AFI DOCS 2014 (Days 3&4)

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

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.

Magic in the Moonlight

I adore both Colin Firth and Emma Stone. Just not together – in this particular movie. Perhaps writer/director Woody Allen didn’t see anything wrong with the obvious age difference (he’s 53; she’s 25) and lack of chemistry between the two stars. But for me, it took the magic out of Magic in the Moonlight, a romantic comedy period piece that drags where it could and should have soared.

And So It Goes

And So It Goes… without saying… that this movie is about as memorable as its title, which I couldn’t remember five minutes after leaving the theater. Sure, it’s interesting – in a nostalgic sort of way – to watch two veteran actors share the screen, playing age-appropriate characters. But in this case, it needn’t be the BIG screen. And So It Goes belongs on the SMALL screen – as a ‘second chance at love’ special on Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is incredibly faithful to the stellar book, and that’s both good and bad. At times, the stars (the human, not celestial ones) feel like they’re doing a straight re-enactment of the best-selling novel by John Green. The book, and movie tell the story of two teenagers, Hazel and Gus, who share an acerbic wit, a healthy dose of sarcasm, and a battle against cancer. They meet in a support group that they both disdain, and quickly fall in love. They are soul mates on borrowed time.

Tammy

Tammy is just okay, which translates into disappointing. I generally like Melissa McCarthy, but her shtick is getting old. I felt like I was watching the same (disappointing) character she played in Identify Thief, only this time she shares a car ride with Susan Sarandon instead of Jason Bateman. Or the same character she played in the more solid comedy The Heat with Sandra Bullock.

Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey

The AFI Documentary Festival opened in Washington, DC on June 18th with a selection that proved both informative and entertaining: Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey.

I’ve been living under a rock, so I wasn’t all that aware that actor Hal Holbrook has been playing Mark Twain on stage for 60 years. SIXTY YEARS!!!! At 89, the guy is a scholar and a stud.