Saturday, November 21, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - New Releases This Week

The Night Before

Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Anthony Mackie star in the new Christmas comedy, The Night Before.  Right up front, this is a stoner comedy and there are some very, very funny moments in this.  But there are also a few really harsh and regrettable decisions made in the name of "comedy" here that really don't work.

This is the story of three friends all in their early 30's that have a tradition of going out on Christmas Eve and party up a storm.  And this is the final time they will be doing this as they have all grown up and seemingly gone their separate ways.  They spend the night getting completely messed up on various drugs and other substances and looking at where they each are in life.  Much of this is parody and works well. It also channels other Christmas movies, borrowing the premise from A Christmas Carol, and others.  But this is a comedy where they don't know where to stop, stepping into a few scenes that are so amazingly offensive it's hard to sign off on it all the way.

Those parts don't make this a better movie, just a more desperate one.  This could have stood up much taller on its own without really glancing off into the tasteless realms that it does a few times.  It completely waters down the really funny parts that it does have.  This is a hard R rated flick. 

The 33

The new movie, The 33 is certainly a story worth telling.  It's just a bit of a shame that this true story of an amazing experience wasn't given a slightly better script.  It's always challenging to make a movie about actual events where everyone knows the outcome, and make it still engaging.

This is the story of the 33 miners from Chile that we all saw come to safety about 5 years ago in a truly remarkable fashion.  They were buried underground for 64 days, and all made it to the top.  The story is truly miraculous.  But this movie tries so hard to be so many things, it forgets to be as interesting as it could be.  It tells the story from the perspective of the miners trapped, and that's terrific.  But on the surface, it gets bogged down in politics, and side plots that for me just do not work.  The truly amazing part of this true story is the drilling and the technology that saved these men as it had never been done before.  And they simply glaze over that aspect and that's a shame.

This stars Antonio Bandaras, Lou Diamond Phillips and a nice supporting cast.  This is not a bomb by any means, as it is a good and inspiring story.  It just needed to be as interesting and compelling of a movie as it was a true story.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


My All American

This is a small movie about a really big, true story from the University of Texas' football program. It's the story of a young and overachieving football player named Freddie Steinmark as told through the eyes of former great football coach, Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart).  Steinmark is an incredible personal story that is absolutely worth telling.

This is very reminiscent of movies like The Rookie, Remember The Titans, and others.  National critics have been tough on this, and frankly I don't understand it. This is a family movie, with a story you don't know, told in a fashion that is mass appeal. Sure, there are better movies with stronger scripts and bigger budgets, but so what?  We need movies for all kind of audiences, and this is a spot on family movie that all can enjoy. Perfect?  Heavens no, but this is alright.

Love The Coopers

It is becoming more commonplace, where you put a bunch of big Hollywood names together on stage, and belch out a real dog.  And this is the latest debacle.   Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Amanda Seyfried, Ed Helms, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde and many others got together to make a new holiday movie that was a very bad idea.

There are a few moments that are funny, but by and large this is a story about people you don't like, that are amazingly dysfunctional, and telling a story you wish had never been written.  There is some real horrible writing here, and we finally get learn just how bad some of these actors really are.  Filmed horribly with some seemingly silly filter on Keaton's face for much of it that is really elf absorbed and distracting. Wilde, who looks great on camera, turns in a dog of a performance, and why Helms and Seyfried are even cast here is beyond me.   This is one of the dogs of the year. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - James Bond: Spectre

Daniel Craig is back as James Bond in the new saga, Spectre.  For the record, I like Bond movies. He was been a superhero in movies of over 50 years, and somehow they keep this brand going strong.

This picks up right where Skyfall left off, with new characters and gadgetry.  The enemy now is a new organization called Spectre that is bent on being the biggest gatherer of sensitive information from all the major governments in the world.  They essentially want to spy on all the spy agencies on earth and basically become the worlds largest unstoppable terrorist organization.

This is pretty savvy. Bond movies have really tuned into the times we live in. This addresses the concern we all have about our private information, and the concern we have about other entities gathering information from the people that are supposed to keep us safe.  This is highly topical and right on target.  Thank goodness we have Bond and the Double 0 program to save the day.

Since Craig has taken over the Bond flicks, they seem to have a more dark tone to them. Well, after all we do live in some darker times in some regards than before, and the new Bond tackles that.  This movie also celebrates some more of the humor that has been lacking recently in some Bond flicks, and that was good to see.  What has always made these movies work is the willingness to be all things for all people.

This is very good in all regards.  Craig is great again, and Christof Waltz is terrific as our main villain.  This has all the good things you want from Bond.  The amazing action, the humor, the beautiful women, and a story that is right on time.  Great to have him back for the holidays.

James Bond: Spectre. Very entertaining. Well, well done.

MOVIE REVIEW - Our Brand Is Crisis

What a complete and total disaster. The latest movies from Sandra Bullock is a complete failure.

This is movie about political corruption, and the underhandedness that ensues in elections with the horrible people that are behind the shady candidates.  Like we don't have enough of this in our daily lives, we need to pay a ticket price to watch it play out for entertainment?  Plus this tells a story of a election in Bolivia from 15 years or so ago.  Who cares?

This movie, I think was thinking it was real smart, and this was going to be an eye opening saga that we were all going to be shocked over. Please!  We all know about these horrible people and the shady business politics is.  This movie reeks of "we are smarter than you,"  but it's not.  This movie also looks to be about 25 years late in thinking we all don't know this stuff and see it every single night on the news. 

It takes a real bunch of total buffoons to take Sandra Bullock, and Billy Bob Thornton and have this be the worst opening of her entire career in a A-listed movie. But they did.  They took a story no one cares about, created characters no one likes, and put it in a movie that makes people even more apathetic than they already are about the election system sometimes.  What on earth were they expecting? 

Our Brand Is Crisis.  This is maybe one of the worst ideas for a major motion picture in a very long time.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Some movies are so not worth an entire review, there is a new way to package them here.  As we get into real legit movie season, they will get the attention they deserve, while others will be lumped into this format.  So let's start here.

The Last Witch Hunter -

I like Vin Diesel. We all like Vin Diesel.  We just don't care for this.  This is an over produced, uninteresting special effects fest, that doesn't do anyone any justice.  Diesel plays a character that has been alive for centuries fighting against, and keeping the balance between the witch world and the modern world, as they walk among us.  Boring, unoriginal and poorly done in about every way.  Hard to make it to the finish of this one.  At least Fast And Furious has three more installments in the years ahead.  This is not worth your time.

Steve Jobs -

Wow! What a look at one of the great innovators of our lifetime.  Or is he?  This pic paints Steve Jobs, one of Apple's founders as one horrible person.  Not really good at anything in his real life. This is the second movie about Jobs, and this one is equally not as good as the first, although very different. This is paced semi well, but I will tell you this is simply 2 hours of nonstop dialogue.  This is not very compelling movie making, but there are decent performances. Micheal Fassbender is good  as Jobs.  Seth Rogen is then best thing in this movie in his supporting role, as is Kate Winslet.  But this is simply not interesting, and gets in a long line of "computer guy" movies that just are not all that captivating.

Burnt -

Bradley Cooper is Hollywood's biggest leading man. But this is not good.  Do anything else except go to this movie about a chef that no one cares about, in a story no one cares about.  This was a bad career decision of the first order.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - Rock The Kasbah

Bill Murray is making the best movies of his long career, and his latest is one of his best.

Rock the Kasbah will join last years off beat comedy, St.Vincent as among his best roles ever.  This is also a story you have never even come close to seeing before and for me, when done properly, I always dish out major kudos for.  This small indy movie is worth the ticket and really fun to watch. This is one of those drama-comedies that straddles the line nicely between both sides.

Murray plays this down and out music promoter, who never really made it big over his 40 plus year career.  He somehow managed to hang on and make just enough to get by. He is a fast talker, and half truth teller to the extreme.   He finds a young female act in Los Angeles and in a drunken conversation with some clown in the bar where she is singing, and is convinced to take this girl to Afghanistan to perform for the USO.  Being promised big money he does.  Then she dumps him while there, and she leaves him without money or passport.

While marooned, he discovers by accident a young women from Afghanistan who loves to sing. Problem is, she is prohibited by religious law to do so at any time, anywhere.  But somehow he works it out where she sings on their version of American Idol in Afghanistan.  Needless to say, this causes a HUGE public outcry and controversy.  How will this be resolved?

This is absolutely terrific in every regard.  The performances by Murray and his supporting cast of Kate Husdon, Zooey Dashanel, Bruce Willis, and other are simply fantastic.  The writing is sensational and incredibly original and as this goes along, it simply gets better and better.  The music is also wonderful.  Plus, this is filmed so skillfully, you feel you are in the middle of one of the most dangerous places on earth.

This movie showcases very well the turmoil that is in Afghanistan.  The struggle between the extremely traditional, and those who are open minded to a possibly more modern and updated country socially and economically.   This is an easy movie to watch, and wraps up nicely when you are ready for it to.  It says what it has to say and moves on, all the while carefully developing characters you have not met before, telling a story you have not seen previous. 

Rock The Kasbah. Terrific.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW - Bridge Of Spies

Here comes Fall, and some of the best movies of the year, and Bridge Of Spies is certainly one of them.

Tom Hanks, stars in this incredible true Cold War Story that showcases a remarkable story that you may know the basics of, but this movie spells out the whole amazing story.  This takes place over a few year period from 1957, into the early 1960's when the Cold War with the Soviet Union was in full force.  It's the story of a "spy swap" that tested both sides, the United States and Russia on their resolve in their belief systems.  Democracy versus Communism, plain and simple.

Hanks plays Jim Donovan, who was a simple insurance lawyer in Brooklyn when the firm where he works is assigned to defend a recently captured Soviet spy in America.  He defends the spy with  vigor and diligence, making sure that he gets a fair trial, even when the system is asking he not.  Donovan foresees that the death penalty may not be the right thing, and asks reminds the judge that there may be a day when the Russians have one of our guys, and a swap may be prudent.

And that becomes reality when the Soviets shoot down an American U2 pilot and capture him.  Now we each have one.  The government then contracts Donovan again, this time asking him to broker the swap as a private citizen and not as an official representative of our government.  Donovan takes the job and begins a fascinating journey that takes him to the other side of the world to make the deal, all the while trying not to fire up even more tensions between the Superpowers.

This is just a very well done drama that is really back to basics movie making.  You take a great story that most don't know. Write a great script, and cast the right guy in it.  You find the right director (Steven Spielberg) create amazing sets, and costuming and you have a great flick. This is a wonderful period piece that takes us right back to an era gone by.  This is intense, and suspenseful and reminds us just how good movies really can be if we do them right. This is amazingly refreshing, and just flat out good.

Some knowledge of the era is helpful before you go, but this is careful not to shoot over your head, and takes its time to explain carefully and set the stage so all can hang on.  This is not an action flick with tons of effects, this is just straight forward movie making that is ushering in the strong movie season which is now upon us.

Bridge Of Spies.  One of the years best movies.