Wednesday, November 23, 2016


My View:   Moana  (2016) PG   On a mystic island called Motunui Island in Polynesia, a 16-year-old girl named Moana (Auli’l Cravalho) teams up with the legendary demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) on a journey to save her people. I loved this film! First, Carvalho has a robust and beautiful singing voice. While Johnson doesn’t have a Broadway singing voice, he does have fun with his songs and plays well off of Carvalho in their duets. Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote the songs in the film, and you can hear his style, especially in “You’re Welcome” that Johnson sings. The animation is crisp and gorgeous taking advantage of the tropical look of the islands. I loved the message of this film for girls that you can do anything you put your heart and soul into. And, by the way, stay through all the credits, as there is an amusing bonus scene at the end of the film.    My Rating:  Full Price   Moana Website
My View:  Rules Don’t Apply  (2016)  R  The film follows the romantic relationship in 1958 Hollywood between a young actress (Lily Collins) and her driver (Alden Ehrenreich), a relationship that is forbidden by the driver’s boss, world famous millionaire Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty). This film has the look and feel of an old-time Hollywood classic, unfortunately, while it looks stunning, the film is let down by its slow moving plot and a love story that takes forever to get started. The best part of this movie is Beatty’s performance as he plays the at times the brilliant innovator and at other times, the crazy off his loon Howard Hughes. There are a few comic relief moments, and those are supplied by Beatty, as the unpredictable Hughes had enough money that he could do just about anything he wanted. There aren't enough sparks between Collins and Ehrenreich for us to care about their romance. I will say that Collins sings a song in the film that I think could get an Academy Award nomination - it’s that good. I just wish that the rest of the film was as good as that song.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Rules Don't Apply Website 
Indiefest:  Nocturnal Animals  (2016)  R  An art gallery owner, Susan (Amy Adams), is in an unhappy marriage. She unexpectedly receives a novel written by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). As she begins to read the story, we see a family of three (Jake Gyllenhaal, Isla Fisher, and Ellie Bamber) get terrorized by several men on a lonely Texas highway. As Susan flashbacks to her first marriage, she also continues to read the shocking book. My biggest problem with this film is that it jumps around so much, into the past, the present and then the world of the book, that it just becomes really confusing, especially since Gyllenhaal plays both the ex-husband in the flashbacks and the husband in the book. The saving grace of this film is the always intense Michael Shannon, who plays a tough, over the hill detective. Shannon is so commanding on the screen, he overshadows everything in this film. I wanted to love this film but I only just like it.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Nocturnal Animals Website
My View:  Allied  (2016)  R  During World War II Canadian intelligence officer Max (Brad Pitt) meets and then marries French Resistance fighter Marianne (Marion Cotillard). While they are living in London, Max is told that Marianne is a German spy. The movie an homage to the old WWII films, but while it looks like a classic film, it’s just ordinary. The plot is slow and predictable, and I figured out the twist almost from the start. Pitt and Cotillard try to save this film, and they do have great chemistry on screen, but it’s just too much to ask them to overcome the static script.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Allied Website
In Memory of Ed Wood ( A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)Office Christmas Party  (2016)  When a boss (Jennifer Aniston) threatens to shut down a whole division, a branch manager (Jason Bateman) decides to give a client the ultimate office Christmas party.  What could go wrong? Just about everything. When a trailer, which is supposed to show you some of the best parts of the film, isn’t funny, then you just might have a crappy movie on your hands.   Office Christmas Party Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray)Finding Dory  (2016)  PG  While not as perfect as Finding Nemo was, it’s still a beautiful, funny and touching film that has an incredibly meaningful message about overcoming disabilities by having faith in yourself and your ability to persevere. Both kids and adults are going to fall in love with this film, and the 3-D animation is worth the extra bucks. There is a whole host of new characters in this movie with Ed O’Neil as a crusty octopus being the standout. This film has lots of heart, and you just might find yourself seeing it more than once.    My Rating:  Full Price   Finding Dory Website
Forgotten FilmOne Eight Seven  (1997) Trevor Garfield (Samuel L. Jackson) is a high school teacher who is attacked by a student, severely stabbing Trevor. Fifteen months after surviving the attack, Trevor goes back to teaching at a different high school, and his world starts unraveling due to a gang in his classroom.  This was the first lead role for Jackson, and he is intense and brilliant in this movie as his character, Trevor, slowly starts to descend into madness. The film has some flaws, and the last third of the film isn’t as coherent as the rest of the movie, but it’s Jackson’s performance that isn’t to be missed.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   One Eight Seven Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Rules Don’t Apply:  Photo Double

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouHarry Benson: Shoot First  (2016)  Documentary about the legendary British photographer who has shot everyone from The Beatles to the Queen of England.  \The man is 86 and still taking amazing pictures.   Harry Benson: Shoot First Info

Until Next Time!


Friday, November 18, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

My ViewFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  (2016)  PG-13  Seventy years into the future, Harry Potter will read writer Newt Scamander’s (Eddie Redmayne) book. First, Newt has to have the adventures in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards.  If you are a fan of the Harry Potter film and book series, then you will want to see this film. The film uses the Harry Potter world as its basis but makes this its own world. The action is fun and fast paced with special effects that bring the many, and I do mean many, beasts alive. Redmayne is obviously having fun with the role, and it shows in his performance. His boyish charm makes his character come alive on the screen. Alison Sudol is dazzling as the headstrong love interest for Newt, Queenie, and I adored Katherine Waterston as the sweet and mind reading-sister. Dan Fogler steals the movie as the hilarious human who becomes Newt’s sidekick. There isn’t a closing credit scene, and the film was not shot in 3-D, so save a few bucks. You will enjoy this fantastic ride full of beasts and wizards.    My Rating:  Full Price   Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Website
IndiefestThe Edge of Seventeen  (2016)  R  High school life for Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is already pretty bad, but it gets worse when her best friend (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating her popular older brother (Blake Jenner).  Writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig brings us the adolescent adventures of Nadine in the hilarious and smart “The Edge of Seventeen.” Many filmmakers have tried to document the hardship of the awkward teenage years of young women who just don’t quite fit in. Juno, Kings of Summer, Ghost World, Spectacular Now and of course, Sixteen Candles come to mind. This film is their equal with smart writing, quick dialogue, and excellent performances, especially from Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson. Steinfeld is dazzling in this movie, commanding the screen, even with scene-stealers such as Sedgwick and Harrelson. She embodies this role, and we fully believe that Nadine is as socially awkward and just a little “weird.” The Edge of Seventeen is a teen coming-of-age comedy that feels real. I had so much fun watching this film that I wouldn’t mind spending a day or two hanging out with these characters, even if meant going through the pain of attending high school again.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Edge of Seventeen Website
My ViewBleed for This  (2016)  R  World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) is in an automobile crash and is told he might never walk again. Vinny is determined not only to walk again but to fight again.  In spite of this true story of a man committed to do the impossible, the film never gets behind the facade of Vinny. The movie lacks the big emotional breakthrough that the story and we, the audience, deserve. Just because the real-life story is amazing doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a fantastic movie. Miles Teller has shown us in the past that he can carry a film, but, unfortunately, he is let down by the storyline and the dialogue. He’s never given that big, impassioned and moving scene. The emotional tone of the film is flat, and try as hard as he does, Teller rarely provides us with the in-depth look into the makeup of who Vinny really is as a person. Bleed for This becomes just another ordinary boxing film, which is too bad because its star and its true story are far more remarkable than the movie, itself.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Bleed for This Website
Forgotten FilmFly Away Home  (1996)  PG  Amy (Anna Paquin) is thirteen years old when her mother is killed in New Zealand. She goes to live with her father (Jeff Daniels) whom she barely knows. Amy then stumbles upon a nest of abandoned goose eggs and decides to hatch them. When they hatch, she becomes their mother. The birds need to fly south for the winter and to get them there she and her father make their ultra-light planes look like geese and lead the birds on a magical trip to the south. This is a warm film, perfect for families. Paquin is better than most young actors her age, and she works extremely well on screen with Daniels. The film is based on a true story which makes it seem even more spectacular.   My Rating: Full Price   Fly Away Home Info

Weird Credits:  From Fantastic Beasts and Where You Find Them:  Russian Arm Operator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouMifune: The Last Samurai  (2015)  Toshiro Mifune was the greatest Japanese actor of his time. This documentary explores his life including the legendary films he made with Akira Kurosawa. Mifune starred in one of my all-time favorite (and top ten films) Seven Samurai  (1954) which was remade twice as The Magnificent Seven.   Mifune: The Last Samurai Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 11, 2016


My ViewArrival  (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. With splashes of Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Nolan's Interstellar and Zemeckis's Contact, director Denis Villeneuve brings us highly creative, original and moving film about attempting to communicate with a species that seems so different from us, but just might be coming from the same common ground. Louise has to use not only her intellect to try to communicate with the aliens but also must use her humanity as well. Adams is scintillating as the woman who is the key to being able to communicate the aliens. She gives a multi-layered performance that shows Louise's strength and her vulnerability, sometimes at almost the same time. Adams has always projected a likeability in her performances, and it's essential in this film as we, the audience, have to be able to root for her character to persevere, no matter how small the rabbit hole she is taking us down. Arrival is full of wonder and amazement while creating a tension-filled ending that you will be thinking about long after this film has left the theaters. If we do ever encounter aliens, let's hope we have the brains and leadership that are displayed in this film.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Arrival Website
IndiefestChristine  (2016) R  Christine (Rebecca Hall) works as a reporter for a small TV news station.  All she wants is to be the best reporter that she can be, but she just may be her own worst enemy. Director Antonio Campos brings us this film based on a real person, Christine Chubbuck, a troubled and awkward reporter who had lofty goals but was probably destined to work in small markets for the rest of her career. Campos does the almost impossible, making Christine a sympathetic character, humanizing a very complicated person who had a lot of problems. Much of the credit for making a rigid and sometimes unlikable person come to life is Rebecca Hall. Her performance is dazzling, as she makes this socially awkward, determined person come to life. Hall has Christine's mannerism down, making her a person who has trouble relating to ideas such as dating or dealing with a boss you don't agree with. Hall works well with the other actors in the film, especially Michael C. Hall, who plays George, the cocky anchor that Christine is so enamored with. While I did not enjoy the final scenes of the film, those can be overlooked because of the Academy Award level performance by Rebecca Hall. You may not always like Christine, but because of Hall, you get to know her and understand why she ultimately did what she did.     My Rating: Full Price   Christine Website
My ViewAlmost Christmas  (2016)  PG-13   Widower Walter (Danny Glover) wants his children to spend Christmas at his house. If they survive the experience, it will be a “Christmas miracle. Will Packer, who has produced films such as Think Like a Man (2012), About Last Night (2014) and The Wedding Ringer (2015), makes films that audience have a good time watching but are highly predictable. There will be a break up (probably due to infidelity), there will be a star-crossed couple that will get back together, family is placed first in importance, and there will be some sort of happy ending. While I found this film mildly amusing, there were three women seated next to me at the screening that laughed so hard I was worried one of them would have a heart attack.  Almost Christmas isn’t a bad film. I just don’t think it was as funny as it could have been and it’s simple, predictable ending could have been written better.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee     Almost Christmas Website  
IndiefestLoving  (2016)  PG-13  Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) get married in 1958. They are sentenced to prison in Virginia because they are an interracial couple.  It’s a story of incredible courage, and we suffer at every indignity the Loving’s suffer in this film. Being told that your love is illegal and you must leave your home and family if you want to stay together, is heartbreaking and focus the Loving’s to make incredibly tough choices. Nichols lets us into their world slowly, letting us understand the time-period and just what they were dealing with on a daily basis. Joel Egerton absolutely embodies Richard Loving, the bricklaying country boy who falls in love with his whole head and heart. It’s an incredible performance of a man who takes simple pleasures and makes them his to savor. He has found a channel into this man’s soul and lets us all understand the man with a screen presence that while strong, also seems to sink a little into doorways. Ruth Negga gives an equally powerful performance as the woman who is defiant in her love for a man that is her soul mate. Negga gives Mildred an air of strength and steely resolve, whether trying to survive alone in a cell or deciding where to have her child. Nichols has done a masterful job of making this true story real and meaningful. The Loving’s story is one for the ages, and this film will stay with you for a long time.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Loving Facebook Page
IndiefestTower  (2016)    Fifty years ago a man rode the elevator to the 27th floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, killing 16 people and wounding 32 others. This film doesn’t tell his story but the story of the people on the ground, some of which risked their lives to help others. The film uses rotoscoping animation and actors to retell in a documentary format this harrowing day in American history. This engrossing film is as suspenseful as any big, edge of your seat Hollywood suspense film. The animation is distinctive and really helps the storytelling. This is one of the best films of the year and should not be missed.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Tower Website
Forgotten FilmCross Creek (1983)  PG  In the 1930’s Marjorie Rawlings (Mary Steenburgen) moved from New York City and high society to Florida’s Everglades so that she could write. But the surroundings are not as isolated as she would like and she encounters an old, grizzled man (Rip Torn), a young store owner (Peter Coyote) and a young girl (Dana Hill). All these people along with the setting would be the inspiration for her novel “The Yearling.”  Steenburgen shines as the fish out of water but determined Rawlings. Peter Coyote, playing the love interest and Alfre Woodard, as the neighbor who takes Rawlings under her wing, give masterful performances. The real star of this film is the outstanding cinematography that highlights the rugged but beautiful land.   My Rating:  Full Price   Cross Creek Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Christine: Chicken Wrangler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouManchester by the Sea  (2016)  R  When his brother Joe dies, Lee (Casey Affleck) is forced to take care of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges)  in his hometown. The big problem is coming back to your hometown; you have to see people you left to avoid.  Critics that have seen this movie are saying that Affleck and Michelle Williams, who plays the ex-wife, give Oscar caliber performances.   Manchester by the Sea Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Doctor Strange

My ViewDoctor Strange  (2016) PG-13 Doctor Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch), a brilliant neurosurgeon, life changes after he has a tragic car accident. He decides to travel the world to rediscover his life’s purpose. He encounters “The Ancient One” (Tilda Swinton) who teaches him the art of dimensional and mystic arts. He decides to use his newfound power to defend the world from evil forces.This film is much more in the vein of “Guardians of the Galaxy” as there is a surprising amount of humor in the movie and that it stands alone in the big Marvel universe.  Cumberbatch is perfect in the role, and his American accent is flawless. He has just the right amount of cocksureness to make him a little bit unlikable. A bit of warning: if you have vertigo, don’t see this film. Remember the building inverting in the movie Inception (2010)? Well, the battle sequences in this film are Inception-like but on steroids. I do recommend seeing the movie in 3-D and in IMAX (over an hour of footage was shot with IMAX cameras).  There are two bonus scenes, one after the first round of credits and then a second one after all the credits finish.  Both are worth staying for. And you will want to “Google” Aldous Huxley after seeing the film to find out what book Stan Lee is reading in his cameo scene.    My Rating: Full Price   Doctor Strange Website

My View:  Hacksaw Ridge  (2016)  R  True story of WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) who enlists in the Army but refuses to handle a rifle due to being a Seventh-day Adventist. He becomes the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor. I thoroughly enjoyed this moving and spiritual film. I will warn you that the battle sequences are real and very horrific, with body parts flying everywhere. Garfield is perfect as the man who refuses to bear arms but is willing to sacrifice his life to save others. There is great chemistry between Garfield and Teresa Palmer, who plays a nurse who falls in love with Desmond. I also enjoyed Vince Vaughn as the tough as nails Sargent who doesn’t want Desmond in his Army. The battle sequences, though tough to watch due to the blood and guts violence, are well choreographed and exciting. This is one inspirational story that you won’t want to miss.  The film is capped off during the credits with an interview with the real Desmond Doss that just might make you shed a tear.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See It Again   Hacksaw Ridge Website
Family FaireTrolls  (2016)  PG  A troll princess (Anna Kendrick) and her grumpy friend (Justin Timberlake) must muster all their courage to save their friends from the clutches of the evil Bergins.  I didn’t like this film and found the storyline too simple and the music annoying, especially when the trolls are singing non-original songs. It was one long glitter bomb, too sweet to watch for any length of time, and only small children will enjoy it, mostly due to the bright colors of the Trolls. I couldn’t leave the theatre fast enough when it ended, heading directly to a pharmacy to buy some aspirin for the headache I got watching this movie.    My Rating:  Cable   Trolls Website
Indiefest:  We Are X  (2016)  R   Documentary about the legendary band X Japan. Little known in the U.S., X Japan has sold over 30 million singles and albums combined and have fans around the world including KISS, Stan Lee, and even the Japanese Emperor. Known for their legendary concerts, the documentary tells the band’s exhilarating, tumultuous and unimaginable history over the past three decades––persevering through personal, physical and spiritual heartache––the film culminates with preparations for their breathtaking reunion concert at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden. This is a fascinating movie about a band that very few of us in America know about. The story of the band is unbelievable, so much so, that if you made it into a drama, no one would believe it could happen. The film is filled with concert performances that make you want to see the band in person.  It’s a riveting and engaging film about an outlandish group of musicians that make stunning shows.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   We Are X Website
Forgotten FilmThe White Dawn  (1974)  R  Three whalers (Warren Oates, Timothy Bottoms, Louis Gossett Jr.) crash their ship on ice going after a whale.  They are rescued by a tribe of Inuit, who take the three sailors into their community. The three men cannot leave their western ideals and ways behind and begin to undermine the native community with disastrous results. Other than the three main actors, the rest of the cast is made of Inuit’s, making the film feel real and impactful. While the movie is shot in color, there is so much snow and ice that you will think it was shot in Black and White. What makes this film even more interesting is that it is based on a true story.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The White Dawn Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Doctor StrangeFacial Hair Maker

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouBilly Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)  R  19 year-old Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) is brought home for a victory tour after experiencing a harrowing Iraq battle.  Through flashbacks, we see what really happened to his squad.  The cast includes Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, and Steve Martin.  Critics are anxious to see this film because two-time Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee is using new technology to shoot at an ultra-high frame rate, which should give the film a much sharper and clearer image.    Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Facebook Page

Until Next Time!