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Friday, May 20, 2016

Five rainy day finds on Amazon Prime

If you have Amazon Prime because you wanted to save shipping costs on your Christmas tree stand, but aren’t taking advantage of the free movies and shows, here’s a few prime, rainy day suggestions to help you get another ten bucks’ worth.

Doctor Thorne (2016)
Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey and Oscar winner for the Gosford Park screenplay, has created a three-part series about Victorian aristocrats who become penniless and petticoat-less. Tom Hollander (The Night Manager) and Stefani Martini star  (Available on Prime starting today, May 20.)

Love & Mercy (2015)
God only knows why this film and its performances didn’t make it to the past Oscar season. This exceptional film examines the voyage of Brian Wilson, the singer, songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys. Paul Dano and John Cusack play Wilson at different ages. Plan to re-listen to the Pet Sounds album immediately after watching. (Available on Amazon Prime June 3.)

The Way Way Back (2013) 

Even more summerific than a Beach Boys film, The Way Way Back is the best coming-of-age movie ever set in a water park. It is way, way perfect and I make a point to watch it every summer. (Available on Amazon for $3.99.)

The Americans (Seasons 1-3)

The Hollywood Reporter recently called The Americans the best series on television,” and the consensus is that each season from one to three has surprisingly gotten better. How often do you hear that? I’m starting season four currently, but there’s still time to add some cold war to your hot summer. (Seasons 1-3 available on Amazon Prime.)

Mr. Robot (Season 1)
“Are you a one or a zero?” If you’re not watching Mr. Robot, I know which one you are.
(Available on Amazon Prime June 13.)

The ten buck review: All are ten-buck worthy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Nice Guys

Nice Guys rotten review tomatoes good movies this weekend
Nice and funny.

The Nice Guys is an action-filled buddy comedy from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang writer director (and Lethal Weapon series screenwriter) Shane Black. Safe to say, he’s the guy you want to write and direct a film that pairs Russell Crowe with Ryan Gosling as mismatched private eyes.

Both actors excel at turning their leading man gravitas badge in for Abbott and Costello-inspired slapstick and comedic banter. Gosling is on a roll, following comic turns in The Big Short (2015) and Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), and Crowe hasn’t been this funny since he attempted to sing in Les Miserables (2012).

A slapstick violence film? This could have been terrible; it is not. I found it to be a refreshing break from all those recent buddy comedies that have Farrell, Rudd or Wahlberg as lead. Unfortunately, the classic noir story is a trite one. I’ve seen many “girl gone missing” stories play out better on TV shows “and stuff.”

For anyone who wanted a follow up to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), this is almost that clever. (Robert Downey Jr. just makes everything a little better, doesn’t he?)

Simply put: Not great, but nice. Nice and funny.

Award potential: Kim Bassinger, who won an Oscar for her role in L.A. Confidential (1997) with Crowe, is now more likely to win unintended laughs for her rusty, puzzling performance.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Marvel pulls all the punches.

Everything that Batman v. Superman got wrong (kinda everything), Civil War gets right; story, conflict, action, comic banter, introducing new heroes, juggling a team of characters, wrestling with the implications of vigilantes, super-sized mother issues...I could go on.

It may be called Captain America: Civil War, but this is the premier Avengers movie (including the stellar 2012 film). I loved it.

The hero-versus-hero premise was always one of the most exciting ones to me as a comic book-reading kid, but BvS convinced me that a versus story wouldn't translate to the movies. That superfluous movie had some lazy Lex Luthor story with a contrived reason for a fight, but the script for Civil War has something believable at stake for each character and each team. When the heroes line up to fight, it was as like they flashed all my favorite comic book covers in front of me at once. 

For the non-comic book readers, there's plenty of comedy and entertainment to go around. Most of it comes from the superb Robert Downey Jr. 

I'm a bit worried about future Avengers movies without him. While DC introduced new characters by having Wonder Woman scroll through a computer with their logos on them (not kidding), Tony Stark winningly unveils a hero I didn't want to see again — Spider-Man. The onscreen powers of Robert Downey Jr. sold the introduction and set up a film that I would buy tickets for today. (Downey Jr. will have a mentor role in the upcoming Spider-Man film.)

Unlike BvS or Avengers: Age of Ultron, I didn't notice that it was overlong at two and a half hours. Themes of violence and vigilantism, friendships challenged and bureaucracy fill Civil War with a story that matters and drives us to a final battle of brains and brawn. What a relief from all those recent hero films where something hideous grows big at the end of the movie and heroes have to climb a tall thing to throw something special at it. 
Simply put: A marvelous edition to the top shelf of super-hero films and a rock 'em sock 'em good time at the movies.

Award potential: Not an awards film, but it's the current front runner for Best Visual FX.

The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Summer 2016 Movie List: Blockbusters and Ghostbusters

Ready, set, action movies! Summer movie season kicks off this weekend with Captain America. Look for some reboots, a lost fish, some naughty sausages and a few expected blockbusters, er, Ghostbusters. Here's a quick guide to what's coming each weekend of summer:

Friday May 6 
The Blockbuster: Captain America: Civil War

Friday May 13 
The Star Vehicle: Money Monster (George Clooney, Julia Roberts)
The Scary Movie: Dark Horse (Kevin Bacon)
The Jane Austen Film: Love & Friendship (Kate Beckinsale)
The Counter Programming: High-Rise (Tom Hiddleston)

Friday May 20 
The Family Film: Angry Birds
The Comedy: The Nice Guys (Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe)
The Comedy Sequel: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
The Counterprogramming: A Bigger Splash (Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes)

Friday May 27 
The Family Film: Alice Through the Looking Glass
The Superhero Film: X-Men: Apocalypse
The Sci-Fi Film: The Lobster (Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz)

Friday June 3 
The Date Night Film: Me Before You (Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin)
The Superhero Film: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
The Date Night Film: Maggie’s Plan (Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore)
The Comedy: PopStar: Never Stop Stopping (Andy Samberg)
The Documentary: Time to Choose (Oscar-winning documentarian Charles Ferguson)

Friday June 10 
The Sequel: Now You See Me 2 (Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson)
The Scary Movie: The Conjuring 2 (Vera Farmiga)
The Sci-Fi Film: Warcraft

Friday June 17 
The Buddy Comedy: Central Intelligence (Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart)
The Family Film: Pixar's Finding Dory (Voice by Ellen DeGeneres)
The Counterprogramming: Genius (Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman)

Friday June 24 
The Counterprogramming:Free State of Jones (Matthew McConaughey)
The Reboot: Independence Day: Resurgence
The Texas One:The Duel (Liam Hemsworth, Woddy Harrelson)

Friday July 1 
The Sci-Fi Film: The BFG (Steven Spielberg)
The Superhero Film: The Legend of Tarzan (Margot Robbie, Alexander Skarsgard)
The Fart Comedy: Swiss Army Man 

Friday July 8 
The Comedy: Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates
The Family Film: The Secret Life of Pets
The Thriller: Captain Fantastic (Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella)

Friday July 15 
The Franchise Reboot: Ghostbusters (Calls on Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones)
The Thriller: The Infiltrator (Bryan Cranston)


Friday July 22
The Sequel: Star Trek Beyond
The Family Film: Ice Age: Collision Course
The Comedy: Absolutely Fabulous The Movie
The Comedy Sleeper: Don’t Think Twice (Gillan Jacobs)

Friday July 29 
The Sequel: Jason Bourne (Matt Damon, whatever)
The Buddy Comedy: Bad Moms (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell)
The Counterprogramming: Café Society (Woody Allen)
The Sleeper Hit: Indignation (Philip Roth novel)

Friday August 5 
The Superhero Film: Suicide Squad (Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis)
The man turns into a cat film: Nine Lives (Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner)
The Counter Programming: The Founder (Michael Keaton)

Friday August 12 
The Family Film: Pete's Dragon (Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford)
The Non-family Film: Sausage Party
The Counterprogramming: Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep)

Friday August 19 
The Reboot: Ben-Hur
The Family Film: Kubo and the Two Strings (Voices by Matthew McConaughy, Charlize Theron)
The Sci-Fi Film: The Space Between Us (Gary Oldman)

Friday August 26 
The Sequel: Mechanic: Resurrection (Jason Statham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones)
The Boxing Film: Hands of Stone (Robert De Niro)
The Date Night Film: Southside With You (Inspired by the Obama’s First Date. Really, it is.)