Friday, March 25, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

My View: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)  PG-13   The Gotham City-based Batman (Ben Affleck) travels to Metropolis to take on Superman (Henry Cavil), whom he feels has become an endangerment to humans. Little do the two superheroes know another person in Metropolis is plotting their deaths, the mysterious Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg).  What a big mess of a film. I had no clue what was going on in the first hour of this movie. We didn’t get any backstory on Lex Luthor, so we have no idea why he hates Superman, and I guess Batman too. Batman has a dream sequence that I don’t know what the heck it was about. The film wastes great talent, like Amy Adams, who plays Lois Lane, who is used as Superman’s rescue (multiple times). Holly Hunter plays a senator who is questioning if Superman is a good guy or a bad guy, but that never goes anywhere.  The brilliant Diane Lane is wasted as Superman’s adopted mom, Martha, who also is just in the movie to be rescued. Cavil as Superman does a lot of posing in his suit but gives out very few lines. Affleck as Batman is given a bit more to do, but the feud between Superman and Batman is just stupid, and their big fight just sort of peters out. The only saving thing about this film is Wonder Woman, played excellently by Gal Gadot. Gadot give’s life and energy to the movie’s big finish and makes me want to see a Wonder Woman movie. Gadot also looks like the only one in this film who is having a good time, and she looks the part of the warrior princess. This is a very dark film with daddy issues and death hanging all over it. It’s a film that never has any fun, which makes this film feel much longer than its 158 run time.   My Rating: Cable   Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Website
My ViewMy Big Fat Greek Wedding 2  (2016) PG-13   Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) have been married for a while and have a daughter (Elena Kampouris) who is about to go off to college. A family member is about to be married in even a bigger Greek wedding, and family secrets are about to come out.  I liked the first Big Fat Greek Wedding, mostly due to the great chemistry between Vardalos and Corbett, and the fact that Vardalos’ character was adorable. What I didn’t like about the first film was her family and how stereotypical they were portrayed. It’s hard to get lightning to strike twice, and this sequel is a big disappointment, mostly due to the film centering around Toula’s family and not about Toula and Ian. The jokes aren’t funny, some of the scenes with the family are insulting (especially to women), and Ian/Toula’s relationship takes a backseat to her parents’ impending wedding plans (her parents find out that they aren’t married). The film just doesn’t have the wit or charm that the first film had. So skip this film and go back and watch the first movie instead.    My Rating:  Cable   My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Website
My ViewEye in the Sky  (2016)  R  Colonel Powell (Helen Mirren) is leading a secret drone mission to capture a terrorist group living in a building in Kenya. 2nd Lieutenant Steve Watts (Arron Paul)is given the task of flying the drone.  Things change when they find out that one of the world’s most deadly terrorists is in the building with bombs that could do massive damage.  This is an intriguing film about modern warfare and how we are now fighting our battles via long distance. Mirren is compelling as the Colonel pushing for the air strike, and Paul is riveting as the drone pilot who has to carry out the mission. The film brings us some intriguing questions about how far should we go to fight terrorism around the world.  It’s a topic that you will be discussing long after you see this film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Eye in the Sky Website

IndiefestRemember  (2016)  R  With the aid of a fellow Auschwitz survivor (Martin Landau), Zev (Christopher Plummer) goes on a cross-country trip to track down an Auschwitz prison commander who is living in the U.S. The only problem is that Zev has early symptoms of dementia. This is a fascinating film that takes a number of twists and turns, some of which will shock you. Plummer gives another in a long line of excellent performances. His Zev is going to break your heart as he struggles with his dementia while trying to fulfill his promise to a dying man. I was totally engrossed in this film and rooted for Zev to find his man. I highly recommend this moving and touching film.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Remember Website

Indiefest Krisha  (2015)  R  Krisha (Krisha Fairchild) is returning home for Thanksgiving after being away for ten years.  Not everyone will be glad that she has returned, as the past will likely be revisited.  This is a very moving but uncomfortable film to watch about a “black sheep” of the family, Krisha, returning home to cause mayhem and trouble, sometimes unintentional and other times just because she can. We don’t like Krisha from almost the first frame of the film, and that’s the beauty of this movie. Her character causes us, the viewer, almost as much pain as she inflicts on her family members, including the son she hasn’t seen in ten years. It’s a masterful performance by Fairchild, and she dominates almost every frame she’s in. This is a film you will want to see, but you will be glad in the end that Krisha isn’t a part of your family.   My Rating:  Full Price   Krisha Website

Indiefest: City of Gold  (2016)   Jonathan Gold is one of the world’s most influential food critics, writing for the Los Angeles Times. He is leading a food revolution that is inspired by the pen but driven by the palate.  I loved this film, and if you are even close to being a foodie, you will want to see this funny and informative film about an interesting critic who just happens to love L.A. and its vast food scene. Gold is a former music critic turned into a food critic, but instead of visiting the latest French hotspot, he visits strip malls looking for interesting takes on mom and pop restaurants, mostly run by recent immigrants who bring their native cuisine to be discovered by Gold. One of the great scenes in the film is where Gold is driving around L.A. in his pickup truck, talking about all the restaurants that he is driving by, giving us a crash course in what foods they serve and how good they are. This film will make you want to explore your city and, like Gold, find small, family-owned restaurants that serve unique and tasty food.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   City of Gold Website

Forgotten FilmDepartures (2009)  Daigo (Mashiro Motoki) is a cellist in an orchestra that is about to go under. To make a living, he sells his cello and moves with his wife (Ryoko Hirosue) back to his childhood home. He applies to work at what he thinks is a travel agency.  When he is hired, he realizes that the job is actually for a “Nokanshi,” a person who prepares the deceased body for burial with the family and friends of the dead person in attendance. This is a poignant and impressive film about life, death, and the human condition. While it sounds like it might be a depressing film, Departures is actually a joy to watch and has some quite funny moments. Motoki is sensational as a man who learns he is more than just a musician, he is a human being who has a talent for helping people say good-bye to their loved ones. This little-seen film won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Departures Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Witness Camera Operator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2016)  Do we need another Pirates movie? Does Johnny really need the money? And why is Paul McCartney part of the cast?   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Info  
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Miracles from Heaven

My View:  Miracles from Heaven  (2016)  PG  Set in a small Texas town, a 12-year old girl named, Anna (Kylie Rogers), gets sick, and only her determined mother (Jennifer Garner) believes that she is more ill than any doctor thinks.  Finally, the mother find a doctor who determines Anna has a pseudo-obstruction motility disorder, which means Anna will never live a normal life and may die soon. It will take a miracle to save her.  Jennifer Garner gives a strong performance as the mom who is determined to find out what is happening to her daughter and if there is a cure. We can see the worry on her face and the kindness in her actions as Garner portrays a woman whose faith is challenged by her daughter’s illness. Rogers, as the sick Anna, doesn’t have to do much but look sickly. If you are someone who likes faith-based films, then you will enjoy this movie. If your idea of a perfect Sunday is brunch rather than church, you might want to skip this film as its message of faith and belief in God’s hearings is a little strong, in my opinion.     My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Miracles from Heaven Website
IndiefestHello, My Name is Doris  (2015)  R  Doris (Sally Field) is an ordinary office worker in her sixties. She is set in her ways, living in the house where she grew up and wearing the same style clothes she wore in the 70s. Her life changes when a new manager (Max Greenfield) takes over and takes an interest in Doris. The reason to see this film is Sally Field, as I can only think of Meryl Streep as the only other actress who could play this role as well as Field.  Field makes us instantly like Doris, even though she is a little strange and very delusional that she has any chance for romance with the new manager. Field plays Doris with conviction and never makes us feel sorry for her. Instead, we admire her tenacity and her ability to trying new things. It’s an honest performance that makes this film work as well as it does.   My Rating: Full Price   Hello, My Name is Doris Website
IndiefestThe Bronze  (2015)  R  A foul-mouthed former gymnast, Hope (Melissa Rauch), has made a living on the fact that she won an Olympic bronze medal. Now she is asked to put her ego aside and help mentor a new up-and-coming star. I wanted to love this film, but I just like it. Melissa Rauch is very different than her spunky role on “Big Bang Theory.”  In this film, she is a surly, entitled jerk who treats everyone in her small town, including her father, like they are beneath her. While I enjoyed Rauch’s performance, the script comes up a bit short in making the film well rounded. Too often the characters in the film are one-sided and easy to predict. I did enjoy the performance of Thomas Middleditch, who plays the owner of the local gym who sees potential in Hope, believing that she will overcome herself and become a decent person. The film is funny at times, but the script lets down the performers, not giving them fully formed characters they can work with.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee     The Bronze Website
Forgotten Film: The Namesake  (2006)   PG-13  This is brilliant film about an Indian family living in New York. Ashram (Tabut) and Ashoke (Irrfan Khan) have an arraigned marriage and they move to New York from Calcutta.  The have two children, which is Gogol (Kal Penn) and a daughter named Sonia (Sahria Nair), who grow up American but still living under their parents Indian ways. When Gogol gets a white girlfriend, things really get interesting. This is a wonderful story of parents who while stuck in their traditional ways, want more for their children, for them to fulfill their dreams of their own.    My Rating: Full Price     The Namesake Info  
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)Mother’s Day  (2016)  PG-13  If you liked the Gary Marshall movies New Year’s Eve  (2011) and Valentine’s Day (2010), you probably will like this one.  For the rest of us, I think we will just send flowers or maybe make a phone call, rather than see this film.   Mother's Day info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Bronze:  Swing Gang

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You:  Hardcore Henry  (2016)  R  The talk of SXSW Film Festival is a first person action film where you the viewer are the hero of the story. The camera shows your perspective as Henry attempts to save his wife from an evil mastermind. Critics are still trying to figure out how they filmed it   Hardcore Henry Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 11, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

My View:  10 Cloverfield Lane  (2016)  PG-13   After surviving a car accident, a young woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in an underground cellar. She was rescued by a man, Howard (John Goodman) who claims that a worldwide chemical attack has left the Earth’s surface uninhabitable. I enjoyed this suspenseful film that slowly builds the tension as we learn, along with Michelle bits and pieces of information that may mean things aren’t what Howard told us had happened. There are plenty of twists and turns in the film that will keep you guessing until the very end. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is superb as the headstrong woman who keeps questioning what is going on in the outside world. John Goodman gives a smart and multilayered performance as the good Samaritan that may or may not be holding on to a secret. The film is brilliantly written, and I loved the ending to the movie. Think of this film as more of a Hitchcock type genre film then your more typical Sci-Fi movie.    My Rating: Full Price   10 Cloverfield Lane Website
IndiefestKnight of Cups  (2016)  R  A writer (Christian Bale) travels around L.A. and Vegas in a search for love. Let me say right off the bat that I am not a fan of Terrence Malick. I just don’t get his films, and this one is not the exception. Don’t get me wrong, his films are always interesting to look at and beautifully shot (cinematography on this film was done by three-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki). I just don’t know what the point of this movie is, other than rich people like houses with lots of windows and they like to swim with their clothes on. Until I read the IMDB synopsis, I only knew that Christian Bale’s character worked in Hollywood, but I had no idea he was a scriptwriter (we never see him work). Bale’s character likes to meet beautiful women, sleep with them and then break up with them (after swimming with them at some point). There isn’t any dialogue spoken by the characters on screen; the whole film is done in voiceover, once again making it hard to figure out what’s being talked about. The film felt like it was a two-hour ad for some sort of perfume or cologne, so much so, I kept waiting for Julia Roberts to show up or for Johnny Depp to bury some jewelry in the desert while wearing lots of eye makeup. If you enjoyed Mallick’s Tree of Life, you might like this one, but for everyone else, I would skip it.  That is unless you like watching pretty people playing for hours on the beach.  My Rating: Cable   Knight of Cups Website

IndiefestOnly Yesterday (1991)  PG  Taeko is a 27-year old office worker who travels to the countryside while reminiscing about her childhood in Tokyo. This is a reissue of the Studio Ghibli classic animated film in celebration of its 25th anniversary. The film, directed by Isao Takahata, was never released in North America until now. The film is a beautiful and touching tale of a young woman who visits relatives and friends in the country as she thinks about her life as a schoolgirl. As she works happily out in the fields with her relatives, she remembers incidents in her childhood that made her the woman she is today. While all this is going on, she strikes up a friendship with a young local farmer. As they traipse around the countryside, discussing their hopes and dreams, their attraction goes stronger. This is an animated film for adults, and it is as good as any modern day romantic film. The film treats its main subject with a loving respect that gives us insight into a woman who is still trying to understand and discover just who she is and how she fits in this world. The love story between the farmer and the girl is brought along slowly, as you see their relationship building naturally throughout the film. I loved this movie, a timeless classic that is as enjoyable today as it was 25 years ago.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Only Yesterday Website
Forgotten Film:  Dark City  (1998)  R  John (Rufus Sewell) wakes up in a strange hotel room with no memory. He gets a phone call from a Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland) that a group of beings known as The Strangers are about to capture him. John escapes only to be in a world that he doesn’t understand, and he only knows he must try and stop The Strangers from taking over the city. Much in the genre of Blade Runner, Dark City is part Sci-Fi, part film noir with a few horror undertones. John must make his way in a very dark and dangerous world that seems to be threatening his existence at almost every turn. The film takes a detective story and makes it its own, keeping you guessing until the end. It’s a film that you will want to watch multiple times to understand exactly what transpires (and even then you might still not get everything).   My Rating: Full Price   Dark City Info 
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):   God’s Not Dead 2 (2016)  PG  Didn’t we prove this already in the first film? The film is something about a high school teacher discussing Jesus in class and getting sent to the principal’s office.   God's Not Dead 2 Website   

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Knight of Cups:  Source: Harinezumi Camera Footage

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouMiles Ahead  (2016)  R   Don Cheadle stars, writes and directs this film about the legendary jazz pioneer Miles Davis. Davis created jazz music that was groundbreaking but was also one of the weirdest cats out there, so this movie should be fascinating.  Miles Ahead Facebook Page
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 4, 2016

London Has Fallen

My ViewLondon Has Fallen  (2016)  R  Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler)is in London with the President for the funeral of the Prime Minister, and Banning doesn’t like what he sees. A last minute funeral means that all the world’s leaders will be sitting ducks in one place on a foreign country’s soil. It’s going to be up to Banning to make sure that the President gets back home alive. This film reminded me of the Chuck Norris films of the 80s like Delta Force; one man takes on terrorists in the name of America. I liked this movie because it just went all out with the action and the one-liners, making it fun to watch. I would love to know the body count of Banning (I know he killed at least 25 on his own in the first film, Olympus Has Fallen) because it’s got to be in the high 30’s. Butler, as you would expect, does an outstanding job with the action sequences, and he has brilliant chemistry on screen with Arron Eckhart, who plays the President whom he is trying to keep alive. The action is fast-paced and fun to watch with some fast and furious car chases through the streets of London. I liked this film more than the first film, which is rare for a sequel. If you like action movies with a little bit of one-liners thrown in, then this film is for you.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee  London Has Fallen Website
Family FaireZootopia  (2016)  PG   In a city populated by anthropomorphic animals, a con artist Fox (Jason Bateman) and a rookie bunny cop (Ginnifer Goodwin) must team up to uncover a conspiracy. “Zootopia” is a magical movie that combines the beautiful animation Disney is famous for with a hilarious script that has some serious undertones and messages. While never spelling it out, the film approaches the subjects of racism and profiling. The message never hits you over the head, and the reasons learned are never fully spelled out to the audience, but the message comes over loud and clear. Part buddy film, part mystery, “Zootopia” uses humor at every turn to keep the movie moving at a rather quick pace. There are funny lines and rapid asides that make fun of past Disney films (including one about a “frozen” girl) , so many so that you may have to see the movie several times before getting all the jokes. “Zootopia” is a little long, and very young children may get a bit scared of a few scenes of animals acting ferocious, but this is one film everyone is going to enjoy. And, the DMV scene with the sloths that is teased in the trailer will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter.    My Rating: Full Price   Zootopia Website
My View:  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot  (2016)  R  Kim (Tina Fey) is tired of being behind the scenes and volunteers to be a war correspondent in Afghanistan and Pakistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. She finds a fellow woman reporter (Margot Robbie) who shows her the ropes and lets her know that she may have been a “four or five at home but is a ten here.”  Kim, who always was in the background in the states, is suddenly front and center and has the attention of a dashing war photographer (Martin Freeman). First off, this is not a comedy.  Yes, there are some comedic asides, but it’s mostly to release the tension. And that’s the problem with this film, there isn’t enough tension. Even when out in the field and under fire, I never felt that Kim was in trouble and never really worried about her well being. This isn’t a bad film, and the chemistry between Freeman and Fey is easy going and believable. I loved Billy Bob Thornton as a hard nose Marine general who warms up to Kim’s can do attitude. I just wish the film had a harder edge to it, to give it some realism.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Website
Forgotten FilmThe White Countess  (2005)  PG-13  Set in Shanghai in 1936, a Russian Countess (Natasha Richardson) has fled her country and must work as a bar-girl to survive. She meets Jackson (Ralph Fiennes), a former American diplomat who is blind and owns a classy bar. As the world closes in, they develop a relationship, while curious at first, becomes stronger with time.  This is the last of the famous filmmaking team of Merchant and Ivory and has their trademark of complex characters, intricate plots and luscious scenes that made their films stand out. Fiennes and Richardson make this film worth watching as their characters find a glimmer of hope in each other.   My Take:  Full Price   The White Countess Info   
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)  PG-13  It’s hard for lightning to strike twice.  The first film worked because there was such great chemistry between Nia Vardalos and John Corbett, and Vardalos had such a pleasing presence on the screen that just made you love her.  After seeing the trailer, it looks like it’s the same film, with a few additional characters - which rarely works.   My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Info      

Weird Credits:  From the credits of London Has Fallen:  Russian Arm Operator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouMaggie’s Plan  (2016)   Maggie (Greta Gerwig) stole John (Ethan Hawke) from his marriage to Georgette (Julianne Moore). Now Maggie realizes that John isn’t the man she thought he was, so she has a plan to get Georgette and John back together, if only Georgette will cooperate.  This looks like a good old screwball comedy and what’s not to love with a cast that also includes Travis Fimmel, Maya Rudolph, and Bill Hader? Plus, Julianne Moore is speaking with some sort of accent!   Maggie's Plan Info
Until Next Time!