Thursday, December 24, 2015


My ViewJoy  (2015) PG-13   Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) is a single mom who lives with her two kids and her mother (Virginia Madsen). Joy has an idea for a mop that is revolutionary, but can she get anybody to back her idea? First, the good: the scenes between Lawrence, who plays the the fiery Mangano and Bradley Cooper, who plays the head of the home shopping channel, QVC, are some of the best of the film. The bad:  those scenes are few and far between. My biggest problem with this film is the dialogue is very uneven, due to the director, David O. Russell, allowing his actors to improv their lines. The movie works when the actors have great timing and chemistry, like with Lawrence and Cooper. It doesn’t work when they don’t, like scenes between Lawrence and Elisabeth Rohm, who plays Joy’s sister. The film is too long and takes forever to get to the QVC scenes. I liked Virginia Madsen as Joy’s home-bound mother, but I thought that Robert De Niro, who plays Joy’s dad, went way over the top in his role. The film never seems to find its pacing and never quite finds sure footing for Lawrence to really shine.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Joy Website

My ViewThe Big Short  (2015)  R  Four outsiders in the world of big banking predict the housing market is going to collapse in 2008. Can these four outsiders take on big banks and make money doing it? This is a funny, creative film that, in one moment will make you laugh, and then, in the next moment, will piss you off. The ensemble cast is scintillating with a couple of real standout performances. Christian Bale plays the brilliant but strange Michael Burry, the man who figures out that the housing market is about to crash. Bale gives his everything to an intense, quirky role that only he can do. Steve Carell gives a scintillating performance as the always angry Mark Baum, who decides to go all in on the theory that the crisis will happen I don’t want to ruin anything, but there are some really funny celebrity appearances to explain the very complicated financial workings. I never thought I would thoroughly enjoy a film about banking and housing, but this film makes it a blast to watch.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Big Short Website
My ViewDaddy’s Home  (2015)  PG-13  Brad (Will Ferrell) is trying to be the best step-dad he can to his wife’s (Linda Cardellini) two kids. Everything changes when Dusty (Mark Wahlberg), the kid’s real father,  comes to town. While not a bad film, this movie just doesn’t have enough funny scenes to make it totally enjoyable. As with a lot of these go for the quick joke films, most of the best comedic bits have ended up in the trailer, making the film feel very slow, not something you want from a comedy. While not dazzling, the chemistry between Ferrell and Wahlberg is credible. There are a few scenes making fun of film product placement that are out and out funny. I did like the last fifteen minutes. I just wish the first hour and twenty minutes had matched that level.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Daddy's Home Website
My ViewConcussion  (2015)  PG-13  A brilliant forensic neuropathologist (Will Smith), discovers CTE, a football-related brain trauma in a pro player and puts him at odds with the billion dollar National Football League. Before this film came out, many critics were thinking that this might be an Oscar contender for the film and Will Smith. While a servable film, it is not Oscar quality. Smith gives the role his all, but the film never hits the emotional impact it desperately needs. I think the weakness of the film is that it tries to cover too many topics over too many years. It’s very one sided and never talks about the advances that the NFL has made in the past few years dealing with concussions and football. It’s a film that feels it wanted to make too many points and missed on just about all of them.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Concussion Website
Indiefest Carol  (2015)  R   Set in 1950s New York, Therese (Rooney Mara) is a department-store clerk who dreams of a better life. She meets and falls in love with an older woman, Carol (Cate Blanchett). This is a beautiful film that takes its time with the love story between Carol and Therese. It captures 50’s New York City perfectly, as we travel from the posh, stylish settings that make up Carol’s life to the contrasting life of Therese and her hard-living friends. Blanchett is utterly mesmerizing as the sophisticated Carol, who set her sights on the slightly naive Therese. Rooney makes this film worth watching as she holds her own on the screen with the two-time Oscar winner Blanchett. You will be captivated by their story and will root for them to find a way to succeed in the world that works against them.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Carol Website
IndiefestThe Hateful Eight  (2015) R   In post-Civil War Wyoming, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) is escorting fugitive Daisy “The Prisoner” Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock where the latter will face justice for murder. They encounter a group of strangers at a stagecoach stop, including another bounty hunter named Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson).  I had a blast watching this film, but be warned, this is a violent and bloody film full of some very uncomfortable scenes.  The second half of the film mostly takes place in one room, but the movie fully utilizes the 70mm format, taking what could have been a very claustrophobic film and turning it into a film that thrills the senses. This is truly an ensemble piece with Jennifer Jason Leigh as the unruly prisoner and Samuel L. Jackson as the wisecracking bounty hunter standing out from the rest of the cast. I also enjoyed Tim Roth as a chatty hangman. The film doesn’t feel like it’s almost 3 hours long, moving at a quick pace with witty dialogue. I will warn you -  there is a scene near the end of the film that is quite disturbing and not for someone with a weak stomach. While not for everybody, if you like or love Quentin Tarantino films, you will have a great time watching this one.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Hateful Eight Website
Forgotten FilmLove with the Proper Stranger (1963)  Angie Rossini (Natalie Wood) is a salesclerk at a department store who, after a one night stand, finds out that she is pregnant.  She finds the one night stand, a musician named Rocky (Steve McQueen), who doesn’t remember her. They decide to work together to figure out their next step. The film, while not clicking on all levels, does work because the chemistry between Woods and McQueen jumps off the screen. They work perfectly together, and it looks as though they had fun making this film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Love with a Proper Stranger Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Concussion:  Police Radio Voice

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Revenant  (2015) R   From the director of Birdman, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, is a tale of a man in 1820’s who is attacked by a bear and left for dead.  He then struggles to survive in the wilderness. Many critics feel that Leonardo DiCaprio could win an Oscar for this role.   The Revenant Website
Until Next Time

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

My ViewStar Wars: The Force Awakens  (2015)  PG-13   Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is missing, and that has caused a ripple effect throughout the Galaxy. What was left of the evil Empire has reformed in what is called the First Order, and they are intent on destroying the Rebels once and for all. I loved this film. It does a great job of giving us some of the classic characters from the first three Star Wars films while introducing us to a new cast that take up the ‘Star Wars’ mantle. The film looks like (with updated special effects) and has the aura of a Star Wars film, giving you a feeling that you are back with a storyline and characters you know and love. While paying an homage to the past films, it gives us some exciting players that it introduces to the timeline. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is a scavenger that dreams of bigger things and somehow knows that she is destined to explore more than just her desert filled planet. Finn (John Bodega) is a man who is trying to escape his past, but fate keeps getting in the way. Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is a brash fighter pilot whose skill matches his bravado. All three are about to go on an adventure of a lifetime to try and stop the First Order. The chemistry between Bodega and Ridley is the key to this film and their scenes together make the film work as well as it does. The film is full of great action sequences that will thrill you and surprisingly, there is a great deal of comedy, mostly through the fast quips that the first films were so good at. Filmmaker JJ Abrams is a fan of the original films and it shows. He gives us exactly what we wanted from this series, a new hope. Oh, and by the way, go out now and buy a BB-8 toy (it's the new round droid). Your kids are going to want one after seeing this film.   My Review: Full Price   Star Wars: The Force Awakens Website
My ViewSisters (2015)  R  Katie (Tina Fey) and Maura (Amy Poehler) are completely sisters with completely opposite personalities. Katie is childish and sleeps around. Maura is uptight and still hasn’t gotten over her divorce. The sisters decide to hold one last party at their parent’s home before it is sold. I expected more from this film due to Poehler and Fey, but I got a lot less than I needed. The film takes forever to get started, only really moving when the “party” starts going. Of course, Fey and Poehler have great chemistry on screen, and there are times when the two play off each other with great comic timing. But the film drags when the two are separated, and it’s about thirty minutes too long. I was disappointed by John Cena’s performance, but that wasn't his fault, his part is badly written. The film’s finale is predictable, and its resolution isn’t very satisfying. I would love to party with these two women but just in a different movie.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Sisters Website
IndiefestThe Danish Girl  (2015)  R  In the early 1920s, artist Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) and her artist husband, Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) are living in Copenhagen.  Einar slowly realizes that he is no longer happy living as a man. I wish this was a better film. Redmayne’s performance never won me over. I don’t know if it is because we don’t get a lot of exploration of Einar’s innermost feelings, as we just get a lot of Redmayne crying or posing with his hands. I did enjoy another brilliantly subtle performance by Alicia Vikander who plays a woman who is slowly losing her husband. The film feels like it would rather give us a beautiful looking shot than let us explore the character's motives.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Danish Girl Website

Indiefest:  Youth  (2015)  R  A retired orchestra conductor (Michael Caine) is on a vacation with his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and his friend (Harvey Keitel), a film director, when he gets an invitation to perform one of his compositions in front of Queen Elizabeth II. This is a fun film to watch due to the magnificent performances by Caine, Weisz and Keitel. The film is basically conversations, some of them quite abstract, dealing with life’s problems - finding and keeping love, aging,  and dealing with the past, mistakes and all. The film goes on too long, and the plot is sometimes hard to follow, both which bring down the film in my eyes. While a flawed film, it is a joy to watch some master actors spin their craft.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Youth Website
Forgotten FilmPrime Cut (1972) R   A mob enforcer (Lee Marvin) is sent from Chicago to Kansas City to collect a big debt from a crime boss (Gene Hackman). This is not your normal mobster film, and that is evident right from the start. The film mixes satire with almost cartoon-like characters that seem to come straight out of a Dick Tracy comic strip. It’s filled with action sequences that are thrilling and fast-moving. Sissy Spacek shines as a naive orphan who is being sold into slavery after complicating the mob enforcer’s life. This is not a complex film, but it is one that you will enjoy.     My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Prime Cut Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Ride Along 2 (2015)  PG-13  The first buddy-cop film wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t so good that we would want to see another. To make this one completely different, instead of Atlanta, the guys go to Miami.  I think I will just pass on this ride.   Ride Along 2 Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray): Mission: Impossible Rogue-Nation  (2015)  PG-13  The incoming CIA chief (Alec Baldwin) wants to disband the Impossible Mission Force, just when we need Ethan (Tom Cruise) and the gang the most. This film is certainly the best film of the Mission: Impossible series and was one of my favorite films of the summer. The movie starts off with a breathtaking stunt and just keeps going from there. There is a motorcycle chase sequence that is one of the best chase scenes I have ever seen. I loved the “bromance” between Cruise’s character, Ethan and Simon Pegg’s Benji, with some great lines flowing. Rebecca Ferguson held her own with Tom Cruise (not easy to do) and makes a number of action sequences believable. Sean Harris makes a great bad guy, and Alec Baldwin is fun as the CIA chief. MI Rogue Nation is a blast to watch and has a plot that makes sense.     My Rating: Full Price   Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Star Wars: A Force Awakens:  Wire Supervisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouRace  (2016)  PG-13  The story of Jesse Owens (Stephan James) and his quest to become the world’s greatest athlete, all on the stage of the 1936 Olympics in Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Jesse Owens has always fascinated me, and this film looks like it captures the time and mood of that very complicated period of American history.   Race Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, December 11, 2015

In the Heart of the Sea

My ViewIn the Heart of the Sea  (2015) PG-13  In the winter of 1820, the New England whaling ship Essex is assaulted by a whale of mammoth size that destroys the ship. The remaining crew will be pushed to their limits in their attempt to survive the aftermath. I loved the cinematography of this film. The whale attacking action sequences are stunning and exciting. If the film had just been about the quest for the whale, it would have been an excellent film, but this film loses steam during the last third as crew are trying to survive out in the middle of nowhere. I liked Chris Hemsworth as the headstrong first mate, showing a bit of range when he is asked to perform in some rather touching scenes near the end of the film. The film is let down by Benjamin Walker, who plays the captain of the ship, as he has no charisma on screen and absolutely no chemistry with Hemsworth.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   In the Heart of the Sea Website
My ViewMacbeth  (2015)  R   Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), the Thane of Scotland receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that he will one day become King of Scotland. Consumed by his ambition and spurred on by his wife (Marion Cotillard), he murders the king and takes the throne for himself. This is an interesting take on the Macbeth tale, and the script deletes scenes from the play (for the better) and changes a few minor plot points to further the storyline. Fassbender gives the role his all, but he is slightly upstaged by a brilliant performance given by Cotillard, who makes this film worth watching. The film has some battle sequences that feel a little out of place by using slow motion action like it’s part of “300.” Most of the film takes place outside, and it uses the Scottish countryside to full advantage, which makes the film look spectacular.   My Rating: Full Price  Macbeth Facebook Page
IndiefestHitchcock / Truffaut  (2015)  PG-13   In 1966, director Francois Truffaut came out with the ultimate book on filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock called, “Cinema According to Hitchcock.” This documentary looks at how that book influenced today’s filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Peter Bogdanovich.  I am a huge Hitchcock fan, and it was a thrill to watch this film as it uses much of the original audio recordings from the interview to make its various points. It is fascinating to hear how many of today’s directors are influenced by Hitchcock’s work and how much they admire what he did. The film stresses that before Truffaut’s interviews were published, Hitchcock was seen as just a box office director. After the book was published, the film shows that Hitchcock was celebrated for his genius for making movies his way, brilliantly and entertaining.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Hitchcock / Truffaut Info
Forgotten FilmThe Brave One  (1956)  Leonardo (Michel Ray) befriends a bull named Gitano from certain death during a storm. The bull and the boy become friends, but that friendship is threatened when the bull’s owners want to send the bull to fight a matador in Mexico City. Can Leonardo save his bull from certain death again?  This is a beautiful and simple tale that is moving and sure to bring a tear or two. Dalton Trumbo wrote the script but had to do it under a pen name, as he had been blacklisted by Hollywood as a Communist during the last 40’s.   My Rating: Full Price   The Brave One Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):   Minions  (2015)  PG  The Minions have been looking for a leader for ages to no avail. Kevin is a minion with a plan, and he, along with Stuart and Bob, are on a quest to find their next potential master. Scarlet Overkill(Sandra Bullock) just might be that leader. The Minions were always my favorite part of the Despicable Me series. Unfortunately, the Minions should only be a supporting cast, never the leads like they are in this very boring film. The film is set in 1968, and there are cultural references to things that kids are not going to know anything about (like The Beatles Abby Road).  The film does have five or six funny scenes, but it takes so long to get there that the laughs aren’t as big as they should have been. There is also a lot of Minion singing, which gets very old very quickly.   My Rating: Cable Minions Website  

Weird Credits: From the credits of In the Heart of the Sea:  Special Effects Teeth

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Legend of Tarzan  (2016)  It’s very hard to tell the tale of Tarzan, but I like the cast of Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan, Margot Robbie as Jane and a supporting cast of Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, John Hurt and Djimon Hounsou. This is not an "origin" story as it takes place after Jane and Tarzan have become a couple and have moved from the jungle to London.   The Legend of Tarzan Info   
Until Next Time!

Friday, December 4, 2015


My ViewKrampus  (2015)  PG-13  Max (Emjay Anthony) and his family are just not feeling the Christmas spirit this year.  Max gets mad and decides he is done with Christmas.  Unfortunately, Max has unleashed Krampus, a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. Now Max and his family are going to have to fight for their lives. Where to start with this mess of a film? Oh, I know, it’s a horror film that isn’t scary. The film uses a mix of styles to animate the minions of Krampus, and it just doesn’t work. Some of the bad guys are animated, and others are done with a more lifelike CGI. The two styles don’t mix as if the filmmakers couldn’t decide to go campy or scary. I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters as they all deserved a lump of coal under the tree from Father Krampus. Unfortunately, I felt I also got a lump of coal from the filmmakers.  My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Krampus Website
IndiefestThe Wonders (2014)  Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu) is a young girl who is struggling to find her place in the world.  She works with her beekeeping family in the Tuscan countryside. Gelsomina’s life is changed when a troubled teen boy comes to work on the farm, and her family is chosen to be in a local reality show.  This is a film that is all style, shot placement and cinematography are outstanding but has very little storyline substance to. I never could connect with the characters in this film, and the film feels like it wants to make a plea to go back to simpler times, but even that message is not fully explored. I liked Lungu as she has a pleasing presence on-screen, but I just never cared about this family and their fight to survive.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Wonders Website
Forgotten FilmPaper Moon  (1973)  PG  A con man (Ryan O’Neal) poses as a bible salesman during the great depression.  He is forced to take custody of a young girl (Tatum O’Neal) who may or may not be his child. They travel together and forge an unlikely partnership that changes both their lives. This is a delightful and terrific film, shot in glorious black and white, about two damaged people who find each other. It’s funny and warm but also has some very moving scenes. Tatum O’Neal is the reason to see this movie, and she gives the performance of a lifetime. Her performance work on the film as Addie is just unbelievable and the chemistry with her real-life father is just brilliant on the screen.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Paper Moon Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)The Boy (2015)  PG-13  Here is the IMDB synopsis to get you excited to see this film: “An American nanny is shocked that her new English family's boy is actually a life-sized doll. After violating a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.”  You lost me at “life-sized doll.”   The Boy Facebook Page
In Case, You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray)Amy  (2015)  R  The possible frontrunner for the Oscar. It’s a documentary on the late great singer Amy Winehouse, who died too soon. This movie is a stunning and heartbreaking film to watch. I wasn’t a fan of Winehouse, but I am now because we get to see Amy in her early years before fame came crashing down on her. The film uses home videos, behind the scenes shots of her recording studio sessions and live concert footage to give us an insight into her life and what she was really like. We also see her downfall, the talented singer who was not ready or meant for the spotlight. Amy would have had a long and happy life just being a lounge singer, but fame came calling. “Amy” is a moving film that uses Winehouse’s music to brilliantly illustrate what was going on in her life. Even if you aren’t a Winehouse fan, you will want to see this documentary.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Amy Website

Weird Credits: From the credits of Legend: Tattoo Cover-Up Model for Tom Hardy

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Big Short (2015)  R  Four outsiders in the world of big banking, predict that the housing market is going to collapse in 2008. Now can these four outsiders take on the big banks and make money doing it. The screenplay is by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side, Moneyball) and the cast includes Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Melissa Leo and Rafe Spall, so you know I will will see this one.   The Big Short Website
Until Next Time!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


My ViewCreed  (2015) PG-13   The illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jordan), wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and be a boxer.  He is willing to do just about anything to reach his goal, including moving to Philly to get the man who beat his father, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone), to help him train.  This is one of the best films of the year and has some of the greatest fight sequences I have ever seen. There is a fight in the film where we follow Adonis from the cramped dressing room to the small ring in a seedy auditorium, that in one continuous shot that doesn’t cut away till the whole fight is completed. It’s a spectacular sequence that punctuates this film with a bang. Jordan sizzles on-screen as the troubled but talented son of Apollo Creed. Stallone gives an Oscar-worthy performance that is understated and moving. Jordan and Stallone have phenomenal chemistry that makes this film work from all angles. This film is a nice homage to the “Rocky” films without getting too campy or sweet, and the final fight sequence is thrilling and just as exciting as any action film that has come out in the past few years. Just like the original Rocky, you will want to see Creed more than once.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again   Creed Website
Family FaireThe Good Dinosaur  (2015) PG  What if the asteroid that caused the dinosaurs to die off never hit earth and humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time? An Apatosaurus named Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa) has been separated from his family, and he enlists a human boy named Spot (voiced by Jack Bright) to help him complete the tough journey home. The animation in this film is unimaginably beautiful, highly realistic and drop dead gorgeous  looking film. The story isn’t quite up to the Pixar magic touch of films like the Toy Story franchise, but it’s a sweet story of finding courage within yourself to tackle life’s obstacles. Kids will enjoy the antics of Spot, and adults won’t be bored with the storyline. The film is reminiscent of the old Disney films like The Incredible Journey, and, for some, will bring a few tears near the end. This film is delightful, and, while not quite Pixar’s best, is still fun to watch.  My Rating: Full Price   The Good Dinosaur Website
My View:  Victor Frankenstein (2015)  PG-13  The legend of Frankenstein (James McAvoy) before he created his monster, told from the perspective of his friend and colleague, Igor (Daniel Radcliffe).The film is a retelling of the Frankenstein’s monster story, centering on Igor. Unfortunately, it loses all the meaning behind the story, making the film feel shallow and simple, something the Frankenstein story isn’t. Radcliffe is wasted as Igor and James McAvoy chew up the scenery in every scene. The ending feels rushed and unsatisfying.    My Rating: Cable     Victor Frankenstein Website  
IndiefestLegend  (2015)  R  Two identical twins, Reggie, and Ronnie Kray (Tom Hardy), are bent on creating an organized crime empire in the East End of London during the 1960’s. Their reign will be noted as one of the bloodiest times in the city’s history. This film wastes an intense and virtuoso performance by Hardy in the two Kray roles. The film never finds it’s footing, getting caught up with the violence without letting us ever understanding the characters. The movie is overly long, sometimes tedious and only occasionally shows us glimpses of what the film could have been. Only the most devoted Tom Hardy fan will enjoy this film. If you are interested in the subject matter, there is a much better film from 1990 called The Krays that deals with the storyline in a much more satisfying conclusion.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Legend Website
IndiefestTrumbo  (2015)  R  In 1947, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) was Hollywood’s highest paid screenwriter and one of t he most talented writers out there. There was one problem: Trumbo was a registered member of the Communist Party, and the U.S. government was targeting communists for persecution. Trumbo is fired from his job and suffers the injustice of the blacklist, which kept writers, actors, and directors from working on any film.  Cranston gives a complex and scintillating performance of a man who liked to tweak the establishment and was probably too smart for his own good. The talented cast includes Diane Lane as Trumbo’s wife, Helen Mirren as gossip maven Hedda Hopper, Louis C.K. as troubled screenwriter Arlen Hurd, and John Goodman as Frank King, the king of “B” pictures. Dean O’Gorman stands out doing a dead-on portrayal of Kirk Douglas, the actor who was instrumental in Trump’s triumphant return from the Blacklist. The film's big flaw is that it tries to cover too much ground and deals with too much time and too many instances of Trumbo battling the system. It’s a film with some sparkling and vivid performances that, unfortunately, is brought down by its length.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Trumbo Website  
Indiefest:  Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict  (2015)  Documentary about Peggy Guggenheim,  an heiress to her family fortune who became a central figure in the modern art movement. As she moved through the cultural upheaval of the 20th century, she collected not only art but artists. Her colorful personal history included such figures as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, and Jackson Pollock. This is a fascinating film about a woman who lived a life filled with art and artists. The film shows us that not only did Guggenheim have great taste, but she also single handily saved some of the great modern art paintings from the Nazi’s, buying up hundreds of paintings and then shipping them to the U.S. just before the fall of Paris. I have always loved modern art, and this film made love it even more.    My Rating:  Full Price   Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict
Forgotten Film:  Being There (1979)  PG  A simple, sheltered gardener (Peter Sellers) is pushed out into the real world when his employer dies. Through a series of chance events, he becomes an advisor to a powerful businessman who has the ear of the most powerful people in Washington. Sellers is brilliant as Chance, a man who has only known gardening and spouts gardening tips that are perceived as highly intelligent commentaries on the ills of society.  The film, beautifully directed by Hal Ashby, is part black comedy and part satire. Melvyn Douglas won a Best Supporting Actor for his role of the businessman who takes Chance under his wing and unwittingly makes him one of the most admired men in America. The last scene of the film is not to be missed.    My Rating;  Full Price   Being There Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Creed:  Additional Voices

Coming Soon To a Theatre Near YouThe Lady in the Van  (2015)  PG-13  A man (Dominic Cooper) makes friends with a feisty old homeless woman (Maggie Smith) who lives in a van that has been parked in his driveway. Hey, any film is made better with Maggie Smith.   
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

My ViewThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2  (2015)  PG-13   Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is heading for a showdown with President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss goes on one last mission and is determined to bring down Snow or die trying.  I liked Part 1, but this is a much better film, mostly due to the action sequences, including a brilliant scene where Katniss and her friends battle “Mutts” in the sewers of the capital city. The film moves at a quick pace, and Lawrence gives an intense and scintillating performance.  It is very evident that the script had to be rewritten when Philip Seymour Hoffman died before completing his work as Plutarch.  Though it was handled well, I think one of the last scenes of the film would have had more impact if Hoffman had been on-screen in that scene. I think both fans of the books and the movie series will be happy with this final installment.     My Rating: Full Price   The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2  
My View:  The Night Before (2015)  R  Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogan) and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have a tradition of going out on Christmas Eve.  Because Isaac is going to be a father and Chris has become famous, the guys decide to have one more night of adventure before their lives become too busy. This movie, while it’s message of the importance of friendship and family is well-meaning, it never really finds if momentum and very often the laughs are lacking. The last third of the film almost makes the film worth watching, mostly due to some surprises, but overall the film just doesn’t work. I did like Seth Rogan as a family man given a free pass for one night by his wife, and Michael Shannon as a creepy drug dealer who gives out marijuana like it is going to cure every ill. But overall the film never gives you the comedy buzz you want.     My Rating: Cable    The Night Before Website
My ViewSecret in Their Eyes  (2015)  PG-13   Ray (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Jess (Julia Roberts) are two FBI investigators whose lives are changed when Jess’s teenage daughter is found brutally murdered.  Thirteen years later, Ray thinks he has located the murderer and needs the help of a former flame, Claire (Nicole Kidman). This film is based on the 2009 Academy Award winning Argentina film of the same name, which I loved. Unfortunately, what made that film work, brings this film down. There is absolutely no chemistry between Ejiofor and Kidman, who are supposed to still be attracted to each other after all the years gone by. I felt that aside from the scene where Roberts finds her murdered daughter, she sleepwalked through her role. Ejiofor seems to be the only actor who put out an effort in this film, and, while he is exceptional, it doesn’t make up for this lackluster film.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Secret in Their Eyes Website 
IndiefestBrooklyn  (2015)  PG-13   Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) leaves her sister (Fiona Glascott) and mother (Jane Brennan) behind in Ireland to go work in Brooklyn, NY in the early 1950’s.  She finds a job and a boyfriend (Emory Cohen), which makes her life seemingly full. But Ireland is calling, and she may have to choose between her new life in the US and her old life in Ireland.  I loved this film and especially the performance of Ronan, who is picture perfect in the role of the determined Eilis. She sparkles on the screen and makes the film worth watching. The second half of the film drags a bit, mostly due to a love interest in Ireland that is quite boring, but Ronan even makes those scenes better.   My Rating:  Full Price   Brooklyn Website     
IndiefestMan Up  (2015)  R   Nancy (Lake Bell) is tired of being set up on dates by her friends.   On her way across London, she meets Ben (Simon Pegg) who mistakes her for his blind date. Nancy decides just to go with it, and this chance meeting changes both their lives.  I love a good romantic comedy, one where the two future lovers are witty, fun and full of life. Actually, that’s not true.  I do love romantic comedies, but I like more than just your formulaic plots and fortunately “Man Up” is one of those creative films that you just don’t want to end as it is so much fun to watch. It takes the genre and turns it on its ear, giving us a movie about two unique characters whom you would never guess would end up together. Lake Bell is dazzling in the role of Nancy, the woman who is ready to try something new at a moment’s notice, although she is always waiting for something to go wrong. Bell gives us a cynical character, but who still hopes for the best. Bell’s comic timing is perfect, and she wins us over from that first meeting in the hotel room. She would be home in those spitfire roles of the classic screwball comedies of the 1930s.  And let me say this, her British accent is one of the best an American has ever attempted, coming off natural and real. Pegg is equal in Bell’s comic timing, and his facial expressions are the perfect capper to some very funny scenes. Pegg brings to life a character who, while full of anger, doesn’t let it dominate his performance. The two actors make us want for this crazy romance to work out against all the odds.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Man Up Facebook Page   
IndiefestTab Hunter: Confidential  (2015)    This documentary centers on one of the biggest stars of the 1950’s, Tab Hunter.  Hunter, the object of desire for millions of women, had a secret:  he was gay. I never have been a big fan of Tab Hunter, the actor, but because of this film, I am a fan of the man. This film gives you an idea of what it was like to be a gay man in Hollywood during the 1950s. Hunter was a big star under the studio system, but the minute he rebelled, film executives let rumors go to the press about his homosexuality, and his career was finished.  This is an interesting and moving documentary that makes me appreciate both the actor and the man.    My Rating:  Full Price    Tab Hunter: Confidential Website
Forgotten FilmThe Paper (1994)  R   Henry (Michael Keaton) is a hard-driving editor of a New York City tabloid, who thinks nothing of blowing off dinner with his pregnant wife (Marisa Tomei) if there is a big story brewing. Henry has to mull over a job offer from the New York Times, a job that will let him have a normal life. He just about takes the job when a news story comes around that makes him thinks about staying. This film is part drama, part comedy and uses an outstanding cast to great effect. It’s a smart film that says a lot about the state of media today.   My Rating: Full Price   The Paper Info   

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2:  Stunt Monsters

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Sisters  (2015)  Two sisters (Amy Poehler, Tina Fey) decide to throw one last party at their family home.  You got me at Poehler and Fey in a movie together.   Sisters Info
Until Next Time!