Category Archives: New-ish Releases

Trainwreck

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Release Date: July 17, 2015
Runtime: 125 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Amy Schumer; Bill Hader; Colin Quinn; John Cena; Dave Attell; Tilda Swinton;
LeBron James; Brie Larson

Amy Schumer bulldozes her way onto the big screen playing a magnified version of her women-are-just-as-raunchy-as-men comedic persona in ‘Trainwreck.’ Schumer (who also wrote the screenplay) is a natural performer and going on the basis of her debut as a leading lady, we will be seeing lots more of her in years to come. That is a good thing. That is a very good thing. Continue reading

August: Osage County

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Release Date: January 10, 2014
Runtime: 121 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Director: John Wells
Cast: Meryl Streep; Julia Roberts; Ewan McGregor; Chris Cooper; Dermot Mulroney; Juliette Lewis; Julianne Nicholson; Sam Shepard; Benedict Cumberbatch; Abigail Brelsin

If there were an Olympic category for “Best Team Acting,” this big screen adaptation of Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play would have swept the competition. Captained by ferocious performances by Meryl Streep (reminding us all of why she IS Meryl Streep) and Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County” invites us in for some seriously dysfunctional family good times. Continue reading

Rock of Ages

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Release Date: June 15, 2012
Runtime: 123 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros. / New Line Cinema
Director: Adam Shankman
Cast: Julianne Hough; Diego Boneta; Alec Baldwin; Russell Brand; Paul Giamatti; Catherine Zeta-Jones; Bryan Cranston; Malin Akerman; Mary J. Blige; Tom Cruise

The Broadway musical upon which this movie is based, while not great art by any stretch, is better. Period. Adam Shankman’s adaptation of the hit jukebox musical that’s been rockin’ the Helen Hayes Theatre for years, has style and some fun performances, but this show really doesn’t translate well to film. I think the main reason is this: these songs (“Don’t Stop Believin,’” “Sister Christian,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It”) are the types of rock anthems that are best heard live, blaring through speakers at deafening decibels, sung by singers who look like their vocal chords are about to pop out of their necks! Continue reading

The Wolf of Wall Street

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Release Date: December 25, 2013
Runtime: 180 minutes
Rating: very, very R
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio; Jonah Hill; Matthew McConaughey; Margot Robbie; Rob Reiner; Kyle Chandler; Jon Bernthal; Jean Dujardin; Joanna Lumley; Ethan Suplee

Jordan Belfort’s helluva story comes to life guns blazing in director Martin Scorsese’s epic account of greed, sex, drugs, excess…all the good stuff. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a ferocious performance that in the hands of a lesser actor could have gone right off the rails into camp territory. Less showy in terms of camerawork and style than other Scorsese pictures, “The Wolf of Wall Street” nonetheless maintains a quick pace (much like the heartbeats that most of the main characters must have had in real life if the drug use in this story is accurate) despite a three-hour running time, and energetic and dedicated performances from all of the actors. Kudos to all for keeping it up (pun definitely intended)! Continue reading

Her

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Release Date: December 18, 2013 (limited); January 10, 2014 (wide)
Runtime: 126 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix; Scarlett Johansson (voice); Amy Adams; Chris Pratt; Rooney Mara

This one was a total surprise! My expectations were low: another self-consciously quirky Spike Jonze movie with resident Hollywood oddball, Joaquin Phoenix. And while this movie is definitely left-of-center, it is also quite possibly, the most heartfelt and truly tender movies I’ve seen in ages. Continue reading

Gravity

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Release Date: October 4, 2013
Runtime: 91 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Sandra Bullock; George Clooney; Ed Harris (voice)

This is one spectacular movie! Alfonso Cuarón creates a sort-of “2001: A Space Odyssey” for the 21st century. It is tense, expertly filmed and choreographed, and beautifully acted by both George Clooney and an Oscar-worthy Sandra Bullock. “Gravity” grabs you right from the beginning and carries you along for 90 breathless minutes and when it’s over, believe me, you will need to catch your breath. Continue reading

The Canyons

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Release Date: August 2, 2013
Runtime: 99 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Studio: IFC Films
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Lindsay Lohan; James Deen; Nolan Gerard Funk; Amanda Brooks; Gus Van Sant

You would think that a collaboration between the writer/director of “American Gigolo” and “Hardcore” and the writer of “American Psycho” and “Less Than Zero” would make for some titillating cinema. As it turns out, it’s more lukewarm bath than sizzling heat. Continue reading

R.I.P.D.

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Release Date: July 19, 2013
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Jeff Bridges; Ryan Reynolds; Kevin Bacon; Mary-Louise Parker; Stephanie Szostak; Marisa Miller; James Hong

OMG this movie sucks. Basically, this is an attempt to reimagine the “Men In Black” franchise with new stars and new monsters. The story is essentially the same, but whatever it was that made the “MIB” movies work is fatally absent here. Continue reading

I’m So Excited!

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Release Date: June 28, 2013 (NY & LA)
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: El Deseo S.A. / Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Javier Cámara; Lola Dueñas; Cecilia Roth; Raúl Arévalo; Antonio de la Torre; Hugo Silva; Carlos Areces

This is the latest from flamboyant Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar (“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”). I was really psyched to see this since I enjoy Almodóvar’s work and am a sucker for any movie that has to do with air travel. Alas, it is with barely veiled indifference that I report that “I’m So Excited!” is nothing to get too excited about. Continue reading