Friday, September 4, 2015

A Walk in the Woods

My ViewA Walk in the Woods (2015) R  Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) is a world famous travel writer whose humorous books were once on the best seller list, but he hasn’t written a thing in 5 years. Bryson decides to hike the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail with an old friend, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte).  Robert Redford has been trying to make this film, based on Bryson's book of the same name, since the late 90s. He initially wanted to star with Paul Newman in the Katz role. While that would have been fun to watch, the pairing of Redford and Nolte in a movie based on a beloved and hilarious book should have been a hit out of the park. Unfortunately, I think the script has been rewritten so many times that the final product, by screenwriters Bill Holderman and Rick Kerb, feels flat and stale. The film never really gives Redford and Nolte much to work with. The brilliant supporting cast is given nothing to do, with the exception of Kristen Schael, who briefly breathes some comedic life into the film.  While the +50 age crowd may have an enjoyable time watching the two old master actors stumble about on-screen, I think the rest of us, and especially fans of the book, will not want to go on this trip.    My Rating: Cable   A Walk in the Woods Website   

My ViewThe Transporter: Refueled  (2014)  PG-13  Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) is a former special-ops mercenary who is now transporting classified packages for questionable people.  He gets caught up in a cat and mouse game between some bank robbers and a Russian kingpin. This is the typical movie written by Luc Besson, who created the Transporter series. The film has lots of action and flash but no real character or content. Ed Skrein is asked to fill the very large shoes of the star of the first three Transporter films, Jason Statham. Unfortunately, Skrein doesn’t have the charisma or screen presence. The action, while well-choreographed, is almost comical, reminiscent of an old Jackie Chan film, where the hero uses various devices like a life buoy to subdue his attackers. The acting is horrible, with the exception of Ray Stevenson, who comes off stylish and cool as Frank Martin’s father, an ex-CIA agent. The film is one big ad for Audi.  Instead of “Refueled,” I think this whole series needs to be retooled.   My Rating: Cable   The Transporter: Refueled Website

IndiefestLearning to Drive  (2015)  R  As Wendy’s (Patricia Clarkson) marriage falls apart, she decides to take driving lessons from a Sikh instructor (Ben Kingsley) who has relationship troubles of his own. This is a charming film about the development of a friendship between two lonely adults. Clarkson and Kingsley work extremely well together in this understated film. It’s a film about learning to believe in yourself and that a person can succeed if they just give it their all.  I especially enjoyed the performance of Clarkson, who just sparkles on the screen. Kingsley gives a powerful yet restrained performance.  This is a movie that moves at a slow pace, but that’s OK, because, like with good friends, sometimes it’s just fine to sit and talk for a while.   My Rating:  Full Price   Learning to Drive Website

IndiefestSteve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2014)  R This is a documentary by filmmaker Alex Gibney on Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. Through archival interviews and videos of Jobs, Gibney lets Steve do most of the talking in the film, making him almost a personal tour guide to the story of his life. Jobs had the uncanny ability to spot talent and the ability to inspire people who worked for him to achieve the impossible. Gibney interviews former employees from both the early days of Apple and the latter years, when the company that Jobs started had become a powerhouse not only in the computer world, but in the business world. Gibney shows Jobs as a driven man who expected his employees to create perfect products but demanded that the job take over their lives, so much so that their personal lives suffered. With this film, Alex Gibney shows us that Jobs was a man who helped connect the whole world through his products, but he couldn’t connect to people in his own personal world. It is truly ironic that Jobs created products like the iPhone, something that was meant to connect us to other people, but instead seems to isolate us as we stare at our iPhones at the bus stop or at the dinner table. The film is a fascinating, unflinching look at an extremely complicated and ego driven man. I just wonder that after seeing this film, will the fans of Apple and Jobs hold him in such high, almost god-like esteem and will they look at his products with the same reverence? Or will they just go back to staring at their iPhones?    My Rating: Full Price   Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Forgotten FilmThe People Under the Stairs  (1991)  R  Two adults and a juvenile break into a suburban home rumored to have a large stash of cash. What they find is their worst nightmare, a house filled with secrets, secrets that may cost them their lives. This is a film written and directed by the master of horror, the late Wes Craven. It’s a film that starts out as an ordinary heist film that quickly turns into a film filled with mystery and horror, and with any Craven film, it also has some humorous bits. It’s a brilliant piece of filmmaking that is just plain fun to watch.   My Rating: Full Price   The People Under the Stairs Website   

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Transporter: Refueled:  Patina & Tint

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Visit  (2015)  PG-13  A single mom sends her two young children to visit their grandparents. Something very wrong is going on in the house, and their grandparents are acting strange. I have high hopes for this horror film, but writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s track record lately hasn’t been stellar.   The Visit Website   
Until Next Time!

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