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!

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