TwitView: Woman in Gold

woman in gold onesheet

No April Fool’s Day joke; Reynolds and Mirren are amazing in this based-on-truth tale about a woman who wins a court case.  Against Austria.  To reclaim her family’s artwork that had been stolen by Nazis.  A riveting film. Grade: A-

Okay fine.  If someone had told me that Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren would be co-starring together?  I’d have  said in what universe?  Love some VanCityReynolds, but he’s been on a blockbuster binge of late, whereas Dame Helen knocks drama out of the park.  (Though she literally killed with her comedic timing in the Red series too.)

However, Woman in Gold shows that two great but opposite tastes can definitely work beautifully together.  Reynolds plays against type as Randol Schoenberg, a nebbish of an attorney, who gets roped into helping a friend of his moms (that’d be Mirren, as Maria Altmann) with some paperwork.  Said paperwork is actually a series of letters from Maria’s sister, which point to the possibility that the Austrian government has their family’s artwork thanks to Nazi dirty work.  As Schoenberg digs deeper, it becomes obvious to the pair that a cover-up was orchestrated so Austria could keep the paintings, which included Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which was for a time renamed Woman in Gold, to hide the lineage of the portrait.  And so begins a struggle that works its way up to the United States Supreme Court — and the courts of Austria — before Altmann and her paintings are finally reunited.  (What?  The real story happened in the 90s, and the theft in the 40s.  Long past spoilers y’all.)

Reynolds does a brilliant job of balancing cutesy nebbish behaviors and full-on dramatic performance.  This story of Nazi theft, Holocaust survivors and bureaucratic hoop-jumping would be absolutely leaden if it wasn’t for the occasional bits of daily-life humor screenwriter Alexi Kaye Campbell slips in.  While everyone knows Mirren could make a list of Triscuits ingredients sound like fine art, it’s Reynolds’ way with comedic timing that’s not only elevates his character, but raises his game so he’s toe-to-toe with the Queen herself.

Tatiana Maslany as WWII-age Altmann shows amazing range…to anyone who hasn’t already loved her in Orphan Black. Fans of hers will nevertheless be blown away by her performance, which could have been heavy-handed but comes off as honest and heartbreakingly poignant.  Antje Traue as Adele, Altmann’s loving and free-spirited aunt, also delivers an excellent performance.

But with all of the fine work done by the actors, it was the story itself that had me on the edge of my seat.  Yes, the ending is a fait accompli.  Yet it’s the getting there that drew me in.  One quibble though; Schoenberg’s wife Pam (Katie Holmes) feels like an afterthought, someone shoehorned in to show that the man has A Life that is pulling at him while his quest for justice goes on.

Still, regardless of that hiccup, this is one Woman worth taking a look at.

MOVIE SCREENING: Furious 7 (TUE 03.31.15 @ 7:30PM) – Show Your Fury!

Are you ready to strap back in for the 7th installment of this adrenaline fueled rocket ride?  The late Paul Walker and friends are returning to the big screen this April in what is being hyped as the biggest, baddest and most furious of all the sequels so far.  Want to join us for the exclusive Baltimore screening?  Sure you do, details below the press release!

Paul Walker (and his body double brothers) join Vin Diesel and the gang for a rocket ride.

Paul Walker (and his body double brothers) join Vin Diesel and the gang for a rocket ride.

Continuing the global exploits in the unstoppable franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the returning cast of Furious 7. James Wan directs this chapter of the hugely successful series that also welcomes back favorites Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky and Lucas Black. They are joined by international action stars new to the franchise including Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey and Kurt Russell. Neal H. Moritz, Vin Diesel and Michael Fottrell return to produce the film written by Chris Morgan.

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Movie Reivew – “Run All Night”

TwitReview – Liam Neeson uses his “very particular set of skills” in ‘Run All Night'; suspenseful, lots of action, and a great story –  Neeson, Ed Harris, Common, and Joel Kinnaman. Grade: 4 out of 5!RunAllNight

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MOVIE SCREENING: The Gunman (MON 03.16.15 – 7PM)

Bet you’ve never seen Jeff Spicolli (Fast Times At Ridgemont High) like this!  In this action thriller, Sean Penn stars as former special-ops agent James Terrier, who is suddenly targeted by some of the world’s best hit men. Terrier must dig into his top-secret past to figure out who wants him dead, and why.  Want to join us for the Baltimore screening?  Use the ticket code below the banner!

 

A special ops agent becomes the hunted

A special ops agent becomes the hunted

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p5sw0bFs9g

Click here for tickets – http://www.gofobo.com/geekfor

Movie Review: The Lazarus Effect

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TwitView: Fantastic setup, believable characters, and genuine chills all get hobbled by a lack of a satisfying ending and a screenplay that’s all over the place.  It’s as if the director was running out of film and said “yeah, one last gotcha scene and it’s a wrap.”  C-

It’s no secret that I’m a horror movie junkie.  So when The Lazarus Effect hit the screening rounds, I jumped at it.  And enjoyed a good part of it…until it got lost in it’s own storyline and cheaped out by pulling the usual “gotcha!” ending that has been beaten to death popular since the 90s.  Pity, as there’s some genuinely unique and well executed moments in this film.

This film got my interest with a killer trailer, and the promise of more from the folks that brought us Insidious, The Purge, and Paranormal Activity.  And by “folks”, I mean the producer.  Director David Gelb has done good documentary work (protip: catch the wonderful Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix.  You’re welcome.)  However, The Lazarus Effect is his first dramatic effort, and it’s a mess, jumping from scene to scene, subplot to subplot.  I’m betting Gelb would have been okay, if he’d had a strong screenplay to rely on, but Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater are newbies as well, which makes for a hodgepodge of abrupt scene shifts, dangling subplots and unanswered questions.  Luckily they’ve got real talent in front of the screen, and that helps save this film from sinking into total dreck.

What I loved best about this film is Olivia Wilde; she looks like she’s enjoying the hell out of this film.  Her performance is top-notch, as if someone forgot to tell her than a horror film doesn’t exactly need great performances.  She delivers one though, and it elevates the film.  In fact, all the performers here do good work.  Especially Evan Peters — my favorite Quicksilver (sorry, Aaron T-J) — is a hoot as the too-smart-and-cool-for-this-room Clay, and Donald Glover as the passed-over-in-love Niko.  Glover’s comedic work is excellent, but he has strong dramatic chops too, if this is any indication.

I did love the start of this film thought.  The Lazarus Effect not only dives into the idea of bringing folks back from the dead — paging Dr. Frankenstein! — it also digs into the life of the person whose life will be upended by these experiments.  And by upended I mean she dies, is brought to life, and then gets amped by…demons?  Herself?  The serum?  There are no answers, no hints or deeper thoughts beyond “hey, lets’ use the black sclera contacts on Olivia — she’d look spooky!”  She does, no doubt.  And her terror at what she’s becoming is palpable, and a refreshing change of pace from the usual add-water-and-stir instant baddie.  But as soon as her eyes go full black, it’s all dropped by the wayside.  Forget trying to make sense out of what happened to her, it’s the Blinking Lights And Telekinesis Show y’all!

Once folks start dying, all thoughts to keeping this up to the level of films like The Purge and Paranormal Activity get thrown by the wayside.  What I would have liked to have seen was more about Zoe’s past.  Her nightmares, and the truth/history behind them.  Was there more to them than the simple fact that a child could only do so much?  Did Zoe have a hidden bit of evil in her from all those years ago?  Was she a Bad Seed that had done much to try to get over her past, or was she in the wrong place at the wrong time?  But her past is brought to viewers as a tantalizing idea of where the film will go…and then it’s used as a prop, nothing more.  Same goes for the Evil Corporate People who come in midpoint.  Who are they?  Are they up to no good?  Who cares — they’re introduced, and never heard from again.  That sound you hear is another good idea dying.  Digging into character motivation would have had me rooting for these characters to survive, but even though a few delicious tidbits of backstory are thrown to the audience — tidbits that could have been used to build deaths that really mattered — when it’s time to die these folks are nothing but telekinesis fodder.  Bye-bye…

The Lazarus Effect ticks me off more than it should, and that’s because this film showed great promise at the start.  But with a main cast of 5 the kills aren’t big enough (or gory enough; most deaths are off-screen or cut-aways) for the gore crowd, and the screenplay isn’t cerebral enough for the thinking-horror fan.  Add muddled storytelling and a feeling that this film dragged on much longer than it’s scant 83 minute run time, and The Lazarus Effect is a movie that’s big on promise and short on delivery.

MOVIE REVIEW: Hot Tub Time Machine 2

HTTM2

Having just watched Hot Tub Time Machine for the first time on Tuesday, I am pretty sure my opinion of Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is going to be different than most. Typically, my passion for a film does not come in the first viewing. It comes in the 2nd, 3rd or in some cases the 1,000th viewing. With that said, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was, in my humble opinion, one of the rare films that actually improved from the first.

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Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsman-secret-service

Not knowing the source material for the Kingsman: The Secret Service and it being February, I went into this film not expecting much, What I got was a decent action movie, no more no less. Unfortunately this film did not feel like a comic movie nor a spy movie…it felt like a by-the-numbers action film, which is not a bad thing. It’s just that it could be so much more.

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Movie Review — The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water

SpongebobTwitview: fun for kids & grownup fans of the original series.  Sometimes too silly, but it’s all in good fun. Will probably spawn a hipster drinking game. Grade: B

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?  And how does that pineapple never suffer from decomposition?  Oh who cares — it’s SpongeBob y’all!  And he’s got all of his buddies (Patrick, Gary, Sandy, Squidward, Mr. Krabs) and even his rival Sheldon Plankton (as well as Plankton’s computer wife, Karen) are here.  It’s the usual Krabby Patty eating good times, with Plankton trying to steal the secret recipe for the Krabby Patty…until a pirate named Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas, totally game for the goofy) enters the scene and makes off with the secret recipe!  Whatever will Bikini Bottom do without Krabby Patties?  And how will our hero get the recipe back and save the day?

Well, first off: Bikini Bottom devolves into a hilarious Mad Max wasteland in the span of 5 seconds without their beloved patties.  Seeing Mr. Krabs in leather is worth the price of admission for any fan of the show.  Second: that’s cheating y’all.  But suffice it to say that the trailer gives you more than a hint.  And when things go from animated to live-action, Banderas gets to pull out all the stops, which is exactly what’s needed when he’s playing against a group of juvenile animated invertebrates.  And Sandy.  (Spoiler alert: Sandy’s transformation to live-action is kinda awesome.)

What’s good?  The fun, the obvious tongue-in-cheek that makes the TV series enjoyable for all ages, and the gorgeous live-action CGI  SpongeBob gang is perfect.

What’s meh?  Sometimes the jokes can go on a bit too long, and be a bit too silly.  Then again I’m not an 8-year-old kid who’d probably love the overly goofy.  There are a few extremely weird bits too, as if the creators were looking towards the stoned teens and undergrads who would ultimately watch this on Netflix.  Space porpoises, crazy kalidoscope Dr. Who-like time travel sequences, and a few almost sexy beach jokes feel slightly off-kilter, but perhaps that feeling of WTHuh? is what they’re going for.

So should you see it or not?  If you’ve got kids that are dying for a movie day, why not?  It’s fun and goofy, and anything aimed towards the adults will most likely sail over their heads (or can be easily blown off by us oldsters).  If you’re a fan of the series that remembers it when?  Why not?  Is it worth the 3D expense?  Well, not so much; the original series was 2D, so going that route won’t be a problem here.  But if you’ve got the clams to spare, it’ll make the action sequences a bit more eye-popping.  Now I want a Krabby Patty…

Movie Screening: Fifty Shades Of Gray (WED 02.11.15 – 7:30PM)

Have you been waiting for this one?  You know we at Geek for e have!  Will they give the book justice, how close is their ‘R’ take on the sexuality.  Is the bondage scene I read going to play out on screen as thematically as it did in my head when I was reading it?  So many questions.  We’re so very fortunate the studios have invited us, and now we’re inviting you.  15 of you.  That’s right a mere 15 winners this time (and that whole thing about getting there early?  this is one time you don’t want to mess with that!).  No code, just your best Christian or Anastasia (or both).  Details below the synopsis geeky faithful.

Can it deliver?  Man, we sure hope so.

Can it deliver? Man, we sure hope so.

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