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Friday, May 29, 2015

Wet, hot Netflix picks in June

Netflix in June brings us Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, about Maziar Bahari's 2009 imprisonment by Iran, Jennifer Aniston’s Cake, about a woman in chronic pain, and the Wachowski brother’s new sci-fi series. But these thrillers, comedies and surf-tastic films below might be more fun, fun, fun for the start of summer. 

Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

Bradley Cooper’s disappointing summer film, Aloha, will be saying “hello” and “goodbye” quickly in the theatres, but his summer camp period piece has had a long unexpected life already. This satire features Paul Rudd, Amy Poehelr, Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Christopher Meloni, Molly Shannon and more. Watch the film now to prepare for July’s Netflix series, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, which will feature most of the same amazing cast — plus Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig. (Available now.)

Bloodline (2015)
I highly recommend you meet the Rayburn family of the Florida Keys this summer. This Netflix original series features stellar performances by Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard and next September’s Oscar front runner Ben Mendelsohn. The first show is slow but stick with it and you’ll get drawn in to its sleepy, sun-drenched pacing. (Available now.)

Endless Summer (1966)

It was the first documentary that captured my attention and I could watch it again every summer. In 1966, two top surfers ride the waters of Hawaii, Africa and Australia in search of the perfect wave. (Available now.)

Grease (1978)

Summer days drifting away,to, uh oh, those summer nights. Now that I think about it, every June should start with Sandy and Danny and this breezy fun film. Even today, Grease is the word.(Available now.)

Nightcrawler (2014)

Want something less sunny? Picture Jake Gyllenhall as a cameraman on the dark side of tabloid journalism in this film that won him a Best Actor SAG nomination (but not an Oscars one). It’s a dark choice but it contains one of the best car chase scenes in recent memories — and Rene Russo.  (Available June 10)

Ten buck review: All are ten-buck worthy.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Too much to marvel at. Too little to love. 

Before 2012's Avengers screened, I expected that a movie featuring a number of favorite superheroes would be aimless, disjointed and too much for the senses. Turns out, we got a solid story and an impressive balance of character dialogue and exhilarating action. Avengers is one of the best superhero films by a long shot.

Turns out, that circus of a movie would come three years later in the form of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Everything the first film did so well was Hulk-smashed into a film that spends more time setting up other movie stories in the Marvel universe than giving us something to love on its own.

Don't get me wrong, the first non-storied 30 minutes is dazzling. And Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansen elevate every scene they are in. But judging by this film, and the Avengers we are most likely left with for the third film, the mighty heroes have already lost.

Simply put: Super duper disappointing

Award potential: Don't count it out for visual effects, but I bet we'll appreciate some other films more by end of year.

Ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summer Movies to the Max: Your weekend by weekend guide

It looks like a mad, mad summer at the movies with a tall list of titles that may not all deliver, but certainly look hotter than the summer of 2014.

Friday, May 15
The Blockbuster Reboot: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Sleeper: Pitch Perfect 2
The Sequel: Good Kill (Ethan Hawke, Gattaca team)
The Counterprogramming: Slow West (Michael Fassbender, western) 

Friday, May 22 
The Blockbuster: Tomorrowland (George Clooney)
The Sleeper (although no one will sleep): Poltergeist
The Counterprogramming: Aloft (Jennifer Connelly)

Friday, May 29
The Blockbuster: San Andreas 3D (Dwayne Johnson)
The Sleeper: Aloha (Bradley Cooper)

Friday, June 5
The Bomb: Spy (Melissa McCarthy)
The Sleeper: Entourage
The Counterprogramming: Love & Mercy (Brian Wilson story, Paul Dano, John Cusak, Paul Giamatti)
Oh, The Horror: Insidious: Chapter 3 (sequel to haunting film)

Friday, June 12
The Blockbuster Reboot: Jurassic World (Chris Pratt)

Friday, June 19
The Big Family Film: Inside Out (Pixar. Voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Sundance hit)
The Sequel: The Transporter: Refueled (sci-fi)
The Sleeper: Dope (indie comedy)
The Counterprogramming: Infinitely Polar Bear (Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana)

Friday, June 26
The Blockbuster Sequel: Ted 2
The Counterprogramming: Fresh Dressed (doc on hip-hop fashion)
The Family Fare: Max (A wayward teen and a dog)
The Sleeper: Live From New York! (SNL documentary)
The Documentarys: The Wolfpack (Sundance hit)

Wednesday, July 1
The Blockbuster: Terminator: Genisys
The Sleeper: Magic Mike XXL

Friday, July 10
The Blockbuster: Minions
The choices: Why see anything else?

Friday, July 17
The Superhero Film: Ant-Man
The Sleeper: Trainwreck (Judd Apatow, Amy Schumer, John Cena, Bill Hader)
The Sleeper: Mr. Holmes (Ian McKellen, Laura Linney)

Friday, July 24
The Blockbuster: Pan (as in Peter, with Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried)
The Comedy: Pixels (Kevin JamesAdam Sandler, Peter DinklageJane Krakowski)
The Sleeper: Paper Towns (based on John Green teen novel)

Wednesday, July 29
The Blockbuster Reboot: Vacation

Friday, July 31
The Blockbuster Sequel: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
The boxing film: Southpaw (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams)
The counterprogramming: Self/Less (Ryan Reynolds)

Friday, August 7
The Superhero Reboot: The Fantastic Four
The Sleeper: Masterminds (Kristen Wiig, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Owen Wilson)
Ricki and the Flash (Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline)

Friday, August 14
The Blockbuster: The Man From U.N.C.L.E
The Counterprogramming: Straight Outta Compton
The Animated Sleeper: Underdogs

Friday, August 23
The One For Homeland Fans: Hitman: Agent 47

Friday, May 1, 2015

Feast on these five Netflix finds in May

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

SOMM (2012)
Pair this insightful film with a quiet night at home and a nice bottle of red. If you’re curious about what it takes to be a sommelier, rent this documentary and watch four sommeliers as they attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world. It had me at merlot. (Available now.)

Fruitvale Station (2013)
This drama from two years back mirrors what is probably going on in your newspaper today and is worth a look if you’ve never heard the story of Bay-Area resident Oscar Grant (played by Michael B. Jordan) and his mother (Octavia Spencer). This film took both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, but never got the Oscars attention it deserved. (Available May 12.)

Fed Up (2014)
The title reads like “fed up,” but it’s clear that this documentary from Katie Couric and Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth) is talking about our f’d up nutrition system and food industry. It’s not as clever, well produced and insightful as  Super Size Me (2004), but it’s an engaging film and is certainly food for thought. Plus it's a great kick-start to healthier eating for the month before swimsuit season. (Available now.) 

Muscle Shoals (2013)
Need some good music before summer? Put in this documentary that celebrates Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the signature sound he developed in songs such as Brown Sugar and When a Man Loves a Woman. Who would have thought so many magical songs would have come from a place that's not Motown. And who would have thought that place would be my sweet home of Alabama? (Available now.)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T2) (2002)
Ready, set, action films! It’s the beginning of blockbuster summer movie season and the way I see it, there’s no better way to celebrate it than by watching the biggest and Arnold-est of them all, baby!