landing gear is damaged, and they may die. This isn’t your ordinary flight as flight attendants, Ulloa, Fajardo and Joserra perform a Pointer Sisters song, and the drinks are flowing in First Class. Forget the passengers in Coach - they've all been drugged to sleep…by the flight attendants.  Writer/director Pedro Almodovar is one of the most admired filmmakers out there with such fantastic films as, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990), Volver (2006) and one of my top films of 2011, The Skin I Live In.  So, when he comes out with a new movie, you want to experience the weird, wonderful worlds that he creates. Unfortunately, you won't want to see his latest, I'm So Excited, a comedy whose funny moments are few and far between.  The film is defiantly in the absurdist vein, so much so that I had a really hard time coming up with a way to describe what happens in the film. Passengers and crew are drinking like there is no tomorrow, and inhibitions go out the window.  A virgin mid-thirties woman has sex with a man while he is asleep.  A flight attendant drinks so much that he starts blabbing about everyone's secrets.  The film just seems to be one long, bad improv skit that never delivers the laughs it needs. There are some fun cameos of past Amodovar stars at the start of the movie, but the film goes down from there and never takes flight.  My Rating:  Cable    I'm So Excited Website
Indiefest:  Only God Forgives  (2013)  R  Julian (Ryan Gosling) is a drug trafficker in Bangkok who has a kickboxing gym as a cover.  When his brother is murdered, his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), a drug lord, shows up and demands that Julian find who is responsible for the death of his brother and take revenge.  The problem - the man who indicted the murder is a sword-wielding police detective who delivers justice on his own terms.  Nicolas Winding Refn wrote and directed this film as the follow-up to his 2011 sleeper hit, Drive, that made Gosling an action star.  Unlike Drive, this film never finds what kind of movie it wants to be: an Asian exploration film or a Hollywood film noir, with it failing at both.  Gosling sleepwalks through his performance, never showing us the fire or spark that he showed in Drive, and Kristin Scott Thomas' performance as the mother bent on revenge is so over the top, it's almost campy.  This film is boring, confusing, ultra -violent and seems much longer than its 90-minute run time.  My recommendation is don't "Drive" your love ones to the theatre to see this one or you will be asking them for forgiveness.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again    Only God Forgives Facebook Page
The 50 (A Movie from My Best/Worst Film of All Time)
#5 Worst Film
Glen or Glenda  (1953)    Another gem directed by the king of bad movies, Ed Wood, Jr..  What makes this film unique is not only did Mr. Wood write and direct the film, he also starred in it as Glenn/Glenda, a man who wants nothing more than to slip in something comfortable, preferably in a woman's dress.  An angora sweater becomes a key part of the plot, so you know this is a serious movie. This film has everything you could ask for: a confusing plot, a pseudo-hermaphrodite (look it up), flashbacks that are within flashbacks and former Dracula star, Bela Lugosi, playing a scientist who utters the line, "Beware of big green dragons that sit on your doorstep."  I think that quote just about sums it up.    Glen or Glenda Info


Forgotten Film:  The Brother From Another Planet  (1984)  R  Directed by John Sales, this comedy is about an alien who crashes his spaceship in the harbor of upper New York.  "The Brother" (Joe Morton) soon finds himself in Harlem, where he must learn to survive very quickly.  The Brother is mute, and he struggles to understand his new surroundings, but as he encounters more and more of the citizens of New York, he is able not only to survive, but to impact the people whom he meets.  Morton, playing "The Brother," is amazing in the role and gives a subtle performance that makes you want to root for the alien in his quest to fit in.  This is a funny film that finds ways to explore the idea that how we treat strangers is a reflection on how we see ourselves.  My only quibble with this film is the ending which becomes slightly confusing to figure out.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Brother From Another Planet Info


In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  We're the Millers (2013)   A pot dealer (Jason Sudeikis) owes a mob boss a favor and agrees to smuggle in a load of weed from Mexico.  To create a cover story, he hires a stripper (Jennifer Aniston), a runaway (Emma Roberts) and a neighborhood kid (Will Poulter) to pose as his family on a vacation trip in a motor home.  I'm not sure seeing Jennifer Aniston strip is enough of an incitement to see what looks like a very unfunny film.  We're The Millers Website


In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  42  (2013)  PG-13  I felt that this was an earnest attempt to tell the courageous story of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's "color line" but that the film fell short due to the lack of charisma that Chadwick Boseman displayed as the title character.  I also felt that many of the scenes seem clich├ęd and forced.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    42 Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Wolverine (2013):  Hair Punching

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)   Forest Whitaker stars as Cecil Gaines, who served as the White House head butler from 1952 till 1986.  The film has a "who's who" of actors including, John Cusack, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, Alan Rickman, Vanessa Redgrave and a rare feature film appearance by Oprah Winfrey.   Lee Daniels' The Butler Website
Until Next Time!



Friday, July 19, 2013

Turbo

Family FaireTurbo (2013)  PG   Theo (Ryan Reynolds) dreams of being the best race car driver in the world, just like his hero, five-time Indianapolis 500 champ Guy Gagne. There is just one problem Theo is an ordinary garden snail. Theo’s life changes when, by accident, he gets sucked into the supercharger of a drag racer and his DNA mixes with nitrous oxide, which results in a snail with super speed. Now, Theo can live up to his nickname, Turbo, and make his dreams come alive.  This is a movie that kids will love since it's is filled with bright colors, lots of movement and likeable characters. Adults may find the storyline a little too simplistic and not engaging.  The story drags in places , and it seemed to move at a snail’s pace, taking forever to get to the Indy 500. Ryan Reynolds doesn’t bring a lot to the character of Turbo , but I did enjoy Samuel L. Jackson as the racing snail, Whiplash and Paul Giamatti as Turbo’s reluctant and always cautious, Chet.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Turbo Website
                                                            
My ViewRed 2  (2013)  PG-13   Your favorite retired black-ops are back. Frank (Bruce Willis) is just trying to fit in and live the normal life with his girlfriend, Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) when he is notified by Victoria (Helen Mirren) that Interpol is on the hunt for him. To clear his name, he gets the gang back together on a quest to hunt down a missing portable nuclear device.  I really enjoyed the first film, Red (2010), but this one wasn’t as much fun. In the first film, we didn’t know any of the characters, so some of the joy of the film was getting to know their quirks and their specialties. Also, the first film seems much more tongue-in-cheek.  It's a fun film, and, any time you get to see Helen Mirren shoot a big gun, it’s a win. The film has lots of huge explosions, shoot outs and some really cool fight sequences with a new member of the team, Korean martial artist, Byung-hun Lee. I will say I missed Ernest Borgnine, who sadly died before this film was made.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    Red 2 Website


My ViewThe Conjuring  (2013)  R   The Perron family (Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston) is being terrorized by a mysterious presence in their old family farmhouse, so they bring in Paranormal Investigators, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) to get rid of the entity. This case may be bigger, though, than anyone ever thought.  This is a damn scary film that is firmly situated in the true horror genre. It takes a while for things to really start happening, but once they do, watch out because there are a lot of things that go bump in the night. The dialogue is a little clunky and occasionally funny as the film is set in the early 1970’s. Overall, this is a scary film that delivers truly frightful, intense scenes. The film does ask you to believe that the Paranormal Investigators are the real deal, but it’s just a little price to pay for such a fun ride.   My Rating: Full Price    The Conjuring Website


My ViewR.I.P.D.  (2013)  PG-13  Detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is killed in a shootout and discovers that there is a whole other dimension inhabited by the spirit world. Now Nick works for the R.I.P.D – the Rest in Peace Department, the police force of the undead. Partnered with Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), Nick has to stop evil spirits from taking over the living world.  This film went downhill almost from the start as a chase scene goes on with some of the worst CGI special effects that I have ever seen.  Every one of the characters in this film seemed be inspired by 1950’s cartoons, and bad ones at that.  Bridges performance is especially disappointing as he has decided to go over the top with his cowboy accent and bigger than life facial expressions.  Reynolds looks as if he wishes he was in another movie and the usually reliable Kevin Bacon, playing Nick’s best friend, just never connects with his character or the audience. Thirty minutes into this film, I was looking at my watch, hoping that this film was almost done.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   R.I.P.D. Website


IndiefestFruitvale Station  (2013) This is the true story of the last day in the life of Oscar (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year old man who was killed by transit cops in the Bay area of California one New Year’s morning. This film will make you angry and sad at the same time.  The cast is astonishing, led by Jordan’s breathtaking performance as Oscar. The film was shot in documentary style at most of the actual locations, which allows you to get inside the world of Oscar. The film is heartbreaking from the beginning where we see the actual camera phone footage of Oscar’s death. This is one of those films you will walk out of and immediately start talking about it. This is one of my must see smaller films of the summer, and you shouldn't miss it.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Fruitvale Station Website


IndiefestCrystal Fairy  (2013) Jamie (Michael Cera) and his friends are traveling through Chile when they encounter a woman (Gaby Hoffmann) who calls herself, Crystal Fairy. The gang, with Crystal in tow, embark on a quest to find a psychotropic cactus that they plan on eating while on a beach. It’s a trip they never will forget. Cera’s character, Jamie, is extremely unlikeable as he is all about his needs and wishes and doesn't  about other people.  Cera definitely does a good job projecting that selfish attitude. Hoffman is the main reason to see this film, though, as she is perfect in the role of the always talking, sometimes maddening, self-proclaimed Crystal Fairy. This film doesn’t quite hit the mark, but the performances are worthy, just as long as you don’t partake of the psychotropic cactus.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Crystal Fairy Info


Forgotten FilmTumbleweeds  (1999)   PG-13   Mary Jo Walker (Janet McTeer) is a single mother who usually picks the wrong man to get involved with. When things get messy, Mary Jo’s instinct is to run. Ava (Kimberly J. Brown) is her long suffering daughter who has gotten used to moving to new towns and starting life over. When Mary Jo once again gets involved with the wrong man, Ava, must take a stand and get her mother to face her fears. This is a moving drama that relies on the great chemistry between McTeer and Brown. Mary Jo is one of those characters whom you just wish would grow up a little, especially since her bad decisions affect her daughter so deeply. This is an interesting, smart film with excellent performances.  My Rating:  Full Price    Tumbleweeds Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Red 2:  Origami services provided by


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouPrince Avalanche  (2013) Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch star in this film about two highway road workers who, while working in an isolated area, talk about their life and loves. The trailer is very funny, and the film is directed by David Gordon Green, who gave us Pineapple Express (2008).   Prince Avalanche Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Pacific Rim


My View:  Pacific Rim  (2013)  PG-13   In the near future, giant monsters, named, “Kaiju,” have risen from a crevasse beneath the Pacific Ocean and are causing overwhelming destruction to the world. The only hope for Earth is a new type of weapon, a gigantic robot known as Jaegers, driven by two human pilots. The Jaegers are man’s last, best hope, but will they be enough to ensure the survival of the human race?  This is director Guillermo del Toro’s homage to the Japanese monster films of the past.  The film has elements from the Godzilla movies of the 60’s-70’s,  Real Steel (2011), Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, with just a tip of the hat to Ray Harryhausen and his 1955 film, It Came from Beneath the Sea.  The reason you'll want to see this film are the battle sequences between the Jaegers and the Kaiju as they are spectacular and fun to watch.  The CGI special effects are amazing and make the film worth seeing in 3-D.  The film, though, is a let-down with its weak characters.  The main protagonist, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), is to simple and one-sided, and we never really get behind the man and see why he is so driven to defeat the Kaiju. Most of the characters are somewhat uninteresting to the point that I almost wanted the film to be only about the two scientists played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman.  Their constant battle of opposing ideas and trying to be the center of attention gives the film much needed energy and life to the script. I did enjoy that a female in the cast, Rinko Kikuchi, who plays Mako, gets to kick some serious monster butt.  Moviegoers though, don’t see this type of film for its dialogue or award winning acting; audiences go to see big, giant robots fight hand-to-hand combat with gigantic monsters.  If you're a monster lover, this film has plenty to go around.  Be sure and stay through the first part of the closing credits as there is a great bonus scene.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee     Pacific Rim Website

My View:    Grown Ups 2 (2013)  PG-13   Three years after reuniting with his old high school friends, Lenny (Adam Sandler) has relocated his family back to his hometown. Things are not quite working out as well as Lenny had hoped as the past is not easily escaped, especially if your friends are some of the root of your problems.  I would like back my three hours I spent watching this film.  I realize that the film is only 91 minutes long, but I would like double time for the pain this film put me through.  The film has a paper thin slice of a plot, comprised mostly of scenes with Sandler and his gang of Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade making fun of each other like 12 year-old boys. The first scene shows you the level of the film's humor as a deer has made its way into the house and pees on Sandler in his bedroom.  It just goes downhill from there.  There are lots of cameos in this film, and so many, it seems, that if you've shared a beer with Sandler in the last few years, you were cast in this film.  It’s a sad state of affairs when one of those cameos is the highlight of the movie.  Taylor Lautner is the funniest person in the film, playing a frat boy who terrorizes the gang.  Unfortunately, it’s not a big part.  If you liked the first Grown Ups, you'll probably find a few chuckles in this one.  But if you didn’t like the first film, stay far, far away from Grown Ups 2.   My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again     Grown Ups 2 Website

Indiefest:  The Way, Way Back  (2013)  PG-13  Duncan (Liam James) is not having the best of summers. Instead of spending his summer vacation with his father in California, he is forced to spend it with his mom (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend (Steve Carell) at his summer beach house. When Duncan discovers a water park, called Water Wizz, that’s when he meets Owen (Sam Rockwell), the manager, and Duncan’s summer finally starts to get a little better. This is one of my must-see films of the summer!  James plays Duncan’s shyness and awkwardness to perfection and Rockwell, in a role reminiscent of Bill Murray in the 1978 film Meatballs, just nails the part of Owen, the carefree water park manager.  The supporting cast is impressive and funny, though I think Carell’s talents are wasted as the strict, unmoving boyfriend of Toni Collette’s character.  This film is funny, touching and has a heart as big as the monster slide in the  park.  Don’t miss this perfect summer film.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again     The Way, Way Back Website

Forgotten Film:   Ace in the Hole  (1954)  A journalist, Charles Tatum (Kirk Douglas), who is stuck in a small town market in the West, discovers a story of a lifetime - a man is trapped in a cave.  A major operation begins to save the man, and Tatum is willing to do just about anything to prolong the rescue just so he can pump up his bylines.  It looks like a journalism slam dunk until things start to go horribly wrong.   Billy Wilder directed and co-wrote the script, which is full of rapid fire dialogue and biting commentary.  Douglas is picture perfect as the fast talking reporter who smells a story he can exploit.  This is a film that is still relevant today with its plot on how media can exploit a story for their own purpose.   My Rating:  Full Price    Ace in the Hole Info

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  The Canyons  (2013)  This film, starring Lindsay Lohan, was rejected by both the Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest.  Lohan’s co-star is a porn actress who goes by the name of James Deen.  I think that sums up the movie.     The Canyons Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  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.  While it's not a great movie, I did enjoy the excellent supporting cast that includes William Hurt and Frances Fisher.  The film isn’t cringe-worth like Twilight and just doesn’t quite hit the mark.   My Review:  Bargain Matinee    The Host Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Grown Ups 2:  Pool Boy


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Elysium (2013)    Set in the year 2154, the Earth has been separated between the haves and the have-nots, with the wealthy living in a man-made space station while the rest of the population lives on the overpopulated home planet.  Now a revolution has started that could bring equality or it could destroy both worlds.  Matt Damon and Jodie foster star in this film directed by Neill Blomkamp who brought us 2009’s distinctive hit District 9.   Elysium Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, July 5, 2013

Despicable Me 2

Family Faire:  Despicable Me 2 (2013)  PG   Gru (Steve Carell), his adoptive girls (Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Kate Fisher, Diana Gaier) and the Minions are back! This time, Gru has tried to settle into a life of raising kids and staying out of trouble. Trouble, though, inevitably always finds Gru, and The Anti-Villain League recruits him to find a new super-criminal who has stolen a secret formula. Gru must now go undercover, with the help of AVL agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and work at a place in his worst nightmares, the local mall.  I enjoyed this film much more than the first Despicable Me mostly because it features the Minions more.  This is a funny, imaginative film that delights from start to finish.  It is worth seeing in 3-D, and the film moves at a fast, clever pace that both children and adults will enjoy.  Be sure to stay through the first part of the credits as there is a bonus scene with more Minion goodness.   My Rating:  Full Price    Despicable Me 2 Website
My View:  The Lone Ranger (2013)  PG-13  Tonto (Johnny Depp) tells the story of a man who started out as lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man who favored the law over a gun. But the West is a tough place and to save his brother’s family, John had to turn into the man with the white hat and the black mask.  He had to become The Lone Ranger.  I enjoyed the first 30 minutes of this film as it was funny and moved at a quick pace.  Then the movie bogged down in trying to top itself with massive explosions and unimaginative stunts. And why does a western feel the need to have massive explosions and stunts for almost two and half hours? The film can never decide if it is a film for kids (it's not, even though it's being released under the Disney label) or adults, and it mixes things such as a violent shootout where numerous lives are lost, with a humorous scene involving the Lone Ranger's horse, Silver. Depp is the star of the film as Hammer can't keep up with the more experienced actor.  But, I think fans of Depp will be disappointed as he delivers most of his lines in a deadpan manner. The film is too long, never captures the audience's imagination, and the last big chase scene is entirely too confusing to make any sense. It's a sad state of affairs when I enjoy the performance of a horse more than the actors. By the way, there is a bonus scene during the credits, but like most of this film, it doesn't go anywhere and is not worth staying for.  My Rating:  Cable     The Lone Ranger Website
Indiefest:  20 Feet from Stardom  (2013)  PG-13  The film highlights one of the most unappreciated jobs in the world, the world of the backup singer. The spotlight is placed on singers Merry Clayton, Lisa Fisher and Darlene Love – whom you know only by their voices.  This fascinating film is a must-see for fans of rock music of the 60's and 70's as it gives behind-the-scenes stories and footage of some of the greatest musical performances of that era, including concerts by such artists as Sting, The Talking Heads, The Rolling Stones and Joe Cocker. There is also some amazing television footage of performances by Lynryd Skynrd, Ray Charles, Ike and Tina Turner and David Bowie. Music is the key to this film, and it is an enjoyable experience to see how much these singers love what they do. In addition to getting a glimpse into the world of  a back-up singer’s lifestyle, you get to experience their passion, and how hard these singers work, often in the shadows with very little recognition.   My Rating:  Full Price   For My In-Depth Review of the Film Click Here    20 Feet from Stardom Website    
Indiefest:  Unfinished Song  (2013)  PG-13  Arthur (Terence Stamp) is a grumpy husband who barely tolerates his wife’s (Vanessa Redgrave) love for singing in the community center’s choir. Arthur’s world is about to change when the head volunteer of the choir, a young woman named, Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton), decides to enter the choir, made up of senior citizens, in a national competition.  This is a heart-warming film with a winning performance by Stamp.  The film is at its best when the choir start singing the latest hip-hop and heavy metal hits. Arterton does a terrific job as the choir leader who becomes a friend to Arthur and gets him to come out of his grumpy shell.   My Rating:  Full Price   Unfinished Song Info
Forgotten Film:  Silent Running (1972)  PG  In the future, due to overbuilding and overcrowding, the Earth has put all it's remaining flora on gigantic pods contacted to a space ship.  Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) enjoys his time on the ship, caring for the ecosystems like they are his own family.  But, when word comes that the pods that contain the ecosystems are to be jettisoned, and the ship is to return to Earth, Freeman must choose between the lives of his fellow crewmen and the ecosystems that he loves.  Dern gives a moving performance in this film, and, while the "hippy, earth first" theme is a little heavy handed, it's still a surprising and enjoyable film to watch.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    Silent Running Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)   I hated this film as I felt it didn't live up to the Die Hard franchise. The plot is horrible, and the film is so poorly constructed that when you get to the end, you have no idea how you got there.  Stay away from this film filled with "Daddy issues".   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again    A Good Day to Die Hard Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Lone Ranger:  Facial hair and hair goods

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You:  Red 2 (2013)  PG-13  The retired black-op CIA agents are back, and this time they are looking for a missing portable nuclear bomb.  The cast is why we should be excited to see this film with Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker.  And, they have added Catherine Zeta-Jones to the cast as a former lover of Willis.  Can't wait for this one!    Red 2 Website

Until Next Time!