Guest Movie Review: Kubo and the Two Strings

kubo

kubojamieBy Jamie Williams
Guest Contributor
Silver Screen Capture

With its first three beautifully awkward films, Laika has been in ascent to the top of the animated features heap, and with its fourth, Kubo and the Two Strings (A+), the studio has equaled peak Pixar (to me, the run of Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up) in crafting this engaging, emotionally resonant, and fresh take on the hero’s journey, told with dazzling visuals and technical creativity. A flinty Charlize Theron, a plummy Matthew McConaughey, and the wonderful Art Parkinson as Kubo lead a great voice cast.

Save

Save

Tagged with:
Posted in 2016, Jamie Williams

Guest Movie Review: Don’t Think Twice

dontthinktwice

dontthinktwicejamieBy Jamie Williams
Guest Contributor
Silver Screen Capture

Don’t Think Twice (B+) is light and dry like the last warm day of autumn, and an assured effort from writer/director Mike Birbiglia. Gillian Jacobs is a marvel. For a movie about improv comedy, it’s more bittersweet and nostalgic than consistently laugh-out-loud funny, though there are plenty of lived-in moments that show the deep history and affection among the troupe as they struggle to deal with jealousy, resentment, and personal disappointment of the ascent of one above the rest.

Save

Save

Save

Tagged with: ,
Posted in 2016, Jamie Williams

Movie Review: Hands of Stone

image
image

Hands of Stone – August 26, 2016

Although many viewers may be feeling “no más” to the prospect of another boxing movie, Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Hands of Stone (A) turns out to be stunningly good and one of the best pictures of the year. The film is a sports biopic about the career of Panamanian former professional boxer Roberto Durán, and he is fiercely portrayed by Édgar Ramírez in one of those performances that defies every expectation. His brute deconstruction of machismo, his hunger for victory and justice and his nationalistic zest for life seeps out of every frame. Through superb period detail against a backdrop of a revolutionary time period in Panama paralleling a transformation in the boxing industry through television and sponsorships circa late 70’s and early ’80s, the filmmakers create a soaring narrative that turns the tables for American audiences expecting to root for their native son. Usher Raymond is a delight in a small part as U.S. boxing hero Sugar Ray Leonard, conveying magnanimous authority. Ana de Armas is remarkable as Felicidad Durán, imbuing the spouse role with grace and verve. Magnificent in other supporting parts are Ellen Barkin and Rubén Blades, the latter legend contributing mightily to the soundtrack as well. But it is Robert De Niro who reclaims his mantle as one of the cinema greats as champion trainer and narrator Ray Arcel. He is splendid in the supporting role; and like Ramírez, you can’t take your eyes off him. De Niro’s corner of the ring pep talks with the Panamanian boxer are part inspiration, part confessional and part master class in quiet dignity. Whether you love sports movies or actively resist them, you will find this story – and the style of telling it – captivating.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in 2016

Movie Review: Southside with You

SouthsideWithYouPromotionalPoster

SouthsideWithYouPromotionalPosterIn the tradition of the talky and compelling Before Sunrise trilogy, a new movie takes a similar approach to the fateful first date of one of the most historic and captivating couples of modern times. Writer/director Richard Tanne’s Southside with You (A-) stars Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter as a young Barack and Michelle Robinson Obama, respectively, circa 1989 in Chicago. This slice of life – literally one day in the life – is buoyed by radiant performances by the two leads and a timeless tale of a young couple challenging each other to become their best selves. Sawyers brings charisma and persistence and Sumpter a fierce intelligence and drive to the love story. Both are indelible and delightful in the roles. The incidental nature of a first-date-in-the-making that involves a picnic, an art gallery, time in The Gardens, an organizing meeting, drinks, a screening of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and a trip to an ice cream parlor illuminates so much more about a future First Couple than a traditional montage-filled biopic ever could. It is a lovely story, gorgeously filmed and beautifully acted. It’s gimmick free and groundbreaking in its own way as a chronicle of history unfurling before our eyes.


Note: The film was a hit at Sundance and is being released in theatres August 26, 2016.

Save

Tagged with: ,
Posted in 2016

Guest Movie Review: Sausage Party

Sausage_Party

jamieSausage_PartyBy Jamie Williams
Guest Contributor
Silver Screen Capture

At this point in the collective careers and oeuvre of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, et al, we know what to expect from their raunchy, HARD-R comedies, but the bracingly vulgar and profane jaw-dropping shocks brought to bear in a way that only the laws of animation allow make Greg Tiernan’s Sausage Party (B) something one simply cannot unsee or unknow (and I’m MOSTLY fine with what I saw and now know). In the same way that Kevin Smith’s Dogma was the most spiritually profound movie to feature a poop demon, Sausage Party matches that lowest of brow language and ideas with a truly thoughtful meditation on the meaning of life and the idea of an afterlife. Hilarious, great voice cast, inventive puns and word play, vivid finale. That said, I feel sorry for any middle-aged father who may have taken his teen-aged son not know how wholly awkward a cross-generational viewing it would be!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Tagged with:
Posted in 2016, Jamie Williams

Movie Review: Pete’s Dragon (2016)

image

imageAlthough a perfectly acceptable way to kill time with your kids and an occasionally sweet tale, David Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon remake (C-) adds very little to the Disney canon or to movies about kids and their is-he-or-isn’t-he-real fantasy friends. Shucking the musical sequences and cornball whimsy and melodrama of the 1977 original (not to mention the charming Don Bluth animation), the new Pete’s plunges its titular protagonist into a straight drama about a boy whose parents die in a car wreck in the Pacific Northwest, leaving him to be befriended and raised by the reclusive mythical dragon Elliot with neon green fur. A kindly forest ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard) discovers and helps the orphan boy while an opportunist lumberjack played by Karl Urban tries to hunt and exploit the creature. Child actor Oakes Fegley does his best with an underwritten and moptopped role. From Howard’s glassy eyed acting, it would appear she was trained aboard The Polar Express. Even the dragon is only passable, a distant cousin of Falkor from The Neverending Story. The slight script, the dank film quality and the predictability of virtually every sequence don’t help matters. File this with the Jungle Book remake and BFG as family films that are a bit of an insufferable slog.

Tagged with:
Posted in 2016

Guest Movie Review: Bad Moms

badmoms

badmomseliBy Eli Sanchez
Guest Contributor
Silver Screen Capture

Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s Bad Moms (B) covers the trials and tribulations of one mother’s quest not to turn into the helicopter moms who participate in her PTA meeting.  The film gets off on the right foot at one of these parent meetings giving you a whole pie chart on effectively what to not put in the pie (i.e. the anti-gluten generation). Anybody who has witnessed the rise of Generation Y up to the Millennial generation will recognize the carpool/minivan/extracurricular full time mom, part-time career woman pulling out the stops so that each and every kid can follow their muse but at the same time remain socially awkward. The film is a joyride of hilarity including some wrong drunken food humor in a late night binge at a grocery store and some choice rebukes against Mila Kunis’ child for being too reliant on mommy and not wanting him to become some “kid who joins a ska band and grows an ironic mustache” kind of cliché that every other child seems to be aspire to these days. The film delves somewhat into the realm of parents having children too young and missing out on their own youth.  The film does have some unrealistic plot points about what suburban moms can afford. Mila Kunis plays the same character she does in most of her films: undecided, coy and pretty girl next door struggling to be happy with her marriage and trying to have a job and a family. Kristen Bell plays the mousy, stay at home mom who gets no help from her husband while trying to juggle twins. Kathryn Hahn steals the show as the new mom friend who is single and indifferently raising a child so she can be her own person again. Christina Applegate plays the ultimate PTA President Evil mom to the hilt with some support from Jada Pinkett-Smith. The film shows the evolution of a mother at least in the form that most of today’s current generation has seen motherhood:  1950’s and 60’s stay at home mom, the single mom of the 70’s forward and then the mom who had children too young and didn’t focus on herself.

Save

Posted in 2016, Eli Sanchez

Movie Review: Florence Foster Jenkins

image

imageIt’s an inspired idea indeed to have celebrated actress Meryl Streep perform in a most meta Emperor’s New Clothes style homage as an infamous no-talent. But as the titular character, a songstress oblivious of her pronounced vocal limitations, in Stephen Frears’ 1944-set biopic Florence Foster Jenkins (B), Streep’s seriocomic riffs are often on the mark even while the notes are all over the map. It is clear Frears finds his mercurial Manhattanite subject endlessly fascinating; and like Ed Wood, Bullets Over Broadway, Grey Gardens or The Producers, he finds fits of dry wit amidst the Schadenfreude. Hugh Grant as Florence’s conflicted husband is serviceable and occasionally sentimental, despite the actor’s limited range. Simon Helberg is a bit of a misfire as the songbird’s pianist, registering on the nebbish scale somewhere between Alan Cumming and Jason Schwartzman but with little of the charm. Nina Arianda is funny as a gangster moll type but is given strange motivations during a critical sequence. At the film’s heart is Streep herself, demonstrating with droll doses of heart and high-note heinousness that throwing yourself into an artistic passion with gusto, even when all the pieces aren’t altogether effective, can still be somewhat satisfying.

Save

Save

Save

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in 2016

Just In: Rogue One Trailer

Posted in Industry News

Movie Review: Suicide Squad

image

imageDavid Ayer’s Suicide Squad (C) does a good job introducing and humanizing an ensemble of D.C. Universe villains. Each gets his or her own visual fact file, akin to a baseball card or Pokemon pop-up stats, which is a helpful entree into some potential future adventures. Alas the story in this origin film, a mission in which the antagonists are temporarily released from prison to defeat a witchy villain, is rather perfunctory. And dimly lit. Will Smith is solid as deadly hitman Deadshot, and Margot Robbie is a delight as Harley Quinn, the coquettish one liner-dropping former psychiatrist girlfriend of The Joker (Jared Leto, in a small bit). Viola Davis is also notable as the badass government official who gets the gang together. The effects are only ok. The jukebox of rock songs on the soundtrack are recycled from better sequences in better films. And there’s little in the save the world storyline that hasn’t been done better before. The spare moments of inspiration and flourish simply make viewers wish there were more of them. All in all, the sum of some pretty interesting parts is a bit underwhelming.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in 2016

Top Stories

Get Updated in Real-Time

Enter your email to receive notifications of new movie review and movie news when the moment they are posted.