Friday, March 28, 2014

Cesar Chavez

IndiefestCesar Chavez (2014)  PG-13  A biography of the civil-rights activist Cesar Chavez (Michael Pena) who, in the late sixties and early seventies, organized farm laborers into unions.  Michael Pena is the reason to see this film as he offers a powerful yet understated performance.  It’s an earnest film that doesn’t pull any punches and shows the horrible conditions under which farm workers worked.  I enjoyed America Ferrera’s performance as the feisty wife of Chavez who literally and figuratively stands by her man. The film is a little long and does drag a bit when Chavez is on a lengthy hunger strike, but this film brings to the screen a story that is inspirational.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Cesar Chavez Website  
IndiefestThe Lunchbox (2013) PG  Mumbai businessmen get their lunch by means of a world famous delivery system. It’s a system so efficient, it only wrongly delivers one lunch out of a million. But, when unhappy housewife Ila’s (Nimrat Kaur) lunch for her husband is mistakenly delivered to widower Saajan (Irrfan Khan), it starts a chain of events that will change their lives.  This is an unconventional love story between two people who are both extremely lonely.  Irrfan Khan is magnificent in the role of the sad sack Saajan, who is so set into his ways until he starts receiving Ila’s lunches. Nimrat Kaur brings such a natural grace to the screen that you almost instantly like her (and hate her husband).  I loved this film and its slow moving love story that takes place in a fast paced world.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again  The Lunchbox Website 
Forgotten FilmTargets (1968) R  A veteran horror film actor (Boris Karloff) has just completed his last film before retiring.  His publicity team pushes him to appear at a drive-in to promote the film.  A troubled young man (Tim O’Kelly) has an obsession with guns that we just know is going to lead to something bad happening.  This film, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, isn’t necessarily a good film, but it’s an interesting one to watch because of Karloff is essentially playing himself.  It’s that glimpse into the actors world that makes this film fun to watch.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Targets Info 
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Nymphomaniac: Vol. II (2013)  NR  I saw Nymphomaniac: Vol. I Director Lars von Trier’s latest, so I’m good.  Don’t really need to see Vol. II. 
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray): The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) R  While I did give this film a good review, I felt the performances of DiCaprio and Jonah Hill outweighed the script, which made this film feel too long.  My Rating:  Full Price  The Wolf of Wall Street Website  

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Cesar Chavez:  Hair Trainee 

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouAlan Partridge (2013) R Steve Coogan plays a radio DJ, Alan Partridge, whose small local station gets taken over by a big media conglomerate.  When almost everyone gets fired, it sets off a chain of events that eventually lead to the station being held for ransom and Alan having to find a way to defuse the situation.  Coogan has hit his stride lately with Philomena (2013) and The Trip (2011), so I am anxious to see this film.  Alan Partridge Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 21, 2014


My ViewDivergent (2014)  PG-13  Set in the future, people are living in the ruins of Chicago as part of a society that is divided into five distinct factions. These factions are based on different personality characteristics such as self-sacrifice or the quest for knowledge. Beatrice “Tris”  Prior (Shailene Woodley) will have to choose which faction to join. Her problem is she discovers that she is “Divergent,” meaning she doesn’t fit into any one faction. Will she pick a faction based on what her head or her heart tells her?   I adore Shailene Woodley, who has yet to disappoint me on the screen and she is outstanding in the role of Tris. There is great chemistry between her and her love interest, Four, played by Theo James.  The problem with the film is that its plot is very complicated and not easily explained, so much that film goers who haven’t read the bestselling books will be confused.  The film does move at a quick pace with lots of compelling action sequences and doesn’t over emphasize the romance angle (which a lot of “Young Adult” films tend to do).  I am looking forward to exploring this exciting world of "future" films. 
  My Rating: Full Price  Divergent Website
Family FaireMuppets Most Wanted (2014) PG  While on a world tour hitting cities like Berlin and London, the Muppets gang gets involved with a jewel thief named, Constantine, who looks just like Kermit the Frog. Now, can Kermit take down his doppelganger and save his reputation?  I loved the 2011 film The Muppets, making it one of my top ten films of that year.  Unfortunately, this film doesn't portray the joy and magic of the previous film - it’s more in line with some of the other Muppet films of the past, making it bland and full of lame jokes.  The songs are unmemorable, and even the cameos (which were so much fun in The Muppets film) are ordinary.  Tina Fey, who plays a Russian prison guard, seems to be the only one of the cast who is having fun.  It’s a film that only true Muppet fans will enjoy.  I say, for the next Muppet movie, bring back Jason Segel and let him do his Muppet magic.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Muppets Most Wanted Website
IndiefestBad Words  (2014)  R  Guy (Jason Bateman) is a 40 year-old high school dropout. He has never gotten over his bad experiences in school and finds a loop-hole in the rules of the national spelling bee. He enters the contest and along the way meets a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) and a fellow contestant (Rohan Chand), both whom he befriends. I thoroughly enjoyed this very raunchy R rated comedy.  The chemistry between Bateman and Chand is incredible, with Chand showing some real comedic timing. This is a hilarious film full of very interesting characters and a great storyline. This film is surprisingly heartwarming if you can get past Bateman's character profusely cursing.     My Rating: Full Price  Bad Words Website
My ViewDark House (2014) R   Nick (Luke Kleintank) is a clairvoyant and, after his mother’s death, he discovers he has inherited an old home in the isolated country. So, Nick, his pregnant girlfriend (Alex McKenna), and his best friend, Ryan (Anthony Rey Perez) decide to check out the home. It’s a decision that may cost them their lives.  This is an interesting horror film that has some nice plot twists and turns.  While not overly scary, it does have a compelling storyline containing some rather fearsome bad guys.  I’m just not sure horror fans will be satisfied with this film, as it just doesn’t provide the scary moments they would love.     My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Dark House Info
Forgotten FilmsLilies of the Field (1963) Homer (Sidney Poitier) is on his way across the country when his car breaks down near a remote farm.  A group of Catholic nuns who have recently immigrated from Eastern Europe run the farm and take in Homer, who they believe has been sent by God to help rebuild their church.  Poitier won an Academy Award for his role in this film and rightly so, as he is pitch-perfect as the headstrong Homer.  The interaction between Homer and the nuns is fun and fascinating, especially when Poitier deals with the Mother Superior (Lilia Skala), who believes in Homer and his abilities.  It’s a magical film that makes you feel good about humanity My Rating:  Full Price  Lilies of the Field Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Muppets Most Wanted (2014):  ice construction

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouUnder the Skin  (2014) R  I don’t know much about this film, other than it’s a Sci-Fi film about an alien seducing hitchhikers in Scotland.  All I have to know to want to see this film is that it stars Scarlett Johansson.  Under the Skin Website 
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Need for Speed

My View:  Need for Speed (2014)  PG-13  Fresh out of prison, Tobey (Aaron Paul), a mechanic and part-time street racer, is out for revenge. He, though, must first travel from New York to California via a Shelby Ford Mustang to race in the ultimate street race.  This film is downright stupid at times, with plot holes the size of the expensive race cars in the film.  The racing sequences are fun and fast, some based on the “Need for Speed” video games.  Unfortunately, for us, though, the plot and the dialogue also seem to come from video games.  Aaron Paul isn’t asked to do much with his part other than look tough while driving a fast car.  Imogen Poots, as the love interest in the film, is given even less to work with.  But, you don’t come to a film like this for acting or the plot, you come for the racing scenes, and it has plenty for an action fan to enjoy.  My Rating:  Cable  Need for Speed Facebook Page

My View:  Veronica Mars: The Movie  (2014)  PG-13  It’s been years since Veronica (Kristen Bell) has been a private eye or been back in her old hometown of Neptune. She has a good life in New York, but she is about to throw it all away when her old boyfriend, Logan (Jason Dohring), is accused of murder. I was a big fan of the show and admit that I did back the making of the movie through Kickstarter.  As a fan of the show, I really enjoyed this film.  It brings back many of the memorable characters from the TV series.  It retains the humor of the show, and Veronica continually quips the snarky remarks that she is known for.  It’s a fun ride and a very enjoyable mystery.  Be sure and stay through the first part of the closing credits for a bonus scene.    My Rating:  Full Price  Veronica Mars Website

Indiefest: The Grand Budapest Hotel  (2014)  R  Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) is one of the best concierges in the world, and he works at the famous Grand Budapest Hotel. He hires Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) as a lobby boy.  Now, Gustave and Zero are about to go on a great adventure.  An absolutely joyride of a film that takes a Wes Anderson (the director) type of film and adds the Marx Brothers to it.  Fiennes is hilarious in the role of the stuck up, pompous concierge with a heart of gold. Revolori, as the “Lobby Boy,” perfectly works off of the energy of Fiennes creating great chemistry between them.  The color scheme of the film is incredible and there is the typical Anderson use of different perspectives and camera angles that make his films look so unique.  There are a ton of cameos like Bill Murray, that just make this so much fun to watch.  It’s a film you might want to see twice because it’s jammed packed with so much stuff, you just might miss a thing or two on your first view.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See It Again  The Grand Budapest Hotel Website

Indiefest:  Better Living Through Chemistry (2014)  R  Doug (Sam Rockwell) is a by-the book-pharmacist who is in a very unhappy marriage to Kara (Michelle Monaghan). Doug’s life changes when he meets Elizabeth (Olivia Wilde), a trophy wife customer who likes to party. Now, Doug is in for the ride of his life. This is a fun and funny film that had me guessing how it was going to end.  Olivia Wilde is becoming quite the actress, making some excellent Indie films, and she has a blast with the role of the boozy Elizabeth.  But, this is Sam Rockwell’s movie, and he exceeds in the part.  He reminds me of Bill Murray early in his career in films such as Stripes (1981) and Meatballs (1979). Rockwell gives us a winning performance of a man who starts as a man who is controlled by everyone but ends being in control of his life and his happiness.   My Rating:  Full Price  Better Living Through Chemistry Info

Indiefest:  Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me  (2014)    This is a documentary on the Broadway legend Elaine Stritch, who, at 87 years old, is still doing her one-woman show about her life. It’s a film that shows Stritch, warts and all.  She is struggling with old age, diabetes and alcoholism, while trying put on her show.  She is a force of nature on stage, but we see her struggle to survive outside of her performances.  It’s a fascinating film about an extremely determined, feisty woman who realizes that she doesn’t have much time left to perform on the stage she desperately loves.    My Rating:  Full Price  Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me Info

Forgotten Film:  Mona Lisa  (1986)  R  George (Bob Hoskins) is an ex-con who gets a job from his old crime boss, Mortwell (Michael Caine).  His job is to drive Simone (Cathy Tyson), a high-priced call girl, from job to job.  George and Simone develop a relationship that is only gets them in big trouble with Mortwell.  Tyson is beautiful and sensational as the headstrong Simone, but it’s Hoskins who dominates this film with his presence.  It’s an astounding piece of acting and well worth the Oscar nomination that he got for the role.  My Rating:  Full Price   Mona Lisa Info  

Weird Credits: From the credits of Need for Speed:  Hair Designer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Dom Hemingway  (2013)   After 12 years in prison, Dom (Jude Law) tries to fit back into society, including re-establishing his relationship with his daughter.  Jude Law running rampant for 2 hours as an ex-con?  I’m in!   Dom Hemingway Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 7, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire

My View300: Rise of an Empire  (2014) R  Greek General, Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), leads his forces against the invading Persian forces led by the mortal-turned-god, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and the commander of the Persian navy, Artemisia (Eva Green).  No one will leave the theatre after this film saying, “I wish there had been more blood gushing on-screen in slow motion.” The film isn’t bad as action films go, with plenty of massive battle scenes, but I had two problems with the film.  One, the lead actor, Sullivan Stapleton, has absolutely no charisma, so we don’t see any reason why he inspires his men to battle against insurmountable odds.  Second, most of the battle sequences are fought on the water in big ships, which make the scenes very dark.  The two things I loved about the original 300 was Gerard Butler just filled the screen with his presence, and you believed it when he said “Prepare for Glory!”  Second, the first 300 was filled with bright colors and action in sunlight, which made the battle sequences a fest for the eyes.  This isn’t a horrible film, it’s just a little boring both in its storyline and appearance.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  300: Rise of an Empire Website

Family FaireMr. Peabody and Sherman (2014) PG  Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell)  is the world’s smartest dog. When Sherman (Max Charles), Mr. Peabody’s adopted son, uses a time machine to impress a girl, it causes problems. Now, Mr. Peabody and Sherman must travel across time and try and repair the damage. If they don’t succeed, the world as they know it, could come to an end.  Kids will enjoy this film.  It’s filled with bright animated scenes and full of action.  Adults will enjoy a few of the jokes and a few animated cameo scenes.  The film isn’t horrible, it’s just sort of bland, and it’s certainly not worth paying the extra money to see it in 3-D.  My Rating:  Cable  Mr. Peabody & Sherman Website

IndiefestTim’s Vermeer (2014) PG-13  A modern day inventor, Tim Jenison, decides to investigate how Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer created his photo-like paintings.  Jenison becomes convinced in his research that Vermeer used some sort of projection device to help his paintings become so lifelike.  Jenison spends years trying to prove this to the art world.  This is a fascinating documentary about one man’s obsession to prove his theory.  Tim, a San Antonio inventor, takes  two hundred days to finish his project in hopes of proving his ideas.  The film moves at a quick pace, is informative, and, at times, really funny.  It’s helped by clever graphics and narrator Penn Jilette (of Penn and Teller fame).  After seeing this film, you will view paintings in a whole new light.  My Rating:  Full Price  Tim's Vermeer Website  

IndiefestThe Bag Man (2014) R Jack (John Cusack) is hired by Dragna (Robert De Niro), a mysterious businessman, to take a bag to a seedy motel in the Louisiana swamps.  Jack meets all kinds of people at the motel, including the motel manager (Cripsin Glover), a one-eyed pimp (Sticky Finqaz), and a 6 foot tall hooker (Rebecca Da Costa).  It seems like everyone in the area is interested in getting the bag from Jack, one way or another.  This film never quite gets up a head of steam, as it seems to be stuck in the Louisiana swamp where the film takes place.  I enjoyed (as usual) the performances of Cusack and De Niro (who plays his part impressively restrained), but the rest of the cast seem stuck in parts that are horribly written.  It’s a film that should have been much better because of the leads, but just doesn’t work as a modern day Film Noir piece.  My Rating:  Cable  The Bag Man Website

Forgotten FilmBirdy  (1984)  R  Birdy (Matthew Modine) and Al (Nicolas Cage) were two best friends growing up in South Philadelphia.  They have both returned from Vietnam damaged - Al with a face that had to be rebuilt and Birdy who has retreated into his own mind and won’t say anything.  Al is asked by the military doctors to try and get Birdy to respond to him.  If Birdy doesn't snap out of it, they will permanently put him away.  So, Al recalls all the great adventures they went on together as they were growing up, re-telling him the stories in an effort to get Birdy to respond.  This is a moving story that still is relevant today about how war can destroy people’s lives, both mentally and physically.   Both actors were just starting their careers, and Modine, especially, gives a touching and deeply felt performance.   My Rating: Full Price  Birdy Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of 300: Rise of an Empire:  Specialty Dummy Supplier

Coming Soon to a Theater Near YouThe Fault in Our Stars (2014) PG-13 Two teens meet and fall in love at a cancer support group.  Based on the best-selling novel, this film stars Shailene Woodley, who is quickly becoming one of the best young actresses of today.
Until Next Time!