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Interstellar Movie Review

Posted by -   Funway
15:16:46 2014-11-08 English Movie Reviews

Space, wormholes, black holes, time travel, love, loss, childhood, parenthood, brotherhood, death, afterlife, purgatory, the end of mankind and rebirth. There are an overwhelming number of themes in Chris Nolan’s Interstellar. Nolan’s ambition is unrivaled. He’s one of the few filmmakers in the world whom you’d stand in queue for on the first day. And the themes in this movie are exactly what a Nolan fan craves for. So with such humongous expectations, is it even possible for Nolan to deliver something satisfactory?

a) If you’re looking for sweeping, epic science fiction along the lines of 2001: A Space Odyssey, you’ll be disappointed. And you’d also be a fool to expect something of that sort – because nothing will ever be 2001: A Space Odyssey.

b) If you’re looking for a moderately smart, and a ‘differently executed’ movie in the commercial Hollywood space, you’ll dig this movie.
Courtesy: Facebook


Interstellar is two different movies trying to be one. The first film features the space stuff, where the protagonist Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is on a mission to save the human race. It’s thrilling, it’s imaginative, it’s gorgeous and it always keeps you on the edge of your seat. The second movie features the protagonist’s children on Earth, hamming, stuck in a cringe-inducing story full of mawkish clichés, doing things no sane adult would do.

Interstellar thus showcases both the best and the worst of Nolan.

It’s clear than Nolan is trying to emulate 2001 here. A robot in the movie named TARS is basically two walking monoliths, the mysterious black slabs scattered around the solar system in that film. Some of the music is a direct homage to the film. But one wishes the filmmaker tried to make his own film instead of paying homage. If you look at Nolan’s filmography, you either get straight-up action blockbusters with simple stories, or seriously great, complex stories laced in drama. Nothing in between. Interstellar is none of those. It’s got a very simple story, without much action, laced with drama. A tad too much drama. Even a Nolan fan would accept that he’s not very good at drama, let alone melodrama. Of all the films that he’s done in the past, this has the most number of problems. Luckily, it has a ton of goodies too.

The imagery of the wormhole, called The Gargantuan is stunning. As is all the deep space exploration and the treks on other planets. It takes forever for the movie to take off, but when it does, it just doesn’t let go of you. Whether it’s tidal waves on a deserted planet, or heroically docking a space ship on a rapidly spinning port, the space stuff is great.

Nolan also manages to give simple Wikipedia lessons on relativity, string theory and singularity without all of it sounding too pretentious. There is also a small sermon on love shoehorned in to debate the merits of human emotion over scientific data – and it sort of works quite well despite its potential to be silly. The plot vehicle of relativity ageing people on Earth faster than those in space is implemented very well. Matthew McConaughey’s performance itself is enough to recommend this movie. Even in the most implausibly hammy scenarios he manages to bring in a tone of quiet dignity and reliability to the role. It seems there is no stopping the McConnaisance. The most interesting aspect of the film features a big name actor you won’t see coming.

There are story and plot elements lifted from Back to the Future, Sunshine and Event Horizon (one whole scene about the explanation of a wormhole is lifted from the last named). It’s entertaining for sure, but you wish it weren’t so derivative, coming from Nolan.

The most frustrating thing in the film is the rehash of the intercutting style from Inception, where we see two different dramatic things going on at the same time. In that movie all of the scenarios were relevant to the plot – here we cut from a truly thrilling action beat in deep space to a truly boring domestic drama in a farm back on Earth. And it happens constantly, during every dramatic plot point in the space story. Nolan should have kept the establishing shots of the space stuff and removed the unnecessary story back on Earth.

Regardless of its faults Interstellar offers enough big screen thrills and even has a few interesting questions to ponder over. Is it humane to abandon everyone on this planet to continue life on another? How morally sound are you to sermonize about not abandoning people if you are perfectly okay with abandoning a humanoid to save your own self? And how much would you pay to keep the magic and market of 2D IMAX alive?

Review by Mihir Fadnavis 

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Child of God - War Story - Movie review

Posted by -   Funway
16:21:24 2014-08-01 English Movie Reviews

“CHILD OF GOD” — 2 stars

A Southern loner descends into extreme violence (1:44). R: Gruesome sexual violence, nudity, language. Village East.

Though fans understandably admire James Franco’s work ethic, his literary adaptations are often easier to appreciate than to actually experience. Last year he adapted William Faulkner’s essentially unfilmable stream-of-consciousness classic “As I Lay Dying.” Franco’s honorable faithfulness to the book remained mostly unrewarding.

The same proves true for his latest effort. It’s based on Cormac McCarthy’s unsparing tale of a Tennessee recluse (Scott Haze) who descends into violence and necrophilia. Haze is outstanding in a role that could easily have been overplayed to cringing effect. And Franco shows marked sensitivity to the subject matter, observing rather than condemning or exploiting a man the novel describes as “a child of God much like yourself, perhaps.” It’s McCarthy’s complex use of language, rather than the plot’s grueling imagery, that elevate the book. There’s simply not enough insight here to make the punishment worthwhile.


“WAR STORY” — 2 stars

A recently kidnapped war photographer deals with her trauma (1:30). NR: Mature themes. IFC.

Catherine Keener rarely gets the chance to grab the spotlight all for herself. That makes this turgid drama especially disappointing

Keener plays Lee, a war photographer still traumatized from being taken hostage by Libyan rebels. She has hidden herself away in Sicily. But she starts reconnecting with the world gradually, thanks to an old mentor (Ben Kingsley) and a desperate young immigrant (Hafsia Herzi).

Director Mark Jackson and co-writer Kristin Gore often seem to be going for extreme realism. We spend much of the movie watching Lee lie down, walk around and stare into space. And yet when she actually takes some action, there’s little attempt to make it believable. An excellent Keener commits reliably to the role and does give us moments worth savoring. But the underwritten script and misguided direction leave her stranded.



Review by : Elizabeth Weitzman


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Happy Christmas movie review

Posted by -   Funway
16:08:29 2014-08-01 English Movie Reviews

“Happy Christmas” is a lovely example of an undeniably valuable genre.

It’s called the “mumblecore” movement, although the filmmakers behind it — like Joe Swanberg, director of “Happy Christmas” — have rejected that term as being too limited or even demeaning. Still, the label is useful in describing a kind of contemporary independent filmmaking — low-budget, lo-fi realism, often focused on unfocused, mumbly twentysomethings.

Swanberg, a leader of the style, stars with Melanie Lynskey in the new film, and they share an easy connection as Jeff and Kelly. This artsy Chicago couple has recently had their first child. (Swanberg’s own toddler Jude, a camera-friendly charmer, plays the youngster.)

As the holidays arrive, they’re doing their best just to stay on top of everyday adult

challenges: budget balancing, time management, sleep deprivation. Then Jeff’s younger, freer sister Jenny (Anna Kendrick) arrives from Brooklyn to upend the Jenga-like construction of this teetering household.

Jenny stays out all night partying with her friend Carson (Lena Dunham, in an extended cameo). She pushes Kelly to write an erotic novel instead of her usual literary fiction. And she starts dating the family’s baby-sitter (Mark Webber), taking full advantage of his side job as a pot dealer.

Swanberg shot the movie on 16-millimeter film and encouraged his cast to improvise, two techniques that could expose or exaggerate a lesser movie’s flaws. But here, the combination of confident direction and unusually relaxed, naturalistic performances creates a warm, home-movie vibe.

It’s also unusual to find a film as evenhanded as “Happy Christmas.” Each viewer is likely to connect with a different character initially, but don’t be surprised if you switch allegiances several times before the story ends

Review by : Elizabeth Weitzman



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Sex Tape movie review

Posted by -   Funway
16:06:24 2014-08-01 English Movie Reviews

After all the anticipation, the excitement, the buildup ... Jake Kasdan’s “Sex Tape” winds up giving us too much talk and too little action.

How could a movie that offers Jason Segel riffing on sex and Cameron Diaz regularly disrobing be so dull ?

It’s all in the execution. Kasdan’s delivered before (“Walk Hard,” “Bad Teacher”). But this time, he just doesn’t have the moves. His smutty comedy is staid and frantic, rather than sexy and loose.

The first problem lies in the casting. Diaz and Segel are pros who know exactly what a studio movie needs. But despite their snarky-funny connection in “Bad Teacher,” they feel mismatched as madly-in-love suburbanites Annie and Jay.

After a few years and a couple of kids, they realize they need to rekindle their old spark. Annie suggests they tape themselves re-enacting every position in “The Joy of Sex,” as long as Jay promises to erase it all in the morning.

Naturally, he forgets. And in one of many sitcomish mishaps, the video winds up on a stack of iPads he gives out to friends as gifts the next day. So despite the title, you’re really paying to watch a generic married couple and their mildly quirky best friends (Ellie Kemper and Rob Corddry) run around town for a night, trying to get a bunch of iPads back.

It’s a lazy idea, but the script has even bigger problems. Most notably, there’s way too much exposition. We’re constantly being told, rather than shown, what’s happened. Poor camera work and editing only solidify the sluggish pacing.

That said, the movie isn’t a total dud. Segel and Nicholas Stoller worked with original writer Kate Angelo, and their skewed sense of humor perks up the formulaic template. There are a few laugh-out-loud gags scattered throughout, especially when Rob Lowe (as Annie’s seemingly uptight boss) and Jack Black (as a sentimental porn baron) appear.

Segel and Diaz were clearly enthusiastic about making this “hard R movie,” and keep the energy up while regularly stripping down (we get rear and side views, if you must know).

But they have no real romantic chemistry, and mostly weak material to work with. So no matter how many dirty words they use — or how many positions they talk about twisting themselves into — the whole affair just feels like a tease.


Review BY : Elizabeth Weitzman

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Finding Fela movie review

Posted by -   Funway
15:57:40 2014-08-01 English Movie Reviews

Two views of the musical icon Fela battle for attention in a new documentary.

Roughly half the film examines the man who both birthed the seminal sound of Afro-beat and battled the government of his native Nigeria. He became the most potent political figure in music this side of Bob Marley. The other half of the flick focuses on the struggle by the creators of the 2009 Broadway play “Fela!” to wrestle his many contradictions and controversies into commercial theater.

While the latter topic has its virtues, there’s nothing like seeing Fela himself — blowing his sax, expressing his unbridled sexuality and living a life like no other. Jim Farber


Review BY : Jim Farber

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Get on Up movie review

Posted by -   Funway
15:16:56 2014-08-01 English Movie Reviews

How do you capture on film the kind of musical genius that seems to come from nowhere? “Get on Up” finds a solution that makes this fantastic, funk-tastic biography of James Brown stand apart.

In its own way, the film puts us inside Brown’s head — which, it turns out, is a fun place to be. No, we don’t literally travel inside the mind of the Godfather of Soul. But we do skitter back and forth through moments in his life.

This journey begins during Brown’s disheveled 1980s before jumping to his heyday of 1968, then back further to his boyhood, before heading to the ’70s, and so on. His later incidents of drug abuse and jail aren’t really covered, but “Get on Up” never feels pat. Through it all, there’s the constant underlay of riffs from his classics (“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,“ “Get Up Offa That Thing,” among many others).

“Get on Up” also deals with the biographical specifics. As a kid in South Carolina, Brown’s mother (Viola Davis) leaves him to his abusive father, and in extreme poverty. He’s sent to his kind Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer), who runs a brothel. He’s witness to, and a victim of, brutal racism.

As a teen, Brown, played by Chadwick Boseman, spends time in jail for a petty crime. That’s where he meets Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), whose band the Flames needs a singer. Brown takes that role in the early ’50s. He seizes the limelight when the group records for avuncular music manager Ben Bart (Dan Aykroyd).

By the ’60s, Brown has success with ballads (“Please Please Please,” “Try Me”) and perfects various personas. He’s Mr. Dynamite, Soul Brother Number One, the King of Funk — more than nicknames, these are parts of who he really is (and are used in the film as sort-of chapter headings). After a first marriage goes bust, he and second wife Deidre (Jill Scott) have an inharmonious union. He splits professionally from Byrd while mixing up R&B, and becomes part of a larger mission during the civil rights movement.

That part of Brown’s life comes to the fore during a concert he gives in Boston on the day after Martin Luther King’s assassination. Director Tate Taylor (“The Help”) stages the scene with cool restraint, as he does with many others. Meanwhile, the movie’s main man provides the pizzazz, with his kinetic style of speech, his pompadour and his exclamations of funkiness (“Ye-oww!”).

Boseman (so good as Jackie Robinson in “42”) is taller and leaner than Brown was, but he gets the coiled-spring energy and in-his-own-world part down perfectly (not to mention the dance moves). Terrific as he is as an actor, Boseman lip-syncs to the songs, which is how it should be: You don’t want to hear this great catalog of music performed by anyone but Brown and his Famous Flames.

How he got that sound isn’t the only thing illuminated. John-Henry and Jez Butterworth’s hop-skip-doin’-backflips script eventually dances close to other music bios (“Ray,” “Walk the Line”), but the writers mostly take their cues from Brown’s chameleonic nature.

Like Brown, the movie is dynamic, out of sight and entertaining as hell.

Review BY : Joe Neumaier


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Guardians of the Galaxy movie review

Posted by -   Funway
15:12:55 2014-08-01 English Movie Reviews

‎You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, but there was once a time when I had quite a bit of expertise in the Marvel Universe. I came as close to tearing up while reading a comic book as I’ll ever do when the Scarlet Witch finally married The Vision­—as eloquent an argument for marriage equality as genre fiction has ever essayed, by the way. I did, I must admit, check out well before the entity called The Guardians of the Galaxy turned up in said universe. I bring this up because there are some MU characters in the movie "Guardians of the Galaxy" that I did recognize—super-evil demigod Thanos, Drax The Destroyer, and one or two others I guess—but I ultimately found that it was that particular continuity, the need to tie this movie’s adventures into something larger, that made the movie lag a bit.

In many respects, “Guardians,” directed and co-written by indie wit James Gunn, and starring buffed-up former schlub Chris Pratt and Really Big Sci-Fi Blockbuster vet Zoe Saldana (here dyed green as opposed to her "Avatar" blue), is a fun and relatively fresh space Western. Think “Firefly” pitched at 15-year-olds, with a lot of overt "Star Wars" nods. And super-“irreverent” dialogue that is, more often than not, genuinely funny. The wisecracking by the characters played by Pratt (a kind of junior Han Solo) and voiced by Bradley Cooper (whose Rocket Raccoon, who is, yes, a genetically altered raccoon) is so incessant viewers of a certain age might wonder whether this movie has been put through the "What’s Up Tiger Lily" dialogue-replacement treatment before release.

Pratt’s self-styled “Starlord” and Rocket are not the strangest of initially inadvertent teammates in this intergalactic posse. Saldana’s Gamora is a stealthy warrior princess who’s been lying low in an evil family before revealing her good intentions; wrestling star Dave Bautista’s Drax is a vengeance-driven behemoth whose florid language only briefly masks his inability to take anything other than literally; and Rocky’s “muscle,” Groot, is a walking, minimally talking tree. These guys are entertainingly motley, which makes the fact that their mission, to save the universe from a mass-murdering megalomaniac who seeks an item which will grant him unimaginable mass-murdering power (yes, more mass-murdering power than he ever had before), is generic in a way that’s pretty consistent with movies of this sort.

You may have noticed, incidentally, that a lot of film critics tend to get kind of defensive when reviewing movies based on comic books. Like, you probably noticed that up top I tried to claim some comic book-respecting bonafides. I’ve done this thing before when reviewing comic-book movies. Some day, I may have to actually bring out the big guns, like the fact that I used to be palsy with Mike Kaluta, or that I once went to a Halloween party at Berni Wrightson’s house. I don’t do this because I’m afraid of getting death threats from easily irritated comic book fans (which hasn’t happened to me, and thanks). I do it because as someone who got a lot out of comics growing up, and still has a healthy respect for the graphic form, I find comic book movies kind of frustrating, and am bent out of shape by having my frustration chalked up to a lack of understanding of the form.

What does this have to do with “Guardians?” It ties into what I mentioned before. While this movie is pretty lively in a lot of its particulars, the stilted portent with which its villains—the bumpy-jawed Thanos (Josh Brolin, not that you can tell) and the megalomaniacal Ronan (Lee Pace)—make themselves felt is pretty tired. The “funny animal” tribute/homages of “Guardians” bump up uncomfortably against the faux-majesty of the bad guys in a way that the actual comic-book form is malleable enough to at least sidestep. I think Gunn knows it, too: one of the movie’s only genuinely subversive jokes sees one of the heroes actually yawning in the pro-forma slow-motion “walk to destiny” shot that heralds the movie’s climax. Which climax is, as is also pro forma, big and loud and filled with indiscriminate destruction and slaughter of sentient beings. But as it takes place on a planet other than the one the audience is on and so doesn’t involve the razing of a recognizable city, it’s a little less troubling than it might have been.

It seems as if I’m listing a lot of not-fun things in what I’ve called a fun movie, but again, I’m just voicing some frustration because, in my puny mind—which can only imagine the extent to which Gunn and his team had to fight for every bit of creative license they were allowed—the not-fun parts seemed entirely avoidable. What will win the day among those not given to overthinking will be the charm of the cast—which also includes Benicio Del Toro in a bit role that allows him to exercise a generous amount of his legendary performing eccentricity, and Michael Rooker in a gruff part that would have gone to Ron Perlman had Guillermo Del Toro directed the movie—the sunniness of its eventual optimism, and the infectiousness of its vintage-Earth-pop soundtrack. A soundtrack the film’s characters appreciate as much as the audience will, which is part of the whole point.



Review by : Glenn Kenny

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Calvary Movie Review

Posted by -   Funway
15:08:23 2014-08-01 English Movie Reviews

“Calvary” is like a philosophical Agatha Christie mystery.

That’s certainly not the worst thing to be. But it’s also the film’s undoing, because the reliance on specific genre cliches undermines the movie’s more serious intentions. And like many a mystery, a surplus of potential villains — some unnecessarily comical — kills this drama of conscience.

Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is the parish priest in a gorgeously picturesque Irish coastal village. James took his vows as a middle-aged man, after his wife died. In the confessional booth one day, an anonymous parishoner reveals his intention to kill James in seven days to avenge sexual abuse he endured as a boy by a different priest. James’ goodness, the wannabe murderer says, is why he must die: The church should lose an innocent.

As the week goes on, James has run-ins and discussions with almost everyone in the small village. That includes a lonely rich jerk (Dylan Moran), an oafish butcher (Chris O’Dowd) who beats his wife (Orla O’Rourke), an angry immigrant (Isaach de Bankolé), an atheist doctor (Aiden Gillen), a jailed serial killer (Domhnall Gleeson, Brendan’s son) and a weird man-child with a penchant for polka-dotted bow ties (Killian Scott)

The strangest suspect? A leather-clad gay hustler (Owen Sharpe) who seems to be doing a Noo Yawky imitation of every Jet in “West Side Story.”

Soon James’ troubled adult daughter (Kelly Reilly) arrives, fresh from an unsuccessful suicide attempt. She’s on hand to see her dad’s dog get killed, his church burned down, his troubles escalate and his soul schooled in empathy. But Father James must travel alone through his personal stations of the cross.

There are peripheral pleasures to “Calvary.” The scenery is extraordinary and writer-director John Michael McDonagh’s way with language is lyrical. Best is the always-watchable Brendan Gleeson. His vigilance and gruff yet humane demeanor help a story that aims for depth — but is done in by shallow trickery.



Review BY : Joe Neumaier

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Deliver Us From Evil - Movie review

Posted by -   Funway
18:27:40 2014-07-04 English Movie Reviews

Say this about modern exorcism movies: You usually know just what you’re gonna get. And when it comes to the clichés of demonic possession, director Scott Derrickson — who also made “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” — delivers.

In fact, he gives us two full hours of sinister voices speaking Latin, weird phrases written in blood on the wall and screechy violins on the soundtrack. It’s all so familiar, it’s like the horror-movie equivalent of comfort food.

Derrickson opens with a promise that “Deliver Us From Evil” was inspired by the “actual accounts” of Bronx police officer

A former altar boy turned professional cynic, Sgt. Sarchie (Eric Bana) has a natural radar for trouble. One dark night, it leads him straight into the path of possessed Iraq War veteran Santino (Sean Harris). Other members of Santino’s unit have recently gone crazy, a coincidence Sarchie initially writes off as drug-related. But when he starts hearing voices, and his wife (Olivia Munn, wasted) and daughter (Lulu Wilson, adorable) complain of scrabbling under the floorboards, he gets suspicious. And that’s where Father Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) steps in.

Bana trudges through the movie dutifully, though he can’t quite sell his New Yawk attitude. Far more interesting is Ramirez (“Carlos the Jackal”), a terrific actor who deserves better work. As is, he elevates the movie by charismatic force, adding crucial shades to the stock role of a renegade religious advisor. If this guy tried to sell you wild supernatural theories as scientific fact, you’d buy them, too.

Actually, Ramirez should probably have been cast in the lead, since things flatten out whenever he disappears.

Derrickson does try to create believable atmosphere, and there’s a promising early scene in a surprisingly creepy Bronx Zoo. But then he loses steam, filling his overlong movie with a parade of swarming flies, thumping furniture and enough thunderstorms to break every deli umbrella in New York.

By the time we get to the actual exorcism, it’s not the possession but the predictability that’ll make your head spin.

( Thx : nydailynews )


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Tammy - movie review

Posted by -   Funway
18:22:39 2014-07-04 English Movie Reviews

Inside of “Tammy” is a wilder, crazier, better movie trying to come out.

The fact that it stars the extremely funny Melissa McCarthy is both its saving grace and incredibly frustrating.

Following an Oscar-nominated turn in “Bridesmaids” and outrageous co-star roles in last year’s “Identity Thief” and “The Heat,” this should have been McCarthy’s moment to grab the comedy-superstar reins. Instead, she feels reined in, stuck in a movie that feels half-baked. The ironic thing is that McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, wrote the script, and Falcone directed.

When we first see Tammy Banks (McCarthy), she’s rocking out to ’80s music, driving down a southern Illinois highway — and runs smack into a deer.

Winding up late for work, Tammy is fired by her snippy boss (Falcone in a fun cameo). At home, she catches her husband (Nat Faxon) having a cozy dinner with their neighbor (Toni Colette). Deciding she’s had enough, the combustible Tammy walks two houses down and announces to her mom (Allison Janney) that she needs to take her grandma Pearl’s car and get out of small-town Murphysboro. She gets the car, but doesn’t count on Pearl (Susan Sarandon) coming with her on a road trip.

The squabbling pair decide to head to Niagara Falls, but make a wrong turn and go one state over, to Missouri. Encouraged to “have a little fun” by her hard-drinking, randy grandma, Tammy takes a jet ski out on a lake, wrecks it and is forced to buy it. Needing money, Tammy robs a fast-food restaurant in the movie’s funniest scene.

Going east to Kentucky, they stop at a honky-tonk bar where Pearl hooks up with smooth old Earl (Gary Cole) while Tammy flirts with Earl’s good-guy son Bobby (Mark Duplass). Later, the women arrive at a “lesbian Fourth of July party” hosted by Pearl’s cousin Lenore (Kathy Bates) and her girlfriend Suzanne (the talented Sandra Oh, who, given little to do, keeps stretching out her arms free-spiritedly). It’s here that Tammy is given a pep talk by Lenore to stop whining and do something with her life, as Pearl confronts her own alcoholism.

“Tammy” had potential. McCarthy’s first moments are the classic comedy outcast-loser introduction, similar to Bill Murray’s in “Stripes.” But it quickly meanders, losing steam until the long sojourn at the lesbian party. Sarandon is up for anything, as usual, but her character Pearl is simply thrown up on screen, a cliched old rabble-rouser in a dowdy wig. Duplass, Bates, Janney and Dan Aykroyd (in a cameo as Tammy’s dad) are similarly underused in roles that feel underwritten. We barely get to know Tammy herself, for all her bitching and moaning.

And yet, when the movie sets things up right, McCarthy delivers. Her goofy bad-ass dance moves as Tammy prepares for the robbery are a slow-motion ballet of silliness, combining the gracefulness of Jackie Gleason with the cluelessness of Will Ferrell. She conveys a Middle-American stubbornness — and a very real sense of everyday outrage — that explodes when confronted by authority. Her willingness to look absurd for the sake of a sight gag is rare and admirable.

McCarthy remains a force of nature. If only the shambling “Tammy” was worth her effort.


( Thx :
nydailynews -  jneumaier@nydailynews.com )


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Earth to Echo - Movie review

Posted by -   Funway
18:19:50 2014-07-04 English Movie Reviews

A copy of a copy, "Earth to Echo" feels less like a weak "E.T." than a substandard "Mac and Me." And you may not even remember the latter, a 1988 bandwagon flop that experienced the same fate likely to hit this well-meaning but underwhelming effort.

Director David Green and writer Henry Gayden borrow a more recent, but already dated, device to frame their first feature: found footage. A 13-year-old, Tuck (Brian Bradley), carries his camera everywhere, and when weird events start occurring, he’s ready to record them.

He and his friends Munch (Reese Hartwig) and Alex (standout Teo Halm) are preparing to separate after a lifetime in the same small neighborhood. A mysterious construction project is forcing their parents to sell their homes, but the night before the moving trucks arrive, the kids receive an electronic map.

With help from their school’s popular girl (Ella Wahlestedt), who usually ignores them, they go exploring. Eventually they stumble on Echo, a robotic alien who needs help returning to his home planet before the government gets hold of him.

The owl-like Echo is undeniably adorable, but, curiously, Green barely uses him. Our primary focus is on the kids. They’re sweetly innocent — a rare commodity in pop culture — but mostly unmemorable. The same could be said for their mild exploits.

It doesn’t help that the filmmakers’ influences are so obvious, and so obviously superior. In addition to "E.T.," there are echoes of ‘80s family flicks like "The Goonies" and "Explorers," and even J.J. Abrams’ 2011 Spielberg homage "Super 8."

Green and Gayden have good intentions in wanting to make a low-budget, high-impact option for middle-schoolers. Parents could certainly use an alternative to “Transformers,” and this one’ll do when it’s time for an air-conditioned break. The actors are fine, and the action distracting enough. But poor production values and an uninspired script ultimately keep Green’s tween adventure grounded.

( thx : nydailynews )



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Life Itself - movie review

Posted by -   Funway
18:17:47 2014-07-04 English Movie Reviews

Roger Ebert talked about movies the way he talked about everything. In his reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times and on his TV programs with co-host Gene Siskel, Ebert’s plainly spoken opinion and abundant passions were evident. When he was diagnosed with several types of cancer over the last 10 years of his life, he turned that, too, into a chance to communicate.

The irony is that Ebert famously lost his actual voice. Yet as the extraordinary documentary “Life Itself” shows, that couldn’t quiet one of America’s most beloved critics and cultural commentators.

Adapted from Ebert’s 2011 memoir of the same name, “Life Itself” isn’t just about a man who loved movies. It’s an appreciation for small-town American childhoods, grownup appetites and big-city newspaper traditions. It’s about an alcoholic who hid a part of himself, and a hospital patient who hid nothing.

We hear about and see all of those things, courtesy of Ebert’s friends and former drinking buddies in Chicago; his combative, merciless outtakes with Siskel, and his redoubtable widow, Chaz Ebert.

For “Life Itself,” Ebert encouraged director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) to chronicle everything in the five months before his death in April 2013 at age 70. That includes uncomfortable hospital procedures related to the cancer that took Ebert’s lower jaw and forced him to use an audio-keyboard to speak. Yet the movie shows how Ebert’s spirit rarely flagged. As his millions of online readers knew, his writing — on everything from the state of cinema to his state of mind — increased.

In the year before his death, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ebert wrote more than he ever did since becoming the Sun-Times film critic in 1967. Tapping on his keyboard, he seems to be having almost as much fun as he did when he wrote the script for the 1970 buxom-lady bonanza “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” (We hear about that, too.) And then we see him face the end with humor and grace, reassuring Chaz and those around him that he had a wonderful life.

“Life Itself” is a joy. It celebrates colorful characters, an indomitable spirit and a beautiful mind. It is how one man saw the world, and is, as Ebert might have said he lived to watch it on the big screen, what we go to the movies for.

( thx : nydailynews  -  jneumaier@nydailynews.com )


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Transformers: Age of Extinction Movie Review

Posted by -   Funway
18:06:26 2014-07-04 English Movie Reviews

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is a blockbuster man versus aliens spectacle that deals with loyalty and honour, where "human freedom is at stake and innocent people die all the time".

The film is propelled with fuzzy logic that involves humans and two sets of giant shape-shifting mechanical creatures -- the Autobots and the Decepticons -- and it definitely evokes mixed reactions. Confusing for those uninitiated into "The Transformer" series, it proves to be an average yet exciting epic fare for others.



The narration begins with the prelude that cannot be differentiated from the main story and reveals that millions of years ago, when the dinosaurs roamed on land, an intergalactic alien invasion caused a near extinction with their superior ammunition that turned living organisms into "Transformium" - "a metal that makes Transformers".

The film then zooms into present day and takes off, years after the "Battle of Chicago" from its 2011 release - "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," in which the Decepticons were defeated by the human-robot alliance.

Optimus (voiced by Peter Cullen), the leader of the Autobots and his colleagues have been shunned by those in power for being a threat to humanity. Threatened, they go into hiding.

The US government is hell bent on taking them off the planet for good and is assisted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) black ops team.

Meanwhile, KSI - a research group that hopes to build a "better Transformer" led by CEO Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), finds a metallic dinosaur fossil in the Artic that could "change history". He collaborates with Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), the man behind the black ops team, with an ulterior motive.

On the other hand, an ingenious inventor and scrap dealer Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) finds Optimus Prime, who is trapped in a truck mode, damaged almost beyond recognition. It's only after he does some work on the core unit of the truck, which stimulates it back to action, that he realises what he's found.

Tessa (Nicola Peltz), Yeager's daughter and his business partner Lucas (T.J. Miller) advise him to hand over this robot to the government, but Yeager isn't so sure. By the time he's made up his mind, it's too late.

The CIA tracks Optimus on Yeager's farm. They descend there in order to kill him. Yeager saves Optimus's life which puts Tessa, Lucas and even his daughter's secret boyfriend Shane's (Jack Raynor) life at stake.

What follows is a loud action-packed drama that includes screaming and carnage, with the climax taking place in Hong Kong, where the heroes pursue the antagonists and the dangerous energy source, "The Seed", that they possess.

The actors, led by Wahlberg and Tucci, perfectly match their robotic counterparts. Wahlberg excels as a concerned and overprotective father and similarly Tucci, backed with a meaningful personality arc, delivers beyond the character. Unfortunately, given the limited opportunity, the chemistry between Peltz and Raynor is missing.

This being the fourth edition, director Michael Bay has ably and artfully managed to hook the audience with a whole new set of human cast, introducing a few new Transformers and giant scale action that is amazingly staged once again.

The comic relief comes in the form of a slew of tongue-in-check dialogues and self-reflexive gags from the previous editions, which makes the dialogue sound cliched and underwritten. It works for the film, but at the same time it reveals a lethargic output from the creative team.

Similarly, if one scans Ehren Kruger's screenplay with a microscopic lens, you'd notice the impressions of numerous films like "Iron Man", "Terminator 2: Judgement Day", "Super 8", "Jurassic Park", and "Armageddon", to name a few, woven into the fabric of "Transformers: Age of Extinction".

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