Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Visit- Official Trailer (2015) (R)

It is with a heavy heart that I have to bring you this tragic news. Someone went ahead and financed another movie by M. Night Shyamalan. Yes, you heard me correctly. The producers of Paranormal Activity (2007) watched his past gems like The Happening (2008), The Last Air Bender (2010), and After Earth (2013) (A.E. still burns a hole in my Netflix queue) and still gave him money. I do feel bad for the guy in some respects. He is the butt of bad movie lists left and right. But to be fair, he did wow us once (in some peoples cases a couple times, just not in mine.). To be honest, up until Air Bender, I really was rooting for him. But there is only so many times one can make the same mistakes over and over again before people lose faith in your work. But I’ll try to be nice. So, before we get all whirled into a tizzy, let’s just take a moment… catch our breath… and give the trailer for The Visit (2015) a watch.

When two kids spend a week at their grandparents house, strange things start to unfold after 9:30 pm. I have to say, if I didn’t know who directed this, I would be all in. But again, his trailers have oft times been better than the main event. Enough Love/Hate speech, decide for yourself. Just remember, he’s hurt us before. When will it end. Guess we’ll wait and see.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Song Of The Sea (2014) (PG)

Director: Tomm Moore
Starring: David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Lisa Hannagan, Fionnula Falnagan, Lucy O’Connell

Before aspirations of going into some facet of the film industry, I had the desire to be an animator. The thought of having complete control over a boundless world was a thrill to me. But the difficulty level of such an endeavor proved to be a bit daunting, leaving those more tenacious than myself to forge ahead. And be glad they did. If not for the few with a true love (and talent) for displaying their imagination on screen for all to watch, we would have missed out on so many worthwhile stories. It’s a gift that most never appreciate in terms of the time and effort which goes into making a full length feature (Let alone a 5 minute short). We look at animation as cartoons to plop our kids in front of to make them quiet. But they’re so much more than a child’s medium and deserve our respect, both the project itself, but also their creators. That said, I give you Song Of The Sea (2014).

A young girl named Saoirse discovers that she can change into a seal. With the help of her older brother, Ben, they embark on an adventure that could save the world and shed a light on what befell their mother the night Saoirse was born.

That's the short version. To tell more might be doing you a disservice. That, and I could not tell this story a tenth as well as the creators of this film do. Song Of The Sea was one of those animated features that got buried under the mountain of big studio bells and whistles kid fodder that, although fun, give higher brow pictures an unfair rep as being just 'kid’s stuff’.  Brought to us by Tomm Moore, the director behind The Secret Of Kells (2009), Song Of The Sea adds to the strong resume Moore is building. I enjoyed both of those films thoroughly, but don’t expect your usual animated fair. There are stories to tell and don’t necessarily come second to the visuals, which are a subtle mix of mainstream animation and smooth-lined Celtic inspired artwork. A style which reflects it’s dedication to the culture that gave it life.

I cannot recommend this film enough. The breath of fresh air to have an unfamiliar story told in such a thoughtful way was wonderful. No princesses or singing mice. No wacky side kicks, unless you include a pet dog. They don’t break out into an over written song that you will be forced to listen to ad nauseam on every car ride. There’s a plot to think about and piece together rather than having it spoon fed through a pair of 3-D glasses. It may be a bit slow at parts and there are a couple of dark elements for those watching with wee ones, but nothing too rough (You were warned, kinda). And if the kids don’t dig it, you can finish it without them (You’re the adult, you can do what you want). But I don’t know what’s not to like, the characters are adorable.

Too… darn… cute.
My recommendation, rent it, stream it or whatever it is one does to watch a film these days. An animation fan will not be disappointed. Song Of The Sea will remind you that cartoons aren’t just kid’s stuff. So, try it. You might like it.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Chef (2014) (R)

Writer/Director: John Favreau

Starring: John Favreau, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johanson, Sofia Vergara, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt

There is the idea that two kinds of motion pictures exist: Films and Movies. Films make you think. Movies make you turn your mind off and enjoy. Now, these are broad terms to put them in, but for the sake length I hope you can forgive me. My point being, there is a place for both mediums in the cinematic pantheon, but being proficient at creating both thought provoking and shoot em’ up is not every director’s forte.  It’s not often a director manages to take on significantly varying projects and find success in the process. Thankfully, John Favreau is a member of this echelon of filmmakers. Whether a light Indie comedy or a flashy summer blockbuster, Favreau makes it look easy. For this go around, he has chosen to keep it small with Chef (2014).

Stifled creatively by his boss, which leads to a bad review going viral on Twitter, once renown chef Carl Casper (Favreau) finds his career at a stand still. Scrambling to find another job, he becomes neglectful of his young son (played wonderfully by Emjay Anthony). Following the advice of his ex-wife (Vargara), Carl starts a food truck with his buddy Martin (Leguizamo), where he can be free to create dishes that matter again, while mending the father/son bond.

What’s a hashtag?

Right off, this is a great film. Well written, funny, emotional. The actors, all at their best. But it was the little touches that makes it stand out. For instance, the look at social media and how the most mundane post can mean triumph or tragedy to one’s livelihood. Tearing you down one minute or building you up the next. It tackles how family has become second to our jobs. And what we see as success means nothing without passion (It sounds corny, I know, but read on.). In the wrong hands this concept could have easily been a television movie with no heart, but as previously stated, success means nothing without passion. Proven perfectly here by Favreau and his skill for story telling.

If you haven’t already guessed, I am giving Chef a big recommend. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in but the end results are great. There is a bit of language that brings the picture into R territory, although I don’t think the older kid’s will be traumatized (I’m sure they have the internet). And do be warned, you’ll be starving afterwards. The cooking scenes are drool inducing.

So, go make reservation to watch Chef (Oh, that last line even made me cringe.). You may even want seconds (Why do I keep doing that?).

I’m really craving “pasta" right now. (Mmm, pasta.)