Friday, April 17, 2015

Ex Machina

My View:  Ex Machina (2015)  R   A computer coder named, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), wins a chance to spend the week at the mountain home of Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the man who owns the company where Caleb is employed. It turns out, though, that Caleb is there to test Nathan's latest experiment, a life-like robot named, Ava (Alicia Vikander). Ex Machina is one of the best pictures I have seen this year and is an outstanding film with a highly creative script. Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson are perfect on the screen together, giving us a great "cat and mouse game" of a film. The story line is rich, and the characters are complex, which makes this film an extraordinary experience. This is a film that will be the standard-bearer of great Sci-Fi films for years to come.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again   Ex Machina Facebook page
Family Faire:  Monkey Kingdom  (2015)  G   A nature documentary about a family of monkeys that live in the ancient ruins of an area of Sri Lanka. This is a funny, sweet film the whole family will enjoy. Narrated by Tina Fey, the film centers around the life of a female adult monkey named, Maya. We follow Maya and her newborn son as they struggle to survive in the jungle of an ancient temple. The film is beautifully shot, and the storyline keeps you riveted as you root for Maya to succeed. The monkeys are fascinating to watch, and you will leave the theatre with a smile on your face. My Rating: Full Price   Monkey Kingdom Website
Indiefest: Queen and Country (2014)    Bill Rohan (Callum Turner) has had to leave his beloved home and family to join the army. During boot camp, he meets Percy (Caleb Landry Jones), and they strike up a friendship that lasts through their next assignment. Now they are dealing with lazy subordinates, crazed officers, and, all the while, looking for love from the local girls. This is a sequel to the brilliant and entertaining 1987 film Hope and Glory (see Forgotten Films below). Unfortunately, this film isn't very funny, and a lot of its characters are mean-spirited. The film only comes alive when Bill goes back home on-leave and interacts with his quirky family. While there are some excellent performances by the supporting cast, both Rohan and Jones disappoint in their portrayals. Jones overacts in almost every scene, and Rohan is dull and lifeless. Instead of making a film about life in the drab 1950s, director/writer John Boorman should have set his film in the 60s, where life was fast-moving and changing.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Queen and Country Website
Indiefest: The Riot Club (2104)  R  Alistair (Sam Claflin) and Miles (Max Irons) are new to Oxford University and make their goal to join the social group called, "The Riot Club. I am guessing that this film was meant to be a biting satire on the excesses of the privileged upper class. Instead, this film leaves a bad taste in your mouth as each member of the club becomes more and more outrageous and gruesome as the night goes on. The film never lets us understand why these characters feel the way they do, which makes the film seem hollow. Most of the characters are unlikeable, which is fine, but we end up not liking even the one character who had some redeemable traits. It's a film that, at the end, I felt that I had just wasted two hours of my time.   My Rating: Cable   The Riot Club Info 
Indiefest:  The Salt of the Earth (2015)  PG-13   Documentary about award-winning photographer, Sebastiano Salgado, who has traveled the world documenting it with his camera.  A moving documentary that, at times, is breathtaking as Salgado's pictures are displayed, most of which are in gorgeous Black and White. It is also a heartbreaking film because a great deal of his work dealt with war-torn areas of Africa. I will warn you that there are quite a few shots of dead and dying people, some due to starvation. Ultimately, it's an uplifting film because Salgado's uncanny ability to get into the heart of a picture, allowing us to see the humanity in his work. The film perfectly captures a remarkable man who has taken some remarkable and vibrant pictures.   My Rating: Full Price   The Salt of the Earth Website
My View: True Story (2015)  R  A newspaper reporter, Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill), has just lost his job due to a scandal. One day he receives a phone call from prison. The call is from a recently captured prisoner, Christian Longo (James Franco), who has been accused of murdering his own family. Michael may regret answering his phone after he gets involved with investigating Christian's story.  At first, the film was compelling as Finkel discovers who Christian Longo is. But the film's use of close-ups, when the characters were interacting in Longo’s prison, was claustrophobic and dull. The film failed to keep me involved with the storyline, and by the end, I didn't care about either character and found both rather uninteresting.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  True Story Info
My View: Unfriended (2015)   Six friends get together via Skype when a seventh unknown person joins them. The unknown person begins to reveal that they know a lot about the group, including that the six friends bullied a fellow classmate into killing herself.  It's a great idea for a film; a movie that takes place only on a computer, with other characters interacting using Facebook, Skype, Instagram, and Twitter. Unfortunately, the movie is let down by a script that is un-imaginative and worse yet, for a horror movie, not scary. The first part of this film works, as the characters interact with each other on one of the character's computer screens. The film starts breaking down when the killing starts, and what started out as an interesting idea becomes tedious and predictable.   My Rating: Cable
Forgotten Film: Hope and Glory (1987) This is a warm, joyful film about a boy living in war-torn London during, “The Blitz.” We see the story through the eyes of Bill (Sebastian Rice-Edwards), who treats the rubble of bombed homes as his playground. His family is full of eccentric people who are trying to deal with a war and all its consequences. My favorite scene in this film is when Bill rounds a corner and finds his classmates happily dancing around the playground because a bomb has been dropped on his school the night before.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again  Hope and Glory Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ex Machina: Additional Greens: For Palmbrokers

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Misery Loves Comedy (2015) A documentary directed by Kevin Pollack that asks more than 50 comedians, “ Do you have to be miserable to be funny?”  Misery Loves Comedy Info  
Until Next Time!

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