Director-Craig Zobel

Starring-Dreama Walker, Ann Dowd

Scott’s Review #435


Reviewed June 30, 2016

Grade: A

Compliance is a ninety-minute riveting experience that will leave you thinking, talking, and feeling for days or weeks after viewing-it is that intense.

The fact that it is based on true events is even more startling. It is, at times, quite disturbing and unsettling to watch, and if one likes their movies happy and wrapped in a bow, this will not be for you, but for film fans who truly want an emotional experience check it out.

At times I wanted to scream at the characters, look away from the screen, and shake my head in disbelief.

A truly riveting experience.

Major props to actress Ann Dowd, who does a bang-up job as the restaurant manager, and main character. What an amazing talent this actress is.

My range of emotions at this character (sympathy, confusion, anger, disbelief) blew me away. One of the best modern films of late.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Supporting Female-Ann Dowd

Hope Springs-2012

Hope Springs-2012

Director-David Frankel

Starring-Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones

Scott’s Review #434


Reviewed June 30, 2016

Grade: B

Hope Springs is a cute, lighthearted romantic drama with enormous talent (it is tough to go wrong with heavyweights like Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones).

The story tells of a middle-aged, married couple who reach the point of boredom in their long marriage. They decide to go away on a retreat to repair their marriage and add some spark. That’s really the movie in a nutshell.

There are no surprises to speak of and I expected a bit more from this film given the talent involved. It has safely written all over it, and while nice, it could have been much more. What’s the reason for the conflict? They suddenly reach a point of boredom for no reason.

Props to Steve Carell for an against-type performance. Great acting all around, but too safe a story.

Oz The Great and Powerful-2013

Oz The Great and Powerful-2013

Director-Sam Raimi

Starring-James Franco, Mila Kunis

Scott’s Review #433


Reviewed June 30, 2016

Grade: B

Being a huge fan of the original The Wizard of Oz epic classic in 1939, I was interested in seeing this extension of the original version.

While it has its moments of charm and good old-fashioned adventure, it is ultimately good, but nothing great.

James Franco is fantastic as the Wizard of Oz, the highest point of the film,  and has great charisma in the role. He brings a fun flair and is quite appealing.

The witch characters are okay, but not terribly interesting or deeply explored. Further character depth might have been helpful as I did not notice the much-rooting value for either of them.

On a positive note, I loved the first sequence, which was in black and white, true to the original and the twister scene is impressively done. The set/art design in this sequence and once the setting was Oz were beautifully done.

Toward the end of the film, though, the story becomes more of a silly fantasy action series that drew away from the heart of the original. The first half excels, the second disappoints.

Dirty Grandpa-2016

Dirty Grandpa-2016

Director-Dan Mazer

Starring-Robert De Niro, Zac Efron

Scott’s Review #432


Reviewed June 29, 2016

Grade: D-

It is a sad day when the only interesting aspect of a film is the gratuitous nudity of one of its stars, but that is precisely the case with Dirty Grandpa, as Zac Efron bravely bares all for the sake of art….or a big paycheck, whichever the case may be.

Otherwise, Dirty Grandpa is complete drivel.

It is crass, rude, mean-spirited, and blatant in its raunch. It also aspires (successfully) to be politically incorrect- quite surprising in these times of fairness and equality for all. If the film intends to be outrageous it succeeds in spades.

Unfortunately, there is not much comedy and the film is quite bad, even where dumb comedies are concerned.

Starring one of films greatest talents of all time- Robert DeNiro, one wonders why he would sign on to appear in this film- certainly not the money, perhaps it has to do with playing a role he has yet to do- we will probably never know.

DeNiro plays Dick Kelly, a retired Army veteran, recently widowed after forty years of marriage. Faithful for decades, he embarks on a road trip to Daytona Beach Florida, with his grandson, Jason, in tow. Dick’s goal is to conquer a slutty college girl he and Jason meet while they are eating at a roadside diner.

Lenore, the college girl, is with her friend Shadia, who knows Jason from school.  To complicate matters, Jason is engaged to self-absorbed Meredith. This sets off a chain of circumstances where each pair falls in love, all the while hurdling various trivial issues.

Thrown in are scenes of partying, acting silly, and outrageous crude remarks and behavior. The standard bathroom humor is not spared.

The subject matter of Dirty Grandpa is not unchartered territory as the “road trip/buddy movie” has been done oodles of times in film history.

My gripe is not so much with the film’s raunchiness, but to be blunt it is just not funny. Over the top in raunch comedy has worked many times before- think Pink Flamingos and other John Waters films.

But those films had characters to root for and who was interesting.

DeNiro’s character is the pits- Efron’s not so bad. The motivation of Dick Kelly is to have sex- almost like the guys in American Pie, but with them it was cute- but DeNiro plays a man in his 70’s.

That is fine, but he is so blunt about his need for sex and whines of not having sex for fifteen years because of his wife’s cancer. So, the audience is to think of him as a nice guy because he waits for his wife to die to score on spring break?


Efron is my favorite character and as mentioned above- he bears a lot of skin, making it the most appealing aspect of this sorry film.

The chemistry between Efron and DeNiro is not terrible, and I bought them as grandfather and grandson.

Efron is not afraid to poke fun at his beefcake image and kudos to him for this. He has a fantastic, chiseled body, and good for him for showing it off.

Efron has the talent- does anyone recall The Paperboy? He was superlative in that underrated independent gem. His character is the straight man in Dirty Grandpa and the only “normal” character. He is the voice of reason if you will.

The supporting characters are as stereotypical as possible.

It is almost as if the film intends to offend, but with no good reason why. Dirty Grandpa has the dumb jocks, the horny teen girl, the weak, effeminate gay character, the Hispanic drug dealer, and so forth.

Danny Glover’s brief cameo appearance as a horny wheelchair-bound nursing home resident (and old buddy of Dick) is as much laughable (not in a good way) as forgettable. Most characters are thinly written.

Dirty Grandpa appeals to unsophisticated moviegoers who find crude, mean-spirited characters funny, and deem stock characters acceptable. Every other sensible person will dislike this film.

The Dark Knight Rises-2012

The Dark Knight Rises-2012

Director-Christopher Nolan

Starring-Christian Bale, Tom Hardy

Scott’s Review #431


Reviewed June 23, 2016

Grade: C+

The Dark Knight Rises is a sequel to the exceptional The Dark Knight from 2008 and, unfortunately,  is a complete letdown, especially compared to that film. Perhaps my expectations were too lofty- it is a sequel after all, and sequels, typically disappoint.

To be fair, the film looks great and has a fast-paced, modern feel- slick and action-packed. A summer popcorn film. The story, though, is uninteresting- the villains are not compelling, which is a major miss in a film like this where the villains are crucial.

Tom Hardy as Bane is miscast. Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, under-developed and one-dimensional. We never really know much about what makes these characters tick.

I did enjoy the twist at the end involving Marion Cotillard, which impressed me and I did not see coming throughout the story.

I might have rated The Dark Knight Rises even lower than a C+ had it not been for the group of top-notch actors appearing in the film.

Having loved the most recent Batman film, I expected more and received less.

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya-2014

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya-2014

Director-Isao Takahata

Starring-Aki Asakura, Kengo Kora

Scott’s Review #430


Reviewed June 23, 2016

Grade: B+

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya is a Japanese animated film released in 2014.

It is a unique film- mixing elements of fantasy and drama- stunning to experience and appreciate from a creative perspective. Unusual still is the lengthy running time of two hours and seventeen minutes- animated films are typically on the short side. This is not to say that it drags, although I found it helpful to view in segments.

Originally made in the Japanese language, the film has been dubbed in English and features recognizable voices such as Mary Steenburgen, Lucy Lui, and James Caan.

A bamboo cutter named Miyatsuko discovers a baby girl inside a bamboo tree one day. He and his wife consider her to be a divine presence and decide to keep her as their own, naming her Princess Kaguya.

Mysteriously, she begins to grow and develop at an alarming rate and is the wonder of the village. Kaguya develops  a playful crush on Sutemaru, a handsome peasant in her village.  Kaguya, led by her parents, is taken into a life of nobility and wealth as her destiny.

Her governess attempts to mold her into a regal Princess, but Kaguya is a wandering, free spirit, and rejects the formalities of this life. Her myriad of wealthy suitors counters her feelings for Sutemaru.

From a story perspective, the film shines, as the conflict over wealth versus poverty is explored. Kaguya’s parents are not greedy, but they do want her to receive her just desserts and a life free of hardship- as they are used to. They want something better for her.

One can relate to the parent’s views, but Kaguya feels differently. She wants freedom, love, and happiness, not a life of rules, procedures, and smoke and mirrors.

The makers of the film clearly present the viewpoint of someone “other-worldly”  who is observing and analyzing planet earth, warts and all, so the film does have a message to it. It is not cliched or overbearing in its approach though-merely honest and sincere.

Every frame in the film appears to be a gorgeous drawing- not conventional, fast-paced animation, but rather classic, muted, pastel type colors are used, giving it a softer touch, which astounded me. If one is not into the story (tough to imagine), one could easily sit back and marvel at the spectacle.

The growing trend in animated films seems to be a return to traditional drawings- think Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer- as evidenced by The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya and Anomalisa, two recent animated features receiving critical acclaim. This is music to my ears as these are far superior than the usual, and redundant, CGI-laden films.

Oscar Nominations: Best Animated Feature Film

The Woman in Black-2012

The Woman in Black-2012

Director-James Watkins

Starring-Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer

Scott’s Review #429


Reviewed June 21, 2016

Grade: C

The Woman in Black is an example of a recent trend in modern horror films-  great effects (shadows, lighting, ghosts, some scares), but the story is not compelling and, in fact, made no sense to me.

The eerie setting of foggy London and a creepy seaside village are perfect. The cinematography dynamic instantly elicits a feeling of dread, coldness, and secrets.

From that point, the story sinks into a muddled mess of unbelievable story twists that, instead of compelling, confuse the viewer until he or she no longer cares. That is a shame.

I give Daniel Radcliffe credit for trying to shake his Harry Potter image by going the horror route and, I suspect, that is the entire point of the film, as it clearly centers around Radcliffe, but, to me, it seemed like I was still watching a Harry Potter movie.

Nice effects, poor story. This one will be forgotten before long.



Director-Seth MacFarlane

Starring-Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis

Scott’s Review #428


Reviewed June 21, 2016

Grade: D-

So many times I will watch a comedy deemed “the funniest movie of the year”, or some other touting, and be disappointed in it. This is certainly the case with Ted.

To be fair to the creators, I did enjoy the 1980’s references and the teddy bear had a charming, gruff, witty, crude personality that was funny at times, but that was really it for the positives.

The main storyline (loyal slacker with a successful girlfriend) has been done to death and this was one of the most predictable, sappy movie endings I’ve ever seen so I don’t get why people think it is so great. Think happily ever after, as if the result was ever in question.

Ted was filled with stereotypical characters, specifically the Asian stereotypes, and a myriad of dumb situations. The actors certainly could handle stronger material.

Raunchy comedies need not have a surprise ending, but the sappy love story was too lame to take at times. At least the film should have taken some risks and given an edge to it.  And lord helps us if there is the inevitable sequel.

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Song-“Everybody Needs a Best Friend”

The Paperboy-2012

The Paperboy-2012

Director-Lee Daniels

Starring-Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron

Scott’s Review #427


Reviewed June 21, 2016

Grade: A-

The Paperboy is an exceptional piece of filmmaking by modern acclaimed director, Lee Daniels (Precious, The Butler), who has become one of my favorite directors in recent years.

His latest film is raw, violent, containing elements of black comedy, and is arguably Nicole Kidman’s and John Cusack’s best performances. They both play troubled, insecure characters, who have major issues.

It is set in the deep south during the 1960s and is a film noir of sorts, in fact, the film is incredibly tough to classify, but the drama will cover it just fine. Racism, homosexuality, and deceit are subject matters covered in this complex yet fascinating experience.

Gritty and disturbing at times, it is an important film that fans of true artistic cinema must-see.



Director-Wim Wenders

Starring-Pina Bausch

Scott’s Review #426


Reviewed June 21, 2016

Grade: C-

Pina, a documentary, is a dedication to famed German choreographer Pina Bausch. The documentary and the way it is made is a major disappointment.

I respect that Pina is a tribute to an obviously talented artist, but as a documentary itself, it is a complete bore. I learned nothing about the art of dance or Pina Bausch herself, as the entire 1 hour and 45 minutes (quite lengthy by documentary standards) consist of a troupe of dancers performing a series of numbers with little or no explanation of what they are doing or what the dances mean.

Mixed in with the dances are brief snippets of commentary from the dancers expressing how sorry they are that Pina Bausch has died.

Nice tribute, but any viewer attempting to learn about the art form or artist is left clueless.

Oscar Nominations: Best Documentary-Feature

Evil Dead-2013

Evil Dead-2013

Director-Fede Alvarez

Starring-Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez

Scott’s Review #425


Reviewed June 21, 2016

Grade: B

Having recently seen the original Evil Dead, directed by horror master Sam Raimi, from the early 1980s, the recent remake is fine, but not as compelling as the original. Hardly the most terrifying film you will ever experience either. Quite a low budget was the original, the remake is very modern and glossy looking, though with a tiny cast of characters.

The film is set almost entirely inside of a cabin in the middle of nowhere, at night, and has a wonderful mood and contains all the necessary horror elements.

A Book of the Dead is unearthed and one by one the youngsters are possessed by evil spirits.

The film is entertaining, has lots of well-done gore (loved the bathroom face-cutting scene), and while over-the-top, did not seem overly cartoonish.

It has fresh energy.

Some liberties are taken (in reality someone with a torn-off limb would not continue to walk around as nothing happened).

There is a silly drug addiction subplot that feels unnecessary. There are some genuine scares and all in all an enjoyable horror movie-going experience.

Paranormal Activity 4-2012

Paranormal Activity 4-2012

Director-Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Starring-Katie Featherston

Scott’s Review #424


Reviewed June 19, 2016

Grade: B

Circa 2013, and at this point in the Paranormal Activity film franchise (with part 5 on its way) one pretty much knows what to expect. To me, the plot is almost secondary.

In the story, the newborn from the first installment is now age 7 and living next door to the family at the center of the film. The entertaining aspect of these films is the camera angles and occasional scares that sporadically follow.

The ending to Paranormal Activity 4 is effective and a bit scary, in fact. The original Paranormal Activity was a huge hit and novel idea at the time (though The Blair Witch Project originally did the hand-held videotape) and was a water-cooler movie.

I’m not sure how much life remains in the franchise, but for fans of it and horror fans seeking some good thrills, this one is worth checking out.

That’s My Boy-2012

That’s My Boy-2012

Director-Sean Anders

Starring-Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg

Scott’s Review #423


Reviewed June 19, 2016

Grade: D

That’s My Boy is such an incredibly bad film yet there is something that strangely kept my attention. With oodles of stereotypes and either sexist, homophobic, or racist jokes throughout the film, it should have made me angry, but somehow it did not. This movie was so completely over the top that it could not possibly be taken too seriously.

One laughable aspect that I did enjoy was the, albeit odd, cameos by Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges who seem to have no problem degrading themselves, and the references to the 1980s, otherwise this was pretty rock bottom for filmmaking.

This is not a knock on the dumb comedy genre as there are other recent similar types of films that are well written (This is 40). But, alas, That’s My Boy is not one of those films and will not go down in history as such.

True to form, the ending was predictable and uninteresting.

Seven Psychopaths-2012

Seven Psychopaths-2012

Director-Martin McDonagh

Starring-Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell

Scott’s Review #422


Reviewed June 19, 2016

Grade: B-

Seven Psychopaths is a film that I truly wanted to like more than I actually did. It started well with a Quentin Tarantino style that was appealing and the film does contain an interesting premise.

Colin Farrell plays the straight man in a cast of offbeat, quirky characters and is attempting to complete a screenplay entitled “Seven Psychopaths” based on these characters. Sounds great, but halfway through the movie stopped delivering. I found myself slightly bored.

The film has a unique concept, to be sure, but fizzles during the second act, so much so that it stopped making much sense and lost my interest.

I did admire the creativity, though, and the chemistry among the cast is great, but the story disappointed me.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Supporting Male-Sam Rockwell, Best Screenplay

Celeste and Jesse Forever-2012

Celeste and Jesse Forever-2012

Director-Lee Toland Krieger

Starring-Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg

Scott’s Review #421


Reviewed June 19, 2016

Grade: D

Celeste and Jesse Forever was a major dud for me. I am not a fan of romantic comedies, but since the film received a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay, I decided to watch it. Why this film was nominated for that award I cannot understand. Perhaps someone knows someone who knows someone?

There is nothing impressive about the writing whatsoever. It’s a tried and true romantic comedy formula: couple together, the couple splits, the couple reunites, throw in some misunderstandings for good measure and that is pretty much the film. The central characters and supporting characters are either dull, annoying, or both.

To be fair, there is nothing loathsome about the movie, but rather, it’s your standard by the numbers romantic comedy that warrants no award nominations. Bland.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best First Screenplay

Janis: Little Girl Blue-2015

Janis: Little Girl Blue- 2015

Director-Amy Berg

Starring-Janis Joplin

Scott’s Review #420


Reviewed- June 19, 2016

Grade: B+

As a fan of Janis Joplin’s classic 1960’s-early 1970’s brand of classic, bluesy, rock n roll, viewing a documentary of the star’s life and times was a great experience.

The film sheds a bit of light on the mysterious rocker- gone way too soon and with undoubtedly much more to say. Janis was one of the most authentic, real performers of her time. A big voice in a man’s world. Impressive still, is that she wrote all of her songs herself.

The documentary is well put together as it traverses Janis’s early days as an insecure teenager living in rural Texas. Never a beauty, Janis was insecure-as most teenagers are. She was always a pistol and prided herself at being different and outspoken, oftentimes ruffling feathers in her conservative town, especially given the period.

Janis preferred hanging out with males and being “one of the guys”.

An aspect I found interesting about this documentary is the exploration of Janis’s home life- well before she found success as a singer.

Taunted in school for being different because she was a painter, and a thinker, she lived in a largely racist town and had a conflict with others who were not as progressive as she. Janis’s sister and brother are heavily featured throughout the documentary and explain interesting tidbits about Janis’s home life and conflict with her parents.

Sadly, they forged a pleasant relationship, but never really mended fences before Janis’s untimely death.

Her relationships with other rockers of the time are explored and more than one festival performance is shared- giving a glimpse of what type of performer she was- improvised, heart on the line, intense, and brutally honest.

A lost soul with enormous talent and raw capabilities, Janis Joplin is missed, but thankfully we still have her incredible music to carry on with. Janis: Little Girl Blue is a great documentary that gives a cherished overview of the life and times of a tremendous artist.



Director-Lee Hirsch

Scott’s Review #419


Reviewed June 19, 2016

Grade: B+

Bully is an informative and topical 2011 documentary on the bullying problem that has plagued the United States in recent years and has thankfully received more attention as a result. Shockingly, bullying has resulted in several suicides, which the documentary addresses.

The documentary mainly deals with a handful of bullied students and tells their individual stories. Unfortunately, too often teachers and school administrators either do not take the issue seriously or attempt to squander the matter to avoid more attention, according to the documentary. This is a nationwide problem in the United States.

I only wish the producers had chosen to focus some attention on the actual bullies for accountability, but surprisingly they did not. This was almost completely glossed over and only the victims were featured.

It would have been interesting hearing the perspective from the bully’s standpoint. Do they themselves have issues at home causing them to bully? Are they bullied by others?

Regardless of this flaw, Bully is a well-made documentary that should be seen by anyone with kids and especially all teachers.

Hotel Transylvania-2012

Hotel Transylvania-2012

Director-Genndy Tartakovsky

Starring-Adam Sandler, Kevin James

Scott’s Review #418


Reviewed June 18, 2016

Grade: C-

Hotel Transylvania is a 2012 animated film about an overprotective Dracula with a teenage daughter fascinated with the human world. The premise sounded interesting to me- a gothic, spooky feature, and the animations are very well done- bright, colorful, and unique, but the plot is way too predictable and the story as safe as they come.

Despite the dark mood of the film, there is nothing remotely scary about Dracula or any of the other characters. Rather they are completely cliched and quite amateurish. The target audience is obviously age 10 and under and parents might find themselves bored.  I am not a parent and I was bored to tears at one point. It is too cutesy for my tastes.

Save for the impressive animations, Hotel Transylvania is complete mainstream fare and forgettable filmmaking. A great story achieves mountains and this one lacked.



Director-Deniz Gamze Erguven

Starring-Tugba Sunguroglu

Scott’s Review #417


Reviewed June 18, 2016

Grade: A-

Mustang is a powerful, relevant, Turkish film released in 2015 and nominated for a slew of awards, including the Best Foreign Language film Oscar.

I fully support the nomination as I feel it is a top-notch piece.

A coming of age story, of sorts, but with no clichés, and a real, true-to-life feel to it. It tells of various generational beliefs and how these beliefs conflict with other viewpoints and ideas.

It also focuses on blossoming life, and sadly, of tragic death.

The story tells of five beautiful young sisters living in a remote village in Turkey, a thousand long miles outside of Istanbul. The girls range in age from eight to eighteen and live with their Grandmother and Uncle Erol-the sister’s parents had died years earlier.

The main protagonist of the film is Lale, the youngest of the siblings, who is wise well beyond her years as the plot unfolds. We first meet her as she bids an emotional farewell to her teacher, as she moves to Istanbul.

The film is told largely from Lale’s point of view, but each of the girls plays an important role. As the girls play an innocent game in a lake with a group of boys, the game causes a scandal in their “old world” village, and the girls are banished inside the house by their Grandmother and Uncle, who fear their progressive ideas will hurt and shame them.

The obvious main crux of the story is the conflict that develops between different generations and the yearning of the girls to be free and independent, both sexually and intellectually. Their older relatives, and others in the town, prefer the old ways and are prudish.

The oldest daughters enter into arranged marriages, while the younger ones fear the same will soon happen to them.

The film wisely does not portray these conflicts in a clichéd way or make them over-obvious.

Rather, the film feels real, fresh, and like a slice of small-town Turkish life. Istanbul is mentioned as a paradise of open-minded thinkers and progressive ways, and “the place to be”. The girls fear life in the doldrums, cooking and cleaning for their men, married off to older men without any love.

It is unclear if the Uncle is molesting any of the girls- the film alludes to it, but the point is not made obvious. What is clear, though, is the girl’s desire for sexual freedom, experimentation, and love.

They are modern thinkers.

The young actress who plays Lale is a marvel. So natural, earnest, and clever, she befriends an older man who teaches her to drive and they embark on a sweet friendship.

Much of the film is shown through Lale’s eyes and her reactions to situations. Knowing nothing of sex, she sneaks a peek at a sex education book and is fascinated by her older sister’s sex discussions.

The ending of the film leaves things open to interpretation, and I choose to believe happiness awaits those featured at the conclusion.

Mustang is a wonderful film, filled with truth, conflict, great acting, and food for thought. A must-see for foreign language film lovers.

Oscar Nominations: Best Foreign Language Film

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best International Film

The Kid with a Bike-2011

The Kid With A Bike-2011

Director-Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Starring-Thomas Doret

Scott’s Review #416


Reviewed June 18, 2016

Grade: B

The Kid with a Bike is a small French film from 2011 that has received acclaim and recognition worldwide.

The film tells the story of a troublesome young boy abandoned by his struggling father and various dramas that unfold. I found the film somewhat disappointing as I expected a bit more than I was given.

Throughout the very short 1 hour and 27-minute run-time the young boy broods and defies either authority or his caregivers, or fights with various people he encounters as he attempts to find his father.

The boys bond with a local hairdresser who takes him in is nice, but her motivations are not made clear other than being kind. Why would she take in a strange kid? We do not learn all that much about this character and this is a shame.

There is one element towards the end of the film that was shocking and well done, but overall I expected something a bit deeper from this movie given all of the praise surrounding it.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best International Film

The Perks of Being a Wallflower-2012

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower-2012

Director-Stephen Chbosky

Starring-Logan Lerman, Emma Watson   

Scott’s Review #415


Reviewed June 18, 2016

Grade: A-

This is a coming-of-age gem of a film.

It reminded me of a strange combination of The Ice Storm, Donnie Darko, and American Beauty, but a bit more straightforward and less weird than those films.  Perhaps with a bit of The Breakfast Club thrown in for a lighter touch.

This movie felt very real to me and not the typical high school schmaltz usually crowding the cinemas these days. It’s dark at times, but also humorous, and very well written.

Each teen in the group of friends has demons to face and are complex, intricately written characters. All are insecure in some form and many teen issues are addressed, in a mature, sensitive way.

Nice to see Emma Watson breaking away from her Harry Potter image. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a character-driven treat worth seeing.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best First Feature (won)

Robot & Frank-2012

Robot & Frank-2012

Director-Jake Schreier

Starring-Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon

Scott’s Review #414


Reviewed June 18, 2016

Grade: C

Robot & Frank is one of those films where I am left with a “meh” reaction after having viewed it. It’s not that it’s a bad movie, but there’s nothing particularly special either- it is quite ordinary and rather forgettable after the credits have rolled.

The premise, on paper,  seems novel: a future with robots that grow attached to humans. Unfortunately, the movie did not live up to the idea. I was hoping for an interesting 2001: A Space Odyssey type robot idea (HAL) but received nothing of the kind. I’m a big fan of Frank Langella and I felt he was the main attraction in this movie.

On a side note, why is Susan Sarandon suddenly playing every meaningless supporting role these days? Another wasted role. She deserves better.

Several plot points had no follow-through and the ending, while not exactly predictable, was nothing spectacular. Meh.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best First Screenplay

The Sessions-2012

The Sessions-2012

Director-Ben Lewin

Starring-John Hawkes, Helen Hunt

Scott’s Review #413


Reviewed June 18, 2016

Grade: B-

The Sessions is a cute, sentimental type film from 2012 that is pleasant.

I found the film to be a bit safe, although Helen Hunt’s full-frontal nude scenes were surprising to me and quite brave. I’ve never been much of a Helen Hunt fan, in fact, I have always found her to be overrated, but her performance is very good.

I felt, for the subject matter, the film is too sentimental and too Hollywood, though I do admit to enjoying it. It might have been grittier and the characters explored a bit more.

I did not enjoy William Macy’s silly priest character. His character seems rather unnecessary to the rest of the film and has no real point except being the unnecessary moral compass.

The dynamic between John Hawkes and Helen Hunt’s characters is the best part, otherwise, The Sessions is a mediocre offering.

Oscar Nominations: Best Supporting Actress-Helen Hunt

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Male Lead-John Hawkes (won), Best Supporting Female- Helen Hunt (won)

Life of Pi-2012

Life Of Pi-2012

Director-Ang Lee

Starring-Suraj Sharma

Scott’s Review #412


Reviewed June 18, 2016

Grade: B

Life of Pi is a visual masterpiece. It is a beautiful piece of filmmaking and lovely to look at. There are several majestic scenes, mostly in the ocean sequences that one will marvel at.

I did not see this movie in 3-D so I am unsure what difference, if any, it would have made. A good portion of the film is CGI-laden, which I am typically not a fan of, but in this case, it works wonders. What an adventure the main character has!

The actual story, and the acting, are nothing special and have been done before, and slightly stereotypical if truth be told, though I did enjoy the ending. It’s a wonderful adventure tale, one made very, very well.

The main reason to see this is for its Direction (Ang Lee) and the visual spectacle that it is.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director-Ang Lee (won), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score (won), Best Original Song-“Pi’s Lullaby”, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography (won), Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects (won)

Behind The Candelabra-2013

Behind the Candelabra-2013

Director-Steven Soderbergh

Starring-Michael Douglas, Matt Damon

Scott’s Review #411


Reviewed June 18, 2016

Grade: A

I thoroughly enjoyed this HBO film based on the life of Liberace, whom I was too young to know much about before viewing this movie.

The excesses of his lavish lifestyle are explored completely.

The standouts are Michael Douglas and Matt Damon who are both exceptional in their portrayals of Liberace and his young lover. Both were unrecognizable at times and completely embodied their characters.

I can’t attest to the absolute truth to the story, but the HBO film does a nice job of mixing joy, passion, heartbreak, sadness, and competition throughout.

The story undoubtedly bears a likeness to many Hollywood troubled relationships past and present.