Sunday, February 28, 2016


This is a quirky, independent film in the vein of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and The Brick. A high school kid is smart and going somewhere. But he gets mixed up in a drug deal and has to work his way out in order to save his chances at admission to Harvard. While not really breaking the 4th wall, there is a subtle "knowing" of the characters as they play to the camera, aware of how they are being viewed by the audience and the story that is being told. Overall, I found this offering flat. Many other things better to see.
2 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Triple 9

I am putting this in the same class of films as Sicario, but not nearly as well made. The class is of a pretty good film about a subject without redeeming themes or characters. In this case, the setting is the Atlanta police force, and the story is one of corrupt cops. The thing is, after watching this film, I felt brutalized. Without an underlying morality, or characters you like, it is relegated to a dark story bringing career and personal angst to the surface. Sometimes this can work if the characters have some depth (as they begin to do in Sicario). That is, if as a viewer I am brought into their life and understand their context and/or motivation for living and decision making. But these characters were pretty flat, with surface motivation only presented at a level that was required to move a plot along. Can't recommend this.
1 star (out of 5)

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Astounding. Ryan Reynolds plays Wade/Deadpool. As Wade, he is a high value bounty hunter working a dangerous job. When he finds that he doesn't have long to live (cancer diagnosis), he takes a risk on an experimental treatment. Turns out the "treatment" is a scheme to force mutations by stressing the body, and his "doctors" are mutant traffickers. The treatment works, he mutates and gains the ability for rapid healing. He is immediately recruited by Prof. Xavier's X-men academy. Unfortunately, Wade is not the team player type. In fact, what makes this movie so good is that the smart-ass personality that Wade has developed as an independent bounty hunter is retained in his Deadpool personality. Much has been made about the R-rated-ness of this film, and based on the language and graphic violence, it definitely deserves the rating. But the success of the film is not because of the R-rating. The success is because the character of Deadpool is an R-rated smart-ass. And Reynolds plays that character perfectly. I loved this movie because Wade/Deadpool plays a consistent character in context with the story. My fear is that movie execs will think the success is because of the rating and start throwing a bunch gratuitous language/violence into future franchises to get a rating, when that language/violence doesn't really fit the characters or story. I hope not. But for this instance, it is on point.
5 stars (out of 5)

High School Musical

Having recently played a small part in a version of High School Musical for my basketball team, I figured it was time to see this now decade old, made-for-TV cultural phenomena. It was everything I expected for a decade old, made-for-TV musical. Cliques and angst appropriate for high school, catchy songs, jocks and nerds crossing social classes and opening the eyes of their friends to solidify an "everyone is valuable for who they are" social message. And all this made better by watching with my age-appropriate niece and nephews. So while I can't actually recommend this for your viewing, I will say it was a valuable filling in of a gap in my cultural wardrobe.
2 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mr. Bean's Holiday

Ah, Mr. Bean. Slapstick humor at its best. If slapstick has a best. Bean has maybe 10 lines throughout the film, and the rest is physical comedy. Bean wins a trip to the South of France, encounters lots of hi-jinks along away, picks up a kid (who he caused to miss his train and get separated from his father) and then spends the rest of the film working at a reunification scheme. Silly, goofy, and an awesome movie for 7-10 year olds. Not for me, but I watched the whole thing, so...
2 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

People, Places, Things

Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Concords fame (at least that is were I found and loved him) stars in this comedy/drama. Clement plays a graphic novelist who is recently single and recently taking more responsibility for his young daughter. He also teaches at a local community college, and is working on a novel that explores his recent life changes. He meets a young student with real talent, develops a relationship with her mom, and honestly struggles with the reality of his situation. Clement is charming, funny and heartfelt in his portrayal. I liked this film, mostly because of the low-key acting by Clement.
4 stars (out of 5)