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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Baby Driver


Baby Driver
This summer’s joyride.
 

Sorry super friends, guardians, monsters and transformers, Baby Driver is the coolest movie of the summer. 

Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) directs this baby with style and swagger and unlike anything he’s done before. Watching this film is as breezy as listening to the soundtrack that fuels it. 

The script gives us iPod-adorned Ansel Elgort (Baby) as the getaway driver for crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) and an assortment of bank robbers (Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Eliza Gonzalez). It’s a cleverly written heist movie, but on speed. 

Get ready up for brilliantly-shot car chases, stylish crime capers and a twee-rific love story featuring Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey). Each scene rolls in seamlessly, like a perfect mix tape, until it all boils up to the final act. It’s a drive worth taking. 

Simply put: Rev up. It’s Fast and Furious for the cool kids.
 

Award potential: Not an Oscar-type film, but expect to see Baby Driver on plenty of 2017 top ten lists and perhaps on some short lists for Golden Globe nominations. I'll give it the "coolest pic' of the year" award right now.

The Ten Buck Review:
Worth ten bucks.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Wonder Woman

It's super.

I’ve heard a lot of people who are surprised at how long it took Wonder Woman to get to the big screen. After all, “What could go wrong?”

For starters, she’s an Amazon princess, who is related to the Greek god Zeus. She wears a red, white and blue bustier, and fights crime with a shield, sword, magic bracelets and a golden lasso that makes people tell the truth. To make things more difficult, she is lovingly remembered by her 70’s TV incarnation that had a theme song with the lyrics “In your satin tights, fighting for your rights, and the old red, white and blue.” She is all that and a feminist icon as well. One more thing; it’s a DC movie (Green Lantern, Batman V. Superman). Yikes! 


In other words, about a million things could have gone wrong — but didn’t. Wonder Woman is everything we want it to be, and it's here to save the summer. Gal Gadot has big-screen star power and you just can’t look away from her. 

You can’t look away from this film either. Director Patty Jenkins (Monster) has set a new standard for balancing comedy, myth and action. She's Warner Brother's new hero.

Somehow Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg flipped all the things that could go wrong, such as her famous tights. By the time we see Diana Prince (Wonder Woman's secret identity) stretch a bit in restrictive 20th Century garments, any viewer can kinda understand why she pops into her skimpy, and otherwise absurd, attire to go to battle. The lasso of truth? It’s a beauty onscreen. The typical comic book final 20-minutes where the enemy gets big and the hero has to blow the big thing up amidst twirling VFX madness? Well, OK, they didn’t solve that. Next time. 

Like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, but unlike most superhero films, I want to see more stories about Gal Gadot’s blazzingly heroic Wonder Woman. It’s not just super, it’s superb.
 

Simply put: Wonder no more, Wonder Woman beaks the mold.
 

Award potential: In the mix for Best FX and Best Original Score and Best Sound and Sound Mixing Oscar categories. Look for Gal Gadot to be mentioned in early Golden Globe shortlists.

The Ten Buck Review:
Worth ten bucks.




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Snatched

Schumer’s next Trainwreck.

Amy Schumer’s infectious Trainwreck was one of the more laugh-filled theater gifts to

audiences in years. Goldie Hawn’s Private Benjamin and Overboard are comic staples. A pairing of these two blondes having fun should be at least half as funny as their best work, right?

The talents of Schumer and Hawn elevate this comedy for sure, but I’m sad to say that this project should have been cast overboard. The script is an ‘80s comedy throwback, complete with South American stereotypes, punched up with the expected gross out gags of modern rom-coms and bro-coms. I think they picked the two worst parts of those decades; it’s a long hour and a half.

Turns out, casting this duo, who we love individually as irreverent free spirits, means that someone has to play it straight. As a result, Hawn's uptight mom character doesn’t give her a chance to shine.

I did laugh a lot, but there was a lot of eye-rolling in between. Amy Schumer falling on her face gets some cheap laughs, but it’s not so funny for ticket buyers that this film also falls on its face.

Simply put: It should be one mother of a comedy. It isn’t.

Award potential: None.

The Ten Buck Review: Not worth ten bucks, but if you want to see these two together and need some cheap laughs on a Mother’s Day outing, I’ll understand.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Song at the beginning of Guaridans 2 ELO
The Misfits Strike Back. 

When Guardians of the Galaxy blasted into theaters in the summer of 2014, it had little to no expectations and it wowed us with its formula-breaking spirit and the movie-star arrival of Chris Pratt. Volume 2 arrives with out-of-this-world expectations, and it suffers from trying to accomplish all of them. Luckily for us, it’s still more fun than everything else at the cinema. 

There are still a lot of laughs this time around from Star Lord (Pratt), Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), Baby Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) and the gang, but while the original centered on Star Lord’s centered rise to leading the motley crew, Pratt is given a sobering family drama with Kurt Russell that sucks out any carefree momentum he generates. Separating the characters from Pratt is surely a calculated move for a franchise that also wants us to get invested in other characters such as Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zeo Saldana) and her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), but the film drags while Pratt is separated from the narrative. 

The overly digital effects, the meandering story and the new misfits all try too hard, but when you see the team form and hear ELO or Fleetwood Mac on the soundtrack, all is right with the galaxy. 

Simply put: Fun, but forgettable. 

Award potential: Not that kind of film. Potential for Best Makeup.

The Ten Buck Review: Worth ten bucks, just for the opening scene.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wonder when the summer movies are? The Summer 2017 Movie List


Ready, set, action movies! Summer movie season kicks off in May with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and continues with laborious sequels (and a few enticing diversions) until Labor Day. Plan your summer outings now with this quick guide to what's coming each weekend of summer:


May 5 
The blockbuster sequel: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The boxing movie: Chuck (Limited), Liv Schreiber, Naomi Watts 
The family movie: 3 Generations (Limited), Naomi Watts, Susan Sarandon
 The family issues movie: The Dinner (Limited), Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney

May 12 
The Lord of all things epic movie: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Director Guy Richie, Charlie Hunnan 
The 80’s comedy: Snatched, Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn
 The boomer pic: Paris Can Wait (Limited), Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin



May 19 
The sequel we didn't ask for: Alien: Covenant
The older kidflick: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
The teen weepie: Everything, Everything






May 26 
The Arrrr–rated sequel: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales 
The TV-rehash comedy: Baywatch, The Rock  (May 25)

 

June 2 
The superhero wonder: Wonder Woman
The kidflick: Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
The dramedy: Dean (Limited), Demetri Martin, Kevin Kline



June 9 
The Tom Cruise film: The Mummy
The Trump-era film: Beatriz at Dinner (Limited), John Lithgow
The Brit Lit film: My Cousin Rachel (Limited), Rachel Weisz

June 16
The rap bioflick: All Eyez on Me
The Pixar film: Cars 3
The future shark week film: 47 Meters Down, Mandy Moore, Matthew Modine The Chick Flick event night pic: Rough Night, Scar-Jo, Kate McKinnon
The indie A-list film: Maudie (Limited), Ethan Hawke, Sally Hawkins


June 23 
The toy franchise film: Transformers: The Last Knight
The Mad Max in Tex film: The Bad Batch (Limited), Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Suki Waterhouse
The Coppola Civil War pic (Sofia): The Beguiled (Limited), Colin Farrell
The Pakistani comedy: The Big Sick (Limited), Kumail Nanjinani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter
The curveball action flick: Baby Driver, Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, June 28 (Wednesday)






June 30 
The big yellow sequel: Despicable Me 3
The rehash: Amityville: The Awakening
The SNL Film: House, Will Ferrel, Amy Poehler




July 7 
The relaunch: Spider-Man: Homecoming


July 14 
The one with those apes: War for the Planet of the Apes, Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson
The Brit Lit Chick Flick: Lady Macbeth (Limited),
Florence Pugh
The thriller: City of Ghosts (Limited), Matt Dillion, Gerard Depardieu




July 21 

The WWII film: Dunkirk: Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh…and Harry Styles
The Girls Night Out flick: Girls Trip: Queen Latifah, Reginal Hall

July 28 
The sci-fi spy pick: Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron, James McAvoy
The kid, hopeful- franchise film: The Emoji Movie, voices of T.J. Miller, James Corden, LLana Glazer, Steven Wright, Patrick Stewart
The pop doc: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Al Gore

August 4 
The gunslinger movie: The Dark Tower, Iris Elba, Matthew Mcconaughey
The civil riot film: Detroit, John Boyega
The youth novel film: Midnight Sun, Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzeneger
The early contender for a Raspberry award: Ingrid Goes West (Limited), Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen
The Jeremy Renner FBI film of the month: Wind River (Limited), Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen



August 11 
Oh, the horror: Annabelle: Creation
The drama: The Only Living Boy in New York (Limited), Kate Beckinsale, Jeff Bridges




August 18 
The Ryan Reynolds, Samuel Jackson non-super hero film: The Hitman's Bodyguard
The end-of-summer kid’s movie: The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature


August 25 
The thriller, Polaroid
The re-release: Terminator 2 in 3D
Boomer’s night out: Villa Capri, Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Russo
17th Century alternative: Tulip Fever (Limited), Alicia Vikander, Judi Dench




September 1 
The war film: Renegades, J.K. SImmons
The animated musical: Leap!, Elle Fanning, Carly Rae Jepsen, Mel Brooks, August 30 (Wednesday)





September 8 
The comedy: Home Again, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Sheen
The Stephen King thriller: It, Bill Skarsgard






The ten buck review: TBD. At least one of these will be worth ten bucks.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mr. Roosevelt

Austin Films comedy
A mess visits Texas.

Emily (Noel Wells), a struggling actress who moved to La La Land to pursue a career in comedy, returns to her college town when a loved one falls sick. That’s the premise for Mr. Roosevelt, a comedy set in Austin, Texas.

After a few minutes of watching this lighthearted comedy, I realized that not only is this film set in Austin, but also every vibe, visual and detail is so Austin-y Austin that it could have been set at a food truck serving tacos. The next scene I saw? It was at a food truck serving tacos.  
Wells (Master of None) is both actor and director for Mr. Roosevelt, and she’s a standout for comedy timing with both roles. She plays a character that is an equal blend of Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex & The City, Lena Dunham in Girls and Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids so there’s a lot of familiar stuff here, but the comedy is ripe and the Austin vibe has a distinct personality.

Before this film goes wide, the producers would be wise to cut an opening scene with unfortunate similarity to an Oscar-nominated musical released earlier this year. The comparisons are unfavorable and it's a bumpy start. 


The film definitely finds its groove soon after. Like Jon Favreau's Chef (2014), Mr. Roosevelt is a familiar tale set in colorful place that is pure joy to watch. (Yeh, they both have food trucks.)

Simply put: Grab a Shiner and a taco and get ready to watch this girl and her mess visit Texas.

Award potential: Not a contender for awards season, but should please most audiences on the festival circuit and in theaters.
 

The Ten Buck Review: Worth ten bucks.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Logan

Wolverine finally has his The Dark Knight.

Hugh Jackman's Wolverine has carved out many iconic scenes on film (six X-Men movies and two Wolverine ones) and he may be the single most iconic onscreen superhero, but the flicks have always come up short. Wolverine has never had a great movie—until now.

For starters, Logan is unburdened of comic book trappings. There is no doomsday villain nemesis nor aliens invading our planet. This down-to-earth film fulfills the promise of those first scenes in the original X-Men (2000) where we were first introduced to the Eastwood-gruff character. The R-rated Logan is gritty, raw, original and before the film is over, we finally get to see Wolverine let loose. And it's about bloody time.

It's 2029 and mutants are a thing of the past. Logan is graying, tired and worse of all—driving for an Uber-like service when trouble comes his way. That trouble sets up a road trip film that is part Road Warrior, T2, High Noon and Shane, a western noir which is utilized within the film. 


There's a lot to love about Logan. Jackman and the esquisite Patrick Stewart share some powerfully-written scenes that rise above the format. Fans will be pleased and first-timers will have a stand-alone film to love. Cue the sunset.

Simply put: Logan is the Wolverine movie we've waited 17 years for.

Award potential: If this were a different time of year, I could entertain some Golden Globe discussion about Jackman and Stewart even though it's a comic-based movie, but these super performances won't be remembered as award-worthy a year from now.

The Ten Buck Review: Worth ten bucks.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Watch out! What to watch for during Sunday's Oscars® telecast


While there will surely be some political pulpit moments in a year where we’re kinda exhausted with that, there are a dozen reasons why the show looks to transcend and entertain. Here are some things to watch for (some facts, some predictions):



John Legend, Sting and Lin-Manuel Miranda will delight. 
John Legend will perform 'City of Stars' and 'Audition (The Fools Who Dream)' from La La Land. Sting will sing 'The Empty Chair' from Jim: The James Foley Story. And young 
Auli'i Cravalho will join Miranda to perform 'How Far I'll Go' from Moana.

Justin Timberlake will perform too, with trolls. Ugh.
Justin Timberlake should solidify his career low point Sunday with a (surely) colorful musical confection of 'Can't Stop The Feeling'—from Trolls. May be more tolerable if watched while eating cotton candy. 

There will be no musical tribute to Best Hair and Makeup.
Show producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd have promised there won’t be any extraneous musical numbers, except those pegged to the nominated Best Song and the In Memorium segment.

Viola Davis will set the tone.
The Best Supporting Actress award will likely be presented in the first third of the show. Whether she is political or focused on film or a mix of both, I don’t think the high-profile winners that follow will stray too far from the tone she sets.

Emma Stone will wear green.
Not my expertise, but it would be too costume-y to do a yellow dress like the La La Land one. And blue might inspire her to do this (above). Vegas has odds on gold, but redheads love green for events that matter. 

Jimmy Kimmel will pass out food.
The segments that saw peak social activity in past years were when Ellen Degeneres delivered pizzas and Chris Rock had girl scouts deliver cookies, so they are sure to repeat this stunt. When Jimmy Kimmel hosted the Emmys, he asked the Stranger Things kids to pass out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’m hangry for a new bit, but I doubt they’ll pass on another social buzz opportunity.

Little Saroo will steal the show.
If Mumbai native Sunny Pawar, who plays the young version of Saroo in Lion, appears, no one will notice who else is on stage.

Kate McKinnon (SNL) will make a surprise appearance.
She’s not listed as a presenter, but she slayed at the Nominees Luncheon so I wouldn’t be shocked to hear her to read the rules or introduce Price Waterhouse for some laughs.

The In Memorium segment will be a doozy.
Expect clips from movies and a simple nod to the double tragedy of Carrie Fisher and her mom Debbie Reynolds. Waitress the Musical’s Sara Bareilles (“Love Song”) will perform.

Halle Berry will get an unexpected standing ovation
I’m just guessing here, but Halle Berry may get a moment. It won’t be for her work in Kidnap or Catwoman, but this night will applaud both diversity and maybe presenter Berry, the first African American to win Best Actress, fifteen years ago for Monster's Ball (2002).

We will get tired of the Matt Damon/Jimmy Kimmel stunt
It’s no accident that Kimmel has resurrected the ongoing Matt Damon faux feud on his late night show; he’s reminding everyone so we’ll remember it and laugh at some future bit on Sunday. Ben Affleck has one more Oscar than Damon, for producing Argo, so he’s likely to play a role. 

I expect it will be Kimmel’s low point in the show — unless Casey Affleck wins Best Actor, for the role that Damon was set to play, setting up some actual humor for the end of the show. 

The Salesman will upset the highly-decorated Toni Erdmann.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Salesman) and Shahab Hosseini, the star of Best Foreign Language film nominee The Salesman have said they will not attend the ceremony in protest of Trump’s travel ban —nudging their movie to statement-vote status.

If White Helmets wins, tears will flow.
The White Helmets are a group also known as the Syrian Civil Defense who work tirelessly to rescue civilians affected by the country's devastating civil war. The film, The White Helmets, focused on three of them — all who are attending and will be a site on stage if this film wins Best Documentary Short.


History will be made.
It was a great year for diversity in film (and a year after #oscarssowhite), so it should not be surprising if history is made Sunday. Expect three actors of color towalk away with three of four acting Oscars. Denzel, Viola and either Mahershala Ali (or Dev Patel) are all front runners.





This land is La La Land, from California to Oscars podium. 
Expect ten trips to the podium from one big film. Oscars loves films about themselves and it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the most daring films of most any year. Expect 10 wins for La La Land, tying West Side Story for second most wins.

Three hours and 31 minutes of Oscar.  
The producers promise a "swift" show with “some real candy in the middle.” 
I can’t wait.




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Five fab 2017 Oscar® nominated documentaries available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu




The White Helmets, Nominated for Best Documentary Short.
This short but remarkable documentary explores the work of the White Helmets, a group of Syrian citizens credited with having saved thousands lives over the past five years amidst the turmoil and violence in Syria and Turkey. 58,000 lives including the “miracle baby.”

Director Orlando von Einsiedel (Academy Award-nominated Virunga) combines hand-held action video and interviews with artful cinematic film work of the rubble of Aleppo, which raises this doc to the next level. It’s a moving and inspiring 40 minutes ­—­ and several moments nearly brought me to tears. You’ll emerge with a towering admiration for these heroes and their work. It's inspiring and amazing. Available on Netflix.





13th, nominated for Best Documentary Feature

Director Ava DuVernay (Selma) sweeps through the history of American racism from slavery to the Black Lives Matter protest at a dizzying pace. However, her tight focus is on incarceration and the 13th Amendment, which guarantees freedom for all citizens "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." The documentary, full of jaw-dropping facts and stats with intention to stir, is shot in a traditional interview format, but it couldn’t be timelier. Available on Netflix.




Extremis, Nominated for Best Documentary Short
Extremis, Latin for “at the point of death,” follows a two families day in the life of people who work in the ICU. There is a lot of frankness to take in, but the film is a merciful 24-minutes. Available on Netflix


Life, Animated, nominated for Best Documentary Feature
If you believe in Disney magic,this is the documentary for you. Life Animated explores a young autistic man's life and the breakthroughs that came from an unusual source — Disney animated movies.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams unfolds the story of Owen through his endearing parents, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia. One of their first breakthroughs comes when they realize that a young Owen was reciting lines from The Little Mermaid as a way to not only understand the world around him, but also to communicate with them. It's the most charming Disney movie that Disney never made. Available on Amazon Prime.


OJ: Made in America, nominated for Best Documentary Feature
One of the best-reviewed, most decorated documentaries of the year offers insights into sports,celebrity fame and race — and it often transcends its themes.

Some had this film in their Oscar short list for Best Picture nominees despite being an 8-episode 30 for 30 from ESPN. It’s seven-and-a-half hours. Available on Hulu, WatchESPN and available to rent on Amazon.
The Ten Buck Review: All worth ten bucks, or a subscription to Netflix.