Friday, October 30, 2015


My ViewBurnt  (2015) R  Adam (Bradley Cooper) was an up-and-coming chef who flamed out due to his drug use and his arrogant behavior that caused him to lose his prized possession, his restaurant.  He now is trying to put his life back together, and, maybe, if everything goes well, he can open another restaurant. Chefs are supposed to be passionate about the food they prepare and serve. That’s the problem with this film. I never got a sense that Cooper’s character truly is passionate about anything, much less food. I felt more passion from Sienna Miller’s character, a fellow chef, and possible love interest than I did from Cooper’s Adam. Cooper does a lot of brooding, yelling and throwing of kitchen tools, but it’s more about being unhappy and not about the food. There is very little chemistry between Miller and Cooper though there are some sparks between Cooper and Daniel Bruhl, who plays the gay manager of the restaurant and who has a crush on Cooper’s character.  I never believed that Cooper was the charismatic groundbreaking chef as I just never felt or saw the passion he would need to be one.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Burnt Website
My ViewOur Brand is Crisis  (2015)  R  Jane (Sandra Bullock) is one of America’s premiere campaign managers. She is sent to South America to help get a new leader  (Joaquim de Almeida) elected. Her problem is the candidate is behind in the polls, and her rival (Billy Bob Thornton) is the manager of the opposition. What a mess of a movie! It doesn’t know if it wants to be a comedy, a hard-hitting political commentary film, or a drama about finding your passion in life. Instead, it tries to be all three and fails miserably, adding a bit of very bad satire (I think) to the mix. Bullock’s character is unlikeable from the start. You are supposed to love her because it’s Sandra Bullock, but we don’t like her “Crazy Jane” character. There are a number of scenes that Bullock has with Thornton’s character that just come off as bizarre, with Billy Bob spouting off line after line and Bullock’s character just sitting there like she is deaf and blind. Bullock’s character has had alcohol and substance abuse problems in the past, but no one bats an eye when she starts drinking again, and it’s even used as an attempt at humor in the film. This film fails at almost everything it attempts, including touching the hearts strings. If it were up to me, I would vote it out of the theatre.  My Rating: Cable   Our Brand is Crisis Website
IndiefestRoom  (2015)  R  At age 15 Joy (Brie Larson) was kidnapped by Old Nick (Sean Bridges) and placed in a shed in his backyard.   Seven years later, Joy and her five-year-old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) haven’t seen the outside other than the small skylight in the ceiling. Joy has a plan to get her son out, but it may kill her.  From the opening frame, you are pulled into the strange and small world of Joy and Jack. Director Lenny Abrahamson and screenwriter Emma Donoghue have crafted a film that fully immerses you the characters’ tiny world. We very quickly learn what Joy deals with on a daily basis, living in a space that is only 10 x 10 and having a child who doesn’t understand just how big, bright and loud the world is outside the walls of the room. I think Brie Larson is one of the best young actresses in Hollywood, and she gives another brilliant performance in this film, but the film is made by the performance of Tremblay. He more than holds his own with Larson and is the core of the movie. Jack is the center of the film, and it takes an impressive actor to pull it off, which he does with flying colors. Everything we see and hear is from the viewpoint of Tremblay’s character, which makes his performance even more remarkable. Tremblay plays Jack as a loving son who isn’t afraid to pushes back when he feels he is being wronged. It takes a strong personality to grasp a role like this, and Tremblay gives an intelligent performance that, while filled with childlike wonder, is also brimming with emotion that is beyond his young age. Without giving anything away, “Room” is let down a little by its 2nd half, but it’s not too hard a fall, and the film doesn’t disappoint with its ending. However, it’s the performances Larson and especially Tremblay that make this movie so emotional and powerful. Both actors, with Oscar-worthy performances give us everything they have and that, in this case, is quite a lot.    My Rating: Full Price   Room Website

My View:   Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)  R   On the eve of their last campout, three scouts (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan) band together to fight a zombie invasion of their town. Full of cliches, this film, has the stripper who is smarter than she looks, the nerds who save the day, and the beautiful high school girl who secretly likes one of the scouts. This film would have been a lot of fun if they had done it right. Well, they didn’t. They went for the easy, cheap, sophomoric comedy, which most of the time didn’t work. If you think singing a Britney Spears song with a zombie or feeling up a zombie’s breasts is funny, and then this movie is for you. If you can stay awake through the whole film, there is a bonus scene after the first portion of credits.    My Rating: (inspired by Halloween) I’d Rather Get Bit by a Zombie Than See This Film Again    Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
My ViewTruth  (2015) R  In 2004 then-President George W. Bush was in the middle of a  tight re-election campaign.  Producer of the “Sixty Minutes 2,” Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) gets information, including some damning documents that Bush might have gone AWOL during his time in the National Guard. After the program detailing the AWOL airs, Mary, and CBS network star Dan Rather (Robert Redford) come under fire for possibly forged documents that they used in their program.  Disclaimer: I work for a CBS-owned TV station.  While not a bad movie, it is rather bland in its depiction of how a news department and its famous anchor were taken down. Redford basically plays himself, not trying to look or sound like Rather. Dennis Quaid plays a former army man who now helps with the news team stories. I would have liked this film more if Quaid had played Rather. Redford is too iconic an actor to play this part, and it’s hard not to see Redford the actor in this role. Blanchett tries hard to bring life to the story, but the film never quite gets the intrigue or the tension up to a full head of steam. You want this film to be another “All the President’s Men” but instead you get an average TV movie. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Truth Info   
Forgotten FilmMoonlight Mile  (2002)  PG-13  Joe (Jake Gyllenhaal) is dealing with the death of his fiancé at the hands of a murderer.  In the process of his grieving, he becomes friends with her parents (Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon) and tries to put the pieces of his life back together.  This is a film about dealing with death and how grieving isn’t always an easy road. It’s a film that deals with the subject of death with a bit of a wry sense of humor. I love Ellen Pompeo in this film as she plays a postal worker who Joe starts falling for, much to his dismay. Gyllenhaal is perfect in the part, playing Joe with just the right touch of intelligence and humor.  It’s a film that will touch your heart and make you think about your loved ones. My Rating: Full Price   Moonlight Mile Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Our Brand is Crisis: Truck Costumer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Spotlight (2015)  The true story of how a group of reporters from the Boston Globe uncovered the huge scandal of child molestation and cover-up by the local Catholic Archdiocese. The film is directed by Tom McCarthy (Win Win, The Station Agent), and the cast includes Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci and Jamey Sheridan. The film has won numerous awards at film festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival.   Spotlight Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Last Witch Hunter

My View:  The Last Witch Hunter (2015)  PG-13  An immortal witch hunter named, Kaulder (Vin Diesel), teams with a beautiful female witch (Rose Leslie) to stop the covens of New York City from destroying humanity by unleashing a horrific plague. This is a film where you know what you are getting even before the opening titles run; a film that isn’t bad enough to be fun but a mediocre film that gets old very quickly. The action sequences are horribly staged with shaky camera work and a lot of very quick cuts.  The cuts are so fast I had a hard time knowing what was happening. It’s a movie that thinks it has to explain everything, sometimes two or three times. Vin Diesel is fine as an action hero, but he has trouble with slow moving scenes where he has to handle a lot of dialogue and, unfortunately, there a lot of them. He does have nice chemistry with Leslie, who plays his reluctant sidekick, but she isn’t given much to do in the film, except to scream. Michael Caine is wasted as a priest who helps the witch hunter in his missions, but he spends most of the film in a drug-induced deep sleep.  I almost fell asleep while watching this slow moving “action” film.  My Rating: Cable   The Last Witch Hunter Website
IndiefestRock the Kasbah  (2015)  R  Richie (Bill Murray) is a Rock-N-Roll manager who has seen better times. While taking his last remaining artist on a USO tour in Afghanistan, he finds himself in Kabul and discovers a young Afghan girl (Leem Lubany) whom he mentors while she competes on the Afghanistan version of American Idol.  This is one disappointing film, so much so, that you feel that actors like Bruce Willis and Danny McBride did this movie just for the paycheck. There are a couple of times you can see glimmers of a better film, but those moments are few and far between. More often you are frustrated by the weak and lazy script that seems to put every cliché character that you could think of in the film. My biggest disappointment is with Murray. He comes off not as the charming and impish actor we all adore, but one who is irritating and annoying. Murray tries to put on the charm, but it never clicks, just making those attempts seem tired and lacking any emotion. Murray isn’t helped by a script written by Mitch Glazer and directed by Barry Levinson. They give Lubany, who has a beautiful singing voice, absolutely nothing to do but say a few throwaway lines about being brave. Levinson, who directed such gems as “Avalon,” “Diner” and “Wag the Dog,” is at his worst in this film. The film feels choppy as the transitions from each scene drag, and the few action sequences seem stilted. The film lacks any powerful emotional moment and never gives us anything to cheer for. The last ten minutes of this movie just seem to give up and go for the big clichéd finish because the script paints the story into a corner.   My Rating: Cable   Rock the Kasbah Website
IndiefestTime Out of Mind (2014)  PG  George (Richard Gere) has been homeless and on the streets for a long time. He seeks refuge at Bellevue Hospital, a Manhattan intake center for homeless men. He makes friends with a fellow homeless man (Ben Vereen) who convinces George to try and mend his relationship with his daughter.  This film tackles the subject of the homeless by slowing immersing us in their world. The film follows George from a distance, shooting him from afar as we look at George through windows and doorways.  We see a man who has been beaten down by life, his only mission is to survive and find a place to sleep for the night. George is a man who handles the rejection by the public with a quiet grace, never getting into confrontations, even with the people who throw him out of buildings or entrance ways.  It’s a stunning and fascinating performance by Gere, and he is on-screen throughout the entire film. It’s a role that few would tackle, as Gere lets us see a character who is raw and exposed. This is a film that lets us see a person on the street as someone human, not a person that we usually just ignore.  This is a film that will change the way you see and deal with a very difficult subject.   My Rating: Full Price   Time Out of Mind Website
My View:   Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension  (2015)  R  Ryan (Chris J. Murray) and his family have just moved into a new home. Ryan finds a 20-year-old tape that shows two girls being taught supernatural abilities by what appears to be their mother.  Soon, after viewing the tape, strange things start happening in the house, and it seems Ryan’s daughter is being targeted by supernatural forces. The fifth and hopefully last of the “Paranormal Activity” series is the worst of the bunch, going out like a whimper of a person being terrorized by a ghost. While the film was shot in 3-D, it doesn’t look it, as the 3-D effects only show up when the supernatural beings appear. The scares are minimum and are all of the "jump out of the dark" with a loud noise variety. The film uses the  “found footage” genre, but that genre is getting old and has worn out it’s welcome. What started out as a phenomenon has ended as a ho-hum bland film. And please, no one stare into a mirror and say "Bloody Mary" three times. I really don't want to see any more of these films!   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again     Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Website
IndiefestExperimenter (2015)  PG-13  A famous social psychologist, Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard), in 1961, conducted a series of behavioral experiments that were extremely controversial. The experiments tested ordinary humans and their willingness to obey authority, even if it meant that someone else might get hurt.  A bit of a warning; this film isn’t for everybody as it “breaks the fourth wall” - the main character, Milgram, speaks directly to the audience while the scene he is in continues in the background. Also, the film uses techniques such as having the characters do a scene in a car that is obviously shot on a soundstage or using a background that is painted on a big canvas, not looking very realistic at all. A couple of times, Milgram is talking about the “elephant in the room,” when there is literally an elephant in the room. The film is an interesting look at the human condition and why we do things when we know they could be wrong or have a bad outcome. Sarsgaard gives an intelligent and dazzling performance as the complex and complicated psychologist. While not a challenging role, I did enjoy Winona Ryder as Milgram’s wife who becomes a partner in Milgram’s experiments. It’s a challenging film to watch, but much like its main character, it’s worth getting to know.   My Rating: Full Price
Forgotten FilmAll the Right Moves  (1983)  R   A high school football player (Tom Cruise) who sees football as a way to get out of his small, steelworker town, clashes with  his head coach (Craig T. Nelson), a man who seems to be on track to get a college coaching job. Cruise gives a flawless performance as the headstrong high schooler who is convinced that he has the talent to play at the next level.  Nelson gives one of his better performances as the hard driving, stubborn coach who rules over his team with an iron fist. What makes this movie is the performance of Lea Thompson, who plays Cruise’s characters girlfriend. Her character isn’t just the usual teenage girlfriend, but Thompson makes her a real person who is just as desperate to get out of the small town but doesn’t see as many opportunities to escape as her football playing boyfriend has.   My Rating: Full Price   All the Right Moves Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Experimenter:  Art Swing

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouScouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)  R  I think the title says it all…that and the poster.   Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bridge of Spies

My View:  Bridge of Spies (2015)  PG-13  Brooklyn lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) works for an insurance company during the height of the Cold War. He is volunteered by his company to be the lawyer of an accused Russian spy.  Donovan finds himself at the center of a “war of nerves” between the United States and the Soviet Union.  This is a big, sprawling Hollywood film that Steven Spielberg is so good at directing, and it opens with an almost silent sequence that perfectly sets up the remainder of the film. This is a role that is tailor-made for Tom Hanks who plays the determined lawyer who seems part every man and part brilliant lawyer. Hanks plays Donovan as a man who, while somewhat easygoing, is committed to do the right thing and is compassionate about his fellow man. Hanks plays his character as a man who can find humor in almost any situation. It’s that sense of humor that helps his character deal with the desperate situations that he gets into in the film. I had a hard time coming up with anyone else who could play this role so well. George Clooney, maybe, but he would have to tone down the smart aleck vibe that Clooney often tends to give out on the screen. Bridge of Spies is the type of big “Hollywood “ film that is so hard to pull off, but Spielberg succeeds. He brings us a tale that is tension filled and thrilling but also filled with small, emotional scenes that make this film so enjoyable to watch. It helps when your leading man is up to the task of a very demanding role of a character that is willing to take on the world.   My Rating: Full Price   Bridge of Spies Website
My View:  Crimson Peak  (2015)  R  Set in England in the late 19th century, Edith (Mia Wasikowska) falls in love and marries Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). They move to Sir Sharpe’s mansion, a crumbling home that harbors some sinister entities that will threaten Edith’s life. Crimson Peak is not a horror story but a Gothic romance with a mystery built-in. There are some stunning looking ghosts, but they never deliver the scare that you want. The film looks incredibly beautiful and striking; with a set design that creates a mansion that is gloomy and menacing, making it another character in the movie. This movie is all flash and very little substance, with the cast being let down by a script that is highly predictable. I did enjoy Jessica Chastain as Sharpe’s very strange sister, but it doesn’t make up for a script whose ending I figured out almost from the start of the film. There is a rather gruesome death in the first half that may disturb some viewers.     My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Crimson Peak Website
My View:  Steve Jobs  (2015) R   A look at the founder and leader of Apple, Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender). The film is set backstage at three iconic product launches and gives us a look at the man, the myth and the legend.  This is a scintillating film about a complex, brilliant but flawed man who changed the way we use technology. The film is revealed in three sections and takes place before three separate product launches. The film isn’t about the product launches, but it’s mostly about the relationships that Jobs has with his fellow workers and family. Fassbender is mesmerizing as Jobs, and while he does not look or talk like Jobs, he has still captured the essence of the man. Kate Winslet gives a sure Oscar-nominated performance as Jobs’ Marketing Manager who is the only person who can tell Jobs the truth about how badly or well he is handling his personal relationships. The script, by Aaron Sorkin, is fast moving with witty and dazzling dialogue. The direction by Danny Boyle is perfection with some luminous camera work. It’s a fascinating film that gives us an inside look at the man who changed how we deal with daily life.    My Rating: Full Price    Steve Jobs Website  
Indiefest:  Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon (2015)   R   Documentary about the humor magazine that created a culture through its magazine and movies that changed comedy forever.  National Lampoon was a humor magazine long before it started putting out movies. It was irreverent, sometimes vulgar and always contained shots of topless women in humorous situations. Its covers were legendary, and some of the most brilliant comedy writers got their start at the magazine.  This film is funny and  insightful with excellent interviews  from Lampooners like Chevy Chase and P.J. O’Rourke. There is fascinating footage of people like John Belushi and Gilda Radner who worked on National Lampoon projects, and the stories of the glory days of the magazine will amaze you. I do want to warn you that there many on-screen inappropriate things   My Rating: Full Price   Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead Website
Indiefest:  Beasts of No Nation (2015)   Agu (Abrahma Attah) has a good life. He lives in a village with his family and goes to school that is run by his father. It’s a loving family, and while Agu gets into a bit of mischief from time to time, he’s a good kid. All that changes when civil war breaks out. His mother and his baby brother are sent away to escape the war, and then government forces invade the village and kill his father and brother. Agu escapes into the wilderness, eventually being captured by Commandant (Idris Elba) and his band of rebels. Agu is soon indoctrinated into the rebel army, and he is now a soldier in a war that will destroy a lot of lives. This is a powerful movie that is tough to watch at times due to the extreme violence of war and the psychological abuse by Commandant to get Agu and the rest of child warriors to commit to the cause. Idris Elba is superb as the fascinating but brutal Commandant, a man who expects his men to lay down their lives for the cause. Abrahma Attah is amazing in the role of Agu, a child whose life is turned into hell by a war that no one seems to win. Beasts of No Nation is a film that will stay with you for a while, and you will feel that you have spent time in a world that has been turned upside down.   My Rating: Full Price   Beasts of No Nation Website
Family Faire:  Goosebumps (2015) PG   Zac (Dylan Minnette) moves to a small town and meets Hannah (Odeya Rush) and her father, the famous writer R.L. Stine (Jack Black) the creator of the children’s horror series “Goosebumps.”  Zac mistakenly opens one of R.L. Stine’s manuscripts that releases every ghost and ghoul from Stine’s works. Now Zac, Hannah, and her father must team up to try and get the monsters back where they belong. Fans of the book series are going to love this film and parents will enjoy it also. It’s a funny and creative film that tells a new original tale that is an imaginative take on the horror film. I thought Minette had great chemistry with Rush, making their attraction seem real. The monsters are fun (though maybe too scary for the under six crowd), and the story moves quickly once the Stine’s creations are released. Goosebumps was not shot in 3-D, so save the extra bucks. It’s a fun film that while not a great movie, was a blast to watch.    My Take: Bargain Matinee   Goosebumps Website

Forgotten Film:  Matinee (1993)  PG  At the height of the Cold War, exploitation filmmaker, Lawrence Woosley (John Goodman), has brought his latest film, “Mant,” to town. Woolsey’s “Mant” is a grade B-picture about a man who has mutated into a giant ant. To bring in an audience, Woolsey is setting up the theatre with devices to thrill theatre goers and possibly keep them from noticing how bad the film is. Gene (Simon Fenton) is attempting to woo a girl by taking her to the film. This is a fun, funny film about a time when technology was simpler and movies were trying to stand out from TV shows. There are some great laughs, and the film shows just how far and how desperate filmmakers were.    My Rating:  Full Price   Matinee Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Crimson Peak: Piano Coach for Jessica Chastain

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Rock the Kasbah (2015) R  Richie (Bill Murray) is a rock manager who has seen better times. While taking his last remaining artist on a USO tour in Afghanistan, he finds himself in Kabul and discovers a young Afghan girl who he mentors while she competes on the Afghanistan version of American Idol.  Besides Bill Murray, the cast includes Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel and Danny McBride. Rock the Kasbah Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 9, 2015


My ViewPan (2015)  PG  An orphan named Peter  (Levi Miller) has always dreamed that his mother would someday come back and save him from his life at the orphanage. In the middle of the night, he is stolen by Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) and his men.  They take him to the magical Neverland, where he meets James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the beautiful Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). The legend is that Blackbeard will die at the hands of a boy who can fly. Could Peter be the foretold boy sent to save Neverland from Blackbeard? Where to start with this huge mess of a movie. Oh, I know. It’s not a musical but when we first meet Blackbeard and his mineworkers, they sing “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It’s as jaw dropping weird as it sounds. Later on the mine workers sing The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Why? I don’t know, but it sums up this film. It’s just bizarre and bad. Add to the mix that Peter is living in London in the 1940’s during WWII (not turn of the century London like in the book), horrible CGI special effects that look like they were done in the 1960’s and cast that seems bewildered on how to play their roles. To top it all off, Tiger Lily speaks with a bad Irish accent. There are also some rather scary scenes, so don’t take kids younger than 7. While the film was shot in 3-D, don’t waste your money, it never uses the technology to its advantage. I was going to make a walk the plank joke at the end of my review, but this film isn’t worth the effort.    My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me To See It Again   Pan Website
My View99 Homes  (2014)  R   Dennis (Andrew Garfield) starts working for businessman Rick (Michael Shannon) after Rick evicts Dennis and his family from their home. Dennis soon discovers that the world that Rick works in can be a dark and rough trip. This is a moving and gut-wrenching film about the 2010 homeowner foreclosure crisis. I enjoyed Andrew Garfield’s performance of a man who is trying to get his family home back and starts doing some very bad things. Michael Shannon, as always, gives a memorable performance as the shady real estate owner who is willing to break the law and destroy lives in the name of money and power. This is not an easy film to watch, and I am not sure everyone will be happy with its ending, but if you want to see two excellent actors go toe-to-toe on screen, this is the film for you.    My Rating: Full Price   99 Homes Website
Indiefest:   Big Stone Gap  (2014)  PG-13  In a small town up in the Appalachian Mountains, Ave Maria Mulligan (Ashley Judd)  is the town’s pharmacist and its self-proclaimed spinster. She is leading a quiet life until she discovers a long-held secret, discovering she’s not who she always thought she was.I love Ashley Judd, and I usually like quirky, Southern tales of small town life, but I felt the script let down its cast. The storyline is slow-moving, and it’s as charming as it thinks it is. I did enjoy Ashley Judd, but it’s hard to believe that she has never had a boyfriend. The secret isn’t a big game changer, and the film feels forced to try and make it so. It’s not a bad film, and some will enjoy it. I just wanted more from it.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Big Stone Gap Website
IndiefestFinders Keepers  (2015)   R   Documentary about a man, Shannon Whisnant, who purchased an outdoor grill at a storage locker auction.  When he got home, he opened up the grill and discovered an amputated leg inside it.  What happens next would change his life. “Finders Keepers” is one of those documentaries that starts out heading in one direction and then surprisingly, midway through the film, it changes, and goes in a totally different direction and tone. I saw this film within a sold out theater, and the audience was laughing at the beginning of the film so hard that I couldn’t hear all the narration. The first half of this film is brilliantly funny. It could have kept this tone throughout, but to the credit of filmmakers Bryan Carberry and J. Clay Tweel, the film becomes more about the two men and their struggles with life and less about the leg and how redneck they both are.  This is an amazing film about two damaged men who are filled with humor, heartbreak, and redemption. It’s a movie that displays the hopes and dreams of two men who are desperately trying to fulfill their perceived destiny and the cost it takes to achieve it. The film shows us that one’s life can take unexpected twists, and you just might end up a very different person than as who you began.  My Rating: Full Price    Finders Keepers Website
IndiefestComing Home  (2014)  PG-13  Lu (Daoming Chen) and Li (Feng Wanyu) are a loving couple with a young daughter when Lu is sent to labor camp during the Cultural Revolution as a political prisoner. Years later he returns to find his family changed in more ways than just age. This is a moving film that shows the sacrifices that a family must make to help their loved ones. It’s a film that slowly explores the family dynamic and how one mistake can cause that dynamic to change forever. The acting is superb, and Daoming Chen gives a hauntingly beautiful performance of a man who just won’t give up for his loved ones.  My Rating: Full Price    Coming Home Info   
Indiefest:  Freeheld  (2015)  PG-13   Laurel (Julianne Moore) is a no-nonsense police detective who works with her partner, Dane (Michael Shannon). She meets and starts dating Stacie (Ellen Page), a car mechanic. They start a long term relationship that is cut short when Laurel is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Laurel wants her pension benefits to go to Stacie after her death, but the county does not recognize Stacie as a legitimate benefactor. Laurel and Stacie fight for their right to be seen as a real couple. This film has an incredible cast, unfortunately, it has a script that never delivers the emotional punch that it needs. Moore and Page have zero chemistry together, in fact, there is much more chemistry between Shannon and Moore, the two police partners. It feels like a movie that is trying to swing for the Oscar fences and instead strikes out badly. This should have been an incredible story (it’s based on actual events) but it lets its cast, and ultimately its audience down instead.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Freeheld Website
IndiefestHe Named Me Malala  (2014)  PG-13  Documentary about the young Pakistani girl who stood up to the Taliban over education for young girls. She was targeted by Taliban gunmen and shot in the head. She survived and went on the write about her story.  An interesting film about a strong and unique young woman who is wise beyond her years and so eloquent.   There are parts of this film that will move you to tears. It’s a powerful film about how one person, no matter how small, can change the world, not by their actions, but with their words. It’s an inspirational film that every parent should let their pre-teen/teenager see. Malala is a true hero for whom the whole world can root, and with this film, you see why that is true.   My Rating: Full Price   He Named Me Malala Website
Forgotten Film:  The Outfit  (1973) PG   Robert Duval stars as Macklin, who, along with his brother, made the mistake of robbing a bank that was owned by “The Outfit.”  Macklin’s brother is killed by The Outfit, and Macklin is sent away to prison. Now Macklin is out of prison and is bent on getting revenge on The Outfit with the help of an old partner (Joe Don Baker).  The film has a great script that uses fully flushed-out characters who seem real. Duval is a master at milking everything out of a scene and makes a bad guy for whom someone to root. The film uses violence sparingly, so when it does happen, it has a great impact. If you like a good, old-fashioned gangster movie with a modern twist, this film is for you.  My Rating: Full Price   The Outfit Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Pan:  Weather Consultant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Bridge of Spies  (2015)  A cold war spy thriller based on true events starring Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks.  Wow! What more do you need in a movie?   Bridge of Spies Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Martain

My ViewThe Martian  (2015)  PG-13   A mission to Mars goes bad as a storm forces the astronauts to quickly abandon the planet. Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is lost in the storm and is presumed dead by NASA and his crew. Left behind on a planet where life doesn’t exist, Mark must figure out how to survive long enough to be rescued. This is a film that needs to be seen on the big screen.  The special effects are extraordinary, and the film is filled with thrilling scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. What makes this film so enjoyable is that Mark Watney uses his sense of humor as a coping mechanism. The film is filled with Watney quips as he deals with the harsh Martian world. Matt Damon is brilliant as the plucky astronaut that is determined to survive. I highly recommend this film.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Martian Website

My ViewThe Walk  (2015)  PG   Based on the true story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in the summer of 1974. I enjoyed this film. It’s got a strange narrative that takes a bit of getting used to, with Petit narrating the film, mostly on camera. The storyline is a little weak, especially if you have seen the fabulous Academy Award-winning documentary Man on Wire. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives an entertaining performance as the talented wire-walker who is sure he can do the impossible. It is worth seeing in IMAX 3-D (it was shot in the 3-D format and uses the technology to a great advantage). Much has been made of people getting vertigo while watching the film. I am slightly afraid of heights but I had no problems watching this film. I did look away once, but I think that was due more to the anticipation of a shot, rather than the shot itself. It’s not a great film, but the last 20 minutes is worth seeing. It's a beautiful film with a great message; that you can do anything if you believe in yourself. There is a great tribute to the Twin Towers at the end of the film. You could say this is a love letter to the Towers and what they stood for. Please note that the film will be playing at IMAX theatres the first week and will open wide to other theatres next Friday.   My Rating: Full Price     The Walk Website

My ViewSicario  (2015)  R  An FBI agent (Emily Blunt) is sent to join a task force to aid Mexico in the war against the drug cartels.  As she gets deeper and deeper into the mission, she starts to question the methods used to take down the cartels. Blunt gives a masterful performance in the film, making us root for her FBI agent character. Benicio Del Toro is perfectly cast as a mysterious, menacing consultant who just might be a C.I.A. agent with an agenda of his own. I liked the action sequences, which were fast moving and well-choreographed. I just wish the script had been a little tighter. There are a few plot holes that never get addressed. The film does have a scintillating score that helps create tension throughout the film. This is a film, due to its subject matter, that is hard to watch, though I enjoyed the film, but it’s not one that I will want to revisit anytime soon.  My Rating: Full Price    Sicario Website   

IndiefestThe Keeping Room (2014)   In the last days of the American Civil War, three Southern women (Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru) are trying to survive.  They will have to fight off two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army.  Brit Marling is brilliant as Augusta, a woman driven to keep her family safe. She is extremely believable in the part of someone who makes every effort to survive. Marling plays well off of both Seinfeld and Otaru and has a real sister-like connection with both characters. Steinfeld plays Louise as a self-indulgent young woman,  someone who cares more about herself but when pushed to her limits fights back. Marling does most of the heavy lifting in the scenes with Steinfeld, but you get the idea that Steinfeld’ s character is more complex than we first thought. Muna Otaru is amazing as Mad, a woman who has seen hardships in her life but continues to have some hope for the future. The scenes between Marling and Otaru are some of the most moving and touching scenes of the film. Otaru gives us a character whose dignity shines through. Sam Worthington makes for a convincing menacing lunatic who is bent on continuing his path of destruction. Director Daniel Barber has created a movie that keeps building the tension until there is the breaking point conclusion, and its talented cast makes that tension almost unbearable. It's a film that shows war is hell for everyone and, because of it,  lives are changed forever.   My Rating: Full Price   The Keeping Room Website   
Forgotten FilmStrange Days  (1995)  R  Set in the near future, technology has been developed called data-discs that allows users to experience the memories of other people.  Lenny (Ralph Fiennes)  is an ex-cop who now deals in the data-discs when he’s pulled into a murder mystery that becomes more complicated the further he investigates. Director Kathryn Bigelow creates a unique and mysterious world where everything isn’t quite what it seems. Fiennes gives a dazzling performance, one where you just can’t take your eyes off of him. This was a big box office dud when it came out, and it should have been a big hit.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Strange Days Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Martian:  Neoprene Spacesuit Cutter

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouFinders Keepers  (2014)   Documentary of a man who buys a bar-b-que grill at an auction, brings it home and discovers an amputated leg inside. This film has been wowing audiences at film festivals.  Finders Keepers Website
Until Next Time!