Thursday, July 2, 2015
     

Movie Review

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"Inside Out" is an animated look inside a preteen girl's brain, with individuals or creatures depicting five emotions: Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling).

The 11-year-old girl, Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), is going through a difficult time, much to the consternation of her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) after the family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco.

"Personality islands," the "control console," "core memories" and the "train of memory" are shown and explained.

Friday, June 26, 2015

You'd think they would've learned. Not when there was the possibility of another record-breaking box office blockbuster.

When "Jurassic Park" was released June 11, 1993, (becoming the then highest-grossing movie to date with $350 million domestically), it changed the way special effects movies were made. Stop-motion animation was considered for "Jurassic Park." computer generated imagery, in one of its most extensive uses at the time, was chosen. Thus, the Industrial Light and Magic era dawned.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

If you're a Beach Boys fan, you may know by heart the opening notes and sounds of many of the group's hit songs: "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows," "Good Vibrations," "Sloop John B" (each released in 1966). These and more began in Brian Wilson's brain. He apparently heard them as full arrangements.

That's the premise of the fascinating "Love & Mercy" biopic about Beach Boys songwriter and founder Wilson, who is still touring (Wilson, with Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin joining him, and Rodriguez opening, June 29, Mann Music Center, Philadelphia).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"San Andreas" is an over-the-top "what-if" action movie about 9-plus magnitude earthquakes that hit California from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

The movie, seen in the 3-D format for this review, is akin to an amusement park thrill ride. It's a nail-bitter.

There's a huge "Wow! Factor," with jaw-dropping computer-generated special effects: the collapse of Hoover Dam, falling skyscrapers (as well as the toppling of the iconic Hollywood sign) in Los Angeles, the Golden Gate Bridge shaking like a Slinky and San Francisco, the City by the Bay, becoming the city in the bay.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

When you take away the fine acting, gorgeous cinematography (Charlotte Bruus Christensen), sweeping score (Craig Armstrong) and all the earmarks of a sumptuous costume (Janet Patterson) drama, you basically have a love-triangle melodrama in "Far from the Madding Crowd."

That's not an altogether bad thing.

"Far from the Madding Crowd" is an entertaining, well-crafted and satisfying potboiler by Danish director Thomas Vinterberg ("The Hunt," 2012; "It's All About Love," 2003; "The Celebration," 1998).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Pitch Perfect 2" is not quite as compelling as "Pitch Perfect," the 2012 surprise hit about a college women's competitive a cappella singing group. The original film grossed $115 million worldwide. The sequel outgrossed the original in five days.

Both films, based on the nonfiction book, "Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory," by Mickey Rapkin, benefit from a cultural trend.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"Avengers: The Age Of Ultron" succeeds on multiple levels, despite a title that sounds like an ad slogan for a new household cleaning product.

"Avengers: Ultron" has its share of kitsch, in dialogue, characterization, editing and visuals. And yet the spoofing around isn't hit or myth. If anything, it enhances the Marvel Cinematic Universe superheroes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It's not exactly the Magic Kingdom.

However, Disneynature's "Monkey Kingdom" contains its own kind of charm.

The setting is the ruins of an ancient city in the Sri Lanka Polonnaruwa jungle. The ruins (known as Kiri Vihara, Manik Vihara and Rankoth Vihara), and in particular an outcropping called Castle Rock, has been taken over by a species of monkeys known as toque macaque.

In the excellent and personable narration by Tina Fey, the monkeys are given names and a storyline unfolds. A female monkey is named Maya. Her son is called Kip. The father is called Kumar.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

"While We're Young" is a bit of a departure for writer-director Noah Baumbach.

It's is one of his more mainstream movies.

That's not to say the comedy is filling up the screening rooms at the multiplex. No, you'll still find Baumbach's latest at the art house, independent film and foreign film venues.

Still, "While We're Young" has a discernable plot and a storyline that is more accessible than in many of Baumbach's previous movies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Woman in Gold" is a compelling tale of political obstinacy, one woman's quest to regain her birthright, and the lawyer who fought for her cause.

The story is not unfamiliar: The looting of priceless family treasures and art by the Nazis during World War II.