Thursday, June 21, 2018

Welcome to Marwen First Preview

This is definitely the most interesting trailer I have seen this week. Welcome to Marwen, based on a true story, details how Mark Hogancamp discovered an artistic and whimsical way to recover from a vicious attack that left him without much of his memory.

If this piques your interest, I would suggest reading about the real Mark Hogancamp. He seems like quite the character. Oh and I have not mentioned yet that he likes to occasionally cross dress. In a recent interview one of his comments about the movie was, "I hope Steve Carrell has nice legs".

Welcome to Marine starring Steve Carrell, Diane Kruger and Leslie Mann wil premier November 21st.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dumbo Teaser Trailer

I feel emotionally manipulated by the Dumbo teaser trailer and that's perfectly ok. Disney has always known how to tug at the childhood heart-strings. Enough said.

Dumbo, directed by Tim Burton and starring a whole bunch of people will fly into theaters March 29th 2019.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ocean’s 8 Review

I can easily imagine the doubts about Ocean's 8 and what was behind continuing the franchise that started with Ocean's 11 in 2001. With an all female cast, could it be a gimmicky ploy by a Hollywood that hears the constant drumbeat of "remake, remake, remake"? I am hear to tell you that Ocean's 8 is a slick, smooth and successful stand alone film.

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) belongs to what must be a genetically gifted family of charming criminal masterminds that includes her brother, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) from the original Ocean's movies. She is just out of prison on parole and shows off her skills by quickly and easily conning herself into some expensive cosmetics, a new wardrobe and a free hotel room. Right off the bat she has reconnected with former partner Lou (Cate Blanchett) and set out to put together a crew to pull off a heist years in the planning. A movie like Ocean's 8 can live or die on casting alone. Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter play the lovely ladies of larceny who each bring their special skills to the job. The goal is to get a ridiculously expensive hunk of a diamond necklace out of a Cartier vault and on the neck of "it girl" actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway). It will then be stolen from that neck and in a way that Debbie and her crew will not even be suspects.

Ocean's 8 is a carefully choreographed movie with everything from the cinematography, the music and even the clothes giving the sophisticated feeling of Ocean's 11 but with added feminine edge. No complaints about the acting at all. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett who take up a lot of screen time have a natural connection and make their interactions seem effortless. Helena Bonham Carter gets some extra kudos for allowing us to see a past version of herself. The quirkiness remains but no screeching, villainous witch in sight. Instead she is a refreshing character with a lot of real vulnerability. The stage might gets a bit full at times and you'll wish that your favorite character got more screen time but I see it as a natural by product of a movie with such a big cast. One last gushing compliment and then I promise I will stop. For those that appreciate fashion, Ocean's 8 has some fabulous clothes. I think Cate Blanchett comes out ahead. Lou is a whirlwind of well cut suits, layers of jewelry and swagger (I can safely say that part is all her). I don't know if Ocean's 8 will spawn a franchise or rest on it's laurels as a fun summer movie but I give it a A.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Mary Shelley Review

Picture it. Gathered at a gothic manor house for a weekend of drinking and free love canoodling are Mary Shelley (Mary Godwin at this point), her soon to be husband Percy Shelley and the infamous Lord Byron, among others. Spurred by a contest as to who could tell the scariest ghost story, Mary creates the iconic character of Frankenstein. Maybe I didn't pay enough attention to the trailer because that was the movie I was expecting and this is not that.

Mary Shelley is much more conventional telling of the life story of the woman known to some as the creator of modern science fiction. Mary was born from the unconventional relationship between the writers William Godwin (Stephen Dillane) and Mary Wollstonecraft who died during childbirth. You can read the word "unconventional" to mean the two never married. This means Mary grows up with a impressive literary pedigree but under the constant judgement of scandal. At age 16 she meets and falls hard for the rich, handsome poet Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth). She eventually finds out though that his idea of their romance is that he spends his time being a drunken man-whore while she stays home and takes care of their newborn. It's that moment that has happened many time before and continues to this day. You find out that the sexy bad boy has turned into just a bad life choice. The ups and downs of their relationship continue until that fateful weekend they spend with Lord Byron. It's true that a sleepless night there does give way to nightmares that seem to inspire her Frankenstein story but most of the screen time is just hashing out her domestic dramas with Percy. She decided to finally leave him and begins to work on Frankenstein in earnest. Telling Percy at one point that she is most qualified to write about a monster because she has been living with one (ouch!).

To give an opinion of this movie I have to separate what I thought it would be with what it actually is. It certainly lacked a real look at what was going on in Mary's mind that lead her to pen a dramatic, macabre and ultimately beautiful story. She's seen entertaining younger relatives with late night ghost stories and scribbling down stories while hanging out in a graveyard but that all seems a bit shallow. What Goth girl worth her salt hasn't done those things. In this way I'm disappointed. However it's not all a loss. The acting is good all around. I'm particularly impressed by Tom Sturridge in his small amount of screen time as Lord Byron. The time period is portrayed in a realistic, gritty way but nods to the romantic notions of the age. The costuming is gorgeous and everyone has a pallor that says consumption might be right around the corner. So, for the movie I was hoping to watch I give this a C but for what it turned out to be I'll say a B-.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Star Is Born Preview

I usually pride myself on knowing about upcoming movies but this came out of nowhere for me. Was not on my radar at all. The official synopsis is that a seasoned musician helps and subsequently falls in love with a struggling artist who is about to give up on her dreams. By "seasoned" I think they may mean Bradley Cooper is channeling a bit of Jeff Bridges from Crazy Heart. If he throws up in a trash can or two, he'll have nailed it. Sorry, I'm just having a bit of fun. I think this looks and sounds fantastic. I've always loved that moment when people who only associate Lady Gaga with over the top costuming first truly pay attention to her amazing voice.

A Star Is Born starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott and Dave Chappelle will melodiously land in theaters October 5th.

The Pass

LGBT movies whether they be considered indie or mainstream have come a long way. However, I certainly can remember a time, mostly in the 90's for me at least, when the promise was there but not always the execution. With the money and attention in short supply, a lot of movies with LGBT themes were saddled with cringe worthy budgets, bad acting and a reliance on salacious winks to the audience such as way too much nudity. I bring this up only because if you've watched the trailer before reading this, you may wonder if The Pass is going to rely on the obviously nice attributes of it's two main leads. I am happy to tell you that this is not the case.

The Pass is based on a play performed at The Royal Court Theater (London's West End) in 2014 and tells the story of two soccer (or football if you prefer) players in three acts each set 10 years apart. The first act which sets the stage is a night before a match in which Jason (Russell Tovey) and Ade (Arinze Kene) work out their nervous energy and talk about future prospects. Jason is a bundle of energy, bouncing off the walls and jumping from teasing that seems just cheeky at times and confrontational at others. It's soon obvious there is a lot going on between these two below the surface. Both realize that their careers are at a crossroads and most likely only one of them is going to still be on the roster for the next season. Oh, and then there is obvious sexual tension. Your never sure at first if it's reciprocated or if Jason is simply using it to get under Ade's skin. The movie then skips ahead ten years and then another ten so that we can see who made the big time and more importantly what exactly happened that first night in the hotel room.

The Pass never shies away from it's theatrical roots. There are only three settings, two main characters and two side characters. With that structure and the heavy theme of homophobia in sports, The Pass has the makings of a unrelatable disaster but it's not. Both Russell Tovey and Arinze Kene are a lot of fun although I have to say Russell Tovey dials it up a notch to almost perfection. In addition we get excellent performances from two actors I am not the least bit familiar with. Lisa McGrillis as Lyndsey, a woman inadvertently drawn into Jason's need to keep his public image "straight". She is given some fantastically witty dialogue that ends up owning the ever arrogant Jason. Then there is Nico Mirallegro as Harry, a hotel employee who is happily involved in Jason and Ade's final reckoning in the third act. With boisterous enthusiasm he plays that guy we all know. You invite him to your wedding and he gets drunk, knocks over the cake and hits on all the bridesmaids but you forgive him in the end just to have the stories to tell. I'm giving The Pass a B+. It is certainly not for everyone but takes all of the challenges of adapting a play and makes them opportunities.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Darkest Minds First Preview

Giddy with the power of my seemingly magical MoviePass, I went to the movies last night and as always I show up in time for the trailers because it's the polite thing to do. Several thoughts - (1) Ocean's 8 is ever so slowly growing on me. (2) I'm already sold on Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again; so I will gladly stop seeing the preview before every movie. (3) I'm a closet movie snob when it comes to comedies. Night School starring Kevin Hart made me cringe but I know I will in the future be tipsy with friends laughing out loud as we watch it.

The preview that most caught my attention was for The Darkest Minds. The keep it simple plot synopsis is that after children and teens worldwide develop amazing abilities, they are imprisoned by the government. No longer satisfied just to be on the run, one group forms a budding resistance to fight for their survival and find answers. Like so many movies starring the teen set, The Darkest Minds is based on a trilogy of young adult novels. I think it looks visually interesting and as a longtime comic book fan, the storyline is right up my alley. Also, since the next X-Men movies seem mired in reshoots and delays, this could feed my need for an X-Men type story.

The Darkest Minds is set to premier August 3rd.