For lack of a better term, “About Time” is simply sweet. Simple and sweet. And whether you accept this or not determines your feelings toward this film. Its simplicity comes from being a film about time travel that never explains the back story, but simply defines its premise and locks in from the start. It is also sweet, as it emotionally hits a tone that will have its viewers either smiling or in tears. With a strong showing from the superb cast and just enough emotions to get you to feel something, “About Time” does exactly what it sets out to do, bringing a touch of science fiction to a mostly routine love story.
“Dallas Buyers Club” is a transformation for all those involved. Matthew McConaughey may be having the best year of career, almost losing himself in the role of Ron Woodroof, a rough-around-the-edges rodeo jockey that talks smart, hates loudly, and won’t take no for answer, especially when he’s diagnosed with HIV and later AIDS. Emotion runs deep within this film, made possible by the men and women stepping into these roles, producing two of the best performances of the year in McConaughey and Leto, who will light up the critics’ awards.
When originally announced, “Diana” was on the Academy Award radar with Naomi Watts garnering comments that could wind her up for an Oscar nomination. Now that the film is out, there’s a different tune entirely, as its coming up one of the most poorly rated films of the year. Looking into the “secret” love life of Princess Diana, the trailer even suggests a level of melodramatics too sordid for an Academy film. Regardless, I enjoy Watts and will eventually give this a shot.
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Had I read the books, this film would probably have held more stock for me, but instead, it falls a bit flat on its CGI-heavy demeanor and heavy handed moral strategy. Asa Butterfield was a strong choice to play Ender, who often embodies the leader qualities that Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) sees in him. With some serious dark undertones in the rights and wrongs of genocide, intergalactic or not, the film’s dialogue brings up some strong points on pushing people past their breaking points for the good of the world.
Turkeys traveling back in time to get themselves off the menu of the original Thanksgiving is quite the tale, but “Free Birds” does not look to capitalize and instead feels very forced and lacking laughs. With Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson as the voices, you want to like this idea, but it comes off very second rate and nowhere near the quality of work being put out by Pixar and Disney.
With respect for all four men in this film, “Last Vegas” looks a little too much geriatric for its own good. Using jokes about pills and dying soon, the fun is almost sucked out of the film. Leaning towards a much older audience, I stick enjoy Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline enough to see this film and give it a shot. But I already know what I’m getting into.
The animation in “Approved For Adoption” looks impeccable, in what is tagged as an animated memoir. The story of a young Asian boy that is is adopted into a family with four kids, he explores the idea of adoption, the good and the bad, and the connection he has with his family. A mix between this crisp and stylish animation and the actual inspiration for the film, this film is unlike anything I’ve seen.
Jack Kerouac is becoming a hot commodity in films lately, with at least three major productions, including this one, releasing in the last year or so. The Beatnik generation is definitely an interesting era in poetry and self exploration and it’s been encapsulated in films like “On The Road” and “Kill Your Darlings” and now takes another story of Kerouac’s and brings it to life in “Big Sur”, an official selection at Sundance starring Josh Lucas, Radha Mitchell, and Kate Bosworth.
“The Broken Circle Breakdown” is Belgian’s entry into the Academy Award foreign race this year, about a couple that faces ups and downs while in a bluegrass band. With a moniker of “Walk The Line” mixed with “Blue Valentine”, I am just the slightest bit intrigued. Since the trailer doesn’t offer much, I can’t really go much further, although I adore most the films it’s referencing.
The trailer alone for “In The Name Of…” is not enough to sell the film. After reading the synopsis, however, it helps define a little more what is going on in the beautifully filmed images. What you get is that a priest in a small town struggles with his sexuality, as two boys attempt advances on him. The priest’s celibacy is self-imposed, but same-sex relationships are on the top of the list of things to frown upon in most religions. With strong visuals and strong emotions promised, it’s hard to simply turn away from this film.
A little too predictable on the story side, “Last Love” has such an amazing cast for a romantic comedy that there has to be something more to it. Ever since her stint in “Harry Potter” and her supporting role in “In Bruges”, Clémence Poésy has intrigued me and she looks fantastic in this film. Michael Caine is a legend and is what makes this an eventual must see. And my like for Justin Kirk grows with everything I see him in, as it is with Gillian Anderson as well. Great cast trumps questionable story anytime.
What is it with Keanu Reeves and the martial arts? “47 Ronin” comes out later this year and now his directorial debut with “Man Of Tai Chi” where he plays a business mogul who hires a man to win fights for him, ending in what I can only assume is a deadly battle between the two of them. It doesn’t look bad by any means, but martial arts films usually do not land very high on my lists and for that it will fall by the wayside unless I hear otherwise. Kudos to Reeves for trying something new though.
Your run-of-the-mill home invasion film, “Mischief Night” says it actually came out on October 30th, which was probably much better for business. But what’s not good is that it telegraphs the ending by giving us a blind daughter and an alive father, to which we experience the invasion in flashbacks, or at least that’s what I gather, telling us who survives and that they escape the killer…. at least for now. You know how I’ll escape? By not seeing this film.
Jared Leto working double duty this week, with the premiere of the independent film “Mr. Nobody” which leaves a little boy’s choice up to all possibilities and the different paths that coincide. The cast for this may not seem that huge from the trailer, but look at the cast list and there’s definite must see qualities. Rhys Ifans we see in the trailer and a glimpse of Diane Kruger, but Sarah Polley and Juno Temple are also in the film. Jared Leto is enigmatic in everything that he does and this will probably be along the same lines.
Having not been bitten by the zeitgeist bug, films like “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology” hold little entertainment for me. What is interesting is narrator and theorist Slavoj Zizek stepping into some of these iconic movie sets like “Taxi Driver” or “Titanic”, but on a lesson level, this feels like a forced lecture that I want little to no part of.
Found footage has found an interesting home in the science fiction and horror genres which can really amp up an intriguing story. “Skinwalker Ranch” attempts to take this abduction/paranormal story and span it over a few decades. The quality of the film is the key, with great visuals and some impressive tricks in the trailer alone. Although found footage is often hit-or-miss, this is one I will not miss.
“These Birds Walk” does look like a very emotional and raw look at orphans in Pakistan, with interviews of a man running a home for abandoned and lost children and following kids as they run the streets, return to their families, and overall, just survive. As powerful as this film may seem, it’s a tad too dramatic to get excited about and with documentaries being hard to differentiate, this one too becomes just another third world country endeavor.
More amused that a film about people loving motorcycles hasn’t been made sooner, there’s something about “Why We Ride” and having kids tell me to do it that makes me a) not want to see this movie and b) not want to ride a motorcycle. Solely for motorcycle aficionados, this documentary is a glossy, pricy look at the world on two wheels and passion that comes with it. I get that these people love it but spending an hour and a half listening to motorcycle praise is not my idea of a good time.