Friday, May 29, 2015

San Andreas

My View: San Andreas  (2015)   PG-13   For years California has been trying to prepare for the “Big One,” and now it has happened. A series of earthquakes occur, and rescue chopper pilot, Ray (Dwayne Johnson), is making every effort to find his daughter (Alexandra Daddario). This is your standard disaster film where California, especially San Francisco, is falling apart due to massive earthquakes. Dwayne Johnson plays a fire and rescue guy who forgets that he is a public servant, passing up thousands of people in need of rescue to go and find his wife and daughter. In this two-hour movie, he rescues a total of four people…four, which is the same amount of vehicles that he flies or rides. The effects are fun to watch and there are a couple of scenes that are spectacular looking (the start of the film is some of the best part of the film), but the storyline is weak and some of the dialogue is laughable. The film is a disaster movie that doesn’t bring anything new to the screen. The film was shot in 3D, but I didn’t notice the 3D effects, so save your money and see it on a regular screen.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   San Andreas Website 
My View: Aloha  (2015)  PG-13  Brian (Bradley Cooper), a former Air Force pilot, comes back to the site of some of his biggest triumphs and his most spectacular failures. As a private defense contractor, he has to work closely with a gung-ho Air Force Pilot (Emma Stone), and against his better judgment, he starts to fall for her. Complicating matters is his ex-wife (Rachel McAdams) who still lives in the area. Watching this movie is like walking into a conversation that has been going on for two hours. It took me a long time into the film to figure out what was going on, and I still don’t know exactly what Bradley Cooper’s job is. Is he a fighter pilot? Is he a computer coder? I just don’t know. I didn’t like how Emma Stone’s character was such a strong, independent woman at the start of the film and then boom, she is in love and can’t do anything without Bradley Cooper’s character. Bill Murray is fun as an owner of a private company that is launching a satellite, but his scenes are few and far between. Rachel McAdams is wasted as the ex-wife of Cooper’s character, and John Krasinski is used even less. There is a comedic scene near the end of the film that is quite funny, but the scene’s tone (broad comedy) doesn’t fit the rest of the movie. This is another one of those films whose cast is let down by the film’s script and director. By the way, there is a bonus scene during credits but like most of the film, I have no idea what is going on during them.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Aloha Website 
Indiefest: I’ll See You in My Dreams (2015)  PG-13   Carol (Blythe Danner) is a widow who lost her husband 20 years ago. Her beloved dog dies, which propels her to make changes in her life. With the help of her pool guy (Martin Starr) and a possible romantic encounter with a rich man (Sam Elliott), she just might succeed. "I'll See You in My Dreams" is that rare film, part romantic comedy, part drama, whose main character is over sixty and a woman. The film doesn't always work, but it's an earnest attempt at exploring the possibilities of life when older and alone. Danner and Elliott have incredible chemistry on screen, and their scenes together are some of the best of the film. I also loved the scenes between Martin Starr and Danner. They work well on screen, and their experience at a Karaoke bar is a lot of fun. The weakest points of the film are when the film tries to go into broader comedy, especially the scene where Carol and her friends try marijuana. Overall, this is a sweet and moving film with some outstanding performances.   My Rating: Full Price   I'll See You in My Dreams Website 
Indiefest: Sunshine Superman (2015)  PG   A documentary about Carl Boenish, who started the sport of BASE jumping – where you skydive off of buildings, bridges, and mountains. I loved this documentary. Boenish is a character and is extremely likable. He gets excited just talking about jumping off of buildings or cliffs. The footage is remarkable as Boenish was an early adopter of the helmet mounted camera. While the film documents Boenish’s attempts to make BASE jumping a legitimate sport (you see how they avoided the police after jumping off of a downtown building), but it’s also a love story, as he finds his future wife through the sport. I highly recommend this beautiful and exciting film that is a blast to watch. It’s a sport that I would never participate in, but I could watch this movie over and over.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Sunshine Superman Website    
Indiefest: Good Kill (2014)   R   Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) used to fly fighter jets. Now he flies drones from an air-conditioned building in Las Vegas. His job is to hunt the Taliban, and he is very good at it. After fighting a war from thousands of miles away, Egan starts questioning if this war is creating more terrorists than he’s killing. The film tries to explore too many ideas, making the film feel full of stops and starts. The problem is the film never fully explores these ideas with any conviction or purpose, making it those scenes seem just another part of the film. Ethan Hawke, as the brooding pilot is at no time asked to do too much, and much like the character that he plays, it's a lackluster performance. Hawke's character rarely interacts with anyone, never giving him a chance to explore his character. The film never quite connects with its audience, failing to give anything other than a rather predictable story that can't settle on what its message is.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Good Kill Info

Forgotten Film: Reversal of Fortune (1990) The film is based on the true story of Sunny von Bulow (Glen Close), who was in a coma, possibly at the hand of her husband Claus (Jeremy Irons). He is put on trial and convicted. He then hires the brilliant lawyer, Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver). The whole cast is dazzling with Jeremy Irons standing out as the creepy, egomaniac Claus. The story is fascinating, and the tension builds as you, along with Dershowitz, try to figure out what happened.  My Rating: Full Price   Reversal of Fortune Info 

Weird Credits: From the credits of Aloha: Pashto Voice Actor 

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Me and Earl and Dying Girl  (2015)  PG-13   It’s the senior year of Greg (Thomas Mann), his friend Earl (R.J. Cyler), and Rachel (Olivia Cooke). Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia and is determined to live a normal life as possible. Any film with Connie Britton and Nick Offerman (who play Rachel’s parents) is a film I want to see.  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, May 22, 2015


My View: Tomorrowland  (2015)  PG  Two opposites, Frank (George Clooney), a jaded former “boy genius,” and Casey (Britt Robertson), an optimistic teenager, embark upon a mission to unearth the secrets of a mysterious place - a place that, somewhere in time and space, exists in their collective memory.  While I liked the look of the film and enjoyed Clooney and Robertson’s performances, I found the film slow to start and very confusing. I have no idea what was done or why it was done to resolve the plot of the film, and because the plot was so sluggish, I just wanted it the movie to be over. This movie should have been a joy to watch, but it’s filled with too many plot points, way too much talking and not enough real action. I also didn’t enjoy the overall tone of the film, which I felt was a little insulting. The film has quite a bit of violence and I think would be too confusing for small children.  I expected more from this cast and director Brad Bird, who I have admired for quite a while. This film is a big, disappointing mess.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Tomorrowland Website 
My View: Poltergeist (2015)  PG-13  A married couple (Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt) move into a new house with their children. They start experiencing mysterious things happening inside the house. Now, their daughter is missing, and it seems there is a ghost in their home holding their daughter captive. It’s sad when the trailer and even the poster are scarier that the film itself. The wastes the talents of Rockwell and DeWitt, though it does let Rockwell be funny in early, relaxed scenes with the family. The plot is somewhat similar to the original 1982 film of the same name but doesn’t have the thrills and scary moments of the first film. All of the scary moments of this film are the type where something jumps out of the dark at you. The film has numerous stops and starts, never letting the tension build.  While it was shot in 3-D, it’s not worth the extra money. There is a short bonus scene after the first credits that is worth seeing if you haven’t left the theatre to get your money back.    My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Poltergeist Website
Indiefest: Slow West (2015)  R  16-year-old Scottish aristocrat, Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), abandons his birthright and heads to the American frontier to find the love of his life, Rose (Caren Pistorius). Jay travels across the frontier of 19th-Century America with the help of a mysterious stranger named, Silas (Michael Fassbender). This is a moving, dramatic film that also has a good bit of humor. Fassbender is the reason to see this movie, and he is impressive in the role of the cowboy who takes Jay under his wing. There is great chemistry between Kodi Smit-McPhee and Fassbender, which makes their scenes together the highlight of the film. The film moves along at a steady pace, captures the time period perfectly, has plenty of twists and turns and packs a punch at the end. If you like westerns or impeccable acting, this is a film for you.    My Rating: Full Price   Slow West Website 
Indiefest: About Elly (2009)      Elly (Taraneh Aldoosti) is invited to join three families who go on a vacation to the beach. When Elly suddenly disappears while babysitting the kids, the group of friends begin to search for her. What became of Elly?  This is another fascinating film from the writer / director, Asghar Farhadi, who brought us the Oscar-winning film A Separation (2011). In the beginning, we get to know all the characters, just as Elly does (she is new to the group). Then, Elly disappears, and the mystery and suspense begin to unfold. Farhadi builds the tension until we find out what did happen near the end.  This movie is a brilliant piece of film-making and well worth seeing.   My Rating: Full Price   About Ely Website 
Forgotten Film: Frances (1982)  R  A fascinating film that looks at the life of actress Frances Farmer (Jessica Lange). Lange is brilliant as Farmer, an actress who was highly independent and creative but battled the Hollywood system and lost.  It’s a tragic tale that allows Lange to show her stunning acting range.    My Rating: Full Price   Frances Info 

Weird Credits: From the credits of Tomorrowland: Truck Costumer 

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Gemma Bowery (2014)  R  Modern day re-telling of the Madame Bovary story. Any movie with Fabrice Luchini and Gemma Arterton is going to be a winner in my book.   Gemma Bowery Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

My View:   Mad Max: Fury Road  (2015)  R  In a world where everything and everyone are fought over, a man called, Max (Tom Hardy), just might be the man to restore order. If you haven’t seen any of the Mad Max films, don’t worry, though this one does reference the past films during the credits. This film gets moving right from the start and never lets up on the accelerator. The film is a blast to watch, and Tom Hardy is brilliant as Max. Even finer is Charlize Theron, who brings a tough, multilevel performance to the screen as Imperator Furiosa, a woman who is trying to escape to a better place. Nicholas Hoult is hilarious as Nux, a sad sack bad guy who can never get anything right. The action sequences are breathtaking, and there is so much going on, you might want to see this film twice. This is a car lover’s dream, as there is an array of custom cars of all types in the film, and it’s a usual world that director George Miller always creates. This world is not a place where you would want to live, but you will definitely want to visit.  Don’t worry about seeing this one in 3-D (the 3-D was added post production), but do see it on the big screen.     My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again    Mad Max: Fury Road Website
My View:   Pitch Perfect 2  (2015)  PG-13  After a humiliating command performance, the Bellas must enter an international competition that no American group has ever won. The Bellas must win the competition to regain their competition status. I enjoyed this film and feel it is funnier than the original movie. While this sequel doesn’t have the magic moments of the first film (e.g. cup song audition), it does have some phenomenal singing, with Anna Kendrick giving us her usual outstanding performance. In addition, two newcomers, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, and Flula Borg steal the stage as the leaders of a German A-Capella group that becomes the Bellas’ rivals. Rebel Wilson once again steals the comedy spotlight as the very inappropriate, “Fat Amy.” John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks have some of the funniest lines of the movie as the two commentators, back from the first Pitch Perfect. The film does have more songs and cameos to surprise the audience, and, overall, while not as pleasing as the first film, this sequel still delivers some fantastic laughs, music and vocal talent. Be sure and stay through the first bit of credits as there is a very funny and well done bonus scene.   My Rating: Full Price   Pitch Perfect 2 Website
Indiefest:   Where Hope Grows  (2014)  PG-13   Calvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) was a professional baseball player who has to take early retirement due to panic attacks at the plate. He is struggling to raise his daughter (McKaley Miller) and feels as if life isn’t working anymore. Then Calvin meets Produce (David DeSanctis), a young grocery worker with Down syndrome. Calvin is about to make a lifelong friendship.  This is one of the best faith based films that have come out of the last few years, and it’s all due to the winning performance of David DeSanctis. He just lights up the screen with his enthusiasm for life and his great chemistry with Kristoffer Polaha. It’s a tremendous performance and makes this film work. The film has a fantastic supporting cast, including Brooke Burns, Kerr Smith, William Zabka and Danica McKellar. The film gets a little sappy at times but, unlike a lot of Christian-oriented films, the religious aspects don’t hit you over the head. The message is if you stay positive and live life to the fullest, you can find happiness. That happiness is what David DeSanctis delivers throughout the movie.   My Rating: Full Price    Where Hope Grows Website

Indiefest: Iris  (2014)  PG-13  Documentary about Iris Apel, a quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93 year-old style maven who has been on the New York fashion scene for decades. Mrs. Loehmann (yes, that Loehmann) told Iris when she was a young woman “You’re not pretty; you never will be pretty, but you have style!” and she was right. This film by the legendary late documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles is an outstanding film about a woman who has been influencing both the fashion world and the home designer world for over 75 years. The film captures Iris’s style and wit, as she dispenses wisdom to anyone who will listen, and many want to her what she has to say. The movie also documents her love affair with her husband (who near the end of the film celebrates his 100th birthday). If you love fashion and want to be wowed by one of the great fashion collections the world has ever seen, then this movie is for you.    My Rating: Full Price   Iris Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   The Gallows  (2015)   Twenty years after a horrifying accident at a school play, a group of students decide to put on the same play, and people start dying. I don’t need a horror movie about a school play; they are usually horrific enough on their own.  
Forgotten Film: Marooned  (1969)  G  Before there was Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 (1995) there was Marooned. Three astronauts (Richard Crenna, Gene Hackman and James Franciscus) are stranded in a capsule orbiting the earth and are quickly running out of air. A rescue mission is hampered by a hurricane at the launch site. This film, while a little slow moving, has some intense acting, and the special effects aren’t bad for their time. I especially enjoyed the performance of Gene Hackman, who gives one of the best preformances of his long career.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Marooned Info      

Weird Credits: From the film Mad Max: Fury Road: Bike cosmetics

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Aloha  (2015)  PG-13  This film is written and directed by Cameron Crowe and stars Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, and Bradley Cooper. I don’t care what the story is; I was in when you said Cameron Crowe and Emma Stone.   Aloha Info    
Until Next Time!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hot Pursuit

My View:  Hot Pursuit  (2015)  PG-13   A by-the-book cop (Reese Witherspoon) and a widow of a drug kingpin (Sofia Vergara) are on the run as they race through Texas trying to avoid mobsters and crooked cops.  Let me say that this film is guaranteed a spot on my Bottom Ten Films list for 2015. I kept thinking, why would Reese Witherspoon, hot off an Oscar nomination, make this crappy film?  The movie is full of bad jokes with a script full of loopholes. Vergara’s acting is horrible, and Witherspoon’s isn’t much better. It’s sad when even the outtakes (shown during the credits) are unfunny.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Hot Pursuit Facebook Page
My View:  Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)  PG-13  In Victorian England, a beautiful, headstrong, independent woman named, Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan), is courted by three suitors.  Carey Mulligan is exceptional as the self-sufficient woman who holds her own. There are some superb scenes between Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts, who plays the sheepherder who falls in love with Bathsheba. The film is beautifully shot, showing off the glorious English countryside. The problem with the film is the story, itself. It has this strong woman who falls for a guy because of his looks alone, which makes her seem very shallow.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Far From the Madding Crowd Website
My View:  The D Train (2015)  R  The head of the high school reunion party, Dan (Jack Black), is worried that no one will come. So he decides to travel to Los Angeles to track down the most popular guy, Oliver (James Marsden).  Dan knows if Oliver attends, everyone else will too.  Be careful what you wish for!  There is a huge twist in this film and, while I didn’t mind the twist, itself, I hated everything that happened after the twist. I rarely laughed at the jokes, and I thought the plot was downright stupid. Black and Marsden do work well together on screen, but the film wastes the talents of the supporting cast of Kathryn Hahn and Jeffrey Tambor. The ending of the film is just awful and insults the audience. There will be some critics who will love this film, but I am not one of them.  My Rating: Cable   The D Train Website
Indiefest:  5 Flights Up  (2015)  PG-13  Alex (Morgan Freeman) and his wife, Ruth (Diane Keaton) have been living in the same apartment for forty years. They decide to move to a more convenient neighborhood, but is it worth giving up the place where they have made so many good memories?  The film follows the couple for a few days as they try to sell their home and buy a new one. Keaton and Freeman have a nice rapport, but the film has few dramatic moments and feels very slow moving. I did like Carrie Preston and Cynthia Nixon as two real estate brokers. Both are very funny in their roles. This isn’t a bad film, but you just want it to be more with the cast it has.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee       
Indiefest:  Noble  (2014)  PG-13  A woman, Christine Noble (Deirdre O'Kane),  overcomes her harsh childhood to help orphans in Vietnam.  Noble is a moving, heartfelt true story, and O’Kane shines as Christine as an adult. She is insanely likable in the role and works well with the children in the film. This is a film that celebrates a woman who refused to be told she couldn't succeed. Instead, she kept moving forward and spread her love to the children of Vietnam, making a real difference in their lives. You will come away from this film inspired and hopeful, a rare feat these days.   My Rating:  Full Price   Noble Website  
Indiefest:  The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013)  R  After traveling the world and experiencing the most unbelievable things, Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) finds himself stuck in a nursing home. On his 100th birthday, he climbs out his window and starts a new adventure.  This film is supposed to be a comedy, but the humor falls flat, and I have misgivings about a film that mixes violent death with comedic elements.  The film jumps back and forth between when Allan was a young man and present day, which never lets the film pick up steam.  The film is a poor man’s version of Forest Gump without the humor or the heart as Allan interacts with a number of famous people in flashbacks from the past. The film has an interesting premise but never delivers its potential.   My Rating: Cable   The 100-Year Old Man Website
Indiefest: Maggie (2015)  PG-13   A zombie outbreak has hit the U.S. hard, and society is hanging on by a thread. Humans bitten by a zombie do not turn right away, but take weeks, sometimes months before they become fully controlled by the virus. Maggie (Abigail Breslin) has become infected, and her father (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has brought her home so she can be with her family before she turns. Breslin is dazzling as the headstrong girl who wishes she had treasured her family before all this happened. As good as Breslin is, it's Schwarzenegger who makes this movie so moving and heartfelt. In an incredibly restrained portrayal, Arnold gives possibly his best performance of his life. He is brilliant in the role of the father that holds out hope that his daughter will survive. I loved everything about this film, and especially it's touching finale.    My Rating: Full Price    Maggie Website
Forgotten Film:  Cactus Flower  (1969)  A dentist (Walter Matthau) pretends to be married to avoid a long term commitment. He falls for his girlfriend (Goldie Hawn) and proposes.  The only problem is that his girlfriend thinks he is still married. So he needs a wife to divorce…enter in his long-time nurse (Ingrid Bergman).  This film is so much better than the remake (Just Go With It) that starred Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Goldie Hawn, in an Oscar-winning role, is brilliant as the loveable, slightly goofy girlfriend. Matthau is outstanding as the playboy dentist, and Ingrid Bergman shows a real talent for comedy (I wish she had done more).  Cactus Flower is an excellent film that still holds up 45 years later.   My Rating: Full Price   Cactus Flower Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Hot Pursuit:  Dialect Coach: Pre-production

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Tomorrowland (2015)  PG   George Clooney and Britt Robertson in Sci-Fi film? Yes, please.
Until Next Time!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

My ViewAvengers: Age Of Ultron   (2015) PG-13   Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) attempts to re-start a dormant peacekeeping program. Things go bad and, what should have helped mankind, threatens to destroy it. Now the Avengers must stop the evil Ultron from completing his evil plans. While I didn't like this film as much as I liked the first, it's still an excellent addition to the Marvel universe. Unlike the first Avengers film that Robert Downey Jr.'s Ironman dominated, this film does a better job highlighting each superhero, even giving quite a bit of background on Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). While it's primarily an action film, there are a number of places where you will be laughing out loud, mostly due to the quick and witty dialog. I found that the villain of the movie, Ultron (voiced by James Spader), was a bit bland, but the plot moves along at a good pace, and the action sequences are numerous and well thought-out. I thought that 3-D did add to the experience, so I can recommend that you see it that way. There is a bonus scene at the end of the first series of credits. Unlike the first Avengers film, there is not a bonus scene at the very end of credits.   My Rating: Full Price   Avengers: Age of Ultron Website
IndiefestThe Mafia Kills Only in Summer  (2014)  Arturo (Alex Bisconti) grows up in 1970s Sicily with an obsession for the Mafia. It seems that everyone whom Arturo meets by chance ends up dead or missing. The only thing that keeps Arturo from thinking about the Mafia is Flora (Ginevra Antona), a girl in his class he loves from afar. I loved this surprisingly funny and touching film. The first half of the film is what makes this movie so much fun to watch. Bisconti is hilarious as the kid who can't catch a break. Unfortunately, the film loses steam when Arturo is an adult. Writer/director Pif Diliberto plays Arturo as an adult, mugging at the camera every chance he gets. I did enjoy the scenes that he has with Cristiana Capotondi, who plays Flora when she is an adult. The film is an interesting mix of fiction with fact, as it uses actual news footage from the time giving us a good background into what was happening in the region. It's a fun film that touches the heart as well as the funny bone   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Mafia Kills Only in the Summer Website
IndiefestHyena  (2014) A brutal undercover cop, Michael (Peter Ferdinando) has been targeting London's most violent drug traffickers. Michael and his team are known to take a bribe or two and because of that, he and his team have been threatened with exposure. Now Michael may have to change it up and sell out his allies to stay alive. This is a dark and gritty crime drama that sucks you in right from the start. Peter Ferdinando is brilliant as the cop who tries just about everything to stay alive as his world collapses around him. The film has a unique look, with most of it bathed in a dull blue light. Director / writer Gerard Johnson takes us quickly into this intense, grimy world where you can't trust even your best friend. It's a film that isn't always easy to watch and doesn't quite have the finish that you want, but Ferdinando makes it a film to experience.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Hyena website
Forgotten FilmThe Friends of Eddie Coyle  (1973)  R  Eddie (Robert Mitchum) is a two-bit criminal who, in order to get out of long prison sentence, decides to snitch on his friends. This is one of the best performances that Robert Mitchum has ever given. I love how this film slowly drags you into Eddie's world, giving us time to know and sympathize with the main, timeworn character. Mitchum dominates every scene and, by the end of the film, we really feel for Eddie, as we know it isn't going to end well. There isn't a lot of action in this film, but wow, can Mitchum act!    My Rating: Full Price    The Friends of Eddie Coyle Info   

Weird CreditsFrom Avengers: Age of Ultron:  Personal Hair Designer and Stylist for Mr. Chris Hemsworth.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouI Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (2014)  Who doesn’t want to see a documentary about the man who is Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch?   I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story Website
Until Next Time!