Thursday, January 31, 2013

To Rome with Love 2012

     Intertwined stories of residents and visitors in Rome.  Hayley is an American tourist, she meets local attorney Michelangelo and they fall in love.  Psychiatrist Phyllis and retired music producer Jerry are her parents, they arrive to meet Michelangelo and his parents.  Antonio and Milly are newlyweds who move to Rome to meet his relatives and for his new job.  American architect John returns to Rome with his wife to rediscover his days there as a student.  John meets Jack who is a current student of architecture.  Jack lives with his girlfriend Sally and she invites her best friend Monica to stay with them.
     I did find this enjoyable with it does have faults.  It seems like too many people and situations packed into one film?  Also, Woody has a role as Jerry and it may be too much Woody to have him in the film?  Not as good as Midnight in Paris and somewhat like an over extended soap opera.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)   

112 min, Comedy directed by Woody Allen with Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Flavio Parenti, Alison Pill.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.4 out of 10, 43% critic 44% audience on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What to Expect When You’re Expecting 2012

     Inspired by the bestselling book of the same name.  Five couples with intertwined lives are expecting children at the same time.  Jules, a TV fitness expert is expecting with her partner, dance show star Evan.  Wendy is an author and baby advocate, she finds it hard to follow her own advice when pregnancy hormones take over.  Her husband, Gary, is a former weight loss project for Jules and he struggles with constant competition with his dad.  Skyler, his dad’s much younger wife is expecting twins.  Holly and Alex have tried to have a child, they are going through the process of adopting from Ethiopia.  Rosie and Marco are in competition with each other in the food truck business until they are expecting a baby together.
     I waited a while to watch this movie because I wasn’t "expecting" very much and that’s what I got!  This has its funny and sad moments but I think it could’ve been much better.  The screenplay is just too weak and predictable.   3* (This movie is OK)

110 min, Comedy directed by Kirk Jones with Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison, J. Todd Smith, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Ben Falcone, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.5 out of 10, 22% critic 48% audience on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sleepwalk with Me 2012

     Matt Pandamiglio has been dating Abby for eight years.  The subject of their marriage comes up at his parent’s house during discussions about his younger sister’s wedding.  As soon as the subject is brought to Matt’s attention, he begins sleepwalking that night.  He thinks the laundry basket is an animal in the bedroom.  He works as a bartender and is trying to get started in stand-up comedy.  He’s not very funny but he gets the card of another comic’s agent.   She sends him on gigs miles apart for very little money but it’s a chance to be on stage. The writers on this film are Mike and Joe Birbiglia, Ira Glass (host of This American Life on NPR) and Seth Barrish.  It’s semi-autobiographical about Mike’s beginnings in comedy.
     Matt has a lot of maturity issues, confidence, relating to audiences, relationships, commitment, over-bearing father and career.  I didn’t know when I watched this but I thought this was based on Mike’s life.  Sometimes you want to reach into the screen and hit Mike for beings so lukewarm about everything.  You also want to shake him, it doesn’t take an genius to know the reason for his sleepwalking?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)    
81 min, Comedy/Drama directed by Mike Birbiglia with Lauren Ambrose, James Rebhorn, Carole Kane, Cristin Milioti, Mike Birbiglia, Aya Cash, Ben Levin.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 87% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Rampart 2011

     Dave Brown works for the Los Angeles police force and he’s a corrupt cop.  He is the focus of an internal investigation after he’s caught on tape beating a suspect.  He’s out of control but he begins to spiral down more and more.  He lives with his wife and his ex-wife,  they are sisters.  He has two daughters too.  He’s into stealing, drugs and other women. 
     I initially didn’t want to watch this because it is what it is.  What you see is what you get, nothing new, nothing that hasn’t been seen over and over.  Dave doesn’t have a “good” side.  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

107 min, Drama directed by Oren Moverman with Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Jon Baernthal.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 5.9 out of 10, 75% critic 36% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lola Versus 2012

      Lola is 29 years old and she’s happily planning a wedding with her boyfriend Luke.  She comes home one day and out of the blue, he’s got cold feet.  They break up, he needs space and she feels barely alive.  She tries to move on but it’s very difficult. Then, Luke tells her he thinks he made a mistake.  She realizes she needs to find herself before she makes any decisions about guys.
     This is not a comedy and there is here is not very much going on, no surprises, just the typical breakup story.  I like Greta Gerwig as an actress and I think lately she has wasted her talents on hum drum films.  She needs a home run!!   3* (This movie is OK) 
87 min, Comedy directed by Caryl Wein with Greta Gerwig, Joel Kinnaman, Zoe Lister Jones, Hamish Linklater, Bill Pullman, Debra Winger, Maria Dizzia.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 4.8, 34% critic 31% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vamps 2012

     Goody and Stacy are pals, they live together and work together at night.  The only thing that makes them different is that they are vampires.  They belong to a vampire group with meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous.  The members of this group have a pact that they will not drink blood from humans.  Instead, they drink animal blood.  Goody meets one of her former boyfriends and Stacy really likes her new boyfriend, Joey.  The only problem with Joey is his father is a vampire hunter.  Right away his parent’s suspect that Stacy is a vampire.
     This is really different and funny.  Everyone is over the top in their acting.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

93 min, Comedy directed by Amy Heckerling with Alicia Silverstone, Krysten Ritter, Sigourney Weaver, Wallace Shawn, Malcolm McDowell, Dan Stevens, Justin Kirk.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 4.7 out of 10, 50% critic 36% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Alps 2011

      There is a mysterious underground group in Greece that assists people in coping with the death of a loved one.  This is their job and they charge by the amount of time their services are needed.  They pose as the loved one for a limited time and they memorize various phrases that the departed person used to say.  Monte Rosa also works at a hospital and she is a member of this group.  She is very moved by the death of a young tennis star from an auto accident.  Monte offers her services to the parents but she doesn’t tell the group that the girl has died.
     This has my weird meter pegged!!  This seems so mixed up, just the idea is strange but the film doesn’t define who is acting as a dead person in all cases?  I couldn’t take it anymore and I didn’t finish this.  2* (I didn’t like this movie) 

94 min, Drama directed by Yorgos and Giorgos Lanthimos with Aris Servetalis, Aggeliki Papoulia, Johnny Vekris, Ariane Labed, Erifili Stefanidou.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.2 out of 10, 75% critic 54% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Girl in Progress 2012

     Grace is a single mom, she tries to balance work, bills and her daughter, Ansiedad.  Everything goes haywire for both of them at the same time.  Grace’s boss leaves her in charge of the Crab Shack where she works while he is away.  Money is taken from the safe and the boss is very angry.  Ansiedad receives an assignment to write a coming-of-age story for the class.  She feels she needs to make a maturity bucket list and check off growth stages quickly.  She wants to be an adult but not like her mother.
     Just about everyone can relate to life falling apart especially when money doesn’t go very far and teens get mixed up.  This is funny, alternates between silly and serious.  3* (This movie is OK)

93 min Comedy directed by Patricia Riggen with Eva Mendes, Cierra Ramirez, Matthew Modine, Patricia Arquette, Eugenio Derbez, Raini Rodriguez.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 4.9 out of 10, 29% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Your Sister’s Sister 2011

     Jack’s brother has just passed away.  He’s at loose ends and doesn’t know what to do with himself.  Iris, his friend and his brother’s former girlfriend, invites him to spend some time alone at her family home on an island.  It would provide a nice place for him to get away and collect his thoughts.  When Jack gets to the house, he learns that Iris’ sister Hannah is also at the house, it’s a surprise to both of them when he arrives.  Hannah has just ended a seven-year relationship and she’s also at a turning point in her life.
     This film seems like a Woody Allen movie about relationships except there is not very much going on. There are many long conversations, emotional confrontations and revelations with copious amounts of dialogue.  Who are these people and why should I be interested in listening to them?  I like Emily Blunt as an actress but she isn't given anything to work with here!  3* (This movie is OK)

90 min, Comedy directed by Lynn Shelton with Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemare DeWitt.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*,  imdb 6.7 out of 10, 84% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.  
Special Note:  The biggest tragedy, other than the brother passing away, is the destruction of a perfectly OK bike!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First Position 2011

     This film follows six dancers ages 9-19 and from five continents as they prepare for a worldwide competition.  The Youth America Grand Prix can change their lives.  There are only a limited number of scholarships and contracts available for thousands of entrants.  Only practice, perfection, discipline will lead to selection as the best.
     Very grueling, trying to make their bodies do what they were not designed to do but reshape them to enable them to do the perfect performance.  Pain and injury doesn’t stop them, they must move forward.  You don’t have to know anything about ballet to appreciate their commitment.  4* (I really liked this movie) 

90 min, Doc directed by Bess Kargman with Gaya Bommer Yemini, Michaela Deprince, Jules Javis Fogarty, Miko Fogarty, Rebecca Houseknect, Joan Sebastian Zamora.

Note:  Blockbuter 3 ½*, imdb 7.0 out of 10, 96% critic 84% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hysteria 2011

     This film takes place in London during the Victorian era.  Dr. Mortimer Granville is just starting out and he is struggling to find his niche.  He has worked at several hospitals but he is appalled by their lack of knowledge about germs.  He believes the hospitals are out to kill their patients by not changing dressings properly and using disinfectant.  After his last dismissal, he gets a lot more doors slammed in his face.  Finally, he is hired by a doctor investigating treatment for women with the diagnosis of hysteria.
     I’m not sure this would really be called a comedy?  The ideas of the doctors are funny only because of what they don’t know.  It is very different and the treatments are funny but there is a lot of seriousness too.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

100 min, Comedy directed by Tanya Wexler with Maggie Gylienhaal, Hugh Dancy, Johnathan Pryce, Felicity Jones, Rupert Everett, Ashley Jensen, Sheridan Smith.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.7, 57% critic 56% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ulee's Gold 1997

     Ulee is a beekeeper living in Florida and trying to raise his two granddaughters.  His son, Jimmy, is in prison for bank robbery and his daughter-in-law, Helen, ran away from the responsibility of the girls.  Ulee’s is a Vietnam veteran who hasn’t gotten over the death of his wife several years ago.  Jimmy tells Ulee that Helen is with the same pair of drug dealers that were involved with him in the robbery.  Ulee doesn’t want to but he brings Helen back to his home to get her off drugs.  Everything starts to go bad when the dealers want money for Helen.
     I wanted to see this film because I see Ulee used a lot as a crossword puzzle clue.  How many names are there with these letters?  Ulee is not very warm but loyal, responsible and just too nice!  The drug dealers needed a lot more tough love than he gave them!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

113 min, Drama directed by Victor Nunez with Peter Fonda, Patricia Richardson, Jessica Biel, Tom Wood, J. Kenneth Campbell, Christine Dunford, Steven Flynn.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.0 out of 10, 94% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Trouble with the Curve 2012

     Age is starting to get the better of Gus Lobel even though he’s in total denial of every aspect.  His vision is going and he’s supposed to see a specialist but he doesn’t.  He is a baseball scout and he must go out on the circuit to see the latest and best.  He works for the Atlanta Braves and management is starting to think about his retirement since his contract is up in three months.  When he wants to pass on the latest and hottest batting phenomenon, they are really thinking about putting Gus on the permanent bench.
     I wonder if Clint Eastwood is even acting when he plays the cantankerous, cross, uncivil, rude, in denial curmudgeon role?  The entire time, you are hoping you will NEVER become like this person!!  Amy Adams does a good job playing his daughter trying to help him when he doesn’t want any help.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

110 min, Drama directed by Robert Lorenz with Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Robert Patrick, Matthew Lillard.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 51% critic 66% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry 2011

      Ai Weiwei is an outspoken Chinese artist and political activist.  He criticized the Chinese government over the deaths of 5000 students during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.  He was taken into custody by the government and he received a severe blow to his head.  He also defied the censorship laws by helping to organize and inform Chinese citizens.  This movie was filmed from 2008 to 2010.
     I see the other review numbers for this film are good but there is one word that can describe this effort, boring!  Almost like a sleeping pill but not quite enough to get you really snoring.  Every detail of his life is shown but no questions about the inspiration or the why or how of his art are asked?  For example, he has a large installation of chairs fashioned together as one of his art pieces.  Why did he choose this type of chair, what does this mean to him, what was his inspiration, what does he want viewers to take away from this project?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

91 min, Doc directed by Alison Klayman with Danging Chen, Ying Gao, Changwei Gu, Tehching Hsieh, Huang Hung, Yamping Liu, Evan Osnos.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, 96% critic 90% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sparkle 2012

     Sparkle, Sister and Delores are from an affluent Detroit area.  Their mother is very strict, she wanted to become a singer but saw the hard side of this life.  Sparkle writes songs and she wants to sing but she’s shy.  Sister can be the one in front with Sparkle and Delores as the backup.  Their mother has tried all their lives to keep them out of the music business.
    I wish the screenplay was better, it seems like all of this has already been done before.  It is nice to see Whitney Houston, she had so much talent but was sidetracked along the way of her career.  What a voice!!  3* (This movie is OK)

116 min, Drama directed by Salim Akil with Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 4.8 out of 10, 58% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Arbitrage 2012

      Robert Miller is trying to sell his company and he’s under a lot of pressure.  He wants this deal done and he wants it done now.  His daughter is part of this family business and his son also has a small role.  Robert is not what he seems to be, he appears to be a professional businessman, wonderful husband and father.  Evidence begins coming out about fraudulent practices which raise questions about his business ethics.  His girlfriend is applying a lot of pressure regarding their relationship.
     This movie has problems, it tries to have constant suspense and tension but there is just too much going on all the time.  The subplots threaten to overshadow the major plots.  The talents of Gere, Sarandon, Marling are wasted and cannot save this.  The wardrobe for Sarandon must have been located at the bottom of a barrel somewhere and it doesn’t do her any favors.  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

107 min, Drama directed by Nicholas Jerecki with Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, Tim Roth, Laetitia Casta, Nate Parker, Stuary Margolin.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.7, 84% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ted 2012

    John is eight-years-old and he doesn’t have any friends.  He receives a large teddy bear for Christmas and he makes a wish that the bear would love him forever.  Surprisingly, Ted can talk in the morning!  In the beginning, Ted had a career appearing on talk shows and other programs.  Now it’s twenty-seven years later, John has Lori, his girlfriend of four years but Ted lives with them.  John works a dead end job and Lori would like to him to separate himself more from Ted.  She feels his type of job and lack of initiative are due to the influence of Ted.
     Ted is not a good bear; he’s a very bad bear!  He swears, smokes from a bong, entertains prostitutes, throws wild parties and gets John into trouble all the time.  The rating says it all, adult humor, sexual situations, profanity, drug content.  I watched the theatrical version because I didn’t think I had the nerve for the unrated version?  3* (This movie is OK)

106 min, Comedy directed by Seth MacFarlane (also voices Ted) with Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, 69% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Bourne Legacy 2012

     This is the 4th installment of the Bourne series based on novels by Robert Ludlum.  Jason Bourne is set-aside in this film to focus on Aaron Cross, he's another member of the Department of Defense special operations groups.  The events take place at the same time of The Bourne Ultimatum (released in 2007).  Bourne gave a top-secret file to CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy.  She leaked information from this file about two of the special ops groups to the press. The FBI is investigating Landy and also Operation supervisor Noah Vosen.  All of this has everyone in the background on edge about all the groups.  The decision is made to take out all the people in all the ops.
     This goes really fast and I was confused from the beginning about a lot of information.  There are a lot of special operations groups and also groups that other groups don’t know about along the way.  The one thing I know for sure is that in real life if you are an employee of the some of these government agencies, they will throw you under the bus!!  4* (I really liked this movie)

135 min, Action directed by Tony Gilroy and Paul Greengrass with Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weiz Joan Allen, Scott Glenn, Albert Finney.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 56% critic 56% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  I think it was wrong of the developers of this franchise to let Matt Damon find out from the grapevine that he was not included in this film.  Couldn’t they show him the courtesy after three films with them to tell him in person?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Killer Joe 2012

     Chris lives in Texas and he’s a drug dealer.  He finds himself in debt to a man who will kill him if he doesn’t pay back what he owes.  He decides the only solution is to have someone kill his mother so he can collect on her insurance policy.  Chris and his father decide to hire Joe Cooper, he is a police detective and contract killer.  Joe wants a retainer before he will do the job and they don’t have any money.  Joe decides he will start dating Chris’ sister Dotty as his retainer.
     This film was originally released in theaters with an NC-17 rating but it was edited for an R rated for the DVD release.  The NC rating was for graphic aberrant content involving violence, sexuality and a scene of brutality.  The R rating is for strong and disturbing violence, sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use and language.  I don’t think very much editing was done to change the rating and this may be the WORST movie that I’ve ever seen!!!  I not only hated this movie, I loathed and abhorred it!!!  ½* (I really hated this movie)

102 min, Crime directed by William Friedkin with Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.9 out of 10, 77% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild 2012

     Wink and Hushpuppy live in the Bathtub, it's a southern Delta bayou community off-shore of New Orleans cut off by a levee.  Wink is sick with a mysterious illness and Bathtub is his six-year-old daughter.  Wink goes to the hospital but he comes home and it’s a struggle for him to take care of Bathtub.  He starts to prepare her for the time when he won’t be around to protect her.  Nature begins to dramatically change, temperatures rise and ice caps start to melt.  A race of prehistoric creatures called aurochs begin to march across the land.
     This film has been nominated and also won a lot of awards but I have to admit, I do not understand this film.  I don’t know what’s real and what is imagined.  I have a feeling that since it is centered on a six-year-old that at least the aurochs must not be real?  I almost gave up, this was a struggle to finish.  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

93 min, Drama directed by Benh Zeitlin with Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly, Lowell Landes, Pamela Harper, Gina Montana, Amber Henry, Nicolas Clark.    
Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.6 out of 10, 85% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Lawless 2012

     This film takes place in 1930’s Franklin County, Virginia.  It's during the depression, Bondurant brothers are in the bootlegging business.  They have their stills hidden deep in the mountains.  A new Special Deputy comes to town and he’s after a share of their profits.  He’s a very, corrupt,  twisted and evil man.  Forrest is the oldest brother, he meets every suggestion from the Special Deputy with defiance.  There is also pressure on the Bondurant’s from the gangster Floyd Banners and his mob. 
     The Bondurant brothers are supposed to be very tough but they are always doing dumb things.  They seem unprepared, don't plan ahead and are not determined enough to win against their adversaries.  The physical violence between the forces is very ugly.  A Bonnie and Clyde want-to-be but it falls short.  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

116 min, Crime directed by John Hillcoat with Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan, Chris McGarry.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.3, 67% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.