Tuesday, March 31, 2015
     

Movie Review

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"The Butler" is an eyewitness to history account seen through the eyes of a White House employee during the presidential administrations of Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

In "The Butler" screenplay by Danny Strong (actor, "Mad Men"), the cauldron of the Civil Rights Movement is backdrop for the presidential procession as well as the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a fictional White House butler inspired by the real-life Eugene Allen, who was on the White House staff for 34 years.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Elysium" is a science fiction metaphor for the haves and have-nots of today.

In the year 2154, the super-rich live on a huge bicycle wheel-shaped space station orbiting Earth. It is a Garden of Eden. The wealthy are coddled in Boca-Raton meets Disney World surroundings. Health-care "med-pods" heal patients completely and quickly.

Down below, the whole Earth has become the Third World. Los Angeles is reduced to shanty towns such as those, for example, surrounding Mexico City.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Almost exactly seven years ago in this space I praised Forest Witaker for his brilliant performance as Ugandan dictator Edi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Turns out I was right on the money: Witaker went on to win the Oscar for Best Actor at the 2007 Academy Awards.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"The Smurfs 2" is an amusing animated and live action feature film with excellent character voices, jokey dialogue and terrific animation that should be enjoyed by the pre-10 year-old set and hold the attention of most parents or guardians.

The characters were created by Peyo, aka Pierre Culliford, a Belgium comic-strip artist-writer. The name Smurf is a Dutch language translation of an invented French word, Schtroumpf, a made-up word for salt.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"The Wolverine" goes deep into the psyche of Logan, aka Wolverine, the Marvel Comics superhero, thanks to an intense performance by Hugh Jackman, reprising his role as the title character, and thoughtful and compelling direction by James Mangold.

"Wolverine" extends the "X-Men" movie franchise, which began with "X-Men" (2000), continued with "X2" (2003), "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006), "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009), "X-Men: First Class" (2011) and returns with filming underway for "X-Men: Days of Future Past (due 2014).

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer and blockbusters go hand in popcorn at the movies.

The watershed year for the summer blockbuster marketing mentality of the major Hollywood movie studios was 1975 with the release of director Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," which ushered in the summer blockbuster genre of big-budget, fast-paced, thrilling entertainment.

During the summer and Thanksgiving through Christmas and New Year's holiday season, there's "counterprogramming," whereby "indie" (independently-released) films are released, sometimes to critical and box office success.

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Despicable Me 2" has nearly all the things you would want to see and hear in an animated feature family comedy.

It has distinctive and charmingly-rendered characters, voice talent that is very expressive, an interesting and entertaining storyline, an overall attention to detail and, most importantly, a sense of fun.

"Despicable Me 2" ("DM2") is co-directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.

Renaud is a Parkland High School, Class of '85, graduate who attended the Baum School of Art where he received a $1,000 scholarship.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In the western genre of motion pictures, "The Lone Ranger" ranks right up there with the more unusual.

While not as odd as "Cowboys & Aliens" (2011), it's not in the classic style of director Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" (1992), "3:10 to Yuma" (the 2007 version and 1957 original) or director John Ford's "The Searchers" (1956), starring John Wayne.

However, "The Lone Ranger," despite the reviling reactions of many movie critics, has a lot to recommend it.

It is one of the wildest of movies about the Wild West as you're likely to see.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The best things about "Monsters University" occur before and after the animated feature film.

"The Blue Umbrella," a film short preceding "MU," is many of the things that "MU" is not. "Blue Umbrella" is imaginatively to the point, original and thoroughly entertaining.

After the credits conclude for "MU," there is a scene about a snail character, introduced early in the film as he makes his way slowly to class. The outcome of his progress is in the post-credits scene, which is also many of the things that "MU" is not. The scene is very funny, clever and efficient.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Zombie Apocalypse is upon us and it's called "World War Z."

That's "Z" as in zombie.

And the only person standing between us and the end of the world as we know it is Brad Pitt, who portrays a former United Nations official called back into service and tasked to find the antidote to a zombie pandemic.