Friday, March 30, 2018

Ready Player One

My View:  Ready Player One  (2018)  PG-13    The world in 2045 is a desolate place and, to escape it, people use the virtual reality software OASIS to engage in work and play. While playing in the OASIS world, Wade (Tye Sheridan) discovers a hidden game that promises the winner full ownership of OASIS. Now, Wade and a few allies try to compete in the game and pass all the tasks before someone else does. This film moves at such a quick pace that you don’t notice that it is two hours and twenty minutes in length. There are so many characters from pop culture in this film, like the Iron Giant or the Big Foot monster truck, that you would have to watch this movie a hundred times to see all of them. The action sequences are a blast, and the film is much funnier than I thought it would. I really enjoyed Tye Sheridan’s performance and his on-screen chemistry with Olivia Cooke, who plays a fellow gamer who aids Wade. I loved how vital Cooke’s character, Art3mis, is, right there side-by-side with Wade in fighting the bad guys. Is this one of Steven Spielberg’s best films? No, but it is so much fun to watch.    My Rating:  Full Price   Ready Player One

Indiegest: Isle of Dogs  (2018)  PG-13  Set in Japan, a young boy goes on a search for his lost dog that has been sent to an island by an evil government official. This film is gorgeous, and the stop-motion animation is brilliant, bringing all the characters to life on the screen. The movie is funny, touching and, at times, a little sad, but the storyline is so perfect you will enjoy every minute of it. This is probably the best voice casted film I have ever seen led by Bryan Cranston, who voices the leader of the pack, Chief.  Isle of Dogs is an brilliant film that kids and adults will equally enjoy.   My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   Isle of Dogs Website

In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers But Just Looks Like a Bad Idea): Blockers  (2018)  R  Three parents try to stop their teens from having sex on prom night. I like the cast which includes John Cena and Leslie Mann, but I didn’t laugh once watching the trailer.   Blockers Website

Forgotten Film:  ‘Buffalo ’66’  (1998)  R  A recent parolee (Vincent Gallo) kidnaps a dancer (Christina Ricci) and makes her act as his wife in front of his crazy parents (Ben Gazzara, Anjelica Huston). The film, written and directed by Gallo, is funny and slightly romantic. It’s about two people falling in love in spite of themselves. Gallo and Ricci play off each other, which makes their relationship strange but real.    My Rating: Full Price   Buffalo 66 Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Ready Player One: Crowd Junior Hair

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Lean on Pete  (2017) R  A troubled teen named, Charley (Charlie Plummer) , starts working for a cantankerous horse trainer (Steve Buscemi). Ray falls in love with a quarterhorse named, Lean on Pete, that, if doesn't start winning, the horse will be sold.  I love Steve Buscemi, so count me in.   Lean on Pete Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Pacific Rim Uprising

My View:  Pacific Rim Uprising  (2018)  PG-13   Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) teams with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots. Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood), Jake’s rival and hacker, and Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny), join the team when a new Kaiju threat rears up.  Unlike the first, this film doesn’t have heart. The characters are shallow, the dialogue is creaky, and the action sequences are confusing. The only thing that saves this movie is the performances of John Boyega, who is charismatic and Cailee Spaery, who does a remarkable job, considering this is her first feature film. I just wish the two of them had better material to work with.  My Rating: Cable   Pacific Rim Uprising 
Indiefest:  The Death of Stalin  (2017)  R  This comedy shows the last days of Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin), the Soviet dictator, and the chaos that follows his death in 1953.  While I did think this film was funny at times, I just never got into the flow of the movie. I loved the cast, and Jeffery Tambor is brilliant as a weak-minded leader who is more concerned about how he looks than governing the country. The film never finds a rhythm and, at times, is very grim. I feel it never gained any momentum, and I was bored by certain sections of the movie.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   The Death of Stalin Website
Indiefest:  Flower  (2017)   R  A sexually curious teen (Zoey Deutch) forms an unusual friendship with her mentally unstable stepbrother (Tim Heidecker).  I loved this film, and Zoey Deutch gives a complex and funny performance. The storyline is clever and has plenty of twists and turns to make you interested. It went in a direction that I didn’t expect but in a good way. This isn’t going to be for everyone, especially moviegoers who are not into indie filmmaking, but Zoey Deutch will be a big star one day if she keeps giving performances like this one.  My Rating: Full Price   Flower Website
Indiefest:  I Kill Giants  (2017)  Barbara (Madison Wolfe) is a young loner who struggles through life by escaping into a world of magic and monsters. Barbara is convinced that her town will be attacked by giants. The question:  Is Barbara crazy or does she know something that no one else knows?   This is a very quirky movie about a very strange but determined girl. Wolfe is on screen the whole time, most of them by herself as Barbara battles through life. Wolfe is asked to play a multi-layered part, one that she excels at, giving Barbara life. I Kill Giants is not your ordinary coming-of-age tale. My only quibble with the film is the ending, which tries to wrap things up too neatly. Overall, Anders Walter gives us a film that has some magical moments and a main character who is fascinating to watch. Be sure to see I Kill Giants in the theatre. It deserves the big screen.  My Rating: Full Price   I Kill Giants Info
Indiefest:  Leaning Into the Wind  (2017)  Documentary on artist Andy Goldsworthy, who creates art from nature.  This is an enjoyable film about an artist who makes art from nature, but sometimes his art only lasts for minutes or seconds, like his shadow people. Goldsworthy, when he senses it may rain, he lies down on the pavement and lets the rain hit him. He then gets up, and there is a shadow of where he was, but only for a short time before the pavement gets wet. The filmmaker follows Goldsworthy around the world as the artist makes works of art from trees, mud, flowers, and sticks. The film kept me interested and the artwork, though sometimes strange, is beautiful. If you like art, you will enjoy this film about a very peculiar artist, one that likes to climb in bushes just for fun.  My Rating:  Full Price      Leaning Into the Wind Website

Forgotten Film:  Matinee  (1993)  A small-time film promoter (John Goodman) releases a B-movie during the Cuban missile crisis.  Goodman is hilarious as the promoter who wants to make some money but also wants to entertain. Theatres and movie studios had to resort to stunts to get people away from their TV’s, and this funny and sometimes moving film shows the lengths they would go.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee    Matinee Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Pacific Rim Uprising:  Hair Designer 

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Outside In  (2017)  An ex-con (Jay Duplass) struggles to readjust to life in his small hometown. He gets help from his old high school teacher (Edie Flaco).  Jay Duplass co-wrote the script, so I am excited to see this film.   Outside In Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Tomb Raider

My View:  Tomb Raider  (2018)  PG-13  Laura Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished when Laura was a teen. Laura decides to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance. After discovering the mythical island that was his last known destination is real, she decides to go to the island and find out what happened. Just getting there will be an adventure. I like Alicia Vikander, and she usually can make any film seem interesting but not with this film. The studio decided to make a straight-up action movie, but what was needed was some warmth and humor. There isn’t any joy in this film - it’s just like Laura Croft, gritty and determined, but that makes for a rather dull film. Vikander looks the part; we believe that she can climb mountains and outrun anyone, but she’s made into a superwoman, much like the Rock is in his superhero movies, where she suffers almost no ramifications when falling off a cliff or fighting with a man twice her size. Video games and the action movies they are based on them are supposed to be fun.  This one wasn’t.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Tomb Raider Website
IndiefestLove, Simon  (2018)  PG-13  Simon (Nick Robinson) is a gay high school student who hasn’t come out, even to his best friends. He is in love with an anonymous classmate whom he has only talked to online.  Now, Simon’s life is going to change in a big way.  This is one of those rare movies about teenagers where the characters on the screen are real, with real problems, ones we can relate to and feel. Nick Robinson gives an intelligent and moving performance as the teenager who is afraid to come out. Simon just wants to last until he is out of high school before revealing he is gay. He also doesn’t want to rock the boat with his closest friends, especially with his best friend, Leah (Katherine Langford), whom he has known since childhood. Love, Simon is a funny and sweet movie that hits all the right notes. At the screening I attended, when the big scene near the end of the film happened, teenage girls jumped up out of their seats and cheered at the top of their lungs. Go see this film, and you just might do the same.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Love, Simon Website
My View7 Days in Entebbe  (2018)  PG-13  An Air France flight from Tel-Aviv to Paris via Athens is hijacked by terrorists and is forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda, the home of a crazy dictator named Idi Amin. The Jewish passengers are separated from the rest of the passengers, and the terrorists demand that Israel release 50 Palestinian prisoners. Israel decides to send a Special Forces squad to attempt to rescue the passengers.  Based on a true event, this film makes an unbelievable story seem bland and ordinary. Even a dazzling actress as Rosamund Pike can’t save the script that plods along. The only interesting aspect in this film is a modern dance troupe that we see practicing a routine throughout the film. When the big raid comes at the end, we see the actual performance that the troupe practiced inter-weaved with scenes from the attack, but that bit of excitement can’t save this film.   My Rating: Cable   7 Days in Entebbe Info
IndiefestOh, Lucy!  (2017)  Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima) is a lonely, chain-smoking office worker in Tokyo who is past her prime. She decides to take an English class and discovers that she can create a new identity through speaking English, a character she calls ‘Lucy.”  She falls for her instructor, an American named, John (Josh Hartnett). When John disappears, Setsuko sets out on a quest to find him and travels all the way to Southern California.  I loved this film and the character Setsuko. Setsuko is a hard character to like, but I give credit to Shinobu Terajima for making us slowly fall in love with Lucy. Terajime gives one heck of a performance as the sad sack woman who is desperate to be loved. Writer/director Atsuko Hirayanagi takes on both an emotional and physical journey, where Setsuko keeps being dragged down by life, but continues to get off the floor for more. Take a chance on Oh Lucy! and on a journey with Setsuko as she searches for a reason to live.  My Rating: Full Price   Oh, Lucy! Website   
Forgotten FilmNormal Life  (1996)  R  Chris (Luke Perry) is a cop who falls in love and marries Pam (Ashley Judd). Pam is all wrong for Chris as she is an alcoholic and a drug user who likes to spend money. Chris loses his job and is about to lose Pam if he doesn’t quickly do something. The reason to see this film is Ashley Judd. Judd gives one of her better performances as the overly emotional, self-indulgent Pam. It’s a smashing performance that makes you wish Judd would have taken more roles like this one. Perry is the weak link in the film as the part is out of his acting range, and you will only notice him when Judd isn’t on the screen.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Normal Life Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Tomb Raider:  Chargehand Dressing Props

Coming Soon to a theatre near you Hichki  (2018)  Hichki (Rani Mukerji) wants to be a teacher but she can’t get hired because she has Tourette Syndrome. After numerous rejections, she gets her dream job at a prestigious school. She soon learns that her dream job is a nightmare because her class is full of misfits and rejects. Instead of giving up, Hichki decides to help her students realize their full potential. The trailer is amazing, so I have high hopes for it.   Hichki Facebook Page
Until Next Time!

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Wrinkle In Time

My ViewA Wrinkle in Time  (2018)  PG  Meg (Storm Reid) finds out that her father (Chris Pine), who has been missing for years, is alive and being held captive by an evil force. With the help of her young brother (Deric McCabe) and a friend (Levi Miller), they go on a journey with the help of three astral travelers, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) to save him. Visually this film is stunning, but, other than that and the brilliant performances by all three kids, the film falls flat. The dialogue is horrible, especially that of Mrs. Who, as she only talks in famous peoples’ quotes. The soundtrack is one of the worst I have heard in a movie and, at times, overpowers the dialogue. I can only recommend this film for young kids, who will enjoy the visuals, and there is an excellent message in the film that will appeal to young girls. My guess is that director Ava DuVernay, who directed the touching Selma, was overwhelmed by the enormity of the budget and a book that is hugely complicated. This is one of those films that you wanted to succeed, but it fails to deliver.    My Rating: Cable   A Wrinkle in Time Website
IndiefestGringo  (2018)  Harold (David Oyelowo) is a down-on-his-luck businessman who finds out he is about to lose his job and decides to stage his own kidnapping. What Harold doesn’t know is that, due to his boss’s bad decisions, he has become a kidnapping target by a drug lord. Will Harold survive? I enjoyed this film, but, after seeing the trailer (which made it seem funnier than it is), this film is a bit of a letdown. The film drags, and it has plot holes the size of Mexico. There are some characters that you don’t know why they are doing what they are doing and other characters are entirely forgotten until they just show up on screen for no reason. There are several twists and turns that are unnecessary and make the movie seem much longer than it is. Some of the actors look out of place, and I got tired of Harold’s co-boss (played by Charlize Theron) with her I am better than everyone else attitude. There are some fun action sequences, but that’s not enough to make this film enjoyable.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     Gringo Website
IndiefestThoroughbreds  (2017)  R  Two upper-class suburban Connecticut teenage girls ( Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cookein) rekindle their friendship after being estranged for years. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems by any means necessary. I loved this odd, quirky film that’s part dark humor and part suspense film. Amanda (Olivia Cooke) is a troubled teen who did something horrible in her past and, by the way, can’t feel any emotions. Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) is being tormented by her stepfather (her birth father died a few years ago). First time director Cory Finley does a bang-up job directing this film as it never feels staged or slows down even though most of the film takes place in Lily’s mansion. It’s an amazing job for a director who is a playwright who never had stepped on a set before directing this film. The plot moves at a quick pace, keeps you guessing what is going to happen next and slowly builds the tension until the final scenes. This isn’t a movie for everyone as it is not your ordinary teenage drama, but if you’re up for an interesting adventure, then check out Thoroughbreds.    My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Thoroughbreds Website
IndiefestSubmission  (2017)  A cynical college professor (Stanley Tucci) takes an interest in a talented young writer (Addison Timlin). It’s not a question of if, but when lines will be crossed, and we just don’t know who is the predator, and who is the prey. In the “Me Too” era this movie should have hit all the issues on the head. Instead, we get a movie about a self-indulgent professor who thinks he is going to foster the next great writer. The professor is more turned on by the fact that she can write and less about that she is young and pretty. Tucci, Timlin and Kyra Sedgwick are let down by a script that is predictable. The film almost feels like it is in love with itself it’s that self-indulgent.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Submission Info
IndiefestThe Cured  (2017)  R  A virus that turns people into zombies, and it hits Ireland especially hard. A cure is found, but it only cures 75 percent of the zombie population. Now the people who have been cured are moving back into their old neighborhoods, and people who lost loved ones are not too happy. There is one problem with the cure; you remember what you did when you were a zombie. This is an excellent twist on the zombie genre as its makeup is more psychological than horror (though there are still some horrifying zombies in the film). There are some brilliant performances in this film including Ellen Page, who plays Abby, who is still getting over the loss her husband in the initial zombie attack, and Sam Keeley, who plays Senan, Abby’s brother-in-law who goes to live with her and her young son. The action sequences are exciting, and there are plenty of plot twists to keep you interested. If you are a fan of horror and suspense, this film is for you.   My Rating: Full Price    The Cured Info
Forgotten Film: Il Postino  (1994)  PG  When a famous Chilean poet (Philippe Noiret) is exiled to a small island, the mail delivered to the island increases substantially. Mario (Massimo Troisi), an unemployed fisherman, is hired to hand-deliver the mail to the poet. Mario becomes enamored with Beatrice (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) and uses the poet and his poetry to help him woo her. This is a beautiful, simple film about life and romance. Troisi gives a moving performance as the mailman who discovers a love for poetry. The film’s cinematography is gorgeous as it shows off the exquisiteness of Italy.   My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again   Il Postino Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of A Wrinkle in Time: Science Advisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near YouIncredibles 2  (2018)  Bob (Mr. Incredible) is playing “Mr. Mom,” taking care of Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world. I loved the first film about a family of superheroes, so I am looking forward to this one.    Incredibles 2 Website

Until Next Time!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Red Sparrow

My View:  Red Sparrow  (2018)  R  Ballerina Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is injured in a freak accident. Her dancing career is over, and she is forced to join the “Sparrow School,’ a Russian intelligence service where she is forced to use her body as a weapon. Her first mission is to seduce an American CIA agent (Joel Edgerton). When the mission starts to unravel, it just might threaten the security of both countries. If you think you are going to see something like last year’s Atomic Blonde, you aren’t. While a violent film with a couple of very hard to watch torture scenes, this is more of a movie about the psychology of breaking people down to become someone who will do anything for their country. The film is too long (two hours, twenty minutes), and the storyline, while it has some nice twists and turns, is too slow. Lawrence doesn’t do a Russian accent well, to the point that it just gets distracting. While Atomic Blonde was a blast to watch, I was either revolted at the torture or bored by the countless talking head scenes. I did enjoy the all too brief part that Mary-Louise Parker has as a wisecracking chief of staff of the American Embassy. She breathed life into the film, but her part was too short to save this film.   My Rating: Cable   Red Sparrow Website
IndiefestThe Party  (2018)  Janet (Patricia Clarkson) is hosting a party to celebrate her new promotion, but once the party starts, it’s very apparent that not everyone is in a celebratory mood. I didn’t enjoy this film because it felt like I was watching a stage play (I was shocked to find that it wasn’t based on one). The film feels stiff and unnatural with the characters spewing out dialogue that doesn’t feel real. I did enjoy the performance of Patricia Clarkson, who commands the screen in every scene she is in. I especially didn’t enjoy the performance of Timothy Spall, whose character almost doesn’t say a word until near the end of the film. It’s a bizarre film that, all I can say in its favor, is that it is only 71 minutes long.   My Rating: Cable   The Party Website
IndiefestThe Vanishing of Sidney Hall (2017)  R   After publishing a bestselling novel based on the death of one of his high school classmates, the controversial writer Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman) finds himself catapulted to unexpected fame and renown. His relationship with his girlfriend (Elle Fanning) begins to fall apart as the dark consequences of the book intrude on their life together, and he disappears without a trace. Nearly a decade later, an enigmatic detective searches for the missing author, whose books are connected to a string of mysterious arsons. Part drama, part romance with a bit of mystery, and this film was enjoyable to watch. The film goes back and forth in time, from the high school days of Sidney, where he meets his girlfriend, to the present where a police officer (Kyle Chandler) is trying to track down Sidney, to a few years ago in New York when everything should have been great for Sidney but wasn’t. Lerman and Fanning have fantastic chemistry on the screen, and I loved their initial courtship. The film will keep you guessing about how it’s going to end with plenty of surprises that aren’t fully answered until the final scenes.    My Rating:  Full Price    The Vanishing of Sidney Hall Facebook Page

My View: Death Wish  (2018)  R  Dr, Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is used to seeing the day to day violence that goes on in the city as he works in the ER. When his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and daughter (Camila Morrone) are viciously attacked in their suburban home, Paul decides to take matters into his own hands and get revenge. The original 1974 film starring Charles Bronson was a lousy film but captured the attention of a nation due to its violence. This film isn’t much of improvement. There is a horrible sequence to AC/DC’s Back in Black, which compares side by side Willis performing surgery and cleaning his gun. The storyline is predictable and at times boring. The scary thing is that during my screening a couple of audience members clapped when one of the bad guys was killed by the doctor. The violence is pretty horrific, and there is a pretty ugly torture sequence, so be warned if you are squeamish. When is Hollywood going to learn that remaking a bad film will just give you another bad film?     My Rating: Cable   Death Wish Website
Forgotten Film:  Cutter’s Way  (1981)  R  Alex Cutter (John Heard) is a Vietnam vet who has come back an injured and angry man. His only friend, Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges), witnesses someone dumping a murdered young girl’s body in an alley. Cutter decides to embark on a crusade to find the killer with the help of his friend, Bone. Heard and Bridges play off each other with gusto, and Heard gives an intense performance that keeps the film moving. This is the type of film that just isn’t made anymore - a smaller film that has real characters that make you want to root for them.    My Rating: Full Price   Cutter's Way Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Red Sparrow:  Hair Piece Knotter

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Thoroughbreds  (2017)  R  Two upper-class suburban Connecticut teenage girls ( Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cookein) rekindle their friendship after being estranged for years. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems by any means necessary. The trailer looks riveting, but I really want to see this film because it’s one of the last films done by the late Anton Yelchin.   Thoroughbreds Info
Until Next Time!