Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Whiplash

Whiplash is intensely good, and about as far from formulaic and predictable as you can get from a movie these days. With any luck (and word of mouth), it will cross over from ‘indie’ and ‘arty’ to mainstream in a Juno sort of way, thanks in large part to the performance of the guy who played the dad in Juno – J.K. Simmons. Even if his name escapes you, his face and voice will surely ring a bell. He’s that character actor you’ve seen so many times in the movies and on TV – in The Closer, Spiderman, and those commercials for Farmer’s Insurance.

The Best of Me

If you’ve never seen a movie adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel, then don’t start with this one. The Best of Me is not the worst of the bunch, but it’s not the best either.

Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Last Song, Safe Haven

Love ‘em or leave ‘em. They are what they are. Sweet, formulaic, sappy, romantic, tragic… an uplifting downer with lots of water and a sweeping score that will let you know what you’re supposed to be feeling – or fearing – at any given moment. And, of course, attractive actors playing characters with names like ‘Dawson’ and ‘Amanda’.

The Judge

It’s got Robert Downey Jr.

Oh, you want to know more?

Okay, here goes. The Judge is riddled with clichés, runs about a half-hour too long, and doesn’t really offer up anything groundbreaking. But I still liked it, mostly because Robert Downey Jr. is so darn watchable – even more so when he’s not obscured by an Iron Man suit. The guy is aging – and acting – really well.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl is very good. And, I suspect, it’s probably even better if you haven’t read the best-selling book by Gillian Flynn (which I did, about two years ago). It’s just a solid, well-cast thriller that has enough twists and turns to keep things interesting, even if it does feel a tad too long.

I won’t say much about the plot, because the less you know going in, the more you’ll get out of it. But here’s the gist: Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) arrives home on his fifth anniversary to find his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing. A media circus ensues as questions arise about Nick and Amy, the state of their marriage, and Nick’s potential involvement in his wife’s disappearance and possibly, her death. The clues – literal and figurative – stack up as the movie flashes back on the couple’s path from instant attraction and romance to marital dysfunction.

This Is Where I Leave You

This Is Where I Leave You starts off strong, then loses its way, despite having an A-List cast with the chops to achieve something far greater. Perhaps it was the script. Or the over-abundance of family dysfunction that seemed to loom larger than the fake boobs proudly (and often) exhibited by Jane Fonda’s matriarch character.

Here’s the gist: When their father passes away, the four grown Altman siblings are forced to return home and live under the same roof for a week with their over-sharing therapist mother (Fonda) who used her kids as fodder for a bunch of best-selling books on family dysfunction. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The siblings spend the week confronting their past, present and future, with an array of spouses, exes, significant others, kids, friends and foes added to the mix- for occasional comedic and dramatic effect.

If I Stay

If I Stay is a tear-inducing chick flick. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… unless you’re trying to stay in ‘happy summer mode’ a few more weeks. This movie is kind of a downer, aimed primarily at angsty teens. The trailer (below) pretty much says it all. So does the YA novel by Gayle Forman. But in case you haven’t watched the trailer, or read the book, here’s the gist: Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a mature high schooler with a loving family, a cute rocker boyfriend (Jamie Blackley), and a passion for playing the cello. But her life changes in an instant when a car crash wipes out her family and puts her in a coma. The movie then weaves in and out of her past and present as Mia – having a sort of out-of-body experience – ultimately weighs if it’s worth waking up to a very different life, or just letting go.

When the Game Stands Tall

We sent ‘Guest High School Chick’ Gabby Rhoades to a screening of When the Game Stands Tall, figuring she was better qualified to speak to its potential appeal to High Schoolers in particular – and the broader audience in general. The screening itself was flawed by technical difficulties (sorry ’bout that!), but we appreciate her sticking it out and offering up this review:

When The Game Stands Tall is a great and inspiring end-of-summer movie to get the public ready for football in the fall. Inspired by a true story, the De La Salle High School Football team, the Spartans, hold the nation’s highest winning streak of high school football games in all of history. This movie is not just another cliché plot where the football coach tries to change the lives of boys learning to become men and them trying to find clarity on the field. It’s a story of one of the nation’s most talented football teams losing for the first time in many aspects of life, and learning to pick themselves back up as a team.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is a good, entertaining summer flick filled with humor, sarcasm, sci-fi superhero angst, and action. But don’t make the same mistake I did… which was to expect something close(r) to the brilliance of the classic Star Trek spoof Galaxy Quest. Guardians is good, but it’s not THAT good. Chris Pratt (aka Andy on Parks and Rec) proves he is definitely leading-man material, playing Peter Quill, a half-human, half-alien who likes to refer to himself as ‘Star-Lord’ and wants others to do the same.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Hundred-Foot Journey has all the ingredients for an arty-mainstream crossover dish, ala The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It doesn’t hurt that the film has the producer power of Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey behind it, and the star power of Helen Mirren. But it’s also got a solid cast and a relatable story peppered with drama, comedy and romantic chemistry. It is, quite simply, a feel-good movie with intergenerational appeal.

Get On Up

Get On Up is on par with the recent Frankie Valli biopic, Jersey Boys, and the bottom line is the same: if you like the music, it’s worth checking out the movie. The film traces the life of the ‘Godfather of Soul’ James Brown, from extreme poverty in the deep South to musical stardom around the country and across the globe.