Friday, June 27, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction

My ViewTransformers: Age of Extinction (2014)  PG-13 Four years after the invasion of Chicago, a mechanic (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter (Nicola Peltz) find a broken down semi -truck. It turns out the truck is a deactivated Optimus Prime.  The mechanic fires up the truck and starts a chain of events that could destroy the world. If you like dumb, pointless movies with loads of bad dialogue and action sequences that make no sense, then this is your movie. It’s one long (almost three hours) mess of a film franchise that has never valued its human actors over the robots.  The first third of the film was promising, as we got to know Wahlberg’s character and his first interactions with Optimus.  But, by the end, we really don’t care what happens. Yes, there are robots riding dinosaur robots, but, at this point, we don’t care, and  we just want all the robot violence to end. By the there are so many product placement products in this film, it would make a great drinking game.  The film is not worth seeing in 3-D, and there are no bonus scenes during the credits. Mr. Bay, I would like my 3 hours back, now!  My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Transformers: Age of Extinction Website
IndiefestObvious Child (2014) R A standup comedian (Jenny Slate) gets dumped by her boyfriend in the bathroom of a comedy club. She finds out that her day job, at a bookstore she loves, is closing.  After doing a miserable standup routine while drunk, she meets a nice guy and sleeps with him.  A few weeks later she discovers that she is pregnant and makes the decision to have an abortion. Now, the question is, does she tell her parents, and, more importantly, the guy she slept with? This is a downright funny film, and Jenny Slate is perfect in the role of a girl with a wicked sense of humor whom you just can’t help rooting for.  The film is getting a lot of attention due to the topic of abortion is the centerpiece of the film, but it’s really a movie about relationships.  How we try to hang on to old ones, how we need our close friends and family for support, and how we must be open to new ones is what this film is about.  I laughed throughout this romantic comedy, finding myself falling in love with Jenny Slate, and I think you will too.  My Rating: Full Price  Obvious Child Website
IndiefestIvory Tower (2014)  PG-13 A documentary about the high cost of college and dealing with the mounting problem of student loans. This is an interesting film that looks at the high cost of higher education and how the student loan system has become such a big business.  What I liked about this film is it explores a number of solutions to the problem, whether it be online education or non-traditional education (like a college in Death Valley that is on a working ranch). It’s a film that any parent needs to see and the debt of student loans (more than the credit card debt in this country) is something that needs to be explored. My Rating: Full Price  Ivory Tower Website
IndiefestWe Are the Best! (2013) Three girls, Bobo (Mira Barkhammar), Klara (Mira Grosin) and Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne) in 1980’s decide to form a punk band.  The only problem - they can’t play any instruments. Oh, and, by the way, they are told that punk is dead.  This is a joy of a film to watch as the three actress give incredible performances.  Grosin, who plays the outspoken Klara, pinballs from scene to scene with energy of a girl who wants to get everything she can out of life.  LeMoyne, playing the more restrained Hedvig, has real musical talent and a nice presence on screen.  The film relies on Barkhammar as Bobo, to carry the film and she does so with ease.  The musical soundtrack  helps the film move along, using old punk songs from the late 70’s and early eighties.  This is one of those films that you are glad you spent some time with the characters. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  We Are the Best! Website  
Forgotten FilmTie Me Up! Tie Me Down!  (1989) NC-17 A former mental patient (Antonio Banderas) seeks out a former lover (Victoria Abril), who happens to be an actress and part-time porn star.  When she rebukes his marriage proposal, he kidnaps her and holds her prisoner.  This film isn’t for everybody, but I found it funny and extremely witty.  Banderas is the best he has ever been in this film and has chemistry with Abril, who plays the woman he is trying to make love him, even though his methods are a bit extreme. Directed by Pedro Almodovar, it’s a film that never takes itself seriously. It’s a movie that just should be enjoyed. My Take:  Full Price  Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! Info
Weird Credits:  From the credits of Transformers: Age of Extinction: sculptor gang boss
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouBoyhood (2014) R The buzz from critics on this Richard Linklater film is hitting a fever pitch.  The film about a boy growing up, was shot over a 12 year time period. The film stars Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and  Elijah Smith. Boyhood Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, June 20, 2014

Jersey Boys

My ViewJersey Boys (2014)  R  The film tells the story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks who become the bestselling singing group, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  There are so many things that are wrong with this movie.  First, this is a movie with songs, not a musical (even though it’s based on the long-running Broadway musical).  What I mean by that is, in a musical a character breaks out into song, usually to express what is happening or how they are feeling.  In this film, each song is done when they perform in front of an audience (state fair or Ed Sullivan show), or they are in a recording studio. The film is incredibly choppy, and the narrative between songs jumps around the timeline very quickly.  One minute one of the characters is happily married, the next scene his marriage is in trouble due to him sleeping around and his wife becoming an alcoholic.  The characters narrate the film while talking to the camera, which can work in certain films (like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) but in this film, it works to make the film slow down and rarely gives us any insight to what is happening. The film has an R rating, solely due to the language in the film.  It’s a film where the Mob is involved heavily with the band, but there is almost no violence or sex. There is an incredibly creepy moment in the film when Valli, trying to comfort his daughter, sings "My Eyes Adored You." Finally, while John Lloyd Young comes close to singing like Frankie Valli, he has no charisma on screen, something the real Valli had just standing on stage.  All more frustrating is, during the closing credits, there is a rousing musical number with the whole cast singing and dancing in the streets of New Jersey, showing the potential of this film. I wish someone creative, like Martin Scorsese, would have directed this film. Instead, it’s Clint Eastwood, who plays it too close to the vest and gives us a boring film with songs.  My Rating: Cable  Jersey Boys Website

Indiefest: The Grand Seduction (2014) PG-13  A small fishing village must get a lucrative business contract to escape financial ruin, but their odds are slim as a town doctor is needed to land the contract. The problem is they've been searching for years for a doctor, and no one has taken the bait. After the mayor skips town, resident Murray French (Brendan Gleeson) takes it upon himself to find his village a doctor. The town is able to get a doctor to come but only for thirty days, now they must convince him that this town is paradise.  This is a delightful film to watch, a kind of combination of Northern Exposure meets Waking Ned Devine. Taylor Kitsch (yes, that Taylor Kitsch) is perfect as the big city doctor that the town is trying to woo. Brendan Gleeson is brilliant as the fisherman who has a plan to save the town. This is one of those films that you will want to buy to watch when you need a laugh.  It's incredibly well done and a joy to watch.  My Rating: Full Price  The Grand Seduction Website

Forgotten FilmMurderball (2005)  R This is a documentary about a group of young men who are quadriplegics who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs.  The men are trying to make it to the Paralympics in Athens.  It’s a rough sport and the men in this documentary hold nothing back, whether talking about the injuries, their sex life or how they compete in a grueling, tough sport.  It’s an inspiring film that makes you appreciate life and all it has to offer.  My Rating: Full Price  Murderball Fan Site

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)Dolphin Tale 2 (2014)  PG  I liked the first film, but it’s very hard to capture the magic twice.  Dolphin Tale 2 Website

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blue Ray)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 absolute 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. An absolute delight of a film.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  The Grand Budapest Hotel Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Jersey Boys: pig wrangler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You Life Itself (2013) R Documentary on one of my heroes, the Pulitzer Prize winning Roger Ebert.  Ebert was an incredibly talented writer who could make a film review seem like a work of a master artist.  Ebert was a flawed man, who battled many problems, but ultimately, he was a man who loved life.  I am guessing I will shed a tear or two watching this film.  Life Itself Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 13, 2014

22 Jump Street

My View:  22 Jump Street (2014)  R  The boys are back! Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) have left high school behind and now are ready to go undercover at the hallowed halls of a local university. Now that they are big men on campus, will their friendship survive?  I wasn’t a huge fan of the first film, but I did like some of the comedic moments, especially when some of the TV cast showed up.  I was mildly amused by this film but was put off by the number of jokes making fun of how homosexual Schmidt and Jenko’s relationship seems to be.  Too often the film went for the easy joke and sometimes it felt like we were watching a live action cartoon. At one point I swear I heard the Benny Hill theme music. I did enjoy the performance of Jillian Bell, who plays a roommate with an attitude. I think some people will enjoy this movie, but I can say I only liked it.  There is a funny sequence during the first part of the closing credits, and there is a very small bonus scene at the end of all the credits.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  22 Jump Street Website
Family FaireHow to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)  PG   It’s been five years since Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless the dragon saved the day and created peace between the dragons and the Vikings. Hiccup and Toothless stumble upon a faraway cave that houses hundreds of new wild dragons. The two friends discover that there is evil brewing as there is a Viking named, Drago (Djimon Hounsou), that plans on conquering the world.  I loved the first film and I very happy to say that the sequel is it’s equal, and due to the excellent animation, maybe even better.  The storyline moves at a quick pace, and the characters are fun and well developed, and the animation is incredibly detailed and colorful.  It’s film that kids and adults will both love, possibly seeing it several times.  The film also has a great message about friendship, family and taking responsibility.  Go see this film in 3-D, as it uses the technology to great advantage throughout the film, especially during the flying sequences. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  How to Train Your Dragon 2 Website
Forgotten FilmCat Ballou (1965) A young woman (Jane Fonda) wants her murdered father avenged. She hires a gunfighter (Lee Marvin) to fight her battles but she doesn’t realize that there is one problem, the gunfighter is a drunk.  This is a hilarious comedy that makes fun of all the arch-typical western stereotypes.  Fonda is excellent as the girl who thinks just about everything in the west is amazing.  Marvin is brilliant as the boozing gunfighter, Kid Shellen, making this film so much fun to watch.  My Rating: Full Price  Cat Ballou Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)Step Up: All In (2014)  PG-13  Dancers from the previous films compete in a dance off in Las Vegas.  I think I will sit this one out.  Step Up: All In Facebook page   
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blue Ray):  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.  I enjoyed this action film, especially the interplay between Pine and Kevin Costner, who recruits Pine’s character into the CIA.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of 22 Jump Street:  Football coordinator 

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Snowpiercer (2014) R In the future, almost all life on Earth has perished.  The only people still alive are on a train that travels across the globe.  The film sounds really weird but the trailer makes it look awesome.  Snowpiercer Website 
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

My ViewThe Fault in Our Stars (2014) PG-13  Gus (Ansel Elgort) is a cancer survivor with a prosthetic leg.  Hazel (Shailene Woodley) has cancer, and her constant companion is an oxygen tank.  They meet  at a cancer support group and fall in love.  Just how long will this relationship last?  Get out your box of tissues (you will need a full box), and get ready for an excellent story of how thrilling first loves can be and how life can be so unfair.  Woodley, in her best performance to-date, is magical as the girl fighting cancer with her attitude and her heart. Elgort is perfectly cast as the boy with a great sense of humor who falls hard for Hazel. Their chemistry is amazing to watch, and there is a real connection between the two. While cancer is present in almost every scene (almost as its own character), the real heart of the story is about two people finding each other and accepting that they must make every moment count.  My only complaint (and it’s a small one) is that there were moments in the film where I got choked up, but there never was that big, hard hitting emotional spot, just a whole bunch of little ones. My Rating: Full Price  The Fault in Our Stars Website

IndiefestCold in July (2014) R Awakened in the middle of the night, Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) kills an unarmed intruder in his home.  When the dead man’s father (Sam Shepard) shows up, Richard feels threatened.  So he hires a private detective (Don Johnson) to protect him and his family, but things just get more and more complicated.  I loved this suspenseful film that had numerous twists and turns with one big twist that I didn’t see coming.  Hall does an excellent job of playing a man who gets deeper and deeper into a situation that he isn’t equipped to handle.  Shepard is perfect as a man who could explode at any moment. I loved Don Johnson as the outrageous P.I., chewing up scenery with gusto.  This is a brilliant film that keeps you on your toes.  My Rating: Full Price  Cold in July Website  

IndiefestWords and Pictures (2014)  PG-13 Dina Delsanto (Juliette Binoche) is an artist who has developed rheumatoid arthritis. She needs help on a daily basis to get around, so she moves to a new town and begins teaching at a prestigious private high school. She instantly clashes with the English teacher, Jack Marcus (Clive Owen), an alcoholic writer who hasn’t written anything in years. Now the question is which is more meaningful…words or pictures?  Binoche and Owen are let down by the script, which starts out strong but ends up being predictable and heavy-handed.  The film works best during the first half where the two characters are debating, but as the film progresses, and the two become more than just colleagues, their chemistry seems to fizzle. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Words and Pictures Website

Forgotten Film: Klute (1971) R  John Klute (Donald Sutherland) is a Private Investigator who is hired to find out what happened to a businessman who has been missing for six months.  His only clue - a handwritten obscene letter written to a Manhattan call girl (Jane Fonda) by the missing man.  Now, Klute is part of a cat and mouse game where no one can be trusted and his life may be in danger.  This is an interesting film where you really don’t know what is going on or whom you can trust.  Sutherland is very different in this role, playing a man who isn’t too sure of himself or his abilities. Fonda is absolutely gorgeous and is perfect in the part of the call girl who is in way over her head.  It’s a film that will keep you guessing until the very end.  My Rating:  Full Price Klute Info

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray):  Son of God (2014) PG-13 The story of Jesus (Diogo Morgado) from his humble beginnings, his lifelong teaching, his crucifixion and to his resurrection.  Morgado is admirable in the role and has a pleasing presence on the screen with the perfect amount of charisma the part needs.  I felt that while Son of God isn’t a bad film, it just doesn’t bring anything new to the story of Jesus.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee Son of God Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Fault in Our Stars:  Textile Artist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouWish I Was Here (2014)  Zach Braff is a father who, at age 35, is still trying to find his way.  His life is changed when he takes his kids out of private school and begins home schooling them.  I really enjoyed Braff’s first film that he wrote and directed, Garden State (2004), so I can’t wait for this one.   Wish I Was Here Website
Until Next Time!