Friday, May 30, 2014

Maleficent

My ViewMaleficent (2014) Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) puts a curse on  the child (Elle Fanning) only to realize that the child may be the key to peace in her kingdom.  This is a retelling of the “Sleeping Beauty” tale from a perspective of the villain in the film, a fairy instead of an evil witch.  Maleficent was good once but after being attacked and betrayed by humans, she turns vindictive and evil.  Jolie is the best part of the film, as she tackles the role with gusto.  The special effects are tremendous, and the film is worth seeing in 3-D, as there are a number of flying scenes that use the technology to great effect.  My problem with the film is that there is very little plot, it’s almost as if the film’s art director made all of the decisions, making the film look great without a lot of content.  A bit of warning, this film may be too scary for the 5 year old and under group. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Maleficent Website
My ViewA Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) Albert (Seth MacFarlane) is a down on his luck farmer when he meets a beautiful woman named, Anna (Charlize Theron) and instantly falls in love with her.  She feels the same way. but there is a problem.  She is married.  And, not only is she married, she is married to the meanest, fastest gunfighter in the west (Liam Neeson).  You have officially been warned that this is an incredibly raunchy comedy and it not for everyone.  If you liked Ted and are a fan of MacFarlane’s Family Guy, you will like this film.  MacFarlane pushes the boundaries of comedy at just about every turn in this film.  I loved Theron as the cowgirl on the run from her mean husband.  There is a nice chemistry between Theron and MacFarlane and their scenes together are some of the best of the film.  I give kudos to Amanda Seyfried, who plays Albert’s ex-flame, because she allows MacFarlane in several scenes to make fun of her rather large eyes.  Some of this film doesn’t work, mostly due to the fact that we are supposed to instantly like Albert, and we really don’t. I would have liked more scenes with Neeson, who looks like he was having a blast with the part.  This film isn’t for everybody but I did find myself laughing at numerous scenes in the film and overall had a good time watching it.  Be sure to stay through all the credits, as there are two bonus scenes, one in the middle of the credits and one at the end of all credits.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  A Million Ways to Die in the West Website
                                                            
IndiefestIda  (2013) Set in Poland during the 1960’s, Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska) is a young novitiate nun, happily preparing to take her vows.  She is content with her life and is looking forward to making the next step to become a nun. Her world is changed when she is brought into the Mother Superior’s office and told that before she can take her vows she must make a trip to see her only living relative, an aunt named Wanda (Agata Kulesza).  When she talks to her aunt, Anna discovers that her real name is Ida, and her Jewish parents gave her up for adoption to a Catholic priest before they were killed in World War II.  This is a heart wrenching, moving film from Poland that uses its black and white cinematography to full effect. Trzebuchowska is stunning in the role of the innocent young Anna, who has led a sheltered life and now has to deal with the harsh realities of her past.   It’s a moving performance and amazing film that will stay with you long after leaving the theatre. My Rating: Full Price  Ida Website
Forgotten Film: Sleuth (1972) Andrew (Laurence Olivier) and Milo (Michael Caine) are two friends who have something in common, Milo has just run off with Andrew’s wife. Andrew invites Milo to his house and hatches an elaborate scheme for Milo to break into his house and steal his wife’s jewels. That way, Andrew’s wife gets the jewels, and Andrew can get the insurance money.  But this cat and mouse gave quickly escalates and both men know that someone just might die tonight.  This is a fascinating film full of great twists and turns with two actors at the top of their games.  If you like smart, suspenseful films where both the dialogue and the acting are brilliant, this is the film for you.  My Rating: Full Price  Sleuth Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray):  The Monuments Men (2014)  An unlikely group of World War II soldiers is put together to create a platoon whose job it is to rescue stolen art masterpieces from the Nazis before they destroy them. The strength of this film is its cast with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bob Balaban and Jean Dujardin all making up the squadron that is in charge of trying to rescue the art.  I liked this film but with the cast this film has I should have loved it. The cast is let down by the script as it can never find the right tone for the film, and the film, at times light and funny, never seems to find the right mix to put in the hardships of war.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Monuments Men Website

Weird Credits:  In the credits of Maleficent:  Weather consultant


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Tammy (2014)  A road trip movie starring Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon.  Right there is enough to get me to watch.  Tammy Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, May 23, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

My View: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) PG-13 Professor X  (Patrick Stewart) discovers that there is an event that could destroy both mutants and humans.  So, the X-Men send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to team up with the X-Men of the past to stop the event from happening.  This film is an exciting addition to the Marvel film universe that moves at a rip-roaring pace.  There are some great action sequences throughout the film with a couple of battle sequences that really use the full 3-D effects.  It also helps that the movie’s best actors, Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence, are the main characters in this film.  The storyline is well thought out and, with the best of the Marvel films, contains some humor to lighten the load.  I think any Sci-Fi fan is going to be happy with this film and, as usual with Marvel films, stay for an extra scene that appears after the credits.  My Rating: Full Price  X-Men: Days of Future Past Website
Indiefest: Chef  (2014)  R Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) was once the toast of the culinary world.  But, Carl is stuck in a rut and loses his job when he tries to change up the menu.  He decides to travel with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) to take care of their son (Emjay Anthony) while she goes to meetings.  There, Carl discovers a used food truck and decides to buy it.  He then travels in the food truck, across country, back to L.A., taking his son on a trip they will never forget.  I loved this film about a man trying to find his passion for cooking and reconnect with his son.  This is a film that foodies will just eat up as there are extraordinary  shots of food being prepared and served. The biggest surprise of this movie is what a wonderfully restrained performance Sofia Vergara gives as the Carl’s ex-wife.  I also liked that Carl and his ex-wife communicate in an effort to work together for the benefit of their son (unlike other recent films where the couple just yells at each other; I’m looking at you Blended).  This is a road trip film that will make you want a grilled cheese sandwich right after you get out of the theatre.  My Rating:  Full Price  Chef Website 
My View: Blended  (2014) PG-13 Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore) went on a blind date that turned out horribly.  Now they both find themselves stuck with each other and their families on a dream vacation to Africa.  What can go wrong?  This biggest problem with this film, and there are many, is that it can’t decide if it’s a family film or a film for frat boys.  Unfortunately, it’s both, and the mix isn’t good.  The film is almost two hours long but felt like three.  The chemistry that Sandler and Barrymore had isn’t there anymore.  I also didn’t think either parent was doing a good job to begin with (Barrymore lets her kid have a temper tantrum on the Little League field), so why should we root for them to get together?  I don’t think I laughed once as this film goes for the cheap and easy joke.  My guess is Sandler wanted to spend time in Africa, so he made this movie.  Next time, can we just see the family slide show?  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Blended Website 
Forgotten FilmThe Commitments (1991) R Jimmy (Robert Arkins) is on a mission, and he won’t let anyone stop him.  He decides to form, “The World’s Hardest Working Band” and bring soul music to Ireland.  The music in this film is impressive and moving. Everyone on screen can actually sing and play instruments, and it shows on screen.  This is an entertaining and  lively film with some stunning performances.  If you like films that have lots of music, and you like to root for the underdog, then this one is for you.  My Rating: Full Price  The Commitments Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray): 3 Days to Kill (2014) PG-13 Kevin Costner plays a Secret Service agent where he has to kill a wanted terrorist before he retires.  It’s a very strange film that doesn’t work on any level.  Costner has been making some good movies lately but this isn’t one of them. My Rating:  Cable  3 Days to Kill Website
Weird Credits:  From the credits of Only Lovers Left Alive: Prop Truck Driver
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouGuardians of the Galaxy (2014)  Hey, who wouldn’t want to see a film with a raccoon that shoots high powered machine guns? Guardians of the Galaxy Website
Until Next Time!



Friday, May 16, 2014

Godzilla

My View:  Godzilla (2014)  PG-13  Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife, Sandra (Juliette Binoche) work at a nuclear reactor site in Japan.  Joe is concerned about unusual seismic activity that has been occurring in the past weeks.  He soon discovers that something big is coming toward the reactor, and  it’s not an earthquake.   If you are a fan of the Godzilla films, you will not be disappointed.  The film does a great job of honoring the Godzilla film heritage, making the monster bigger and badder than ever before.  This is without a doubt the best cast of any Godzilla film, but other than Cranston, very few of the cast are used to their full advantage.  I love Elizabeth Olsen, but most of her screen time is dedicated to either worrying or crying about her family.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays her husband and is the son of Joe and Sandra.  Taylor-Johnson does most of the action sequences well, but he has no charisma, and there isn’t any chemistry between his and Olsen’s character.  But you don’t go to a film like this for the humans, it’s all about the monsters and the destruction, and there is plenty to go around.  The film is loud, fun and had the audience cheering when Godzilla did any of his signature moves. The film does a great job of teasing us with glimpses of Godzilla before we finally get to see him in all his glory.  The film was not shot in 3-D, so save a few extra bucks, but you will want to see this one in the theatre, so you can see, full-on, the massive monster destroy a few cities.  The bigger the screen, the better.  My Rating: Full Price  Godzilla Website

Family Faire: Million Dollar Arm (2014) PG  A sports agent, JB (Jon Hamm,) who has seen better days, needs the next big thing to resurrect his career.  He gets the idea to go to India and find cricket players who could make it in Major League Baseball.  I liked the first hour of this film, though you don’t like JB as he is a vain jerk who only complains about being in India, instead of marveling at the sites, as the Taj Mahal. Lake Bell plays the love interest, a doctor who rents out his guest house, and as cute as Bell is, you never see why she would be interested in JB. The problem with this film is the whole second half of the movie is filled with every clich├ę in the book.  By the end of the two hours (did we really need a full two hours to tell this story), you  don’t care what happens.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee Million Dollar Arm Website 

IndiefestThe Double  (2013) R  Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) is the type of guy whom nobody notices.  He works as a clerk in a government job and is secretly in love with a co-worker named, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska).  One day Jesse (Jesse Eisenberg) shows up, looking exactly like Simon, and he’s everything that Simon isn’t; confident, brash and has a winning personality that everyone loves.  Worst yet, Hannah likes him too. This is an insane film where Jesse Eisenberg plays two characters who look exactly alike but act very differently.  Part comedy, part tragedy, it’s a film that you have trouble keeping up with, but it has such good performances, you are willing to go along for the ride.  My Rating: Full Price  The Double Website

Indiefest: God’s Pocket  (2014) R   Mickey’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) stepson dies in a construction job.  When he is asked to investigate, by the boy’s mother (Christina Hendricks), to investigate the death, he learns that it wasn’t an accident.  Investigating it further could cost Mickey his life. It’s sad that this is one of Hoffman’s last roles on-screen as the film isn’t very good, and he isn’t given much material to work with.  Hendricks gives the better performance as her character is multi-layered, whereas most of the other characters in the film are very one dimensional.  It’s a film that had great potential, mostly due to its cast, but never finds a voice and becomes boring very quickly.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  God's Pocket Website

Forgotten FilmPaper Clips (2004) This is a fascinating documentary about a group of children from a middle school in Tennessee who, after learning about the Holocaust, decide to collect six million paper clips, one for each victim.  The film explores, through the kids, our understanding of what happened, but also they get to meet some of the survivors of a horrible time in history.  My Rating:  Full Price  Paper Clips Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Godzilla:  Roto Artist: Double Negative

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)  Helen Mirren stars in this film as an owner of a prestigious restaurant in France.  Her world is changed when a family from India moves in across the street and open their own restaurant. The Hundred-Foot Journey Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Neighbors

My View: Neighbors (2014) R  A young, newly married couple (Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne) live in an ideal, quiet neighborhood. That is until the fraternity, led by Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron), moves into the house next door. After trying various ways to get the frat to quiet down, the young couple decide to wage war on the frat next door.  This is a raucous comedy in the vein of "This is 40" and "The Hangover" films.  There are lots of scenes with drugs, some nudity and some cartoon-like violence.  There are some very funny scenes (though one is ruined because the punch line is prominent in the trailer) in this film, but I left not really like any of the characters.  Rogen and Byrne are incredibly crappy parents, willing to go with the baby to a rave, or getting extremely high while their baby is alone next door (yes, they have a baby monitor, but considering they don't always know where they are, is kind of a moot point).  I did really enjoy Zac Efron as the clueless Teddy who is more concerned that his frat leave a party legacy than he is about graduating.  It's a film that with some really funny scenes but can't this film just can't sustain that momentum. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Neighbors Website
Indiefest: Locke. (2013) R  On the eve of the biggest night in his construction career, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) gets a phone call that will change his life.  Now he must make a huge decision –  to drive home to his wife and kids or to drive to London to deal with this new problem.  Tom Hardy gives a Tour de Force performance in one of the best films of 2014.  He is the only character you see on-screen as this film moves along in real time.  A superb job by Hardy and its writer/director, Steven Knight, as they create a suspense when tension rises with each phone call.  The film is beautifully shot at night, and almost all the cameras are place inside the car, which makes us feel the isolation and pressure that Hardy feels as the film progresses.  This film is not to be missed, and I guarantee it will fly by faster than the 85 minute run time. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Locke Website  For a full length review of the film click here
My View: Moms' Night Out (2014) PG  Allyson (Sarah Drew) and her gal-pals just want one night out, where they can dress up and get away from their husbands and kids.  That means that the men will be in charge of the kids.  What could go wrong?  Think of this as a faith based "Adventures in Babysitting."  Sarah Drew shows some comedic talent, but the script gets lost in the second half of the film it focuses less on her character and more on the others, like Patricia Heaton's pastor's wife character.  The film never quite finds its footing, and some scenes are just painful to watch.  It's a film you want to like but can't because it just doesn't work.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee  Moms' Night Out Website  For a full length review of the film click here
Indiefest: Belle (2013) PG Based on the life of historical figure Dido Elizabeth Belle, “Belle” tells the story of the mixed–race daughter (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) of a British Naval officer and an African woman. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson)  and his wife(Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Dido meets John Davinier (Sam Reid), a young lawyer and apprentice of Lord Mansfield. John and Dido’s meeting is the beginning of a love story that catapults Dido onto a path of self-discovery.  This is a film worth watching because of the great performance of Mbatha-Raw as Belle.  She radiates on the screen and is believable as the strong and independent woman who is willing to risk everything for love.  The film gets a little bogged down with the politics of the time but it's worth watching for the adventures of Belle as she struggle to find her place in the world.  My Rating: Full Price  Belle Website
Famiyfaire:  Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (2014)  Dorothy ( Lea Michele) makes a return visit to Oz, this time to save the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (James Belushi) and the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) from the evil Jester (Martin Short).   This is another in a long line of unmemorable animated films, this time as sort of sequel to the "Wizard of Oz" but without the ruby slippers.  It's a musical that has only one song (sung at the start of the film by Lea Michele) that is memorable. The rest of the songs are used as almost filler.  The film isn't terribly imaginative, and the animation just kind of sits there.  When I attended the screening, most of the kids in the theatre didn’t pay much attention to the film.  For kids six years old and under, it might hold their attention for a while, but I feel sorry for their parents.  My Rating: Cable  Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Revenge
Forgotten Film:  Running Scared  (1986) R The 80's were full of buddy cop films, and while this is not one of the best, it's still a lot of fun.  Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines are two cops trying to bring down a drug lord  in Chicago.  When a bust goes bad, and they almost lose their lives, their captain makes them take vacation.  They travel to Key West and enjoy it so much, they decide to retire and open a bar.  But, first they must go back to Chicago to resign.  Once they get there, they find out the drug lord is out on bail and going to make a major haul.  Now, the two cops must risk their lives again to bring the man responsible for so much pain to justice.  The reason to watch this film is the great chemistry between Crystal and Hines, as they work off each other so well.  The film is a little dated (especially the 80's soundtrack...calling you out Michael McDonald) but it's a lot of fun to watch.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Running Scared Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Neighbors:  Confidentiality pa

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014). Sequel to the surprise hit of 2011.  All I have to say is Chimps with shotguns.   Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Info
Until Next Time!



Friday, May 2, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

My ViewThe Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) PG-13 Peter (Andrew Garfield) it seems, has a great life.  His girlfriend is the beautiful and smart, Gwen (Emma Stone), and he’s a superhero.  But Peter’s world is getting complicated quickly.  As soon as he takes on a new villain, Electro (Jamie Foxx),  bad guys from his past start popping up.  And it seems that all his enemies have something in common –  a corporation called Oscorp.  The best thing about this film is the chemistry between Garfield and Stone, as they play off each other so well, and Emma Stone is my pick for the perfect Gwen Stacy.  But this film fails in comparison to some of the better Marvels films like The Avengers or Iron Man, as it never sets a clear tone on what the film wants to be.  Some of the actors seem to feel as if they are in a “comic book” film, hamming it up and over-acting each line.  Others, like Stone, take the film seriously and give excellent dramatic performances.  I like the action sequences and the major battle scenes. Some shots of Spider-Man traveling through the city are absolutely spectacular.  The storyline lets us down, as, at times, I was bored with parts of the film.  There is too much of a rather boring Electro character and not enough of the Green Goblin character that Dane DeHaan plays.  The emotional points in the film were not impactful enough for me, and I also did not like the ending. Unlike other Marvel films, there are no additional scenes during or at the end of the credits.  It’s been said that there aren’t any current plans to mix the Spider-Man world with the rest of the Marvel universe, and I am fine with that.  Spider-Man would just look silly interacting with Ironman and Capt. America.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Website

IndiefestDecoding Annie Parker (2014) R  Annie (Samantha Morton) is a young woman who comes from a long line of family members who died from cancer.  Dr. Marie-Claire King (Helen Hunt) is a researcher who specializes in cancer.  The two, Annie and Dr. King, embark on a remarkable journey to prove that some forms of cancer are hereditary. This is a smart, moving, inspiring film that also is very funny, mostly due to the outlook and dialogue of Annie Parker.  Samantha Morton gives a brilliant performance as the quirky Annie, whose quest to not only beat cancer but also understand why she got the disease dominates the film.  Helen Hunt isn’t given as much to do, mostly because she is seen mostly in scenes of doing very dry research, but Morton is a breath of fresh air and makes this film work.  It’s not often that in a scene where a patient is being told they have cancer, you are laughing.  My Rating:  Full Price  Decoding Annie Parker Website   For a full length review of the film click here  

IndiefestBlue Ruin (2014) R   Dwight (Macon Blair) is basically a beach bum, living out of his car and depending on trash cans and strangers for meals. Dwight discovers that a long time family rival is going to be released from prison.  Now Dwight will go back home to Virginia and try and get his revenge. This is an unconventional suspense film about a man who gets in way over his head and just tries to survive.  Blair is impressive in this tour de force performance, where he says very little, but through his body language and facial expressions, gives us so much information. The world that we see in this film is one where violence is met with violence, and Dwight is pulled further and further into it. The film is written extremely well, creating tension in even the most normal of scenes.  It is a stunning film to watch and experience.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again  Blue Ruin Website  For a full length review of this film click here

Forgotten FilmMe and You and Everyone We Know (2004) R Richard (John Hawkes), a shoe salesman, has just recently been thrown out by his wife (JoNell Kennedy) and is now living with his two sons in a small apartment.  He meets Christine (Miranda July) and a budding romance slowly blooms between the two.  This is a quirky, funny film that has a number of subplots, all which come together at the end of the film.  Miranda July is delightful as a woman who desperately wants to be an artist, and the chemistry between her and Hawkes is magical.  This is one of those films that you will want to see several times to catch all the dialogue and drink in all the brilliant scenes.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again  Me and You and Everyone We Know 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)  Dusty, the racing plane, gets injured and now is a fire fighter.  Why Disney insists on releasing these films in the theatre, when it's obvious that were meant to be direct to DVD films is beyond me.  Planes: Frie & Rescue Info

In Case You Missed ItThe Legend of Hercules (2014) PG-13  Retelling of the Hercules legend.  It’s a big mess of a movie where I had trouble understanding what the actors were saying.  I still don’t know what happened at the end of the film.  Stay away from this film and wait for The Rock’s Hercules film that will be released this summer.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  The Legend of Hercules Website  

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Amazing Spider-Man 2:   eco intern


Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouEdge of Tomorrow (2014) PG-13 A soldier (Tom Cruise) fighting aliens begins to relive the day he dies over and over.  Cruise isn’t a favorite of mine but the trailer looks like the film could be a blast and it’s got Emily Blunt as a soldier who holds the key to winning the battle.   Edge of Tomorrow Website
Until NextTime!