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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming

This Spidey is so McFly.

The last two Amazing Spider-Man films were anything but. Each of those films, as well as the original trilogy, has retold the origin story in every single stinkin’ film, so I’m thrilled to tell you that Homecoming provides only this line, “So you got bit by a spider,” as an origin. Non-spoiler alert: you don’t have to watch Uncle Ben die again either.
   
Homecoming picks up after Spidey’s comedic appearance in Captain America: Civil War (2016), with a teenage Tom Holland working his way through, well, John Hughs High. In a fresh move for Marvel, half of this movie feels like an 80’s high school comedy ­with winks and nods to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) and Breakfast Club (1985). 

Mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and villain Vulture (Michael Keaton) turn in seasoned, adult performances to make sure we know this is a legit Marvel endeavor, but each threaten to clash with this fresh approach. 

Credit some restraint by Marvel and a zippy, awkward hero performance by Tom Holland that recalls Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly. High praise indeed. 

Spider Man's nemesis was not the Green Goblin; It was teen angst, melodrama and hyperbolic action sequences. This friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man flies by seat of his spandex pants and it’s a modern marvel. 

Simply put: My spider sense says we’ll be seeing more of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, and I’m fine with that. 

Award potential: Not much Oscar-worthy here. 

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Beguiled

Like a Virginian.

In January, I listed my New Year’s Wishes for 2017 at the movies. I wished that Wonder Woman would be wonderful, Logan would be the Wolverine movie we’ve been waiting for and that the clearly uninspired remakes and sequels, specifically Baywatch, Mummy, Alien and Fifty Shades, would tank at the box office. I wished that the Oscars would move beyond #oscarssowhite. And I wished that Sofia Coppola would make our day with The Beguiled. 

Most of my wishes have come true, but while The Beguiled entertained me for a bit, it certainly did not make my day, and it won’t make my Best of the Year list. 

Director Sofia Coppola took best director prize at Cannes for The Beguiled. I can understand some of that. It is craftfully created, and each visual drips with the mossy visuals of a Civil-war era Virginia holding on to what beauty is left — but it’s not the film I hoped for. 

The story, a remake of the Clint Eastwood film from 1971, is a slight one. Colin Farrell, who I really want to like in a movie one day, is no Clint Eastwood. 

What does work, other than the Southern gothic scenery, is Nicole Kidman. Her politely suppressed character, like the best British and Southern movies, is sublime. I can tell you now without a spoiler, one static look in the final act will make her career montage.

Kidman is having one heck of a year from Lion to Big Little Lies to this. I should have wished for more Nicole Kidman in 2017.

Simply put: Not the film I hoped for, but a fine and pleasantly short film as counterpoint to the lengthy summer blockbusters at the cinema now.


Award potential: Nicole Kidman has a shot at Best Supporting Actress nominations on this one, but summer films are famously ignored. Kirsten Dunst was fine, but forgettable.
 

The Ten Buck Review: Worth ten bucks.



Thursday, June 22, 2017

Baby Driver


Baby Driver
This summer’s joyride.
 

Sorry super friends, guardians, monsters and transformers, Baby Driver is the coolest movie of the summer. 

Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) directs this baby with style and swagger and unlike anything he’s done before. Watching this film is as breezy as listening to the soundtrack that fuels it. 

The script gives us iPod-adorned Ansel Elgort (Baby) as the getaway driver for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) and an assortment of bank robbers (Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Eliza Gonzalez). It’s a cleverly written heist movie, but on speed. 

Get ready for brilliantly-shot car chases, stylish crime capers and a twee-rific love story featuring Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey). Each scene rolls in seamlessly, like a perfect mix tape, until it all boils up to the final act. It’s a drive worth taking. 

Simply put: Rev up. It’s Fast and Furious for the cool kids.
 

Award potential: Not an Oscar-type film, but expect to see Baby Driver on plenty of 2017 top ten lists and perhaps on some short lists for Golden Globe nominations. I'll give it the "coolest pic' of the year" award right now.

The Ten Buck Review:
Worth ten bucks.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman

It's super.

I’ve heard a lot of people who are surprised at how long it took Wonder Woman to get to the big screen. After all, “What could go wrong?”

For starters, she’s an Amazon princess, who is related to the Greek god Zeus. She wears a red, white and blue bustier, and fights crime with a shield, sword, magic bracelets and a golden lasso that makes people tell the truth. To make things more difficult, she is lovingly remembered by her 70’s TV incarnation that had a theme song with the lyrics “In your satin tights, fighting for your rights, and the old red, white and blue.” She is all that and a feminist icon as well. One more thing; it’s a DC movie (Green Lantern, Batman V. Superman). Yikes! 


In other words, about a million things could have gone wrong — but didn’t. Wonder Woman is everything we want it to be, and it's here to save the summer. Gal Gadot has big-screen star power and you just can’t look away from her. 

You can’t look away from this film either. Director Patty Jenkins (Monster) has set a new standard for balancing comedy, myth and action. She's Warner Brother's new hero.

Somehow Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg flipped all the things that could go wrong, such as her famous tights. By the time we see Diana Prince (Wonder Woman's secret identity) stretch a bit in restrictive 20th Century garments, any viewer can kinda understand why she pops into her skimpy, and otherwise absurd, attire to go to battle. The lasso of truth? It’s a beauty onscreen. The typical comic book final 20-minutes where the enemy gets big and the hero has to blow the big thing up amidst twirling VFX madness? Well, OK, they didn’t solve that. Next time. 

Like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, but unlike most superhero films, I want to see more stories about Gal Gadot’s blazzingly heroic Wonder Woman. It’s not just super, it’s superb.
 

Simply put: Wonder no more, Wonder Woman beaks the mold.
 

Award potential: In the mix for Best FX and Best Original Score and Best Sound and Sound Mixing Oscar categories. Look for Gal Gadot to be mentioned in early Golden Globe shortlists.

The Ten Buck Review:
Worth ten bucks.




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Snatched

Schumer’s next Trainwreck.

Amy Schumer’s infectious Trainwreck was one of the more laugh-filled theater gifts to

audiences in years. Goldie Hawn’s Private Benjamin and Overboard are comic staples. A pairing of these two blondes having fun should be at least half as funny as their best work, right?

The talents of Schumer and Hawn elevate this comedy for sure, but I’m sad to say that this project should have been cast overboard. The script is an ‘80s comedy throwback, complete with South American stereotypes, punched up with the expected gross out gags of modern rom-coms and bro-coms. I think they picked the two worst parts of those decades; it’s a long hour and a half.

Turns out, casting this duo, who we love individually as irreverent free spirits, means that someone has to play it straight. As a result, Hawn's uptight mom character doesn’t give her a chance to shine.

I did laugh a lot, but there was a lot of eye-rolling in between. Amy Schumer falling on her face gets some cheap laughs, but it’s not so funny for ticket buyers that this film also falls on its face.

Simply put: It should be one mother of a comedy. It isn’t.

Award potential: None.

The Ten Buck Review: Not worth ten bucks, but if you want to see these two together and need some cheap laughs on a Mother’s Day outing, I’ll understand.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Song at the beginning of Guaridans 2 ELO
The Misfits Strike Back. 

When Guardians of the Galaxy blasted into theaters in the summer of 2014, it had little to no expectations and it wowed us with its formula-breaking spirit and the movie-star arrival of Chris Pratt. Volume 2 arrives with out-of-this-world expectations, and it suffers from trying to accomplish all of them. Luckily for us, it’s still more fun than everything else at the cinema. 

There are still a lot of laughs this time around from Star Lord (Pratt), Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), Baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) and the gang, but while the original centered on Star Lord’s centered rise to leading the motley crew, Pratt is given a sobering family drama with Kurt Russell that sucks out any carefree momentum he generates. Separating the characters from Pratt is surely a calculated move for a franchise that also wants us to get invested in other characters such as Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zeo Saldana) and her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), but the film drags while Pratt is separated from the narrative. 

The overly digital effects, the meandering story and the new misfits all try too hard, but when you see the team form and hear ELO or Fleetwood Mac on the soundtrack, all is right with the galaxy. 

Simply put: Fun, but forgettable. 

Award potential: Not that kind of film. Potential for Best Makeup.

The Ten Buck Review: Worth ten bucks, just for the opening scene.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wonder when the summer movies are? The Summer 2017 Movie List


Ready, set, action movies! Summer movie season kicks off in May with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and continues with laborious sequels (and a few enticing diversions) until Labor Day. Plan your summer outings now with this quick guide to what's coming each weekend of summer:


May 5 
The blockbuster sequel: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The boxing movie: Chuck (Limited), Liv Schreiber, Naomi Watts 
The family movie: 3 Generations (Limited), Naomi Watts, Susan Sarandon
 The family issues movie: The Dinner (Limited), Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney

May 12 
The Lord of all things epic movie: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Director Guy Richie, Charlie Hunnan 
The 80’s comedy: Snatched, Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn
 The boomer pic: Paris Can Wait (Limited), Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin



May 19 
The sequel we didn't ask for: Alien: Covenant
The older kidflick: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
The teen weepie: Everything, Everything






May 26 
The Arrrr–rated sequel: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales 
The TV-rehash comedy: Baywatch, The Rock  (May 25)

 

June 2 
The superhero wonder: Wonder Woman
The kidflick: Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
The dramedy: Dean (Limited), Demetri Martin, Kevin Kline



June 9 
The Tom Cruise film: The Mummy
The Trump-era film: Beatriz at Dinner (Limited), John Lithgow
The Brit Lit film: My Cousin Rachel (Limited), Rachel Weisz

June 16
The rap bioflick: All Eyez on Me
The Pixar film: Cars 3
The future shark week film: 47 Meters Down, Mandy Moore, Matthew Modine The Chick Flick event night pic: Rough Night, Scar-Jo, Kate McKinnon
The indie A-list film: Maudie (Limited), Ethan Hawke, Sally Hawkins


June 23 
The toy franchise film: Transformers: The Last Knight
The Mad Max in Tex film: The Bad Batch (Limited), Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Suki Waterhouse
The Coppola Civil War pic (Sofia): The Beguiled (Limited), Colin Farrell
The Pakistani comedy: The Big Sick (Limited), Kumail Nanjinani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter
The curveball action flick: Baby Driver, Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, June 28 (Wednesday)






June 30 
The big yellow sequel: Despicable Me 3
The rehash: Amityville: The Awakening
The SNL Film: House, Will Ferrel, Amy Poehler




July 7 
The relaunch: Spider-Man: Homecoming


July 14 
The one with those apes: War for the Planet of the Apes, Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson
The Brit Lit Chick Flick: Lady Macbeth (Limited),
Florence Pugh
The thriller: City of Ghosts (Limited), Matt Dillion, Gerard Depardieu




July 21 

The WWII film: Dunkirk: Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh…and Harry Styles
The Girls Night Out flick: Girls Trip: Queen Latifah, Reginal Hall

July 28 
The sci-fi spy pick: Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron, James McAvoy
The kid, hopeful- franchise film: The Emoji Movie, voices of T.J. Miller, James Corden, LLana Glazer, Steven Wright, Patrick Stewart
The pop doc: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Al Gore

August 4 
The gunslinger movie: The Dark Tower, Iris Elba, Matthew Mcconaughey
The civil riot film: Detroit, John Boyega
The youth novel film: Midnight Sun, Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzeneger
The early contender for a Raspberry award: Ingrid Goes West (Limited), Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen
The Jeremy Renner FBI film of the month: Wind River (Limited), Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen



August 11 
Oh, the horror: Annabelle: Creation
The drama: The Only Living Boy in New York (Limited), Kate Beckinsale, Jeff Bridges




August 18 
The Ryan Reynolds, Samuel Jackson non-super hero film: The Hitman's Bodyguard
The end-of-summer kid’s movie: The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature


August 25 
The thriller, Polaroid
The re-release: Terminator 2 in 3D
Boomer’s night out: Villa Capri, Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Russo
17th Century alternative: Tulip Fever (Limited), Alicia Vikander, Judi Dench




September 1 
The war film: Renegades, J.K. SImmons
The animated musical: Leap!, Elle Fanning, Carly Rae Jepsen, Mel Brooks, August 30 (Wednesday)





September 8 
The comedy: Home Again, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen
The Stephen King thriller: It, Bill Skarsgard






The ten buck review: TBD. At least one of these will be worth ten bucks.