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Friday, July 31, 2015

Hot picks on Neflix this August

Netflix, worth the price for Bloodline alone, has some hot choices this month that makes its $8 a month price totally ten-buck-worthy.

 Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp (2015)
I haven’t seen this prequel to literal camp classic Wet Hot American Summer, but this 6-episode series is a good bet for something to watch indoors this month. Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Molly Shannon, Jason Schwartzman, Chris Meloni, David Hyde Pierce and Janeane Garofalo are back. (Available July 31.)

Mission Impossible (1996)
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to enjoy Brian DePalmas flawless heist scene in the first Mission Impossible film to get excited about the well-reviewed Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, in theaters July 31. Mission number two, rally for Tom Cruise as if you have no idea about Scientology, which might prove to be…well, you know. (Available now.)

Two Days, One Night (2014)
What could be hotter than August 2015? Perhaps Marion Cotillard. In Two Days, One Night, she plays a young Belgian mother who has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job. (Available August 16.)

Man On Wire (2008)
Robert Zemekis’ (Flight, Forrest Gump Back To The Future) upcoming 3D film, The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt should have our full attention in theaters October 2. Before that lands, check out the 2008 Oscar winner for Best Documentary that showcases the same story — tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974. (Available now.)
Seeking A Friend For The End of the World (2012)
If the world was ending, you could do much worse than spending your final days with Keira Knightley and Steve Carrell. This is not worth your final two hours on earth of course, but it’s pleasantly worth your time if you’re looking for something simple to watch on TV while folding laundry. (Available Aug 16.)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Terminator Genisys

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“John Connor talks too much…”

… says Arnold Schwaneggar’s Terminator machine character. Everyone in this film talks too much, baybee. They’re all trying to explain the story background, the new plot, time travel, and every muddled thing you can imagine, including why Arnold’s Terminator has aged.

There’s an interesting story buried in the Genisys plot somewhere, but by the time the third act gives John Connor an unwelcome twist, I wish I could time travel to the end of this film. Without spoiling much, let’s just say that Terminator Genisys does to him what Go Set A Watchman does to Attitus.

On the plus, it’s a blast to see Arnold back onscreen as this character, but it hurts to see all these efforts put towards a muddled mess. Emilia Clarke is perfect as a young Sarah Connor. Jai Courtney also has star power onscreen as an everyman hero (but he didn’t play to or pull off his character’s military background). I don’t think these new actors matter though; we won’t see any more of these films for decades now.

We’ve had three sequels since the perfect action film, Terminator 2, in 1991. It’s clear that Arnold’s signature series only works when James Cameron is involved. Someone please tell Skynet.

Simply put: If only we could send a Terminator back in time and terminate this whole production.

Award potential: None.
The ten buck review:
 Not worth ten bucks.

The Wolfpack

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Away from the pack

Locked away from society in an apartment in Manhattan, seven brothers (named the Wolfpack), learn about the outside world through films. Much of their time was caught on film and is showcased in this documentary.

It’s an unbelievable story that should be told in some way. For some folks, this film is it. The Wolfpack took the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

I wasn’t moved as much. Perhaps because I don’t identify with extreme fans of horror film, I found it really hard to get emotionally pulled in to these characters. I watched the footage more distant than the big screen should allow. For me, this documentary seems more suited for a special 20/20 TV show versus a full film.

Simply put: A fascinating story. Not a fascinating film.

Award potential: It could be a contender for Best Documentary Feature, but I’m not betting on it.
The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Ted 2

Not its forebear

Ted, was a laugh riot with the right amount of heart. That heart was built around the broship of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg ) and Ted (Voiced by Seth MacFarlane) and the complications that come from the new person in their life, John’s fiancé. Ted 2 flips this basic setup and focuses on Ted’s fiancé’s difficulties. Somehow all that heart stuff doesn’t work when a bear is trying to pull strings about feelings and civil rights. Neither do the tired jokes (Flash Gordon is back, ah-nah). Plus, Ted 2 offers an indulgent opening song and dance number without one laugh planned. What were they thinking?

Simply put: I laughed out loud at a few things that caught me by surprise. Note those last four words.

Award potential: 
None. This film is Seth MacFarlane’s boob.
The ten buck review:
 Not worth ten bucks.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


did her father see the film Amy Winehouse
Yes, yes, yes.

Amy, the documentary about Amy Winehouse, the iconic British songstress who famously sang “no, no, no” to rehab, easily could have been just another Behind The Music rockumentary. You know, know, know the familiar rock star arc: Tortured artist rises to fame, turns to drugs and alcohol and dies too early.

However, the filmmakers had amazing access to her personal voicemails, candid home videos, filmed recording sessions and televised events, which takes Amy to a new level; it’s two hours of fascinating.

I expected the documentary to be half about her personal life and half about the influence her music had on those that followed her. It’s not. There are no clips from Adele or Lady Gaga. The only artist to reflect in this film, Tony Bennett, compares her legacy to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. It’s the only odd moment in the film. With only two albums to her name, that quote would have only felt right in a movie that spent any time exploring her influential place in music. This movie focuses on her chaotic personal life.

It was the right approach. I often find it difficult to sympathize with self-destructive superstars, but this film is so personal that I did. Through the candid footage, viewers can feel the chaos of going from just a girl who can sing to a wealthy worldwide star under scrutiny of both the paparazzi and family and record labels that want the money train to keep moving forward.

Any album-owning fan will enjoy seeing Amy on the big screen.

Simply put: The best parts are the small moments that reveal so much about Amy. Just like the lyrics of her songs.

Award potential: It’s not revolutionary filmmaking nor socially or politically impactful, so it’s  a long shot for an Oscars Best Documentary nomination.
The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.