Friday, October 25, 2013

The Counselor

My View:  The Counselor  (2013) R  Michael Fassbender plays a greedy lawyer, only known as The Counselor, who becomes involved with the seedy world of drug trafficking.  With a cast to-die-for - Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt, this should have been an amazing movie- going experience.  Instead, after watching this film, you feel as though you just sat through a college philosophy class.  The dialogue is so dense and abstract that it would have been better suited for a book, not a film.  There is a reason for this - novelist Cormac McCarthy wrote the script, and it feels like it.  The film is also hard to follow with a plot that is never fully explained.  To make maters worse, some of the hair and makeup on the cast is so extreme, I found myself fixating on Javier Bardem's hair (which I think was a tribute to those 80's films that Robert Downey, Jr. did) or Cameron Diaz's eye makeup, that it took away from my paying attention to what those characters where saying.  The film is painfully slow, though it does pick up somewhat in the second half of the film, but, at that point, I just wanted it to end as I didn't care what happened to any of the characters.   My Rating:  Cable  The Counselor Website       

The 50 (A Movie from My Best/Worst Film of All Time)
#4 Worst Film:
Mac and Me  (1988)  PG  A blatant rip-off of E.T. in which a young, wheelchair-bound boy befriends a “Mysterious Alien Creature” (MAC, get it?).  This film is one long marketing tool for products as Coca Cola and McDonalds.  At one point, there is a dancing scene involving Mac dressed as a teddy bear, a football team and Ronald McDonald (listed in the credits as Himself).  To quote an old McDonalds ad, “You deserve a break today," so don’t ever see this film.  Mac and Me Info
Forgotten Film:    Wish You Were Here  (1987)  R  Lynda (Emily Lloyd) is a spunky sixteen year old girl who lives in a small coastline town in England in the 1950s   Lynda loves shocking people with her saucy language and feisty attitude.  She is easily bored, goes from job to job and boyfriend to boyfriend and has problems with her widower father.  Her world changes when she has an affair with an older man and must cope with getting pregnant and having a baby.  Emily Lloyd gives a brilliant performance and wins us over from the first time she appears on camera.  Full of life, Lloyd just dazzles on-screen.  The film is very often funny but also has a bittersweet side to it.  My Rating:  Full Price  Wish You Were Here Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): The Amityville Horror: The Awakening (2014)  When is Hollywood going to wise up and realize that we want intelligent, creative, scary films like this year's The Conjuring, and not a retread or rip-off of past films like this one?  The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  The Internship (2013) PG-13   This rarely funny comedy is about two out-of-work salesmen (Vince Vaughn / Owen Wilson)  who are hired as interns at Google.  The film is one long infomercial with one-dimensional characters and very predictable scenes.  My Rating:  Cable  The Internshiip Website  

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Counselor:  Cheetah handler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Dallas Buyers Club (2013) R   The year of Matthew McConaughey continues as he portrays a Texas electrician / part-time cowboy named, Ron, who is diagnosed in 1986 as HIV-positive.  When told he has only 30 days to live, he does research and discovers that there are experimental drugs for treating AIDS in Mexico and overseas but are not allowed in this country.  He figures out a way to get the drugs and help other HIV-Positive patients live longer.   Dallas Buyers Club Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 18, 2013


My ViewCarrie  (2013)  R  Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a shy girl who is made fun of at her high school.  Her home life isn’t any better as her life is run by her deeply religious mother (Julianne More).  Carrie soon learns that she has telekinetic powers, powers that she may use to get revenge on everyone who has made her life a living hell.  When a remake is done, new ideas and scenes must be developed to make the current film stand out from the original.  Unfortunately, this film brings nothing new to the subject and has a number of weak points.  I love Chloe Moretz, and I feel she is one of the best young actresses out there, but she is just too good looking to play the part of the isolated, quirky and disliked Carrie.  Moretz tried to cover her appearance with no makeup, tangled hair and slumped shoulders, but she is still beautiful on-screen.  When Sissy Spacek put on the prom dress in the original, she came across as kind of cute but still quirky.  When Moretz puts on the prom dress, she is gorgeous.   I did like the destruction of the prom sequence, but the rest of the film felt as though it was just a retelling of the original and not something new to watch.  Also, one of the great things about the original 1976 film was the supporting cast, filled with stars of the future like Nancy Allen, P.J.Soles, Amy Irving, William Katt and especially, John Travolta.  There isn’t anyone, other than Gabriella Wilde, who plays Sue, the good girl of the bunch, that stood out.  I was also disappointed in the performance of Julianne Moore, who didn’t bring a lot to a role that Piper Laurie played so well in the original.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Carrie Website

My View12 Years a Slave  (2013)  R   Based on a true story, this film is about Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free Black man living in upstate New York with his wife and child in the year 1841.  On a business trip, he is kidnapped and sold into slavery.  His life is filled with misery and hard work as he is shipped from plantation to plantation in Louisiana at the mercy and whim of the plantation owners. This is an incredibly moving film with some of the best performances of the year, including Ejiofor, who plays the lead of Solomon.  What I really liked about this film is that it took its time at the beginning, so that we could get to know Solomon and his family, which makes it much more heartbreaking when he is wrongfully taken from his family and put into slavery.  Michael Fassbender gives a fascinating performance as the sick and tortured plantation owner, Epps.  Lupita Nyong’o is astonishing as the defiant slave Patsey, who would rather die than keep living under the conditions of the plantation.  Ejiofor is the heart and soul of this film, and he has us in the palm of his hand with one of the best performances of the year. This is a film that you may only see once, as it is hits you to the core, but it’s an experience you will never forget.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   12 Years a Slave Website

IndiefestA.C.O.D.  (2013)  R  Carter (Adam Scott) finds out that he was an unknowing participant in a study about children of divorce when he was younger, and now the study wants a follow-up.  When Carter’s younger brother (Clark Duke) decides to get married, Carter must get his long divorced parents (Catherine O’Hara, Richard Jenkins) to not only attend the wedding, but also not wreck it with their bickering.  This film has a great cast, which makes it more disappointing to watch as it never finds its comedic voice.  I liked Adam Scott in the sort of everyman role who attempts to deal with his crazy family.  Richard Jenkins steals every scene he is in with an over-the-top performance that is a joy to watch. The film doesn’t give the rest of the cast much to do other than scream at each other, and the second half the film just gets silly and unbelievable.  This should have been a fun film to watch, but it comes off boring and unfunny.  My Rating:  Cable   A.C.O.D. Website

My ViewEscape Plan  (2013)    A world renown security expert (Sylvester Stallone) is asked to test the world’s most secure prison from the inside, as a prisoner.  Now he realizes that he was set up and must gain the help of one of the prison's most notorious criminals (Arnold Schwarzenegger) for help to escape.  When is an action film not an action film?  When your two stars are getting up there in age and can’t handle a full-fledged action film.  The film can’t decide if it wants to be a drama, an action film or a snarky comedy and, therefore, fails at all three.  There are holes in the plot the size of Schwarzenegger’s chest, and this has to be the worst run maximum security prison in the world for our heroes to get away with some of their escape plans.  It is fun to see Stallone and Schwarzenegger on-screen together, but this film has way too much talking and not enough action to make it worth watching.  My Rating:  Cable  Escape Plan Website

IndiefestWadjda  (2012)  PG  A young Saudi girl’s dream is to own a bicycle.  She enters a school competition where she will need to recite the Koran better than her schoolmates.  This is a smart, touching film with a great performance from the actress who plays Wadjda (Waad Mohammed).  We instantly like Wadjda, as Mohammed has a charisma that just comes across on the screen.  The film is told with a deft touch as it deals with a number of complicated subjects that guides us through them without hitting us over the head with an agenda.  This film shows beautifully that even under very difficult circumstances, if you are determined and have faith in yourself, you can achieve your dreams.  My Rating:  Full Price   Wadjda Website

Forgotten Film:  The Spitfire Grill  (1996)  PG-13  A young woman named Percy (Alison Elliott) is released from prison and arrives in a small town in Maine, hopeful that she can start a new life.  She gets a job at the local restaurant run by a set-in-her ways woman (Ellen Burstyn).  Elliott does a masterful job of giving us a multilayered performance in a film filled with powerful scenes and makes the film worth watching.  It’s a film about redemption, forgiveness and the need of people to accept the help of others.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  The Spitfire Grill Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  The Heat (2013)  R  I love this film about a button-downed FBI agent (Sandra Bullock) who has to team with a reckless detective (Melissa McCarthy) to bring down a ruthless drug lord.  Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) directed this very funny film where Bullock held her own on screen with McCarthy.  My Rating:  Full Price

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Escape Plan:  Acting coach for Mr. Schwarzenegger

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Counselor  (2013)  R  Michael Fassbender plays a greedy lawyer, only known as The Counselor, who becomes involved with the seedy world of drug trafficking. This could be an Oscar contender with Ridley Scott directing and a cast made up of Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt.   The Counselor Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Captain Phillips

My ViewCaptain Phillips  (2013)  PG-13  Based on a true story, the American ship, Maersk Alabama, captained by Richard Philips (Tom Hanks), becomes the first U.S. ship in two hundred years to be hijacked by pirates.  The Somali pirates want millions of dollars to return the ship and its crew.  Can Capt. Philips and his crew stall long enough for help to arrive? This is Tom Hanks' best performance in years as he plays the New Englander Capt. Philips to perfection.  The film is filled with action sequences but also gives you an accurate picture of not only the crew of the ship, but its attackers, as well.  Barkhad Dbdi plays the leader of the pirates, Muse, as he makes several attempts to take over the ship.  The film is expertly directed by Paul Greengrass, who uses hand-held camera shots to create a sense of intimacy and tension as the film progresses.  This film and Hanks' performance are capped off in the last three minutes of the movie which makes Hanks a sure-fire nominee for Best Actor.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Captain Phillips Website
IndiefestRomeo & Juliet  (2013)  PG-13  This film is a remake of the time-honored story of the two star-crossed lovers whose love is forbidden by their warring families. The film has created a bit of controversy because not all the dialogue in the movie is from the Shakespeare text - some of the lines have been modernized.  I like Hailee Seinfeld’s performance as Juliet, but I feel that Douglas Booth lacks the charisma that Romeo needs to take a woman’s breath away.  I liked Paul Giamatti as the Friar who tries to help the doomed couple, and I especially liked Ed Westwick, who brings some life and energy to the screen as  the villain, Tybalt.  I didn't like the cinematography of the film, as scenes seemed to be always shot a dusk, making the film look dull.  The film, though, never really finds its footing, and after you see this two hour re-do, you will be wondering, as I did, since nothing new was brought to the screen, so why remake it?  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Romeo & Juliet Website
Indiefest:  The Summit (2012)  R  K-2 is one of the tallest and most dangerous mountains to climb in the world.  1 in 4 climbers that attempt the final summit climb die.  In 2008, 11 mountain climbers died on a single day, and several more lost fingers and toes to frostbite.  This film is a riveting combination of photos / videos from the actual climb with incredible recreations of what happened.  The film not only explores what happened on that climb but why it happened.  There are a number of interviews with the survivors of the climb along with family members of people that died, making it a touching and moving film.  The movie does a great job of showing how incredible the human spirit is and just how heroic people can be when the chips are down.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  The Summit Website
Forgotten FilmLogan’s Run (1976)  PG   The year is 2274, and people are living inside a dome without a care in the world, living a life filled with pleasure.  That is until you turn 30.  When you reach 30, your life is terminated in a religious ceremony known as Carousal.  Not everyone goes to Carousal willingly.  Some try to run, and the men whose job it is to track the “runners” down and kill them are known as Sandman.  Logan (Michael York) is such a Sandman, and he is recruited by the authorities to find a subversive group known as Sanctuary and destroy it.  Things get complicated when Logan falls for a woman who is also a runner named, Jessica (Jenny Agutter), and now Logan must choose between his job as a Sandman and his love for Jessica.  This is a splendid Sci-Fi action film with very impressive special effects. (It won two Academy Awards, and one of them was a Special Achievement award for visual effects.)  It has a well thought out storyline that has plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing.  Look for a very young Farrah Fawcett in a small role.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Logan's Run Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray): Much Ado About Nothing  (2013)  PG-13  I loved this Joss Whedon film of the William Shakespeare comedy about Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) who are two life-long single people who everyone is determined to get together.  I especially enjoyed the performances of Nathan Fillion and Tom Leck who play two bumbling police officers My Rating:  I Would Pay to See It Again  Much Ado About Nothing Website
In Memory of Ed Wood ( A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Bad Grandpa (2013)  R  Johnny Knoxville playing an 86 year old man on a trip with his 8 year old grandson.  Uh, no, I think I will skip that trip.   Bad Grandpa Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Captain Phillips:  breakdown artist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouAbout Time (2013)  R  Richard Curtis, who wrote and directed Love Actually (2003), brings us a film about a young man (Domhnall Gleeson) who discovers he comes from a long line of Time Travelers.  He uses his new found skill to win the girl (Rachel McAdams) of his dreams.   About Time Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 4, 2013


My ViewGravity (2013)  PG-13   A medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and a veteran astronaut, Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), are on a space mission. During a spacewalk, satellite debris crashes into the Space Shuttle and sends Dr. Stone adrift into space with limited oxygen.  This is one of the most spectacular looking films I have ever seen, and it is worth every penny to see it in IMAX 3-D.  This is one of those films where you want to see a full length feature on how they made it.  The action sequences in Space are incredible, scary and beautiful, all at the same time.  Clooney is perfect as veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski, a man who enjoys what he does and lets everyone know it.  When things go wrong, Kowalski is the man you want, and he always has a plan and the nerves of steel to carry it out, which is fortunate since Bullock’s character, Dr. Stone is a space rookie who, when things start to go wrong, panics.  Bullock has to show a wide range of emotions in the film, and she is up to the task, making us like a character who, at the start of the film, is closed off and reserved.  I credit director/co writer Alfonso Cuaron, for making a film that must have seemed impossible to make but develops into an astonishing movie-going experience. My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Gravity Website
IndiefestParkland (2013)  PG-13   The movie recreates the day of and days that followed John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. The story is told from the perspective of the men and women who witnessed the shooting and tried to save the President’s life.  I liked this film because, instead of going into the conspiracy angle as so many films about the JFK assassination do, this film lets us see the shooting through the eyes of the people who had to deal with the aftermath on that fateful day in Dallas.  This is a large ensemble cast, and there really isn't a weak-point in the group, though several actors stand out with their performances.  Paul Giamatti plays Abraham Zapruder, the man who would shoot the most famous home movie in the history of film.  Giamatti is stunning as the likable Zapruder, who seems to a good man at heart.  The film’s most moving image is Zapruder's expression while he films the tragedy, as we don’t see the actual shooting, but we see the horror and sorrow in Giamatti’s eyes.  I also liked Marcia Gay Harden, who plays the head nurse in the emergency room where the injured President is taken.  Harden's character shows part equal compassion and guts as she takes charge of a situation where everyone is in shock or panicking.  This is an interesting film that I think history buffs will enjoy.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Parkland Website
Indiefest: The Patience Stone (2013)  R  While war and strife wage around her, a wife (Golshifteh Farahani) faithfully sits watch over her husband (Hamid Djavadan) who is in a vegetative state after he was shot. As she sits at his bedside, the wife begins to tell her husband all the things that she has remained silent about during their ten years of marriage.  Farahani is the reason to watch this film in a tour de force performance.  She is in almost every frame of this film and exhibits touching, heartfelt emotion, and at times, heartbreaking soliloquies where she tells her comatose husband her deepest, darkest secrets.  It’s a fascinating film that shows how hard war is on the civilians, especially on the women as they try to keep their families together under extreme circumstances.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Patience Stone Website
Forgotten FilmLone Star  (1996)  R  Sherriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) is a local Texas lawman who gets called in when human bones are found out in the desert.  Deeds begins investigating the murder, which occured over forty years ago and he gets deeper and deeper into an investigation that has many mysteries, some involving his father, the former sheriff (Mathew McConaughey).  This is a dark murder mystery directed by John Sayles, a mystery that delves into not just a murder, but a number of interwoven relationships, all of which are very messy and dangerous.  My Rating:  Full Price  Lone Star Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray)This Is The End  (2013)  I loved this raunchy comedy about a bunch of actors hanging out at James Franco’s house when the end of the world starts happening.  The film is filled with cameos, some of which were really surprising, and is loads of fun.  But, be warned.  This film is full of strong language and scenes that really push the edge of good taste.  My Rating:  Full Price  This is the End Website  
Weird Credits:  From the credits of Gravity:  Movement coach
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)   PG-13 The continuing saga of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mallark (Josh Hutcherson) after winning the 74th Hunger Games starts a rebellion in the Districts.  I thought the first Hunger Games was brilliant, and Lawrence was the perfect Katniss.  I am excited to see if Writers, Directors, Production Crew and Cast can keep up the quality of the story-line and acting.   The Hunger Games: Caching Fire Website
Until Next Time!