Friday, September 26, 2014

The Equalizer

My ViewThe Equalizer (2014) R  Robert McCall (Denzel Washington)might look like an ordinary worker at a DIY supply store. But Robert is a man not to be messed with. McCall meets Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a young girl whose life is being controlled by Russian gangsters.  He decides to help her the only way he knows how – with his fists and his guns. This is a fun, but extremely violent film that has more substance to it than your normal action film. Washington gives his usual excellent performance, making Robert a very quiet, restrained man who doesn’t hesitate to defend the weak and come down hard on the bullies. I don’t think he uses the same technique twice in killing the bad guys, and you will never look at “Home Depot” the same again.  My Rating: Full Price  The Equalizer Website
IndiefestThe Skeleton Twins (2014) R  Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) are adult twins who haven’t seen or talked to each other in years. An unexpected reunion forces the two together and causes them to re-examine their lives.  I absolutely loved this film and the two performances of Wiig and Hader.  They have perfect chemistry, making this film such a joy to watch.  This is probably the funniest film about two depressed, suicidal people you will ever see. Wiig is brilliant as Maggie, who, on the surface has a perfect life but in reality is extremely unhappy with her life choices. Hader does the impossible with this role, making us like a character who isn’t always a joy to be around.  Go see this terrific, funny film!  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again The Skeleton Twins website
IndiefestHector and the Search for Happiness  (2014) R  A psychiatrist (Simon Pegg) searches the world to find the secret to happiness. Pegg has fun with this role as he travels to China, Tibet, Africa and L.A. to sort out his life and visit friends. There are some very funny scenes in this film, though it is let down a little by some attempts to be more serious at times that doesn’t always work. If you are a fan of Pegg and his film career, you will enjoy this film. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Hector and the Search for Happiness Facebook page 
Indiefest: Believe Me  (2014) PG-13  Sam (Alex Russell) and his three roommates come up with a plan to make some money. They start up a sham charity and campaign across the country raising funds for a cause as fake as their message. I didn’t like this faith based- film, mostly because it couldn’t decide if it was a comedy or a drama.  I also didn’t like any of the characters as they all are out just to make a buck on unsuspecting churchgoers and never have any character growth.  The film’s ambiguous ending just made me not like the film more. My Rating: Cable  Believe Me Website
Indiefest: Jimi: All Is by My Side (2014)  R  This is the story of Jimi Hendrix (Andre Benjamin), the year before he became famous. He is discovered by Linda Keith (Imogen Poots), a famous British model who is notorious for dating rock stars. The film follows Hendrix to London, where he develops his sound and starts playing gigs. The film ends right before his famous appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, which made him a star. Andre Benjamin is brilliant in the role of Hendrix. He perfectly portrays the man and does extremely well singing in the Hendrix style. I loved Benjamin’s performance, but I was dissatisfied by the film.  The film is too long, and there isn’t any original Hendrix music in the film. The music that Hendrix plays is mostly old blues songs, though there is a rousing performance of a Beatles song near the end of the film. Much like Hendrix’s real life, it's an interesting film but I found it a little too unfocused, moving from one scene to another without a lot of reason.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Jimi: All Is by My Side Info
Forgotten FilmLenny  (1974) R Dustin Hoffman is brilliant as the 1960’s standup comic Lenny Bruce. Bruce was not an ordinary comic; his humor was a commentary on the social strifes of the day, thumbing his nose at the establishment.  This film perfectly shows the ups and downs of this intelligent but troubled comedian.  Hoffman was the ideal choice for this role, and he gives it his all.   My Rating:  Full Price  Lenny Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Equalizer:  graphic designer specialty tattoos

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouWhiplash (2014) R A talented young drummer (Miles Teller) enrolls at a music conservatory.  A grizzled instructor (J.K. Simmons) begins teaching the young drummer, pushing him to his limits. Advanced word from film festivals is both actors give Oscar worthy performances.  Whiplash Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Maze Runner

My ViewThe Maze Runner (2014) PG-13  Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) finds himself in an elevator with no memory of anything other than his name.  The doors open, and he’s in “The Glades,” a community of sixty boys surrounded by a hundred foot wall.  Their only shot at escape is from time to time a wall opens up to reveal a maze that no one has ever returned from.  I thought this was a high energy film with some impressive action sequences, some of which are quite scary. The lead is a little dull, but the supporting cast is top notch, and the storyline is very interesting.  I am looking forward to seeing the sequel as I want to get to know more about these characters. My Rating: Full Price  The Maze Runner Website

My View: This is Where I Leave You (2014) R  When their father dies, four grown siblings come back to their childhood home for a week of sitting Shiva (their father’s last request). Will the family survive, and what will be left of them? I enjoyed this film, mostly for the performances of the leads, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, who plays his sister.  They have some charming moments as they try and deal with all the craziness that is going on around them.  There are some funny moments in the film, and while not all the ensemble pieces work, it’s a fun film to watch.  My Rating : Bargain Matinee  This Is Where I Leave You Website

IndiefestTusk (2014) R  Podcaster Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) is missing after going out into the backwoods of Manitoba, and after interviewing a mysterious seafarer goes missing.  Wallace’s best friend, Teddy (Haley Joel Osment), and Wallace’s girlfriend (Genesis Rodriquez) team up with an ex-cop named Guy (Johnny Depp) to find him.  They aren’t going to like what they discover.   As I watched this film, one question kept coming up…how the heck did this film get made? This is a horrible film that is meant to be a comedy (which it isn’t funny) or a horror film (also not scary).   This film is just a big, gross mess of a movie.  And please, Johnny Depp, quite trying to be quirky and funny -  your appearance in this film just makes your weirdness worse. There is a bonus scene at the end of the film but don't watch it, it will make you regret your viewing of this film even more. My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Tusk Website

IndiefestMy Old Lady (2014) PG-13  Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline) is an American who inherits an apartment in Paris.  It seems like a dream until he discovers a nightmare - an old lady (Maggie Smith) who refuses to leave.  I enjoyed the performances in this film, but its actors are let down by a script that is too longwinded.  There is nice chemistry between Kline and Smith, and both actors give it their all.  I just wish the filmmaker had cut some of their lines.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  My Old Lady Website  

Forgotten FilmTremors (1990) PG-13  Kevin Bacon is a maintenance worker in a small town in Nevada.  A creature starts picking off the townspeople one by one.  Now it’s time for the town to fight back.  This is a funny, almost sweet comedic horror film that is just a blast to watch.  Reba McEntire as a gun-packing mama is so hilarious.  It’s stupid and funny, all at the same time. My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Tremors Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Tusk:  teddy photo double

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Good Lie (2014) PG-13 Reese Witherspoon plays an employment agency counselor who helps the “Lost Boys” of the Sudan resettle in America.  A feel good movie with Reese Witherspoon?  Yeah, you can sign me up for that one.  The Good Lie Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dolphin Tale 2

My View: Dolphin Tale 2 (2014) PG  Winter the dolphin and the rest of the gang are back at the Clearwater Marine Hospital. Now it appears that Winter has become depressed and is in need of a companion. Will the rescued dolphin, survive, and will this be the partner that Winter needs? It’s hard to strike lightning twice, and sequels usually don’t .  I thought the first Dolphin Tale was an interesting and moving family film that worked because it focused on the human element. This film doesn’t work because it forgets about that element; instead of focusing on the human storyline, it focuses on the animals. The only part I found interesting was at the end when the actual animals are rescued and rehabbed by the Marine Hospital.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Dolphin Tale 2 Website

My View: No Good Deed (2014) PG-13 Terri (Taraji P. Henson) is a mom, home, alone, with her two young kids. A dangerous escaped prisoner (Idris Elba), claiming car trouble, shows up at Terri’s door. Terri offers to let the man in to use the phone and soon she learns that no good deed goes unpunished.  I enjoyed this film that has a few twists and turns to the plot along the way. The strength of this film is the two leads as Henson and Elba are on-screen together for most of the film.  I especially enjoyed the character development of Henson’s character, who goes from a milk toast soccer mom to someone who can stand up for herself. While not a great film, this is an enjoyable thriller with two outstanding actors.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  No Good Deed Website

Indiefest: Love is Strange (2014)   Ben (John Lithgow), and George (Alfred Molina) have been a couple for thirty-nine years and decide that the time is right to get married. When word reaches the archdiocese, George loses his Catholic school teaching job and, now, without an income, the couple cannot afford their apartment. Each of them move into separate homes to stay with friends or families. Will the marriage survive this separation?  This is a moving film about how quickly our good fortune can change at a moment’s notice. Lithgow and Molina make us believe they have been a couple for almost forty years. Lithgow gives an understated performance that perfectly blends with Molina’s portrayal of the more positive and high-strung character. This is a film that shows the power of faith, and family can overcome almost any obstacle.  My Rating: Full Price  Love is Strange

Indiefest: The Drop (2014) R Bob (Tom Hardy) works at a mob-controlled bar, where money is funneled to local gangsters. Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone bad and now must use every resource of his neighborhood to get out of this mess. I think Tom Hardy is one of our finest actors, but even his presence can’t make this film be more than just an ordinary mobster movie. It’s sad that this is the James Gandolfini’s last film appearance, and he is not given enough to make his part memorable. I did enjoy the interaction between Hardy and Noomi Rapace, who plays his love interest. The storyline is simple with a script that doesn’t live up to its actors. It’s not a bad film, but it’s not the complex, exciting film that you wanted for this cast.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee The Drop Website

Indiefest: The Man on her Mind (2014) Nellie (Amy McAllister) is a young woman having a secret affair with Jack, a super cool lawyer. The only problem is that Jack is a figment of Nellie’s imagination based on a man, Leonard (Samuel James), whom she went on a blind date with a few months ago. Leonard also has an imaginary lover, based on Nellie. Now the two meet once again in real life. Will they choose reality or keep their perfect imaginary lovers? This film is based on a very successful West End stage play. The problem is it still looks and sounds like a stage play. The acting is overly dramatic, the dialogue is unnatural and too rapid, and the placements of the camera make you feel like you are sitting in row five, center, watching the story acted out in that West End Theatre. The concept was original, but the execution lacked any imagination. My Rating: Cable  The Man on Her Mind Info

Forgotten Film: Bird (1988) R Clint Eastwood directs this bio-pic about the legendary jazz saxophone musician, Charlie Parker.  Forest Whitaker is masterful as the talented but troubled Parker. Eastwood perfectly blends the drama of the story with some of the best jazz music to ever grace the screen. Diane Venora plays Parker’s wife, Chen, who heart is broken trying to save her husband from drugs and his demons.  My Rating: Full Price  Bird Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Love is Strange: Paperwork PA

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Boxtrolls (2014)  PG A young orphaned boy is raised by underground trolls who collect trash. The boy must mount his courage and try to save his friends from an exterminator. This stop-motion animated film is from the same people who gave us the 2009 animated film Coraline.   The Boxtrolls Website 
Until Next Time!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Identical

My ViewThe Identical  (2014) PG Two Identical brothers are born in the 1930s to a poor family. One brother is given up to the local preacher (Ray Liotta) and his wife (Ashley Judd). The two brothers grow up not knowing about each other, and one becomes a famous entertainer and the other brother struggles with his love of music and his dedication to his family. He now must choose between his love of music and his father’s wishes for him to follow in his footsteps.  The biggest problem with this film is the music, and there is a lot of it. There are only original musical numbers in this film, and they sound like they were written by a Las Vegas lounge singer from the 1960’s.  I like Ray Liotta, who gives a very restrained performance as the preacher who loves his son. It’s amazing that we see Ray Liotta age throughout this film, but Ashley Judd doesn’t age at all.  Blake Rayne, who plays the two singers, is average as an actor and has a good voice but has almost no star power, and it shows on the screen.  My Rating: Cable  The Identical Website

Indiefest: The Last of Robin Hood (2014) R Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline), dashing Hollywood film star, meets an up-and-coming young woman, Beverly (Dakota Fanning). The two enter into a relationship, and Errol tries to land a big part in a film for his new girlfriend. Little does he know, Beverly, under the tutelage of her mother, Flo (Susan Sarandon), is working under a false birth certificate…her real age is 15.  Kevin Kline gives a great performance as Errol Flynn, and Susan Sarandon is equally as compelling as the ultimate stage mother.  The weak link in this film is Dakota Fanning.  She just doesn’t have the star power to hold her own with the other two actors.  I wish someone else had been cast in this role, like Chloe Grace Moretz, because Fanning brings down the scenes that she is in with her lack of energy on screen.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  The Last of Robin Hood Info

IndiefestCode Black (2014) This is a documentary on what goes on at the L.A. County General Hospital Emergency Room. Doctors in training are working in an environment that is more like a war zone hospital than an inter-city one. A word of warning - this documentary is hard to watch. It is filled with a number of scenes in the emergency room where you see lots of blood and surgeries.  There are also a number of people who die while on the table in the ER.  If you have a strong stomach, it’s an interesting and engrossing film showing just how tough it is to be a doctor in an ER.  The film follows a number of doctors as they make the transition from a building built in the 1930’s to a new, modern hospital.  Surprisingly, with the new hospital, the care of the patients  decreases.  If you enjoy the hospital based TV shows like “Greys Anatomy" or "ER" and want to see how a real hospital works, then see this film.  My Rating: Full Price  Code Black Website

Indiefest:  A Five Star Life (2014)  Irene (Margherita Buy) thought she had the perfect life. She gets to travel around the world evaluating five-star hotels.  Then she met Kate (Lesley Manville), and her world turned upside down.  I really enjoyed this Italian drama about a woman who lives a lonely life of travel.  She has a sister who has a family, and even her best friend is starting a family, but Irene is starting to feel there is more to life than just a job.  Margherita Buy gives a striking performance in the role, and the film goes to a number of exotic locations as Irene travels around the world.  It’s not an earth-shattering film, but one that I truly enjoyed.  My Rating: Full Price  A Five Star Life Info

Forgotten FilmThe Insider (1999) R Russell Crowe is brilliant in this film about a research chemist who worked for a tobacco company and goes on Sixty Minutes.  In the interview, at great expense to himself, he tells the truth that the CEO of the company knew that cigarettes can cause cancer and that his company added chemicals to make the cigarettes more addictive.  Great dialogue and even better performances by the whole cast make this film riveting to watch from the first minute. My Rating: Full Price  The Insider Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Identical: period hair stylist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouTracks (2014) PG-13  A young woman (Mia Wasikowska) goes on an adventure to travel 1,700 miles across the desert of West Australia alone, with just four camels and her dog.  The trailer reminds me of one of my Forgotten Films, Walkabout (1971).  Tracks website
Until Next Time!