Category Archives: Movie

Under the Skin

Bill C’s Review – 2 out of 5

In the Skin is a science fiction movie with Scarlett Johansson as an alien that picks up men and lures them to their death.

The film is directed by Jonathan Glazer who made Sexy Beast several years ago, but is also famous for the music videos he has directed.  While the movie is visually interesting and the soundtrack is good,  the movie is pretty boring and Glazxer never really explains why things are happening. Sometimes that is ok, but not in this case.

Johansson is good in a role that requires her to be emotionless (if they remade this with a male alien, I’d recommend Keanu Reeves).  In addition, Johansson has several nude scenes which, for many, will be the best thing going for this movie.


Rotten Tomatoes



Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Joe is a character driven study set in the deep south.

Joe (Nicolas Cage), leads a tree clearing crew.  For the most part Joe is a lovable guy who helps everyone but he has anger issues which have gotten him into trouble/jail in the past.  He  hires and then befriends Gary (Tye Sheridan from The Tree of Life and Mud), a 15 year old with an alcoholic and violent father.

I liked the feel of this movie.  The setting in the deep south and the scenes in the woods with the tree clearing crew were great.  The interaction between Joe and his crew and the performance of his 2nd in command was excellent.  The performances by Cage and Sheridan were also very good.  Normally, you’d expect Cage to overact, especially when his anger issues are on display.  But he kept things under control.  Sheridan was excellent in Mud and he is also excellent here.

There’s a fair amount of tension throughout as Joe has plenty of enemies as well as friends and it’s not clear what path Gary will take.  This was worth seeing.


Rotten Tomatoes

joe-movie-picture (1)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5

I’m definitely in the minority as I just considered this an ok super hero movie.  Maybe if I was more of a Captain America fan I would have liked this more.

I enjoyed the first half better but the film lost me as more of the character motivations and plot were revealed.  I simultaneously thought some of the plot was too over the top while other parts were too predictable.   Other movies have done a better job of commenting on current events like shrinking freedoms in a dangerous world and disclosures of government secrets.

While the action was ok I also didn’t think that was outstanding.  Maybe the great reviews and my anticipation of the first summer blockbuster (summer keeps coming earlier and earlier! ) set my expectations too high.


Rotten Tomatoes



The Grand Budapest Hotel

Bill C’s Review  – 4 out of 5

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the latest quirky, highly-stylized comedy from Wes Anderson.  He is one of the few filmmakers that can be identified by watching just a few frames from his films.  His films are visually stunning through his use of colors, the way he tracks people and action, and his stylistic use of special effects.

For those not familiar with Anderson, he is the director of The Royal Tenenbaums, Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and Moonrise Kingdom—all really good movies, with The Royal Tenenbaums being my favorite.

The Grand Budapest Hotel  is more of a dark comedy starring Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustav, the head concierge in a central European hotel during the dark days before a fictionalized version of WWII  as seen through the eyes of the new lobby boy, Zero.  The plot deals with the murder of one of the frequent hotel guests, the search for the murderer (after M. Gustav is accused) and a priceless painting, and the friendship between M. Gustav and Zero. While this is not continuously laugh-out-loud funny, it is funny throughout even though it’s also a bit sad/melancholy at the end.

As usual with Wes Anderson films, there is a large ensemble cast, including many Anderson regulars such as Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Edward Norton, and Owen Wilson.

Wes Anderson fans should definitely see this movie, and if you’ve never seen one of his films, you should give him a try.


Rotten Tomatoes

The Grand Budapest Hotel

SXSW 2014 – Days 1-3

Here are some quick reviews of movies I’ve seen so far at SXSW.   SXSW started on Friday, March 7 and goes through Saturday March 15.

Chef – 3.5 out of 5

Chef is a small indie effort written, directed and starring Jon Favreau.  It’s not up there with Swingers but is a  light hearted comedy about a high profile, stressed out chef who loses his job and goes back to discover the basics that made him happy by opening a food truck and reconnecting with his son and family.  The movie picks up and is more entertaining and touching  in the 2nd half when he, his son and friend go on a road trip in the food truck.  This had a great cast (Favreau,  Jon Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman,  Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt (who has obviously stayed around for more of the festival as I’ve seen him around town), Robert Downey Jr. and more) and an entertaining Q+A).

The Legend of Shorty – 2.5 out of 5

I think I just had too high expectations about this timely documentary about 2 journalists searching for the  Mexican drug king who was arrested in late February.  While they appear to get  close to being granted an audience with Shorty they best they do is get to his heavily guarded estate and meet with is mother.  It is interesting to see how his career evolved and the reach of his (former) empire.

No No: A Dockumentary – 4 out of 5

This is a must see documentary for baseball fans.  Doc Ellis pitched for the Pirates (and later the Yankees) back in the seventies.  Doc is famous for throwing a no hitter while supposedly high on LSD.  It is probably true as he let 8 players reach base that day without giving up a hit.  This is very entertaining with many ex players telling stories about Ellis but also very touching due to his battles with drugs and alcohol and his redemption later in life as a drug counselor.

Prredestination – 3.5 out of 5

This is a very slick time travel adventure with great plot twists as they try to prevent a mass murder from taking place. It’s fun trying to follow the plot twists and figure out what is going on.  It’s one of those movies I enjoyed a lot while watching but when thinking about afterwards concluded they probably didn’t need to do quite as much time travel or make it quite as convoluted to prevent the crime. But then  what fun would that have been??

Boyhood – 4.5 out of 5

This is a great movie that everyone should see when it comes out in July.  It’s a narrative that took over 12 years to make.  Richard Linklater shot for 3 days every year with the same actors telling the journey of a boy and his family as he grows from 1st grade to his first few days of college.  While Linklater had the basic arc he wanted to follow it’s interesting to watch as he weaves in the cultural events of the time into the story.  And it’s just fascinating to watch as he and his family go through change (including physical changes during those 12 years.  While nothing incredibly exciting is going on plot wise it’s just fascinating to watch.    This also had an excellent cast led by Ethan Hawke (also great in Predestination), Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane (as the boy) and Lorelei Linklater as his sister).

This  movie packs an emotional wallop.

Supermensch – 3.5 out of 5

Mike Myers directorial debut is a documentary about Shep Gordon, the legendary agent for Alice Cooper and many others.  This is a very funny/touching story of his life and some of the careers he touched, Myers, Gordon and Tom Arnold held a good Q+A afterward.

The Raid 2 – ???

I was (am) really looking forward to the sequel to the incredible martial arts film I saw at SXSW a year or two ago.  Unfortunately, after waiting on line and in the theater for quite a while the movie started and was missing the subtitles.  They couldn’t fix it so the director and two of the actors came out did a Q+A and a demo of their fighting skills.  Hopefully I’ll make one of the rescheduled showings (although one is at midnight tonight).


Bill I’s Rating – 4 out of 5

This movie is many things: a romance (Omar and Nadia are teenagers, almost sweetly naive, making eyes and passing secret love notes), a thriller (Omar and his two Palestinian buddies are budding terrorists/freedom fighters – take your pick as one reviewer said – striking back at their Israel occupiers/overseers in the West Bank in an amateurish but lethal way) and ultimately a political statement that portrays the helplessness and brutality felt by these young men. It is fast moving, realistic, well made film that includes some great chase scenes, chaste love scenes and in your face confrontations between friends and between captor/prisoner. Religion and historical disputes are not discussed, only the reality of the sad situation. Well done.

About Last Night

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

Two buddies (funny, manic Kevin Hart and the more subdued Michael Ealy, fresh from his robot role in Almost Human on TV) meet two chick buddies (Regina Hall, right up to par in funny and manic-ness with Kevin, and Joy Bryant, the similarly subdued counterpart) and pair off, with predictable ups and downs and a (non-spoiler alert) nice happy ending. It’s not the plot that makes it an enjoyable film, rather the characters, and surprisingly the realness of the relationship between the couples. OK, not much realness between the crazy couple, but they are good for laughs amid the wild romps in bed.

Joy Bryant was a revelation to me; with her stunning beauty she steals the scenes she’s in, although I felt the tension between the two was somewhat artificial given how well they paired off. While it didn’t seem phony, I just wanted to slap Ealy’s character. A good date movie and I would certainly call it a chick flick. Good one to see paired with Non-Stop to get the testosterone going after this estrogen fest.


Bill I’s Rating – 3.5 out of 4

Non-Stop it is, like Phone Booth, Speed or Snakes on a Plane, bad things will and do happen while our hero/anti-hero played superbly by Liam Neeson (in his Taken and The Grey persona of a hard, semi-beaten guy with a special set of skills) has to take over and save the plane-full of passengers. I enjoyed it throughout, although I admit that a recent TV episode of Person of Influence pretty much covered the same ground in half the time with twice the humor. Overall a thrill ride for a Saturday night, can’t beat that.

The Lego Movie

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

The Lego Movie is a very funny  and entertaining movie.  At a time without great competition in theaters, this will appeal to Lego lovers of all ages.

The movie is visually stunning.  The jokes come so fast and there is so much happening on the screen that I know I missed a ton of stuff.

The cast is pretty impressive too: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Jonah Hill and many others.

I never would have chosen to see this film, but my wife has fond memories of our kids playing Legos and really wanted to see it. As the theme song says: Everything is Awesome (check out this youtube clip)


Rotten Tomatoes


12 O’Clock Boys

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

12 O’Clock Boys is an excellent documentary that follows Pug, an inner city kid from Baltimore, for three years.  Pug is 13 at the beginning of the film and his two goals in life are to be a 12 O’Clock Boy as soon as they let him and to be a veterinarian when he grows up.  12 O’Clock Boys ride dirt bikes and motorcycles through the streets of Baltimore in large groups while doing tricks on their bikes and evading the police.  The police, in theory, have a no-chase policy,  since chasing kids on their bikes could lead to more accidents, but even with that policy, there’s plenty of risk to those riding the bikes and to bystanders.

The movie includes plenty of great footage of the bikers doing their thing.  It’s amazing they don’t have even more accidents. You get great insight into the mindset of the bikers (ranging in age from teens to late 20s) and a view of what it’s like living in an urban environment without much hope for the future.

But most of all, this is a story about family.  In addition to Pug’s interactions with other kids and the 12 O’Clock Boys, there’s plenty of footage of Pug with his family.  His mother has not had the easiest of times and it’s interesting to see her try to keep Pug in line and to observe his relationship with his brother and sister.

Pug is a sharp kid. This movie gives good insight on what life is like for inner city youth, and by the end you have a good idea of which direction Pug’s life is going.


Rotten Tomatoes