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Monday, August 31, 2015

The End Of The Tour

Does achievement make you happy? (I'd say yes.)

Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky once said that his five-day interview of acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace was “the best conversation he ever had.” I believe it. The film can be described similarly; it’s a powerful conversation that gives talkmaster director Richard Linklater a run for his money.

The End Of The Tour, directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now), chronicles the interview that took place during the last leg of the 1996 book tour for Wallace's groundbreaking epic novel, Infinite Jest. Jesse Eisenberg (Lipsky) and Jason Segel (Wallace) are perfectly cast, but the real star is the tight script.

Last August’s movie lineup included Linklater’s Boyhood, which gave us a lot to think about than the usual summer fare provides. Moviegoers who head to the (more accessible) The End Of The Tour will be rewarded as well.

Simply put: The movie is a great conversation; you’re sure to have many after.

Award potential: Jason Segel surprises in this role. He should start his Best Supporting Actor campaign now.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Cold war served cold.

There is a lot right about The Man From U.N.C.L.E.:  a snazzy script, Ian Fleming’s original characters, exotic locales, retro cold war spy action sequences, Guy Ritchie’s over-the-top directorial style, foxy girls, costumes that should sweep awards and a sleek jazz score.

But there is equally as much wrong. Man of Steel actor Henry Cavil clearly should only play things made of steel. Throughout the film, he and Armie Hammer duke it out to be the most lifeless, boring, stone-faced character in modern film to deliver cleverly written banter. When Cavil bumps in to Hugh Grant, you can’t help but sense how much the film needed someone with star power. Too bad Grant's role is minimal.

Simply put: I really wanted this well-scripted film to come together, but eventually cried uncle.

Award potential: Should be a competitor for Best Costume awards.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

where is the opera house in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation arena symphony
Choose to accept it.

Is it possible to root for Tom Cruise, the smug, mugging Hollywood star with ties to a suspicious religious group? The answer is, “yes.”

This franchise has always able to pull off that impossible mission above. From the opening action sequence (it’s a doozy) to the final act, I couldn’t help being Team Ethan Hunt (Cruise).

It doesn’t hurt that there is non-stop suspense and fresh action sequences in multiple, jaw-dropping international locales. With this and Jurassic World, who needs superhero films this summer?

The previous chapter in the series, Ghost Protocol was the best in the series when it arrived. In that 2001 film, we saw Ethan Hunt hanging from the side of the world’s tallest skyscraper, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Director Christopher McQuarrie’s (The Usual Suspects, Edge of Tomorrow) Rogue Nation keeps the series at that high level.

Simply put: Delivering more freewheeling action than 007 and a lightness not found in Bourne films, this franchise is smack! in the middle of some very good company.

Award potential: Not likely until there is an award for stunts.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ricki and the Flash

Turns out, Meryl Streep can't do everything

Streep has yet to pull off a satisfying movie focused on music or a musician. Mama Mia and Postcards from the Edge come to mind as two of her few failed movies (even though I loved the original material).

Add one more; Ricki and the Flash is as average as the title, poster and trailer suggest.

I know you're wondering about her singing chops. No surprise, Streep pulls off the musical numbers convincingly. Yet it was a stretch to see the tight, controlled actress play someone so unhinged. It may be the only time I've seen her trying to act. Perhaps she had to lower the bar a bit since Rick Springfield brings his General Hospital drama to her better half. I was uncomfortably nervous whenever the two were onscreen without guitars.

The story is tired and trite. Ricki is the type of movie where everyone in the bar is staring at the musician all night, hanging on to every word and going wild in unison whenever they play. I think this lighthearted film will play well in middle-aged middle America. It's a familiar crowd pleaser with a happy ending and there's nothing else in theaters like it to fit that bill right now. However, the Oscar trifecta of director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno) and Streep (everything else) should have spent their time on something better.

Simply put: With any luck, you'll forget this in a flash.

Award potential: It has music. It has comedy. It has Streep. Expect undeserving nominations for Golden Globe's best picture, comedy or musical and lead actress, comedy or musical.

The ten buck review: Not worth ten bucks.


All aboard!

Since her dad told her “that monogamy isn’t realistic” when she was a little girl, Amy (Schumer) has been living an uninhibited life that is starting to feel like a rut. Then she meets a sports doctor named Aaron (Bill Hader).

That’s the simple setup for a fresh new rom-com that reminded me that a comedy doesn’t have to be a belabored story separated with a few hit or miss laughs — you can laugh and smile the full two hours and two minutes.

Much credit goes to Schumer, whose comic timing makes this a breezy ride. Just when this train is about to go off the rails with a sappy rom-com ending, she surprises with more guffaws.

Simply put: Your basic rom com, except it’s really, really funny. Funniest start-to-finish film since Bridesmaids (2011).

Award potential: Most likely nominations: Golden Globe comedy picture, comedy lead actress.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.