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Focus not picture perfect but it’s still plenty fun

March 4, 2015
Focus not picture perfect but it’s still plenty fun

How can anybody not like Will Smith? As with Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks, he’s beloved.

About the film
Smith has made great decisions from the beginning.
From music – with DJ Jazzy Jeff, Smith (the “Fresh Prince”) won the first-ever Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 1989 for “Parents Just Don’t Understand” (beating out, among others, LL Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali” and Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It” which can be seen/heard several times daily on a Geico commercial) – to TV – where The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is in constant syndication – he proved to have a golden touch right off the bat.… Read the rest

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Costner breaks the tape in another sports movie

February 25, 2015
Costner breaks the tape in another sports movie

Disney is wise.
The studio makes superhero movies. They create kid-friendly pictures, animated and otherwise. They produce an annual nature film every Earth Day. (This year it’s Monkey Kingdom.)
And they put out old-timey movies that appeal to adults who long for a feel-good, inspirational story – the kind that land on the AARP Movies for Grown-Up Awards list.  That’s McFarland, USA.

About the filmRead the rest

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Stylish ultra-violent spy homage packs a punch

February 18, 2015
Stylish ultra-violent spy homage packs a punch

Last week’s movie, Jupiter Ascending (Movie Man No. 1126, a 3), was delayed from the previous summer.
Like many postponed films that get jettisoned into the dead zone of February, Jupiter Ascending was not very good.
Kingsmen: The Secret Service was also pushed back – from late last year until this month. But, in a rarity, it’s a major studio February release that isn’t horrible.… Read the rest

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Delayed science-fiction soap opera is lost in space

February 11, 2015
Delayed science-fiction soap opera is lost in space

Here’s another movie that lives up to the belief that bad major movies get dumped into February.
Jupiter Ascending is a mess – a good looking one, but a mess nonetheless.

About the film
With a couple of major stars – Mila Kunis (not too far removed from wide acclaim for Black Swan [2011, Movie Man No. 914, a 6]) and currently hot Channing Tatum – not to mention an Oscar nominee this year, Eddie Redmayne (for The Theory of Everything), and with story and direction by Andy and Lana Wachowski, beloved by hipsters for The Matrix trilogy, Jupiter Ascending arrived with a strong pedigree.… Read the rest

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Race, parental rights, addiction movie struggles

February 4, 2015
Race, parental rights, addiction movie struggles

You gotta give Kevin Costner credit: He’s really hawking Black or White.
With millions of his own money invested – 9 – the actor is making the rounds to promote his latest venture.
Even though it’s been a while since Costner’s had a hit, he’s still got clout.

About the film
Once upon a time, there was not greater movie star than Kevin Costner.
The 66 year old – playing a grandfather for the first time in Black or White – has a terrific resume. For sure, The Untouchables (1987), No Way Out (1987), Field of Dreams (1989), and JFK (1991) are fantastic movies.… Read the rest

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Beloved British movie adaptation bears seeing

January 28, 2015
Beloved British movie adaptation bears seeing

The Movie Man’s master plan for this week was to see another Best Picture nominee.
But things just didn’t work out, so he headed to a kids movie instead.

About the film
Paddington is a British movie based on a book famous for generations (especially over there). The cute critter in the red hat and blue coat has charmed children for decades.
After all, this is a book that star Hugh Bonneville referred to as being “part of the DNA of the UK.”… Read the rest

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Eastwood hits bull’s-eye with American Sniper

January 21, 2015
Eastwood hits bull’s-eye with American Sniper

 This is one of those movies.
Sometimes films are highly anticipated. Or advertised to the max. Or both.
Like: Gone with the Wind (1939). Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Passion of the Christ (2004, Movie Man No. 549, an 8). And a slew of sequels starring Batman, Han Solo, Matrixians, glittery vampires, teenage revolutionaries in dystopian worlds, and Hobbits.
Now comes another well-hyped movie that fans have been waiting for, American Sniper. It delivers – to its conservative base and as a very well-made motion picture.… Read the rest

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Even with its flaws, Selma’s tale must be told

January 14, 2015
Even with its flaws, Selma’s tale must be told

Some movies end up being great – all-time classics – and others shoot for that elite status yet fall short.
Selma lands in that latter category, but it’s still a very good movie.

About the film
Sometimes movies become something greater than just a visual experience; they can become part of the culture.
That’s where the 1977-1983 Star Wars trilogy sits – generationally it will remain forever a touchstone series.… Read the rest

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Enigmatic Cumberbatch stellar in Imitation Game

January 7, 2015
Enigmatic Cumberbatch stellar in Imitation Game

First off, kudos to a reader who pointed out a rare Movie Man error. In the Into the Woods (Movie Man No. 1,119, a 6) review last week, the Movie Man said Dreamgirls (2006, MM 702, 16) was a failure when it moved from the stage to the screen. That was wrong; it was a hit, making $103.3 million and earning award nominations. The Movie Man meant A Chorus Line (1985). Nice catch, reader! Now…… Read the rest

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Into the Woods only occasionally bewitching

December 30, 2014
Into the Woods only occasionally bewitching

A while back, we analyzed the difficulty of bringing a popular stage production to the big screen.
Plenty of adaptations fail – Dreamgirls, Nine (the latter directed by Rob Marshall who made Into the Woods)– while others made the trip and then some – Cabaret, Chicago (the latter also by Marshall).
Into the Woods has been a colossal success since its debut in 1986 and its Broadway arrival in the fall of 1987. (Unfortunately for Into the Woods, it came out in the same awards season as the juggernaut The Phantom of the Opera.)Read the rest

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