Tuesday, July 25, 2017

30 Years of Film Birthathon - Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

In light of my 30th birthday last week, this week has been devoted to films released in 1987. Today we're looking at the underrated John Hughes' 80s teen drama, Some Kind of Wonderful.

Keith (Eric Stoltz) is a high school senior who has eyes for the most popular girl in school, Amanda (Lea Thompson) all while ignoring his best friend, tomboy Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), who just happens to like him a little more than he thinks.

It's been used over and over again in film over the years, and I'm sure we've all had personally experienced it once before. You ignore someone you could actually be with for someone more popular and prettier. Although this film tanked in the box office, this has the best elements in a John Hughes film. The chemistry between Watts and Keith is powerful and real - much like Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink.

RATING: 4/5 - Forget the box office numbers, this one is a must watch!

Directed by: Howard Deutch
Written by: John Hughes
Starring: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Lea Thompson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 95 Minutes

Monday, July 24, 2017

30 Years of Film Birthathon - The Princess Bride (1987)

In light of my 30th birthday last week, this week has been devoted to films released in 1987. Starting with what I've been told is a classic fairy tale, which I've put off watching until now.

The Princess Bride opens with a sick boy (Fred Savage) who receives a visit from his grandfather (Peter Falk) who visits to read to him from a book handed down from his father. The boy is not exactly pleased to be distracted from his world of sports and video games. However, his mood quickly changes as he and the viewer are transported to a place out of time. We are taken to Florin, a kingdom in an imaginary land, complete with dashing heroes, cowardly princes, rhyming giants, rodents of unusual size, fancy sword fights, and yes . . . even some kissing.

The fairy tale begins on a farm in the countryside where the young woman, Buttercup (Robin Wright) resides with farmhand Wesley (Cary Elwes). It's there where Buttercup quickly learns that "as you wish" really means "I love you" as she falls in love with him. While trying to seek his fortune, Wesley disappears at sea and becomes an apparent victim of the Dread Pirate Roberts. A few years later, Buttercup, who is now engaged to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), is kidnapped by a trio of misfits.

The focus of this film is to show that you can't stand in the way of true love. Throughout the movie, there are many hardships and trials that true love must endure. It has a mixture of fairy tale and witty one liners which you may end up repeating, such as "I am Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die."

RATING: 4/5 - A must watch film and even appropriate to include the kids if you've got them.

Directed by: Rob Reiner
Starring: Fred Savage, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, Mandy Patinkin, Cary Elwes
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 98 Minutes

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Wilson (2017)

Directed by: Craig Johnson
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality
Run Time: 94 Minutes

Wilson (Woody Harrelson) is a neurotic middle aged man who has lived alone most of his life. He loves to talk, to anyone, about anything even if nobody really cares to what he has to say. When his father passes away, he returns to his hometown for the funeral and decides to track down Pippi (Laura Dern), his ex-girlfriend who left him seventeen years ago. While they reconnect and everything seemed to be going great and wonderful, Wilson learns that they had a child together, in the form of Claire (Isabella Amara). Although Pippi put Claire up for adoption when she was born, Wilson takes it upon himself to find her and striking a sort of relationship that they clearly missed out on.

Rating: 3.5/5 Wilson has a mixture of comedy and drama but mostly, it's a sad attempt to string together a bunch of characters and ideas.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016)

Ah, the American suburbia, where your social status means everything and your status improves by the amount of money you have or the material goods you buy. Back in the day, neighborhoods like the one in the movie were close-knit communities, today it seems like the most you'll get out of your neighbor is a friendly nod.

The Gaffneys had a good life. Jeff (Zach Galifianakis) works as an human resources director at a big defense plant. He's an average guy who hasn't met a problem that couldn't be solved with a stress ball. His wife, Karen (Isla Fisher) is an interior decorator who took some time off to raise their kids. On the surface everything appears to be normal, however it feels like something is missing in their lives, especially now that they're kids are away for the summer.

That is, until the Joneses' family moves in across the street. Natalie (Gal Gadot) is super sexy, who excels at everything she does and Tim (Jon Hamm) is an handsome, accomplished travel writer. Tim and Jeff hit it off immediately, while Karen is a bit hesitant to connect with the ever-so-suspicious Natalie. As it turns out, the Joneses' moved in next door for a purpose, they are spies and have their eyes set on Jeff's place of employment. It involves a mole within the company, a vicious arms dealer who is only known as "Scorpion."

Let's face it, espionage movies involving ordinary people have been done many times over the years. Similarities include, but are not limited to, Spy, True Lies, Mr and Mrs Smith, among others. Keeping up with the Joneses isn't any different, actually truthfully it may be one of the worst of the aforementioned titles.

RATING: 2/5  A movie to watch if you're really, really bored and have a buck-fifty burning a hole in your pocket but don't expect anything close to a masterpiece.

Directed by: Greg Mottola
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Patton Oswalt
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, action/violence and brief strong language
Run Time: 105 Minutes

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

High school can be the best or the worst time of your life. For many, it's a wonder how anyone survives this awkward time. For Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), she's earned the label. Over the course of the movie, which tracks during her junior year, she learns that the path of survival has less to do with doing homework, losing her virginity, or making friends than it does with becoming comfortable with herself.

Nadine is conflicted with one the most catastrophic ailments any nerd-leaning child can have: a popular sibling. Her brother, Darian (Blake Jenner) is beloved by the entire student body, but worse is he's always had more love and support from their mother, while Hailee's always been the black sheep of the family. Despite feeling isolated since the death of her father, Nadine has found solace in the friendship of Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), the sister-figure she never had. Krista isn’t just her best friend, however, she’s her only friend.

This isn’t a romance (although there are romantic aspects); it’s a coming-of-age drama. Hailee Steinfeld portrays Nadine as an awkward student, supported by a best friend-turned-brother's-girlfriend, a absent-minded mother, a loving but recently departed father, and Woody Harrelson: a teacher we all wished we had in high school. The screenplay presents life through Nadine's perspective and, as circumstances force her to grow and change, we see things more clearly: betrayals that aren’t really betrayals, “perfect” lives that aren’t quite so perfect, and people hurt by her actions who don’t deserve the pain.


Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, language and some drinking - all involving teens
Run Time: 104 Minutes