Friday, October 28, 2016


IndiefestMoonlight  (2016)  Told in three acts, this timeless story of human connection and self-discovery follows the life of a young black man, Chiron, from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world.  A tender and breathtaking film about a young man who grows up before our eyes in a rough and tumble world. Right from the start, we sense that Chiron knows he is different from the rest of the children in his school. He becomes isolated, and a drug dealer is the only one who reaches out to take care of him, something even his own mother isn’t willing to do. This is a film about how the choices you make when you are growing up have far-reaching consequences. It’s a brilliant film filled with small moments that continue to build until the exquisite ending is reached. All three actors (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and  Trevante Rhode) who portray Chiron are dazzling in the film, but Rhode as the adult Chiron, especially stands out. Writer/director Barry Jenkins is a talent to watch if this film foretells his future.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Moonlight Website
IndiefestCertain Women  (2016) The lives of four women (Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Lily Gladstone) from Montana intersect and change all of their lives.  Kelly Reichardt, who wrote the script based on the short stories of Maile Meloy, brings us a story that is low-key and often slow-moving, but that allows you to get under the skin of each character. What we see are slices of four lives. Those lives are real and powerful. This is a film that, while not a whole lot happens, it will linger with you for days because the performances of the four actresses are so powerful and real. I especially savored the performance of Lily Gladstone, who plays a soft-spoken woman who befriends the teacher, played by Stewart. She rarely speaks in the film but is so expressive in her features and body language. Her character is lonely, alone on a big ranch and is searching for someone to connect with, even if it means going to a class that she never intended to attend. Her performance is heartbreaking, especially the scenes of her standing in the parking lot, watching Beth seemingly forever driving off.  “Certain Women” is a superb film full of small moments, most of which are poignant and distressing. It’s a look into the lives of four very lonely women hoping they will eventually find happiness, even if it is short-lived.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again   Certain Women Website   
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Bad Moms  (2016)  R  Three moms (Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell) have been pushed to their limit by the PTA, making lunches and managing after-school activities for their kids. It's time for the moms to hit back and have some fun. I had a great time watching this movie.  While it takes a little while to take off, once Kathryn Hahn’s raunchy mom shows up, the film is a blast to watch. The three women play off each other effortlessly and they all have great comedic timing. Christina Applegate is perfect as the mom who runs the PTA with an iron hand. Go have a glass of wine and enjoy your time with some “Bad Moms.”   My Rating: Full Price  Bad Moms Website
Forgotten Film:  The Beat That My Heart Skipped  (2005)  Will Thomas (Romain Duris) is destined to follow in his father, the mobster, footsteps. He has a chance encounter with a Chinese piano teacher and becomes so enchanted, he decides to take up the piano. It seems Will just might be talented enough to go into music, that is until the day that his past comes back to haunt him. This is an entertaining Film Noir gangster movie that takes a couple of unexpected turns. Duris gives a skillful multi-layered performance that makes this film so interesting to watch.  My Rating: Full Price   The Beat That My Hear Skipped Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Moonlight:  Immigration Legal

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouHacksaw Ridge  (2016)  WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American History to be awarded the Medal of Honor. The trailer makes this look like one of the ‘do not miss” films of the Oscar season.   Hacksaw Ridge Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

My View:  Jack Reacher: Never Go Back  (2016) PG-13 Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is coming back to the headquarters of his old military unit.  Major Turner (Cobie Smulders) has been helping him solve cases across the country.  When Reacher arrives, he learns that Major Turner is charged with treason. I enjoyed the first Jack Reacher film and, while not as enjoyable as the first, this movie is still a fun ride. This is definitely a leave your disbelief at the door, because Reacher does a lot of impossible stuff (like falling off a roof and walking away), but the fight sequences are a blast to watch, and both Cruise and Smulders are phenomenal in the action scenes.  I will say that Cruise does a heck of a lot of running in this film, so much so that I bet he runs at least a 10K in the movie. While the film steals a little bit from the Bourne and the Taken series, it’s still a great popcorn movie to experience.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Website
Indiefest:  In A Valley of Violence  (2016) R  A mysterious stranger (Ethan Hawke) and his dog travel to the forgotten town of Denton, dubbed as the “valley of violence,” where things quickly go bad. Part comedy, part homage to the “Spaghetti Westerns” of the 60s and 70s with a large dose of ‘revenge films,” it’s a rather uneven film. There were times I really enjoyed this film but there were also scenes that just didn’t work. Hawke is an acceptable hero with what he is given to work with, but I think I would have liked his character to be a little more mysterious, like Eastwood in those “Spaghetti Westerns.”  I did delight in the performance of John Travolta, who plays the Marshall of the town, running it with an iron hand.  I also thought that Taissa Farmiga did an excellent job of portraying a young woman who, after being abandoned by her husband, is stuck in the horrible town and is looking for a way out. Overall, the film never quite balances the comedy with the violence of the movie and only really comes together in the last big shootout sequence.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   In a Valley of Violence Website
Forgotten FilmA Perfect Candidate  (1996) This little scene documentary looks at the 1994 unsuccessful bid for the Virginia Senate seat by Oliver North. The film focuses on North’s campaign strategist, Mark Goodin, and Washington Post reporter, Don Baker. It's a great film made greater by larger-than-life Goodin who is almost mesmerizing to watch.  My favorite scene in this film is when North’s opponent, incumbent Chuck Robb, strolls through the aisles of a supermarket trying to find one person willing to shake hands with him.  My Rating:  Full Price  A Perfect Candidate Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Ghostbusters  (2016)  PG-13 Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Abby (Melissa McCarthy) write a book that states that ghosts are real. When ghosts invade Manhattan, the author pair team up with Jillian (Kate McKinnon), a nuclear engineer, and  Patty (Leslie Jones), to try and save the world from an evil and powerful demon, Rowan (Neil Casey). I had a great time watching this film. There are some subtle homage to the first Ghostbusters movies, but it’s really an original idea for a movie. I would have liked McCarthy to be a little more animated in her part, but Kate McKinnon more than makes up for that with a wacky performance. Chris Hemsworth is brilliant as the dumb-as-rocks receptionist who gets the job based only on his good looks. There are a lot of cameos, some really work, but it is very obvious that Bill Murray didn't want to do this film from his performance. The film was shot in 3-D, and it shows, with some of the ghost appearances using the technology to the fullest. There are two bonus scenes, one after the main credits and another, which sets up a possible sequel after all the credits.   My Rating:  Full Price   Ghostbusters Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back:  Construction Auditor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouArrival  (2016)  PG-13  When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers. Amy Adams could just read a phone book on-screen for an hour and a half, and I would watch it.   Arrival Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Accountant

My ViewThe Accountant  (2016)  R  Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a math savant who gets along better with numbers than people. He works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. As the Treasury Department closes in on Christian, he takes on a legitimate client, only to discover that the company is cooking the books. I thought this film was highly entertaining with its unique and unlikely hero, an accountant who probably has Asperger’s Syndrome and is a highly trained killer.  What surprised me was how funny the film is. The film uses Wolff’s quirkiness and his bluntness to great comedic effect. Affleck makes the action sequences seem effortless and believable. My only problem with the movie is that the director tried to pack too much into the plot, giving us almost an overload of information, especially about Wolff’s troubled childhood.  Overall this film is an action film with one of the most unique heroes in the history of cinema.    My Rating:  Full Price    The Accountant Website
My ViewKevin Hart: What Now?  (2016)  R  Comedian Kevin Hart performs in front of a crowd of 50,000 people at Philadelphia’s outdoor stadium, Lincoln Financial Field. I enjoyed this film, but I never had that moment that you want in standup comedy; the laugh so hard you run out of breath moment. The film has a lively and entertaining opening where Kevin Hart goes all “James Bond” on us.  Even the opening titles seem like a “Bond” film. There is a hilarious bit with Halle Berry playing herself.  The most fun part of the Bond section is when Don Cheadle appears in the film. Once the standup starts (about 15 minutes into the movie) the material is funny, but I just don’t know if you will remember much of his act after the film. I did love the set, with the backdrop changing into whatever setting Hart was talking about. It’s a funny standup, but I don’t think it will go down in the history books like Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987) or Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982). Note that after a short bit of credits, there is a bonus scene before the main credit sequence starts.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Kevin Hart: What Now? Website
Indiefest:  American Honey  (2016)  R  Star (Sasha Lane) is living in a bad situation and is looking for a way out.  When she meets a traveling magazine seller (Shia LeBeouf), she hooks up with his group and is about to go on an adventure of a lifetime. I am usually not a fan of movies where everyone in the film is unlikable, and that holds true for this film. The film is too long, goes almost nowhere and has characters that you wouldn’t want to let into your home, much less go on a road trip with. I wasn’t impressed with Shia LeBeouf’s performance, as I have a feeling that this character is much like LeBeouf in real life. The film has a look and a feel that it is set in the 80s but is actually set in the present time. I did like Sasha Lane’s breathtaking performance, and the cinematography is just stunning, capturing the landscape of America in all its vastness.  Overall it wasn’t worth spending 162 minutes with these characters, where the only thing that changes are the members of the group.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   American Honey Website
Indiefest: Command and Control  (2016) During the 60’s and 70’s, the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union was growing at a phenomenal pace. Nuclear missiles were placed in silos all across the world, including right here in the U. S.. Robert Kenner, who in 2010 brought us the Oscar-nominated documentary “Food, Inc.,” brings us a new scary and sobering documentary, “Command and Control.”  The film takes place at a United States Air Force missile launch facility just outside Damascus, Arkansas (50 miles from Little Rock) in September of 1980. Using reenactments, actual footage from the event and modern day interviews with the participants, the film looks at how a simple accident almost caused the detonation of a nuclear warhead on top of the largest missile in the US. Arsenal, the Titan II, an explosion that probably would have wiped out most of the Arkansas’s population.  There is more tension in this film than most Hollywood thrillers, and you will wonder how this could ever happen. It’s a chilling look at an accident that was waiting to happen. What I took away from this film is respect and admiration for the very young men who risked their lives to protect ours.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Command and Control Website
Forgotten FilmHopscotch  (1980) R A CIA agent (Walter Matthau) bungles an assignment and is given a desk job. He decides to write a tell-all book and then go on the lam. This is a thriller/comedy that works because the cast, especially Walter Matthau, is that darn good. By this time in his career, Matthau had perfected portraying the haggard, world beaten down hero, and he is extraordinary in this film. While not a great movie, it’s a blast watching Matthau work on the screen.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Hopscotch Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Accountant:  Life Casting Assistant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouCertain Women  (2016)  R The lives of three women (Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern) from Montana intersect and change all of their lives. I don’t always like director/writer Kelly Reichardt’s films, but they always make me think.   Certain Women Info

Until Next Time!

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Girl on the Train

My View:  The Girl on the Train  (2016)  R  Rachel (Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic who recently divorced her husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), after catching him cheating on her.  She takes the train to work daily and often fantasizes about her neighbors, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett). One day, she witnesses something from the train, and Megan ends up missing and is presumed dead. The biggest problem with this film is the time jumps. It seems every few minutes we go back five weeks, then suddenly we are in present time, then we go back two weeks.  With such a large cast and a very complicated and interweaving plot, it’s hard to keep straight what is going on. I liked Blunt's portrayal of a very damaged woman who tries to pin the pieces of a night back together. I didn’t like the performance of Haley Bennett (who could be Jennifer Lawrence’s twin in real life), finding her lifeless and unlikable. The script is just too much of a mess for Emily Blunt to overcome.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Girl on the Train Website
My ViewThe Birth of a Nation  (2016)  R   This is the story of Nat Turner (Nate Parker), an enslaved man and preacher, who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831. The opening scene is magical, but the film spends too much time on Turner’s childhood, making the film seem too slow down to almost a stop.  Once Turner is a man, the film picks up again, and some of its best scenes are in the middle of the film. A caution: the film is very violent with some scenes almost too brutal to watch. Parker is charismatic on the screen as Nat Turner, but it’s the performance of Aja Naomi King, who plays Turner’s wife in the film. She is stunning in the role of the loving wife who will support her husband until the end. The film isn’t perfect. I didn’t like symbolism used continuously throughout the film, as in a shot of an ear of corn bleeding or a child dressed as an angel. The ending is powerful, and there are some powerful scenes throughout the film, but I don’t think this movie is quite strong enough of a work come Oscar time.   My rating: Full Price   The Birth of a Nation Website
My ViewDenial  (2016)  PG-13  Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is in the legal battle of her life, when Holocaust denier, David Irving (Timothy Spall), accuses her of libel in a British court. The film is based on a true story, and that’s what makes it so riveting. Weisz masterfully plays the headstrong woman who makes a stand against a bigoted bully. Her performance is captivating, and, at times you can almost see the steam coming off her head when her character gets intensely mad. Timothy Spall is perfect as the smug so-called “historian,” as he portrays the man as someone who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. Tom Wilkinson gives one of his best performances as the wine drinking lawyer who represents Professor Lipstadt in her case. It’s a compelling and engaging courtroom drama that will have you on the edge of your seat until the end.   My Rating:  Full Price   Denial Website
IndiefestGirl  Asleep  (2015)  Greta (Bethany Whitmore) is a 14-year old girl who wants to stay a kid for as long as possible. Unfortunately, her world will change when her parents give her a birthday party. Girl Asleep is part Adventure Time, part Napoleon Dynamite, and part Where the Wild Things Are. Writer Mathew Whittet (based on his play of the same name) and director Rosemary Myers, have imagined a very creative and whimsical look for this film reminding me of Wes Anderson and Monty Python movies. The film wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is without the brilliant and subtle performance of Bethany Whitmore. She is perfect as the awkward, nervous Greta, who must learn to stand up for herself and take on life’s challenges head-on. She lights up the screen in each scene and has great chemistry with Harrison Feldman, who plays Elliott, the boy with the heart the size of Australia. Their scenes together are some of the best of the film, providing warmth to the movie. I loved this quirky little film (which, by the way, is only a fast and furious 77 minutes long), the way it delves into the life and dreams of a girl who is going on a journey of growth and adventure. Go on this strange adventure with Greta because you won’t be disappointed, but you just might have to do a dance number if you decide to stay.    My Rating: Full Price   Girl Asleep Website
Forgotten Film:  Come Early Morning  (2006)  R   Lucille (Ashley Judd) is a hard drinking, hard working woman who, on the weekends, picks up someone to sleep with and then gets rid of the man as soon as she can. She is trying to reconnect with her father (Scott Wilson), a shy alcoholic man who tries to make up for past sins. Lucille’s world changes when she meets and beds Cal (Jeffrey Donovan), who looks to be the perfect southern gentleman. The question now, is Cal as good as he seems and how quickly can Lucille mess this relationship up?  Ashley Judd gives a riveting and engrossing performance of a woman who has been hurt too many times to let anyone get too close to her. Judd dominates the screen and makes you want to root for her character even though she isn’t all that likable. Judd and Jeffrey Donovan have that instant chemistry, so we see right away that they are meant to be together. This is the best performance by Ashley Judd since she set the world on fire with her performance in Ruby in Paradise (1993)    My Rating: Full Price   Come Early Morning Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Birth of a Nation:  Walla Mixer

Coming Soon  to a Theatre Near You:   The Eagle Huntress (2016)  G  I have heard nothing but great things about this documentary that follows a 13-year-old girl as she trains to be the first female eagle hunter. The trailer makes this film look like it is just magical.   The Eagle Huntress Website

Until Next Time