Friday, October 24, 2014

In Theaters Now - 10/24/14



(new releases in green)

Boyhood        Grade: A+

Fury      Grade: A

Whiplash       Grade: A

Men, Women & Children        Grade: A

John Wick       Grade: A

St. Vincent       Grade: A

Birdman       Grade: A-

The Maze Runner        Grade: A-

My Old Lady        Grade: A-

The Judge        Grade: B+

The Skeleton Twins        Grade: B+

This is Where I Leave You        Grade: B+

Gone Girl        Grade: B+

The Two Faces of January        Grade: B+ (also available on Video on Demand)

Kill The Messenger        Grade: B

The Equalizer        Grade: B

Guardians of the Galaxy        Grade: B

Pride       Grade: C

Annabelle        Grade: D




Additional Films Not Reviewed:

23 Blast
Addicted
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
The Best of Me
The Book of Life
The Boxtrolls
Dear White People
Dracula Untold
Exists
Happy New Year
Meet the Mormons
No Good Deed
Ouija
Whiplash

Friday, October 17, 2014

In Theaters Now - 10/17/14




(new releases in green)

Boyhood       Grade: A+

Fury      Grade: A

Men, Women & Children       Grade: A

One Chance      Grade: A

The Drop      Grade: A

St. Vincent      Grade: A

The Maze Runner       Grade: A-

My Old Lady      Grade: A-

The Judge       Grade: B+

The Skeleton Twins       Grade: B+

This is Where I Leave You       Grade: B+

Gone Girl       Grade: B+

The Two Faces of January       Grade: B+   (also available on Video on Demand)

Kill The Messenger      Grade: B

The Equalizer       Grade: B

Guardians of the Galaxy       Grade: B

Pride      Grade: C

Annabelle       Grade: D




Additional Films Not Reviewed:

Addicted
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
The Best of Me
The Book of Life
The Boxtrolls
Dolphin Tale 2
Dracula Untold
The Green Prince
No Good Deed
Young Ones  (also available on Video on Demand)

Friday, October 10, 2014

In Theaters Now - 10/10/14



(new releases in green)

Boyhood       Grade: A+

Men, Women & Children        Grade: A

One Chance        Grade: A

The Drop       Grade: A

The Maze Runner       Grade: A-

The Trip to Italy       Grade: A-   (also available on Video on Demand)

Hector and the Search for Happiness      Grade: A-

My Old Lady      Grade: A-

The Judge      Grade: B+

The Skeleton Twins       Grade: B+

This is Where I Leave You       Grade: B+

Gone Girl       Grade: B+

The Two Faces of January       Grade: B+  (also available on Video on Demand)

The Houses October Built        Grade: B+  (also available on Video on Demand)

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby       Grade: B+

Kill The Messenger      Grade: B

The Equalizer      Grade: B

Guardians of the Galaxy       Grade: B

Love is Strange       Grade: C-

Annabelle       Grade: D




Additional Films Not Reviewed:

Addicted
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Bang Bang
The Boxtrolls
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (Her/Him)
Dolphin Tale 2
Dracula Untold
The Giver
The Green Prince
I Am Ali
Jimi: All Is By My Side
Left Behind
Lilting
Nas: Time is Illmatic
No Good Deed
Pride

Men, Women & Children


Just like most people who like movies, I find myself checking websites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic to see what the general consensus is among critics and regular filmgoers.  But I really don't know why I do that since often times it is completely out of whack.  And this latest film by Jason Reitman is another prime example of that.  The pre-release score on Rotten Tomatoes is a lousy 31% and on Metacritic it's a paltry 37.  Well those low scores are unwarranted.  This movie is terrific.  At a time when most movies in the theater involve comic book heroes and are targeted towards 12 year olds, Reitman is one of the few directors that consistently puts out movies for adults.  And most of the time they're excellent.  ('Thank You for Smoking', 'Juno', 'Up in the Air', 'Young Adult')  Sure, they're a smidge preachy and message laden, which can irk me in the hands of untalented filmmakers, but Reitman is a true master of his craft.  This time he tackles relationships, both young and middle aged, in the cyber heavy world we live in today.  Everything is different than it was 10 - 25 years ago, before the internet and cell phones.  Today we can connect to countless people instantly but in most ways we are more disconnected than ever.  And Reitman has his finger on the pulse of what that's like better than most.  Despite the low scores on the internet, this one's better than 'Gone Girl', 'The Judge', and 'Kill the Messenger'.  See it ... if you're an adult.  Otherwise just go see 'Guardians of the Galaxy' another f%#$-ing time and don't waste your time reading my blog.

Grade: A

Who is this movie for?  Adults who enjoy movies about the challenges of growing up and relationships.  Pair it with 'Disconnect' and 'Trust' for a trilogy of quality cyber-dramas.

 

The Judge


I always try to know as little as possible about a film before I see it.  So often times, movies aren't quite what I expected going in.  For 'The Judge' I was expecting a legal thriller and/or courtroom drama, along the lines of all those great John Grisham novels turned films with all their generic law jargon titles like 'The Client', 'The Firm', and 'The Chamber'.  'The Judge', however, isn't a thriller at all, and it's only partially a courtroom drama, but mostly it's a family drama.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  But at the start, it's a very cliche family drama, of a son (Robert Downey Jr.) who leaves his small town family behind to become a big time defense attorney in the big city, having no scruples, tons of money, a beautiful home and an unhappy trophy wife.  But now he needs to return home, after being away many years, for his mom's funeral, and re-encounter his estranged dad played by Robert Duvall.  In the first half hour I was braced to be disappointed, but it's a long film at 2.5 hours, and it does get better as it goes along.  And the performances, as I would have expected, are terrific.  It's no John Grisham thriller, and it's no 'My Cousin Vinnie'.  But it's really a pretty good family drama with some decent courtroom drama thrown in.

Grade: B+  (and maybe it should be an A-)

Who is this movie for?  Anyone looking for a quality family drama with quality performances by quality actors.  It's not awards worthy, but it's good.

Kill the Messenger


Based on a true story from 1996, Jeremy Renner plays Gary Webb, a newspaper journalist in Cupertino, CA who stumbles upon an unthinkable intersection of Nicaraguan drug trafficking and the CIA.  Essentially this is 'All the President's Men' twenty years later, and it's propelled by another great performance by Renner and a strong supporting cast.  But thrilling, it is not.  Then again, I didn't find 'All the President's Men' all that thrilling either.

Grade: B

Who is this movie for?  Political/history/government conspiracy theory buffs should find it an interesting watch.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

23rd Philadelphia Film Festival


The Philadelphia Film Festival begins on Thursday 10/16 at the Perelman Theater and then runs from noon to midnight every day through Sunday 10/26, with 89 feature films playing at the Ritz East, Ritz Bourse, Prince, and Roxy theaters.  Check out the full schedule and buy your tickets and badges now!

High profile screenings include:
  • Birdman - Michael Keaton, Zach Galfianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts
  • Wild - Reese Witherspoon
  • The Good Lie - Reese Witherspoon
  • The Imitation Game - Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley
  • Laggies - Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell
  • St. Vincent - Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O'Dowd, Terrence Howard
I'll be at all of those for sure.  But if you want some personal recommendations of films I've already seen:
  • Gabriel - A heartbreaking drama featuring one of the best performances I've seen all year, by Rory Culkin.  In my opinion, this is a must see if you like powerful dramas.
  • It Follows - A super creepy horror film that is everything that is missing with horror today.
  • In Order of Disappearance - a Norwegian crime film with the perfet balance of thriller and dark comedy
  • Force Majeure - what appears to be an Avalanche thriller in the French Alps morphs into a thought provoking drama sprinkled with dark comedy
  • Life Partners - a modern day female driven romantic dramedy with a terrific cast
  • Art and Craft - a documentary about an eccentric art forger who uses his talents to fool museums across the country
  • Kumiko the Treasure Hunter - A Japanese woman who finds a copy of the Coen Brothers' Fargo on VHS and believes the lost treasure to be real becomes obsessed with finding it.
  • Creep - A found footage horror film featuring the always entertaining Mark Duplass
  • From The Vaults:
    • David Lynch films: Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, The Straight Story, Wild at Heart
    • One of Philip Seymour Hoffman's finest:  Capote
    • Bogart & Bacall classic:  To Have and Have Not

See you at the movies!