Friday, January 31, 2014

Labor Day

My ViewLabor Day (2013)  PG-13  Adele (Kate Winslet) is a depressed single mom who lives with her 13 year-old son (Gattlin Griffith) in an isolated home. While shopping, they encounter Frank (Josh Brolin), a hurt fugitive running from the law. He forces them to take him to their home and hide him over the Labor Day weekend.  Kate Winslet is the reason to see this film as she gives another one of her multilayered performances that makes you sit up and take notice.  I liked Josh Brolin as the fugitive who insists that he is innocent, but Winslet, with her performance of the broken down Adele, is what makes this movie work.  Jason Reitman, who directed one of my favorite films of the last ten years, Up In The Air (2009), does a masterful job of making this film feel incredibly intimate. The film goes from being a suspense film to one that is really a romantic love story in the end.  I would have given a higher rating to this film if it had ended earlier as there is an epilogue that brings the film down a bit.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Labor Day Website

IndiefestAt Middleton (2013) R  George (Andy Garcia) is a stodgy heart surgeon  who takes his son to his alma mater, Middleton, for a tour of the campus. Edith (Vera Farmiga) is a free spirit of a mom who takes her daughter to Middleton for the same tour. While their teenagers are taking the tour, the two very different adults spend the day together – a day that they will never forget.  This is a very uneven romantic film which has a number of good scenes but, in the end, is brought down by its attempt to add drama to the mix.  I really enjoyed the chemistry between Farmiga and Garcia, as the unlikely couple is intrigued enough with each other to spend the day together.  Farmiga is very funny, especially when we are getting to know her in early scenes.  She has this high energy that works very well with the very stodgy Garcia.  There is a scene in the middle of the film where the two stumble on an acting class that just brings down the tone. The scene becomes a very heavy drama piece, and it appears put there just to prove the main characters' acting abilities.  I did like Taissa Farmiga, who plays Edith’s headstrong and very determined daughter.  This is one of those films you just wish was a little bit more lighthearted.  My Review : Full Price  At Middleton Info

IndiefestThe Past  (2013) PG-13  Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) has been separated from his wife (Berenice Bejo) for four years after he moved back to Iran. He comes back to Paris to sign the divorce papers and find out if he still has feelings for her.  This is a brilliant film about a family dealing with their past and the life changing choices that they have made.  Berenice Bejo is the centerpiece of this film, and she  takes a role that could have been shrill and hated, and makes it one where we sympathize with her character.  It’s a complex film that has many twists and turns.  Some of the mysteries of the family's past are solved, but even those are not resolved cleanly or clearly.  This film is interesting filled with complex characters you may not like but will want to spend time with.  My Rating:  Full Price  The Past Website

Forgotten FilmParis, Texas  (1984) R  This film, directed by Wim Wenders and written by Sam Shepherd, is a film about loss.  We first meet Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) as he wanders out of the desert after being mysteriously gone for four years.  After collapsing at a gas station, Travis’s brother, Walt (Dean Stockwell), comes to pick him up.  Walt and his wife have been taking care of Travis’s son, Hunter (Hunter Carson), after Travis’s wife dropped him off with them several years ago.  The film explores the need for family and for redemption, when Travis tries to reconnect with his son.  It’s a film that is beautifully shot, and Harry Dean Anderson gives the performance of his life. The film becomes a road picture when Travis decides to take Hunter back to his mom.  It’s a wonderfully sad movie that perfectly captures a man trying to do the right thing to make up for the sins of his past. My Rating:  Full Price  Paris, Texas Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray)Blue Jasmine (2013) PG-13  I was one of the few critics around the country who did not like this film.  Blancett will win this year’s Oscar for Best Actress, but I did not like the fact that there was no character growth throughout the film.  My Rating:  Cable  Blue Jasmine Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Lone Star (2013):  Food Stylist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouWalk of Shame (2014)  R  Elizabeth Banks plays a reporter who has an interview for her dream job.  The only problem, she is stranded in downtown L.A. with no phone, money or I.D...all because her one-night stand left her.  I love Elizabeth Banks and really hope this film makes her a headliner instead of the supporting player she is now.  Walk of Shame Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Gimme Shelter

Indiefest:  Gimme Shelter (2014) PG-13   Apple Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) has lived a hard life, living in foster homes while her-drug addicted mother (Rosario Dawson) is in jail. Fed up with her living conditions, she decides to try and find her father (Brendan Fraser), a man whom she has never met.  Hudgens, who is almost unrecognizable in the role, is the reason to see this film.  She is brave in her portrayal of a young woman who is trying to find her place in a very tough world.  Hudgens gives everything she has to the role but is let down by a script that never can quite capture the subject matter.  The film has a good supporting cast with James Earl Jones playing a priest who helps Apple and Ann Dowd playing Kathy, the woman who runs the shelter where Apple ends up.  This film is an earnest film that just doesn’t quite hit the mark, which makes it seem more like an “afterschool special” from the 1970’s.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Gimme Shelter Website

Indiefest:  The Invisible Woman (2013) R  Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes), during his time, is the most famous person in the world. His books are best sellers, and his book tours sell out every time. It all could come crashing down when the married Dickens meets Nelly (Felicity Jones), a young actress with whom he becomes romantically involved. Will Dickens risk scandal to be with the love of his life? This is an extremely slow moving film, as it takes forever for Dickens to finally bed Nelly.  I thought that Jones was perfect in the role of the feisty girl who wants to be independent in a time that looked down on that thought.  I didn’t like Fiennes in the role of Dickens.  Dickens was a rock star of his time, someone who was instantly recognized and was known for his book tour performances.  Fiennes plays him as a rather restrained person, and I never got the Dickens charisma from Fiennes’ performance.  It’s an interesting film but doesn’t quite have the passion that it should have for the romance between two strong individuals.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  The Invisible Woman Facebook page

Forgotten Film:  Sisters (1973) R Brian De Palma directs this film which plays like a horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  Grace (Jennifer Salt) is a reporter with a reputation for being tough on cops in her articles.  She witnesses, from her apartment window, a murder of a man by a woman in an apartment across the street.  Grace calls the cops, but they can’t find any trace of the murder.  With the help of a private investigator (Charles Durning) she tries to find out if there really was a murder and, if so, who did it.  This murder mystery has so many twists and turns, it’s sometimes hard to figure out what is happening, but Salt is so good in the role of Grace that you will want to stay and help her figure out what really happened.  My Rating:  Full Price  Sisters Info

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014)  Sequal to Planes (2013), which made many critics bottom ten lists.  Disney, please quit releasing to theatres movies that were meant to be direct to video films!  Planes: Fire & Rescue Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray):  Captain 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 last five minutes of the film show why Hanks Oscar snub for Best Actor is so wrong.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again  Captain Phillips Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Invisible Woman:  Hair coordinator: crowd

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You:  Godzilla (2014)  The film has really excited the fan-boys because of a killer trailer where you only get glimpses of the monster.  The film had me at “starring Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston.”  Godzilla Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

My View:  Jack Ryan:  Shadow Recruit  (2014) PG-13  Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is a junior analyst for the CIA. When he uncovers evidence of an imminent terrorist attack, he is sent to Moscow to continue his investigation. He encounters Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) who is intent on taking down the world’s economy. Can Jack stop Cherevin’s plan?  This is an enjoyable spy caper with Pine playing the new recruit trying to save the world from economic disaster and terrorists at the same time.  I like the interplay between Pine and Kevin Costner (who plays the man that recruits Ryan into the CIA).  Keira Knightley is cute as Ryan’s girlfriend who gets caught up in the action, but she isn’t asked to do much in the film.  I felt that Branagh made a rather poor villain, as he played the part too low key.  While not a great film, it is an enjoyable ride and makes a nice diversion from all the Oscar heavyweights in the theatres right now.  The film is being shown in IMAX, but unlike the last Mission Impossible film, this one isn't worth seeing in that format.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Family Faire:  The Nut Job (2014) PG  Surly (Will Arnett) is a squirrel with a hankering for nuts. After burning down the tree where all the animals were storing their nuts for winter, he is banished from the park. In town, Surly discovers a Nut store and with his friend, a rat, he plans the heist that could keep him in nuts for the rest of his life. What could go wrong?  This isn’t a bad film, but it can best be described as bland.  I didn’t like Will Arnett as the lead squirrel as I think he really brought nothing to the role.  I did enjoy Maya Rudolph, who voices the Pug Precious, as she steals the movie playing the loveable dog.  The animation was clean and crisp, but the storyline was just dull and lifeless.  I kind of wish the film had been about Precious and not Surly.  The film is not worth seeing in 3-D and parents be warned, there are a number of fart jokes. My Rating: Cable  The Nut Job Facebook Page

Forgotten Film:  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2003) R  Harry (Robert Downey Jr) is a bumbling thief.  Evading the police after a botched robbery, Harry stumbles into an acting audition and impresses the producers of a movie.  At a Hollywood party, Harry meets a Private Investigator, Perry (Val Kilmer) who is going to train Harry for his role in the film.  An unusual friendship is started and soon the pair are caught up in a murder investigation.  This is a very funny comedy that plays on stereotypical detective films of the 40’s and 50’s.  Downey and Kilmer are hilarious, and the dialogue is sharp and fast.  My Rating:  Full Price  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Info

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Blended (2014)  This romantic comedy  stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore who, after a blind date that goes bad, find themselves and their families on the same vacation.  I think Sandler just makes movies now so that he can travel, this time to Africa.  Blended Website

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray):  Carrie  (2013) R  I didn’t like this film, mostly because it didn’t bring anything new to the plot.  I felt that Chloe Moretz was badly cast as Carrie, and the film didn’t have any spark to it.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Carrie Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit:  Russian arm operator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Railway Man  (2013)  Based on a true story about a British officer who was forced to help the Japanese build a railway during World War II. Now, years later, he finds out that the Japanese officer who tortured him is still alive.  Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth star in the film.  The Railway Man Facebook Page
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Legend of Hercules

My View:  The Legend of Hercules  (2014)  PG-13  Hercules (Kellan Lutz) is betrayed by his stepfather, the King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) and is sold into slavery.  Now, he must use his strength to fight his way back to the woman he loves and extract his revenge.  This is one big mess of a film.  It reminded me of my youth when on Saturday afternoons I used to watch the bad Italian Hercules films.  The acting in this film is horrible (it was shot in Bulgaria and I think most of the actors don't speak English), including the lead, Kellan Lutz, who has trouble just get out one line.  There were times that I had no idea what he said, not that it would matter because the plot makes no sense what so ever.  The ending of the film so confusing that I think I need some sort of chart to figure out what happened.  Let's hope that The Rock's Hercules film that comes out later this year is a better film. By the way, if you insist on seeing this dud of a film, same some money, the 3-D isn't worth it.   My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  The Legend of Hercules Website

Indiefest:  Her  (2014)  R  Set in the near future, a depressed writer, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), can’t get over his soon-to-be-final divorce.  Stuck in a rut, he decides to enhance his life and install a new operating system on his home computer that has been advertised to meet his every need.  The OS system has a name, and it’s Samantha (Scarlett Johansson).  Can a man fall in love with his computer?  This film was one of my favorites from last year and made my top ten films of 2013.  Scarlett Johansson is brilliant in a role where you only hear her voice, as she never appears on screen.  Her chemistry with Joaquin Phoenix is perfect, and they play off of each other extremely well.  Phoenix gives one of his better performances, making us like Theodore.  A character played by anybody else would have come off needy and pitiful, but with Phoenix’s grace and charm, the character comes off likeable and someone you want to root for.  This is a film that makes you think about relationships and if someone could ultimately fall for a computer.  I know I did.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again  Her Website   

Indiefest:  August: Osage County  (2014)  R  Three sisters (Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, and Julianne Nicholson) are called back home when it’s discovered their father (Sam Shepard) has gone missing.  Now they must confront the one person that they have been avoiding all these years, their mother (Meryl Streep).  This film is part drama, part black comedy as there are some funny scenes in this film.  It’s a film filled with characters who have very sharp edges and are forced to live together in a very small space.  There are very few characters you will like in this film, as most are harboring some sort of personal grudge or strife that keeps causing friction between the family members.  Meryl Streep is exceptional in the role of the pill-popping, say anything that comes into her head mother.  Julia Roberts plays against her normal type of role and is almost equally unlikeable, especially on how she deals with her estranged husband and daughter.  This is a film that exposes a family who has deep personal problems, most of which will never be fixed, especially not in the span of two hours.  It’s a film that is difficult to watch, not because it is bad, but because the problems that this family is experiencing are so painful.  My Rating:  Full Price  August: Osage County Website

Forgotten Film:  F/X  (1986)  R  Rollie (Bryan Brown) is  one of the best special effects men in the movie business. The government goes to Rollie to stage the death of a mob informant to make it look like the informant dies to be successfully put into the witness protection program.  When the gig goes bad,  Rollie finds out that corrupt government agents are working with the mob and are going to try and kill him.  Now Rollie must use his special effects knowledge to defeat the bad guys and put them behind bars.  This is a fun film to watch where you get to see how special effects used to be done before the present age of computers and special effects software.  Brown is the perfect “good guy” for the role, and he seems to be having as much fun as the audience does when it watches this film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  F/X Info

In Case You Missed It (A film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)    The first Insidious film was a clever horror film that didn’t go for the cheap scare.  Unfortunately, you can’t say that about this sequel. This film is just a rehash of the first with a plot that is way too easy to figure out, leaving us with very few chills and thrills.  My Rating:  Cable  

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Her (2013);  Armpit sex drawing

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Lego Movie (2014) PG Brought to you by the guys that brought you Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), this is an animated film about an ordinary LEGO mini-figure who gets mistaken for a “Masterbuilder," someone who has the power to defeat a super villain from gluing all the Lego blocks together.  The Lego Movie Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

My View:  Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones  (2014)  R  Jessie (Andre Jacobs) lives in an apartment, and a woman dies in the apartment below. Jessie and his friends think they heard what happened when the woman died and decide to search her now vacant apartment. In their investigation, they discover black magic items and mysterious VHS tapes. Later, Jessie finds a bite mark on his arm, and he soon learns that he has been marked for possession.  Unfortunately, this is another in a long line of "found footage" films, a plot device that has gotten old quickly, and this film brings nothing new to the genre.  The film isn't very scary, with most of the horror coming from very predictable scenes.  What is interesting is that this film is aimed at the Hispanic audience, with sections of dialogue in Spanish without subtitles.  But that novelty can't overcome the very basic plot in a horror film without much horror.  My Rating:  Cable  Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Website
The 50 (A Movie from My Best/Worst Film of All Time) 
#3 Worst Film:  Leonard Part 6 (1987)  Leonard Parker (Bill Cosby), is a former CIA spy who is recruited by the government to track down an evil vegetarian who brainwashes animals to kill people in a plot to make everyone vegetarians.  This is a movie that even the PETA organization can’t stomach. He saves the world by using Alka-Seltzer (you have to see it to believe it, but don’t). Even though the film was created by, produced, and starred Bill Cosby, he told audiences to save their money and stay away from the film.  Leonard Part 6 Info

Forgotten Film:  Hollywood Shuffle  (1987)  R  Robert Townsend plays Bobby Taylor, an actor who is trying to make it in Hollywood without playing the stereotypical roles that the film world thinks he’s only qualified for.   The film is a light-hearted look at what plagued black actors for years in the film industry, that the only roles offered to them were for gangsters, pimps and “Eddie Murphy” type roles.  The film does an outstanding job of showing Townsend's struggle to be taken seriously as an actor.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Hollywood Shuffle Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  A Haunted House 2 (2014)  Once again, Marlon Wayans is in a “comedy” that will make fun of the latest horror films.  So, a bad movie will make fun of a bad movie.  What’s that old saying, two wrongs don’t make a right?  It works for this film, though.  A Haunted House 2 Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray): Don Jon (2013)  R  This film is about a man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who tries to give up his addiction to on-line porn when he starts dating the woman of his dreams (Scarlett Johansson).  I like this film but it has a number of porn scenes in the first fifteen minutes (a number of people left the theatre during my screening) that almost overwhelm you with nudity.  If you can get past the first part of the film, it becomes an enjoyable romantic comedy with stellar performances by Gorden-Levitt, Johansson and Julianne Moore.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Don Jon Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones:  Latino Advisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Grand Budapest Hotel  (2014)   The latest from director Wes Anderson about the adventures of a concierge, played by Ralph Fiennes, who  works at a European hotel  between World War I and II.  The film is brilliantly cast, including Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson, just to name a few.   The Grand Budapest Hotel Website
Until Next Time!