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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Review of Focus








































Dearest Blog, yesterday it was off to the pictures for Will Smith's latest, Focus.

After a couple weeks' weather-enforced cinema break, I'd probably have dragged out for a rom-com starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tyler Perry (*shudder*), but luckily this seemed more promising. (PS: I get royalties when somebody makes that rom-com!)

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

Life is a series of scores for a couple con artists, until they cross a dangerous mark.

Getting the bad news out of the way first, the chiefest and greatest flaw of Focus is that it just HAS to be smarter than it is. If we, as viewers, are to buy these two as the world's greatest con artists, then we, as viewers, must be as victims...we can't ever guess what they've got up their sleeves.

Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true...it took me longer to figure out No Good Deed! That's not to say the plot isn't interesting--it's good fun--but if you're waiting for that "A-ha!" moment...well...you're gonna leave the theatre still waiting. For a relatively short movie, it also seems to take very long getting anywhere. I checked the time about an hour in and couldn't believe it wasn't further along.

On the plus side, the movie IS smart enough to lean heavily on the appeal of its two leads, and Will Smith and Margot Robbie have to be among Hollywood's most likeable. Smith, in particular, is just impossibly appealing for me; I root for him no matter what.

This is the sort of role that allows Robbie to run around in all manner of clingy cocktail dress and skimpy swimsuit, and I doubt anyone's got any complaints with that, either. Among the supporting cast, Adrian Martinez plays for laughs, while Gerald McRaney blusters his way through. The movie is thoroughly enjoyable, if never fully engaging.

Focus clocks in at 104 minutes, and is rated R for "language, some sexual content, and brief violence."

It's nothing special, but Focus is a perfectly passable afternoon of entertainment.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Focus gets five.

Until next time...








































What...what? Were you saying something?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: THE IMITATION GAME









































Alan Turing, a pioneer of computers, led a group of scholars to crack the codes of Germany's WWII Enigma machine. A genius under nail-biting pressure helped to save millions of lives and was ultimately convicted for the crime of homosexuality.

Director: Morten Tyldum 

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Allen Leech, Rory Kinnear, Mark Strong.

Release Date: Nov 28, 2014

Rated: PG-13 for some Sexual References, Mature Thematic Material and Historical Smoking

Runtime: 1 hr. 53 min.

Genres: Drama

Review:

The Imitation Game is a fairly standard biopic that’s finely crafted and well acted even if it’s a bit mechanical at times.  It benefits greatly from some impressive performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.  Benedict Cumberbatch captures the sadness, awkwardness and intelligence of Turing with subtle power.  There are moments in the film that provide him a perfect platform to display his immense talent.  The always reliable Keira Knightley is excellent in a supporting role.  It feels like a standard role at first but as the film moves on she’s allowed to flesh out the roles giving us a meatier role that what’s on the page.  The Imitation Game is filled some incredibly tense moments along with a fresh bit of humor sprinkled in, something you wouldn’t expect from this type of film and it’s theme.  The film’s script is filled with tons of parallels and metaphors which will keep your mind churning well after it’s done.  It’s a tragic tale but one that deserved to be told with an excellent and entertaining film.

B+

Cindy Prascik's Oscar Blog with Daniel's thoughts sprinkled in.....





Guys, guys, guyzzzzzzzzzzz...guess what?? I'm snowed in!! You know what that means? Instead of a third screening of Kingsman: The Secret Service (maybe paired with a sneaky peek at McFarlane, USA...admit it, you want to see it too), I'll be stuck at home and bored out of my skull! So, here, have another Oscar blog...because exactly what you needed right now is yet another person's opinion on other people's opinions.

I must admit up front that there are categories where I haven't had access to all of the films, but I can't let that stop me, because...snow day! And who believes Oscar voters actually watch all their screeners anyway? Also, let it be known that I've skipped categories where I haven't seen anything. (Lookin' at you, Short Form Documentary!)

Without further ado...

BEST PICTURE:

What will win: Birdman

What should win: The Imitation Game

What really should win: Calvary

It's no secret I'm appalled at how 2014's best movie was done wrong by awards season. Having said that, my motto for this category is "Anything but Boyhood!" I don't think The Theory of Everything or American Sniper legitimately belong on this list, either, but both are at least good pictures, whereas Boyhood is an unmitigated disaster. Also, for the last time this awards season: it's time to stop the genre snobbery. Guardians of the Galaxy and/or Captain America: The Winter Soldier should at least be nominated here.

DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Oscars love splitting up Best Picture and Director unless there's a clear winner, Birdman will win meaning director will go to Linklater's Boyhood.

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:

Who will win: Eddie Redmayne

Who should win: Michael Keaton

Who really should win: Brendan Gleeson

Go on, Academy, sit there being wrong in your wrongness!

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Think Michael Keaton is a shoe in.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:

Who will win: Julianne Moore

Who should win: Rosamund Pike

Who really should win: I'm actually okay with any of the ladies in this category. (Hold onto that, it might not happen again!)

DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Since I haven't seen Julianne Moore's film I really have no idea except to go with the flow and say Moore has it locked up.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:

Who will win: J.K. Simmons

Who should win: J.K. Simmons

Who really should win: Bradley Cooper

I'm sure it was never seriously considered, but Cooper's Rocket was smart, funny, brave, emotional, sincere...and a raccoon. Top that if you can!! I'm also a little bit afraid "Oscar winner" J.K. Simmons might be suddenly unavailable for that Law & Order reboot.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - J.K. is a shoe in and frankly I couldn't be happier since I think he's great but I think Cindy is right, Law & Order The Next Generation is probably out.

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:

Who will win: Patricia Arquette

Who should win: Emma Stone

Who really should win: Emma Stone

I'm good with my gal Emma on this one, though I do think Rene Russo (Nightcrawler) and Kelly Reilly (Calvary) should be among the nominees.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Arquette is winning because she's getting Boyhood love.  I thought it was a great performance but not the best I've seen this year.  Stone would be a great option.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:

What will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

What should win: Big Hero 6

What really should win: Big Hero 6

...but I'd be absolutely fine with The Boxtrolls, too. A travesty that The Lego Movie is not among the nominees.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS -Sadly I saw none of the nominees which doesn't matter because The Lego Movie should been nominated and won.


CINEMATOGRAPHY:

What will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What really should win: John Wick

...and how is Nightcrawler not on this list??

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS -The Grand Budapest Hotel is wonderful but Birdman was kind of magical as well either is fine with me.


COSTUME DESIGN:

What will win: Into the Woods

What should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What really should win: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

From the magnificent detail of Thorin's armor to the snugglieness of Bilbo's bathrobe, nobody matches Middle Earth on this one.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS -  I actually think The Grand Budapest Hotel has an excellent shot, well deserved too.

DIRECTING:

Who will win: Richard Linklater

Who should win: Wes Anderson

Who really should win: James Gunn

Listen, I'm not casting aspersions on anyone's talent, but if I randomly filmed some strange family for 12 years, I'd be in jail.



 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Linklater is getting this for his impressive experiment, it's hard to ignore what he pulled off and I've loved his "Before" films


FILM EDITING:


What will win: Boyhood

What should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What really should win: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I could also be Team Nightcrawler here.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Birdman really impressed me on so many levels.


MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

What will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What should win: Guardians of the Galaxy

What really should win: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Middle Earth is unparalleled in the artistic categories.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - More than happy if Budapest wins....


MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE):

What will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What should win: Interstellar

What really should win: 300: Rise of an Empire

...and I'd also be good with Henry Jackman's Winter Soldier score here.

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG):

What will win: Glory

What should win: Everything is Awesome

What really should win: Everything is Awesome

The Academy just has to throw The Lego Movie a bone here.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - In total agreement, everything is awesome should win just so we can say Oscar Winner Andy Samburg.

PRODUCTION DESIGN:

What will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What really should win: John Wick

...again, how is Nightcrawler not on this list??
  
 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Another one for Budapest

SOUND EDITING:

What will win: Interstellar

What should win: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

What really should win: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Obviously, I'm good with #OneLastOscar for Jackson's Middle Earth.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS -Interstellar will win, I know because of the ringing in my ear....


SOUND MIXING:

What will win: Interstellar

What should win: American Sniper

What really should win: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

I thought it was great. So sue me.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS -American Sniper should win, excellent sound mixing if you ask me but Birdman's beats are still in my head.  

VISUAL EFFECTS:

What will win: Interstellar

What should win: X-Men: Days of Future Past

What really should win: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Time in a Bottle. That is all.

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Guardians of the Galaxy deserves this to be honest, it's effects are just fantastic!


WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY):

What will win: The Theory of Everything

What should win: The Imitation Game

What really should win: Guardians of the Galaxy

In for a dime, in for a dollar, right?

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Theory or Imitation would be great choices.


WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY):

What will win: Birdman

What should win: Birdman

What really should win: Birdman/Grand Budapest Hotel

...but this is another "Anything but Boyhood!" category for me!

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - Keeping my Birdman love going


So, there you have it. Discussion is, of course, welcome.

Hope everyone enjoys the Oscars!

Until next time...



Repent, Academy, for thou hast screwed the pooch on this one!

 DANIEL'S THOUGHTS - I really need to see Calvary

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Review of Kingsman: The Secret Service










































Dearest Blog, yesterday it was off to the cinema for a picture totally worth braving the elements: Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

A young man headed down the wrong path is recruited as an international super-secret agent.

Dear reader(s), to say I was eagerly anticipating Kingsman: The Secret Service would be the grossest of understatements. In fact, I bought tickets, sight unseen, to watch it back to back, a feat previously achieved only by movies featuring a certain caped crusader. I am pleased to report the film does not disappoint.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a comic-book movie for grownups. It's fun and funny and crass at times, but it's got a mature feel that has more to do with adult themes than with the film's f-word fueled R rating.

Kingsman features end-to-end action, including brilliantly-choreographed fight scenes, some terrific stunt driving, and even a bit of gymnastics, but it's never in a hurry just to jump from fight to fight, chase to chase; there's a STORY here.

The clever inclusion of just the right tunes in just the right places--tunes most of us likely never would have thought to put in said places--is the best I've seen outside an Edgar Wright picture. Colin Firth is a debonair gentleman spy; in fact, he makes it hard to imagine anyone else ever could have inhabited the film's leading role. Relative newcomer Taron Edgerton seems bound for superstardom if this turn as a smart, cocky ne'er-do-well turned secret agent is any indication.

The supporting cast is uniformly stellar, and, if I had one teensy complaint about this near-perfect movie, it's that I sure would have liked to see more Jack Davenport.

Kingsman: The Secret Service clocks in at 129 minutes and is rated R for "sequences of strong violence, language, and some sexual content."

As a wise friend predicted, of a possible nine Weasleys, Kingsman: The Secret Service gets all nine.

It's a  smart, funny, self-aware spy thriller that proves pushing the envelope has legitimate value and doesn't have to be just to shock.

Until next time...





50 Shades of Who Cares...this is how to be smokin' hot in a suit and tie!
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