Friday, April 29, 2016

Mother's Day

My ViewMother’s Day  (2016)  PG-13  As Mother’s Day nears, a group of seemingly unconnected people come to terms in their relationships with their mothers. This is a film that I call a “watch” film.  I looked at my watch convinced that the film was almost over, only to discover that we still had an hour to go. Garry Marshall also directed Valentine’s Day (2010) and New Year’s Eve (2011). If you liked those films, you will probably enjoy this one. For the rest of us, the film is too long, filled with one-dimensional characters, a plot that a fifth grader could come up with and wastes the talents of a cast filled with actors like Julia Roberts, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Chalke. Britt Robertson and Margo Martindale. Probably the most interesting characters in the film, are the gay couple played by Chalke and Cameron Esposito, and they have the least amount of screen time. I can’t wait for Marshall to bring out his next film. I hear he is choosing between Arbor Day and President’s Day.      My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Mother's Day Website
My ViewKeanu  (2016)  R  When Rell’s (Jordan Peele) beloved pet kitten, Keanu, is stolen,  he and his cousin (Keegan-Michael Key) are out to find who did it and make them give the kitten back.  They may have bitten off more than they bargained for. This film has some hysterical scenes but this is a film that doesn’t always deliver, and there are quite a few scenes that just don’t work as well as they should.  It is pretty obvious that Key and Peele love movies, as there are constant film references throughout the film. And of course, the two comedians work well together on screen but it felt if it was a bunch of skits put together to fill out a movie.  I will say this; the cat is darn cute.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Keanu Website
Family Faire:  Ratchet & Clank  (2016)  PG   The galaxy has become under attack, and it’s up to Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor), a mechanic who dreams of being a hero, and his robot friend, Clank (David Kaye), to come to the rescue. Based on a video game, I found this film boring and uncreative. Fans of the game may enjoy it since they use the actors in the film that play the main characters in the game, but anyone over the age of 9 will go home disappointed. There is nothing in the storyline to keep you awake, and the bad guys don’t seem overly threatening. What is supposed to be the strong point of the storyline, the relationship between Ratchet and Clank, is too simple to be interesting. Take the kids to see Zootopia; even it’s for the fourth time. You and the kids will enjoy it much more than this film.     My Rating: Cable   Ratchet & Clank Website
IndiefestSing Street  (2015)  PG-13  A boy (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), growing up in Dublin in the 1980’s, starts a band to escape his broken family life, a school he doesn’t fit in with and to impress a girl (Lucy Boynton) he has a crush on. I loved this film, especially the performances of the two leads, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, and Lucy Boynton. Walsh-Peele is a duel threat in this film, displaying a fine singing voice with the charisma of a rock star. His character is boyish one minute and mature beyond his years in the next scene, a testament to his acting prowess. Boynton is perfect in the role of the world-weary girl who wants to escape Dublin with the slim hopes of being a model. For a fan of early eighties music (and videos), this film is so much fun to watch. The original songs that the band plays in the film are outstanding and catchy. In a week where I saw a lot of films that were light on character development and plot, it was a delight to watch a film so well written and produced. It reminded me of two excellent films about bands, The Commitments (1991) and more recently, the director of this film, John Carney's Begin Again (2013). If you love music, this is one film not to be missed.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Sing Street Website
IndiefestPapa Hemingway in Cuba  (2016)  R  In 1959, a young journalist (Giovanni Ribisi), travels to Cuba to meet his literary idol, the legendary Hemingway (Adrian Sparks). I loved Hemingway, the writer, but not the man, himself. I can say the same thing about this film. The film was written by the late Denne Bart Petitclerc, based on his own experiences with Hemingway, but I feel that the subject matter was probably too close to the writer for him to see the problems with this film. The dialogue feels very stiff and just doesn’t flow naturally as characters don’t talk to each other but seem to make speeches every time they converse. Some of the plot points just don’t make sense which makes the film feel very contrived. Sparks, while looking exactly like Hemingway, doesn’t have the charisma to fill the very big shoes of Papa. Ribisi puts his heart and soul into the role of the hero worshiping reporter but is let down by the script in the big scenes. If you really want to see a film about Hemingway, then rent the excellent documentary, Ernest Hemingway: Wrestling with Life, instead of this film.     My Rating: Cable   Papa Hemingway in Cuba Info
Indiefest: Green Room  (2016)  R  After witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is made to defend themselves against a group of skinheads. This is the movie that Straw Dogs (2011) wanted to be. I will warn you that this film has very graphic violence, so if you are the type of person who has to turn away during an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, then this film isn’t for you. I loved the look of this movie as it almost oozes trouble on the screen as the scenery seems to be muted in an almost dark green glow. The dialogue flows well, and the action sequences are handled with a crispness that I missed (from some films that I have seen in the last two weeks). Patrick Stewart is the main bad guy, and he is full of menace as he uses his calm voice to get over his point that the band is not getting out alive. Of the rest of the cast, Imogen Poots stands out, playing a character that is a far cry from the “girl next door” roles she usually plays. This film will keep you on the edge of your seat from almost the start of the film.   My Rating; Full Price    Green Room Website
Forgotten FilmLast Night at the Alamo  (1983)  This film is credited as one of the hallmark independent films. Directed by the late Eagle Pennell, it’s a film about a bunch of sad sack bar patrons celebrating the bar that they love last night of being open. It’s a stark black and white film that is a harsh look at a forgotten world of Texas honky-tonks, filled with people you are willing to spend a couple of hours with but wouldn’t want to make it a regular thing. I recently saw a newly restored print of this film at SXSW and was struck by how timeless the film looks and feels.    My Rating: Full Price   Last Night at the Alamo Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Papa Hemingway in Cuba:  Laundry Supervisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Snowden  (2016)  Based on the true story of CIA employee Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who leaks thousands of documents to the press.  The impressive cast includes Scott Eastwood, Timothy Olyphant, Nicolas Cage, Zachary Quinto and Shailene Woodley.  Having seen the Academy Award winning documentary Citizenfour on the subject, I am anxious to see this film.   Snowden Website
Until Nest Time!

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War

My ViewThe Huntsman: Winter’s War  (2016)   PG-13   As two rival Queens and sisters, Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and Freya (Emily Blunt), expand their empires, two warriors, Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain), try to keep their forbidden love alive. After seeing this film, all the critics sitting next to me said “Well, it was better than the first one.” And, while it’s true, that isn’t much of an endorsement. At least this film didn’t try to convince us that Kristen Stewart is more beautiful than Charlize Theron.  While there were things that I did like, especially the fun banter between Eric and Sara, I thought that most of the action sequences were badly done, utilizing quick cuts and jumpy camera work, to mask the fact that Hemsworth and Chastain don’t do action sequences well.  Halfway through this film I really wanted Emily Blunt to play Chastain’s part because we know she can do action films extremely well.  Any film with Blunt, Theron and Chastain can’t be all bad, and this film isn’t horrible, in fact, the middle section of the film is quite good. Unfortunately, the first and last portions of the film don’t work.  Even with that, “it was better than the first one.”      My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Huntsman: Winter's War Website

IndiefestElvis & Nixon  (2016)  R   Elvis, the “King,” (Michael Shannon) decides that he needs a Federal Agent at Large badge.  He travels to Washington D.C. in 1970 to get one and meets President Nixon (Kevin Spacey) along the way. This film is as wacky and crazy as that meeting surely was. It’s interesting that Shannon doesn’t do a full-on portrayal of Elvis.  While he does Elvis’s mannerisms, he doesn’t attempt to do the voice. Spacey, on the other hand, goes all out in his impersonation of Nixon, voice and all. This is a fun film to watch and Shannon, as usual, dominates every scene (which is hard when you have Kevin Spacey playing a dead=on Nixon). The film is touching, and, at times sad, but mostly, it’s a blast to watch.    My Rating: Full Price   Elvis & Nixon Website
IndiefestMiles Ahead  (2016)  R   Legendary jazz musician Miles Davis (Don Cheadle) hasn’t been heard from in the five years. Wannabe Rolling Stone reporter Dave Brill (Ewan McGregor) connives his way into Miles’ apartment and his life. As Davis and Brill talk, Miles flashes back to his meeting and falling in love with his first wife, Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Don Cheadle is amazing in this film, giving a performance that is worthy of an Academy Award.  Unfortunately, he is let down by his own script (co-written by Steven Baigelman), as the film is part bio-pic and part buddy adventure film. I would have loved to see a more in-depth storyline, in particular on the early years as Davis was developing his sound.  Instead, we get a film that moves back and forth in time. The timeline in the 70s is this film’s weak point, as Davis and reporter Brill go off on a quest to get back a stolen item. Too often the humor in that part of the movie is forced and there is almost no chemistry between Cheadle and McGregor. This would have been a much better film if it had just been the rise and fall of the love of Davis and Taylor.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Miles Ahead Website
Indiefest:  Too Late  (2015)  Private investigator Mel Sampson (Academy Award nominee John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone,” “The Sessions”) is tasked with tracking down the whereabouts of a missing woman from his past. Too Late takes the spine of the classic private eye genre and tears it to pieces, weaving it back together into a tapestry of Southern California and the menagerie of eccentric personalities and lost souls who inhabit it. This is a highly inventive film that was shot in five 20 minute continuous segments. The storyline is fascinating, and it kept me guessing where it was going to go next. Hawkes, as a world-weary P.I., is brilliant and stunning. He is in almost every scene, and I just didn’t want the film to end. The film has an impressive supporting cast including Rider Strong, Joanna Cassidy, Dichen Lachman, Vail Bloom, Jeff Fahey and Robert Forster.  The film is being shown around the country in select theatres in 35mm, and it’s worth seeing in all its grainy glory.  My Rating:  Full Price   Too Late Info
Forgotten FilmBlue Crush  (2002) Three young woman (Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriquez, and Sanoe Lake) struggle with their day jobs as maids in a hotel, as they prepare for a big surfing competition. This film will surprise you with its heart and its intelligent storyline. Of the three actresses, it’s Rodriquez that steals the movie, playing the tough Hispanic woman with dreams of surfing stardom. The surfing sequences are exciting, and the film moves at a quick pace.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Blue Crush Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Huntsman: Winter’s War:  Standby Contact Les Optician

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Papa Hemingway in Cuba  (2016)  In 1959 a young journalist (Giovanni Ribisi) travels to Cuba to meet his literary idol, the legendary Hemingway (Adrian Sparks). Any film about one of my favorite writers is a film that I want to see.   Papa Hemingway in Cuba

Until Next Time!

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Jungle Book

My View:  The Jungle Book  (2016) PG  Retelling of the classic tale of an orphan boy, Mowgli (Neel Sethi), raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear, and a black panther. This is not a film for younger children. The animals are too realistic and scary. I loved this film as it captured the magic of the first Disney film and made this classic story even better. There are still two memorable songs from the first film in this one: One sung by Bill Murray as Baloo and one sung by Christopher Walken as King Louie. Murray, as you would expect, steals the film as the lovable but slightly grumpy bear. Neel Sethi is captivating as the strong-willed Mowgli. The film follows the standard storyline but adds a few new things that make the film feel complete. The CGI is amazing, and the animals move fluidly, making the action sequences exciting and colorful. This is a breathtaking film that has humor and warmth and does not disappoint. The film was shot in 3-D and is worth seeing on as large a movie screen as you can find.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Jungle Book Website  
My View:  Criminal  (2016)  R  The memories and skills of a dead CIA agent are implanted into a career criminal, Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner), to complete a mission.  With a cast of Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Gal Gadot this should have been a better movie. Instead, it's a mess of a film, with so many plot holes that you just shake your head at. The film is extremely complicated and at some point in the movie I just gave up trying to figure it out. Costner isn’t the problem as he gives a winning performance. He is just let down by the script and the sloppy direction. My Rating: Cable    Criminal Website   
Forgotten Film:  Ladyhawk  (1985)  PG-13  In medieval France, a young pickpocket (Matthew Broderick) makes friends of a knight (Rutger Hauer) who has fallen under a curse. The knight was a hawk, who turns into a beautiful woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) each night just as the knight turns into a wolf. The two lovers have been cursed by an evil Bishop, whose men are hunting the knight and his lady. Can the thief find the cure and reunite the two lovers?  While not a great film, it is an enjoyable escapist film that is a blast to watch. Pfeiffer is the one to watch in this film, and she dominates every scene she is in.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Ladyhawke Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've only seen in Trailers but just looks like a bad idea): Alice Through the Looking Glass  (2016)  PG   Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp).  I didn’t like the first film, so I don’t think I will like this one.  The film didn’t do well in the U.S. but did extremely well in Europe, so they made a sequel.   Alice Through the Looking Glass Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Jungle Book:  Animatics Sequencer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Elvis & Nixon  (2016)  R  The story behind one of the weirdest meetings ever held in the Oval Office. Elvis traveled to Washington D.C. on a mission to get a Federal Agent at Large badge. Along the way he met with President Nixon and a photograph was taken.  That photograph is the most requested photo in the National Archives.  Michael Shannon is Elvis, and Kevin Spacey is Nixon.   Elvis & Nixon Facebook Page
Until Next Time!

Friday, April 8, 2016


My ViewDemolition  (2015)  R  Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) has it all. He is a successful investment banker with a beautiful wife and a great home. It all goes away when his wife is killed in a car crash. Now he has to figure out how to put the pieces of his life back together. I have seen this movie twice and can’t totally put my finger on why this film doesn’t quite work. The cast, which includes Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper, is first rate and Watts stands out on screen as a single mom, Karen, who works for a snack machine company.  Gyllenhaal is stellar as the man who wants to figure out what to do with his life now that his wife is gone. Gyllenhaal has great chemistry with Judah Lewis, who plays Karen’s son, a troubled young man who Davis takes under his wing. The film never quite finds its footing, trying too hard at times to be profound and meaningful.  I enjoyed some of this movie, especially the scenes involving Judah Lewis but the film never found a way to make its point, if it ever had one.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Demolition Website
My ViewHardcore Henry  (2015) R  The film is a first person action film in which the audience is the main character.  Henry is a cyber-solider who is trying to rescue his wife from an evil warlord. Right off the bat, if you easily get motion sickness, this film isn’t for you but if you love or like first person video games, see this wild ride of a film. The main character is the camera, so it’s a first person point of view film. This is a movie that doesn’t really care about plot or character development, it just cares about action and this film is full of smash-mouth, in your face, pedal to the metal action sequences. There is one action sequence involving moving cars, trucks and motorcycles that I am still wondering how they shot it. Most of the film was shot with Go-Pro cameras mounted to stuntmen’s heads, so we see what the main character see’s. I had fun seeing this film, several times shouting out with the rest of the audience as the character jumps from one motorcycle to another. It’s not for everyone, but if you want to jump on, it’s one heck of a ride.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Hardcore Henry Website
Indiefest Everybody Wants Some!!  (2016)  R  It’s 1981 in a small Texas college town where most of the sports teams of the college suck, all but the baseball team. The team rules the campus and just about the whole town, living in two old houses off campus, where there are only two rules laid down by their coach; no girls upstairs and no alcohol. Needless to say that both rules will be broken within in a few hours of the house manager laying down the law. Into this environment walks freshman pitcher Jake (Blake Jenner), a likable but sometimes too smart for his own good 18-year old who must quickly find his place in this new world of booze, manliness and baseball.  Everybody Wants Some !! is a blast to watch, sort of a sequel to Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater’s 1993 classic film about a bunch of Texas high school students experiencing their last days of high school. While not the same characters as in “Dazed,” the baseball team does inhabit the same small town Texas world, just a little older but certainly not the wiser.  Linklater has created a film, which while a little shallow at times, is so much fun that you are willing to overlook it's few flaws. While a welcome addition to Dazed and Confused,this is a film that deserves its own place in the Linklater film repertoire. As with Dazed and Confused, which gets better with each viewing, you will want to revisit the baseball team from the small Texas college town for years to come.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Everybody Wants Some !! Website
Forgotten Film Serpico  (1973)  R  Serpico (Al Pacino) is a good cop who has never wavered in his duty. When he can no longer stand the rampant corruption in the police department, he blows the whistle on them. His life is now in danger, and it’s not from the bad guys. Pacino gives one of his better performances and the film perfectly captures the New York City of the early 70s. It’s a film that explores how hard it is to fight a system that in so entrenched in its corruption. Serpico is a film that hits hard, and it’s Pacino with director Sidney Lumet that delivers the heavy blow.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Serpico Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Hardcore Henry:  Additional Voices

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouSing Street  (2016)  PG-13  A boy growing up in Dublin in the 1980’s stars a band to escape his broken family life.  This was one of the films that people kept talking about at the SXSW Film Festival. It looks like a film that I can get into.   Sing Street Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Midnight Special

My ViewMidnight Special  (2016)  PG-13   A father (Michael Shannon) and son (Jaeden Lieberher) go on the run after the father finds out his son has special powers. When I watched this movie, I kept flashing back to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Firestarter,” with a little “E.T.” thrown in. Just how far will Roy go to protect his son and what kind of powers does Alton possess that would make both a cult-like religious group and the government want him so badly? It is to the credit of Nichols’ writing and Shannon’s acting ability that we get this feeling from the start of the film, and there is never a time in the movie where Shannon’s character has to explain fully how deeply he cares for his son. Nichols lets Roy show how much he loves his son through his actions rather than his words. I was a little disappointed in the ending, and without giving anything away, I would have liked the ending to come just a little sooner than it did. I feel the ending would have been more impactful and moving if Nichols would have left some things to the imagination. However, the ending doesn’t take away from the idea this is an exquisite movie that touches you immensely. “Midnight Special” is a film that places the love of a father for his son above everything else.        My Rating: Full Price   Midnight Special Website
IndiefestI Saw the Light  (2016)  R   The story of the country-western superstar singer Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston), whose short life is the stuff of legends.  This is another one of those films where the performances outweigh the script. Hiddleston gives a moving and intense performance of the troubled singer who never met a woman he didn’t want to sleep with and beer he didn’t want to drink. Hiddleston sounds and looks like Williams, especially in the scenes where he is on-stage. Elizabeth Olsen plays Hank’s wife, Audrey, a woman whose drive, ambition and spunk do not match her level of talent in the singing department. But the movie doesn’t give us much explanation behind why Williams is such a tormented soul other than he has a bad back. I also would have loved to have more of a back story of Hank and Audrey, but when the film starts they are already together.  We also never really get the impact that Williams and his songs had on the music world. The film feels much longer than the 2-hour running time.  Maybe, someday, we will get a movie that is worthy of Hank Williams music and talent, unfortunately, this isn’t the one.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   I Saw the Light Website
Indiefest:  My Golden Days  (2015)  R   Paul (Mathieu Amalric) is about to leave Tajikistan while he reflects on his adolescent years and the girl who got away.  This is a love story about two tortured souls who are attracted to each other, even though both know they are wrong for each other. Paul starts out as the pursuer of the unattainable girl, Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet). Soon, Paul has gotten the girl, but it’s a love/hate relationship that goes hot and cold at a moment’s notice.  The first 1/3 of the film is not about Paul and Esther but centers around Paul’s earlier unhappy home life and an adventure that Paul takes to aid a Jew in Russia. The last two-thirds of the film are about Paul and Esther, and the focus of the movie shifts from them to a 16-year-old girl who goes from being a confident young woman to someone who feels their whole world revolves around someone else. Amalric and Roy-Lecollinet are magical together, and their scenes can be fun, sad and tormenting all in a matter of minutes.  While I did not enjoy the ending, it is probably the only way to wrap up this love story of two people who will never be happy.      My Rating: Full Price   My Golden Days Website
Forgotten Film: I Capture the Castle  (2003)  This is a surprisingly marvelous film about a family in 1930’s England who moves into an ancient and dilapidated castle. Most of the family is made up of characters who are unique and charming in their own way. The film centers around the life and loves of Cassandra (Romola Garai), and Garai gives a performance that makes you root for her right from the start of the film. I also loved Bill Nighy as the father of the family who is a writer suffering from a bout of writer’s block.  You will love this family and their kooky ways.    My Rating: Full Price   I Capture the Castle Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've only seen in Trailers but just looks like a bad idea)Angry Birds  (2016)  PG  “Find out why the birds are so angry” is the phrase they use in the promo copy. How about because they are in this stupid movie based on a simple game? How about a film based on Candy Crush or Farmville?   Angry Birds Website

Weird Credits:   From the credits of Midnight Special:  Pre-visualization Artist

Coming to a Theatre Near YouElvis & Nixon (2016)  R   The meeting that still makes people wonder what the heck that was about. The casting is what is going to make this film a must see; Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, and Colin Hanks.    Elvis & Nixon Info
Until Next Time!