Friday, August 29, 2014

The November Man

My ViewThe November Man  (2014) R  An ex-CIA operative (Pierce Brosnan) is brought back into the investigative game when a former colleague returns to create turmoil.  This film is predictable and fits the mold of some really boring 80’s spy films.  Other than Brosnan, the producers of the film didn’t spend any money on the cast, most of which aren’t recognizable.  The first thirty minutes is so confusing that I just kind of gave up trying to figure out the storyline and just watched the action.  As with the rest of the film, the action sequences are just ordinary ones, so overall the film becomes very bland and boring.  This was what I call a “vanity piece,” something an actor does to make himself feel better.  For Brosnan, it was to prove he can still do action films.  He can, just not well.  My Rating: Cable  The November Man Website

IndiefestLife of Crime (2013) R Two criminals (Mos Def, John Hawkes) kidnap the wife (Jennifer Aniston) of a corrupt land developer (Tim Robbins).  They demand one million dollars.  The only problem is, the developer doesn’t want his wife back. This is one of the few films that captures the magic of an Elmore Leonard novel.  Funny and sharp, with great performances, especially John Hawkes, the film moves at a rapid pace with a few twists and turns along the way.  Aniston has marvelous incredible chemistry with Hawkes, and Robbins is very funny as the evil husband who doesn’t want to spend the money to get his wife back.  It was immensely fun to watch, and I highly recommend seeing this film. My Rating:  Full Price   Life of Crime Website

Indiefest: The Trip to Italy  (2014)  The two travelers (Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon) go on another trip to eat their way across Italy. This is a sequel to The Trip (2010) but, instead of traveling around to restaurants in Britain, the two go to Italy and eat their way across the country.  Both Coogan and Brydon are basically playing themselves, two actors who like each other’s company and enjoy trying to outdo each other with impressions.  There is an incredibly funny sequence where they do impressions of Christian Bale and Tom Hardy, as Batman and Bane, doing a radio commercial where the people listening can’t understand at all what they are saying.  It’s a funny film that is also gorgeous because of the beautiful Italian scenery. My Rating:  Full Price  The Trip to Italy Website

IndiefestFrank  (2014)  Jon (Domhnail Gleeson) joins a rather strange band led by Frank (Michael Fassbender), who wears a large papier-mâché head 24 hours a day. The first half of this film is a lot of fun to watch but the second half of this film turns very dark and morbid.  I enjoyed some of the performances, especially Michael Fassbender’s, who does more with a paper-mache head on (the whole film) than some actors due their entire career.  But I hated the ending and would have preferred it to have stayed more light-hearted like the first half. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Frank Website
Forgotten Film:   Dog Day Afternoon (1975) R A man (Al Pacino) robs a bank but before he can exit the building, the cops surround him and he has to take the bank employees hostage.  This is one of the better Al Pacino performances and the late John Cazale is mesmerizing as Pacino’s friend.  It’s a film that is full of the New York City summer feel, A  rather gritty film with an outstanding cast.  My Rating: Full Price  Dog Day Afternoon Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Frank:  frank head model-maker

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You No Good Deed (2014)  A thriller about an escaped convict (Idris Elba) who charms his way into a home of a homemaker (Taraji P. Henson) and her two small children.  Elba and Henson, I’m in!  No Good Deed Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

My View:  Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For  (2014) R The characters of Sin City, including Marv (Mickey Rourke), Nancy (Jessica Alba), Dwight (Josh Brolin) and Gail (Rosario Dawson), are back for another storyline. I enjoyed the first hour of this film, but the storyline takes too long to develop, and the last thirty minutes just seems to drag.  Mickey Rourke is amazing to watch in this film, and I always enjoy Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s work on-screen.  I thought the look of the film was creative and is much better than the first Sin City film.  I just wish the storylines were more-thought out and the timeline made sense. I felt the 3-D in the film wasn’t used to its potential, so I recommend the 2-D screening.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Website
IndiefestIf I Stay  (2014) PG-13  A young woman’s (Chloe Grace Moretz) world is changed in an instant when she lapses into a coma after a horrific car accident.  During an out-of-body experience, she must decide to wake up to a life that she never imagined she would live.  I probably enjoyed this movie more than I should have just because I love Chloe Grace Moretz, who I think is one of the better young actresses out there.  The dialogue is rather clunky, and there are way too many moments that feel clichéd and forced.  The film gets confusing, at times, due to the repeated flashbacks, and the ending is highly predictable, however, the critic sitting next to me at the screening starting crying about half way through the film and didn’t stop until it was over.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  If I Stay Website
My ViewWhen the Game Stands Tall  (2014) PG High school football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) is a legend after leading his team to a 151-game winning streak.  His skill and compassion will be tested when he loses more than just a game.  This faith-based movie just never quite gets going with an incredibly low-key performance by Jim Caviezel who acts like he just woke up throughout the film.  This film never touches the heartstrings, and it goes on at least twenty-five minutes too long.  I did like Laura Dern who plays the coach's wife, and Michael Chiklis is a lot of fun to watch as the high-strung assistant coach. I think young kids will enjoy all the football action, but the rest of us will be bored.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  When the Game Stands Tall Website
IndiefestAlive Inside  (2014) This is a documentary about Dan Cohen, who tries to provide music to nursing home patients who are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.  The results are astounding as music apparently has the ability to combat memory loss and bring fulfillment to those suffering from it.  This is an intensely moving documentary that has some stunning moments in it.  To see the joy of music on the faces of people suffering from dementia is so beautiful to watch.  There are some unbelievable transformations in the film, including a 94-year-old man who rarely interacts with people and usually keeps his eyes closed and his chin on his chest, who comes alive when listening to music.  He even starts singing and dancing while seated in his wheelchair.  My Rating: Full Price  Alive Inside Website
Forgotten FilmMask (1985) R Rocky (Eric Stoltz) is an ordinary teenager with one problem -  he has a massive facial skull deformity.  He is being brought up by Rusty (Cher), a single mom determined that her son live a normal life.  Cher is the reason to see this film, and she does an impressive job of playing a woman who speaks her mind, making sure that her son is treated like any other kid. She has tremendous chemistry with Stoltz, which makes their relationship the center of the film.  Sam Elliott is perfect as Cher’s biker boyfriend.  This is a feel good movie that is inspiring to watch.  My Rating:  Full Price  Mask Info

Weird Credits:  From the film Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For:  hair and makeup driver

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Life of Crime  (2014) R Two criminals (Mos Def, John Hawkes) kidnap the wife (Jennifer Aniston) of a corrupt land developer (Tim Robbins).  They demand 1 million dollars; the problem is the developer doesn’t want his wife back. Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, the film has been in pre-production since the 80’s.  This film has a great cast lead by Oscar nominee John Hawkes.  Life of Crime Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Expendables 3

My View: The Expendables 3 (2014) PG-13 Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) adds to his band of mercenaries to take on co-founder of the Expendables, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). Stonebanks has become a notorious arms dealer and is bent on wiping out Barney and his team.  If you liked the first two films of this series, I think you will be disappointed with this one. Stallone, who came up with the concept of the series and this storyline, has given too much screen time to the new cast members, most of which don’t have near the star power than the old-timers, Gibson, Arnold or Snipes. Also, this is the first film in the series to have a PG-13 rating (instead of an R), and the level of violence is so toned down that some of the battles could have been in a kid's film. The fun of this series is to see screen legends try to recapture their glory action days. Unfortunately, Stallone chose to give the new guys as much, if not more screen time, than the legends. My Rating: Cable  The Expendables 3 Website

My View: The Giver (2014) PG-13  In a world where there are no wars, conflict, racism or sickness, every member of society has a specific role. 16-year-old Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) has been given the job of being the Receiver of Memory.  Once again we have a Young Adult book that is so much better than the film. The lead, Thwaites isn’t bad, but much like the movie, is kind of bland and boring. Unlike The Hunger Games or Divergent, this film has almost no action and suffers for it. Jeff Bridges, who plays “The Giver,” is, as usual, superb, but even he can’t spice up this film. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Giver Website

Indiefest: What If  (2014) PG-13  Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) hasn’t had much luck in love. He meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), and they instantly become best friends. Too bad Chantry has a boyfriend as Wallace slowly realizes that she is the woman of his dreams. I loved this movie due to it’s great dialogue. The chemistry between Radcliffe and Kazan is impressive, and their bantering back and forth is what makes this film so much fun. The supporting cast is outstanding with Adam Driver as Wallace’s roommate / best friend and Mackenzie Davis as the crazy girlfriend adds a nice spice to the film. This is a romantic comedy that works, hitting all the right spots.    My Rating: Full Price  What If Website

Indiefest: Calvary (2014) R Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) is taking confessionals when a parishioner tells the Father that he was abused as a child by a priest and plans on killing the Father next Sunday. Now, will Father Lavelle die for someone else’s sins?  I loved the 2011 film The Guard, which starred Gleeson and was written / directed by the man who brings us this film, John Michael McDonagh. Unfortunately, this film isn’t on the same level as it doesn’t balance the comedy parts with the drama. It’s a rather depressing film with very few likeable characters. Gleeson is brilliant, but the script just doesn’t match his performance. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Calgary Website

Indiefest: Land Ho! (2014) R Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) and Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) are former brothers-in-laws. Now, they are off to seek adventures in Iceland. This is a marvelous quiet, unassuming film about two men dealing with the aspects of aging. The chemistry between the two men is impressive, and the dialogue is natural. At times funny, this moving film is a joy to watch, and the scenery of Iceland is beautiful and breathtaking. It’s a film with not a lot of action, but it’s a fun ride. My Rating: Full Price   Land Ho! Website

Forgotten Film: Moscow on the Hudson (1984) R A Russian saxophone player (Robin Williams) for a traveling circus defects to the U.S. in the middle of Bloomingdales. After living in the tough winters of Moscow, you would think that Vladimir would find it easy to live in New York City, but he has a tough time adjusting to his new world. Robin Williams gives an outstanding, understated performance as a sweet, quiet man struggling to come to terms with his brand new situation. Two scenes stand out for me; Vladimir has a panic attack when he becomes overwhelmed by the excess of a grocery store, and, at a late night diner, people from different nationalities recite the Declaration of Independence. Added bonus is Maria Conchita Alonso is brilliant as the Bloomingdales saleswoman who takes Vladimir under her wing. My Rating: Full Price  Moscow on the Hudson Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Expendables 3: Russian arm precision driver

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Love Is Strange (2014) R After Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are married, they fall on hard times and have to live separately with friends which makes it difficult for them to stay married. This film has been playing to rave reviews and big crowds on the film festival circuit. 
Until Next Time!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

My ViewTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) PG-13 Shredder and his evil gang have taken over New York City, that is until a certain group of four brothers rise up from the sewers.  Those brothers are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  First, let me say that I have never seen a movie with more blatant product placement.  And, this movie should be called April O’Neil and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as Megan Fox, playing O’Neil, has as much screen time as the Turtles.  It’s a movie that takes forever to get going and seems to want to explain every little item in the history of the Ninja Turtles. There are a few good action sequences, and there are a few funny scenes, but it wasn’t enough for me to enjoy the film.  And I never want to see Megan Fox trying to act ever again.  My Rating: Cable  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Website

My ViewInto the Storm (2014) PG-13 A group of storm chasers try to follow the storm of a lifetime.  While the residents of Silverton try to take shelter and survive, the storm chasers are out in the elements risking their lives to document this Category 6 storm.  The dialogue is bad, and the acting is mediocre, but that’s not why you see one on these films. It’s all about the special effects, and this movie has them!  Who doesn’t want to see a tornado made of fire next to a church or cars flying into the air like they are pieces of paper?  This is a fun ride that doesn’t take itself too seriously and full of exciting action sequences almost from the start.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Into the Storm Website

Indiefest:  Magic in the Moonlight (2014) PG-13 A stuffy English magician (Colin Firth) is brought in to expose a clairvoyant (Emma Stone) who has worked her way into the good graces of a very wealthy family. This should have been a better movie with this cast.  While Firth and Stone have good chemistry on-screen, their age difference, combined with the fact that it’s a Woody Allen film, make their romance a little creepy.  The film starts off with a bang, showing Firth, the magician, working on-stage during a performance, but the film goes downhill once it gets to the south of France, where Firth is trying to prove that Stone’s character is a fraud. The film is rarely funny and wastes the cast’s talents. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Magic in the Moonlight Website

Indiefest:  The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014) PG Hassan (Manish Dayai) and his family have moved to France from India to open a restaurant.  Unfortunately, they have opened their restaurant right across the road from Madame Mallory’s (Helen Mirren) fine French establishment.  Now it is a battle between the two restaurants, and Madame Mallory is one tough chef!  I liked the first two-thirds of the film, especially the early scenes where the young Hassan is learning how to cook. While Helen Mirren is enjoyable as the cranky Madame Mallory, the role isn’t up to her lofty standards.  I did like the love interest for Hassan, and Marguerite, played by Charlotte Le Bon, but the film feels flat and weak.  Also, I never quite felt the passion for the food, like I did when I watched the much better Chef (2014).  It’s not a bad film, just one without a lot of substance.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  The Hundred-Foot Website

Indiefest:  Mood Indigo  (2014)  Colin (Romain Duris) is a wealthy bachelor who likes to invent things.  He is unlucky in love until he meets Chole (Audrey Tautou), and they soon fall in love.  Their romance is threatened when Chole develops a mysterious illness, caused by a flower growing in her lungs.  Now he fights to discover how to cure Chole.  The start of this film is an amazing treat to watch as it is filled with stop motion animation.  Colin’s apartment is piled with his inventions, most of which interact with him on a daily basis, such as a door alarm that crawls down the wall like a bug.  But the film becomes an unhappy mess as it goes along, getting darker and darker, ruining what was a light-hearted romance.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Mood Indigo Website

Forgotten FilmThe Duelists  1977)  Two French officers, during Napoleonic times, repeatedly duel through the years as the brash Ferraud (Harvey Keitel) seeks justice through a duel with the noble D/Hubert (Keith Carradine).  This intriguing film, directed by Tony Scott, is a fascinating look at how someone can be obsessed with revenge, so much so that he forgets what the original insult was. The editing and the performance of Keitel are what makes this film so interesting to watch.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Duelists Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: stunt pre-viz

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouLeft Behind (2014)  Millions of people have vanished, and a small group of survivors are left behind to figure out what happened.  Can we have a telethon or Kickstarter campaign to raise money for Nicolas Cage so he can stop making movies for awhile?  Left Behind Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

My View: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)  PG-13  Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a thief who goes by the name, Star-Lord, and who travels through the Galaxy stealing objects for a group of smugglers called, the Ravagers. After stealing an orb, he discovers that everyone in the Galaxy wants the orb due to its immense power. Now, he must team up with some fellow misfits to keep the orb from the evil Ronan (Lee Pace). This film is a blast to watch! You’ll have to see the film twice, as you’ll miss dialogue because you’re laughing so hard. The storyline is creative, and the special effects are amazing.  Chris Pratt is going to be a big star because of this film. Besides Pratt, the two breakout stars are Groot, a tree-like humanoid voiced by Vin Diesel, and Rocket, a talking, genetically engineered raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper. Both are animated for the film, and they are the funniest buddy team since Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte paired up in 48 Hours (1988). Audiences are going to fall in love with Groot, who only delivers one line, “I am Groot.” The soundtrack is fun, and the film has a number of great fight / battle sequences. It’s worth seeing in 3-D, and there is a special added scene at the end of the credits. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Guardians of the Galaxy Website

My View: Get On Up (2014)  PG-13  The story of James Brown (Chadwick Boseman), his rise from poverty to one of the biggest icons in the music world.  Boseman makes an amazing James Brown, and gets all the dance moves of Brown’s down to perfection. The concert portions of the film are very well done and give you the experience of seeing one of the great showman’s ever work a crowd. Unfortunately, Boseman and the rest of the excellent cast are let down by the script. The film shifts its timeline constantly, which makes the film stop and start too many times. In addition, on a number of occasions, Brown leaves the scene he is in to address the audience directly, commenting on what is happening. That breaking of “the fourth wall” is too jarring and doesn’t help us understand the characters or the story. The film is too long and doesn’t explore Brown’s struggle with addiction and his bad behavior with women. I loved the music and Boseman’s performance; I just wish it was in a better film. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Get On Up Website

Indiefest: Boyhood (2014)   We watch Mason, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) grow up from age 6 to age 18 as he experiences the trials and tribulations of a son from a broken marriage.  This is an stunninggroundbreaking film that is one of the best movies I have seen in the past five years. Shot over twelve years, this film features four main characters who grow both physically and emotionally. This is a very simple story of a family trying to survive a marriage that, as we open the film, has just collapsed. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke play the parents of Mason. Lorelei Linklater plays Mason’s sister. The whole cast does an unbelievable job of making us care about this family and their well-being. Richard Linklater directed / wrote this film, and it’s one you should not miss. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Boyhood Website

Indiefest: Happy Christmas (2014) R  Twenty-something Jenny (Anna Kendrick) arrives at her brother’s house with bag in-hand and no idea how long she will stay. Her brother, Jeff (Joe Swanberg), is a filmmaker married to his novelist wife, Kelly (Melanie Lynskey). The idea is that Jenny can live with them for a while if she helps care for Jeff and Kelly’s two-year-old son. The question is, can Jenny be trusted with that much responsibility? The reason to watch this film is the lead, Anna Kendrick, and the supporting actress, Melanie Lynskey. Kendrick is her usual delightful self in a role that isn’t so lovable. Lynskey, using her native New Zealand accent, is impressive as the mom who has given up her life as a novelist to raise her son. What makes this film unique is that all the dialogue is ad-libbed by the cast. My Rating: Full Price  Happy Christmas Website

Forgotten Film: Manhunter (1986)   A ex-FBI profiler (William Petersen) is called out of retirement because a serial killer named, “Tooth Fairy” is terrorizing a town.  To catch the killer, the profiler will have to consult with another serial killer who is behind bars, Dr. Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox). This is an interesting film that keeps you guessing up until the very end. Cox makes a really creepy Lecktor, and Petersen is at the top of his game as the profiler who hoped police work was in his past. This film is just as good as Silence of the Lambs.  See it!. My Rating: Full Price  Manhunter Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Get On Up: playback singer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: If I Stay (2014) PG-13  Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a young girl who, after a car accident, is in a coma. She has an out-of-body experience where she is given the choice of waking up or going on to the afterlife. I think Moretz is one of the better up-and-coming actresses in Hollywood today, and I love watching her on-screen.  If I Stay Website
Until Next Time!