Friday, February 28, 2014


Here are a few of my top free screenings on Eventbrite that I think you will enjoy.

Linsanity (2013)
Linsanity is a documentary film about the rise of Asian-American basketball player Jeremy Lin. The film was directed by Evan Jackson Leong.
Sponsor: AALDEF Young Professionals Committee
Fee for the general public but free for students!  Director will be on hand for a Q&A.
March 4th, 6:00 pm
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/linsanity-screening-panel-and-reception-tickets-10737308579

Time Out the Movie (2014)
Sponsor: Aigne Film Group / Done Right Digital
Screening followed by Q&A with Cast and Director
March 4th, 6:00 pm
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/time-out-motion-picture-screening-tickets-10267902573

Luxurious Poverty (2014)
Sponsor: MNN El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center
Documentary premiere screening followed by panel discussion with special guests.
March 14th, 6:30 pm
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/film-screening-luxurious-poverty-tickets-10726498245

Gravity (2013)
Sponsor: Hoboken Public Library
In case you missed the screenings of it last year.  Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, freaking out in space.
March 19th, 6:00 pm
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/monthly-film-screening-gravity-tickets-10677571905

If you have friends that like movies, please share our site with them!

Non-Stop
Opens Friday, February 28, 2014 
1 hr 22 min
PG-13 | Intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references

Trailer:

Director:
Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast:
Liam Neeson as Bill Marks
Julianne Moore as Jen Summers
Michelle Dockery as Nancy
Nate Parker as Zack White
Linus Roache as Captain David McMillan
Scoot McNairy as Tom Bowen
Corey Stoll as Austin
Lupita Nyong'o as Gwen
Anson Mount as Jack Hammond
Omar Metwally as Dr. Fahim Nasir
Jason Butler Harner as Kyle Rice
Quinn McColgan as Becca
Corey Hawkins as Travis Mitchell
Frank Deal as Charles Wheeler
Shea Whigham as Agent Marenick
Bar Paly as Iris Marianne

Review by Stephen M.

Every flyer's worst nightmare comes alive in Non-Stop.  On a routine flight, Air marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) receives a text message on his secured device threatening to kill a passenger on board every 20 minutes unless his demands are met.  The movie is full of "non-stop" action from the first text he receives until the end.  Despite the young age of 61, Liam Neeson shows he can kick butt as well as the others in this genre.


What you will love about the movie is all the clever twists that movie has.  Twists like who the actual villain or villains in this whodunit mystery is.  The least obvious suspect is what they finally deliver all the while feeding you the obvious suspects.  Liam is great in playing the complicated Bill.  With alcoholism stemming from a loss of a love one, you can see why he is targeted.  Julianne Moore's character Jen is a bit of a waste serving only as a distraction.   She gives a little bit about her background, but much more could have been done with her.


Overall, I would highly recommend the film.  Sure there are various plot holes that the movie quickly steer you away from with its action.  I won't get into detail as it would reveal some of the surprises.  But an example would be just how did the device get into that thing, surrounded by other things carried on board by the other official?  Watch the movie and you'll know what I am talking about.  You won't be disappointed if you like action/thriller films.

Rating: 

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Cleveland is the lucky city that is getting the slot for a red carpet premiere (April 1st) as that is where the film was shot.  According to Co-Director Joe Russo, it was meant as a pay back to the local talent and crew. Tickets will also be available to the public.  Cleveland joins Los Angeles, Paris and London as far as cities getting the red carpet treatment.  I still expect New York City to get a regular screening.  And if history is any gauge, there will probably be only one and it'll be extremely packed!

If you're one of those lucky ones that live in Cleveland with a budging wallet.  The Greater Cleveland Film Commission offers several group packages for tickets to the public.  On average, each person will be forking over $500 per person to attend the red carpet.  Not sure how that is really a "thank you Cleveland," as far as the public is concern.

Here are the packages available:
Key Grip (10 available) $3,000: 6 premiere tickets, recognition on the GCFC website
Casting Director (10 available) $5,000: Shared on-screen logo recognition in front of 1,500 influencers, 10 premiere tickets, recognition on GCFC website

Location Manager (4 available) $7,500: Shared logo recognition on concession items, shared on-screen logo recognition in front of 1,500 influencers, 10 premiere tickets

Director (4 available) $10,000: Shared on-screen logo recognition in front of 1,500 influencers, 20 premiere tickets, recognition on GCFC website

Executive Producer (1 available) $25,000: Stand-alone on-screen logo recognition in front of 1,5000 influencers, 50 premiere tickets (30 of which are VIP), recognition on GCFC website

If you're in Cleveland, would you be willing to pay $500?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Special ID (特殊身份)
Released in Hong Kong October 18th, 2013; United States March 7th, 2014
1 hr 39 min
Rated R

Trailer:

Director:
Clarence Fok

Cast:

  • Donnie Yen as Zilong (Dragon) Chan
  • Jing Tian as Fang Jing
  • Andy On as Sunny
  • Zhang Hanyu as Blade
  • Ronald Cheng as Captain Cheung
  • Collin Chou as Xiong
  • Paw Hee-ching as Sister Amy, Chan's mother
  • Yang Zhigang as Captain Lei Peng
  • Rain Lau as Mary
  • Ken Lo as Mahjong fighter
  • Frankie Ng as Mahjong player
  • Qi Daji
  • Terence Yin as Sunny's assistant
  • Evergreen Mak Cheung-ching as Brother Kun


Review by Stephen M.

As expected from a Donnie Yen film in which he is also the fight choreographer, there's plenty of incredible martial arts action in Special ID.  Unfortunately, if you're trying to follow the story, the plot goes everywhere but straight, leaving you scratching your head at times.  While there are better Chinese gangster films out there, you won't find one with better action of which it delivers plenty.


In the film, Donnie Yen, plays an undercover cop Zilong who has infiltrated the Chinese triads earning him a pretty high ranking.  Aside from two people, his handler and his mom, no one else knows of his special identity.  He is tasked to China to meet up with an old acquaintance that has been stirring up trouble for his Hong Kong mob boss as well as the police officials.  In China, he is assigned a handler, Officer Feng Jing (Jing Tian) that is equally tough as she is pretty.  A series of double crosses leads you caring less and less as the story gets more convoluted.  For example, in an amazing car chase, there's no reason as to why or how you would expect Zilong to find his adversary after he had a good head start on him.


Besides Jing Tian and Andy On, most of the characters including Donnie Yen lack an appeal to them either from overacting or a dull persona.  As is natural with these types of films, there are some romantic tendencies toward the two main male and female leads.  However, for some reason this is never fully explored despite the great chemistry between the characters.


Overall, I still enjoyed the film for its action and would recommend it.   The fight scene in the beginning in the Mah Jong parlor is impressive in Zilong's ability to fight off his back on the floor.  There are many "MMA" elements especially in the final fight scene where you'll see impressive grappling, holds and reversals.  I hope to see more out of Donnie Yen in future films as he continues to find his comfort as a leading man.  Andy Oh for me though had a more convincing performance despite having less screen time then Donnie.

Rating: 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Kids for Cash
Opened February 7, 2014 (Limited Release); February 28th (Nationwide)
1 hr 42 min
PG-13
Documentary

Director: Robert May

Trailer:

Review by Stephen M.

Kids for Cash is one of the better documentaries I have seen in a long time.  Well put together and informative by Director Robert May, the movie covers the judicial scandal in Pennsylvania that came to light in 2008.  In the scandal, two judges, President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan were accused of accepting money from juvenile facilities in exchange for their contracts with the facilities and imposing harsh sentences for minor infractions to insure the facilities were always fully occupied.


What I love most about the documentary is that the Director was able to get both Judges to appear in the film to give their take on what happened.  With the interviews with the family affected, as well as those involved in uncovering the scandal, we get as close to a complete picture as you can get.  The only side missing from this event would be the juvenile facilities builder that the Judges were dealing with.  While there were estimated to be over 3,000 families affected by the Judges, the sampling of victims that were shown gave us a good picture of what the different families must have gone through.


Overall, I would highly recommend this film.  These kinds of stories often gets buried after a few years if you weren't directly affected.  The documentary is a vivid reminder of how greed can corrupt and affect everyone, including our most vulnerable asset, our children.  It's also a scary reminder of how powerful the judicial system is in controlling your fate when you come before it.  Thankfully there are advocates for the people such as the Juvenile Law Center that sued against the Judges.  You can argue that giving the Judges an open mic in this film to tell their side is an injustice to the families.  But as mentioned before it is important to the storytelling of which the Director is quite masterful.  The movie will bring a tear or two to you especially when they review at the end the status of some of the children that were discussed during the movie.

Rating: 

Monday, February 24, 2014


Spring cannot come soon enough, as it'll mark the beginning of a slew of Marvel films to come out monthly this summer.  Let's not also forget that Netflix will be releasing the Marvel Knights themed series beginning in 2015 starting possibly with Daredevil.  As far as movies, here's what we have thus far...

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
April 4th, 2014
After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy-the Winter Soldier.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2
May 2nd, 2014
It's great to be Spider-Man. For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen. But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro, Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp.


X-Men: Days of Future Past
May 23rd, 2014
The X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from X-Men: First Class in a battle that must change the past – to save their future.


Guardians of the Galaxy
August 1st, 2014
This film expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits-Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand-with the galaxy's fate in the balance.


The Avengers: Age of Ultron
May 1st, 2015
The Avengers reassemble to battle the sentient robot known as Ultron.

(From the set of The Avengers: Age of Ultron in Johannesburg)

The Fantastic Four
June 19th, 2015
A reboot of the Marvel property centered on four astronauts who gain superpowers after cosmic radiation exposure.

(Cast of The Fantastic Four)

Which Marvel movie are you most looking forward to?  

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Pompeii
Opens February 21, 2014 
1 hr 45 min
PG-13 | for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content


Trailer:

Director:

Paul W. S. Anderson

Cast:

Kit Harington as Milo, a slave who became a gladiator.
Emily Browning as Cassia
Kiefer Sutherland as Senator Corvis
Jared Harris as Lucretius
Jessica Lucas as Ariadne
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Bridgageous
Carrie-Anne Moss as Cassia's mother
Paz Vega as Flavia
Joe Pingue as Graecus

Review by Stephen M.


Pompeii is Jon Snow's big break as leading man and he doesn't disappoint.  Kit Harrington with his glorious chiseled abs on display as the last horsemen Milo after his tribe along with his family was wiped out by the scoundrels Romans.  He is sold as a child slave and grows up to an amazing fighter, easily dispatching multiple fighters much larger than himself in gladiator type games.


When he catches the eye of one organizer, Graecus (Joe Pingue), he is brought to a bigger stage in the form of Pompeii.  There Milo spots his family killers including the Roman Senator Corvis (Kiefer Sutherland) and his right hand man.  Between the time he arrives at Pompeii and when the volcano erupts (come on, you knew that was coming), he falls in love with a merchant's daughter, Cassia (Emily Browning) and makes a friend in Bridgageous (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje).


In regards to the film, I have heard some gripes about it not being bloody enough or even bloody at all given the PG-13 rating.  While that is true, I still enjoy the fight scenes in the movie.  If you're a fan of 300's style of blood flying everywhere you would definitely be disappointed.  However, this is not 300, nor is it Gladiator.  It is a disaster/action film with plenty of both.  The love story however would be my only gripe.  The reason is given how short a time the relationship is developed in the movie while not impossible seems implausible.


I am a big fan of Kiefer Sutherland on 24, but he just seems out of place as the villainous Senator Corvis.  I love that Adewale continues to get more prominent film roles since his days on HBO's Oz and ABC's Lost.  Emily Browning and Jessica Lucas are both stunning in their beauty and roles as Milo's love interest and mother respectively.  With any disaster films, it's all about the special effects, and while not spectacular, Pompeii does more than an adequate job in instilling fear into your hearts of living near a volcano any time soon.

Overall, I would recommend this film.  It won't be a blockbuster, but it's still a nice escape from modern day toils including shoveling snow in New York City.  The warmth of the lava and hot stones coming down, with ashes filling up your lungs will keep you warm until spring.

Rating: 



Justice League War
Released on DVD & Blu Ray February 4th, 2014

Trailer:

Director:
Jay Oliva

Cast:
Sean Astin as Shazam (Captain Marvel)
Zach Callison as Billy Batson
Christopher Gorham as Flash / Barry Allen
Justin Kirk as Green Lantern / Hal Jordan
Michelle Monaghan as Wonder Woman
Shemar Moore as Cyborg / Victor Stone
Jason O'Mara as Batman
Alan Tudyk as Superman
Steven Blum as Darkseid / Cyborg's Armor (uncredited) / Ocean Master (uncredited)
Dee Bradley Baker as Parademons / Secret Service Guard (uncredited)
Melique Berger as Sarah Charles
Kimberly Brooks as Darla
Rocky Carroll as Silas Stone
Ioan Gruffudd as Thomas Morrow
Georgie Kidder as Freddy Freeman
John Mariano as Ice Cream Vendor
Richard McGonagle as President of the United States
Matthew Mercer as Guard
George Newbern as Steve Trevor
Andrea Romano as Green Lantern's Ring
Roger Rose as Pinstriped Loudmouth
Gary Sturgis as Teammate #2
Bruce Thomas as Desaad
Hynden Walch as Hannah Grace

Review by Stephen M.

When DC Comics rebooted the DC universe with their new 52, I was a bit skeptical and still am.  I initially read some of the Justice League comic books and a few other DC comics like Batman.  It was not bad per se but I never really got into it.  This new movie just released on DVD, Justice League War is based on the new Justice League of the new 52 back in 2011.  The biggest differences I would say between the new and old is that to start the world population is not as trusting with super heroes.  And in addition, many of the heroes we're used to are relatively new to their powers and abilities like Superman and Cyborg.

In Justice League War, we have the pieces of the Justice League each meeting each other for the first time, fighting together against a common enemy which is Darkseid and his Parademons.  The biggest difference from the comic books is the use of Shazam over Aquaman.  Attending a panel at New York Comic Con in 2013, the reason given is that DC has something big in store for Aquaman coming up which is hinted at in the end of Justice League War.

So what did I think of the movie?  I was not blown away.  I thought it was an underwhelming response, a continue decline in their films that started with their last project Flashpoint.  The animation designs of the characters were good in keeping up with the comic book.  However, the actual animation itself, the motions of the characters and powers like the Flash could have been much better.  In addition, some of the characters just seemed so out of place, like Hal Jordan as the jokester of the group as suppose to the Flash.



My biggest gripe with the film however is when Wonder Woman is called a "whore", and when Green Lantern says "shit."  They may be going for a more mature audience but those alone makes it unwatchable for my seven year old daughter which is a shame because she loves the DC super heroes.  Sure there are more possible worst words they could have used like the F word.  But add that to the countless mundane banter between Hal and Bruce in the movie and it makes it not fun for even adults to watch.  Usually when you have banter like that between opposite personality heroes, it's usually of the comical kind.  But most of the dialogue here, just falls flat.

The saving grace is the amazing fight scene between the five least likely Justice League members to beat Darkseid, actually holding their own against him as a team.  Not counting any of the Justice League of America members from the Detroit team from the comic books of course.  But while fun to watch, I still can't help but gripe that this version of Darkseid is considerably weaker than what comic book fans are used to.  Shazam being able to stand a direct hit from Darkseid's Omega Beam?

Overall, I would still recommend this film, but not to children and not too picky DC fans like me.  It is about the only way to see the super heroes together until they can come out with a live action Justice League that everyone has been clamoring for.  While I hated the banter between GL and Batman, I did like the relationship between Victor and Billy Batson.  What I am really waiting for however is the next installment of DC Animations which is Son of Batman.  The trailers for that look good with Jason O'Mara continuing his role voice actor as Batman.

Rating: 

Robocop
Opened February 12, 2014 
1 hr 48 min
PG-13 | Intense sequences of action including frenetic gun violence throughout, brief strong language, sensuality and some drug material.

Trailer:

Director: 
José Padilha

Cast:
Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy, a police detective who is injured in an explosion and transformed into the cyborg RoboCop.
Gary Oldman as Dr. Dennett Norton, Chief Scientist Omni Foundation who creates RoboCop.
Michael Keaton as Raymond Sellars, the villainous CEO of OmniCorp.
Samuel L. Jackson as Patrick "Pat" Novak, host of The Novak Element and prominent supporter of mechanized crime control.
Abbie Cornish as Clara Murphy, Alex's wife.
Jackie Earle Haley as Rick Mattox, a military tactician responsible for training RoboCop.
Michael K. Williams as Jack Lewis, Alex's former partner.
Jennifer Ehle as Liz Kline, the head of OmniCorp legal affairs.
Jay Baruchel as Tom Pope, the head of marketing for OmniCorp.
Aimee Garcia as Jae Kim, a scientist who works with Dr. Dennett Norton.
John Paul Ruttan as David Murphy, Alex and Clara's son.
Patrick Garrow as Antoine Vallon
Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Karen Dean, Detroit Chief of Police.
Douglas Urbanski as Mayor Durant, the Mayor of Detroit.
Zach Grenier as Senator Dreyfuss

Review by Stephen M.

The latest reboot of 1980s movies Robocop goes by the motto if it ain't broken don't fix it.  Director José Padilha making only slight changes from the original, unfortunately makes a solid but also unimaginative remake of the original film.  A great cast including Laurence Fishburne, I mean Samuel Jackson and shoot up action makes this worth watching.

The original came out in 1987 and captivated me back then with the mechanized drones that is reminiscence of the Robotech droids but in live action!  With a cop wronged by the corrupted corporations and betrayed by his fellow officers, this was a captivating story then as it is now.  Especially when the cop, Alex Murphy, played this time around by Joel Kinnaman comes back as a cyborg with amazing killing abilities.  So what if he's not totally in control right?  Joel Kinnaman does a great job at showing emotion or rather lack of it when only his face is featured in the film.  Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton are excellent as well as the scientist or father of Robocop and the evil head of OmniCorp respectively.


Overall, I would recommend this film, as the fight scene between Robocop and the drones alone are worth the price of admission.  But there's definitely enough tweaks from the original that will have you going, "oh that's new."  I would have still love to see more new technology being as how the movie is set in the future.  Like new designs for the drones, more variety.  Changing the suit from silver to black doesn't really count for me.  Did you enjoy it?

Rating: 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


And Then There Was You
Originally shown on USA September 19th, 2013
Available on DVD and VOD February 11th, 2014
1 hr 39 mins

Synopsis:
Joshua (Leon) and Natalie (Garcelle Beauvais) appear to be the picture-perfect couple, but looks can be deceiving. When Natalie discovers her husband has led a secret life, she is forced to deal with losing everything she loves. While picking up the pieces of her shattered world, the process of healing introduces some new-found obstacles in the form of a new love interest (Brian White). Now, Natalie must test the boundaries of her trust and the capacity of her heart before she can love again. Lynn Whitfield, Greg Vaughn and Trilby Glover costar in this fresh start romance from award-winning director Leila Djansi (The Ties That Bind).


Trailer:

Director:
Leila Djansi

Cast:
Leon as Joshua Gilbert
Garcelle Beauvais as Natalie Gilbert
Brian White as Darrell Brent
Greg Vaughan as Corinth
Kate Nauta as Kayla
Lynn Whitfield as Sophia Brent
Lainey Lipson as Bracket
Trilby Glover as Marisol
Libertad Green as Corinth's deceased wife
William Mortensen Vaughan as Christmas party guest
Sahlima as Tash
Jon Morgan Woodward as Coach
Gabriel D. Angell as Dr. Morgan at Chrismas Party
Gloria Huwiler as Cashier
Leonel Claude as Christmas Party Guest

Review by Stephen M.

And Then There Was You is a surprisingly well put together and acted romantic drama that outshines anything coming out of Hollywood this Valentine's Day weekend.  Garcelle Beauvais's character Natalie Gilbert is put through the ringer after learning about her husband's secret family and then again with new beau Darrell (Brian White).  Through it all, this inspirational romantic tale teaches us that it's okay to get back up and live again.

Garcelle does an amazing job in this movie.  With the only grievances is that she does not show enough anger in the scenes in which she is expected to explode.  When slapping the face of her ex-husband she seems to hold back as well as when smashing the frame.  Otherwise, it is such a joy to watch her in this film in dealing with what any married woman would never wish for.


Not to be out shined, the men in the film do an amazing job in pushing Natalie to her limit.  Starting with her husband Joshua (Leon) to the other men in her life and comes into her life.  The seasoned veterans all perform well in challenging roles.  The film is well written in its grounded realism with an amazing soundtrack to accompany the film.

Overall, I would recommend getting the DVD especially for couples this Valentine's Day weekend.  Director Leila Djansi does a great job in putting together an excellent cast and film together that will have you believing in love again.


Rating: 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Cavemen
Opened (Limited) February 7, 2014 
1 hr 28 min
R | Language, Sexual Content and Nudity

Plot:
Inspired by his young nephew and his best friend (Camilla Belle), a Los Angeles playboy (Skylar Astin) decides to give up his partying ways and find true love.

Trailer:

Cast:
Camilla Belle as Tess
Alexis Knapp as Kat
Chad Michael Murray as Jay
Skylar Astin as Dean
Chasty Ballesteros as Monique
Kenny Wormald as Pete
Fernanda Romero as Rosa
Zuleyka Silver as Alicia
Jason Patric as Jack Bartlett
Dayo Okeniyi as Andre
Megan Stevenson as Sara
Victoria Park as Anna


Review by Stephen M.

Popping up on my radar in the brilliant musical comedy Pitch Perfect and following up with a sophomoric dud but relative financial success in 21 and Over.  You would've expected better things from Skylar Astin, okay, maybe not.  Unfortunately, in Cavemen, he takes a far step back as this romantic comedy fails to give you the feeling that love is in the air.  But what do you expect from a movie with the title of "Cavemen" when the majority of the movie is focused on the glorious conquest of Chad Michael Murray's character Jay and the soul searching of Skylar Astin's character Dean.


The one bright side to this movie would have to be Camilla Belle as Tess.  As the best friend of Skylar and the rest of the cave men, you can always see there's some chemistry there between the lead characters.  When she's in the scene she literally lifts up Skylar capturing your interest again.  Unfortunately, the film's focus isn't only about these two but rather takes a long road approach.  If the final five minutes were kept and made into a short film, I would give it five stars.

Unfortunately, you do have to sit through close to a hour and a half of Dean just walking everywhere as he is one of the rare few in Los Angeles that does not own a car.  The audience gets the point after the first few minutes of this.  But it's not clear until later what these tedious scenes are setting up.  The characters and situations are quite predictable, from beginning to end.  With drab dialogue and characters you're in for a long ride most of the way.

Overall, I would recommend waiting for this film to come out for rental or Netflix.  It tries to be a comedy and/or a romance movie but sorely fails on both end.  There are bright spots here and there.  For the comedy aspect, I enjoyed when Dean dates several women one after the other trying to find "love."  However most of the movie, Dean  tends to over think things leading to long dialogue to go with his walking all over town.

Rating: 

Saturday, February 8, 2014


The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box
Released in U.K. on January 10th, 2014;
Available on DVD, Blu Ray and VOD February 11th, 2014

Written by: Christian Taylor, Matthew Huffman, based on the novel by G.P. Taylor
Directed by: Jonathan Newman
Cast:
Michael Sheen as Captain Will Charity
Sam Neill as Otto Luger
Lena Headey as Monica
Ioan Gruffudd as Charles Mundi
Keeley Hawes as Catherine Mundi
Aneurin Barnard as Mariah Mundi
Mella Carron as Sacha
Tristan Gemmill as Isambard Black
Daniel Wilde as Cleavy
Xavier Atkins as Felix
Vincenzo Pellegrino as Grendel
Oliver Stark as Glocky
Ian Reddington as Ratchit
Brian Nickels as Grimm

Trailer:

Review by Stephen M.

Trying to emulate several great action/adventure movies is a great formula for success.  The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box which is out next week on DVD, Blu Ray and VOD is fun and full of adventure if not very original.  Based on a novel by G. P. Taylor, the cast includes several notable actors like Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Michael Sheen (Romeo & Juliet) and Lena Headey (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Game of Thrones).  The movie while interesting does not quite capture the magic of the blockbusters of Hollywood it imitates.



From Men in Black (secret government agents), to Sherlock Holmes (Victorian era mysteries and villains), there's just something all so familiar throughout this movie.  When Mariah Mundi's (Aneurin Barnard) parents and little brother Felix (Xavier Atkins) goes missing, it's up to him to find and rescue them.  Along the way he gets the help of his parents' mysterious friend William Charity (Michael Sheen) and hotel seamstress Sacha (Mella Carron).  His parents had obtained keys to a rare relic (Midas Box) that supposedly can turn anything you put in it into gold.  The villain of the series when he's not being chased by dinosaurs is Otto Luger (Sam Neill).  He wants the Midas box for a more nefarious purposes than stockpiling up gold.



I love the costumes and sets of the movies with which if you see the "Making of" on the DVD, you'll see how it all is put together.  Aneurin while having the look that captures the essence of that time fails to have the charisma in the movie to make him a likable character.  I am not sure if it's solely the fault of the actor or if it's just the way the character is written.  William Charity's character on the other hand would've made a great main character, matching Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes in charisma, subterfuge and action prowess.  Also notable in the movie is Lena Headey as the vicious Monica, head of the hotel that Otto runs, as well as Sacha who slowly catches the eye of Mariah.  Remembering that this is no Hollywood blockbuster, the special effects are quite good, especially the flying tarot card moments which has a Harry Potter feel to it.

Overall, I would recommend renting the DVD or Blu Ray or watching on VOD.  While not entirely original, there's enough fun here if you're into the genres that National Treasure or any of the other films I had mentioned before, you shouldn't be too disappointed in this.  
The twist on the Midas box shows us that the author and filmmakers are trying to make their own stamp on adventure movies.  There are plans to bring the rest of the books that G. P. wrote of Mariah's adventures to the screen making it a trilogy.  I wouldn't mind seeing how some of the cliffhangers, including the one during the credits turn out.

Rating: 


Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Here are a few of my top free screenings on Eventbrite that I think you will enjoy.

Son of God (2014)
February 27th 7:30 pm with other dates available.
"Created by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (producers of the  Bible Series), the larger-than-life story of The New Testament gets a larger-than life treatment in this stand-alone feature. Including a rich orchestral score from Oscar®-winner Hans Zimmer, Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus as the film spans from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection. Son of God marks the first motion picture about Jesus’ life since Passion of the Christ, released ten years ago. More information on the film is available at www.SonOfGodMovie.com."
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/son-of-god-free-film-screening-tickets-10189708693

Call Me Kuchu (2012)
February 6th 7:30 pm
"In Uganda, a new bill threatens to make homosexuality punishable by death. David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay man, and retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo work against the clock to defeat state-sanctioned homophobia while combatting vicious persecution in their daily lives. But no one is prepared for the brutal murder that shakes their movement to its core and sends shock waves around the world."
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/call-me-kuchu-film-screening-tickets-10490375997


The Secret of Kells (2009)
May 4th 2:00 pm
"Adventure, action and danger await 12-year-old Brendan, who must fight Vikings and a serpent god to find a crystal and complete the legendary Book of Kells in this acclaimed animated film."
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/film-screening-the-secret-of-kells-tickets-10337641163

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
February 26th 5:30 pm
"This film is based on South African President Nelson Mandela's autobiography, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country's once segregated society."
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/nightingale-presents-a-screening-of-mandela-long-walk-to-freedom-at-the-92y-tickets-10490135277

Deep South (2012)
February 10th 6:00 pm
"Beneath layers of history, poverty and now soaring HIV infections, four Americans redefine traditional Southern values to create their own solutions to survive. 'deepsouth' is a documentary about the new American South, and the people who inhabit its most quiet corners. Josh, a college student, seeks the support of an underground gay family hours away from his suffocating Mississippi Delta hometown. With no funds and few resources, Monica and Tammy try to unite reluctant participants at their annual HIV retreat in rural Louisiana. Kathie, an Alabama activist, spends 120 days a year on the road fighting a bureaucracy that continues to ignore the South."
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/deep-south-film-screening-and-qa-with-duy-linh-tu-tickets-10397576431

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Divorce
Releases on DVD and VOD on February 4th, 2014
1 hr 55 mins

SYNOPSIS: Successful TV anchorwoman, Yolanda Massey (Dawnn Lewis), is celebrating her recent divorce by throwing herself a divorce party with her closest sorority  girlfriends. Coming along for the ride of her hilariously funny, nonsense BFF, Eva (Vanessa Bell Calloway), her younger sister, CeCe (Angeli Conwell), and her younger beau and a handsome ex-husband and you are in for an evening of raucous laughter, heartache and the ultimate surprise.


Review by Stephen M.




The play by Don Welch's focuses on Yolanda Massey (Dawnn Lewis) and her family and friends that are visiting her to celebrate the finalization of her divorce.  The evening is full of laughter, bickering, gossip and showmanship.  The mostly female cast is full of seasoned veterans that have been in movies and television shows that run the gamut from the 1980s to present.  While the acting is the strong point of the film, the plot suffers from long running dialogue that adds nothing to the overall plot.


The first fifty minutes of the film feels like what you would expect from guys trash talking in a locker room.  We're introduced to Yolanda and her sick adopted sister Tracey (Tammi Mac).  They're quickly joined by a few of Yolanda closest friends, with the plan of visiting the night club where Yolanda's new much younger boyfriend Kel (Rylan Williams) is a Deejay that evening.  The ladies fit into certain stereotypes like the snob Phoebe (Judy Pace), the loud mouth Eva (Vanessa Bell Calloway), and the reserved Viola (Freda Payne).  Despite their character flaws, what stands out from each of them and makes them such great role models is that they're all successful and strong.  But with their flaws, the audience can find a character in the play to relate to themselves.


For me, the film doesn't really start to be interesting until Thelma (Jonelle Allen) the mother of Yolanda arrives at the house unexpectedly.  From there, the heated animosity between mother and daughter with all the other ladies personal issues spilling over creates a powder keg of emotions for everyone.  The ending is a bit of twist and really not properly explored in my opinion.  Besides the surprise about Tracey, the twist with Viola and Victoria (Tatyana Ali) is only briefly touched upon.  While we finally get to see Yolanda's ex Brian, I am surprised he isn't brought out earlier in the movie and have more of a role.

Overall, I would recommend it to women who are interested in movies about relationships.  It's an empowering movie that is for a select audience.  Guys may find the dialogue uninteresting speaking from my own personal preference.  The actresses are exceptional despite the story wavering and trying to find direction at times.  On a few occasions, the filming is questionable with dialogue coming from an actress that is off the screen.

If you're interested in purchasing the movie, you can get the DVD here on Amazon; as well it is available on VOD.


Rating: 


Trailer:

Directed and screenplay:


  • Donald Welch

Cast:

  • Vanessa Bell Calloway as Eva
  • Angell Conwell as CeCE
  • Tatyana Ali as Victoria
  • Dawnn Lewis as Yolanda Massey
  • Judy Pace as Phoebe
  • Freda Payne as Viola
  • Tammi Mac as Tracey
  • Keith Burke as Brian
  • Jonelle Allen as Thelma
  • Rylan Williams as Kel