Lucy

I generally like Luc Besson movies — The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita. He writes some pretty interesting female characters who frequently have to fend for themselves in a very violent world. And that is just what the title character in his latest flick Lucy does. Played by Scarlett Johannsen, Lucy is an American student in Taipei who is forced to be a mule for a very interesting new designer drug, and then through a series of unfortunate events, pretty much all hell breaks loose as she turns into superhuman.

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.

Boyhood

Boyhood, the new film from Richard Linklater (Before Midnight, Bernie, Dazed and Confused) is getting a lot of accolades because of the way it was shot, over the course of 12 years with the same cast. In it you actually watch a boy named Mason (and his sister) grow up, from being a typical a 5-year-old to his first day at college, along with all the trials and tribulations that get him there, as well as the expanding and contracting family that he is a part of. I was worried it might be just a gimmick but Boyhood is the ultimate coming of age flick and it mostly keeps you engaged through almost 3 hours.

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.

Venus in Fur (La Vénus à la fourrure)

Theater lovers rejoice! And run to see this film. It is a fantastique adaptation of a play about a playwright/director and the mysterious woman who just may be the perfect actress to play his leading lady. It is in French, so I know that leaves out a lot of viewers, but try and get past that, because this is one fun ride.

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.

A Most Wanted Man

There is really just one reason to go see A Most Wanted Man — Philip Seymour Hoffman. The film, while good on its own terms, mainly serves as a reminder of what an immense talent we lost. Hoffman plays a German spy in this John le Carré adaptation from director Anton Corbijn who brought us the equally thoughtful The American. And like his previous film, this one depends on the audience getting inside the protagonist’s skin. I’m not sure it would have worked without Hoffman.