It was another one of those typical summer Florida days (raining, of course), when I embarked on a southbound trip from my Tampa home to a galaxy far away… better known as Miami. This was an amazing opportunity to finally meet a great alien warrior who’s Hell bent on revenge, and no, I didn’t drop acid and watch Star Wars. I actually enjoyed one of the first screenings of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and had the pleasure of interviewing Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) himself!
After settling into my posh hotel room at the Hard Rock (you have to go in style), I made my way to the local Cineplex for the press screening. While I can’t reveal anything about the movie yet (due to waivers and legal stuff), it was freakin’ awesome! This film was an excellent blend of Sci-fi and Comic Book movie mayhem. For more movie details, make sure you check out Dan Hudak’s review on Friday. It was because of him that I got to take this incredible adventure.
I’m open minded enough to be all for different interpretations of the Bible, but turning one of the most beloved figures of the old testament into a foul-mooded, bloodthirsty, homicidal psychopath is not the way to go. Sure, the title character in the film “Noah,” played by Russell Crowe, starts off as the benign figure we know from scripture--the only one worthy enough of God’s love to be saved and to save all species of animals in existence from the great flood. This is what prompts him to enlist the help of fallen angels, who look like giant rock monsters out of a 1950s fantasy adventure, to build the ark.The problem with the world, as Noah sees it, is the wickedness of mankind, including his own family. This does not sit well with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), or sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japheth (Leo Carroll), and adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson). They each have their reasons for resenting Noah, and he in turn doesn’t seem to be too broken up about wanting them dead. Even after the ark finds land, Noah turns some grapes that he finds into wine, and essentially becomes an alcoholic hermit, isolated from his family. Noah was probably written this way in an attempt to ground him in reality and provide real, human motivations for his actions. The actual outcome is that this turns him into a despicable wretch with little going for him to gain sympathy or support. In the scenario of “Noah,” the family would have been better off killing him and living their lives peacefully. Thank goodness for him that they aren’t the raging nutjobs that he is. Skip It.
Is it worth $10? Yes
Reality, the book, the play, and the film--where does one end and the other begin? Director/co-writer Roman Polanski has almost endless fun with this concept in his "Venus In Fur." The good news is that you'll enjoy it nearly as much as the famous (and infamous) filmmaker obviously did.An actress, Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner [2013's "In The House”]), is aggressive in her pursuit of the lead role in a play titled "Venus In Fur," while Thomas, the playwright/director, is jaded, fed up with the immature actresses he's auditioned thus far. It's late at night, and Thomas (Mathieu Amalric, previously paired with Seigner in 2007's tour-de-force "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly") is headed out the door of the theater. (Not coincidentally, Amalric looks a lot like Polanski in his forties.) Bit by bit, Vanda begins to break down his considerable defenses and, soon, the after-hours audition is on.
Is it worth $10? Yes
In spite of its tired, formulaic story, stereotypical characters and overall “blah” execution, “And So It Goes” is tolerable thanks to Michael Douglas’ sharp wit and his chemistry with Diane Keaton. What is indisputably awful is this: the title. Just hearing it makes me think of old people preaching their way through old-timey stories.Douglas is widower Oren Little, a realtor looking to sell his former home for $8.6 million so he can retire and move to Vermont (Really? Vermont? During the summer, sure. But when it’s two degrees in the midst of a whiteout blizzard in January, no thanks.).
Is it Worth $10? No
“Lucy” is the latest Euro-thriller from Luc Besson, who might as well have his own genre of films. Each one of them seems to be a cookie-cutter copy of the previous, just with different decorations on it. Need proof of this? Check out how I started my review to his last offering, 3 Days to Kill:
“Luc Beeson certainly has the European action-thriller on lock. In his latest effort… all of the elements that typically occur in his more recent films are present. A highly trained American kills a whole lot of Europeans.”
This time, the American, Lucy, isn’t exactly highly trained, but does leave many dead in her wake. And if there is any doubt that it is a Besson movie, check out the poster in Times Square late in the film; it’s for “The Family.”
Is it worth $10? Yes
During the first few minutes of director Anton Corbijn's ("The American" ) "A Most Wanted Man," you can't tell if Philip Seymour Hoffman's Günther Bachmann is an accomplice in a planned terrorist attack, a government agent, or both. Later, it's clear that Bachmann's small, specialized anti-terrorism task force exists to protect Germany (and the rest of the free world) from the most dangerous malefactors. Ideally, the next Mohammed Atta — who was involved in planning the 9/11 attacks — would be neutralized and captured on German soil.
There's lots to celebrate in this swanky production which showcases Corbijn’s stylistic visual sensibilities. While the story itself isn't spectacular, the screenplay by Andrew Bovell ("Lantana" ) is smart and sharp. Hoffman is on his game, as usual, in this, his final lead role. Plus, you're treated to Rachel McAdams in a non-romantic role, refreshingly showing subtle, not-often-seen facets of her talent.
Is it worth $10? Yes
“Boyhood” was shot in 39 days, which is modest by Hollywood standards. What isn’t modest is the fact that those 39 days were over the course of 12 years, which allows writer/director Richard Linklater (“Before Sunrise”) to show the growth of a six year-old into an 18 year-old college freshman in the span of 166 minutes. It’s a remarkable piece of filmmaking.
When we first meet Mason (Ellar Coltrane) he’s a sweet six-year old who often fights with his older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, Richard’s daughter). Their parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) are divorced, and mom is essentially raising them on her own with their father only around for an occasional weekend. Nothing particularly interesting here.
In “Sabotage,” Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John “Breacher” Wharton, a rough and tumble, no-nonsense leader of an elite squad of DEA agents who specialize in raiding the homes of drug cartel kingpins and busting each other’s chops with what I am sure they think is witty banter. The film opens with them stealing some cash from a mansion they’re raiding. The plan is to come back later for the loot and split it up. One problem: When they go back, it’s gone. And since this squad is the only one who know the loot was there, one of them had to take it. But who—and who can and cannot be trusted?Clever premise, and in spite of some awful dialogue—the kind of tough talk written by someone who has no idea what tough talk really sounds like—it is well executed. As Breacher’s crew gets knocked off one by one, and in some extremely gruesome ways, a homicide inspector named Caroline (Olivia Williams) partners with Breacher to catch the killer. It all leads to a pretty exciting showdown involving big cars and bigger guns, with a satisfying payoff. In addition to the dialogue, the chemistry between the characters could have been better, but in a movie like “Sabotage” I can forgive the lack of chemistry since all of the supporting players are a means to an end. That is, they’re there to get bumped off and ratchet up the suspense of who will be next until all is revealed in the climactic showdown. “Sabotage” may not be deep in portraying its band of brothers, but on a more superficial level it offers gore, guts, and good times. Nothing wrong with that, just take it for what it is and Rent It.