My View: Love the Coopers (2015) PG-13 Four generations of Coopers are getting together for their annual Christmas Eve celebration. What can go wrong? It turns out just about everything. This is a comedy where no one in the family is happy, and even the family dog has an eating disorder. A grad student could write his dissertation on all the problems this family has and, remarkably, most are solved by the end of this unfunny film. The only storyline (and there are way too many of them) I enjoyed was where Olivia Wilde’s character picks up a soldier (Jake Lacy) at the airport bar to pose as her boyfriend. Their relationship is the only one that has any sparks and is the most enjoyable to watch. Diane Keaton and John Goodman, the patriarchs of the family, are just exhausting to watch as their bickering gets old quickly. There is a scene between Amanda Seyfried and Alan Arkin (she’s his favorite waitress at a diner) that just turns so weird that I couldn't even begin to explain it. If you hate the holidays and want to get depressed, then this film is for you. My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again Love the Coopers Website
My View: The 33 (2015) PG-13 Based on a true event, thirty-three miners are trapped underground in a mine for sixty-nine days with almost no food or water. The world watches as a rescue attempt does the impossible. I liked several of the performances in this film, especially Antonio Banderas as the lead miner and Rodrigo Santoro, the mining minister who tries to save them. The biggest problem with this film is that there are three main events: the collapse of the mine, locating the men, then getting them out. The film never creates enough tension and does a poor job of making us understand how the miners suffered. I never got the feeling of claustrophobia, and that should have been something that was first and foremost in this type of film. There’s a scene in the film that just doesn’t work where all the men start hallucinating about food. The audience I saw it with starting laughing and wouldn't stop till it ended. It's a film that has heart but just doesn't connect fully with its audience. My Rating: Bargain Matinee The 33 Website
My View: My All-American (2015) PG Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock) has always wanted to play college football but continues to be turned down. That is until he caught the eye of the legendary coach of the Texas Longhorns, Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart). Now, Freddie faces the toughest challenge of his life. This is an earnest take on the sports film genre that is both inspiring and sad. I liked the chemistry between Wittrock and Eckhart, and both make their characters likable without creating too much sappiness. The football scenes go on too long, and it takes a while to get the film going. While not a great sports film, this film is still inspiring and one that any football fan would enjoy. My Rating: Bargain Matinee My All-American Website
Indiefest: Spotlight (2015) R 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. This is one of the best films of the year and very reminiscent of “All the Presidents Men” where a group of reporters fight both the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the city leaders to get the facts of a story that has far-reaching implications. The ensemble cast is brilliant, led by Mark Ruffalo, who plays a gruff investigative reporter and his counterpart, a reporter who sees the good in most people, played by Rachel McAdams. Ruffalo gives an Oscar-worthy performance as a world-weary reporter who won’t give up. The story is riveting and tense, and the sets are perfect spanning between the cramped spaces of the newsroom to the contrast of the lavish Cardinal’s residence. This is an intense and moving film that perfectly captures a dark moment in time. My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again Spotlight Website
Indiefest: Labyrinth of Lies (2014) R A young and determined public prosecutor (Alexander Fehling) decides, against the wishes of his colleagues, to prosecute a former Auschwitz camp commander in a country that just wants to forget its past. I liked this film during the first half of the movie, as Johann delves deeper and deeper into a part of Germany’s history that no one talks about. His horror discovering so many people were killed so casually in the concentration camps hits home, and we feel his pain as he realizes that people he knows were involved with the camps in one way or another. The film starts to break down as Johann lets the pressure and the sadness get to him, and he starts cutting relationships with everyone he knows, including his fiancé. This film has been picked by Germany to be their submission to the category of Best Foreign-Language Film at the Academy Awards. I am sure it impacts Germans much harder than it did me dealing with a horrible time in their country's history. I wanted more of emotional payoff from the film but it never quite delivers it. Good performances offset a script that bogs down in the second half. If the movie could have held the excitement and the pace of the first half of the film, I would have enjoyed it more. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Labyrinth of Lies Website
Indiefest: Jafar Panahi 's Taxi (2015) Jafar Panahi is a director living in Iran, where he is banned by the government from making movies. So what does he do? He installs cameras in his taxi and drives around the city to secretly make a movie about social changes in Iran. At one point in this film, Panahi picks up a man who recognizes him as a director of movies. The man is convinced that everything that happens while he is in the cab is planned and staged by Panahi for a narrative film. When you see this film, you just might think that Panahi has planned it all, because the documentary works so well. It’s an fascinating, prodigious documentary that gives us a taste of what everyday life is in Iran. It’s funny, touching and sometimes you marvel at the humanity of people who are living under a repressive regime. This is one of the best documentaries of the year, and I want Panahi to make more. We could call it Panahi’s Taxi Cab confessionals. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again Jafar Panaji's Taxi Website
Forgotten Film: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) R Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell) is a man who created “The Dating Game” and “The Gong Show.” He is also an assassin for the CIA. In fact, he uses the trips his game show winners go on to travel the world and kill his targets. Any film that has Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as Bachelors 1 and 2 and they don’t get picked is a film for me. You don’t have to believe Barris is a killer; you just have to have fun watching him do it. My Rating: Full Price Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Info
Weird Credits: From the credits of Love the Coopers: Ultimate Arm Driver
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Janis: Little Girl Blue (2015) Documentary from Oscar winning director Amy Berg about the troubled life of singer Janis Joplin. This will be a sad tale but one that needs to be told. Janis: Little Girl Blue Info
Until Next Time!
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