Sunday, July 28, 2013

Broken


It's always great to get a reminder for why I spend my time watching films that no one's heard of on Video on Demand. Most films go to VOD rather than theaters because they weren't worthy of the cost of theatrical distribution.  But every once in a while, that's totally not the case. 'Broken' is one of those instances.

The lives of a trio of families in a cul-de-sac in London, all with problems of their own, intersect in this powerful drama featuring Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy, and a great ensemble cast.  Having won awards at several European film festivals, and being better than most films released theatrically, it's a bit of a travesty that this one will only get seen by a fraction of the audience it should.  But hopefully I can help add a few viewers.  For those of you who saw and loved this year's 'Disconnect', or for those who love films like 'Crash' with several storylines all intersecting and solid ensemble work, this is a must see.

Grade: A

Hell Baby


Horror comedies are often bad.  It's just a tough genre to get right.  And one should beware of horror comedies that debut on Video on Demand.  But I gave this one from the creators of 'Reno 911!' a go because it premiered at Sundance this year and featured a decent ensemble cast of quirky comedians including Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Michael Ian Black, and Thomas Lennon.  But it's painful from start to finish, extraordinarily unfunny, and lacks even a moment of accidental entertainment.

As always, I see the bad movies so that you don't have to!  You're welcome.

Grade: F

Friday, July 26, 2013

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day FOX 35 Orlando 7/26/13


Check out my appearance from this morning where I offered my thoughts on 'The Wolverine', 'The To Do List', and 'Trance'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/category/233752/good-day




FOX 35 News Orlando

In Theaters Now




(newest releases are in green):

Before Midnight      Grade: A+

World War Z      Grade: A+

The East      Grade: A

Star Trek Into Darkness      Grade: A

Some Girl(s)      Grade: A (Available on Vimeo on Demand)

Mud      Grade: A-

20 Feet From Stardom      Grade: A-

Blackfish     Grade: A-

This is the End      Grade: A-

The To Do List     Grade: A-

The Hunt     Grade: A-

Pacific Rim      Grade: A-

R.I.P.D.      Grade: B+

The Way Way Back      Grade: B+

Man of Steel      Grade: B+

Fruitvale Station      Grade: B

Girl Most Likely      Grade: B

White House Down      Grade: B-

Crystal Fairy     Grade: B-

Red 2      Grade: B-

Monsters U      Grade: B-

Grown Ups 2      Grade: C+

The Heat      Grade: C+

The Lone Ranger      Grade: C

The Conjuring      Grade: C

The Wolverine     Grade: D



Additional Films Not Reviewed:

The Attack
Computer Chess
Despicable Me 2
I'm So Excited!
 
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
Turbo

The Wolverine


If there are a few things you can count on in the summer, it's the unbearable heat and humidity, and that the fanboys will be getting their Marvel comic fix on.  And you may as well surgically implant a 3D visor on your face because every other movie in the summer is in 3D.  Frankly, it's annoying.  And if I sound annoyed it's probably because I just sat through the most boring Marvel comic film I can recall.  And to be clear, I love the character of Wolverine and I think Hugh Jackman is the best possible casting choice that could have been made.  I enjoyed the original X-Men trilogy, warmed up to 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' on my second viewing, and thought 'X-Men: First Class' was simply first class.  In short, I'm a fan, but probably not quite a 'fanboy', if you know what I mean.  So I don't think I have a bias, but I found this entry in the epic saga of Wolverine to be painfully boring.  And I think the major problem here is that this is his first appearance without the words 'X-Men' in the title.  They've stripped away everything that made X-Men films fun: mutants, and lots of them.  Jackman was always the star of the series, but he was the lead surrounded by a huge supporting ensemble cast that made the films worth seeing.  This just felt like a stand alone comic book mini-series (of which it is based) that didn't need to be made into film and wasn't all that fun to read in the first place.  Personally I'd rather watch 'The Lone Ranger' again twice, back to back.  Of course that's just my opinion.  I suspect I may end up being in the minority here and taking some grief on this review.  But I stand by it.  However, if you do go see it (and many of you will) make sure you stay for at least the beginning of the end credits for the best part of the film.  All two minutes of it (out of 126).

Grade: D

The To Do List


Who doesn't love a good coming-of-age sex comedy?  I know I do.  (Is that creepy to admit?  Probably.)  But this one's refreshingly different than those we all grew up watching because this time it's a girl who's trying to learn the ways of love.  And by that I mean she's created a To Do List, with every sexual act you can think of, all of which she wants to check off before she begins college.  In short, this ain't your grandmomma's bucket list.  It's a hell of a lot racier, funny, and just plain enjoyable thanks to a great cast including 'Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza, 'Arrested Development's Alia Shawkat, Rachel Bilson, Bill Hader, Connie Britton, and Clark Gregg.  OK so you have to suspend your disbelief to accept 29 year old Plaza and 24 year old Shawkat as high schoolers and 34 year old Scott Porter as the hunky college student they crush on.  (And on a somewhat related note, I am being considered to play Prince William and Kate's royal baby in an upcoming film.  Fingers crossed!)  But if you can get past that glaringly obvious inconsistency, and you're not a prude, this is a really fun watch and one of my favorite comedies of the year so far.  Go see it with a date (but definitely not with your parents or kids!)

Grade: A-

Blackfish


We've seen them at Sea World performing crowd pleasing tricks.  But now we get the back story of the Killer whales and the sacrifices made to entertain us in this documentary that's been playing well on the festival circuit.  Though many of them seem satisfied with their lives as theme park performers, every once in a while they are responsible for killing.  (Perhaps that's why they're called Killer whales?)  The question is, is it at the fault of their captors or is it just in their nature?  Personally I suspect it's both.  The film certainly shows the cruel behavior these animals have endured before they arrive at their destination, some of which are better than others.  This alone is undefendable.  And yet, even if these cruelties never existed, these are wild animals, and wild animals sometimes attack.  Just ask Siegfried and Roy about that.

This is an excellent documentary that educates, makes you think, and entertains.  Pair it with 'The Cove' for a cruelty-to-animals documentary double feature.  Or pair it with the equally powerful narrative film 'Rust & Bone' featuring Marion Cotillard as a trainer who suffers greatly for her profession.

Grade: A-

The Hunt


If you aren't yet familiar with Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen you should be.  He got some attention in 2006 with the foreign film 'After the Wedding' which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.  But he became much more well known to American audiences as the antagonist to James Bond in 'Casino Royale'.  I loved him in last year's 'A Royal Affair' as well as a younger Hannibal Lector in the self titled American TV show.  And now he once again delivers in this festival favorite drama about a teacher falsely accused of inappropriate behavior by one of his young students.  It explores the question, are we really innocent until proven guilty or is it the other way around?  It's good thought provoking drama.

Grade: A-

Crystal Fairy


Michael Cera seems to be working overtime to change his image from the awkward teen he portrayed perhaps all too well in TV's 'Arrested Development' and films like 'Superbad'.  Now 25, Cera is trying to create a much edgier image to break the typecasting.  And with a small role in 'The End of Love', a film stealing performance in 'This is the End', and now as lead in the half in Spanish / half in English festival dark comedy 'Crystal Fairy', he's doing a damn good job.

Cera plays an emotionally guarded lost soul travelling in Chile with his friends who happens across a bizarre free spirit played by Gaby Hoffman, while in search of a hallucinogenic high from a particular type of cactus.  You've got to give it credit for that premise alone.  And I really enjoy the various brave choices the actors make, including Cera's wildly out of control hair and Hoffman's willingness to bare it all in very unflattering shots.  I just wish there were more to the destination than just the unsatisfying journey here.  In some ways it's too long and in some it's too short.  I needed more of a payoff, either spiritual or physical, to make this a recommendation.  But in the weeks that followed since I saw it, I've warmed up to it as I thought more about it.

Grade: B-

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Scenic Route


If you're feeling lazy, and don't feel like heading out to the theater, but you still want to see a new release on Video on Demand, and yet you don't feel like spending a lot for it, consider this film.  Josh Duhamel and Dan Fogler play old friends taking the 'scenic route' through the desert.  You don't have to be psychic to put two and two together that they might run into some trouble.  And yet, despite that obvious premise, this is a pretty good movie with two great performances.  Much like a play, the film features a small cast and relies on the quality of the writing and the performances to pull you in and keep you interested.  And it does both quite well.  It's short, it's only $3.99, and you can feel like you saw something virtually no one else has seen.  Pretty good deal.

Grade: B+

Monday, July 22, 2013

R.I.P. Dennis Farina


I was just saddened to learn that at the young age of 69, Dennis Farina passed away today from a blood clot in his lung.  Formerly a Chicago cop, most knew him from 'Law & Order' as well as his many memorable roles as policemen and gangsters.  I'll always fondly remember him as Jimmy Serrano in 'Midnight Run' as well as countless other great performances, and also meeting him a few years ago at the TriBeCa Film Festival.  He was a true gentleman. 

Farina always shined bright as a character actor in supporting roles that really stood out and made good films great.  But if you want to see him in a rare leading role and a tour de force performance check out 'The Last Rites of Joe May'.  It's not his best film, but it really showcased his talents as a true actor.  We will miss you Dennis.  Rest in Peace.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Girl Most Likely



No one wants Kristen Wiig to succeed more than I do.  She just lights up the screen and has everything it takes to be the next Jennifer Aniston rom-com queen.  And ever since she made the leap from supporting to lead in 'Bridesmaids' I predicted her to fill those shoes.  But she hasn't quite made it yet.  Hopefully this film will showcase her potential to do so, even though it doesn't reach its own potential.

Wiig plays a New York socialite whose boyfriend breaks up with her, causing a chain reaction that destroys every aspect of her life, forcing her to temporarily move back in with her estranged mom, played by Annette Bening, and brother in Ocean City.  Wiig is at her best here as the sympathetic broken hearted underdog, and the rest of the cast including Matt Dillon, all play their parts well.  Unfortunately the thing this 'comedy' is lacking is the ... umm ... comedy.  It's not quite a comedy and not quite a drama.  It's not quite charming, and yet not completely lacking in likeability.  In the hands of better directors it could have been something great.  As it stands, it's only kinda sorta good.  The upcoming Woody Allen film 'Blue Jasmine', with a similar premise, is much better.

Grade: B

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day FOX 35 Orlando 7/19/13


Check out my appearance from this morning where I offered my thoughts on 'Red 2', 'R.I.P.D.' and 'The Conjuring'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/category/233752/good-day



FOX 35 News Orlando

In Theaters Now



(newest releases are in green):

Before Midnight      Grade: A+

World War Z      Grade: A

The East      Grade: A

Star Trek Into Darkness      Grade: A

Some Girl(s)      Grade: A   (Available on Vimeo on Demand)

Mud      Grade: A-

Frances Ha      Grade: A-

This is the End      Grade: A-

Pacific Rim      Grade: A-

20 Feet From Stardom      Grade: A-

R.I.P.D.      Grade: B+

The Way Way Back      Grade: B+

Now You See Me      Grade: B+

Unfinished Song      Grade: B+

Man of Steel      Grade: B+

Fruitvale Station     Grade: B

Girl Most Likely     Grade: B

White House Down      Grade: B-

The Bling Ring      Grade: B-

Red 2      Grade: B-

Monsters U      Grade: B-

Grown Ups 2      Grade: C+

The Heat      Grade: C+

The Lone Ranger      Grade: C

The Conjuring     Grade: C


Additional Films Not Reviewed:

The Attack
Despicable Me 2
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
Turbo 
Ways to Live Forever

R.I.P.D.


No, R.I.P.D. does not stand for the Rhode Island Police Department.  Nor does it stand for Retired Extra Dangerous.  (That's the other abbreviation titled film beginning with an R opening today that also features Mary-Louise Parker.)  It stands for the Rest In Peace Department.  You see, apparently after you die, if you have the right skill set you can be recruited to hunt down the dead fugitives on Earth and bring them back to Hell where they belong.  Ryan Reynolds is the latest to be recruited and is paired up with old timer Jeff Bridges in this comedy action sci-fi franchise hopeful.  It's the new 'Men in Black', where Reynolds is the new Will Smith, Bridges is the new Tommy Lee Jones, and Parker is the new Rip Torn.  And just like the first 'Men in Black' (which is a bit tired at this point) it's a lot of fun and feels fresh.  Bridges in particular escalates it from being your average summer fare to being something better than that.  It's 'MIB' meets 'True Grit' meets 'Ghostbusters' meets 'Heaven Can Wait' and it's the best movie opening this weekend (with 'Red 2' being second and 'The Conjuring' coming in last place.)

Grade: B+

Red 2


Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, and Helen Mirren return for some more 'Retired Extra Dangerous' hijinks in this follow up to the 2010 hit.  And once again, these folks are on the run from the CIA, the MI-6, and Lord knows what other secret government agencies that want them dead for reasons unclear.  Truthfully, I'm not sure, and I've already seen the film.  But who wants them dead and why is relatively unimportant.  Most people enjoy these films because of the cast, the camaraderie, and the action scenes.  And, oh boy, have they raised the level of the action scenes.  It seems as if there are non-stop car chases, gun fights, explosions, martial arts fights, and just general ass kicking.  For some, this will be heaven.  For me, it's a bit tedious.  I much prefer the cast and their camaraderie.  And this time around they've added Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones to the ensemble.  This series is becoming the next 'Oceans' franchise, though not nearly as smart or entertaining.  But last weekend I rewatched the original and warmed up to it much more than when I last saw it three years ago.  My expectations are lower and I can just appreciate these for what they are: forgettable, light entertainment.  This one should please audiences, but I expect reviews will be mixed.

Grade: B-

The Conjuring


So is it just me or is it getting increasingly hard to tell all of these haunted house/demonic possession/exorcism movies apart?  And the generic titles certainly don't help.  Just to name a few from the last few years, we've had 'The Devil Inside', 'The Last Exorcism', 'The Possession', 'The Apparition', 'The Awakening', and now 'The Conjuring'?  I mean, I'm good at keeping movies straight, but I'm not THAT good.  Give a film critic a fighting chance, will you?  And I'm finding it increasingly difficult to grade these films, since most of them are fairly lame, but audiences still like them because they make good on scares, even if the stories are weak.  So do I grade them on how much they make you jump?  Or do I grade them on what I care about, which is the originality of the story and how well it's told?  Somewhere in the middle, I guess.

'The Conjuring' is directed by horror-master James Wan, who also directed 'Saw' and 'Insidious'.  And, like 'Insidious' it's another haunted house/demonic possession/exorcism movie starring Patrick Wilson.  But, unlike 'Insidious', it lacks originality and fun.  The cast is fair, including Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, and Ron Livingston, and it's not entirely dull, but there's just nothing here that needed to be done or told.  I'd say you should pass and wait for 'Insidious 2' due out on September 13th.

Grade: C

Fruitvale Station


Based on a true story of police brutality from San Francisco on New Years Eve 2008, this is the story of the events leading up to the incident.  It's good drama that unfortunately suffers from a sluggish first half that didn't really pull me in.  Though, as it approaches the climax it becomes more engaging and certainly keeps you engrossed for the conclusion.  Personally I think all the rave reviews are somewhat overrated.  But it's a Weinstein Company release, and if I know Harvey Weinstein I'd expect some hard campaigning come awards season that will surely keep this film on people's minds.  Plus, the recent hoopla about the Zimmerman trial may draw some extra attention to this one.

Grade: B

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Rambler


Often I question my choices in life.  I rented this movie on Video on Demand because it premiered at Sundance this year in the Midnight section, and I figured someone programmed it for a reason.  I'd sure love to know what that reason was and if I can get my $3.99 and hour and 39 minutes back.

Dermot Mulroney plays a 'The Rambler' who gets out of prison and then meets up with an assortment of people in an assortment of increasingly bizarre and surreal circumstances.  It's simultaneously extremely dull, totally unintelligible, and a complete waste of time.  My first clue should have been that it quietly went straight to VOD without any plans for theatrical release.  And my second clue should have been the IMDB rating of only 4.1 out of 10.  But my motto is, I see the bad movies so that you don't have to.  Not that you were going to see it anyway, but if you happen across it by chance and you remember reading this, steer clear.  You're welcome.

Grade: F

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Some Girl(s)


Most people don't know playwright and film writer/director Neil LaBute by name.  And of those that do, feelings towards him tend to be polarized.  When I saw his first film 'In the Company of Men' in 1997 featuring Aaron Eckhart, I found it to be extraordinarily mean spirited and suspected him to be a chauvinistic misogynist.  Though over time I have come to realize that I was completely wrong.  He's actually just a brilliant writer and a keen observer of human behavior.  His work almost always revolves around men and women being cruel to each other.  And while often exaggerated, it always feels completely honest and provides thought provoking commentary on the battle of the sexes.  I particularly enjoy his films 'The Shape of Things', 'Your Friends and Neighbors', and 'Some Velvet Morning' (which debuted this year at the Tribeca Film Festival but has no theatrical or VOD date listed yet.)  And we can now add 'Some Girl(s)' to my list of favorites.

Adam Brody plays a love 'em and leave 'em heartthrob who decides to go on a tour of past lovers to try to explain to them why he did what he did.  And of course, many of them don't take kindly to the reunion and it doesn't go as smoothly as he planned.  It's an excellent movie for those of you who appreciate a great play, with each scene just featuring two actors talking to each other.  The performances are excellent and the dialogue is pitch perfect.  In other words, it's quintessential LaBute.

You can see 'Some Girl(s)' in some theaters but also at home on Vimeo on Demand for just $5.

Grade: A

Friday, July 12, 2013

Flieder's Flicks - Good Day FOX 35 Orlando 7/12/13


Check out my appearance from this morning where I offered my thoughts on 'Pacific Rim', 'Grown Ups 2', and '20 Feet from Stardom'.

http://www.myfoxorlando.com/category/233752/good-day




FOX 35 News Orlando

In Theaters Now


(newest releases are in green):

Before Midnight      Grade: A+

World War Z      Grade: A

The East      Grade: A

Star Trek Into Darkness      Grade: A

Some Girl(s)      Grade: A   (Available on Vimeo on Demand)

Mud      Grade: A-

Frances Ha      Grade: A-

This is the End      Grade: A-

The Hangover Part III      Grade: A-

Pacific Rim     Grade: A-

20 Feet From Stardom     Grade: A-

Iron Man 3      Grade: B+

The Way Way Back     Grade: B+

Now You See Me      Grade: B+

Unfinished Song      Grade: B+

Man of Steel      Grade: B+

White House Down      Grade: B-

The Internship      Grade: B-

The Bling Ring      Grade: B-

Stories We Tell    Grade: B-

Monsters U      Grade: B-

Grown Ups 2      Grade: C+

The Heat      Grade: C+

The Lone Ranger     Grade: C


Additional Films Not Reviewed:

The Attack
Despicable Me 2
A Hijacking
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
Killing Season
Much Ado About Nothing

Pacific Rim


Guillermo del Toro who brought us the visually stunning and completely original 'Pan's Labyrinth' and 'Hellboy' now tries his hand at robots battling sea monsters. 

It's the not-too-distant future and giant creatures are rising from the oceans and attacking.  And while we initially didn't have proper weapons to beat them, over time people have designed and constructed giant robots piloted by humans to defend mankind against this new enemy.  Sound cheesy?  Many are calling it Godzilla vs. The Transformers.  And while that's a very reasonable comparison, it doesn't do this movie justice.  'Pacific Rim' is actually better and more exciting than any Godzilla or Transformers movie, at least if you ask me.  Early reviews are coming in mixed.  Some critics are turning their noses up at this $190M popcorn blockbuster franchise hopeful.  Personally I thought it was a lot of fun and felt completely fresh and original.  It's exactly what you want during the dog days of summer.  To me, it's the best giant monster film since 'Cloverfield' and I'd love to see a sequel.  So go see it!

Grade: A-

Grown Ups 2


Barely a minute into the film, with hardly any good reason, I became witness to a large deer peeing in the face of a man sleeping in his bedroom.  And with that, you know without a doubt you're watching a film from Adam Sandler's 'Happy Madison' productions.

I have a like/hate relationship with Sandler.  At times he can be quite charming.  And I can't help but be envious of his power in Hollywood to consistently surround himself with his pals and keep making movies that are obviously so close to his personality.  In that respect, he's one of the luckiest guys in the world.  But, he all too often abuses this power to repeatedly subject us to gratuitous fart, pee, and poop jokes that, to paraphrase a line from 'Billy Madison', make us dumber having seen them.  So even though I try to grade all movies relative to each other, I feel like Sandler films deserve their own grading system.  And, in the spectrum of Sandler movies, this one is about average.  There are certainly more fart, pee, and poop jokes than one should have to endure.  But there's also a reasonable amount of entertainment value (more so than 'The Lone Ranger', and trust me I'd love to give this a worse grade than that one.)  This sequel is not as charming as the original, but it's definitely got some laughs.  It's no 'Billy Madison' or 'Mr. Deeds' or 'Big Daddy' (which are among the better of Sandler's comedies) but it's also, thankfully, no 'Little Nicky' or 'The Waterboy' or 'Jack and Jill' (which are way down there at the bottom).  The best I can say is that, for a Sandler & Co. experience, it could have been worse.

Grade: C+

The Way Way Back


Don't be confused. This is not a prequel to 'The Way Back', the prison camp escape and man vs. nature drama from a year and a half ago.  This one's actually a coming-of-age dramedy featuring 'Little Miss Sunshine' alumni Toni Collette and Steve Carell, and it's about an awkward teenager and his summer at the shore with his mom, her boyfriend, and his daughter.  And like 'Little Miss Sunshine' it balances comedy and drama adeptly and features great performances by the entire ensemble cast.  But as usual, it's Sam Rockwell who steals the show as the father figure who helps this troubled teen deal with his issues.  It reminded me more than a little of 'Adventureland' from 2009.  Pair it with that or with the recent 'Kings of Summer' for a double shot of coming-of-age dramedy awkwardness.

Grade: B+

Thursday, July 4, 2013

In Theaters Now



(newest releases are in green):

Before Midnight      Grade: A+

World War Z      Grade: A

The East      Grade: A

Star Trek Into Darkness      Grade: A

Mud      Grade: A-

Frances Ha      Grade: A-

This is the End      Grade: A-

The Hangover Part III      Grade: A-

20 Feet From Stardom     Grade: A-

Iron Man 3      Grade: B+

Now You See Me      Grade: B+

Unfinished Song      Grade: B+

Man of Steel      Grade: B+

White House Down      Grade: B-

The Internship      Grade: B-

The Bling Ring      Grade: B-

Monsters U      Grade: B-

The Heat      Grade: C+

The Lone Ranger     Grade: C



Additional Films Not Reviewed:

The Attack
Despicable Me 2
Epic
Fast & Furious 6

Fill The Void
Hannah Arendt
A Hijacking
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
Much Ado About Nothing
Museum Hours

The Lone Ranger


Director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp collaborate once again (after three 'Pirates of the Caribbean' films and 'Rango') for yet another iconic character hopeful of becoming a franchise.  But this time Depp is playing second banana as Tonto, the Native American sidekick to the titular hero, as played by Armie Hammer (best known as the Winklevoss twins in 'The Social Network').  And this film has everything going for it.  Besides having big names like Disney, Depp, and legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer behind it, and a $215M budget that shows on screen with great visuals, it also has a stellar supporting cast of character actors including Helena Bonham Carter, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, and Stephen Root.  And yet no one shines here.  Unfortunately it's a waste of talent, it's way too long (at two and half hours), and it's surprisingly boring throughout.  This is the Hollywood Blockbuster Assembly Line at its worst, clearly targeting every demographic, with a script that wouldn't dare turn off anybody, and in the process it becomes dull for everybody.  By the time the climactic scene arrives, with the obligatory 'William Tell Overture' pumping in the background, I was more than ready to 'Hi-Ho Silver' all the way out of there.  I hate to say it, but you should probably skip it.  Capisce, Kemo Sabe?

Grade: C

Monday, July 1, 2013

Nantucket Film Festival 2013


I just got back from my second Nantucket Film Festival, and once again enjoyed it very much.  I saw some great films, some amazing panels with filmmakers and celebrities, and made some new friends.  I haven't had a chance to write up reviews, but below are my grades for the 20 films I saw, many of which will be coming to theaters in limited release in the not too distant future.  I'll review them in more detail when they do become available to you. 

*  Please note that for most of my days at the festival I saw five movies and two panels.  These are long (but really fun) days.  To be fair, certain movies require a better and clearer state of mind to appreciate than seeing them at the end of a long day of film watching.  So I do intend to see a few of these again (incl. Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Running from Crazy, and Wadjda) which have all gotten good buzz from other festivals, when they are released and I will adjust my grades as needed.

The Short Game   A+
In a World...   A
The Spectacular Now   A
Some Girl(s)   A
20 Feet from Stardom   A-
Blackfish    A-
Life According to Sam   A-
The Hunt   A-
Running from Crazy   B+  *
Austenland   B+
A.C.O.D.   B
Fruitvale Station   B
Pasadena  (a.k.a. Cold Turkey)   B
Touchy Feely   B
Drinking Buddies   B-
C.O.G.   B-
Crystal Fairy   B-
Ain't Them Bodies Saints   C+  *
Wadjda   C  *
Maidentrip   C-

Second Quarter of 2013


We've reached the halfway point of 2013 and it's time for my quarter end review!   For a refresher of the films from the first quarter (with a few additions since I originally posted it) just click here.

Below are the 80 films I saw that were released in the second quarter of 2013.  Overall I thought it was only an ok quarter, with 35 of them getting a grade of B+ or better.  But there were certainly some great films, and I gave out my first two A+ of the year.

(As usual I may have tweaked a few grades since my original review after pondering them a bit.)


World War Z     Grade: A+

Before Midnight     Grade: A+

The East     Grade: A

Star Trek Into Darkness     Grade: A
 
Pain & Gain     Grade: A

Trance     Grade: A
 
Disconnect     Grade: A

Simon Killer    Grade: A

20 Feet from Stardom     Grade: A

This is the End     Grade: A-

Mud     Grade: A-

Koch     Grade: A-

Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay     Grade: A-

The Brass Teapot    Grade: A-

The Hangover Part III     Grade: A-

It's a Disaster     Grade: A-

Frances Ha     Grade: A-

Welcome to the Punch    Grade: B+

The Reluctant Fundamentalist     Grade: B+

Sightseers      Grade: B+

Between Us     Grade: B+

Iron Man 3     Grade: B+

Byzantium    Grade: B+

The Purge     Grade: B+

The Iceman     Grade: B+

Antiviral     Grade: B+

The Place Beyond the Pines     Grade: B+

The English Teacher     Grade: B+

Upstream Color    Grade: B+

Now You See Me     Grade: B+

Dead Man's Burden    Grade: B+

The Kings of Summer     Grade: B+

Unfinished Song    Grade: B+

Man of Steel     Grade: B+

Free Samples    Grade: B+

Mental    Grade: B

The History of Future Folk    Grade: B

Wish You Were Here    Grade: B

In the House    Grade: B

The Company You Keep     Grade: B

The Big Wedding     Grade: B

The Numbers Station     Grade: B

Rapture-Palooze   Grade: B

Much Ado About Nothing     Grade: B

Shadow Dancer     Grade: B

What Maisie Knew    Grade: B

Arthur Newman     Grade: B

Black Rock    Grade: B

Starbuck     Grade: B

Reality   Grade: B

White House Down   Grade: B-

The Internship     Grade: B-

6 Souls   Grade: B-

After Earth     Grade: B-

The Bling Ring     Grade: B-

Oblivion     Grade: B-
 
Stories We Tell     Grade: B-

Arcadia     Grade: B-

Tomorrow You're Gone    Grade: B-

Monsters U     Grade: B-

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks   Grade: B-

The Wall    Grade: C+

Graceland    Grade: C+

The Great Gatsby     Grade: C+

To the Wonder     Grade: C+

The Heat   Grade: C+

Pawn   Grade: C

Love Is All You Need     Grade: C

Angel's Share     Grade: C

Behind the Candelabra   Grade: C

42     Grade: C

Peeples     Grade: C-

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor   Grade: D+

Revenge for Jolly!    Grade: D

At Any Price     Grade: D-

33 Postcards    Grade: D-

3 Geezers    Grade: D-

A Band Called Death     Grade: D-

The Girls in the Band   Grade: D-

Evil Dead     Grade: F



Films Not Reviewed:

The Attack
Augustine
Blancanieves
Dirty Wars
Epic
Fast & Furious 6

Fill The Void
From Up on Poppy Hill
Hannah Arendt
Hava Nagila (The Movie)
Kiss of the Damned
Kon-Tiki
The Lords of Salem
Midnight's Children
Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary
No Place on Earth
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
Pandora's Promise
Paris-Manhattan
Redemption
Renoir
Scary Movie V
Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's
Something in the Air
Venus and Serena