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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Movie Review: Ricki and The Flash

Ricki and The Flash (2015) is billed as a comedy-drama.  I would bill it as a musical drama with a smidge of comedy.

Starring Meryl Streep as an aging musician who, in essence, deserted her family for her dream.  We enter her world as she is a regular performer in a bar with few attendees, struggling to make ends meet.  Her boyfriend is Rick Springfield...not bad Meryl, not bad.

She is called back "home" to her wealthy X-husband when her daughter (who is played by her real life daughter, Mamie Gummer) crashes into a deep depression.  She begins the process of reuniting with her family in the best way she can.

The music, if it is your cup of tea, is pervasive.  Meryl holds her own as a rock chick and is believable in the role, as she always tends to be.  I wanted to see the film because I am a Meryl fan.  She embodies every character she ever plays, and typically isn't in bad films.

I enjoyed the film, although, if you can't make it to the theater, you won't miss out if you rent it or stream it later.  It is certainly entertaining.  It is rated PG-13 for story-line, some swearing, drug use, alcohol use and a more complex storyline than most kids will have the attention span for.

I found that there was much I thought about after.  There is a scene where Meryl laments the double standard whereby a man/father may pursue his dreams but a women who is also a mother, cannot, without great loss and social stigma.  There is another scene where Rick Springfield's character tells Ricki to get in the game and make an effort with her kids because they weren't put here to love her, but for her to love them.  There is also interesting points to ponder about the ways in which we judge people outside our "social class" or those who don't fit what we expect of them for their age, gender, or position.  There is another poignant scene where Audra McDonald's role as the step mother shows the difficulty of the position Ricki's absence has placed on her and the bit of rivalry between them.

On some level, I found myself relating just from the simple standpoint that I've often dressed or accessorized in ways that brought me some negative attention...it doesn't always fit with what people expect of me, or my age.  Between you and me...other than the harsh, dark eye shadow...I wanna look like Ricki...or Meryl.

Kudos to Mamie Gummer for her performance.  She's a chip off the block.  While this isn't Mamie's first gig in acting by any means, it's the first one I've seen.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Movie Review: Shaun the Sheep

Shaun the Sheep (2015) is a stop-action-animation film by the makers of Wallace and Gromit.  In the old days, we just called it "claymation".  Apparently, there are shorts, or episodes featuring Shaun the Sheep.  I haven't seen them, so this was my first introduction to Shaun.

Shaun the Sheep lives on a farm with other sheep, other animals and his master.  He's been with his master since he was a lamb and everybody seems to have grown weary of the grind of the day in, day out, routine they have all settled into.  On day, Shaun gets the idea that a day off would be grand and sets about on an elaborate plan to get the day off.  Sheep, as sheep do, follow Shaun in his plans.  The plan goes all kinds of wrong and the balance of the film is focused on setting those wrong actions right.  In the end, all is well, and they seem to have a newfound appreciation for each other and the safety of routine.

I've always loved claymation, as has my son.  He was a big fan of Wallace and Gromit as a kid.  I was left wondering, if this film moved a bit too slowly to justify a feature length.  Perhaps a film with no dialogue works best as a short?  I'm not sure.  I found myself a bit bored in places, while at the same time, appreciating what it took to create it.

The film is rated PG for "rude humor".  I'm trying to remember what that was...perhaps farts or belches or the exposure of the farmer's butt crack.  I pay attention, when at a movie marketed seemingly to kids, to how the kids at the show respond to it.  On this particular day, there was hardly anybody in the theater and only a few kids.  One little guy, who I would guess to be around 3 or 4 didn't seem to be able to sit through it.  He roamed the isles, went to the bathroom, rolled around in the main isle and gave the movie cursory attention here and there.  Could have been the kid...or could be the movie.  My guess is, that for very young children, the total lack of dialogue, and the need to read the odd sign to get clues, will leave them bored and restless just like this little guy was.  His slightly older brother seemed to hang in there quite well.  An adult here or there let out a laugh, but typically, we didn't really find the humor "laugh out loud worthy".

Not sorry I saw it...not overly impressed either.  Like I said...perhaps it should have been a short.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Movie Review: Delivery Man

Delivery Man (2013) is a comedy-drama about a man who is having trouble being stable and finding his way in life.  He discovers, that a sperm donation to a fertility clinic has rendered him the father of 533 children, who he begins to make contact with to see if he can bring something good into their lives.  It slowly unfolds as his purpose.

I have always rather liked Vince Vaughn, but can't really say the same for the caliber of films he's been in.  Somehow, he gets cast in work not worthy of his talent.  This film is sort of, still in the same category.  It is meant to be comedy, but really isn't funny.  The drama is mild.  His character is likable as a guy who just can't seem to get ahead, find his place in life, or stay ahead of the mistakes he's making.  It is slightly endearing in the way he tries to set about making a difference in the lives of those he's fathered.  It is utterly unbelievable in that HE is forced to defend himself in court to keep his identity sealed when the offspring are suing the clinic to open the files.  Ultimately, in such an event, he likely would not have even been brought into the lawsuit...it would have been handled by clinic attorneys.

I would not have wanted to spend money to see it in a theater, but it is entertaining as a rental/stream.  I look forward to Vince Vaughn having an opportunity to be in better movies.  They guy can act...he's just been in bad stuff.  He really could play it straight in a romance or drama.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Movie Review: Soylent Green

Soylent Green (1973) is a dystopian Sci-Fi flick about life in a post industrial age where food and work is scarce and population exceeds resources.  It is 2022 (which I'm sure in 1973 seemed far, far into the future) in New York city where 40 million people take up every square inch of the wasteland the city has become.

Charlton Heston plays police officer Frank Thorn, and Edward G. Robinson plays his elderly roommate "Saul".  Saul remembers when fresh food was readily available back in the "good old days".  The food of the current day is Soylent Green, mass produced by the Soylent Corporation.  It is a cracker-like wafer said to be made of sea plankton; high in protein and nutrients.  Soylent Green is rationed and in short supply.

The film primarily focuses on what life is like in this dystopian society...where prostitutes are commonly kept by the wealthy and are referred to as "furniture".  A society where jobs are few and people sleep in every square inch of available space.  Some secret corporate documents of the Soylent Company come to light and Frank investigates.  What he finds is nearly his undoing.

It's so odd that I've heard about this film, and references to it, as well as the popular tag line "Soylent Green is People!"...every since the 70's.  Cuz yeah...I was actually alive then.  But I had never seen the film, and I don't even recall seeing clips from it.

It's super cheezy and lacks any of the sophistication available in moving making today (think super fakey fist fights), and the acting is what was popular during that time (a bit melodramatic, but not as much as say, the 30's).  I'm not really a sci-fi fan, but I wanted to check this classic cult film off my list.  And I did.  So there.  Can't recommend it, unless you too, missed it and always wondered what it was about.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Movie Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) is a reprise spin-off of the 1964-1968 television spy series by the same title.  U.N.C.L.E., in case you're wondering, stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.  The original series focused on counter espionage and James Bondy, Mission Impossible-type scenarios.

The film version, stars Henry Cavill (Superman), Armie Hammer, and Alicia Vikander.  In this movie remake three highly trained agents (from Brittan, Russia and the U.S.) are paired together, largely against their will to foil the efforts of a wealthy woman to secure her own nuclear weapon.

The film is chock full of impossible action scenarios, dry humor and many twists and turns.  It is rated PG-13 primarily for violence and a complex story line.

In a nutshell...it was entertaining and good, corny, action-packed fun.  The acting was suitably campy.  It leaves the door wide open for a sequel.  Watch the trailer below or via this link.



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Movie Review: Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation (2015) is the 6th installment in the movie franchise.  Starring Tom Cruise as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, Hunt is under deep cover to prove the existence of The Syndicate.

The Syndicate is a covert organization masterminding terrorist acts and espionage.  The leader of the CIA and other government leaders have come to believe that Hunt is unbalanced and boxing shadows that do not exist.  They disavow his actions and seek to terminate not only his mission, but his life.  So his buddies on the inside must decide to join the rogue agent, or help bring him in...dead or alive.

Rated PG-13 primarily for violence, if you've enjoyed previous MI films, this one will not disappoint you.  Of course, it is laced with impossible stunts and impossible shooting sequences that often mean the bad guys can't shoot the broad side of a barn, and the IMF crew can shoot the eye out of needle while riding a unicycle (OK, they don't actually DO that).  It is fast paced with very few slow spots and is an entertaining action movie.  Don't expect realism.  I think if you enjoy James Bond and Mission Impossible, you aren't looking for realism.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Movie Review: A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange (1971), is categorized both as a sci-fi film and as a "dystopian crime film".  It stars Malcom McDowell as a sociopath who lives with his parents.  He ditches school, goes out with his little team of bandits at night and beats people up and rapes others.  Home invasions just for fun.  Once caught, and sentenced for murder, he manipulates his way into an experimental program touted to cure criminals of their abhorrent behavior through aversion therapy.  His goal is to get out of jail in a much shorter period of time than his sentence would predict.

He goes through the therapy and is "cured" but rendered largely incapable of living in the world, and through a series of exposures of this government program is reprogrammed to his original self in a cover-up aimed to protect the government from prosecution for it's inhumane experiments.  Then he returns to his pretreatment old ways and is released back to reek havoc.

Ya know...I had heard of the movie and book "A Clockwork Orange" most of my life.  For whatever reason, I had in my mind a Sci Fi, Ray Bradbury type of story.  Boy was I wrong.  This flick is weird, weird, weird and I have no idea why anyone wrote it or then made it into a movie.

Due to the violence, nudity, rape, sexuality, cruelty etc in the film, it's original rating in 1971 was X.  It is now rated R, and should be...but still is tame by current R-rating standards.  There isn't even very much swearing in it.

I can cross the film/book off my list now and say I've seen it and know with some clarity what this classic cult film is about.  I'm not, however, going to recommend it to anyone.  Malcolm McDowell is chillingly convincing as a total weirdo/psycho.  That's about all I can say about it.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.