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Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Chris Evans nude vpl shirtless
It’s worth the ride.

Snowpiercer is set in the future after global warming has left the planet frozen over. The few survivors are passengers on the Snowpiercer, a train that circles the globe yearly via a perpetual-motion engine.

As you might guess, the passengers are now dealing with a Titanic-sized class system. As you might not guess….well, everything else about this boldly inventive film.

It’s a full-throttle visual stunner. The bold cinematic style of Boon Joon-ho
Is the story here (although it is an adaptation of the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige).

It’s a standout in a year where the franchises, comic heroes and sequels have been mostly uninspired. Whether the story grabs you or not, movie goers will surely experience a thrill similar to first views of films like Blade Runner, Mad Max, The Fifth Element or The Matrix.

Simply put: If you are ready for something original, get a ticket for this ride.

Award potential: This will have a chance at Adapted Script and a good chance at Art Direction. Tilda Swinton is a standout.

The ten buck review: Worth five bucks. You can enjoy this one just fine at home today. It's simultaneously available to download or see in the theater.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Michelin 3-star rating system explained Food films
The Hundred-Foot Journey doesn’t go far enough

We must have been hungry for some feel good foodie films about a year ago, because this summer has provided us with Chef, Le Chef and now The Hundred-Foot Journey from co-directors Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.

As a theatrical achievement, this predictable tale with under-developed characters can be hard to swallow. But as escapism, Chocolat director Lasse Hallström's visuals of food and the French countryside are sumptuous.

As is Helen Mirren; who elevates this simple story.

Simply put: Perfect for a feel-good movie night, but you won’t remember much about it later.

Award potential: Too slight for true award competition.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks — to see the beauty onscreen.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wish I Was Here

I wish there was something here

Director Zach Braff's follow-up to his indie breakout hit Garden State tells the story of a man examining his life, his career and his family. Unfortunately, the plot is simply too trivial to earn your two hours.

It's another film to go in the 2014 collection of what I'm calling "findies," faux indie films from former genius directors that are - just - so - nice

Like the totally appealing findies Chef and Begin Again, it's a charmer that is meant to be a crowd pleaser. Somehow, I just expect more from these directors.

Simply put: Sometimes sincere. Never very interesting.

Award potential: None

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

A Wanted Man

A leading man.

This thriller, based on the John le Carre novel, thrills by the cast alone:  Philip Seymour Hoffman (his final role as a leading man), Willem Defoe, Rachel McAdams and Robin Wright.

The look is decidedly European, and its plot unfolds like a time bomb — cautious anxiety leads to edgy suspense. Exactly what you want from a thriller. 

No need to rush out to see this one; it's simply a well-crafted film that won't disappoint.

Simply put: A solid cast. A solid spy film.
Award potential: Deserving, but perhaps not loud enough to be remembered 6 months from now. Hoffman shines without being showy. So does the rest of the cast. 
The ten buck review: Wait to make it five bucks; it will hold up well on TV.

Guardians of the Galaxy

I am groot
The superhero universe just got a new galaxy

Can I recommend a sci-fi superhero movie featuring a lunkhead, a green girl, an armed raccoon and a talking tree in space? Suprisingly, yes.

After a decade of mostly dark superhero flicks, everything about Guardians seems fresh in the superhero world: it covers the origin story in less than 5 minutes, it's not afraid of somewhat-zany humor, and its universe is crisp and dazzling. 

Chris Pratt is the modern-day Bruce Willis —a convincing  hero who can balance the action with a wink. He never oversteps either. And the film's light touch, reminiscent of the first and third Indiana Jones films, makes for a thrilling summer flick. 

Simply put: The film of the summer.
Award potential: Nope. 
The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Get On Up

did james brown really hold up with a gun in Georgia bathroom
Can a brand new bag of tricks reinvent the rock biopic?

In his follow-up to the Academy Award-nominated blockbuster The Help, director Tate Taylor aims to defy the rocker bio-pic cliché formula with the story of James Brown. It’s a good bet; “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business” defied the music business norm for six decades.

The choices made to break out of the rise-to and fall-from stardom movie cliché ultimately affect what’s both good and bad about Get On Up.

To create energy, Tate utilized non-linear storytelling — to a fault. In the first few minutes of the film, we dash across three decades of James’ life to witness some oddly cartoonish versions of Brown’s rural childhood, visit to Vietnam and 1988 meltdown. And yikes, as a crutch, the film shows the current year on the screen in a bold font so that we can follow this madness.

However, once the story kicks in, the flashbacks are simplified and the parody performance yields to a positively electric one by Chadwick Boseman (42).

Everything starts to go right once Boseman hits the stage as Brown. Although recent biopics have had original voices, director Tate had Boseman lip-synch to the real recordings. It’s this offbeat choice that fuels the film with the funky energy of the Godfather of Soul.

Tate did the unthinkable and gave us film versions of iconic performances. Like that famous night at the Apollo, the performance after MLK’s death and the 1971 Paris concert. I felt like I was there.

Boseman is a funktastic James Brown. It’s a riveting interpretation that becomes a riveting film.

Simply put: This film doesn’t explore why James Brown was important, but it does makes you feel like you were there for everything that happened.

Award potential: You can feel good that Boseman will be considered around Oscar time. It’s as good or better than Jamie Foxx’s Ray. He, Viola Davis, Nelsan Ellis and this film will have an easier time scoring Golden Globe nods in the Comedy/Music category. Dan Aykroyd delivers another flaccid performance.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Magic In The Moonlight

good clean comedy for whole family new film for all ages
For Allen, it's a lightweight. But I had a premonition that you’ll enjoy it anyway.

The most common discussion of Woody Allen’s films this Century is that there are just two kinds: masterpieces and misses. Magic In The Moonlight debunks that theory by falling somewhere in the middle. It’s a lightweight romantic film that isn’t trying to be a masterpiece.

Magic, set on the Côte d'Azur in the 1920s, stars Colin Firth as a magician and Emma Stone as a young clairvoyant. What follows is a series of magical conversations about things like spirituality, science and love. Of course, those three (sometimes) conflicting things make for good whimsical conflict.

The cinematography is elegant and the dialogue is crisp (although it is not funny like your favorite Woody Allen film is). I can imagine this film starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert; and I think that is Allen’s intent.

Simply put:  It’s not a Woody Allen comedy. It’s not a Woody Allen masterpiece. It’s simply a charming Woody Allen film.

Award potential:  Emma Stone’s character is simply too light to become one of the awarded women characters of Woody Allen.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.