Sunday, September 30, 2012

Third Quarter of 2012

Time flies.  We're already three quarters through 2012 and so it's time to reflect back on the films released in the third quarter.  (You might also want a refresher on the films of the first and second quarters.)

Overall I saw 55 new releases that I am considering third quarter releases.  (Sure a few of them came out earlier in the year, but I didn't see them until now.  Sue me.)  As expected, the third quarter was much better than the first and second.  (The last two weeks alone I gave out six A's, which is more than the first and second quarters combined!)  No, I haven't gone soft.  It's just that the best films tend to come out between September and December so they're fresh in voters' minds come year end.

If you're on Oscar watch, there really haven't been many possible contenders for Best Picture yet.  Some are speculating that 'Moonrise Kingdom' and 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' are possibilities (though I didn't think either was anywhere close to worthy.)  Though I'd certainly approve if 'The Dark Knight Rises' made the cut.  And 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' and 'Looper' are garnering great reviews and are also very good.  But, to me, the only lock for a nomination so far this year is 'The Master'.  It won't win, but it just feels like an Academy Award Best Picture nominee, and both Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman (and maybe Amy Adams as well) will likely get nominated.  But there are lots of buzzed about films to come in the next thirteen weeks (including 'Argo', 'The Sessions', 'Cloud Atlas', 'Lincoln', 'Hitchcock', 'Silver Linings Playbook', 'Hyde Park on Hudson', 'The Hobbit', and 'Django Unchained'), so anything can happen.  I'm excited for the fourth quarter!

Without further ado, here is a summary of my grades for releases in the third quarter of 2012 (including some I never posted about previously, and few whose grades I tweaked).  I look forward to your comments.

The Dark Knight Rises       Grade: A+

The Master                         Grade: A

Looper                                 Grade: A


Hello I Must be Going        Grade: A

Sleepwalk with Me            Grade: A

Celeste and Jesse Forever      Grade: A

Killer Joe                              Grade: A 


Won't Back Down              Grade: A

Perks of Being a Wallflower    Grade: A

End of Watch                     Grade: A


Ruby Sparks                        Grade: A-

Robot and Frank                Grade: A-

Liberal Arts                         Grade: A-


Cosmopolis                          Grade: A-

Savages                                Grade: A-

The Good Doctor                Grade: A-

Arbitrage                             Grade: A-

The Odd Life of Timothy Green       Grade: B+

Get the Gringo                  Grade: B+

Premium Rush                 Grade: B

Hit and Run                     Grade: B


The Bourne Legacy          Grade: B

Little White Lies             Grade: B

The Words                      Grade: B

Dark Horse                        Grade: B

Lawless                             Grade: B

2 Days in New York         Grade: B

Extraterrestrial                Grade: B

The Campaign                  Grade: B

To Rome with Love          Grade: B

Total Recall                       Grade: B

Pitch Perfect                    Grade: B

Trouble With the Curve     Grade: B-

Silent House                         Grade: B-

Woman in the Fifth            Grade: B-

Take This Waltz                Grade: B-

Hope Springs                    Grade: C+

The Giant Mechanical Man      Grade: C+

Searching for Sugar Man         Grade: C+

For a Good Time, Call...       Grade: C+

Side by Side                         Grade: C+

Beasts of the Southern Wild         Grade: C

The Watch                                Grade: C

4:44 Last Day on Earth           Grade: C

The Possession                      Grade: C

The Amazing Spider-Man     Grade: C-

Dredd 3D                               Grade: C-

Ice Age: Continental Drift     Grade: C-

Branded                              Grade: D+

Do-Deca Pentathlon         Grade: D+

Jesus Henry Christ             Grade: D+

Sparkle                              Grade: D+

The Apparition                 Grade: D

The Deep Blue Sea            Grade: D-

Goats                                 Grade: D-

Friday, September 28, 2012

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day FOX 35 Orlando 9/28/12


Sadly, I couldn't go live today because of technical difficulties (which is always really disappointing).  And it's too bad today in particular as I had a lot to say about 'Looper', 'Won't Back Down', and 'The Avengers'.  But you can read my reviews on those three and/or watch my clips from the last few Fridays if you haven't seen them already.

In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don't know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:

(Newest releases are in green)

The Master                         Grade: A

Hello I Must be Going        Grade: A

Looper                                 Grade: A

Sleepwalk with Me            Grade: A

Won't Back Down              Grade: A

Perks of Being a Wallflower    Grade: A

End of Watch                     Grade: A

Robot and Frank                Grade: A-

Liberal Arts                         Grade: A-

Arbitrage                             Grade: A-

The Intouchables               Grade: B+

The Odd Life of Timothy Green       Grade: B+

The Bourne Legacy          Grade: B

The Words                      Grade: B

Lawless                             Grade: B

The Campaign                  Grade: B

Pitch Perfect                    Grade: B

Trouble With the Curve     Grade: B-

Searching for Sugar Man         Grade: C+

Beasts of the Southern Wild         Grade: C

The Possession                      Grade: C

Dredd 3D                               Grade: C-

Moonrise Kingdom          Grade: D+

Looper


An almost unrecognizeable Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in this sci-fi action thriller as a Looper, an assassin whose job it is to kill victims who are sent back in time by his employer.  Bruce Willis co-stars as Levitt's character thirty years in the future.

As with any film involving time travel, there's a lot going on here.  It's a film you need to pay attention to, but with that said it's not overly complicated.  It's just complicated enough to keep you interested from start to finish, but without the ambiguity of a lot of other high concept films.  (Think writer/director Christopher Nolan making 'The Terminator'.)  And the cast is perfect, also including Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels.

I also must note that the make-up is fantastic.  Levitt, truly looks Willis-like, and his significantly altered face doesn't look at all fake (like it totally did for Leo DiCaprio in 'J. Edgar'.)  And Levitt really does an impressive impression of Willis as well.  Josh Brolin got more credit than he deserved earlier this year for playing a young Tommy Lee Jones, but Levitt is the real deal here.

Bottom line: If you're at all into time travel movies, then this is a must see.  No question.

Grade: A

Won't Back Down


Often it's the films I expect to be the corniest that turn out to be among my favorites of the year.  Last year, 'The Way' was that movie.  This year it's 'Won't Back Down'.

Based on the title and movie poster alone, it would be easy to assume this 'reform the school system' movie will just be another in a long line of films featuring tough teachers taking the schools back from the troubled kids.  But it isn't another 'Dangerous Minds' or 'Stand and Deliver' or 'Lean on Me'.  It's a well made, well written, and well acted inspirational film about a group of devoted teachers and parents who risked their careers and their children's future to take on the teachers' unions and improve the school system.  And everything about it works.  The acting is top notch across the board, and particularly Viola Davis, who consistently proves herself to be the best actress working.  If you haven't seen her in 'The Help', 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close', and 'Doubt' then you're missing out.  At this point she gets my vote for the Oscar.  And, once upon a time I wasn't a big Maggie Gyllenhaal fan, but she really delivers here, as well as she did in 'Hysteria' earlier this year.  Kudos to all involved with this one.

Grade: A

The Perks of Being a Wallflower


There's just something about a good coming of age film that makes you feel nostalgic.  Even if the story isn't your particular story (and let's face it everyone has a different one) it's always still somewhat universal.  At some point we all felt like we didn't fit in.  And such is the case with Charlie (Logan Lerman), a troubled freshman in high school in the early 90's who doesn't have any friends ... at least until he meets the Wallflowers (including Emma Watson and Ezra Miller).

In the wrong hands, this cliche story could have been extremely unremarkable.  But fortunately it's in exactly the right hands.  Writer/Director Stephen Chbosky (who also wrote the novel the film is based on) deftly crafted an emotional and memorable film with complex characters and just the right cast to portray them.  Paul Rudd in particular shines as Charlie's inspirational literature teacher (and proves once again that he should be in every movie.)  It's a really moving and well made film that's guaranteed to take you back in time to your teenage days.

Grade: A

Liberal Arts


'How I Met Your Mother's Josh Radnor once again proves he's more than just a likeable sitcom star; He's an auteur in the making.  I sensed it with his flawed but moving debut in 2010 as writer/director/actor, 'Happythankyoumoreplease', and now I've confirmed it with his sophomore film, 'Liberal Arts'.  Both premiered at Sundance and both are so darn Sundance-y.

In this one, Radnor plays a 35 year old college recruiter who returns to his university and falls for a beautiful student almost half his age, played by Elizabeth Olsen.  There really aren't any surprises in the arc of the story, but the magic here is generated by the chemistry of the cast.  Radnor and Olsen both light up the screen, and Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, Zac Effron, and Elizabeth Reaser are among the enviable supporting cast.  It's a really likeable film and Radnor continues to be the new Zach Braff.  I just wish Zach Braff was the old Zach Braff.  Perhaps we need to see them collaborate as brothers in an indie dramedy?  Consider that a pitch, Harvey Weinstein.

Grade: A-

Pitch Perfect


Let's face it, singing kids are all the rage.  It's the 'Glee'-ification of America.  But, I guess if it ain't broke don't fix it.  And this Anna Kendrick-led, ensemble, a capella, college competition film is sure to be a crowd pleaser for the right crowd.  It's filled with wall-to-wall musical numbers to keep your appendages tappin', and plenty of comedy to keep you smiling.  (And as with every gal-pal comedy since 'Bridesmaids' you can count on some outrageous gross-out humor mixed in.)  Of course, I personally wasn't quite as enamored as the rest of the audience, as it's a bit too predictable and a bit too long for what it is, and I really think could have used a few more recognizable faces.  (Though producer Elizabeth Banks shines once again in a relatively small role.)  But, to be sure, the right audience of women, gay men, teens, and 'Gleeks' will surely eat this one up.

Grade: B

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

21st Philadelphia Film Festival



Heads up everybody!  It's almost time for the 21st Philadelphia Film Festival which runs from Thursday 10/18 through Sunday 10/28.  That's over 10 full days of screenings of around 100 feature length films from around the world, from noon until midnight, frequently on five screens throughout the city simultaneously!  Are you as excited as I am?

Last year, audiences got to see critically acclaimed and award winning films in advance of their release dates including Academy Award Best Picture winner The Artist, The Descendants, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Melancholia, Shame, A Dangerous Method, Jeff Who Lives at Home, My Week with Marilyn, Anonymous, and Like Crazy.  Or, if you prefer, take advantage of the opportunity to see films from around the world you might not otherwise come across.

Some of the higher profile highlights from this year's program include:
  • Silver Linings Playbook (starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro)
  • Flight (starring Denzel Washington, John Goodman, and Don Cheadle)
  • Signs (from 2002, featuring a post screening Q&A with writer/director M. Night Shyamalan)
  • Cloud Atlas (starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry)
  • Hyde Park on Hudson (starring Bill Murray and Laura Linney)
  • Stand Up Guys (starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin, and isn't scheduled for release until next year).
  • Not Fade Away (starring James Gandalfini)
  • Quartet (Directed by Dustin Hoffman, and starring Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, and Billy Connolly, and isn't scheduled for release until next year.)
  • Late Quartet (starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Christopher Walken)
  • The Sessions (starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy)
  • Shadow Dancer (Starring Clive Owen and Gillian Anderson)
  • Shanghai (Starring John Cusack and Chow Yun Fat)
  • Wreck-It Ralph (Featuring the voices of John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, and Sarah Silverman)
You can find the complete list of films here!

So don't delay, you can buy all access badges or individual tickets at very reasonable prices.  (Trust me, the price of the all access badges would barely get you in the door at a festival like Sundance or Toronto.  And here it gets you unlimited access to films for 10+ days and a special VIP admittance line.)  Or better yet, become a member of the Philadelphia Film Society for as little as $75 a year ($25 if you're a student) and get passes and tickets to the festival plus advance screenings year round.  It's the best deal in town for a cinephile.  No joke.  I don't promote things lightly on this site.  But if you like movies and live in the Philadelphia area, you'd be foolish not to become a member.

See you at the festival!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day FOX 35 Orlando 9/21/12


Check out my appearance from this morning where I offered my thoughts on 'End of Watch', 'Trouble with the Curve', and 'The Master'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/story/19604635/flieders-flicks


FOX 35 News Orlando

In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don't know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:

(Newest releases are in green)

The Master                         Grade: A

Hello I Must be Going        Grade: A

Sleepwalk with Me            Grade: A

Celeste and Jesse Forever      Grade: A

End of Watch                     Grade: A

Killer Joe                              Grade: A- 

Robot and Frank                Grade: A-

Arbitrage                             Grade: A-

The Intouchables               Grade: B+

The Odd Life of Timothy Green       Grade: B+

Premium Rush                 Grade: B

The Bourne Legacy          Grade: B

Little White Lies             Grade: B

The Words                      Grade: B

Lawless                             Grade: B

The Campaign                  Grade: B

Trouble With the Curve     Grade: B-

Searching for Sugar Man         Grade: C+

For a Good Time, Call...       Grade: C+

Beasts of the Southern Wild         Grade: C

The Possession                      Grade: C

Dredd 3D                               Grade: C-

Ice Age: Continental Drift     Grade: C-

Moonrise Kingdom          Grade: D+

Sparkle                              Grade: D+

The Master


Mark your calendars; Oscar season has officially begun, and 'The Master' is the first no-brainer Academy Award nominee.

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a Scientology-esque 'Master' (a la L. Ron Hubbard) and welcomes a troubled man, played by Joaquin Phoenix, into his commune to try and help him.  Amy Adams co-stars as Hoffman's wife.

'The Master' was one of my most anticipated films of the year for several reasons.  For one, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson ('There Will be Blood', 'Punch Drunk Love', 'Magnolia', 'Boogie Nights', 'Hard Eight') is quite simply one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.  He takes his time between films (five years since his last one and five since the one before that) and it really shows in the final product.  They are true masterpieces.  The writing is completely original, every detail of the storytelling is clearly deliberate, and each film is completely different from the last.  Plus the casting is always perfect, with each lead giving the best and most memorable performances of their career.  Daniel Day-Lewis delivered one of the best performances I've ever seen in 'There Will Be Blood', Tom Cruise is spellbinding in 'Magnolia', and my favorite actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, is mesmerizing in 'The Master'.  Of course, all of this gushing aside, I need to keep it real.  Many people will find all of these films unbearably dull and depressing.  They're quite long and slow paced, and after they're over you have this feeling like you've been hit by a truck.  But that's because they're so powerful and challenging.  Like last year's 'Tree of Life', 'Martha Marcy May Marlene', and 'Melancholia', I can't recommend Anderson's films to mainstream audiences.  But, to me, they're honestly like a gift.  I don't know how much of the last five years Anderson spent creating this film, but it wouldn't surprise me if it occupied the majority of his half-decade.  And now we get to experience it for only around $10.  It's a wonderful gift.  Take advantage of it.

Grade: A+

Hello I Must Be Going


Statistically speaking, though America is trailing behind other countries in most academic and professional measures, we remain #1 in self confidence.  It's a growing problem that is increasingly evident and it disturbs me.  Everyone exudes confidence but for no real achievement.  There's a word for it.  Arrogance.  So it's refreshing to me to see a film with complex, interesting characters who lack confidence.  And the characters in this movie are so watchable for so many reasons.  The cast is perfect, particularly Melanie Lynskey ('Win Win', 'Up in the Air', 'Two and a Half Men').  Writer Sarah Koskoff and director Todd Louiso clearly both knew exactly what they wanted and they got it.  It's funny, dramatic, and poignant - my favorite combination.  One of the best compliments I can give a movie is wanting to spend more time with the characters after it's over.  I had that in spades with this one.

Grade: A

End of Watch


Every time I think there's nowhere else to go with the gritty cop drama genre, another one comes along that blows me away.  Last year that movie was 'Rampart' starring Woody Harrelson, giving one of his many brilliant performances of late.  This year it's 'End of Watch' from writer/director David Ayer ('Training Day').

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star as partners in the L.A.P.D. patrolling the worst areas of south Los Angeles, and both wearing mini cameras on their lapels to secretly film their day to day activities.  (And thus it's another documentary-style shaky camera film.  Personally I'd prefer it if they didn't feel the need to have the camera be so shaky all the time, but it is refreshing to have a documentary style film not be a horror movie for a change.)  Nevertheless, there's not much room for complaints here.  This is one tense, gritty film that reminds me never to become a police officer.  It's brutal.  And it also reminds me how good a relatively low budget, super-tense film can be.

Grade: A

Trouble with the Curve


'Trouble with the Curve' is one of those movies that at first glance looks like Grade A Oscar bait.  For one thing, it brings Oscar darling Clint Eastwood out of his rumored retirement from acting.  (In 2008 he said that 'Gran Torino' would probably be his swan song.  Now his infamous schtick at the Republican Convention may be.)  But also, it just has that look and feel like a movie that should be taken seriously.  Yet it's hard to do that because it's really just a hodgepodge of other well received films.  It's one part 'Moneyball', one part 'Gran Torino', one part 'Million Dollar Baby', one part 'The Rookie', etc...  And it's also one movie cliche after another.  Eastwood plays the cranky, grizzled old baseball scout who thinks computers are a fad and have no business in Baseball.  His daughter, played by Amy Adams, is that stunningly beautiful woman who has no time for men or play of any kind because she's so career driven and focused on becoming partner in her law firm.  And, of course, the two of them have a sorely damaged relationship that needs nothing less than Dr. Phil to come to the rescue.  And then throw in Justin Timberlake as the one man who can finally penetrate Adams' walls around her heart.  Unfortunately everything feels more than a little forced.  But I can't deny it's still a watchable film.  The cast is good, it's shot well, and it'll be a crowd pleaser.  So if you're not as hard to please as I am you'll probably adequately enjoy yourself.  I did, despite all of my issues with it.

Grade: B- 

Dredd 3D


Yes, comic book fans, this is indeed the same Judge Dredd from the British comics.  And yes, action movie fans, this is a reboot of the panned 1995 Sylvester Stallone vehicle.  Of course, you don't need to have seen the latter (and I imagine the filmmakers prefer you don't recall it even if you have.)  This one is very different in tone.  It's much darker, much grittier, and much more violent and bloody.  It's got a style that will surely appeal to guys who enjoy the over-the-top violent, midnight genre films.  (You know who you are, 'Hobo with a Shotgun' fans.)  Personally, I didn't care for it at all.  The story is weak, as is the cast.  And the 3D was pointless and annoying.  Mainly I just waited impatiently for it to come to an end.  But I can at least give it credit for originality and style, and the right niche audience will really dig it.

Grade: C-

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Arbitrage


The problem with being at the top of the world is that you've got nowhere to go but down.  Richard Gere plays a man who seems to have it all.  He's rich, very successful in business, has the perfect wife (played by Susan Sarandon) and the perfect daughter (played by 'Another Earth' and 'Sound of My Voice' star Brit Marling).  But when things start to unravel in various ways, as they tend to do in life, he does whatever he needs to do to protect all that he has. 

On the surface, this just seems to be another story about an overprivileged man who thinks he can do whatever he wants without any consequences.  Perhaps a poor man's 'Wall Street'?  But it's better than that.  It's an easy, fun watch with top notch actors and some very enjoyable moments.  Now in his 60's, Gere is at the top of his game, giving a really good performance here. (Of course he's no match for Michael Douglas' Gordon Gecco, though they do both have incredible heads of hair.)

The film premiered at Sundance this year, but it's much more mainstream than most of the films that play there, and it's very accessible to a wide audience.  It really should have gotten a wider theatrical release.  It's an impressive film for a first time narrative feature writer/director, but in the hands of someone more experienced, many of its best moments might have been even Oscar worthy.  They're not as it stands, but it's still worth recommending.  And best of all, you can watch it in theaters or in the privacy of your own home on demand.  Love that.

Grade: A

Friday, September 14, 2012

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day FOX 35 Orlando 9/14/12


Check out my appearance from this morning where I discussed the films of writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, including 'The Master', 'There Will Be Blood', 'Magnolia', and 'Hard Eight'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/story/19543998/flieders-flicks

FOX 35 News Orlando

In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don't know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:

(Newest releases are in green)

The Dark Knight Rises       Grade: A+

Sleepwalk with Me            Grade: A

Celeste and Jesse Forever      Grade: A

Ruby Sparks                        Grade: A-

Killer Joe                              Grade: A- 

Robot and Frank                Grade: A-

Ted                                        Grade: A-

Brave                                    Grade: A-

Cosmopolis                          Grade: A-

Arbitrage                             Grade: A-

The Intouchables               Grade: B+

The Odd Life of Timothy Green       Grade: B+

Premium Rush                 Grade: B

Hit and Run                     Grade: B

The Bourne Legacy          Grade: B

Little White Lies             Grade: B

The Words                      Grade: B

Lawless                             Grade: B

2 Days in New York         Grade: B

The Campaign                  Grade: B

To Rome with Love          Grade: B

Total Recall                       Grade: B

Hope Springs                    Grade: C+

Searching for Sugar Man         Grade: C+

For a Good Time, Call...       Grade: C+

Beasts of the Southern Wild         Grade: C

The Possession                      Grade: C

The Amazing Spider-Man     Grade: C-

Ice Age: Continental Drift     Grade: C-

Moonrise Kingdom          Grade: D+

Branded                            Grade: D+

Sparkle                              Grade: D+

The Apparition                 Grade: D

Sleepwalk with Me

Comedian Mike Birbiglia stars in his filmmaking debut, based on his semi-autobiographical novel about his rise to become a successful comedian, his eight year relationship with his girlfriend (played by 'Six Feet Under's' Lauren Ambrose), and of course his issues with sleepwalking.  It's funny, inspirational, and poignant.  If you were as (surprisingly) charmed by Howard Stern's 'Private Parts' as I was, then this one is definitely for you.  It's one of my favorites of the year and recommendable to a wide audience.

Grade: A

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Branded


I love genre films and I love art house films, but it's rare to get an art house genre film.  With virtually no advance notice, word of mouth, or marketing that I was aware of, this futuristic sci-fi film opened quietly over the weekend in a wider release than I would expected, in both art houses and multiplexes.   And the cast, led by relative unknown Ed Stoppard, but with an eclectic supporting cast including Leelee Sobieski, Jeffrey Tambor, and Max von Sydow, added to the mystery of it all.  Everything about it intrigued me.  And sure enough in the first 30 minutes I found it to be wonderfully original, with great performances by Tambor and von Sydow.  But unfortunately as it progressed it became painfully boring and borderline incomprehensible.  I'm really not even sure what happened.  I know it has to do with evil corporate America taking advantage of society through masterful marketing.  But beyond that I'm really not sure.  It looks nice and has loads of potential, but ultimately I found it to be a complete waste of time.  And that's really disappointing.

Grade: D+

Friday, September 7, 2012

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day FOX 35 Orlando 9/7/12


Check out my appearance from this morning where I offered my thoughts on 'The Words', 'For a Good Time, Call...', and 'The Five Year Engagement'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/story/19483831/flieders-flicks

FOX 35 News Orlando

In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don't know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:

(Newest releases are in green)

The Dark Knight Rises       Grade: A+

Celeste and Jesse Forever      Grade: A

Ruby Sparks                        Grade: A-

Killer Joe                              Grade: A- 

Robot and Frank                Grade: A-

Ted                                        Grade: A-

Brave                                    Grade: A-

Cosmopolis                          Grade: A-

The Intouchables               Grade: B+

The Odd Life of Timothy Green       Grade: B+

Premium Rush                 Grade: B

Hit and Run                     Grade: B

The Bourne Legacy          Grade: B

Little White Lies             Grade: B

The Words                      Grade: B

Lawless                             Grade: B

2 Days in New York         Grade: B

The Campaign                  Grade: B

To Rome with Love          Grade: B

Total Recall                       Grade: B

Hope Springs                    Grade: C+

Searching for Sugar Man         Grade: C+

For a Good Time, Call...       Grade: C+

Beasts of the Southern Wild         Grade: C

The Possession                      Grade: C

The Amazing Spider-Man     Grade: C-

Ice Age: Continental Drift     Grade: C-

Moonrise Kingdom          Grade: D+

Branded                            Grade: D+

Sparkle                              Grade: D+

The Apparition                 Grade: D

The Words


Bradley Cooper heads the cast in a story within a story within a story, a drama that was the closing night film at Sundance this year.  Cooper plays a struggling writer who finally produces a brilliant novel.

This is a tough film to describe in brief form, without spoiling some of the plot turns that make it enjoyable.  (And that's why every other site seem to spoil at least one major plot turn.)  But let's be clear, this is not really a film for mainstream audiences.  It's for romantics who appreciate art and period films.  And for me it was the supporting cast that really made it special.  Stand out performances are aplenty including a few of my favorite character actors, Zeljko Ivanek, J.K. Simmons, and particularly Jeremy Irons (who gave one of the best performances from last year in 'Margin Call' and now delivers an equally compelling yet polar opposite one here).  Fans of mainstream cinema should steer clear, as they'll likely be bored, but those that prefer the Oscar fare will likely enjoy themselves.

Grade: B

For a Good Time, Call...


What do you do if you're two attractive young girls who can't make the rent in pricy New York City?  (No, not prostitution, this comedy is only rated R.)  Phone sex!

First of all, in case the poster hasn't tipped you off, let me point out the obvious ... this is not a movie targeted to straight men.  The target demographic is clearly women and gay men.  This one's for the 'Sex and the City' crowd, and for that audience it will surely entertain.  There wasn't an overwhelming amount of laughter in the audience, particularly at the beginning, but there was enough sprinkled throughout to warrant a recommendation to the right audience.  I certainly laughed here and there and it was an easy enough watch.  I just wish the cast were better and the storyline were a little more unpredictable.  For me it was a bit too cheap and easy and I just didn't feel good about myself the next morning.

Grade: C+