How to Be Single

Apparently, I’m doing it all wrong. Then again, I’m not really sure what the takeaway is supposed to be for this movie. I just hope it doesn’t reel in the underage crowd hoping to see Rebel Wilson reprise her role from (the PG-13 rated) Pitch Perfect 2. How to Be Single is rated R. And the ‘R’ isn’t for romance. The movie is about hook-ups, misguided attempts to find a love connection, friendship, online algorithms, a few intangibles, a lot of sex and alcohol jokes, and other stuff related to being single in the big city. It aims to be a romantic comedy but generally misses the mark. It’s actually kind of sad. But a lot of single gals will likely gather for a cosmo or two and flock to it anyway, and others might drag the boyfriends along. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Zoolander 2

Zoolander 2 reminded me a lot of Dumb and Dumber To – a stupidly funny treat for diehard fans of the original. It’s not nearly as good as the first one, because, really, the novelty is gone. You know that former fashion model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) will ultimately save the day with one of his signature looks, like the classic magnum, or blue steel.

45 Years

Going into the Academy Awards, Charlotte Rampling had a very good chance of winning a Best Actress statue — for a while. But her ill-conceived remarks about the diversity problems of the Academy could easily cost her a well-deserved prize for her role in 45 Years. In this quiet drama she plays a Kate, just a week away from her 45th wedding anniversary when she suddenly finds the underpinnings of her marriage in question, as a letter arrives to let her husband Geoff know that the perfectly preserved corpse of his true love Katya has been found, 50+ years after she disappeared into a crevasse in the Swiss Alps while on a hiking trip with him.

Deadpool

Deadpool is a dark, funny, twisted, wince-inducing, sarcastic, anti-superhero movie that breaks all sorts of rules – including an invitation/permission for critics to review it several days in advance of its wide release. From the hysterical opening credits, all the way through to the so-so post-credit bonus clip, the movie celebrates, embraces, rejects and mocks the very genre it is part of… the Marvel comic universe. It’s entertaining in a ‘what-did-I-just-see and why-am-I-reluctant-to-dismiss-it-even though-it-was-such-a-strange-ride?’ sort of way. It truly defies description. But here’s the gist:

The Choice

What can I say? It’s a Nicholas Sparks movie! The Choice is yours to make. As I’ve written many, many times in the past few years, if you’ve seen/liked any or all of the other romantic dramas adapted from Sparks’ sappy best-sellers, then you’ll probably like this one too. It’s not the best (The Notebook kind of set the bar) and it’s not the worst (I lean toward Safe Haven for that honor). But it does fill a gap in the box office for the contemporary romdram.

Oscar Nominees — Short Film [Live Action]

The Short Film category is where new filmmakers get to shine. Several of this year’s directors show a lot of promise, both in terms of directing actors and in creating a gripping story. I wonder how many of them get offers for features after the exposure the nomination gives them. And again, I really wish there were more of these being shown in theaters before the features. It seems a waste that they make the rounds at festivals, but the majority of movie lovers rarely have a chance to see them. If I had a theater!

And the nominees are…

Oscar Nominees — Documentary [Feature]

I’ve seen all of the nominees this year, thanks to attending the AFI DOCS and Full Frame festivals and Netflix. If you’re filling out your Oscar ballot, here are my somewhat edited down reviews of the nominees. It was a great year for docs, though I think they missed a few, but I’m sure they had a hard time whittling down the field. And the nominees are…

Trailers for all the films are at the end of this post.

Oscar Nominees — Animated Short Film

I always love seeing all the shorts before the Oscars. And I always lament that we don’t get to see one of them before a feature, as we should. Sure, it would cut into theater owners profits by taking time away from the barrage of ads we are forced to sit through, but wouldn’t it be fun!

This years animated shorts were pretty spectacular. They all have different strengths. Some are great story. Some are great animation. All are worth viewing!

The Finest Hours

The Finest Hours is a fine but forgettable flick that doesn’t quite rise up to the level of what I’ve come to expect from a Disney movie based on a true story. It’s no Miracle (on Ice), Secretariat, Rise of the Titans, Million Dollar Arm, etc. Perhaps Disney needs the sports theme to hit it out of the park. This one’s more like a solid base hit. I didn’t feel the heartwarming or emotional pull that sucked me into the narrative of the aforementioned films, or even the non-sports-themed Saving Mr. Banks (the movie with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson on the making of Mary Poppins). That one at least had some comedic edge to it. The Finest Hours has a compelling story at its core — and a few almost-nailbiting scenes — but overall, it wasn’t the lump in your throat, stand up and cheer, feel-good movie I was hoping for.

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave is yet another weak offering typical of January that may hold some appeal to those hungry for something (very) remotely resembling a Hunger Games or Divergent style flick. In other words, it caters to the Young Adult crowd, by showcasing a world in which kids and teens are the ultimate saviors of humanity!