Friday, May 26, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

My ViewPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales  (2017)  PG-13   Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is back and so is his old nemesis, Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) who has escaped from the Devils Triangle and is determined to kill every pirate at sea.  Captain Jack’s only hope is to find the legendary Trident of Poseidon, which will help him defeat Salazar. This film series must stop. I don’t care what happens to these characters, and the last two films have been a waste of time. To say that Johnny Depp doesn’t give any effort in his performance would be an understatement.  The storyline is confusing and not well thought out, and it seems that some of the plot points are just there to add more action sequences to the film. If you do see this film (and I hope you don’t) stay through all the credits as there is a bonus scene that unfortunately sets up the next Pirates movie.   My Rating: Cable   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Website
My ViewBaywatch  (2017)  R  Lifeguard Mitch Buchanan (Dwayne Johnson) is known for running the beach his way. He is being challenged by a brash new lifeguard (Zac Efron) and a threat of a local criminal plot that harm the future of the Bay. I was a big fan of the original TV series, and I loved how campy and goofy it was. I just wish the filmmakers of this movie had captured more of that stupid magic that the series had. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t know what kind of film it is. Is it an R-rated comedy like 21 Jump Street, making fun of the TV series it’s based on, or is it an action film, or maybe, it’s a coming of age film? Because the movie never finds its footing, it feels uneven and choppy and every bit of its almost 2 hours length. I did like the chemistry between Johnson and Efron as both actors play off each other extremely well. I enjoyed the performance of Kelly Rohrbach, who plays the part of CJ Parker, a woman who doesn’t know how beautiful she is and thinks she is just one of the guys. On a side note, I hate that the opening credits did not use the original Baywatch theme song from the TV series. I think it would have been perfect for the opening scene of the film. This is not a bad film; it just could have been so much better.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Baywatch Website
IndiefestThe Wedding Plan (2016)  PG  Michal’s (Noa Koler) fiancé leaves her on the eve of their wedding.  Michal refuses to cancel the wedding, convinced that God will supply her a husband, but the clock is ticking. I loved this film and Noa Koler’s performance. Koler is stellar in the role and makes you want to root for her character.  It’s a brilliant look at a woman who is tired of looking for a man to marry and decides that God will find a way to get her a groom. It’s a film that takes a number of twists and turns and keeps you guessing. This is an engaging, inspiring and beautiful film filled with interesting characters.  I definitely enjoyed going on this strange journey with Michal.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Wedding Plan Website
Forgotten FilmOn Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)  PG  James Bond (George Lazenby) goes undercover to find out the true reason for Blofeld’s allergy research being done in the Swiss Alps.  Along the way, Bond falls in love with a mob boss’s daughter (Diana Rigg). George Lazenby had the task of taking over the 007 franchise after Sean Connery decided to quit the series. This is probably one of the few Bond films that feels like the book. Lazenby is perfect as Bond, bringing a bit more of a tough guy to the part. There is an excellent chase sequence on skis that works better than some of the current film chases that use CGI computer special effects.  My Rating:  Full Price   On Her Majesty's Secret Service Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Baywatch:  Weather Consultant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouMegan Leavey  (2017)  PG-13  Based on a true story of a young Marine (Kate Mara) who bonds with her military combat dog to save many lives during her deployment in Iraq.  I am a sucker for movies that involve dogs, and the trailer makes this film look like a winner.   Megan Leavey Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Alien: Covenant

My View Alien: Covenant  (2017)  R  The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted planet that, on the surface, seems perfect. The perfect world quickly becomes deadly, and the crew must scramble to retreat.  Talking to my fellow critics, I found that a lot of them hated this film. I didn’t; in fact, I had a good time watching it. After the weird and disappointing Prometheus (2012), director Ridley Scott has gotten back to what made Alien (1979) one of the all-time scary movies, the ”Alien” monster on a ship in space with humans. This movie has plenty of scary scenes, and I enjoyed the performance of Katherine Waterston, who has to match wits with the monster. I will warn you that if you got queasy during the chest burst scene in the first film, there are quite a few more scenes just like that one. The film moves at a quick pace, and the action sequences are extremely well done. My biggest problem with this movie is how stupid the crew is; from deciding to endanger the colonists they are shuttling to exploring an unknown planet without any sort of protection or protocol is just plain dumb. Overall, I found the film exciting and quite scary.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Alien: Covenant Website 
IndiefestEverything, Everything  (2017) PG-13  Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) is a 17-year old girl who, due to a rare disease, has to stay inside her sealed, filtered air home. Her life is changed when Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door.  This is a satisfying film about first love and all its complications. I enjoyed the performances of the two leads, as Stenberg and Robinson have a charming chemistry together. The plot is a little shallow, but the romance that develops between two people that can’t meet in-person is delightful. There are a few twists and turns to the plot, especially one that I didn’t see coming, that help the film feel fresh. Overall, Everything, Everything is not a bad attempt at a young adult type of film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Everything, Everything Website
Family FaireDiary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul  (2017)  PG  The Heffley family is going on a road trip to Meemaw’s 90th birthday party.  Greg (Jason Drucker), though, needs to find a way to re-route the trip so that he can go to a video gaming convention.  If jokes and pratfalls involving peeing into a bottle, pigs farting, vomiting on a carnival ride and hearing someone go to the bathroom are your ideas of funny, then this is the movie for you. I don’t think I laughed once, and the kids at my screening were bored. It’s sad to see how far down Alicia Silverstone's once promising career has gone when you see her playing the mom in this film. Hey, it should tell you a lot that a kids movie is rated PG. This movie has already been placed on my worst films of 2017 list.   My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul Website
IndiefestThe Lovers  (2017)  R   Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger) are in a marriage that has seen better days. Both of them are having affairs, and, as soon as their son finishes his visit, they plan to break up. Their relationship becomes more complicated when a spark between them suddenly ignites, leading them into an impulsive romance.  I didn’t like this film because I could not tell if the film was supposed to be a drama, comedy or a dark comedy. It’s almost if writer/director Azazel Jacobs had written two versions of the script and then combined the two into this mess of a movie. I did enjoy Debra Winger’s performance as a woman who starts to reconsider her choices in life. It’s just a shame it’s wasted in this film that some “art house” critics are going to say is a masterpiece.  I just say it’s a mess of a film.   My Rating: Cable   The Lovers Info
IndiefestGraduation  (2016)  R  Romeo (Adrian Titieni) has raised his daughter, Eliza (Maria-Victoria Dragus), with the idea of her going to college. After she gets assaulted a day before her final exams, her scholarship could be in jeopardy.  This is an absolutely brilliant film about a man who, in trying to ensure the future of his daughter, gets caught in a web of intrigue that slowly spirals out of control. Titieni is brilliant as the father who is good at heart but is willing to do anything to make sure that his beloved daughter gets out of Romania, even if it means that he will have to suffer consequences.  It’s a heartbreaking film that is beautifully told. You want to reach up and shake Romeo, warning him what’s about to happen if he goes through with his actions. I hope we hear about this film again come Oscar time.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Graduation Website
Forgotten Film: Me and Orson Welles  (2008)  PG-13  Richard (Zac Efron) is a young man who hopes to be an actor. A chance meeting with the legendary Orson Welles (Christian McKay), gets Richard a part in Welles’ latest production. Richard is star-struck and in over his head, especially after meeting Sonja (Claire Danes) with whom he quickly falls for. Will Richard make it to opening night or will his lack of experience finally catch up with him?  The reason to watch this film is the performance of McKay as Orson Welles, the larger than life actor who, when at the top of his game, was an egomaniac but had the talent to back it up. McKay is perfect in the role, so perfect that I forgot at times that it wasn’t Welles, himself, on the screen.  My Rating:  Full Price   Me and Orson Welles Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul:  Animatronic pig and Manny effects

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Dean  (2016) PG-13   A New York City illustrator, Dean (Demetri Martin), is not dealing well with the death of his mother and the fact that his father (Kevin Kline) is thinking about selling the family home.  He meets a woman (Gillian Jacobs) at a party and, after hitting it off with her, decides to follow her to California.  This film was one of the movies that people were talking about at this year’s Atlanta Film Festival. Demetri Martin wrote, directed and stars in this film.   Dean Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, May 12, 2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

My View:  King Arthur: Legend of the Sword  (2017)  A young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) runs with his crew on the back streets of Londinium, unaware of his royal lineage. He then draws the sword Excalibur from the stone. With the sword and a mage (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), he is ready to take on the tyrant Vortigern (Jude Law) – the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown. The director of this film, Guy Ritchie, also directed the two Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr. This movie feels like Sherlock Holmes goes to the Middle Ages. It has modern dialogue, fast quips and big action sequences that are done in slow motion, with the hero avoiding arrows “Matrix” style.  There is a lot of flash in this film but very little substance. I hated the performance of Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey who plays the mystical mage like she is a geek girl in high school. Hunnam does well in the action sequences, but the star of the film is Jude Law, whose scenes are fun to watch because he just goes over the top with his performance.  Overall, this retelling of the legendary tale just doesn’t work.    My Rating: Cable   King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Website
Indiefest Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer  (2016)  Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) is a small time operator who befriends a young Israeli politician (Lior Ashkenazi) at a low point in his life.  Little did the two friends know that the young politician was bound to become the Prime Minister of Israel. This is a fascinating tale and Gere, as the well-worn small time “fixer,” is brilliant. You feel sorry for Norman almost as soon as he appears on screen due to Gere making himself almost disappear before our eyes in his frumpy suit. It’s an enjoyable tale of a man who, by accident, gets what he has always wanted and then loses it, mostly due to his past transgressions.  This isn’t a perfect film as it gets bogged down toward the end, but it’s worth seeing to experience Gere in this role.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Norman Website
My ViewSnatched  (2017)  When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, Emily (Amy Schumer) talks her ultra-cautious mother (Goldie Hawn) into taking the vacation with her. They will go on a trip of a lifetime if it doesn’t kill them.  I was surprised by how much I laughed during this film because I hated the trailer, but the film is saved due to the great chemistry between Schumer and Hawn. Amy Schumer threatened to leave the project if Goldie Hawn wasn’t hired as her mother in the film, and thank goodness the studio listened. Hawn perfectly plays off of the sarcastic alcohol-fueled Schumer. Christopher Meloni is hilarious as an American adventurer who vows to help the women get back to the U.S. There is a scene in this film with Meloni that I thought a fellow film critic was going to die because he was laughing so hard. There are a few dumb gags, and the film does justice to its R rating, but overall this is a funny movie.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Snatched Website
IndiefestCitizen Jane: Battle for the City  (2016)  A documentary about the writer and urban activist Jane Jacobs, who fought to save historic buildings in New York City in the 1960’s. This is an intriguing film about the little guy being able to take on and win against big government. The film moves at a brisk pace and never becomes dull, using extensive archival footage to show what was happening in the battle to shape a city. Jacobs was an accomplished strategist who studied the streets of New York City and its people. The film does an excellent job of giving us both sides of the story; a battle between a very smart woman and a government who thought it could solve its urban problems with bigger and newer buildings. After seeing this film, you will come away with a feeling of respect for old neighborhoods in big cities and you might be inspired to fight for them.  My Rating:  Full Price   Citizen Jane Website
Forgotten Film: Smashed (2012)   (I reviewed this film back in 2012, but after talking to some friends, I realized that not many people have seen this film.)  Married couple Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul), whose love is built on their drinking habits, are tested when Kate decides to get sober. This is one of those films that is very hard to watch, just because the characters go through so much pain. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is outstanding as Kate, who lies at the drop of a hat to cover up her drinking but realizes, after waking up too many times in strange places, that she must change her life. Aaron Paul doesn’t do a bad performance as her husband, but this is Winstead’s movie, and she runs with it. You sincerely hope that she can get her life together, but you also know that it’s going to take some significant changes and sacrifices, including, probably, the sacrifice of her marriage.    My Rating: Full Price   Smashed Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Snatched:  Textile Breakdown Artist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   The Mummy (2017)  Universal Studios is attempting to redo their lineup of classic monster movies, and this film looks like it could work. A stellar cast, including Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, could go a long way to making this film special.   The Mummy Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

My ViewGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  (2017)  The Guardians have a price on their head as Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) family heritage will become clearer. I had a great time watching this movie. I think it’s funnier than the first because now we know these characters, how they work together and react to situations. While Baby Groot steals the film, I also enjoyed Dave Batista as Drax, the mountain of a man who has no filter when he speaks. A major charm of the last film was the soundtrack, and while I did enjoy it, it didn’t always deliver the needed emotion for the scene. The film is a blast to watch and moves at a quick pace. The opening action sequence is brilliantly done and so funny. Save some bucks and don’t see it in 3-D because it wasn’t shot in that format. And yes, stay all the way through the credits due to the five, yes five, bonus scenes.  My Rating: Full Price   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Website
IndiefestThe Dinner  (2017)  Stan (Richard Gere), a popular congressman running for Governor, and his wife (Rebecca Hall), invite his troubled younger brother, Paul (Steve Coogan), and his wife, Claire (Laura Linney), to a fancy dinner at a high-priced restaurant. The two families are connected because their sons have committed a terrible crime. This is a film that some film critics are going to like because the director takes chances, but in my opinion, those chances don’t work. An example of this is when Claire is in a room with Paul and a friend.  As Paul reads, not paying mind to the conversation going on, we hear both the conversation between the two women and what Paul is reading. So, trying to understand what the women were talking about was very difficult. There are a number of flashbacks, which makes the film feel choppy and the flashbacks unnecessary.  I did like the performances of the main cast, especially Richard Gere as the congressman who seems to care more about getting a bill passed than his family. Overall, the film makes you work too hard for very little return.    My Rating: Cable   The Dinner Website
IndiefestMy Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea  (2016)  In this animated film, an earthquake causes a high school to float into the sea and begins slowly to sink like a shipwreck. I never could get into this strange film. I liked the look of the animation, with hand drawings, but the tone of the movie was depressing, and I hated the ending. There are some funny scenes, but they are few and far between, and the main character’s sarcasm drags the film down. With sharks tearing students to bits and dead bodies floating around, it’s not a film for kids. I loved the idea behind the movie, but it never quite captured the magic to make it work.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD/Blu-ray): The 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 isn’t in a scene. I did enjoy seeing old pros like Charles Grodin and Billy Crystal gives 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 shouldn’t be the funniest thing.   My Rating:  Cable   The Comedian Website
Forgotten Film: Silkwood  (1983)  Based on a true story, Silkwood is the story of Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep), a worker at a plant that makes plutonium fuel rods for nuclear reactors. Karen blows the whistle on dangerous conditions at the plant. Her life, though, is made a living hell by both the company she works for and her fellow workers who are worried their jobs are in jeopardy.  Streep gives another one of her stunning and fascinating performances. Streep’s performance is bolstered by a strong cast including Kurt Russell as her on again/off again boyfriend and Cher as her best friend. What I love about this film is that director Mike Nichols does a lot of long takes, using these actors to their fullest.  It’s a heartbreaking film but a moving performance by Streep.   My Rating:  Full Price   Silkwood Info
Weird Credits:  Credits from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Prosthetic Makeup Artist to Dave Bautista
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouWonder Woman  (2017)  I have high hopes for this film about Diana, Princess of the Amazons, who leaves her home to fight a war to end all wars.  Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was the only good thing in the horrible Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).   Wonder Woman Website
Until Next Time!