Category: New Releases

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1: Jennifer Lawrence proves critical to franchise success

Lionsgate got really lucky. The movie studio, hoping to leapfrog on the success of the “Twilight” film franchise, dove headfirst into the young adult book trilogy market, coming away with a violent dystopian world and needing a female lead to match Bella of “Twilight” fame. When they cast the girl from “The Bill Engvall Show,” they probably had no idea that she would become … Read More The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1: Jennifer Lawrence proves critical to franchise success

Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Keaton shines in superhero actor rebound

It isn’t quite fair to say Michael Keaton is back thanks to his often brilliant performance in “Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) because, despite his long absence, Keaton has never performed at this high a level. Fact melds well with fiction as Keaton’s struggles to overcome the shadow of his role as Batman parallel his character Riggan’s difficulty separating himself mentally from … Read More Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Keaton shines in superhero actor rebound

Whiplash: Strike up the band for visual jazz experience

How can you see jazz? It’s easy to hear and a delight to listen to, but how can one visualize jazz in pictures rather than sounds? Is it in a contrast of colors? Harsh browns and tans counterbalancing bright hues of blue? The dueling colors of black and white intermixing like yin and yang. The best independent film of our time — winner of … Read More Whiplash: Strike up the band for visual jazz experience

Dumb and Dumber To: The name says it all

“Dumb and Dumber To,” the sequel to the 1994 cult classic comedy starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, is one big, long gag. Unfortunately, the gag’s on the viewers. Unlike the also poor prequel “Dumb and Dumber: When Harry Met Lloyd,” this 2014 sequel brings back the original stars Carrey and Daniels in order to entice moviegoers into the theater. A moderate amount of … Read More Dumb and Dumber To: The name says it all

Interstellar: Christopher Nolan hits space odyssey out of the park

Epic. Everything about the space odyssey “Interstellar” crafted from the mind of director Christopher Nolan oozes with the grandiose brushstrokes of a supreme master of cinema. One of 2014’s best offerings, the film is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise lifeless year of filmmaking. Where most new movies lack creativity and originality, “Interstellar” bathes in it. There is no other movie like … Read More Interstellar: Christopher Nolan hits space odyssey out of the park

Big Hero 6: Disney pairs family friendly, superhero genres for success

There’s been a dearth of family-friendly films this year, and what limited selection there has been is underwhelming to say the least. Enter a fluffy white, lighthearted balloon robot with a “non-threatening, huggable design” named Baymax to save the day. Disney’s latest animated release “Big Hero 6,” loosely based on the 1990s Marvel comic book series is a heart-warming tale about love and loss, … Read More Big Hero 6: Disney pairs family friendly, superhero genres for success

Nightcrawler: Gyllenhaal dominates screen in mesmerizing performance

You’ll probably need more than one viewing to fully appreciate the incredibly cerebral “Nightcrawler,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a neurotic loner who stumbles into a career as a “nightcrawler” — a freelance television cameraman tasked with filming crime scenes and car accidents. Though its trailer focuses more on the action, “Nightcrawler” is a fairly “talky” film, with Gyllenhaal’s Lou getting most of the movie’s … Read More Nightcrawler: Gyllenhaal dominates screen in mesmerizing performance

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St. Vincent: Indie dramedy a work of art for Bill Murray

“St. Vincent” doesn’t work without Bill Murray. The film, which centers around a crotchety old drunk gambler who takes care of his neighbor’s son to pay off gambling debts, could have been made with any number of other actors. However, it’s only “Saturday Night Live” vet Murray who can handle the humor required to make the majority of the film enjoyable enough to balance … Read More St. Vincent: Indie dramedy a work of art for Bill Murray

John Wick: Keep expectations low and enjoy the ride

Nothing much is surprising about the latest action thriller “John Wick,” except for the fact that it isn’t completely terrible. The plot is raw and unoriginal — vengeful assassin Keanu Reeves takes out a lot of bad people after they steal his car and kill his dog, a final present from his dying wife. Every indication points in the direction of an absolute bust … Read More John Wick: Keep expectations low and enjoy the ride

Fury: A sign of good things still to come from Hollywood

If “Fury” is any indication of the direction cinema is headed for the rest of 2014, it’s a good time to be a film fanatic. Coming off the release of David Fincher’s terrific thriller “Gone Girl,” it was hard to imagine Hollywood providing any level of consistency in the quality of filmmaking heading into the final few months of the year, but the action … Read More Fury: A sign of good things still to come from Hollywood

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Gone Girl: Chilling tale makes great use of Affleck, Pike

That subversive grin smeared across Ben Affleck’s face has been plastered all over television and social media for weeks now as “Gone Girl,” the David Fincher adaptation of the best-selling Gillian Flynn novel, hit theaters at the beginning of the month. It’s a smart marketing ploy and an ingenious casting choice by Fincher to center his film around Affleck, whose natural charm mixed with … Read More Gone Girl: Chilling tale makes great use of Affleck, Pike

The Judge: Even Downey Jr., Duvall can’t figure out poor script

“The Judge” has a fantastic cast led by Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall along with wonderful cinematography, so why is it so underwhelming? The fatal flaw in “The Judge” is in an uneven script from Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque, the sum of which isn’t as good as its individual parts. A film about relationships blanketed within a courtroom drama, each element of … Read More The Judge: Even Downey Jr., Duvall can’t figure out poor script