Monday, January 5, 2015

The Imitation Game

During World War II Enigma machines were used by Germany to send coded messages with attack details. These machines and their coding systems were viewed by many as being unbreakable. That all changed when Alan Turing and his colleagues developed a new machine that could decipher the code. These mathematicians and problem solvers are credited with shortening the war by two years, saving thousands of lives.

The Imitation Game is the story of Alan Turing and his colleagues. Benedict Cumberbatch is really fantastic in this complex role. Turing is depicted as a narcissistic genius with incredible focus but lacking in social skills. His life is shown to have been full of highs and lows, acceptance and rejection. "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine."

This is a solid movie with good performances by the entire cast including Kiera Knightley, Allen Leech (Branson from Downton Abbey), Matthew Goode, and Mark Strong. If you are a fan of historical fiction you will surely enjoy this movie. Although this is a drama, there is a surprising amount of humor throughout the film.

The Imitation Game is rated PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Into the Woods

Into the Woods began its life as a musical written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. It premiered at the Old Globe theater in San Diego in 1986 and went on to Broadway in 1987. In 1988, Into the Woods was nominated for numerous Tony Awards and took home Best Book of a Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason, who happens to be Monty Hall's daughter), and Best Musical Score. So, it's a musical. Get it? 

The story blends the lives of characters from Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood. With that bit of backstory, you should know what you are getting into when you see Hollywood's version of Into the Woods. What you are not going to see is a movie for children based on adorable fairy tales. Heartache, oppression, deception, and death are major themes in these tales. Often times these themes are glossed over or overlooked entirely in Hollywood versions of these classic stories. That, to me, is tragic. Into the Woods delves into these darker themes in a most delightful way (to quote another great musical). Happily ever after often isn't all it's cracked up to be.

The music and lyrics are poignant, gripping, hilarious and sweet. The costumes are beautiful and the sets are vast and enchanting. The cast, oh my gosh the cast: Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Tracey Ullman, Johnny Depp, and Chris Pine just to name a few. Overall, this movie is very well done and worth your time and money. I encourage you to see it in the theater where the big screen and high-end audio system add to its magnificence.

Into the Woods is rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material.

Friday, December 26, 2014


Hahahahaha. That about sums it up - just look at the movie poster. I'm so glad I didn't see this movie in the theater because I would have been laughing out loud, which I don't think was the desired reaction. If you have HBO I guess it's an ok waste of time, otherwise do not pay actual money at Redbox. Every time someone rents Divergent an angel loses its wings. Wait, I just thought of a use for this movie...if you're in the mood for an unconventional comedy, this is the movie for you. Glass half full folks.

Staring Shainlene Woodley, Theo James (on a bright note, he is very handsome), Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn (the prez in Scandal, a show I can't stand), and Kate Winslet (in possibly the worst movie of her career).

Divergent is rated PG-13 for intense violence and action, thematic elements and some sensuality.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Blue Jasmine

I absolutely love this movie. Wow, I am completely surprised by how much I love this movie. Disclaimer: I am not a big fan of Woody Allen. I watched Blue Jasmine because I wanted to see Cate Blanchett's performance as she is the front runner to win the Oscar for Best Actress. I really expected to like Cate Blanchett despite the movie. I may have never been more wrong about a movie. I honestly can not understand how Blue Jasmine was not nominated in the Best Movie category.

Cate Blanchett's performance was flawless (and her wardrobe was unbelievable). The story was interesting. The characters were well developed. I mean, I really don't have anything bad to say about this movie. If every Woody Allen movie was like this one I would be on Team Allen (at least as a filmmaker...just sayin'). So, I'm interested to hear from Woody Allen fans. I know I am in the minority since most people love his films. 

Sally Hawkins was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category. While her performance was good, it was not a stand out to me. Its third and final nomination was for Best Original Screenplay (Woody Allen); it was a really interesting story. 

You should see this movie, right now, tonight, that might be pushing it, maybe this weekend, oh wait, Super Bowl, maybe next week, you could watch it Saturday, unless you are planning your Super Bowl party, sorry to boss you around, just do what I tell you, go to Redbox.

Blue Jasmine is rated PG-13 for thematic material, language and sexual content.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

All Is Lost

All Is Lost reminded me of Gravity in so many ways. The big difference was that it wasn't good. Gosh, I really hate saying that. I am a big fan of Robert Redford and I really wanted to like this movie. I gave it my best shot, but it just kept falling short. It could also be compared to Cast Away and once again it just wasn't up to that standard.

I had heard people talk about Robert Redford getting snubbed by the Academy with only one Oscar nomination for Sound Editing. I don't think he was snubbed at all, I just don't the movie was as good as it should have been. If you read my review of Gravity you will see that I was impressed by how great the movie was considering its lack of back story. I will admit that there was some corny dialog in Gravity that I could have done without; sometimes less is more. So, this movie could have been the perfect balance for me but I didn't understand the character.

I just didn't get it. If you are going to do a movie with very little dialog there has to be a lot of emotion shown by the actor. Robert Redford had almost no emotion throughout the movie. If there was a back story of some sort perhaps we could understand how he did not flip out for the majority of his harrowing ordeal. It was hard to relate to his character. I honestly didn't care what happened to him at the end of the movie. Sorry, really I am.

All Is Lost is rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Gravity 3D

You know that feeling when a movie is super hyped up from everyone you know, including the media? Gravity is, for sure, one of those movies; you hear how intense it is, how you will be at the edge of your seat, you won't take a deep breath until it's over, Sandra Bullock is incredible, blah, blah, blah. This is exactly the kind of hype that makes me want to absolutely hate a movie (that's just my upbeat attitude shining through like the morning sun). I regret to inform you that this movie rained on my downer parade and turned out to live up to the hype and be awesome, by the way.

After the movie was over I found that I had clinched my jaw and fists throughout the entire movie. Thanks for the TMJ, Gravity. I haven't seen the movie without 3D so I can't compare and contrast, but I highly recommend the 3D version. I don't usually find a need to pay the extra money to see a movie in 3D, but this one is an exception. Please go see this movie while it's in the theater and, for heaven's sake, pay the extra cash for 3D.

I am so glad that the movie starts and ends in the sweet spot. It is rare that a movie can succeed with very little back story. Usually when this happens you walk away from the movie feeling a little flat because you didn't care about any of the characters. The beauty of this movie is that the situation is so riveting that it doesn't really matter who the character is, you end up inserting yourself into the action and wondering how you would react (safe to say that I won't be looking for astronaut jobs on Craigslist any more).

Spoiler alert: this movie is not filmed in space. Ha, I know this seems obvious, but you will forget this fact during the movie. So, hats off to the real star of the movie, the green screen. Such an ambitious film. I am in awe of the incredibly talented people behind it.

If you are looking for a straight up fun time at the movies, go see Gravity. If you think you are having a bad day and want to feel better about your situation, go see Gravity. If you want to see a movie that does not require you to figure out any tricky plot twists, go see Gravity. If you want to relax, stay home.

Gravity is rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences (understatement of the century), some disturbing images, and strong brief language.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Captain Phillips

Pros :)

  • Intense action throughout most of the movie
  • Tom Hanks is fantastic (but not nominated for an Oscar 2014)
  • Casting call for Somalis in Minnesota
  • Cinematography makes you feel like you are on board
  • Filming on open sea as opposed to water tank paid off for film makers


  • Goes on a bit too long
  • You may want to rethink your dream job as cargo ship captain
  • Controversy surrounding movie (in its defense, it is a movie, NOT a documentary)

Nominated for six Academy Awards including best picture (longshot to say the least). Captain Phillips is well worth your time and money. Now available at a Redbox near you.

Rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance abuse.