Friday, April 28, 2017

The Circle

My View:  The Circle  (2017)  PG-13  A young tech worker (Emma Watson) gets a job at a powerful internet company and quickly makes her mark in the business.  She learns that her company is involved with getting and keeping information on everyone, information that could be used to hurt her friends, family and even threaten the future of humanity. This is a dull film that never creates the tension that it needs to make us care about what happens to Mae. Emma Watson has to play a character that while shows some smarts on how quickly she picks up her job but is so gullible that it becomes laughable, then we are supposed to believe that she can pull off what happens at the end of the film. Tom Hanks plays basically Steve Jobs but with, at least on appearances, nicer. Karen Gillan is wasted as Mae’s best friend that gets her the job, as she almost sleepwalks through her role. This is a film where main characters just disappear for stretches of the film, making it seem as if the film need one or two more rewrites. Co-writer/director James Ponsoldt is one of my favorite directors out there (my love of his The Spectacular Now is well known), but he really misses the mark in this movie.  My Rating: Cable   The Circle Website
Indiefest:  Truman  (2015)  Julian (Ricardo Darin) gets an unexpected visit from his old friend Tomas (Javier Camara). Julian’s life is a little complicated and Tomas, along with Julian’s dog, Truman, are there to help him sort it out. I loved this marvelous and moving film about friendship, accepting the mistakes you have made in your life and trying to live life to its fullest.  Ricardo Darin gives a masterful performance that is both bittersweet and, at times, humorous. Darin has great chemistry with Javier Camara, which is crucial because the two are almost always on the screen together. The storyline is touching and thought provoking, and the ending is perfect, making this a film that will stay with you for a long time.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again    Truman Website
Indiefest:  A Quiet Passion  (2017)  PG-13   The story of one of America’s greatest poets, Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon). The film follows her life from her early days as a young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist.  I am not a big fan of poetry, and this film is full of Dickinson’s poems, which sometimes interfere with the story and make the film feel choppy. Cynthia Nixon does give a riveting performance as the troubled Dickinson, who battled both mental and physical problems. My biggest problem with the film is that it’s hard to root for Dickinson, as she was such a troubled soul whom, as she aged, became mean and unforgiving. If you are a fan of Emily Dickinson’s work, you will enjoy this film, but I felt every minute of its two hours in length.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     A Quiet Passion Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray):  La La Land  (2016)  PG-13  A musical about a determined jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) who falls in love with an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) in Los Angeles. This is a magical film that tips its hat to the old Hollywood classic musicals of the past. Gosling and Stone have a chemistry that makes their romance believable. The singing and dancing by Stone and Gosling is so effortless and beautiful that it’s a joy to watch. The opening number is one of the most amazing dance sequences that I have ever seen on the screen, and the final dance sequence of the film is just unbelievably gorgeous. I have seen this movie three times, and each time I had a smile on my face throughout. In fact, I felt as if I should have danced across the lobby after I saw the film. Needless to say: My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   La La Land Website  
Forgotten Film:  Rachel Getting Married  (2008)  R  Kym (Anne Hathaway) has been in and out of rehab for the past ten years.  This time rehab seems to be sticking, and her treatment facility gives her a day pass so that she can see her sister, Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt), get married.  Kym’s situation may just dominate the wedding as family members from all over descend on the family home. The late director Jonathan Demme was a master of letting us inside even the most minor character, giving his films a personal feel, and he uses this to perfection in this film that has a constant flood of characters moving in and out.  Hathaway and DeWitt are scintillating as the two sisters who have problems with each other, but it’s Debra Winger who makes the film for me.  Her performance as the overwhelmed mother is a perfect piece of acting. The film shows just how flawed and fragile a family can be, even in what is supposed to be a happy time.    My Rating:  Full Price    Rachel Getting Married Info   

Weird Credits:  From the credits of  The Circle:  Aerial Drone Visual Observer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  King Arthur: Legend of the Sword  (2017)  PG-13  I have always been fascinated by King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, so I want to see this retelling of the legend by director Guy Ritchie.  It helps that the two main leads are Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law. I am a little worried because they used a Led Zeppelin song in the trailer.   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Free Fire

My View:  Free Fire  (2016)  R  Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting between two gangs in a deserted warehouse turns into a gunfight that few will survive. I loved this film! It’s 20 minutes of setup, where we get to know each character and why they are at the meeting, then it’s 70 minutes of one crazy firefight.  This is a funny film that has some of the quickest dialogue I’ve ever heard. The action sequences are fun to watch, even though there are times you don’t know who the characters are shooting at, but that’s the point because the action is so nutty. There are a few surprises that will keep you guessing who is conning who, and I think you will be shocked by the ending. The film is a blast to watch, and while I saw it at SXSW, I went again to a recent Atlanta screening. That’s how much I love this film.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Free Fire Website
Indiefest:  The Promise  (2016)  PG-13  Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, Chris (Christian Bale) is a hard-drinking newspaperman who is in love with Ana (Charlotte Le Bon). Michael (Oscar Isaac) is a brilliant medical student who, even though he is promised to a woman in his small hometown, falls in love with Ana as he goes to school in the big city. This is a film that is overburdened by its attempt to bring to light a little-explored piece of history. The film feels every bit of its 134-minute length, taking way too long to get the story going and then seems to endlessly go on and on. There isn’t much spark to the love triangle, with almost no chemistry between Bale and Le Bon. I never got the emotional impact of the atrocities that this film so wants to show, which makes it feel almost lifeless.   My Rating: Cable   The Promise Website
Indiefest:  The Lost City of Z  (2016) PG-13  Based on a true story, the film centers on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon. This is a beautiful-looking film whose storyline never matches the remarkable true story of Col. Fawcett. The film is dragged down by its clumsy dialogue that, at times, feels out of place - the characters speak as though they are in the present day rather than in the early twentieth century.  I found the film vastly slowed down when Fawcett returns to his home and only picked up again when he was out exploring.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Lost City of Z Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray):  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, 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. 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

Forgotten Film:  The Battle Over Citizen Kane  (1996)  Documentary over the battle to release the Orson Welles film Citizen Kane that newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst tried to have killed.  The film was nominated for an Academy Award and brings to light how much influence Hearst had. Welles career would never recover from the box office failure of the film. It's a fascinating documentary about one of the greatest films of all time.    My Rating:  Full Price    The Battle Over Citizen Kane Info

Weird Credits:  Credit from The Promise:  Drapes Breakdown Artist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Alien: Covenant  (2017)  I am ready to board the Ridley Scott directed ship once again. I still consider Alien (1979) as one of the scariest films of all time.   Alien: Covenant Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Fate of the Furious

My View:  The Fate of the Furious  (2017)  PG-13  Dom (Vin Diesel) is seduced by a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron) and becomes a terrorist, betraying his friends and family. Now the gang has to get back together to try and defeat Dom.  I have liked this series since Fast Five (2011) when the studio decided the characters were superheroes and could do amazing things like jumping from one car to another while they are dropped from a plane. This film has plenty of action, and I love the start of the movie which is a tribute to the first films of the series when it was all about suped-up cars racing on the streets. In this film, the gang races a submarine in the Arctic, so don’t think the studio is cutting down on the special effects. The stunts are so outrageous in this film I believe the next movie in the series will be in space. If that happens, I can guarantee that it will be fun!  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Fate of the Furious Website
My View:  Gifted  (2017)  PG-13  Frank (Chris Evans) is raising niece Mary (Mckenna Grace) by himself. His mother (Lindsay Duncan) feels that Frank is not fostering the child’s talent for math. His mother decides to sue him for custody of Mary.  I loved this movie about parenting in challenging circumstances and sacrifices we make so that our children have the best opportunities in life. The cast is what makes this film work so well. Jenny Slate is wonderful as Mary’s new schoolteacher who becomes attracted to Frank. Chris Evans is outstanding as the man who is just trying every day to make sure Mary is healthy and happy. It’s Mckenna Grace who makes this film so rewarding to watch. Under a lesser actress, Mary could have come across as overbearing and strange, but Mckenna Grace is brilliant as the smart, cute little girl who knows she is special but sees herself as just an average girl. The chemistry between Grace and Evans is something magical, shown in a scene shot against the setting sun as Mary climbs all over Frank as they talk about God and life. Gifted just might be the “feel good” film of the year.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See It Again   Gifted Website
Indiefest:  Land of Mine  (2016) R  In post-World War II, a group of young German POW’s are forced to clear a beach of thousands of land mines.  Writer/director Martin Zandvliet brings us a taut and tension filled film that is worthy of its Foreign Language Film nomination at this year's Oscars. The film is uncomfortably tense right from the start and continues throughout to build the tension, as we get to know, and in some cases, fall in love with the boys. There are powerful moments in the film that aren't going to leave you soon. Some of the most high-powered scenes surprisingly aren't the deaths that occur, but the small moments when connections are made during this horrible experience. Zandvliet makes use of the brilliant widescreen cinematography of Camilla Hjelm, who makes the beaches seemly, endless and impossible to clear. Land of Mine is a film that dares to make heroes out of villains as the boys are shown to be paying for the sins of a nation and ideology that, due to their young age, they didn't have much to do with.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Land of Mine Website
My View:  Colossal  (2016)  R  Gloria (Anne Hathaway) returns home when her boyfriend kicks her out of their NYC apartment because of her drinking. She soon learns that she is somehow connected to a giant monster that is terrorizing downtown Seoul, South Korea.  Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo brings us an unusual tale of part Science Fiction and part domestic abuse film, with a splash of alcoholism thrown in. It’s strange mix with giant monsters appearing straight from those bad 60’s Japanese larger than life reptile movies. At first used for comic effect and then later as the symbolism of the struggle between good and evil, the monsters appear half way across the world, in Seoul, South Korea. The biggest problem with Colossal is that Hathaway’s character is very one dimensional. We never really know why Gloria drinks so much and never find out what demons she is trying to escape. Hathaway is what I call a pretty drunk, someone we can laugh at, and not be too concerned with because, other than a boyfriend who drops her, her drinking never seems to get her in trouble. Her realization that being intoxicated could cause other people pain seems shallow and too simply realized. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this film, but I just don’t think there is as much to it as Nacho Vigalondo wants us to believe. Much like the Japanese monsters, the film is what you see on the surface; there’s not a lot of substance lying beneath the water.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Colossal Website
Indiefest:  Their Finest  (2016) R  This film tells the story of a British Ministry of Propaganda film team making a morale-boosting film during the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz.  Gemma Arterton plays Catrin, a woman in an unhappy relationship who is hired to help write the film. Her job is to help head writer, Tom (Sam Claflin), make his film more relatable to women stuck back at home. Their relationship starts out a little rocky, but soon, as they get to know and trust each other, they begin to work well together. As they work together and their writing and conversation starts flowing, they fall in love. I loved this film which has a feel of the old war films of the 40’s. There is incredible chemistry between Arterton and Claflin, making their relationship seem real. Bill Nighy gives a funny performance as an egomaniacal actor who thinks he invented acting and will let everyone know it. The film bogs down a little in the middle, but I thoroughly enjoyed this film and its look behind the scenes of making a movie during wartime in Britain.  My Rating: Full Price   Their Finest Info   
Indiefest:  Tommy’s Honour  (2016)  PG  The film tells the story of the pioneering Scottish golf champions Old Tom Morris(Peter Mullan) and his son Young Tom Morris (Jack Lowden).  If you are a golfer, you will love this film about the origins of the sport and the two men who shaped it.  The film is based on a true story, and it’s fascinating how far golf has come from its very primitive ancestry.  Most of the film takes place in Scotland at the legendary Royal, and Ancient Golf Club and the scenery is rugged and beautiful. The golf scenes are the best part of the film creating some badly needed tension. The heart of the movie is the father that is set in his ways and his son who is determined to change the way the game is played. While the movie is predictable and went on a little too long, I found the golf games in the film fascinating (that’s how good the games are, they make it fascinating).    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Tommy's Honour Website
Forgotten Film:  Betrayed  (1988)  A woman (Debra Winger) starts working on Gary’s (Tom Berenger) farm. They become friends and fall in love. The problem is that Gary is an anti-government white separatist. Little does Gary know that the woman he has fallen in love with is hiding a past also.  Debra Winger gives another superb performance and has great chemistry with Berenger. The plot is a little thing, but Winger makes this film worth watching.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Betrayed Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Fate of the Furious:  Cultural Advisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Born in China  (2017)  G  Living in Atlanta, I have gotten to see not one but two sets of panda twins born here. This film will show us how pandas live in the wild, along with other animals like snow leopards and monkeys in the forests and tundra of China. I can’t wait to see it.   Born in China Website

Until Next Time!


Friday, April 7, 2017

Going in Style

My View:  Going in Style  (2017)  PG-13  Three retired pals (Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin) decide they will rob the very bank that absconded their retirement money.  I wasn’t a big fan of the 1979 film that this movie is based on, and this film isn’t an improvement. I wanted the film to be funnier, but instead of laughing, there were times that I was wincing at the attempt at comedy. Speaking of laughs, the ending is unbelievably contrived as the film ends with everybody winning. I think with this cast, a much better film would have happened if creators had made it a drama but they didn’t, and we suffer because of it.    My Rating:  Cable   Going in Style Website
IndiefestAfter the Storm  (2016)  After the death of his father, a private detective (Hiroshi Abe) struggles to reconnect with his son and ex-wife. It’s a heartfelt movie that I just had trouble connecting with; I think that mostly because the father is such an idiot. The film moves too slowly for my taste, as the characters tend to over analyze their relationships. The film is bolstered by the performances, especially Hiroshi Abe, but I just wish the film had moved at a quicker pace.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   After the Storm Website
IndiefestQueen of the Desert  (2015)  PG-13   British writer Gertrude Bell (Nichole Kidman) traveled the world, spending her entire life trying to make a difference in the Middle East, an area she loved. For such an interesting real life person, writer/director Werner Herzog has made such a dull picture. The film wants to be a female version of Lawrence of Arabia, but instead, we get an over-long, slow tale of a woman who was one of the great explorers of her time. You can’t fault Kidman who always gives a sparkling performance. The movie has a tedious storyline that seems to go on forever, with long shots of Kidman on a camel, traversing the desert as her character talks about her love of the desert.  Speaking of T.E. Lawrence, Robert Patterson gives a laughable performance as the man, showing absolutely no charisma the role needs. The film is beautifully shot, and the locations are as exotic as you can get, but I just wish the plot was as interesting as the scenery.   My Rating:  Cable   Queen of the Desert Website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray):   Office Christmas Party  (2016)  When the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close the company branch, her hard-partying brother (T. J. Miller) and his Chief Technical Officer (Jason Bateman) decide to host the office Christmas party to end all parties. If the clients have a good time, it just might save the branch office. In the hands of Judd Apatow, this might have been a funny film, but it’s written by two screenwriters who have never written a feature-length film, and it shows. This should have been a wild ride, but instead, we get the same old clich├ęs, a plot that is easy to figure out and very unfunny jokes. Add to the fact that this movie is 105 minutes long, and it makes it a very slow watch. When the outtakes during the credits aren't funny, you know the film is in trouble.    My Rating: Cable    Office Christmas Party Website
Forgotten FilmTwo Hands  (1999)  19-year-old Jimmy (Heath Ledger) becomes in-debt to a local gangster named Pando (Bryan Brown).  When some of the gang’s money goes missing, the Pando thinks Jimmy is responsible, and Jimmy goes on the run.  Along the way, Jimmy meets a young country girl (Rose Byrne) who changes his outlook on life.  While the plot has a few holes, Heath Ledger makes this film work. His performance makes you wish that he was still around to dazzle us as he does in this film.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Two Hands Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Going in Style:  Saxophone Consultant

Opening Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Fate of the Furious  (2017)  I have liked the last two films where characters become superheroes doing stunts that no one ever could do with a car. The addition of Charlize Theron to cast is an added bonus.  I could describe the plot to you, but does it really matter?  All you need to know is that there are a bunch of really cool cars in it.   The Fate of the Furious Website

Until Next Time!