Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

This is the fifth Mission: Impossible film (about 20 years since the first!), and the franchise is still going strong.

The scene from the coming attractions of Cruise hanging on to the outside of an airplane as it takes off is just from the set piece before the opening credits.  This film is 2+ hours that flies by due to great action sequences as well as some Simon Pegg for comic relief.

Kudos to Cruise for still doing outrageous stunts into his 50s.  Don’t analyze the plot too closely and just go along for the ride.

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Amy

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Amy is the documentary about the life and (spoiler alert) death of Amy Winehouse.  The film makers had access to tons of footage from friends and family which makes this much more than you’d get with just a bunch of talking heads discussing her life in retrospect.

The film gives a good view of her meteoric rise, what she was like before her drug addiction and then the sad  and possibly preventable downfall.  It gives a sad view of how some around her were more interested in her fame than in helping her recover.

An excellent documentary but definitely a downer.

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Mr. Holmes

Bill I’s Rating – 4 out of 5

Wonderful film, beautiful cinematography, incredible acting job by all, especially Ian McKellen as the 93 year old Sherlock, who’s been retired in self-exile in his country house, with just a sullen housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her inquisitive son, Roger. The story unfolds slowly, like a puzzle the pieces are uncovered via flashbacks. There’s fun in seeing the “real life” Holmes deal with his celebrity, and fans expectations of the pipe, the hat, etc. I won’t give away any of the plot, but I highly recommend it.

Bill C’s Rating – 3.5 out of 5

Bill’s review is spot on.  I think I rated it a little lower due to the slowness Bill mentions, especially in the middle.  I liked the way multiple subplots unfolded – the main case, Holmes friendship with the boy and relationship with the housekeeper,  a trip he had just returned from to Japan and his dealing with aging and some of his imperfections.

If you’re in the mood for an arthouse film amid all the action films this is a good choice.

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Trainwreck

Bill I’s Rating – 4 out of 5

This is not a great movie, but it’s got so many laughs, especially in the first half before it turns sentimental, that I have to rate it so high. I loooove Amy Schumer (watch her TV show, Inside Amy Schumer, hysterical), and there are scenes that were incredibly funny. And, believe it or not, at one point Amy gives a speech that brought tears to my eyes. Definitely R rated, adults only. Best comedy in recent memory! Bonus – Lebron James has a real role and he’s good!  Amare Stoudemire is not bad in a small role. John Cena, the wrestler, is eye candy for the woman and has one of the funniest scenes. I can’t begin to describe it here, and don’t want to spoil your fun.

Bill C’s Rating – 4 out of 5

Below is my review when I saw this as a work in progress during SXSW in March.  This is Judd Apatow’s latest starring Amy Schumer.  Like most Apatow films, it’s rude, crude, very funny and has a heart.  Schumer plays a magazine writer with commitment issues (explained via a very funny opening sequence).  The supporting cast includes Bill Hader (as the orthopedic surgeon for athletes and one of Schumer’s love interests)  and Lebron James in a much larger role than I expected that he totally pulled off (including a very funny 1 on 1 match with Hader).  I thought the ending went a bit overboard, but if you are an Apatow fan, you will definitely like this movie.

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Southpaw

Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

Jake Gyllenhaal is tremendous as the boxer who becomes champion, (spoiler alert) loses his title, then (not much of a spoiler) tries to regain it. His body and fighting are super realistic, in fact, he’s probably in better shape than most professional fighters. The story is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s executed very well. I enjoyed seeing 50 cent as a dapper fight promoter; pay attention to his fake smile. Wonder who he is channeling, maybe every boxing promoter ever? Rachel McAdams is terrific as well as the girl playing their daughter.  And Forest Whitaker, while playing a cliche, is excellent. I can’t help but compare this to The Fighter, where Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams hit it out of the park (or should I say hit a knockout punch), and this film clearly falls short in every aspect. But enjoyable and I recommend it. Just a little warning: this is not a fun film, it’s intense, touching, and quite a downer in places.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

If you’re tired of action films this summer, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is the film to see.  Greg (Thomas Mann) is a shy/awkward high school senior who spends his time making films with his ‘co-worker’ Earl (RJ Cyler) and trying to stay invisible at school.  When Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is diagnosed with leukemia, Greg’s mom makes him spend time with her even though they are not friends.

This movie is at times very funny and at other times very sad.  This is a coming-of-age story for Greg as his and Rachel’s friendship develops and she helps him come out of  his shell, and he realizes that, while relationships have their risks, they are worth taking.

In addition to the excellent acting by the three young co stars, there is an excellent supporting cast including Nick Offerman and Connie Britton as Greg’s parents and Molly Shannon as Rachel’s mom.

This is also a funny homage to movies. The films that Greg and Earl make are their versions of films that Greg’s father has introduced them to. They are quirky/funny.

This is my favorite movie of the summer so far.

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Dope

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Dope tells the story of Malcolm and his two nerdy friends (Jib and Diggy) as they navigate their senior year of high school.  They live in the ‘Bottoms’ in Englewood, California.  Both are good students (Malcolm is hoping to get into Harvard), are behind the times as they  love the ‘golden age ‘ of hip-hop (1988-2001), and have their own hip-hop band called Awreeoh (sound it out).  Generally they do not fit in and are bullied.

This is sort of a coming-of-age movie for Malcolm.  He and his  friends attend a party and get involved in things they usually avoid.  They then spend most of the movie trying to extricate themselves from the problems they’ve gotten into.  This is a pretty funny movie (although not all of the bits are successful).

This film isn’t for everyone due to the inner city setting, but I liked it.  If you go, stay through the credits for Malcolm’s dance routine.

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Love & Mercy

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

If you’re a fan of The Beach Boys, this is the movie for you!  It’s also good for those just looking for a good drama.  Love & Mercy tells the story of Brian Wilson, the musical genius at two critical junctures of his life.

Paul Dano plays Wilson at his creative peak and the beginning of his emotional issues in the early to mid-60s.  John Cusack plays him in the mid-80s at a low point in his life under the control of a manipulative doctor (played by Paul Giamatti) and separated from his family.

The two eras are cleverly  interwoven and the film does a good job of showing his creative process and the debilitating effects of his mental illness.

Both Dano and Cusack are excellent, as are Giamatti and also  Elizabeth Banks as the woman who tries to rescue him in the 80s.

Of course, the film has great music and packs an emotional wallop.  Today Brian Wilson is on tour (and he and his band put on a great show in Austin this week).

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The Connection

Bill C’s review – 3 out of 5

The Connection is a french thriller set in the 1970s.  A magistrate (Jean Dujardin from The Artist) devotes his life to bringing down a finch drug syndicate.  It’s a companion piece to the French Connection, only made 40+ years later and from the perspective of the  French justice system.

While not  as gritty (or as good) as the French Connection this also  has a gritty view as a cop gets totally caught up in his job and puts everything at risk.

If you don’t mind french subtitles this is an above average film.

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Jean Dujardin stars as Pierre Michel in Drafthouse Films' The Connection (2015).
Jean Dujardin stars as Pierre Michel in Drafthouse Films’ The Connection (2015).

Mad Max: Fury Road

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Of the early summer season action movies (Avengers, Furious 7) this was by far the best.

This had very interesting, non-stop action scenes throughout.  The action is different from your typical action movie today and that made it even better.  While the plot is very basic what was there was interesting as were the characters.

Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy were both great.  Tom Hardy is definitely one of the best actors today with diverse roles in good films.  Some of his most recent have been: this, Locke, The Drop and the Dark Knight Rises.

If you haven’t seen this yet see it while it’s still in theaters.

Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

I enjoyed it as well, nonstop action, kept me interested. I loved Charlize’s character, and Tom Hardy was perfect. He’s one of the best actors, and I never recognize him for some reason. I would rate this higher if it was a genre I had more interest in.

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