Friday, August 25, 2017


Family FaireLeap!  (2017)  PG  A young orphan named, Felicie (Elle Fanning), always dreamed of being a dancer. She and her best friend, Victor (Nat Wolf), escape from the orphanage and make their way to Pairs. Will Felicie be able to follow her dreams and dance at the Paris Opera Ballet?  The film combines beautiful and lavish animation with a storyline that any ballet fan will love. The dancing in this movie is stunning as the animators used footage of real Paris Opera Ballet dancers to make their film feel and look authentic. I love the soundtrack of this film with songs by Carly Rae Jepsen and Sia. Leap! is a movie that will inspire kids to become dancers with its message that you can succeed against all the odds with determination and hard work.  My Rating: Full Price   Leap! Facebook page
IndiefestIngrid Goes West  (2017)  R  An unhinged social media stalker (Aubrey Plaza) moves to LA and figures out a way to become part of an Instagram Star’s (Elizabeth Olsen) life. Not quite a comedy, more like a drama with a few light hearted moments, Ingrid Goes West works because Aubrey Plaza is a chameleon of an actress. You both pity her character at the same time that you are rooting for her against all the odds that she will find happiness. The film doesn't always work but those moments that do work are magical. There is great chemistry between Olsen and Plaza, making their almost instant friendship seem real, though you feel that both characters aren't genuine or telling the truth. The film covers a lot of ground in this day of instant gratification and celebrities that make their living endorsing products online. Aubrey Plaza makes this movie worth seeing and if you follow some of the 'Instagram stars' you just might find that you are unfollowing them after seeing this film.   My Rating: Full Price   Ingrid Goes West Webpage
IndiefestGood Time  (2017)  R  Connie (Robert Pattinson) and his brother, Nick (Benny Safdie), have money problems and decide to rob a bank. The bank job goes bad, and Nick is caught by police. Connie is on the run and wants to, somehow, get his brother out of prison.  Anchored by an unprecedented performance by Robert Pattinson, this is a gritty crime film about a bank robbery that goes bad very quickly. Pattinson, who has come far as an actor from those early Twilight days, gives a powerful and dynamic performance. I don't know if enough Academy Award voters will see this film, but I think he could be on some Indie and film critic awards lists at the end of the year. The cinematography is brilliantly executed and perfectly enhances the mood and feel of the movie. Good Time is an impressive film with a scintillating performance by Robert Pattinson.  My Rating: Full Price   Good Time Facebook page
IndiefestPatti Cake$  (2017)  R  Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald), aka Killa P, aka Patti Cake$, dreams of being a rapper and being famous. She fights to achieve this unlikely quest in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey.  Macdonald gives an impressive performance as the young woman who dreams big and is willing to do just about anything to achieve her goals. I'm not a big rap fan, but her songs are outstanding, and Macdonald delivers them with a gusto that is fun and compelling. The final song is one of the best performances of the year in film. Patti Cake$ is a fun experience that will have you rooting for her to succeed.  My Rating:  Full Price   Patti Cake$ website
IndiefestLetters from Baghdad  (2016)  This documentary tells the story of Gertrude Lowthian Bell, sometimes called the ‘female’ Lawrence of Arabia.  She traveled all over the Middle East before, during and after World War I, often going where she was the only female. The Middle East, especially Baghdad, fascinates Bell as she gathers information for the British government. This documentary uses Bell's letters and communiqués to give us her voice as narrated by Tilda Swinton. Actors are used on-camera to portray people like T. E. Lawrence to help chronicle the story. The film uses archival pictures and movies from the period to give us the feel of what it was like to live in that part of the world during that time. Bell was an intriguing woman and an interesting subject for a film, which this movie brings to life.  My Rating: Full Price   Letters from Baghdad website
IndiefestRumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World  (2017)  Packed with compelling concert footage, this documentary explores how the Native American influence helped shape music history, despite attempts to ban, censor and erase Indian culture in the United States. This is an engrossing film about how much Native Americans have influenced rock and roll. From the legendary guitarist Link Wray to The Band's Robbie Robertson, artists who are Native Americans have shaped rock. The film explores the roots of rock looking at artists like Mildred Bailey, a Native American singer who was the first woman to have her own radio show. The film showcases guitarist Jessie Ed Davis, who made legendary music with Taj Mahal in the 60s.  It's a subject that I didn't know much about, but now I'll look at these rockers in a different, more informed light.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Rumble website
Indiefest:    Gook  (2017)  Set in  community near South Central L.A. on April 29, 1992, two brothers, Eli (Justin Chon) and Daniel (David So) run a struggling shoe store. The two brothers form an unlikely friendship with Kamilla (Simone Baker), an eleven year—old girl who has cut school, again. It’s the day of the Rodney King verdict, and soon the three will have to decide to fight for their store or flee. Your pulling for the three main characters right from the start as writer/director/actor Justin Chon has created a movie that may seem far away from us but is instantly relatable. The use of black and white, along with hand held cameras allows us to feel like we are apart of this world. We get to experience what it was like to live in a world that was falling apart in front of the people that lived in that area and this film delivers that for all the emotional impact for the full muster.  My Rating:  Full Price   Gook Website
Forgotten FilmHard Eight  (1996)  Professional gambler Sydney (Phillip Baker Hall) takes John (John C. Reilly), a down-on-his-luck young man under his wing and teaches him how to gamble. John flourishes until he falls for a cocktail waitress named, Clementine (Gwyneth Paltrow). The reason to watch this film is that it is filled with interesting characters and brilliant dialogue. The plot has a nice twist that you don't see coming, and you actually believe that these characters live and breathe gambling.    My Rating: Full Price   Hard Eight Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Leap!: French Dubbing Artist

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe LEGO Ninjago Movie  (2017)  PG  By day six, young friends are just trying to survive high school, but, at night, they change into ninjas who have been given the task of defending their island home from evil. I loved the LEGO Movie and enjoyed the LEGO Batman Movie, so I am looking forward to this one.   The LEGO Ninjago Movie website
Until Next Time!

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Hitman's Bodyguard

My ViewThe Hitman’s Bodyguard  (2017) The world’s top bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) gets a new client, a hit man (Samuel L. Jackson). The bodyguard has to keep the hitman alive so that he can testify at the International Court of Justice.  If you like car chases and big explosions, this film is for you. Part comedy, part action film, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is action packed from the start. Reynolds and Jackson have marvelous chemistry that makes their scenes together so much fun. Reynolds is a great straight man, playing off lines of the very funny Samuel L. Jackson. The action sequences are brilliantly done, though I could have used a few less explosions. I do want to warn you that this film is filled with extreme violence, lots of deaths and some pretty tough fight sequences. While it won’t be an Oscar winner, it’s still highly entertaining and very funny.  My Rating: Full Price  The Hitman's Bodyguard Website
My ViewLogan Lucky  (2017) PG-13  Two brothers (Channing Tatum, Adam Driver) come up with a wild plan to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.  This is one of the best films of the year, and it already has a place on my yearly top ten list. It’s difficult to describe this movie because it’s a little bit of a lot of things. It’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time, and there is a Game of Thrones joke that had me on the floor laughing. It’s a ‘caper’ film, and it pulls off the caper with lots of twists and turns. The cast is outstanding, so exceptional that I can’t really pick anyone that isn’t superb in their role. Oh wait, yes I can! Seth MacFarlane is horrible as a vain NASCAR sponsor. My critic friends and I came to the conclusion that MacFarlane could have been written out of the film, and we wouldn’t even notice. If you aren’t a big NASCAR fan, don’t worry as the race itself is only a small portion of the film. Don’t miss this astonishingly funny and smart film.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Lucky Logan Website
IndiefestBrigsby Bear  (2017)  PG-13  Brigsby Bear Adventures was a children’s TV show, a show that James becomes addicted to. When the show abruptly ends, James (Kyle Mooney) decides to make the show himself. Director by Dave McCary, a veteran writer/director of Saturday Night Live shorts and co-writer/star Saturday Night Live's Kyle Mooney, bring us an imaginative, funny and sometimes touching story of a fish out of water. While Brigsby Bear doesn’t always succeed, the films ambition and delightful story go a long way to make this an enjoyable, fun film. It’s rare that you can describe a film as charming, sweet and a little disturbing because it contains a story about child abduction, but that’s what you get from Brigsby Bear. It’s an imaginative and original film that sometimes tries a little too hard, but, overall, the movie is worth seeing. After watching this movie, like James, you just might believe in Brigsby Bear too.    My Rating: Full Price   Brigsby Bear Website
IndiefestMenashe  (2017)  PG  Menashe is about a Brooklyn ultra-orthodox widower, Menashe (Menashe Lustig), who, due to his faith, has had to let his sister’s family raise his young son.  Menashe vows to one day raise his son and honor his late wife. This film is in Yiddish and was shot in an ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community. This is a bittersweet tale about a man who doesn’t always make the right decisions but his love for his son is unquestioned. Menashe Lutig has an everyman quality about him that makes him feel real, and you want him to succeed in his quest to get his son back.  Menashe is an enjoyable film about a culture we may know very little about, but anyone can understand the love between a father and a son.  My Rating:  Full Price   Menashe Website
IndiefestThe Midwife  (2017)  Claire (Catherine Frot) is a midwife who is losing her job due to the closing of the hospital where she works. Her life gets more complicated when her father’s old mistress (Catherine Deneuve) comes back into her life. Writer/director Marin Provost gives us a tale of two women: Beatrice (Catherine Deneuve) who has lived life to the fullest, never settling down for too long and at no time worries about who she hurts as she leaves people behind, and Claire, who was desperately wounded as a teenager and has lived her life through her work and her son. Of course, the reason to watch this film is Catherine Frot as the headstrong and cautious Claire and Catherine Deneuve as the flashy Beatrice, a woman who is always looking for someone to help her, especially if it deals with money. Both women play survivors. Deneuve's character does it through looks and flare, Flot’s character does it through determination and focus. The Midwife story may be a little weak and its resolution predictable, but Deneuve and Frot give us performances that we will not soon forget.    My Rating: Full Price   The Midwife Info
IndiefestDave Made a Maze  (2017)  An artist named Dave (Nick Thune) has never done anything in his career. His girlfriend leaves for a few days, and when she comes back to their apartment, she finds that Dave has built a maze in their living room.  The problem is that he is trapped inside and now Dave’s friends must go in and rescue him from his own creation. Bill Watterson makes an impressive directorial debut with the highly creative and amusing Dave Made a Maze. It’s hard to describe this film since it involves the construction of imaginative sets that used 3,000 glue sticks and over 30,000 square feet of cardboard. While Watterson and co-writer Steven Sears should be credited with a very creative script, the stars of the film are the production designers John Sumner and Trisha Gum, who had to lead a team of set builders who use just about every medium in the book, including puppetry, stop-motion animation, and rear projection. You will want to spend some time exploring the maze with this zany cast of characters. Just make sure not to step on any booby traps, or it could be your last film ever.   My Rating: Full Price    Dave Made a Maze Website
Indiefest: The Only Living Boy in New York  (2017)  R   Thomas (Callum Turner) is the son of a publisher (Pierce Brosnan) and his artistic wife (Cynthia Nixon) and has just graduated from college. Thomas is trying to find his place in the world when he discovers that his father is having an affair with a younger woman (Kate Beckinsale). Thomas is determined to break up the relationship and in doing so will change everything he thinks he knows about himself and his family. The film felt much longer than its 88 minute run time; I think mostly due to an incredibly slow narration by Jeff Bridges (he plays a mysterious writer in the film) and long winded speeches that just about everyone gives. I did enjoy Jeff Bridges on screen performance, and I thought Kate Beckinsale was brilliant as the jaded mistress. The story is just too slow moving and very predictable to a great film, and it’s barely a good movie. I think this film about writers needed another one to flesh out the story better.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Only Living Boy in New York Facebook
Forgotten Film:  The Unbelievable Truth  (1989)  R   Josh (Robert John Burke) goes back to his hometown after serving time for murder.  The town has changed, and no one can remember exactly what Josh did, but the whole city, including Josh’s father doesn’t trust him. This is a dark and twisted comedy that plays off of old movie clichés with its tongue firmly in its cheek.  Adrienne Shelly is stunning as Audry, a young woman determined to grow up as fast as she can. This film is filled with weird and strange events that make it so interesting to watch.  My Rating: Full Price   The Unbelievable Truth Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Hitman’s Bodyguard:  Bowser Control

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Home Again  (2017)  Alice (Reese Witherspoon) is a single mom living in Los Angeles.  Her life changes when she lets three young men move in with her.  It’s about time we got a new Reese Witherspoon comedy.   Home Again Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, August 11, 2017

Annabelle: Creation

My View:  Annabelle: Creation  (2017)  R  Several years after the death of their little girl, a doll maker and his wife let a nun and several orphan girls into their home. They soon become the target of the doll maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.  If you like horror films that use the jump out of the dark technique to scare you, then you will be pleased with this fourth film in the Conjuring series. While not as imaginative as the first Conjuring film, this movie is far better than the first Annabelle film, and this one gives us answers to how and why the doll became possessed.  The audience I watched this film with thoroughly enjoyed this movie, almost from the start. While not a great film, it’s still a lot of fun if you like to be scared at something creepy coming out at you from the dark.  Fans of the series will want to stay through the first section of credits as there is a short bonus scene.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Annabelle: Creation Website
Family Faire: The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature  (2017)  PG  Surly (Will Arnett) and his friends are back.  Life is good with the nut shop giving the gang a huge supply of food. A corrupt mayor (Bobby Moynihan) is out to replace the park that Surly calls home with an amusement park.  Can Surly rally the gang to stop the Mayor from his plan?  The only time I laughed was during an outtake shown during the closing credits. The film is annoying and other than a Kung Fu fighting mouse, has a bunch of characters we really don’t care about. The kids whom I saw this film with were bored and didn’t pay much attention after the opening sequences. The plot is laughable, and the animation is dark and dingy. While not as bad as The Boss Baby, it’s still not anything you should spend your family money on.  My Rating: Cable   The Nut Job 2 Website
Indiefest:  The Glass Castle  (2017)  PG-13  A young woman named Jeannette (Brie Larson) looks back at her childhood when she was raised by a mother who was an eccentric artist (Naomi Watts) and an alcoholic father (Woody Harrelson) who kept his family moving to avoid the bill collectors.  Based on a true story, the film never reaches that emotional impact that you expect from a movie like this. The film seems every bit of its 127-minute runtime. I think the big problem is that it continually shows how badly the father treated the kids. While he seems to have a good heart, he consistently puts his needs (most cigarettes and booze) over the needs of his family. The film does have a number of superlative performances with Brie Larson playing the grown up daughter who is trying to forget her past and Ella Anderson, who brilliantly plays Jeannette at age 10. Anderson is superb, giving her role depth and compassion. The film just never comes together, and due to its extended flashback sequences, seems disjointed.  Fans of the best-selling book may enjoy this film, and anytime I can see Brie Larson perform is a good thing, but the film never hits the mark, making you feel you watched a very long movie for nothing.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Glass Castle Website
Indiefest:  Escapes  (2017)  Documentary chronicling the life of actor and Blade Runner screenwriter Hampton Fancher. This is a film about a man who isn’t quite as fascinating as he thinks he is. It’s like going to a cocktail party, and one guy tells a story that is an hour and a half long. Portions of the film are boring as a story or two is told that don’t go anywhere. There are times that his tale comes alive, and you see why while Fancher was never a star, kept working as an actor for a long time. The last 15 minutes of the film is about the writing of the script for Blade Runner. If the film had concentrated on this aspect of his life, it would have been a better, more entertaining film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Escapes Website
Indiefest:  Whose Streets?  (2017)  R  A documentary that looks at how the killing of 18-year-0ld Mike Brown inspired a community to fight back and inspired the world to take a stand.  The film does an outstanding job of letting us see and get to know some of the people who live in this community and care about it. We visit their homes, seeing how they live and deal with the day to day of running their families, all the while trying to make an impact on their community. Whose Streets? is a gritty and sometimes tough to watch documentary that shows you what it was like as part of the community of Ferguson, what they went through and continue to experience. It's a fascinating film that gives you what it was like from the right there inside the protests and the community of Ferguson. While the film is very one sided, that’s the point of this film, the director’s felt only one side was being told. It’s a movie that’s going to make you mad, sad and wonder how we got to this point in our society.   My Rating: Full Price    Whose Streets? Website
Indiefest: Wind River  (2017)  R  An FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) teams with a town’s best game tracker (Jeremy Renner), with deep community ties and a haunted past, to track down a killer on a remote Native American Reservation. The film is a slow moving mystery/thriller that will keep you captivated because Renner and Olsen work so well on screen together. The movie isn't just a solve a crime film; we get to see the pain of losing a loved one so suddenly, how it still affects you years later as Renner’s tracker character has suffered a loss that motivates him to work so hard on this mystery. Renner gives the role both depth and warmth, so much so you instantly like his character. Olsen does a bang up job as the naive but determined FBI agent determined to solve the crime, despite the odds and the weather. Beautifully filmed in a land that you have to move quickly or the snowfall will wipe out any trace of clues. This is a movie where you don’t get lucky, you just survive, or you don’t in an unforgiving land. Wind River a mystery that you will want to solve.    My Rating:  Full Price   Wind River Facebook Page
Forgotten Film:  Raising Cain (Director’s Cut)  (1992)  R  This is a review of the director’s cut that was released on DVD/BlueRay and not the version that was released in the theatre. A prominent child psychologist (John Lithgow) has a seemingly perfect life, a wonderful practice, a beautiful and loving wife (Lolita Davidovich) and a lovely child. The father, the John Lithgow character, decides to take a year off to help raise their child. There’s only one problem:  the father has a secret that could change their family forever. This is a film that messes with the thriller genre and constantly changes the narrative to mess with the audience's minds. It uses humor to make this more of a dark comedy than a thriller, and it works.  My Rating: Full Price   Raising Cain Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of The Glass Castle:  Child Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Battle of the Sexes  (2017)  PG-13  The legendary true story of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.  Emma Stone is playing Billie Jean, and Steve Carell is Bobby Riggs, the legendary tennis hustler.   Battle of the Sexes Website
Until Next Time!


Friday, August 4, 2017

The Dark Tower

My ViewThe Dark Tower  (2017)  PG-13  The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), is locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim (Mathew McConaughey), also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.  While not a hit out of the park, this film is watchable and sometimes enjoyable. The problem with this movie is it feels incomplete coming in at only 95 minutes in length. McConaughey is brilliant as the bad guy; he’s so good you want more of his character, and this film gives it to you. Idris Elba is does an outstanding job as the hero, the Gunslinger, and he has exceptional chemistry with Nicholas Hamilton, the young boy who is the key to defending the Dark Tower. I have not read the books, but after talking to a fellow critic who has, the film is very different from the first book and may upset fans of Steven King because it is so different. This isn’t a bad film. It’s just not the spectacle that you want.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Dark Tower Website
IndiefestStep  (2017)  PG  Documentary of the senior year of a girls’ high school dance team. The girls strive to make their dancing a success against the backdrop of social unrest in the troubled city.  This uplifting movie is one of the best films of the year. The film centers on three girls at a school whose mission is to have not only a 100 percent graduation rate, but also that every girl is accepted into a college. The three girls are very different. One is driven to get into Johns Hopkins, a second is distracted by a new boyfriend, and a third girl has never applied herself to school work and realizes that she has to do better in her senior year or she won’t fulfill her dreams. It’s a fascinating look at young women who are determined succeed, not only in high school but in life. The film hits all the right notes, and you just might clap at the end.  I know the audience that I saw it with did.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Step Website
My ViewKidnap  (2017)  R  A mother (Halle Berry) is on a mission to save her son’s life after he is kidnapped from a park.  A note first: when I saw this film, the movie kept freezing for 10 to 15 seconds, so it made it very hard to judge the pacing. This is a one trick pony movie with Halle Berry’s character chasing after the people who kidnapped her son. It’s tough to keep a chase film going, especially when most of the movie is one car chasing another one. Some of the car chase sequences are not well done and are quite confusing. It’s a very shallow story, and it’s hard to watch Berry consistently go from crying to screaming and back to crying. I wish for the days where Berry was given a script where she could use all of her acting skill.  This just wasn’t one of those.    My Rating: Cable   Kidnap Facebook Page
My ViewArmed Response  (2017)  A team of special forces soldiers approach the designer of a high-tech military compound to investigate the disappearance of another team guarding the facility.   The compound, known professionally as a Temple, is an artificial intelligence powered facility designed for interrogating high-level prisoners.  Upon entering the Temple, the soldiers quickly find the earlier team horrifically slaughtered, but there is no evidence of who is responsible.  This is more of a psychological thriller than an action film, as Wesley Snipes only has one fight sequence in this movie, and it’s near the end. The cast features Colby Lopez aka WWE wrestler Seth Rollins, Dave Annable, and Anne Heche. The movie builds the tension well, and it has an intriguing ending. If you like thrillers and a bit of a horror movie thrown in, this could be your film.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Armed Response Website
Indiefest: Person to Person (2017)  The film follows a variety of New Yorkers as they work, live and play in the big city. I loved this movie about a bunch of New Yorkers living their lives. All the characters (there is a lot of them) are funny and strange and are just trying to find happiness in their lives. Some of the characters are interlocking but most are just part of the story. The standouts of the cast are Bene Coopersmith,  who is in search of a Charlie Parker rare album, Abbi Jacobson, who is working her first day on the job with a reporter played by Michael Cera, and Tavi Gevinson who plays a high school girl who is full of opinions and is just too cool for school. There are a few characters that aren’t developed enough but with such a large cast, it doesn’t really matter. Spend a little time with this quirky cast of characters as they live their lives in NYC.  My Rating: Full Price    Armed Response Info
Forgotten FilmGone in 60 Seconds (1974)  PG  Maindrian Pace (H.B. Halicki) and his gang are hired to steal 48 cars. They are successful until it gets to the last car, a supped up Mustang, because the police have been tipped off that the car was stolen. Maindrian is then chased by seemingly every cop in the greater LA area. This is a very low budget film (it was written and directed by the star), and some of the acting is horrible, but it has a 40-minute car chase that has to be seen.  This film was shot in the days before computers could animate everything, so every car crash you see in this film, and there are a lot of them, were done by stuntmen.  If you love car chase movies, this one is for you.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Gone in 60 Seconds Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Kidnap:  Biscuit Technician

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You Ingrid Goes West  (2017)  An unhinged social media stalker moves to LA and figures out a way to become part of an Instagram Star’s life. Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen lead the cast of this film, so you know that I am there.   Ingrid Goes West Facebook Page
Until next time!