Friday, January 26, 2018

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

My View:  Maze Runner: The Death Cure  (2018)   PG-13   Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his band of escaped Gladers must travel to and break into the legendary 'Last City' to find a cure for the zombie bites. The 'Last City' becomes their most complicated maze yet. Will Thomas and his gang find what they are looking for?  I liked the first two films in the series but, I find this one dull, and it feels longer than its 144 minutes run time. It’s been almost three years since we saw the 2nd film in the series, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, so it’s a little hard to remember who everyone is and their relationships to each other. I liked the action sequences, which are exciting to watch but there are long sections between them. The end seems very contrived and not well thought out. I think fans of the YA book series are going to be disappointed in this film.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Maze Runner: The Death Cure Website
In Case You Missed It (Movies just released on DVD/BluRay): Goodbye Christopher Robin  (2017)  PG  A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) has returned from WW I to his wife (Margot Robbie) but is suffering from PTSD.  After the birth of his son, Christopher Robin, he moves his family to the country. There, as he interacts with Christopher, a book idea springs up. That book would become the beloved Winnie the Pooh. This film only works when Christopher Robin and his dad are out in the woods playing. The rest of the film is a depressing view of a very dysfunctional family who exploits their child for fame and money. The film never finds its voice, and Will Tilston, as the eight-year-old Christopher Robin, isn’t up to the spotlight shining on him, as his performance is one dimensional.  I don’t think fans of "Winnie the Pooh" are going to be happy with this very un-Pooh like film.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Goodbye Christopher Robin Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Samson  (2018)  PG-13  The story of Samson (Jackson Rathbone) from the Bible, where he takes on a cruel Philistine prince (Billy Zane) who is responsible for killing Samson’s love of his life. When the biggest stars of the film are Billy Zane, Rutger Hauer, and Lindsay Wagner, you just might have a bad movie.   Samson Website
Forgotten Film: The Thin Blue Line (1988)  This documentary by legendary filmmaker Errol Morris, feels more like a drama because Morris uses actors to recreate the murder of a police officer and then the actions of the police department to wrongly try and convict a man of a crime he didn’t commit. This is a different type of documentary as there isn’t a narrator. Instead, the film uses newspaper clippings and other documents to fill in the story. Many of the recreated scenes are shown from two or three perspectives, giving you all the information you need to make up your own mind about who killed the police officer. This engrossing film is one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen.  My Take:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Thin Blue Line Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Maze Runner: The Death Cure:  Animal Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:   Isle of Dogs  (2018)  Set in Japan, a young boy goes on a search for his lost dog.  Hey, it’s directed by Wes Anderson, and it’s animated, so I’m in.    Isle of Dogs Info
Until Next Time!


Friday, January 19, 2018

Forever My Girl

My View:  Forever My Girl  (2018)  PG  A big country music star (Alex Roe) returns home after being gone for ten years and rediscovers his true love, a woman named, Josie (Jessica Rothe). This is your ordinary romance film about a jilted-at the-altar girl who stayed in her hometown when the man who left her returns. It’s precisely what you think it would be, a little schmaltzy and too sweet, at times. What makes this film watchable is the excellent group of songs that Alex Roe and others (including one by Travis Tritt) that are preformed in the film and the performance of Abby Ryder Fortson, who steals the spotlight from the rest of the cast. She is adorable as Josie’s headstrong and precocious daughter, Billy. You instantly fall in love with Billy as Ryder Fortson delivers lines like a seasoned pro. This isn’t a bad date movie if you like romantic films and country music.    My Rating:  Cable   Forever My Girl Website 
Indiefest:  Small Town Crime  (2017)  R  An alcoholic ex-cop (John Hawkes) finds the body of a dead young woman and decides to find her killer. This is an old-fashioned hard-drinking murder mystery from writer/directors Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms. Small Town Crime is the kind of story where the hero isn’t above breaking a few laws to solve the case. Part dark comedy, part private eye film, it’s a look into the sleazy life of the world of dive bars, boozy patrons and prostitution with a little bit of backstabbing thrown in for fun.  This film is a trip you will want to take because of John Hawkes. Hawkes is one of those rare actors that, as soon as he appears on the screen, we are already rooting for his character, no matter how many flaws his character has.   This is a film that someone like old pulp fiction writer Mickey Spillane or even any character that the Coen brothers have created would be happy to be in. It’s a world of booze, dead bodies, and bad intentions; thank God we have John Hawkes to lead us through it!    My Rating: Full Price   Small Town Crime Website
IndiefestThe Final Year  (2017)  Documentary on President Obama’s last year in office where Filmmaker Greg Barker was given unprecedented access to the last year of President Obama’s foreign policy team.  The film focuses on Obama and his team made up of Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice, American Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, and Deputy National Security Adviser/speechwriter Ben Rhodes.  The film follows the President, Kerry, and Powers as they travel around the world visiting 21 countries. At times the film feels like a puff piece for the Obama administration, but you do catch moments where there are personal glimpses with just the right bit of humanity, like a young woman asking the President how to balance a successful marriage. Best moment of the film, which was also one of the saddest, was when speechwriter Ben Rhodes, on election night, is sitting outside on some steps trying just to say, "I have no words" into the camera and tries at least ten times to say it.  A guy who writes speeches for a living was speechless.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Final Year Website
In Case You Missed It (Movies just released on DVD/BluRay):  Loving Vincent  (2017)  PG-13  The complicated life and controversial death of one of history’s most celebrated artists, Vincent Van Gogh. This film took six years and used more than 125 artists to animate this movie using oil paints and more than 65,000 panels. The movie takes 120 of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings and incorporates them into the scenery and the characters. It makes his paintings come to life right before your eyes. The film is told through the travels of a Postmasters son, Armand (Douglas Booth) who is given the task of taking a letter Van Gogh wrote on the day of his death to Vincent’s brother. As Armand travels, he begins seeking information on why Vincent committed suicide making the film more of a mystery than just your typical biographical picture. The animation is gorgeous, and fans of Van Gogh will love how his paintings fill the screen. To fully appreciate the wonder of this film, it has to be seen on the big screen as this movie creates a love letter to Van Gogh’s magnificent, stunning paintings. Van Gogh produced works that continued to bring joy to a world, even if that world didn’t understand him at that time. As Vincent used to sign his letters to his beloved Theo with the saying, Loving Vincent, you, too, will be loving Vincent if you see this film.   My Rating:  Full Price   Loving Vincent Website
Forgotten Film:  Soapdish  (1991) PG-13  An up-and-coming actress (Cathy Moriarty) on a daytime drama plots with her producer (Robert Downey Jr.) to get the longtime star (Sally Field) of the soap off the show. Like the soap TV show itself, Soapdish has tons of plot twists, backstabs and outlandish affairs that make this film so much fun to watch. The outstanding cast includes Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Kline, Elisabeth Shue, Carrie Fisher and Garry Marshall who is hilarious as the put-upon network boss. Everyone looks to be having a great time on screen as you will be, too, watching Soapdish.   My Rating: Full Price   Soapdish Info

Weird Credit:  From the credits of Small Town Crime: Crafty / Production Assistant

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The 15:17 to Paris  (2018)  PG-13  Based on a true story where American soldiers discover a terrorist plot on a Paris-bound train. Clint Eastwood has been uneven in his films lately, but I have hope for this one.   The 15;17 to Paris Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Paddington 2

Family Faire:  Paddington 2  (2017)  PG  Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw), who is happily living with the Brown family (Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville), picks up a series of odd jobs around the neighborhood to buy the perfect present for Aunt Lucy’s (voiced by Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday party.  I loved the first Paddington film and found it fun and delightful. I am happy to say that this movie is even better than the first. The CGI special effects are breathtaking, as the film has a number of close-ups of Paddington that show fantastic detail. The film is full of funny scenes, and I love how Paddington is so nice and polite that he even wins over hardened criminals to his way of positively looking at life. Paddington 2 is a film that the whole family can love and enjoy. We all need a little Paddington in our lives. Be sure to stay through the credits as there is a wonderful surprise at the end.  My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Paddington 2 Website
My View:  The Post  (2017)  PG-13  When a government cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents is uncovered, the country’s first female publisher, Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), must put her reputation and her paper at risk to publish the story at the urging of a hard-headed editor by the name of Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks). The Post has one of the best ensemble casts I have ever seen. Streep and Hanks have never worked together before, but you wouldn’t know it as their timing and chemistry is flawless. Streep gives a brilliant performance as a woman who, due to the death of her husband, is asked to do things out of her comfort zone but steps up to the task. The dialogue is smart and makes the film move along at a quick pace. The storyline is strong and compelling, and even though I knew the outcome, the film still has plenty of twists and turns. This is a film you will not want to miss.     My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again    The Post Facebook Page
My ViewThe Commuter  (2017)  PG-13  Michael (Liam Neeson) is an insurance salesman who is on his way home via the subway. A stranger contacts him and offers Michael $100,000 if he can identify a hidden person on the train before he gets to his stop. Michael soon realizes that the passengers and his family are in danger if he doesn’t solve the puzzle.  You get what you expect with this Liam Neeson vehicle, some close action fights, suspenseful scenes and Liam being Liam. The film does contain a satisfying mystery that I never figured out before it was revealed. The ending is a little far-fetched, though it does contain a rather exciting action sequence. If you like Neeson action movies, you will like this one.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Commuter Website
Forgotten FilmBurden of Dreams  (1982)  A documentary on the making of the classic Werner Herzog film, Fitzcarraldo (1982). Almost everything that could go wrong does when this film was being made. From losing major cast members halfway through production to getting caught up in a war between Peru and Ecuador, it’s amazing the film was completed, much less turned out as an outstanding classic film. It’s a brilliant documentary that shows just how hard it is to make a film.    My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again    Burden of Dreams Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Paddington 2:  Special Effects Teeth

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouThe Upside  (2017)  An unusual pairing of an unemployed man (Kevin Hart) and a wealthy paraplegic (Bryan Cranston) that will change both their lives. The film is a remake of the 2016 French film called, The Intouchables.  If it is half as good as that film, it will be outstanding.    The Upside Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Insidious: The Last Key

My ViewInsidious: The Last Key  (2017)  PG-13  Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) is used to battling the paranormal bad guys. This time it’s personal; they are taking over her childhood home.  As this series progresses (this is the fourth one), the filmmaking becomes sloppier. The dialogue in this film is horribly written with lines that seem to be created by a ten-year-old. The scary parts of the film are your ordinary jump-out-of-the-dark variety. I did enjoy a rather interesting twist to the story but feel the ending was rushed and didn’t give me much satisfaction. The tension never builds, and I never sensed that Dr. Rainier (the hero of the story) was ever in any real danger (a problem for horror films). Let down by a weak script and even weaker plot, this series should probably be put to bed or at least hidden in a corner with the ghosts.  My Rating: Cable   Insidious: The Last Key Website
My ViewHostiles  (2017)  In 1892, legendary Army Captain and Indian Fighter, Capt. Blocker (Christian Bale), reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne Chief (Wes Studi) back to his native lands so that the Chief can die in peace.  I enjoyed this western (a genre that I love), especially the performance of Christian Bale, who plays the rough and tumble Captain. Writer/Director Scott Cooper wrote this film with Bale in mind, and you can tell because it plays to Bale’s strengths as an actor who uses silence and small gestures to communicate what he is thinking and feeling. Wes Studi gives a moving and intense performance of the Cheyenne Chief who wants to go home to die. I also enjoyed the performance of  Rosamund Pike who plays a widow that the Captain agrees to transport to the next fort. The action sequences are plentiful and realistic, making the scenes very powerful. The message of the film is that you might not know your enemy as you think you do, as there are always two sides to every battle.    My Rating:  Full Price   Hostiles Info
In Case You Missed It (Movies just released on DVD/BluRay): Battle of the Sexes  (2017)  PG-13  This film is loosely based on the 1973 tennis match that all America watched between Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), an aging huckster who used to be a great tennis star, versus Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), the best woman tennis player of all time. This is two films in one; the story of how the most watched tennis match happened, and the slow realization by Billy Jean King that she is a lesbian. I enjoyed this film because I am old enough to remember the match, and the look and feel of the early 70s is perfectly captured. The film does a superlative job of mixing in actual footage from the match, including showing Howard Cosell on-screen with Natalie Morales, who plays tennis player Rosie Casals. Steve Carell is brilliant as the bombastic Bobby Riggs, who was a man who lived and loved to gamble. In contrast to Carell’s over-the-top Riggs (warranted because that’s how Bobby Riggs acted), Emma Stone gives a quiet but convincing performance of a woman who dared to take on the world to get women’s tennis the prize money and notoriety it deserved. The film feels long because it spends so much time on King’s awakening to her true feelings. There are too many scenes of her exchanging glances with the hairdresser (Andrea Riseborough) with whom she eventually falls in love. Overall, buoyed by the spectacular cast, Battle of the Sexes is an exciting look at a time when a tennis player changed her sport through her toughness and determination.    My Rating:  Full Price   Battle of the Sexes Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)Fifty Shades Freed  (2018)  R  The third installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. I have somehow managed to avoid the first two films…I think I will keep this streak alive.   Fifty Shades Freed Website

Forgotten FilmA Slipping-Down Life  (1999)  R  Evie (Lili Taylor) is a lonely young woman living in a small town. One evening, she hears a small-time rock star, Drumstring Casey (Guy Pearce), interviewed on the radio promoting a local gig. She goes to the gig and instantly becomes obsessed with the singer, and it changes her life forever. Lili Taylor gives a breathtaking performance as Evie, who restarts her life with one shocking act (I won’t tell you what it is, but it is brutal to watch). The film feels real, helped by a supporting cast including Tom Bower, John Hawkes, and Veronica Cartwright. It will be a long time before you forget Evie.    My Rating:  Full Price   A Slipping-Down Life Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Hostiles:  Virtual Instrument Designer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Proud Mary  (2018)   Mary (Taraji P. Henson) is a hit woman for hire whose life is turned around when she meets a young boy during a hit gone wrong.  Taraji P. Henson shooting guns and taking names, sign me up!    Proud Mary Website
Until Next Time!