FINAL DESTINATION 5, A COOL GROSS OUT

 

Shattering, piercing, suspenseful, queasy, bloody, gouging, bone breaking, mind blowing, and yet mesmerizing that’s what Final Destination 5 is all about, especially in 3D.  This is one of those select few films that use 3 Dimension well and it will blow your mind.  If you have never seen a Final Destination movie or are a big fan of the guts and gore they deliver, then rush to see Final Destination 5, but do not go over a bridge on your way.

 

The premise behind all 5 of the Final Destinations is that you cannot cheat death.  In the first film 8 students get off an airplane as one of them sees a vision that it is going to crash.  One by one the students find that life is an elusive commodity. The next three sequels feature a horrifying highway wreck, a roller coaster ride gone wrong and a car that explodes into the stands at a racetrack.

 

Molly (Emma Bell) as hangs on to the bridge for dear life

 

The special effects, make-up, computer graphics imaging and motion capture are amazing and the real stars of the film.  The opening credits have so much coming at you that it startles.  If you have seen the first four films then you will find most of the weapons of death used in those flicks popping into view.

Jacqueline Macinnes-Wood as Olivia Castle in FINAL DESTINATION

 

The acting in Final Destination 5 comes in above average with some performances exceptionally good especially Jacqueline MacInnes-Wood as the arrogant Olivia Castle who you lean to love to hate for her snotty selfishness.  When her time comes to meet her maker the ‘eyes’ have it.

 

The film is rated R for strong violent/gruesome accidents, and some language.  If gore makes you ill you may want to stay away from this gross-out.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A goody gruesome for horror hounds. (B)

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 MINUES OR LESS, A ZANY COMEDY

 

The situation action comedy 30 Minutes or Less does a very good job of setting up the laughter while following a story that’s as idiotic as a 3 dollar bill.  The film moves along much like the title with very little time to catch your breath.  It’s a fantasy, but if you accept it then it’s a lot of fun.  If you like films such as Pineapple Express or Fun With Dick and Jane where there’s a lot of unreality with some measure of probability than you should check out 30 Minutes or Less.

 

Without giving a lot away the movie goes something like this.  Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) gets along in life delivering pizza in this small town where there’s not a lot of excitement. Involved in the plot are a couple of hapless delinquents Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) who hatch a plan to knock off Dwayne’s father for the fortune.  Unfortunately the deal with Chango the hit man (Michael Pena) goes bad so the two kidnap Nick to rob a bank for the money to set the matter straight. But there wouldn’t bee a lot of fun if the plan worked out, now would it?

McBride and Swardson in 30 MINUTES OR LESS

 

The actors make this scatterbrain plot work.  McBride plays his usual off-the-wall persona, Swardson kicks in his daffy comedy while Eisenberg uses his dead pan to make the mix work into a lot of laughs.  Throwing comedian Aziz Ansari as Nick’s best friend Chet who tries to make sense of it all becomes a bonus.

Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg in 30 MINUTES OR LESS

Direction of any comedy takes a lot of vision and Rubin Fleischer (Zombieland) does a great job with timing making the situations screwy enough to elicit the necessary off the screen responses. Although the film’s plot is quite predictable, it’s the fun getting to the weird ending that makes it worth a see.

 

On the downside, in addition to the predictability, I found Ansari’s performance a little too wacky, jumpy and unemotional.  But, that just might be me as I have not seen his role in TV’s Parks and Recreation to get enough feel for his kind of comedy.

Michael Pena as Chango in 30 MINUTES OR LESS

On the upbeat, Michael Pena gives a hilarious performance as the Hispanic hired hit man who gets stiffed on his pay.  Going after Chet and Nick turns into some extremely funny ethnic comedy.  Pena is a mainstay with over 10 years in the film industry playing support characters in such films as The Lincoln Lawyer, Lions for Lambs and his other 26 movies.  Here he shows another side of his many faces inserting nervously scary comedy into 30 Minutes of Less.

 

30 Minutes or Less has been rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity and some violence.  VERY IMPORTANT: Avoid seeing trailer as it gives away a lot of the sight gags, excitement and comedy traps.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A zany fun film (B)


 

 

 

THE HELP, TOUCHING AND REAL

It’s hard to believe that it was only a short period of time ago that people were still separating black from white.  In The Help we find what a little thing like writing a book could do to stir up segregation and bring it to the forefront.  In this story there’s a huge helping of right versus wrong with an unexpected outcome that reminds all that man’s inhumanity to man did exist even in the good old USA.

 

It’s the 1960’s Mississippi and the women in this particular town are prominent southern ladies who spend their days at teas and community events.  Their social life depends on how they look and present themselves so having a maid or two is a normal thing.  Skeeter, a local socialite, has just graduated college from Mississippi State and returns following her long absence. Being brought up by a black housekeeper she’s familiar with the power of the local ladies over the help.  A New York publisher gets a call from Skeeter about her wanting to write for the publication and the editor tells her that she wants something controversial.  When she offers her a story on ‘The Help’ things start getting edgy in Mississippi.

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in THE HELP

I like the way writer/director Tate Taylor spools his story out slowly delivering a lot of character build-up in this segregation drama. Featuring fine acting from the whole cast their characters are caring, loving, controlling, hurtful and rebellious making the story forceful and convincing yet entertaining.

Tate Taylor and Emma Stone on the set of THE HELP

Both Taylor and novelist Kathryn Stockett were brought up in Mississippi homes where African American maids did all the work including the much-needed attention to the children of the household.  This first hand knowledge makes the film more real and compelling.  Taylor uses his sets and costumes to depict the era while putting his actors through their everyday routines, confrontations and finally a remarkable showdown that sums up the message embodied the film “Change begins with a whisper”.

 

The musical score by Thomas Newman helps put each of the scenes in the mood intended and remarkably adds to the dialogue. A song by Mary J. Blige “The Living Proof” written and sung by Mary for the film adds power to the presentation. Please stay for the end credits to hear the complete rendition.

 

Emma Stone has been making films for several years, all of which were shallow except for possibly Zombieland where she excelled here as a sweetheart with a cobra’s bite.  Here she does an outstanding job playing Skeeter with a very believable performance showing that yes, she can play with the big girls.

 

The Help is rated PG-13 for thematic material.  It does contain some derogatory language and vicious remarks so please be aware of this in choosing to bring immature youngsters.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very realistic story and reminder of a troubled past (B)

 

 

 

Scarface Explodes Back into Movie Theaters

Centennial, Colo. – August 1, 2011 – Blasting onto the silver screen with the intensity of its original release nearly 30 years ago, the pop culture phenomenon Scarface, starring Al Pacino and directed by Brian De Palma, returns to movie theaters in a one-night Fathom event on Wednesday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m. local time.

Presented by NCM Fathom and Universal Studios Home Entertainment, audiences nationwide will get the opportunity to experience one of the most influential gangster classics ever made like never before — with all-new restored high-definition picture and enhanced audio. Fans who attend this special event will also get an exclusive look at a 20-minute special feature that showcases interviews with popular filmmakers and talent expressing how this epic feature redefined the gangster genre, leaving an enduring influence on cinema. Read more

MARS NEEDS MOMS, on 3D Blu-ray

 

Technology has really taken a big leap with 3D home viewing and many films with the original format are now available on Blu-ray 3D.  This is the case with the newest Disney Release to 3D called Mars Needs Moms.  Sure it hit big in theatres to its target group kids and pre-teens, but now adults can check it out at home.  Whether you have 3D or other mode of video, the animation in Mars Needs Moms rivals PIXAR.

 

The story involves a nine-year-old named Milo who like most all pre-teens can’t seem to get a grasp on growing up.  Whether it’s at the dinner table or keeping his room tidy, Milo’s not one to follow that drill.  But his mom thinks otherwise and while she provides a good life for Milo, she finds herself in the same boat as other moms when it comes to adolescents.

 

One evening a huge commotion outside brings Milo to out of bed only to see his mother being whisked away by an alien space ship. In hot pursuit he catches up to the ship and stows aboard.  What happens next is an adventure filled with comedy, danger and a chance to make it all up to mom.

 

The 3D special effects are blazing on a home theater.  The strength comes mostly on the depth of field, but there’s plenty of action that comes out at you.  The most exciting thing I found however is the crispness of the animation.

 

Like most Blu-ray and DVD the fun for the kids here is the replay button that will allow them to run the film over and over again.  The story has a lot of kiddy twists and keeps them interested and laughing.  I found myself getting involved in the story even though I found it a little trite and corny at times.  Sure it’s a one time through for me, but since there are children in my life, it will get played plenty of times.

 

There are some cool extras on each of the formats.

 

If there is a 3D theater in your future you’ll want to get the 3D combo pack which has 4 ways to view, 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy all in one package.  Otherwise Mars Needs Moms can be obtained in a Blu-ray Combo or just a DVD.

 

The extras on the 3D disk include everything on the Blu-ray & DVD plus…. “Mom-Napping (All-new 3D Exclusive) – There‘s more than meets the eye during the Martian abduction of Milo‘s Mom”. This alternate scene — completely finished in 3D — tells all.

 

Blu-ray 2D includes Everything on the DVD plus an “Extended Opening – The movie begins… but wait, there‘s more. See it here.”

 

They all have deleted scenes, and many other fun things to search out.  You know, I never thought the youngsters as young as 5 years old would even find the extras, but my son’s children are pros at it.  And even if they have seen it once, unlike me, they will upload it again.

 

Things like  “Life On Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience” – Go way behind the scenes to where the actors performances are captured. This feature-length, picture-in-picture viewing mode also lets you listen to director Simon Wells and actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler give a fun and insightful look into creating the movie.

 

Deleted Scenes with Simon Wells introductions (4 Blu-ray 2D Exclusive Deleted Scenes) – 7 deleted scenes of which four are exclusive to the Blu-ray 2D release. Some cool scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Now you can see them with introductions by director Simon Wells.

 

“Flower Power” Easter Egg – the name of the show that Ki watched and learned English from is entitled ?Freaks on the Street.

 

Bellflower Serves up Violence, Sex and High-Octane Insanity

 

Written and directed by Evan Glodell and filmed on a micro budget, Bellflower is an incendiary bit of filmmaking that unapologetically welds violence, loveless infatuation and post-teen angst. The characters are, for the most part, irresponsible losers in almost every sense of the word. Untethered from reality, theirs is a video-game existence that follows a crazy-eights destruction-derby path to self-annihilation. Yet, like a car crash, there’s something about Bellflower that draws us in and keeps us engaged.

The film opens with reverse vignettes of violence, foreshadowing the film’s bizarre, unconventional style that, at times, descends to film-school production values. We’re introduced to Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) who devote part of their free time constructing a flamethrower and sprucing up a flame spewing car, a “black tarantula” called Medusa—all in preparation for a MadMax type of apocalypse that Aiden envisions is just around the corner.

Glodell’s characters exist in a universe where there are no jobs, no police, and seemingly no social order or framework. Lives, loves and ambitions are as disheveled as the squalor of their surroundings. Everything is focused on the carnal here and now, oblivious to consequences. When Woodrow threatens a huge beer-brawling patron outside a bar and expects him to apologize to Milly, we’re not surprised that Woodrow lands flat on his ass. Or when he trades in his car for a motorbike and rides thousands of miles from Texas to California with Milly, impulse trumps common sense.

Glodell’s obsession with “Lynchian” homages sometimes interferes with plotting detail and makes us question the motives of Bellflower’s characters. When Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman) in a bar over a bug-eating contest, she becomes the monkey in Bellflower’s wrench. And for a while, the film segues into a kind of Blue Valentine tragedy. Milly’s abrupt change of heart and Woodrow’s rekindled relationship with Milly’s friend Courtney (Rebekah Brandes) both serve the script but leave the story line running on half cylinders. Milly warns Woodrow that things will end badly, which turns out to be the only predictable bit of narrative in this film.

The point is, Bellflower’s puzzle piece storyline shifts gears erratically like Medusa, roaring, squealing, careening and fishtailing aimlessly. The audience is left hoping that the film will slow down, settle in neutral for just the briefest moment and answer some basic questions–like where are these characters really headed? And what do they want out of life or their relationships? But this is not that kind of film. Glodell sustains the pedal-to-the-metal ride, sans logic, hoping you’ll stay with him for every emotional, violent funhouse turn as the film leaps relentlessly to its hellish conclusion.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, AWESOME

Do you have your Action/Adventure fill for summer, or are you ready for more?  Try Rise of the Planet of the Apes for a thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.  I like the way Director Rupert Wyatt makes sure each exciting scene develops with emotion, first creating interest, then suspense finalizing in aggressive thrills.  If you are ready for a creative story that connects to the original, then swing down to your nearest movie theater.

 

The story goes something like this; Will Rodman (James Franco) a budding scientist has developed a virus that has signs of curing Alzheimer disease called ALZ112.  Testing it on chimpanzees he finds that it makes them smart and easier to manage.  His test subject Bright Eyes seems to be progressing nicely till one day where she starts to shy away from her handlers.

 

Because of her aggressive emotional state, one handler tries to move Bright Eyes to another cage and that’s when she bolts escaping from the lab into the foyer. Fearing that she will hurt someone a security guard shoots her, revealing that she was about to give birth.  The ape child Caesar gets taken and raised by Rodman.  When she starts showing signs of over aggressiveness by injuring a neighbor, Rodman is forced to take Caesar to a special primate compound.  When the virus ALZ113 gets discovered things take a serious turn for the worse.

You can see the detail and realism in this shot of the revolt by the apes

The CGI, make-up, puppetry, performance capture, stuntmen and special effects make the film a success. With the film wholly dependent on the realistic look of the apes, the creators do a superb job of binging the animals to life.  I am amazed on how the personalities of each of the animals progress as the film goes on.  Showing the playfulness, cleverness and then aggression of the primates, the crew makes the film work.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) examins the ALZ113 container

Director Rupert Wyatt does a great job of moving the story along at a pretty fast clip introducing his characters, interacting them within storyline and keeping his audience on the edge of their seats.  His selection of Franco as Will Rodman proves to be a perfect choice making the scientist a caring and instinctive person who can relate to the apes.  But the most creative role goes to Andy Serkis as the ape Caesar who Wyatt hones into the most amazing performance this year.

 

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is PG-13 for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence. The film has very little flaws during the nearly two-hour playtime.  All the apes looked real and dangerous when need be.  The support acting is flawless, cinematography bright and expansive, storyline interesting and certainly well worth watching.

 

Stay after the credits start to roll for the thread that makes the final connection to the original Planet of the Apes.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A thriller with a gorilla. (A)



 

 

THE CHANGE UP, MISSES TERRIBLY

Not much to say positive about The Change UP a lame film that tries every old trick in the book to grab your attention and make you think it’s comedy.  The film suffers from ‘I’ve seen that before’ and a sick humor syndrome.  If you think that watching a baby try to stick its hand in a blender is funny, then this is your kind of weird.

 

Two long time buddies, Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman), go out to a bar to watch a Braves game, get drunk and end up peeing in a magic fountain that swaps their brains to live in each other’s bodies.  Now straight arrow Dave, a family guy with a gorgeous wife (Lisa Mann) and three kids, has worked hard all his life to be this amazing lawyer on the verge of becoming a Vice President of his firm, while Mitch has been hanging out being a playboy wannabe actor.  So when the two exchange lives the craziness begins.

Olivia Wilde plays office hottie Sabrina

Although I do like what Bateman (Extract) and Reynolds (The Proposal) have done in the past, the script the two have to act out is far too kinky, sleazy and ridiculous for anyone other than hormonal males that need a stimulating brain fix.  That said, Olivia Wilde looks great in the raw, and if she didn’t use a body double, so does Lisa Mann.

Mitch tries his best to be Dave

The Change Up has an inordinate amount of site gags that in most cases cause laughter and for this the film does entertain.  However, that’s not enough here because I really didn’t find myself accepting Bateman inside Reynolds nor Reynolds inside Bateman’s skin.  The two are too much alike to become different and this predictable film proves it.  I really can’t say that any film of this one’s ilk ever worked including Freaky Friday, Like Father Like Son and Vice Versa.  The only one that came close is Face Off where you could feel the sinister coming out of Nick Cage’s Caster Troy and the softening of John Travolta’s Sean Archer.

 

The film is rated R for pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use. In the film they present a new term, ‘lorno’ meaning a light porno film and after watching The Change Up I had the feeling I just saw one.  Although comically presented, the over the top scenes tend to be more of a gross out than a misadventure.  Other scenes show babies handling knives, sticking their tongue in an electrical socket and a hand in a blender, all of which are more shocking than funny.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  Only if you and your buddy have nothing else to do. (D)

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNOW FLOWER, BLOOMS

Beautifully photographed the drama Snow Flower and the Secret Fan provides a stunning window into the lives of four women.  Although the film is a bit long, I found the journey well worth taking. Although a major chick flick, the film still plays well to older males.

 

The film features the custom of laotung a binding of friends for life as soul mates.  The tradition comforts the main characters Snow Flower (Ji-hyeon) and Lilly (Li Bingbing) through the best of times and then the toughest tests of their lives.

 

In a parallel story in present day Shanghai, the laotong’s descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated love lives, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai.  Drawing on the lessons of the past, the two modern women must understand the story of their ancestral connection, hidden from them in the folds of the antique white silk fan, or risk losing one another forever.

Snow Flower and Lilly become laotung

Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) pulls excellent performances from his cast although I found myself struggling at times to separate the modern day female pair from their ancestors because he used the same actors.  Even with the make up and costume differences, the ploy just doesn’t work for me.  That said, Ji-hyeon as Snow Flower/Sofia and Li Bingbing as Nina/Lilly are brilliant in their roles portraying the delicate women who have to live through some very hard times.

 

The film does have some drawbacks however; the transitions between the modern day laotung women to their 1800’s counterparts happen a little too frequently, which causes a disjointing of the storyline.  Although director Wang found it a necessary bridge between eras, larger spans of each couples lives would have made the film more compelling.  Continuity suffered from a possible shorting of some scenes, especially the invasion of the Chinese rebels that displace a whole village only to find them returned in such a short span of time.

 

The customs of the early Chinese involve foot binding whereby the parents of young girls wrap their feet tightly so they will not grow.  Since most high-class suitors like women with small feet it becomes a way for most families to increase their station in life. Nicely inserted this binding process generates empathy and sadness for Sunflower and Lilly adding to the emotional charged film.

 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence/disturbing images and drug use. Be cautions on dragging along immature pre-teens due to the subject matter. English subtitles are used during Chinese dialog.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A challenging film for viewers and the filmmaker. (B-)


 

Fast Five Announces Blu-ray Street Date

Universal City, California (July 26 2011)—Spectacular street chases and pulse-pounding physical action are set against the mesmerizing beauty of Rio de Janeiro’s exotic thoroughfares in Fast Five, the most successful installment of the Fast & Furious franchise.  Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead a reunion of returning all-stars from every chapter of the phenomenally successful franchise built on speed plus action superstar Dwayne Johnson (Faster) in the all-new action caper available October 4, 2011 on Blu-ray™ and DVD Combo Packs, DVD, Digital Download and On Demand.

Available for a limited time only, the Blu-rayand DVD Combo Packs bring the full-throttle excitement of the ultimate Fast Five experience to the screen with perfect picture and the purest digital sound available on Blu-ray™, as well as an extended edition of the film with even more explosive action, exclusive bonus features, a DVD to enjoy in the car or on the go, and a Digital Copy of the film that can be downloaded and viewed on an array of electronic and portable devices anytime, anywhere including laptops, tablets, and smartphones as well as Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray™ set top boxes.  Debuting on the Fast Five Blu-ray™ is Universal’s Second Screen, an all-new app for tablets and computers that provides an innovative and interactive viewing experience. To preview Universal’s all-new Second Screen for Fast Five visit http://preview.tinyurl.com/UniSecondScreenF5preview. Read more

CENTRAL FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL – NEWS

 

6th Annual Central Florida Film Festival

SEPTEMBER 2-5, 2011

OCOEE HOSTS ANNUAL FILM FESTIVAL

 

(Ocoee, Florida)  Did you know that each Labor Day weekend (September 2-5, 2011) hundreds of actors, producers and directors converge in Ocoee, Florida, to showcase their work on the “Big Screen”?  The city of Ocoee, for the third consecutive year is proud to host the Central Florida Film Festival (CENFLO) at the West Orange 5 Cinemas (McGuire Avenue & RT #50).  This four day event is where new and veteran film makers alike showcase their work.

CENFLO will screen more than seventy films from nine foreign countries and nineteen states during the Labor Day weekend.  The West Orange 5 Cinemas became the host of the festival in 2009.  For the first three years the festival was presented in Kissimmee, Florida.  Film attendees will see Indie feature films, shorts and documentaries. “Those who attend our festival are treated to a fun filled weekend. Films, seminars, panel discussions, and an awards show are presented to inspire film makers and watchers alike,’’ said Bob Cook, CENFLO executive director. “ We love Ocoee and are excited to screen in a beautiful movie theater which gives our film makers a feeling of accomplishment and valuable exposure.”

“The twenty-five dollar ($25) “Movie Watcher” pass is an excellent value,” continued, Cook, “You can spent the entire day at the movies and receive a medium popcorn and medium soft drink for one low price.”  Guest speakers include, Glenn Morshower from the Fox TV series “24” and director, Griff Furst of the film “Swamp Shark.”

Date:     September 2-5, 2011 (Labor Day weekend)

Place:   West Orange 5 Cinemas (McGuire & Route #50) in Ocoee, Florida

Tickets: Movie Watcher (All Day) Pass = $25 (Includes medium popcorn and medium soft drink)

Single movie tickets = $10

Information:  www.CentralFloridaFilmFestival.com


Check Out Escape 2 New York Festival This Weekend

 

Let’s get some more festival madness out of the way, shall we? Starting with Southampton’s Escape 2 New York coming up this weekend. Another brain-child from the creator of The Secret Garden Party UK, Freddy Fellowes,  Escape touts itself as being not your average music festival. It seems up to the boast with a pretty solid line-up of musical acts as well as some out of the ordinary tricks hidden up it’s fancy sleeve: everything from massive brunches to cool art installations. Read on for more info …

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‘Deathly Hallows’ Composer Alexandre Desplat on the Final Score

 

If you have seen the superb final installments of the Harry Potter series, The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and  2 (and who hasn’t by now, seriously), you already know how seamlessly composer Alexandre Desplat’s (The King’s Speech, Twilight: New Moon, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) beautiful scores fuse with and bolster each films’ stunning visuals.

Now here’s your opportunity to learn how he managed to produce two of the best scores in the popular film series’ history. Read our interview below for an in depth look at the composer’s creative process as well as his thoughts on the finished product …

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Beer-Soaked & Sweatin’ It Out at the Village Voice 4Knots Music Fest

 

[In case you missed it] … Every summer for ten years straight, The Village Voice has tossed New York a golden indie-rock bone with its popular (not a dirty word in this case) Siren Music Festival showcasing a well-curated roster of artists. This year they decided to pull a switch-a-roo, doing away with Coney Island’s Siren to debut Manhattan’s 4Knots Music Festival – a showcase with basically the same vibe as before, only written in a different font and held at a better location. Land ahead…

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