Friday, January 27, 2017

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

My ViewResident Evil: The Final Chapter  (2017)  R  Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only one to survive the last battle against the undead. Now, she must return to where it all began, The Hive in Raccoon City. The Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for one final battle against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse. The sixth and hopefully last in the series starts out with plenty of action but never really delivers the sequences that you crave. The camera seems too close to the action, making all the fight sequences, and there are a lot of them, seem very uneven, rough and hard to follow. The film has way too many plot holes, and it seems that it forgets what damage has occurred to Alice (Milla’s character) to make things a bit easier for the story to continue. While the film does answer a major plot point that has been brewing almost from the start, I never really felt the closure of the series that I wanted. Even though it was shot in 3-D, save your money, as the technology was never utilized. Here’s hoping that such a fun game is rebooted in the near future and they spend a few more bucks for the special effects.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Resident Evil: The Final Chapter Website
My View: Gold  (2016)  R  Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) has never had luck in life. Now he is pushing his bad luck as he teams up with a geologist (Edgar Ramirez) to try and find gold deep in the uncharted jungles of Indonesia.  Mathew McConaughey gives a riveting performance as the hard luck prospector who thinks his ship has finally come in. Unfortunately,  McConaughey is let down by a script that never can find its footing and editing that seems choppy and uneven. Bryce Dallas Howard is given very little to do as Kenny’s supportive girlfriend, mostly seen in scenes where she pats his hand and tells him he will win.  While there are few sparks up on the screen between Howard and McConaughey, there are quite a few in the bromance between McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez, who plays the geologist in charge of finding the location of the mine. The film comes alive when the two are interacting on the hunt for gold. The film kind of plods along, though, much like Kenny Wells hiking in the Indonesian jungle; it moves slowly and uneasily, stumbling to find its way in the impenetrable story-line.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Gold Website 
IndiefestJulieta  (2016)  R  Julieta (Emma Suarez) is about to move with her boyfriend from Madrid to Portugal. She learns that her daughter, who she has long been estranged, is alive and living in Switzerland with her husband and three children. Julieta decides to stay in Madrid with the hope that her daughter will contact her.  Part mystery, part drama, the film slowly reveals how and why the mother became estranged from her daughter.  Emma Suarez gives a remarkable performance as the mother who is willing to sacrifice her life to reconnect with her daughter.  Directed by  Pedro Almodovar (Volver, The Skin I Live In), the film kept surprising me both in narrative content and emotion. This is an exceptional film that will keep you interested in Julieta’s quest until the end.   My Rating: Full Price   Julieta Website
IndiefestNeruda  (2106)   Poet and Communist Senator Pablo Neruda (Luis Gnecco) gives a speech that criticizes President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla’s brutal anti-communist repression. The President calls for his arrest, and Neruda goes on the run, trying to evade the manhunt led by fascist Chief of Policía de Investigaciones Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal). This is an incredibly dense, wordy film that I had trouble connecting to, almost from the start. Neruda is a poet, first, and politician, second, and because of this, he has a tendency to speak in poetic form, making the film feel that it’s one long poem. Even the narration, done by Gael Garcia Bernal, who plays a policeman who is trying to track down Neruda, speaks in very flowery and poetic dialogue. I did enjoy Bernal’s performance as the sad sack policeman who is full of self-importance and consistently makes the wrong decisions.  The film drags in several places, as Neruda travels to hide in houses of his supporters, making the film seem a little repetitious. I did enjoy the last ten minutes of the movie as Neruda goes on foot and horseback over the Andes to try and elude the policeman as he closes in on his prey.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Neruda Info
Forgotten FilmGoodbye, Columbus  (1969) R   Neil (Richard Benjamin) has just graduated college and is trying to figure out his next move. He meets a beautiful girl, Brenda (Ali MacGraw), at a pool party. She is from a rich, Jewish family that revels in their wealth. Much to the dismay of her family, especially her mother (Nan Martin, Brenda starts dating Will because he isn’t her typical rich guy date. Soon the couple is in love but will their differences be too big for this couple to overcome?  The film is a funny and touching look at dating and how families can affect a relationship. MacGraw and Benjamin have great chemistry on the screen together, making their scenes feel real and passionate. I’ve not always been a big fan of MacGraw, but she is the best thing in this film. My favorite scene is at a wedding reception near the end of the film.  When you watch that scene, look for Bette Midler, Susan Lucci, Michael Nouri, and Jacklyn Smith as wedding guests.    My Rating:  Full Price   Goodbye, Columbus Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Gold: Snake Wrangler (no snakes appear in this film).

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Space Between Us  (2017)  PG-13  The first human born on Mars, a young man named Gardner (Asa Butterfield), travelPGto Earth for the first time.  There he encounters a street smart girl (Britt Robertson), and they go on an adventure to explore the world and find his father. The trailer looks cool, and Britt Roberson is one of my favorite up and coming actresses.   The Space Between Us Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 20, 2017

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

My ViewxXx: Return of Xander Cage  (2017)  PG-13  Just when you thought Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) was dead, he comes out of exile to help the CIA recover a powerful weapon known as “Pandora’s Box” before the evil villain Xiang (Donnie Yen) can acquire it.  This is the kind of movie that I call “stupid fun.” You know going in that it will be over-the-top, the plot will be there just to do more and more stunts, and Vin Diesel will do some things that even Superman couldn’t do. Have there been better action films? Sure, Fast and Furious 6 comes to mind, but I did enjoy this film where Vin Diesel skis down a mountain that doesn’t have any snow.  There are new additions to the xXx group and a couple of surprise guests that help move the film at a quick pace. The ending seems a little forced, but I had a good time watching all the action sequences.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   xXx: Return of Xander Cage Website
My ViewSplit  (2016)  PG-13  After a birthday party, three girls (Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Anya Taylor-Joy) are kidnapped. Their captor Kevin (James McAvoy) suffers from the rare dissociative identity disorder where he has 23 split personalities. The girls must now find one of those personalities to help them escape before the arrival of the 24th and final personality, the “beast.” This is a strange film to watch, mostly due to the 23 personalities that James McAvoy portrays. This is a solid piece of horror filmmaking plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing.  It’s a wild ride that makes an excellent thriller. The film’s backstory on Anya Taylor-Joy’s character is well thought out, and her performance is one of the best things in this film. And there is a very big reveal at the end of the film that is jaw dropping. This is certainly more in line with what we expected that M. Night Shyamalan would put out after his groundbreaking The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable.   My Rating: Full Price   Split Website
My View:  The Founder  (2016)  PG-13  The story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), who turned a small hamburger shop into Mc Donald’s, the biggest restaurant business in the world.  Ray Kroc wasn’t a nice guy, as he would do just about anything to get his way. Michael Keaton gives a scintillating performance of a ruthless, unlikeable man. The film is highly enjoyable in the first half of the film, but it loses its way when the most interesting characters in the movie, the McDonald brothers (Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch), are forgotten during most of the second half of the movie. It’s a hard look at a man who hid behind the American flag and family values to steal a company from two honest to a fault brothers.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Founder Website
Indiefest:   20th Century Women  (2016)   Set in Santa Barbara, California in 1979, a free spirit mother (Annette Benning) seeks help from her two housemates (Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning) with raising her son (Lucas Jade Zumann).  Benning has never been better in the role of a woman who seems to be stuck in the 1960s. Her character appears to be constantly trying to figure out each person whom she meets, and her performance is nuanced and never over-the-top. The rest of the cast is outstanding with Greta Gerwig putting in an excellent performance as a photographer who is a cancer survivor. The film is an enjoyable look at a teenage boy and the three women who are collectively raising him.   My Rating:  Full Price   20th Century Women Website
Forgotten FilmThe Dark Half (1993)  R  After writing under an assumed name, writer Thad Beaumont (Timothy Hutton), decides to write under his own name. Thad’s life is turned upside down when he is framed for a series of murders that he could not have committed. This is one of the better adaptations of a Stephen King work, and while flawed, George A. Romero knows how to open a horror film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Dark Half Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Founder:  Choreographer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Lego Batman Movie  (2017) PG   Bruce Wayne as Batman must deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but he also has to deal with a young boy he has adopted. I can’t wait for this film to come out.  The teaser trailer was so much fun.  The Lego Batman Movie Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Patriot's Day

My ViewPatriot’s Day  (2016)  R  The events leading up to and the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing are showcased in this film. A city cop (Mark Wahlberg) is determined to find the men responsible for hurting so many people and will stop at nothing to find them as a city is  stunned by the brutal act. This is a moving film that, at times, due to the violence committed, is tough to watch. The movie is bolstered by brilliant performances from John Goodman as the Boston Police Commissioner and J.K  Simmons as a small town police chief. The film does an outstanding job of using some of the real footage of the bombing, blending it in with the re-creation of the event. The film, while it does show the terrorists, focuses more on not just the attempt to find the men responsible, but how ordinary people responded to the event and its aftermath. The ending of the film is one of the best things about this movie, with its message that love is how we will overcome these attacks on our homes and lives.  My Rating: Full Price   Patriot's Day Website
Disclosure: I work for a CBS owned station and this film is distributed by CBS Films.
My ViewLive by Night  (2016)  R  Set in the prohibition era, Joe (Ben Affleck) is sent by the mob to the Tampa Bay area to run their rum-running organization. There he encounters Graciela (Zoe Saldana) who helps him take over the town, but Joe’s enemies of the past may just catch up with him. This film is beautifully shot, perfectly capturing the mood and look of the 1920’s, but the film feels almost empty, even though it is over two hours long.  The film moves slowly, and Affleck, who wrote and directed the film, doesn’t seem to be too interested in playing his part of the hoodlum with a heart of gold. The action sequences are confusing as it’s hard to tell who is who when the gunfire starts.  I have loved some of Ben Affleck’s previous films, especially The Town (2010) and Argo (2012), but this movie feels lifeless and predictable.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Live by Night Website
My ViewThe Bye Bye Man  (2017)  PG-13  Three friends (Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas) move into an old, off-campus house.They soon discover that their house is haunted by the Bye Bye Man, a mysterious figure who just might be the root cause of the evil behind man’s most unspeakable acts. I have seen better student films than this mess of a movie. The special effects look like they were created for a 1960’s TV show. The acting is some of the worst I’ve ever seen, with Cressida Bonas particularly standing out. Her scenes are just painful to watch.  It’s sad that Faye Dunaway, an Oscar-winning icon, has to stoop this low to be in this film. The plot is predictable, and the few scary moments only happen because something or someone jumps out of the dark. I wanted to say “Bye Bye Man” in the first fifteen minutes so that he would come and take me out of my misery.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay See Me to See it Again   The Bye Bye Man Website
IndiefestElle  (2016)  R  Michele Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) is a businesswoman who, one day, is violently attacked and raped by a masked assailant. Michele makes it her mission to find out who the rapist is and get her revenge. Let me be upfront right from the start, you are not going to like Michele or the decisions that she makes. This is an audacious film that jumps back and forth between grim drama and almost lighthearted comedy. The reason to see this film is Huppert’s performance and the determined businesswoman who is driven to find the masked assailant. It’s an unnerving portrayal that only someone as skilled as Huppert could pull off.  Elle is a film that will keep you guessing until the end, and it will continually shock you as the story unfolds.   My Rating: Full Price   Elle Facebook Page
IndiefestPaterson  (2016)  R  Paterson (Adam Driver)is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. His days are very simple, driving a bus, writing poetry in a notebook and stopping at his local bar for a beer. His girlfriend, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) has big plans that are ever-changing. Somehow, this couple makes it work as Paterson observes his city from the bus driver’s seat. Paterson is a sweet, delightful film that looks at life in small-town America through the eyes of a man who loves his life and poetry. Writer/director Jim Jarmusch brings a small sample of the blissful life that Paterson and his wife live, a couple happy to celebrate the little moments in their lives. Adam Driver gives a wonderfully understated performance as a man who is content in his life and his work. Driver and Golshifteh Farahani, as his wife, play off each other with outstanding chemistry, as he lets his character’s delight show as his wife tells him of her new art project or dinner invention. You will enjoy spending seven days with Paterson, so much so, that you will wish once the movie ends that you could extend your stay for another week.    My Review: Full Price   Paterson Facebook Page 
Forgotten FilmThe Mighty  (1998)  PG-13  Max and Kevin make an unlikely pair of friends.  Max (Elden Henson) is a big kid who gets constantly picked on by his classmates. Kevin (Kieran Culkin) has Morquio’s syndrome, where the bones stop growing but the organs continue to develop.  This is a delightful family friendly tale of friendship and healing. The cast is outstanding including a splendid performance by Sharon Stone as Kevin’s mother and Gena Rowlands as Max’s grandmother who is forced to raise him when Kevin’s father (James Gandolfini) is convicted of killing Kevin’s mom. The message of the film is perfect for kids to experience as Max and Kevin prove that our weaknesses can become our strength’s if we just work together.  My Rating: Full Price   The Mighty Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Bye Bye Man:  Gloomsinger Animal Handlers

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Founder (2016) PG-13   The story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), who started a little hamburger business called McDonald's. I hear great things about Michael Keaton’s performance. The film was written by Robert Siegel, who wrote The Wrestler (2008) and directed by John Lee Hancock, who directed The Blind Side (2009).    The Founder Website  

Until Next Time!

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Monster Calls

My ViewA Monster Calls (2016)  PG-13  Conor (Lewis MacDougal) is dealing with the one thing that any child fears, the illness of his mother (Felicity Jones). One night, Conor meets a “monster” (Liam Neeson) who is in the shape of a giant tree. The monster promises to help Conor deal with the sadness of his life.  This is a visually stunning movie that is more for adults than kids. It’s a solemn film that deals with death, childhood bullying, and grief. The film is moving and brought tears to my eyes at several places as Conor deals with the dark realization that life sometimes really hurts. MacDougal is impressive as the kid who sees a tree come to life as a big monster. There are some beautiful animated sequences as the Monster tells Conor stories to teach him about love and life. This film is a tale that is rarely happy, but in the end, I had enjoyed my experience with the monster and Conor.  My Rating: Full Price   A Monster Calls Website

My ViewSilence  (2016)  R  In the seventeenth century, two Portuguese Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) travel to Japan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson). They soon find that they are not welcome in this foreign country so far from home and their lives are in danger. This is a beautifully shot film that I found to be just a little bit boring. Like Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, this film also explores religion and faith. While the film is breathtaking in its visuals, I found the plot very repetitious, as we see at least five different ways the Japanese torture people to get the priests to revoke their vows. Andrew Garfield’s performance is a little too over-the-top for me. I got very tired of Garfield constantly breaking down, and he keeps falling for the same problems throughout the movie. I really felt the running time of 2 hours and 41 minutes. I think if the film had been much shorter, it would have had more of an impact on me, but I must confess, this just isn’t my type of film. Other critics whom I saw the film with were moved by it and felt that it was a superior film, but I just can’t agree with them.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Silence Website

In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray)Denial  (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. 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

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)Monster Trucks (2016)  PG  The film was inspired by a talk between the former president of Paramount Pictures and his four-year-old son. His idea:  Big trucks that have monsters in them.  Considering that this film has been sitting on the shelf since 2014, I think I will stay on the highway and not get off on the Monster Truck exit.   Monster Trucks Website

Forgotten FilmSeven Minutes in Heaven  (1985)  PG-13  Natalie (Jennifer Connelly) is a teenager whose mother is dead, and her father is always on the road with his job.  Her friend Jeffrey (Byron Thames) is having trouble with his stepfather, and Natalie lets him crash at her house.  Polly (Maddie Corman) is Natalie’s best friend and is always meddling in Natalie’s life. I like this film because it’s very different from most of the teen “coming-of-age” movies from the eighties. The characters in this movie have real life problems that they realistically must deal with. I love the ending of this film as it doesn’t wrap everything up in a neat conclusion, though you do figure that all three kids will end up being significant adults.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Seven Minutes in Heaven Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of A Monster Calls:  Stand-in: The Monster

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Red Turtle  (2016) PG   This animated film about a castaway stuck on a deserted island populated by turtles, crabs, and birds, is making a lot of critics’ “Best of the Year” lists.    The Red Turtle Info 
Until Next Time!