Thursday, December 25, 2014

Into the Woods

My View: Into The Woods (2014) PG  A childless couple (Emily Blunt, James Corden) makes a deal with The Witch (Meryl Streep) to get the child they have always wanted. That deal will come back to haunt them. Corden and Blunt are the standouts in this very large cast. Blunt just shines on the screen and has a lovely singing voice. Corden has a knack for comedy and belts out his songs with a strong, clear voice. Be warned - this film can be dark and is not your normal Disney fairy tale. There are deaths, double crosses, infidelity, and not every story ends happily ever-after. While I liked this film, I didn’t love it. It tends to start and stop a bit, and the last third of the film bogs down. Also, Johnny Depp plays the Big Bad Wolf, and his scenes with Little Red Riding Hood are so creepy I almost called the police to report child endangerment.  Meryl Streep gives an brilliant performance, as does Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, but the film lacks energy at important parts and, therefore, is a mild disappointment. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Into The Woods Website
My View: The Interview (2014)  R   Dave Skylark (James Franco) is the star of a popular celebrity tabloid TV show called, "Skylark Tonight." It's the type of show that focuses on such topics as, “Does Miley show too much,” or that Rob Lowe is bald. Skylark’s producer, Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), wants to do more serious news items but is always being shot down by Skylark. When the two discover that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is a big fan of the show, they attempt to land an interview with him, one of the most isolated leaders in the world. They land the interview and prepare to travel to Pyongyang when the CIA comes knocking on their door with a request - take out the Supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. The film starts on a high note with a North Korean girl singing a song that promises the downfall of the U.S. Unfortunately, the film never is as funny as that moment and gives you the feeling that you are seeing a poor man's “Anchorman.” This film is about what you would expect from a film co-written/co-directed by Seth Rogen with lots of jokes about sex acts and bodily functions. While I wasn't surprised by the crassness, I was shocked by the amount of violence. There are some laughs, but the film never sustains any topic very long, which makes it extremely predictable. It’s that un-predictability made Rogen and Franco’s last film, This is the End (2013), so much fun. I think the hackers should have just let the film be released It would have died very quickly, much to the happiness of the Supreme Leader. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  "The Interview" Website  

My View: Selma (2014) PG-13   Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) changed a nation with his civil rights marches at Selma, Alabama. After the bombing of a church in Birmingham which killed four young girls, King decided that the right to vote was his next mission, and Selma was the place to start. Let me start out by saying Oyelowo’s performance is one of the best of the year. He has King’s cadence down pat, and your eyes (as they should) are always drawn to him. The film is moving and shows how hard it was to tackle the issues of the day, not only with the government, but within King’s ranks. Stephan James stands out in this big cast as a very young John Lewis. My favorite scene in this film is where King is driving John Lewis in a car, and Lewis conveys to King, in a very moving speech, just how important King is. I highly recommend this film. My Rating: Full Price  Selma Website

Indiefest: Big Eyes (2014) PG-13   Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) has a secret. Her husband (Christoph Waltz) isn’t the painter the world thinks he is. Margaret is the creator of the “big eyes” portraits that the world has fallen in love with. Both Adams and Waltz give superlative performances, with Waltz bringing another of his trademark disturbed characters to the screen. What I didn’t like about this film is it never could quite decide what type of film it wanted to be. Tim Burton directs, and I don’t know if he meant the film to be a satire, a drama or a comedy. It’s all three but at no time stays in one genre for long. It’s a provocative film that never finds its footing. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Big Eyes Website
My View: Unbroken (2014) PG-13   Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) was an Olympic runner who had a bright future ahead of him. After a near-fatal plane crash in World War II, Zamperini now must survive a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Before anyone had seen this film, critics were saying this could become an Oscar contender. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s not. While it does have some excellent performances, especially Jack O’Connell as Zamperini, the film at no time hits the emotional points that it needs to. I wanted the film to peel away the layers of Zamperini’s psyche, but we never get that. Angelina Jolie directed the movie, and while it’s a first-rate film, there never is that spectacular shot nor is there ever the big, moving scene that I needed from this type of film. Instead of marveling about the man, you just walk away thinking “he went through some bad times.”   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Unbroken Website  

Indiefest: The Imitation Game (2014) PG-13   English mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is given the task of breaking the Enigma code used by the Nazi’s during World War II. Cumberbatch gives another one of his compelling and complex performances in this film. It’s an absorbing film about a man who saved lives without the recognition. I would have liked the role that Keira Knightley plays – a woman who works on the project - to have been more quirky. I just didn’t believe that she would still be alone at age 25. I mean, it’s Keira “she’s striking” Knightley, for God’s sake. It’s a thought-provoking film that makes what could have been a rather dull subject into a film that keeps moving at an enticing pace. My Rating: Full Price  The Imitation Game Website

Forgotten Film: We’re No Angels (1955) Three convicts (Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov) escape from Devil Island and find themselves in a tiny French coastal town. The three decide to con a small family until they realize that the family's financial situation is in dire straits. They decide to use their vast criminal skills to help the family out and make their Christmas a little better. Who doesn’t want a little Bogart magic in their holiday film? The three principals have a blast, and it’s just so much fun watching them perform. Do not confuse this with that 1989 stinker of a film that starred Robert De Niro and Sean Penn. My Rating: Full Price  We're No Angels Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Into the Woods: Crashing Tree Sounds

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Leviathan (2014) This Russian film about a man who tries to fight the system in a small coastal village is getting great reviews by critics. It’s nominated for a Golden Globe and is on the short list for the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film.  
Until Next Time!

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