Friday, June 26, 2015

Ted 2

My View:   Ted 2 (2015)  R   Ted (Seth MacFarlane) and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) have gotten married and now want to have a kid. John (Mark Wahlberg) finds out that, for Ted to have a kid, he will have to prove, in a court of law, that he is a person.  As with most sequels, this film is mostly a rehash of the first film, but this time without the heart of the first. The film is too long, and, while the jokes are funny, it takes forever to set them up. There are a few unnecessary scenes, and MacFarlane could have taken 30 minutes out of this almost two-hour film without hurting the plot. One of the great things about the first film was it contained a love story between two best friends, but while this sequel attempts to pull at heartstrings, it never hits the mark. Amanda Seyfried fits in with the two leads, becoming part of the boy's club, but I think that is another problem with this film. The first film had Mila Kunis’s character, who played a clear opposite to the antics of the boys. It’s one of those films that does have some great laughs, but it takes too long to get to them. Make sure and stay through all the credits as there is a bonus scene that is worth the wait.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Ted 2 Website
Family Faire:   Max (2015)  PG   Max is a military working dog who returns from Afghanistan after his handler is killed. Max is adopted by the family of the slain soldier, and together they begin a journey of healing. This is an admirable family film that will touch your heart, especially if you or one of your loved ones has served in the Armed Services. The dog is the best part of the film and has a very expressive face and bark. Josh Wiggins plays Justin, the young brother of the slain soldier and has an excellent connection to the dog. The supporting cast is impressive with Lauren Graham and Thomas Haden Church playing Josh’s parents. I didn’t like the attempt at a Texas accent by Graham (no one else tries for one) as it comes off as corny. The action sequences are well done and kids will enjoy all the action that takes place on bikes and trails. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon film that the whole family can enjoy.    My Take: Bargain Matinee   Max Website
Indiefest:  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl  (2015)  PG-13   Greg (Thomas Mann) spends most of his time making parodies of classic films with his friend Earl (RJ Cyler).  Their lives are changed when they meet Rachel (Olivia Cooke) a young girl who has just been diagnosed with cancer. I loved this touching and very inventive film. It takes the teenage coming of age romance genre and turns it on its ear. There is great chemistry between the three leads and Olivia Cooke shines as the girl who refuses to give in to cancer. This brilliant film is one of my favorite films of the year.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Website
Indiefest:   The Overnight (2015)  R  Alex (Adam Scott) and his wife, Emily (Taylor Schilling) have just moved to L.A. from Seattle with their young son. While at a park, they make friends with Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) who also has a son. He invites them to dinner at his house for pizza and kid playtime. Alex and Emily soon discover that they could be in for a wild ride.  This is a hilarious film that is going to make you uncomfortable at times as it covers some extreme adult situations. Scott and Schilling work well with each other on screen, giving us a feeling that this couple truly love and enjoy each other. Schwartzman is perfect in the role of a guy who pushes the boundaries of human behavior. The great fun of this film is that you never know where the film is going to go next - you only know that it’s going to be surprising and a whole lot of fun. I will warn you that there lots of nudity, including full-frontal male nudity.    My Rating: Full Price   The Overnight Facebook Page
Family Faire:   When Marnie Was There (2014)   PG   Anna (Hailee Steinfeld)) has been sent to the country after having a severe asthma attack. While exploring, she meets Marnie (Kiernan Shipka) a young girl who seems very familiar. Will their friendship last? Only time will tell.  This is a moving and beautiful film that is perfect for young girls, ages eight to fourteen. It’s a film about feeling alone and different, then finding out that there are other people out there who feel the same way. The characters are full and well thought-out, and the animation is breathtaking. It is rumored that this might be the last film of the legendary Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, and, if it is, it is a perfect swan song. Go see this wonderful, touching film.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   When Marnie Was Here Info
Indiefest:   Escobar: Paradise Lost (2014)  R   Nick (Josh Hutchenson) is traveling through Columbia surfing the waves and having a good time. He meets the girl of his dreams, Maria (Laura Londono) only to find out that her uncle is the legendary drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar (Benicio Del Toro). Now Nick is in danger, but he doesn’t want to leave Maria. I think fans of Hutchenson may enjoy this film, but I found his character rather boring and he really couldn’t keep up with Del Toro. The film centers on Nick and his girlfriend, I would have liked it to center on the relationship between Nick and Pablo. I did like the ending, and I liked Laura Londono’s performance, but overall I felt the 2-hour length of the film.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee
Forgotten Film:   Room at the Top (1959) An ambitious and angry young man (Laurence Harvey) decides his way to move up in the world is to marry the boss’s daughter (Heather Sears). Complicating things is his attraction to a married older woman (Simone Signoret). This is a film full of tremendous performances, but it’s Simone Signoret who makes this film so memorable. She is able to make us love her from the start, and the sadness she displays in her eyes is incredibly touching. Room at the Top is an outstanding film that makes some of today’s dramas seems soul-less.   My Rating: Full Price   Room at the Top Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ted 2: Goose Wrangler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Mr. Holmes (2015)  PG  Ian McKellen playing one of my favorite fictional characters, Sherlock Holmes. As a bonus, Laura Linney is one of the co-stars.   Mr. Holmes Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Inside Out

Family Faire: Inside Out (2015)  PG   Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is dealing with a lot in her young life; a move from the Midwest to San Francisco, a new school and having to make friends. Good thing she has emotions, Joy, Disgust, Sadness, Fear and Anger to help her cope. This film is destined to be a classic, in-line with other great Pixar films like Toy Story (1995), Finding Nemo (2003) and Up (2009). The film has a brilliantly written script and contains an inventive storyline. Amy Poehler is phenomenal as the character Joy, and Lewis Black is priceless as Anger. The film is funny, a joy to watch (no pun intended) and melts your heart. Though made in 3-D,  it’s not necessary to see the movie in 3-D as it didn't add anything to the experience. Don’t miss this film that the whole family will fall in love with and teaches us, it's OK to have feelings.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again   Inside Out Website
Indiefest: Dope (2015)  R   Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is a geek just trying to survive in a tough neighborhood. His life changes when he is invited to an underground party, and he and his friends go on an adventure of a lifetime.  I enjoyed this film, especially the performance of Shameik Moore, who is a delight to watch on the screen as the geeky and shy Malcolm. The storyline is interesting, and I loved the ending of the film. I didn’t like that Malcolm and his two best friends get involved (not by choice) and are rewarded for distributing drugs. I also didn’t like that Molly’s drug use was seen as okay and a fun way to party. But those problems don’t overshadow that this is a unique film with a very unconventional hero at its core.    My Rating: Full Price   Dope Website
Indiefest:  The Connection (2014)  R  One man, Marseilles magistrate Pierre Michel (Jean Dujardin), makes it his life work to take down one of the most notorious drug smuggling operations in history: The French Connection. This is a well-done crime drama that focuses on the magistrate that tirelessly works to bring down a gang responsible for so many people’s deaths and destruction.  Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche, who plays the drug lord that the magistrate is trying to bring down, are both exceptional in their roles, and their scenes together are full of sparks and high drama. Lellouche does a remarkable job in making us care about a very despicable character. Unfortunately, The Connection is going to be compared to the 1971 film, The French Connection even though they are two very different films. The Connection is an excellent addition to the crime drama genre with two outstanding performances by Dujardin and Lellouche.    My Rating: Full Price   The Connection Info
Indiefest:  The Wolfpack (2015)  R   A documentary on six brothers and one sister who have lived their whole lives inside a New York City apartment. The children have been home-schooled and almost never leave the apartment due to a controlling father. To entertain themselves, the six brothers re-create their favorite films with homemade costumes and scripts.  I enjoyed the film, mostly because the boys are so outgoing, and their re-creations of films are fascinating. I wanted more on their background, and while we do see quite a few home movies, I never felt that I got to know anyone in-depth in the family. The movie also never fully explores the darker side of the father and his hold on his family. There are hints that he bullies the boys and that he might have hit his wife, but these are never fully explored. The Wolfpack is a film that never quite lives up to its potential, leaving me thinking that the boys were merely characters in their own film, instead of real kids trying to find their way in the big, wide world of New York City.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee    The Wolfpack Website 
Forgotten Film:  La Cage aux Folles (1979) R   This is a far better film than the American remake, The Birdcage (1996). The plot is roughly the same; a gay couple’s son is getting married into a conservative family, so the couple attempts (very badly) to act straight so that the wedding will go off. This French film is funny, warm and is a combo of a farce and a musical. The film brilliant plays out, becoming funnier as it goes along. The film is worthy of its three Oscar nominations and is a joy to watch.    My Rating: Full Price   La Cage Aux Folles Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Inside Out: Character Modeling and Articulation Artist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Bronze (2015)     A foul-mouthed former gymnast (Melissa Rauch) has made a living on the fact that she won an Olympic bronze medal. Now she is asked to put her ego aside and help mentor a new up-and-coming star. I love Melissa Rauch and am looking forward to seeing what director Bryan Buckley can do with this material. Buckley has directed some of the best commercials of the past ten years.   The Bronze Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Jurassic World

My View: Jurassic World (2015)  PG-13   It’s been twenty-two years since the fatal accidents at Jurassic Park. Now, the Island features a fully functioning dinosaur-themed park called, Jurassic World. The newness has worn off, and a fresh attraction is needed to re-spark interest. A new dinosaur has been created, one that is larger and deadlier than anything in the park. This isn’t going to go well. While not as magical or moving as Jurassic Park (1993), this still is a fun and exciting film. My biggest complaint about the movie is the character that Bryce Dallas Howard plays, a corporate shill who is so clueless, there is no way she could run a Taco Bell, much less a billion-dollar amusement park. Chris Pratt is brilliant as the outspoken animal behaviorist who is training Raptors to behave. The film is packed with action sequences, and I loved the ending scene. By the way, the film was not shot in 3-D, so save a few bucks and see it in 2-D.  My Rating: Full Price    Jurassic World Website

Indiefest:  Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World (2014)    Surrealist painter H.R. Giger was the man behind the Oscar-winning visual creatures in the 1979 sci-fi hit “Alien.” But he is much more than that including his intricate, startling paintings and sculptures depicting a mixture of birth, life, death and sex. This is a fascinating documentary that mostly takes place during the last couple of years of the late artist’s life. As you would expect, he was a very strange guy who lived in a house filled with his artwork (some of which incorporated human skulls). There are a few quick scenes from the making of Alien (I would have liked more of those), but the film is really about Giger’s life and his relationships (he apparently had quite a few affairs with women). If you are at all interested in his artwork (which influenced many artists), this is the film for you.    My View: Full Price    Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   Pixels (2015)  PG-13   Aliens come to Earth and attack in the form of video game icons. The director of the film, Chris Columbus, hasn’t had a hit since the Harry Potter films, and this one stars two absolute “hams” - Adam Sandler and Kevin James.   Pixels Facebook Page

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blue Ray):  The Duff (2014) PG-13   Bianca (Mae Whitman) discovers that she has been labeled the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by her more popular friends. Now she enlists Wesley (Robbie Arnell) to help her reinvent herself. The film is another in a long line of teen romantic comedies. Mae Whitman is just the right amount of cute mixed in with a bit of nerdiness to make her character likable from the start. While not a remarkable film, it’s extremely watchable due to Whitman, and it makes a very cool “date night” movie.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Duff Website

Forgotten Film: The China Syndrome (1979)  PG   A reporter (Jane Fonda) and her cameraman (Michael Douglas) are doing a “fluff” piece on a nuclear power plant. While on a tour of the facility, they witness (and film) a near meltdown, only adverted due to the quick thinking of a plant engineer (Jack Lemmon). The engineer investigates why the plant almost went into meltdown and discovers a mess of problems at the plant and decides to go to the reporter with the story. Now, all their lives are in danger. There are many  movies made in the late 70s and early 80s that are dated and don’t hold up over time. This is one of the exceptions. Lemmon and Fonda are outstanding in their roles, and the tension builds throughout the film. It’s a film that is still relevant today and is expertly directed by James Bridges.   My Rating: Full Price   The China Syndrome Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Jurassic World: Practical Creature Effects

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Minions (2015)    The minions have been the best part of the Despicable Me pictures. This time they get their own movie, and it’s going to be so much fun.    Minions Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, June 5, 2015


My ViewEntourage  (2015)  R   Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is now head of a film studio. Vincent (Adrian Grenier) is making his directorial debut, and his film is going way over budget. Can Vincent’s manager Eric (Kevin Connolly) convince Ari to cough up more money to complete the movie, or will the gang have to move back to Queens?  When you make a sequel or a film based on a TV show, it should bring something new to the screen.  Entourage brings exactly nothing new to the storyline. The movie feels a little dated as if time hasn’t been kind to Ari and Vincent. There is a reason the TV show was only 30 minutes long as if it’s any longer, you start not liking any of the characters because they are all too self-involved to care about anything else but themselves. I just didn’t care at all about what happened to any of the characters by the end of the film, and I was almost rooting for them to fail.  My Rating: Cable  Entourage Website
My ViewSpy  (2015)  R  Susan (Melissa McCarthy) is a desk-bound CIA analyst. From her desk, she assists field agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). When Fine goes missing, and every field agent has been compromised, Susan is forced to go out in the field to bring down arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne).  Normally McCarthy is the one who steals the movie, but it’s Jason Statham that steals this film.  He plays a spy who tells stories about his time as an agent, and each story gets more and more outrageous. I enjoyed the film and McCarthy does a fantastic job, especially in the broader, physical comedy pieces. This film, though, doesn’t quite hit it out of the park (it lags a bit in the middle), but it’s fun to watch.  My Rating: Full Price   Spy Website
IndiefestBarely Lethal  (2015)  PG-13   Sixteen-year-old Megan (Hailee Steinfeld) has been training to be an assassin under the tutelage of Hardman (Samuel L. Jackson). She sees how other teenagers seem to be having fun and decides to fake her own death to get away from Hardman. She soon discovers that a teenager’s life isn’t always fun and games.  This could have been a game changer for the teen romantic comedy.  Unfortunately, it is just another in a long line of movies that follow the girl out of her comfort zone toward trying to fit in and having a crush on the popular guy. Seinfeld is believable in the part of an assassin and does the action sequences quite well, and Jackson is fun to watch in his limited role. The film could, though, have been much better if it just had taken some chances.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Barely Lethal Website 
IndiefestLove & Mercy  (2015)  PG-13  The story of Brian Wilson, the talented but troubled songwriter who led “The Beach Boys” to the top of the charts. This is one of the better films of the year. You wouldn’t think that two different actors (in this case Paul Dano and John Cusack) could play the same man at different points in his life and make it work, but this film does. Dan is brilliant as the younger Brian Wilson, who, at the start of the film, has decided to stop touring and concentrate on songwriting. Cusack gives one of his better performances as an older Brian Wilson, who is strung out on drugs prescribed by his psychiatrist. I loved Elizabeth Banks in the role of the woman determined to help Brian escape the controlling clutches  of his psychiatrist (played by the always brilliant Paul Giamatti). This film gives you real insight into the brilliance of the slightly crazy mind of Wilson. It’s an astonishing bit of filmmaking and one not to be missed.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Love & Mercy Website
IndiefestSaint Laurent  (2014) R   Biography drama film about the life of famed French designer Yves Saint Laurent(Gaspard Ulliel).  I didn’t like this overlong, way too artsy film. It’s rather boring, and we never really get to know why Laurent is so tragically hurt. A number of scenes just don’t make any sense, and there are a few that were shot, it seems, just to try and be artistic. The film also spends so much time on Laurent being moody as he draws his designs that I think only someone who works in the fashion industry could enjoy this movie.  My Rating:  Cable   Saint Laurent Website   
IndiefestResults  (2015)  R   Recently Danny (Kevin Corrigan) has come into some big money. He’s bought a house and is living large, but he isn’t happy. He decides to hire a personal trainer and finds Kat (Cobie Smulders), a fiery woman who takes her job seriously. Soon Kat and Danny discover that they might have more in common than just a workout. I enjoyed this quirky little film about two unhappy people who find each other (though it takes quite a bit of time to figure it out).  Cobie Smulders is believable as the trainer who is so driven; she will show up your house to ask you why you missed your workout. Corrigan is very funny as the guy who is just having a good time but knows he is missing something in his life. While not a great film, it’s a film that you will enjoy and getting to know these rather strange people. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Results Website 
Forgotten Films Nick of Time (1995)  R  A father (Johnny Depp) arrives on a train with this daughter.  They are visiting L.A., but before they can start their sightseeing, the daughter is taken and held by a mysterious man (Christopher Walken).  The father can get his daughter back if, in 90 minutes, he assassinates the Governor of California.  This movie is an outstanding thriller that just keeps adding more and more to the tension of the film.  Depp is at his best and gives one of his better performances. It’s the type of film not made anymore with one man desperately at his wits-end trying to make a horrible decision.  My Rating: Full Price   Nick of Time info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Spy:  Crowd Hair Supervisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouJurassic World  (2015)  PG-13  I hear great things about this film (critics that have already seen the film are giving it great reviews). Plus, it’s Chris Pratt and some raptors.  Enough said.   Jurassic World Website
Until Next Time!