Friday, February 24, 2017

Get Out

My View Get Out  (2017)  R  College students Rose (Allison Williams) and Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) have been dating for awhile, and now it’s time for Chris to meet Rose’s parents.  Rose hasn’t told her parents (Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford) about Chris. Rose talks Chris into a visit but doesn’t tell him about the dark secret about her town - that the area has a history of young black men disappearing. This is one of the most unconventional horror films that I have ever seen. It’s a creative film that flips the conventional horror film on its head. The audience I saw this film with ate it up, and yes, it does contain some funny moments, but most of those moments are there to relieve the tension. This is one film that you will not forget. Think The Stepford Wives meets Misery.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Get Out Website
Family FaireRock Dog  (2017)  PG  Bodi (Luke Wilson) has always known that he was a little different from his father, Khampa  (J.K. Simmons), who feels his son should follow in his own footsteps and protect the flock. Instead, Bodi decides to go to the big city and try and become a rock star like his hero Angus (Eddie Izzard). Combine ugly looking animation with unmemorable original songs and a storyline that is predictable, and you get this film. The film is boring and only very small kids will enjoy this movie.  The only redeemable aspect is J.K. Simmons who does his best to bring some life to this film, but even his efforts aren’t enough to make this movie watchable.   My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Rock Dog Website
IndiefestThe Red Turtle  (2016)  PG  A man is shipwrecked on a deserted island.  After the man tries numerous attempts to leave the island, a red turtle crawls onto the beach and turns into a woman. The pair eventually form a relationship. The dazzling and exquisite animation make this film a joy to watch. Other than a couple of shouts, there isn’t any dialogue, but the marvelous storyline doesn’t need any. This enchanting and extraordinary film is one that you do not want to miss.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Red Turtle Website
Indiefest:  Bitter Harvest  (2017)  R  Set in the time of the Soviet famine of 1932, a young artist (Max Irons) fights to survive starvation, detainment, and torture to protect his childhood sweetheart (Samantha Barks). Yuri escapes from a Soviet prison and battles to free Ukraine from Stalin’s reign. I wish this was a better film because this is a story that needs to be told, but, sadly, it fails on almost every level. It’s an earnest attempt, but it’s strong in neither the romance nor the drama department. The action sequences are sloppily done, and the dialogue is choppy. The film seems like one of the old made-for-TV movies of the 70s.   My Rating:  Cable   Bitter Harvest Website   
Forgotten FilmThe Thomas Crown Affair  (1968)  R  A playboy bank executive (Steve McQueen) believes he has pulled off the greatest multi-million dollar heist. He might have gotten away with it, but an insurance investigator (Faye Dunaway) is hot on his heels.  McQueen and Dunaway were at their best in this film, and the cinematography by Academy-Award-winning Haskell Wexler is gorgeous. It’s fun to watch the two main characters match wits in this movie, and there are some impressive twists and turns in the plot. The 1999 remake with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo is probably a better film, but it’s a treat to watch McQueen and Dunaway do their magic on the screen.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Thomas Crowne Affair Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Bitter Harvest:  Art Tuition

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouTable 19  (2017)  PG-13  Ex-maid of honor Eloise (Anna Kendrick), after being dumped by the best man.  She decides to attend the wedding anyway and is assigned to the losers table, table 19. You had me at Anna Kendrick.   Table 19 Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Great Wall

My ViewThe Great Wall  (2017)  PG-13  When a mercenary warrior named, William (Matt Damon), is incarcerated within the Great Wall of China, he discovers the mystery behind one of the world’s greatest structures. There has been some unjust criticism about this film being a “white guy saves the day” type of film, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  William is a selfish man who fights for whomever will pay him, but he only depends on himself. William learns from a young general (Tian Jing) that the greater good of the team is worth risking your life for. I loved the spectacle of this film, and the battle sequences are highly entertaining. Unfortunately, the scenes in between the battles are boring and other than the young female general whom Tina Jing plays, we don’t learn a lot about the people who make up the army on the wall. Matt Damon seems stiff in his performance, and I have no idea what kind of accent he was attempting to portray (I got Scotch/Irish with a bit of Spanish).  The film was not shot in 3-D so save your money and see it in 2-D. While not a great movie, gamers will enjoy the colorful and frantic battle sequences.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Great Wall Website
My ViewFist Fight  (2017)  R  After mild-mannered English teacher Andy (Charlie Day) gets Ron (Ice Cube) fired, Ron wants to fight Andy in the school yard.  Hollywood is so devoid of good ideas for films; they are remaking bad movies into even worse films. This film is loosely based on a bad 80’s film named, Three O’clock High. Both films are unfunny and at times, very mean spirited.  I didn’t laugh once during this “comedy” and many times was appalled by the subject matter.  Running gags are repeated so much that they are latterly dragged to the ground. If you think a teacher on meth waiting for teenagers to graduate before she can sleep with them and eight-year-olds cussing is hilarious, then this film is for you. For the rest of us, this is one class that you should skip.    My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Fist Fight Website
My ViewA Cure for Wellness  (2016)  R  An ambitious young executive (Dane DeHaan) is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from a mysterious “wellness center.”  Once he gets there, he may never get out.  This is a beautifully, very stylish looking film that fails as both a horror film and dark comedy. While there are some horrific things that happen on screen, they are not scary, just highly uncomfortable to watch. I won’t go into too many details, but if you can’t stand snakes or eels, this film is not the film for you. The film is too long (four separate times our “hero” goes into his bathroom to investigate a jittering commode handle), takes way too long to set up the storyline and, ultimately, you just want the film to be over, not caring if the hero will succeed. I did enjoy the many homages to past horror films like Marathon Man, Frankenstein, and Phantom of the Opera, but it’s not enough to make you want to sit through 145 minutes running time.    My Rating: Cable   A Cure for Wellness Website
IndiefestA United Kingdom  (2016)  PG-13  Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana (David Oyelowo) causes an international stir when he weds a white English woman, Ruth (Rosamund Pike), from London set after WW II. I wish the film was as remarkable as the true story that it is based on, but unfortunately, the film plays it too safe and spells out almost the whole story in a way too simple storyline. Pike and Oyelowo are skillful in their portrayals, and I did enjoyed their courtship in England, which displays an exquisite chemistry between the two actors. But, the characters they portray are shown very lightly, with very little complexity. The story is predictable and never pulls on the heart strings, even at the end. I enjoyed this film, mostly because I didn’t know anything about the main characters’ lives, but I just wish the filmmaker had delved more deeply into what should have been two very complex people in a complex situation.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   A United Kingdom Website
IndiefestToni Erdmann  (2016)  R  A practical joking father (Peter Simonischek) tries to reconnect with his daughter (Sandra Huller) when a practical joke goes too far. This film is one of the 2017 Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language Film, and plenty of film critics are giving it high marks. I just don’t know why. I never could figure out if this movie was a comedy or drama. It’s a long film about a lonely man who creates a fictional character with a thinly veiled disguise to hang out with his daughter. The daughter is a driven businesswoman who is trying to land a big client. I just never got into the storyline and never cared for either the father or the daughter. I rarely laughed during the film with the exception of a naked party sequence that is quite funny.  It’s a film that is the front runner for an Oscar, but I wouldn’t even give it a nomination.   My Take: Bargain Matinee   Toni Erdmann Facebook Page
Forgotten FilmThe Pledge  (2001)  R  Jerry Black (Jack Nicholson) is a Nevada police officer, who, on the night of his retirement, pledges to a mother (Patricia Clarkson) that he will do everything he can to find her daughter’s killer. Jerry is convinced that his replacement on the force is going after the wrong suspect, and Jerry is determined to get to the bottom of the crime. It’s a slippery path Jerry has chosen, and it’s a journey that he may never return from   Nicholson gives one his finest performances as a lonely man who has sacrificed everything for a job that he misses greatly. The cast is filled with sizzling performances from stars including  Aaron Eckhart, Harry Dean Stanton, Robin Wright Penn, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, and Benecio Del Toro. This film, directed by Sean Penn, is worth your time.    My Rating: Full Price   The Pledge Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Great Wall:  Silk Screen Printer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Logan  (2017)  R  Logan (Hugh Jackman) is tired of all the battles that he has fought. He is holed up with Professor X (Patrick Stewart) on the Mexican border when a young mutant (Saber Bankson) being pursued by dark forces arrives. I usually don’t get excited about Wolverine or X-Men movies, but the trailer makes this one seem like a winner.  Also, the studio is holding screenings two weeks before it debuts, a sign that they think the film will get great “word of mouth.”   Logan Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie

My View:  The Lego Batman Movie  (2017)  PG  Batman (Will Arnett) is used to handling The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) on his own, but now he realizes that he just might need some help.  If you just want to have fun at a movie, then this film is for you.  I love The Lego Movie (2014), and while I didn’t quite have as good a time as with that film, I still enjoyed this ride.  Will Arnett is hilarious as Batman, a man who thinks he can do everything by himself. The film makes fun of some of the old Batman movies and also the fact that there is a seemingly endless supply of villains in the DC world. There are so many bad guys in this film; you will have to see it twice to catch them all. A few things in the movie don’t work, but there is so much going on throughout the film, you can just let them go by. I wouldn’t be surprised that, after you see this movie, you go out and buy some Legos to play Batman yourself.   My Rating: Full Price   The Lego Batman Movie Website
My View:  John Wick: Chapter Two  (2017)  R  John Wick’s (Keanu Reeves) retirement didn’t last long as he now has to travel to Rome to take on a squad of assassins to defend a former associate who has seized control of the assassins’ guild. The first John Wick film was one of the biggest surprises of 2014, as it was a highly enjoyable full-out action-fest.  I enjoyed this film as much as the first and love that it tries to outdo the first film on ways to kill the bad guys. The action sequences are fast, well done and, unlike some recent films, don’t rely on the use of “shakycam” to cover up the lack of real action. If you like action films and especially up close hand-to-hand fighting, then this is the movie for you. And, by the way, a third film is in the works.   My Rating:  Full Price   John Wick: Chapter 2 Website
Indiefest:  The Salesman  (2017)  PG-13  A young couple Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) are appearing in a play together and have moved into a new apartment. One fateful decision changes their life together forever. This is a moving and forceful film on how one event can destroy a relationship and happiness. Alidoosti is stunning in her portrayal of a woman whose life has been shattered, and she doesn’t know how to pick up the pieces. This is a psychological drama that slowly builds up the tension until it explodes near the end. The film is a masterful job of storytelling and is well worth the watch.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   The Salesman Website
Forgotten Film:  Stir of Echoes  (1999)  R  After being hypnotized by his sister (Illeana Douglas) at a party, Tom (Kevin Bacon) begins seeing visions of a girl’s ghost (Jennifer Morison).  The visions become more frequent, and it is very evident that the ghost wants one thing from Tom, for him to find out how she died. This is a thriller that delivers on all fronts. Bacon gives a sensational performance of a man who is slowly slipping into madness.  The plot has a few twists and turns, and the supernatural aspect of the film is used to its full advantage.   My Rating: Full Price   Stir of Echoes Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):   Loving  (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.  This is a story of 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 which forces the Loving’s to make tough choices.  Ruth Negga gives a performance of a lifetime, and this is a film that will stay with you for a long time.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Loving Facebook Page

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Lego Batman Movie:  Lead Lighter

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  T2 Trainspotting  (2017)  R  A continuation of the Trainspotting saga which includes the cast from the first film.  It’s hard to capture lightning in a bottle twice, but if anyone can do it, director Danny Boyle can.   T2 Trainspotting Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Space Between Us

My ViewThe Space Between Us  (2017)  PG-13  Set in the near future, an astronaut stationed on Mars, gives birth to a boy, Gardner Elliot. The boy is now a teenager (Asa Butterfield) and has made friends on-line with a girl named, Tulsa (Britt Robertson), on Earth. Gardner is given a chance to go to Earth. There he will experience an adventure of a lifetime. This is almost a sure thing to be on my bottom ten list of films for this year. The dialogue is atrocious, and the plot has holes that you could drive a rocket ship through.  There is absolutely no chemistry between Butterfield and Robertson, making their love story hard to believe. There were several times that I grimaced when a new, unbelievable plot point was introduced, including a bi-plane (that Robertson is piloting) crashes into a barn, and a huge explosion ensues. I was constantly wondering what Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino, two actors whom I like and respect, are doing in this mess of a movie.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   The Space Between Us Website
My ViewThe Comedian  (2017)  R  Jackie (Robert De Niro) is an insult comedian who has seen better days. His fans are stuck in the past when he had a hit TV show in the 80’s. Jackie has just about hit rock bottom, so can he mount one last comeback? This movie should have been better, and I think its failing is due to its star. I never believed that De Niro was a stand-up comedian. His delivery is horrible, he looks so uncomfortable up on stage, and he was not helped by jokes that aren’t much better.  The movie only comes to life when Leslie Mann is on-screen as the love interest. There is great chemistry between De Niro and Mann, and the film slows way down when she is off-screen. I did enjoy seeing a bunch of old pros like Charles Grodin and Billy Crystal give De Niro’s character some guff, but the film never finds its footing, and I hated the ending (it should have ended 5 minutes before).  If you are going to make a film about a comic, the heckler in the film shouldn’t be the funniest thing in the movie.   My Rating:  Cable   The Comedian Website
IndiefestI Am Not Your Negro  (2017)  PG-13 A documentary about race in America as told through the voice of writer James Baldwin. This is an outstanding film that uses the words of legendary writer James Baldwin to examine the issue of race in today’s America. When Baldwin died, he was writing a book about the lives and murders of three of Baldwin’s closest friends, three giants in the civil rights movement, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. The film uses interviews and speeches that Baldwin gave throughout his life, as he spoke about the struggle of black men and women in the 60s and 70s. Sharp editing and moving narration by a toned down Samuel L. Jackson make this a moving and insightful film. Watch this thought-provoking film, and you will see why it has won so many awards and why it’s up for an Academy Award.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   I Am Not Your Negro Website
Forgotten FilmJackie Brown (1997)   R   Jackie (Pam Grier) is a flight attendant who supplements her income by smuggling in money from Mexico for an arms dealer named Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). She is caught by FBI agents, and then they convince her to help them set up Ordell. Now Jackie, with the help of a bail bondsman named Max (Robert Forster) is going to run a con on both the FBI and Ordell to get Jackie the money she deserves. This film, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, has some of the best dialogue ever written. Pam Grier gives a performance of a lifetime, and Robert Forster is brilliant as the over-the-hill bail bondsman who falls for Jackie. The film is fast moving and has an ending that perfectly fits this film.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See It Again   Jackie Brown Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD / Blu-ray):  Queen of Katwe  (2016) PG The film follows the life of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Natwanga), a Ugandan chess prodigy from Katwe, who becomes a Woman Candidate Master after her performances at World Chess Olympiads.  This film works because the film treats its subject with such a loving touch. The fact that this is a true story makes it all the more uplifting and impressive. It’s a charming and inspirational film that will have you rooting for the underdog, a young woman with an extraordinary skill and an impressive drive to be the best. A great film for kids of any age to watch!   My Rating: Full Price   Queen of Katwe Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Space Between Us:  Global Director of Motion Picture Logistics

Coming Soon to A Theatre Near You: Beauty and the Beast  (2017)  PG  I was skeptical about remaking the beloved animated film into a live-action movie but the trailer looks beautiful and amazing.    Beauty and the Beast Website
Until Next Time!