Writer-director Kate Barker-Froyland’s SONG ONE is heart-felt and touching at times, but unfortunately the film doesn’t quite work on several levels. There are a couple of scenes that are superfluous (one that took up way too much time for a film that is only 88 minutes). Johnny Flynn, who plays Ann Hathaway’s love interest, has a wonderful singing voice and belts out some good country tunes, but has a very limited acting range. The relationship between Hathaway and Flynn seems contrived. Mary Steenburgen, who plays Hathaway’s mom, serves no purpose. But the biggest problem is that Hathaway is limited to singing just one song and only sections of another. We all know that she has a great voice–let her sing!
STRANGE MAGIC isn’t what you may think it is. Disney’s marketing of the film downplays that it is a madcap fairy tale musical made for girls (which George Lucas, the film’s story originator, has been saying in his interviews). It is inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and is one of the most visually stunning animations ever.
This is Industrial Light & Magic’s second animated feature film. It is their follow-up to RANGO (2011), the equally beautiful animated western inspired by ONCE UPON TIME IN THE WEST that was directed by Gore Verbinski and its lead character voiced by Johnny Depp.
STRANGE MAGIC’s overall message is that love conquers all and you can’t judge a book by its cover. For some, ...Read full review
Bradley Cooper has been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar the past three years (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, AMERICAN HUSTLE, and now, AMERICAN SNIPER). It’s that kind of recognition that makes one take notice, and Mr. Cooper’s performance as Chris Kyle in AMERICAN SNIPER is another indication that he is one of the best actors in Hollywood right now. Sienna Miller, who plays Cooper’s wife, also demonstrates some acting chops, even though she isn’t given much to do in the film. There are problems with the script. The biggest issue is there are major jumps in chronology with Kyle’s home life. But overall, the film is good, and Clint Eastwood does his best direction since 2009’s GRAN TORINO.
Most reviewer’s expectation of a film released mid-January, with no awards aspirations, is usually low. So, sadly, Michael Mann’s BLACKHAT meets those low expectations, and perhaps exceeds them.
When the film starts, we find BLACKHAT’s main character, Nicholas Hathaway, played by Chris Hemsworth, “People” magazine’s newly minted “Sexiest Man Alive!”, in prison for computer bank theft. The FBI offers Hathaway his freedom if he helps them find a super hacker who caused a nuclear reactor to explode and volatility to a stock market commodity.
The FBI’s “deal” to a prisoner is something we’ve seen a million times in movies (at least it feels that way). There has to be a more creative way to ...Read full review
There are a lot of good things to say about Sara Colangelo’s directorial debut. First, Ms. Colangelo does a wonderful job directing a film with competing, interlocking storylines–she’s definitely a director to watch. It’s also good to see Elizabeth Banks give a solid performance outside of her comedic comfort zone. The film’s location has a rural, small town authenticity that only enhances its indie vibe. Unfortunately, it is Ms. Colangelo’s screenplay that undermines the film’s overall effectiveness. The lone survivor (Boyd Holbrook) of a coal mining accident seems like the main character, but the film bounces from several different characters and storylines, never allowing the audience enough time to empathize with any of them.
STILL ALICE is not a great film, but Julianne Moore gives such a great performance of a woman slowly slipping into the black abyss of nothingness, that it elevates the film to very good. Moore plays Dr. Alice Howland, a renowned Columbia University linguistics professor and a happily married wife with three grown children. She begins to notice issues with her memory and, after meeting with her doctor, is diagnosed with a devastating disease that not only affects her life, but her entire family’s lives as well. Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish give good performances as Moore’s supportive children. Moore’s husband, played by Alec Baldwin, does a serviceable job, but another actor with more warmth might have been a better choice.
THE WEDDING RINGER is over-the-top, outrageous, and oh-so very funny. Josh Gad is Doug Harris, a lovable successful businessman who has no friends to ask to be his best man or groomsmen at his soon-to-be wedding. He hires the services of Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) to be his best man and to hire seven groomsman. Gad is the straight man to Kevin Hart’s hyper-kenetic Callahan, and they have real comedic chemistry (more than I would have thought). There were some really laugh-out-loud funny scenes in writer/director Jeremy Garelick’s film. Ken Howard is especially funny as the bride’s overbearing father. However, Olivia Thirlby is severely under used and there is gay wedding planner that is too stereotypical.