Friday, July 31, 2015

In Theaters Now - 7/31/15



(new releases in green)


Jurassic World         Grade: A

The Stanford Prison Experiment         Grade: A

Southpaw         Grade: A

Trainwreck         Grade: A-

Ant-Man         Grade: A-


Boulevard         Grade: A-

Spy         Grade: B+

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation        Grade: B+

Beyond the Brick:  A LEGO Brickumentary       Grade: B

Irrational Man       Grade: B

Mr. Holmes        Grade: B

The Gallows         Grade: D



Additional Films Not Reviewed:
Amy

Infinitely Polar Bear
Inside Out
The Look of Silence
Love & Mercy
Magic Mike XXL
Minions
Paper Towns
Pixels
Tangerine
Ted 2
Terminator Genisys
Vacation
The Vatican Tapes

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation


Don't you miss the good ol' days when sequels were numbered?  Now they have either a colon or a dash followed by some generic phrase.  That kinda annoys me.  Well this one has both a colon AND a dash in the title!  Crazy!  But I digress ...

For the fifth time Tom Cruise returns as super spy Ethan Hunt.  And if he ain't man enough for you, you also get Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, AND Alec Baldwin.  That's an awful lot of coolness in one movie.  And of course, since it's a Mission: Impossible, it's super heavy on action.  Good action.  But perhaps too much good action and not enough story.  The plot felt pretty thin, thrown together as a means to connect one action scene after another.  And at 2 hours and 12 minutes, it felt too long.  In my opinion this is one of the weakest in the franchise.  But it's still pretty entertaining.

Grade: B+

Who is this movie for?  Like action?  Already seen Jurassic World?  Sure, then go for it.  Just don't expect too much, should you choose to accept this as your weekend movie.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Southpaw



A few words of advice.  If a movie has Jake Gyllenhaal, you should definitely see it.  If a movie has Forest Whitaker, you should definitely see it.  If it has both, rejoice.  And then most definitely see it.

Sure, it's just a boxing movie.  And it's not really bringing anything mindblowingly new to the boxing table.  But the reality is, it's not an overdone genre, and that helps.  How many boxing movies have we had in recent years?  Grudge MatchThe FighterCinderella Man?  Comparing and contrasting them just isn't even worth it.  Any reviewer that brings up Rocky or Raging Bull is just wasting time (and probably getting paid by the word.)  The fact is, these are all great movies and you should see them all, including this one.  Gyllenhaal is always amazing.  (Seriously, have you seen Prisoners, Nightcrawler, Enemy, and End of Watch?  Someone give this guy an Oscar already!)  Whitaker always gives me chills, he's so damn good.  Rachel McAdams is great too.  (It helps us forget what a forced, wasted character she is on True Detective Season 2.)  And directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Kurt Sutter?  I mean, you had me at written by Kurt Sutter.  The rest is just icing.

Grade: A

Who is this movie for?  Who doesn't love a good heartfelt boxing drama?  Warning:  You will get choked up and/or cry.

Studio Movie Grill - Upper Darby, PA


I rarely do blog posts on things other than movies or destination movie events.  But I just experienced the newest movie theater to open in the Philadelphia area and I think it is blog worthy.  For those of you outside of the Philly area, you should know that one of the worst things about this city is its lack of mainstream movie theaters in the downtown area.  Quite frankly it's outrageous that nowhere in Center City, Philadelphia is a there large multiplex where you can enjoyably see mainstream movies.  Sure, there are the newly reopened Roxy and Prince theaters, run by the Philadelphia Film Society, which are great, but are only two screens and one screen, respectively.  And yes, this is a terrific city for artsier films, with the three Landmark owned Ritz theaters showing 12 screens of arthouse films, all within a few blocks of each other, in lovely Society Hill.  But where can we see Jurassic World?!?  Is it really too much to ask in a major city like Philadelphia that we not have to travel to West Philly, North Philly, South Philly, or South Jersey just to see what the rest of the world can easily access?  And furthermore, all of the aforementioned options are terrible!  You can pretty much count on a poor experience going to any of them.  But now we have the Studio Movie Grill on 69th street in Upper Darby.   So here's the scoop.

The Theater:  Nine screens.  Comfortable seating with tray tables to eat on.  Full menu and bar delivered right to your seat by their friendly staff, with a push of a button for service.  Great audio and video.  Nice lobby, bar, and bathrooms.  A great way to watch a movie.  Though take note, it was extremely cold in there.  (Movie theaters are notoriously chilly, but this was a bit Arctic.  Bring a sweater.)

Location:  Well, the good news is it's very convenient to the El, right off the 69th street stop, a few doors down from The Tower Theater.  The bad news is, it's on 69th street.  If you're familiar, you know what I mean.  This ain't the Saks Fifth Avenue stretch of Philly.  But it's not much worse than the other options.

Price:  I love a good matinee.  It's cheaper and emptier, so I don't have to be near anyone.  My Saturday 11:30 AM screening of Southpaw was only $6.00! (plus $1.50 surcharge for reserving my seat online.)  I can't remember the last time I saw a movie in a theater that cheap.  That will increase, I'm sure.

Menu:  It's pretty large, not unlike any American chain restaurant.  For a movie theater it's amazing.  But I can't say I saw a ton of healthy options.  A few.  I opted for the coconut chicken bite appetizer which was very tasty, but very small.  But for $8, how much can you expect to get?

Customer Service:  Amazing.  Everyone was extremely friendly.  You don't get that anywhere else in Philly.

Organization:  Honestly, they just opened, but they do need to get their stuff together a little bit.  I pre-purchased my ticket online from the official Studio Movie Grill site for 11:30 AM a few days prior.  I arrived early (at like 10:30) because I wanted to check out the lobby, the bar, the menu, etc...  They didn't open the doors until 11:20, which was annoying.  And then I found out they changed the movie time from 11:30 to 11:55.  Not a huge deal, but you really shouldn't be changing movie times after you release the official schedule for that week, sell tickets, and not contact people about it.  But, again, they did just open.  Not the biggest deal.

Overall:  It's a great new option for Philly moviegoers, and I look forward to going back anytime I want to see a mainstream release.  The Rave in West Philly, The Pearl in North Philly, The Riverview in South Philly, and the AMC in Cherry Hill definitely should be concerned.  Why on Earth would anyone in Center City choose them now over the new Studio Movie Grill on 69th?  It's about time we had a better option.  Today is a good day.

Friday, July 24, 2015

In Theaters Now - 7/24/15



(new releases in green)


Jurassic World         Grade: A

The Overnight         Grade: A

Southpaw        Grade: A

Trainwreck         Grade: A-

Ant-Man         Grade: A-


Do I Sound Gay?         Grade: A-

Boulevard        Grade: A-

Spy         Grade: B+

Mr. Holmes         Grade: B

Self/Less         Grade:B-

Unexpected         Grade: C

Cartel Land         Grade: C-

San Andreas         Grade: D

The Gallows         Grade: D



Additional Films Not Reviewed:
Amy

Infinitely Polar Bear
Inside Out
Jimmy's Hall
Love & Mercy
Magic Mike XXL
Minions
Paper Towns
Pixels
Tangerine
Ted 2
Terminator Genisys
The Vatican Tapes

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Like Me on Facebook and Follow Me on Twitter!


If you want regular suggestions for great movies to see in theaters and at home on Video on Demand, be sure to like my Flieder on Film Facebook page and follow me on Twitter @FliederonFilm!  And tell your friends to do the same. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

In Theaters Now - 7/17/15



(new releases in green)


The Overnight        Grade: A

Jurassic World        Grade: A

Trainwreck         Grade: A-

Ant-Man         Grade: A-


Do I Sound Gay?        Grade: A-

Hippocrates: Diary of a French Doctor        Grade: A-

Boulevard        Grade: A-

Dope        Grade: A-

Spy        Grade: B+

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl        Grade: B+

Mr. Holmes        Grade: B

Self/Less         Grade:B-

Cartel Land         Grade: C-

San Andreas         Grade: D

The Gallows         Grade: D



Additional Films Not Reviewed:
Amy

Infinitely Polar Bear
Inside Out
Jimmy's Hall
Love & Mercy
Mad Max: Fury Road
Magic Mike XXL
Max
Minions
Ted 2
Terminator Genisys

Ant-Man


My first thoughts when I heard Marvel was making a movie about Ant-Man went something like this, "Ant-Man?!?!?  There aren't any better comic book characters left untapped for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) than Ant-Man?!?!  We are in a world of hurt for summers to come!"  But now, having seen it, I am pleased to report I was very pleasantly surprised.  This is one of the better Marvel comic films I've seen. 

But let me clarify.  I didn't love Ant-Man because of Ant-Man.  In fact, the story and the character himself isn't anything all that special.  Furthermore, this entry in the MCU doesn't have the gravitas of a Captain America: Winter Soldier or The Avengers.  But what this one lacks in being epic, it more than makes up for by its superb cast, dialogue, comedy, music, cinematography, and just overall enjoyability. 

Regarding cast, Paul Rudd clearly must have sold his soul to the devil, because he never ages, and in fact gets better looking and more charming every picture.  And Michael Douglas is a living legend, so to have him not only be in this film, but probably have more screen time than anyone including Ant-Man, with plenty of solid lines of dialogue to deliver is a pleasure.  (Between having Robert Redford in Captain America: Winter Soldier and now Douglas in this, it gives me hope that blockbusters and true actors can co-exist.  In fact, I'd love to see other living legends like Al Pacino, or even Jack Nicholson and Gene Hackman come out of retirement for a great role in a future Marvel film.)  Of course, the great cast doesn't end there.  Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Bobby Cannavale, and Judy Greer are all great too.

Similar to Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers, this one is strong in the comedy department.  In fact it's funnier than almost all of the comedies this year.  Personally I liked it much better than Guardians of the Galaxy.  Edgar Wright's presence is definitely felt in the clever dialogue.

Long story short, while it has its flaws (e.g. the action sequences bored me), this was a very pleasant surprise overall, that gives me faith that the MCU is evolving.

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?  Marvel comic movie fans will be pleased.  And while I wouldn't recommend it if you absolutely hate comic book movies, I think even if they aren't your thing you may very well find this one surpisingly enjoyable.  Just plan on taking a few 15 minute naps during the action sequences and you'll be fine.





Trainwreck



Is it just me or is Amy Schumer everywhere these days?  She seemed to become the "it" girl overnight, though I can't say I really even knew who she was other than from seeing quotes taken from her stand up, stories about her addressing body image insecurities, hearing other comedians speak favorably about her, and an occasional talk show appearance here or there.  She seems to make news because she's a female comedian with no filter, and has become the poster girl for raging against having to be a perfect 10 to be a success in TV or film.  (You don't have to tell me!  I was given the boot from TV and I'm at least a 9.5 ... with makeup!)  But until now I hadn't really seen her do anything.  (Yes, I am aware she has a show called Inside Amy Schumer, but I haven't seen it.)  Anyhoo, now that I have seen her in a lead role, I can indeed confirm ... she's funny.  She does indeed lives up to the hype.  And this is another great female-led, female written comedy directed by comedy the guru himself Judd Apatow.  It's not groundbreaking, but it's funny.  And that's surprisingly rare for comedies today.

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?   If you like Bridesmaids, Apatow films, Schumer, Bill Hader, and adult comedies in general, you'll enjoy this very much.

Boulevard


I always strongly preferred Robin Williams in dramatic roles rather than in comedies or doing standup.  (And trying to reconcile these two extreme sides to him was always a feat!)  Well now you have one more chance to check out a new dramatic role from him.  And fortunately it's a good one.  In this quiet drama, Williams plays a melancholic man dealing with his sickly father, his increasingly distant relationship with his wife (Kathy Baker) and best pal (Bob Odenkirk, in yet another terrific role of late), and a confusing bond he develops with a young gigolo.  It's well acted and compelling enough to remind us what a talent Williams was, and an example of the kinds of demons that secretly plague people, sometimes to tragic ends.  I am sure you agree, he will be sorely missed.

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?  It's a strong choice for fans of Williams' dramatic side.  Though it's a bit melodramatic, and if quiet melodrama isn't your thing, you should turn elsewhere.  But for me, having seen it first a year ago before Williams passed away, and again this week, it has taken on even more poignancy post mortem.

Hippocrates: Diary of a French Doctor


Not having been through medical school, I'm hardly qualified to say this, but I feel like few movies and TV shows really capture what it's like to be a doctor in training.  I always thoroughly enjoyed Scrubs, but part of its charm was often its broad comedy and unrealistic situations.  Well I would imagine this French film probably honestly captures the challenges young doctors face today.  The characters are really well fleshed out and this is one very compelling drama.  (But yes, you will have to read the subtitles.  It's worth it.)

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?  Doctors in training will probably love it.  But I loved it and I'm not a doctor.  I just play one on TV.  (Oh no wait, I played a film critic on TV.)

Do I Sound Gay?


I think it's fairly common to be uncomfortable with the sound of our voices, particularly when we hear them recorded and played back.  I will share with you that the first time I watched myself on TV I was appalled by the way I looked and by the way I sounded.  I wanted to crawl under the bed and die.  Though, strangely, over time, and after many rounds of attempted improvements, I became more comfortable with the way I looked but not so much by the way I sounded.  How do people stand listening to me?!?

But even dating back to the first time I heard myself on the answering machine, I've always been fascinated by the disconnect between how we sound and how we think we sound.  And also by speech patterns in general.  Do people speak the way they do by choice?  Is it learned behavior or biological?  Why do gay men sound like gay men?  This documentary addresses these questions, and does so in a very interesting and entertaining way.  And interviews with Dan Savage, David Sedaris, George Takei, Tim Gunn, and Margaret Cho, and clips of Louis C.K., Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde, and more keep it a fun watch. 

Grade: A-

Who is this movie for?  You don't have to be gay to enjoy Do I Sound Gay.  With its short 77 minute runtime, I think anyone and everyone would enjoy this doc.

Friday, July 10, 2015

In Theaters Now - 7/10/15



(new releases in green)


The Overnight        Grade: A

Batkid Begins       Grade: A

Jurassic World        Grade: A

Ex Machina        Grade: A

Dope        Grade: A-

The Avengers: Age of Ultron        Grade: B+

Spy        Grade: B+

The Wolfpack       Grade: B+

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl        Grade: B+

Strangerland        Grade: B  (also available on Video on Demand)

Self/Less        Grade:B-

Tomorrowland        Grade: C

Cartel Land        Grade: C-

San Andreas        Grade: D

The Gallows        Grade: D



Additional Films Not Reviewed:
Amy

I'll See You in My Dreams
Infinitely Polar Bear
Inside Out
Insidious: Chapter 3
Love & Mercy
Mad Max: Fury Road
Magic Mike XXL
Max
Minions
Pitch Perfect 2
Ted 2
Terminator Genisys
Testament of Youth

Batkid Begins


Holy inspirational documentaries Batman!

I was vaguely familiar with this story, about a young boy with Leukemia who in November 2013 got to live out his dream of being Batman (or at least Batkid) for a day thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  But watching it play out (bigger than anyone could possibly expect) was spectacular.  This is one feel good, inspirational story that will touch your heart even if you don't think it will.  It's terrific.

Grade: A

Who is this movie for?  I loved it and you will too.  Definitely go see it in theaters this weekend (if you can find it!)

Self/Less



I always get excited about original sci-fi films that aren't franchises or known properties.  You never know if it's going to be the next Edge of Tomorrow,  Snowpiercer, or Ex Machina.  (Three films you should definitely see.)  And if Sir Ben Kingsley is in it, even better.  Unfortunately, this is not the next great original sci-fi.

Kingsley plays a terminally ill self-made gazillionaire.  And what's the most desirable thing a terminally ill self-made gazillionaire can buy?  A new body.  And, if you're lucky, you get Ryan Reynolds' body!  But guess what?  After the procedure is done, there's a rub.  There always is!

Sadly, this movie takes a solid premise, and a solid first quarter, with solid acting by Kingsley, and then eventually squanders it.  The subsequent three quarters simply aren't that interesting, and Reynolds really wasn't the right choice for the part.  He should stick with comedies and action films.

Grade: B-

Who is this movie for?  Most people will probably find it entertaining enough.  But the last three quarters is pretty boring.  It could have been and should have been so much better.  And you can do much better than seeing it.

The Gallows


Jason Blum must be stopped. 

If you're not familiar with the name, I'm not referring to a character in a horror franchise.  Errr, actually I guess I kind of am.  Blum is infamous for producing microbudget horror films that strangely are distributed in wide theatrical release, rather than straight to VOD where many of them belong.  OK, yes, I freely admit that since 2007 Blumhouse Productions has created many great horror films, including Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Dark Skies, The Purge, and a personal favorite that no one saw called 13 Sins.  And for the record, they also produced Whiplash, which was an astounding achievement.  So with all of that said, why am I angry with Blum?  Well because instead of investing the money from the hugely successful franchises like Paranormal Activity to adequately market the best ones that, sadly, didn't reach an audience (like 13 Sins which only made $13,809 in its 45 theater release thanks to terrible marketing, but really could become an amazing franchise), or creating new ones that are equally original, edgy, and ground breaking, they have become unbelievably lazy and safe.  Jessabelle, Area 51, and now The Gallows are among the laziest horror films I can recall.  I don't know about you, but I am so tired of found footage from hand held cameras, pretty uninteresting teens, angry ghosts that can't get over their own death, and cheap scares punched up by shrill sound effects.  Ugh!  The 80 minute running time of The Gallows seemed to last so long I felt like volunteering my own neck for the noose.  Of course, full disclosure, the audience around me jumped, laughed, and applauded.  So Blum seems to know how to please the masses by giving them exactly what they want.  I just wish he would give them what they don't know they want.  Remember, no one knew they wanted The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity until they were given it.  Enough resting on a formula that once worked.  It's long past time to be innovative.  Rant over.  Now go VOD 13 Sins!  And don't you dare contribute your hard earned cash to The Gallows!  (Sorry, but this is what they call tough love.)

Grade: D

Who is this movie for?  It shouldn't be for anyone.  But the reality is, many will be satisfactorily pleased by it.  I just don't want to know you if you are.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Nantucket Film Festival 2015


I'm back from my fourth consecutive year attending the Nantucket Film Festival and, as always, it was a great time.  It is consistently the most fun film festival I attend.  Many wonder why I say that considering they haven't even heard of it.  And that's one of the reasons why it's so good.  It's just the right size.  They show good movies from 9 AM to Midnight over 4.5 days.  They have plenty of filmmakers (though rarely recognizable names) in attendance.  There are great panels, conversations, fun NFF signature events, and parties abound.  The people are friendly.  It runs pretty smoothly.  The few venues are great and close together.  The atmosphere in Nantucket can't be beat.  And it's just all around non-stop fun.  (Now shhh ... don't tell anyone!  I don't want it getting too big!)

Of the 45 or so films showing, I saw 21 (not counting four I had already seen at Tribeca:  The Overnight, Sleeping With Other People, The Wolfpack, and Franny).  I also attended four filmmaker panels, a conversation between Chris Matthews and Hollywood screenwriting legend Robert Towne, a staged reading of a TV pilot, a WGA meet and greet, and the Opening Night and Closing Night parties.  Not bad, for 4.5 days.

I must say, the attendees are always fun, nice people.  And if I met you at this year's festival, or if you attended and I didn't meet you, or if you just enjoy this post, be sure to say hi. You can comment right on here (if you have a Blogger User ID and password), friend me on Faceboook, Like my Flieder on Film page, Follow me on Twitter @FliederOnFilm, or shoot me an email at bflieder@gmail.com.

Without further ado, below is a summary of the films I saw, with some brief thoughts.  Most attendees at the festival seemed to agree that the program wasn't as strong this year as the past two years.  (The narrative films were better than the docs.)   Hopefully that's a one year blip.  Anyways, I hope you enjoy this post.  Let me know if you do.
  1. Diary of a Teenage Girl      Grade: A    A dark coming-of-age tale featuring a great performance by newcomer Bel Powley, as well as Alexander Skarsgard, Kristen Wiig, and Christopher Meloni, and filled with sex, drugs, and family dysfunction.  What's not to love?  Look for it on 8/21!
  2. The Stanford Prison Experiment      Grade: A    If you took Psych 101 in college, you surely read about this infamous experiment from 1971 when volunteers for a study were randomly assigned to be either guards or prisoners.  Spoiler alert: mayhem ensues.  This narrative film with a talented ensemble including Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan, and Olivia Thirlby uses actual dialogue and actual situations as documented from the actual experiment to re-tell this crazy tale.  Fun Fact:  I met the filmmaker and his buddy in line beforehand at another film and they were the biggest douchebags I've ever met in Nantucket.  Nevertheless, somehow, they produced a great movie.  Go figure.  See it on Video on Demand on 7/24.
  3. Glassland      Grade: A-   Toni Collette is consistently one of the best actresses working today.  Never concerned with taking on glamorous or high profile star making jobs, she instead opts for interesting, challenging and diverse roles.  In this Irish drama she plays the alcoholic mother of Jack Reynor, who is struggling with holding together his family and life.  Both Collette and Reynor give award worthy performances.  Though I must warn that the thick Dublin accents make this one a challenge for the viewer.  Challenge accepted.  (No U.S. release date yet.)
  4. Experimenter      Grade: A-   You know how every few years two movies come out of the blue on virtually the same topic and you can't figure out why now?  Well this one and The Stanford Prison Experiment are this year's examples.  If you took Psych 101 in college, you surely read about Stanley Milgraum's 1961 study in obediency, as volunteers are duped into thinking they are shocking their fellow volunteers with increasing levels of voltage.  And why do they do this?  Well because they're told to, of course.  It's fascinating, and with Peter Sarsgaard in the lead, and Jim Gaffigan, Winona Ryder, John Leguizamo, Anthony Edward, Anton Yelchin, and more, it's definitely worth your time.  Look for it on 10/16.
  5. The Bronze      Grade: A-    Who loves Howard Wolowitz's mousy, squeaky girlfriend on The Big Bang Theory?  I know I do.  Well, Melissa Rauch stars in this indie comedy as a former Olympic gymnast who can't seem to move on in her life.  If you don't like the F-Bomb, don't watch this movie.  Though it'll be your loss.  It's great.  See it on 10/16.
  6. Best of Enemies      Grade: A-    A documentary about the nationally televised debates in 1968 between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley sounds like swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills.  Yet somehow this one is very entertaining.  I kid you not.  Look for it on 8/14.
  7. The Keeping Room      Grade: A-    With its beautiful cinematography, slow pacing, and limited plot, the first half of this was reminiscent of a Terrence Malick.   I don't usually care for that, but here it worked for me, and the second half is more plot driven, which helps.  Plus, lead Brit Marling always lights up the big screen, but even more so than usual here.  Watch for it in September.
  8. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl      Grade: B+    Critics are all the rave about this one, which is already out in theaters.   This is the second time I've seen it and I warmed up to it a bit more this time.  Though it's a bit too hipstery for me.  And the premise feels way too dishonest and phony to me.  Yet I can't argue that it's very original, unique, and well made.  Ladies, bring your tissues.
  9. Mistress America      Grade: B     Noah Baumbach's been a busy little beaver, with both While We're Young and this one released within four months or so.  I like While We're Young a lot more.  With this one he returns to focus on his muse, Greta Gerwig, who starred in both Francis Ha and Greenberg.  Though this one struck me as more Whit Stillman than Noah Baumbach.  It's too pretentious and pseudo intellectual for me.  But Gerwig is always likeable enough to make it palatable, and the dialogue is so fast paced it might be worth a second viewing.  To be released soon.
  10. Being Canadian      Grade: B    A documentary where the Canadian filmmaker sets out across Canada to figure out what it means to be Canadian, interspersed with interviews from every famous living Canadian funny person.  It's entertaining because of all the comics, but really it shallowly focuses on all the known Canadian stereotypes.  Eh?  You hoser!  (No release date yet.)
  11. Time out of Mind      Grade: B    Richard Gere plays a homeless man.  He's good but it's too slow, too long, and too close to the character he plays in Franny, which also played at the festival.  On VOD on 9/18.
  12. Welcome to Leith     Grade: B    A documentary about neo-Nazis who try to take over a tiny town in North Dakota.  It's good, but I wish it were slightly more thrilling. 
  13. (T)ERROR      Grade: B     A documentary exploring how the FBI recruits undercover civilians to infiltrate possible domestic terrorists.  It's good, but I wish it were slightly more thrilling.
  14. Some Kind of Spark      Grade: B     A documentary about underprivileged children given the opportunity to hone their musical skills at Juilliard.  Fun Fact:  Filmmaker Ben Niles and his wife Kerry are among the best people I've met in Nantucket.  So if this topic interest you, definitely look for it.  It's well made, especially for its modest budget.
  15. How to Dance in Ohio     Grade: B     A documentary about children on the higher functioning end of the Autism spectrum.
  16. Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of The National Lampoon      Grade: B-    Honestly I was never a fan of The National Lampoon publication.  Not because it's sexist, which it is.  And not because it shows lots of boobs, which I like.  But because it's just not funny.  Sorry, it's just not.  And National Lampoon's Animal House is overrated.  Though National Lampoon's Vacation is classic, but this film is mainly focused on the story of the publication.  It's ok.
  17. Krisha     Grade: C-    Hot Tip:  If a film is made for $9,000 and the filmmaker, the cast, and the crew are all related, it's probably not very good.  Case in point.  Now why this one won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Award at SXSW, and has been picked up for distribution by A24 is a complete mystery to me.  Clearly someone has dirty pictures of someone.
  18. Queen of Earth      Grade: D+    When I saw Alex Ross Perry's Listen Up Philip starring Jason Schwartzman and Elisabeth Moss last October at the Philadelphia Film Festival I fell asleep.  Was I tired I had wondered?  Well now that I've seen this one, also starring Moss, and I once again fell asleep, I now know the answer.  It's not me, it's him.  He might be a genius for a younger generation.  But to me, he's my Kryptonite.
  19. Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation      Grade: D     Barbara Kopple has been making documentaries for a long, long time.  The problem is, she hasn't evolved with the times.  Docs aren't supposed to feel like homework anymore.  They should be entertaining, thrilling, fun, and/or engaging.  This one wasn't any of those things.  For a better doc on famous journalism publications, see Page One: Inside the New York Times.  And I wasn't even thrilled by that one.
  20. The Russian Woodpecker      Grade: D    The trailer for this doc about a conspiracy theorist's theory on the Chernobyl meltdown seemed intriguing.  Perhaps I was suffering from film overkill, but I just couldn't handle the Russian subtitles, the thick stereotypical Russian/KGB accents, and the so-so grainy film quality.  Maybe it's a good movie.  Maybe not.  I walked out.
  21. Western      Grade: D-    Again, perhaps I was suffering from movie overload, but this doc about life along the Mexican border just wasn't working for me.  At all.  I walked out.

Second Quarter of 2015


We've made it half way through 2015 and yes, you guessed it, it's time for my quarter end review.

Below is a summary of my grades for the 105 films I saw that were released in the U.S. this quarter (either in theaters or on Video on Demand).  Check them out and then refresh your memory of the films of the first quarter.

As usual, many of the best movies this quarter were released on Video on Demand at the same time as or even before their limited theatrical runs.  There were a lot of great ones.  And you can see many of them right now without even leaving your home.
    
As always, I welcome your feedback, whether it be on here, on my Flieder on Film Facebook page, on Twitter @FliederonFilm, shoot me an email at bflieder@gmail.com, or just yell really, really loudly.  If you like what I provide here then positive feedback and sharing with your movie lover friends is always much appreciated.
  1. Gabriel       Grade: A+
  2. 5 to 7       Grade: A+
  3. Ex Machina        Grade: A
  4. The 11th Hour (formerly I Am Here)      Grade: A
  5. While We're Young      Grade: A
  6. Jurassic World      Grade: A
  7. Escobar: Paradise Lost        Grade: A
  8. The Overnight        Grade: A
  9. Danny Collins        Grade: A
  10. Welcome to Me      Grade: A
  11. Time Lapse      Grade: A
  12. Glass Chin       Grade: A
  13. Every Secret Thing        Grade: A
  14. Alex of Venice        Grade: A
  15. Good Kill      Grade: A
  16. Thought Crimes      Grade: A
  17. Results      Grade: A-
  18. Maggie      Grade: A-
  19. Ted 2      Grade: A-
  20. The Little Death      Grade: A-
  21. 5 Flights Up       Grade: A-
  22. Big Game      Grade: A-
  23. Bound to Vengeance (formerly Reversal)      Grade: A-
  24. I'll See You in My Dreams      Grade: A-
  25. Entourage      Grade: A-
  26. The Forger      Grade: A-
  27. Playing it Cool      Grade: A-
  28. True Story      Grade: A-
  29. Woman in Gold      Grade: A-
  30. The Face of an Angel      Grade: A-
  31. Dope      Grade: A-
  32. Let Us Prey      Grade: A-
  33. Deep Web       Grade: B+
  34. The Wolfpack       Grade: B+
  35. Last Knights      Grade: B+
  36. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl      Grade: B+
  37. Lost River      Grade: B+
  38. Avengers: Age of Ultron      Grade: B+
  39. The Harvest      Grade: B+
  40. Survivor      Grade: B+
  41. Stockholm, Pennsylvania      Grade: B+
  42. Slow West      Grade: B+
  43. Spy      Grade: B+
  44. The D Train      Grade: B+
  45. Unfriended      Grade: B+
  46. Hungry Hearts      Grade: B+
  47. Love & Mercy      Grade: B+
  48. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared      Grade: B+
  49. Adult Beginners      Grade: B+
  50. The Age of Adaline      Grade: B+
  51. Dial a Prayer      Grade: B+
  52. Live from New York!      Grade: B+
  53. American Heist      Grade: B+
  54. Inside Out      Grade: B+
  55. 7 Minutes      Grade: B+
  56. Creep      Grade: B
  57. Misery Loves Comedy      Grade: B
  58. Hot Girls Wanted      Grade: B
  59. Balls Out (formerly Intramural)      Grade: B
  60. Cut Bank      Grade: B
  61. Arlo & Julie      Grade: B
  62. Kumiko the Treasure Hunter      Grade: B
  63. The Water Diviner       Grade: B
  64. Beyond the Reach      Grade: B
  65. From the Dark      Grade: B
  66. Burying the Ex      Grade: B
  67. Manglehorn        Grade: B
  68. Hyena        Grade: B
  69. The Connection      Grade: B
  70. Closer to the Moon      Grade: B
  71. Mad Max: Fury Road      Grade: B
  72. Aloha      Grade: B
  73. The Road Within      Grade: B-
  74. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck     Grade: B-
  75. Love at First Fight      Grade: B-
  76. Black Souls      Grade: B-
  77. We Are Still Here      Grade: B-
  78. The Film Critic      Grade: B-
  79. Nightingale      Grade: B-
  80. Pitch Perfect 2      Grade: B-
  81. Sinatra: All or Nothing at All      Grade: C+
  82. White God      Grade: C+
  83. Wild Horses      Grade: C+
  84. Insidious: Chapter 3      Grade: C+
  85. Poltergeist      Grade: C+
  86. A Little Chaos       Grade: C+
  87. Aloft      Grade: C
  88. Child 44      Grade: C
  89. Clouds of Sils Maria      Grade: C
  90. Tomorrowland        Grade: C
  91. Testament of Youth      Grade: C
  92. The Stranger      Grade: C-
  93. Sisterhood of Night      Grade: C-
  94. Apartment Troubles      Grade: C-
  95. Nightmare      Grade: C-
  96. Warren      Grade: D
  97. Just Before I Go      Grade: D
  98. Hot Pursuit      Grade: D
  99. San Andreas      Grade: D
  100. Furious 7      Grade: D
  101. Area 51      Grade: D
  102. Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World      Grade: D
  103. Electric Slide      Grade: D-
  104. Monsters: Dark Continent      Grade: D-
  105. Infini      Grade: D-

Films Not Reviewed:
3 Hearts
About Elly
Anarchy Parlor
Animals
Any Day
The Apu Trilogy
Backcountry
Barely Lethal
Bessie
Beyond the Mask
Boy Meets Girl
A Brand New You
Bravetown
Brotherly Love
Bypass
Club Life
Dawn Patrol
The Dead Lands
Desert Dancer
Dior and I
Echoes of War
Effie Gray
Far From Men
Far From the Madding Crowd
The Farewell Party
Felix and Meira
Freedom
Gemma Bovary
The Girl is in Trouble
Grey Gardens
Heaven Knows What
The Human Centipede III
The Hunting Ground
I Am Big Bird
In the Name of My Daughter
Into the Grizzly Maze
Iris
Jauja
Lambert and Stamp
Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant
The Last Time You Had Fun
Laugh Killer Laugh
Little Boy
The Longest Ride
Madame Bovary
The Mafia Only Kills in Summer
Marfa Girl
Max
Monkey Kingdom
Ned Rifle
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Phantom Halo
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Pound of Flesh
Preggoland
Private Number
Ride
Saint Laurent
La Sapienza
The Seven Five
Skin Trade
Spike Island
The Squeeze
Sunshine Superman
Tangerines
United Passions
Vendetta
What Happened, Miss Simone?
When Marnie Was There
Where Hope Grows
Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman
The Yes Men are Revolting