Amy

Title: Amy
Genre: documentary, biography
MPAA Rating: R
Year: 2015
Director: Asif Kapadia (Senna)
Brief Synopsis: The innocent beginnings of Amy Winehouse that lead to her sudden rise to fame, culminating in her untimely death.
My Word to the Wise: Powerful documentary. it portrays Amy as she was behind the scenes of her gifted yet troubled singing career. Through home movies and musical footage, the viewer can process the question of what went wrong and why. Some handheld camera songs are a bit sketchy and long. for that it lost one star with me.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

“Wayne’s World” rocked us when it came out. Then there was Harold and Kumar. It’s just as “Dude” stonerriffic with just the added bit of cultural references it needs to be relevant to a slightly younger crowd. Of course, that was 2004. It might need another incarnation here in 2018.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
R | 1h 28min | Adventure, Comedy | 30 July 2004 (USA)
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A Korean-American office worker and his Indian-American stoner friend embark on a quest to satisfy their desire for White Castle burgers.
Director: Danny Leiner
Writers: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Stars: John Cho, Kal Penn, Ethan Embry

Our director here, Danny Leiner, is the “Dude” in my book because he is the director of “Dude Where’s my Car?” This fits in perfectly with the type of film we’re talking about here. You might call it a “stoner comedy.” Jess Spiccoli, Bill and Ted, etc. These films are great for drinking parties and the like. Do they stand up in the decades that follow? Maybe not so much. Still there’s enough humor in this one that still works to keep your attention. It’s a light-hearted comedy that tries to be a slightly older “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” I laughed but the crude humor might turn some off. I gave this one a 6/10

Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

Good Morning, Vietnam“An unorthodox and irreverent DJ begins to shake up things when he is assigned to the U.S. Armed Services Radio station in Vietnam.” -IMDB

Cast

Robin Williams Adrian Cronauer
Forest Whitaker Edward Garlick
Tung Thanh Tran Tuan
Chintara Sukapatana Trinh

Directed by

Barry Levinson

Written by

Mitch Markowitz

Other Info

Biography, Comedy, Drama, War
R
Fri 15 Jan 1988 UTC
121min
IMDB Rating: 7.3

Robin Williams’ portrayal of Adrian Cronauer got him the silver screen reputation that would carry him through a lifetime of earth-shattering roles. Of course, he was taken too soon. This film stands as the one where he took chances only he could take to make comments we all need to hear. For me, this is the iconic film of 1987.

Director Barry Levinson was no household name when he took on this project. He went on to do many amazing films including Donnie Brasco. I say anyone who can coach Robin Williams to these heights is a superstar director by anyone’s standard.

This is a star studded cast. At the same time, they all pale in comparison to the lead performer. He is truly a remarkable talent. He left us a huge body of work but one can’t help but wonder what he could have gone on to show us after his untimely death.

A military DJ comes to town in the Vietnam war turning tables on the establishment. I awed at the things he said and did. I am familiar with protocol and red tape as a teacher. I’m always careful what I say. This character has to watch what the establishment demands while encouraging the troops and seeking love with a local girl he falls into a crush with. He teaches everyone lessons of humanity, including we the viewers. He is a champion of going after your passions even if it means ruffling some feathers.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This is an absolutely incredible performance. It’s the antithesis of shyness! It represents the year 1987 so well. I myself was 17 watching this in a theater with a couple of my gangly friends. We knew Mork and Mindy on tv but this was a wholly different film with someone we knew we didn’t recognize. We loved him. He added so much to all of our lives. This film was only the beginning of an education from Williams.

5/5

Jeepers Creepers

This is one of those horror movies I have heard of for years but for some reason never got around to seeing. If you like horror, and this is your situation, I’m happy to report this is an awesome flick worth seeing. It’s got scares and a creature, and some humor to get you through it.

Jeepers Creepers (2001)
R | 1h 30min | Horror, Mystery | 31 August 2001 (USA)
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A brother and sister driving home through isolated countryside for spring break encounter a flesh-eating creature which is in the midst of its ritualistic eating spree.
Director: Victor Salva
Writer: Victor Salva
Stars: Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck

We know this director from “Powder” and the franchise of Jeepers Creepers. He has put together a very fun horror story and it has taken wing in our culture to be a well known household word. I see this as an accomplishment.

From the opening segments where the brother and sister characters are driving their old beat up car across a one lane highway to the end where the creature is showing us his exemplary appendages, this film rocks the horror. I think the most notable part for me was the discovery Justin Long’s character makes down the septic pipe. “Alien,” eat your heart out. I am told by a movie pal that part II is worth watching so I surely will be. This is a great horror movie, check it out if you haven’t already. I rate it 8/10.

Still Alice

  Title: Still Alice
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year: 2014
Director: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Top Billed Cast: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin
Brief Synopsis: A University professor discovers she has early onset Alzheimers as she and her husband learn to cope with along with their family.
My Word to the Wise: An excellently written story about the condition. It brings attention to the brain as a physical object and points out how important it is to take care of it. Though Alzheimers currently has no cure, we can understand what the patient is going through and be there for them. “Still Alice” helps us do that. This is a powerful and at times sad movie but an excellent one that I found educational and highly entertaining. The writer/director died a few months ago of a different brain ailment, ALS.

The Sweet Hereafter

As a critic, we sometimes challenge ourselves with films that have won awards. We do this whether or not we have any fire in the belly over it or a passionate interest. I watched this film because of its huge Metascore of a “90” and the many awards it has won. Though it started slow, I did enjoy this one.

The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
R | 1h 52min | Drama | 21 November 1997 (USA)
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A bus crash in a small town brings a lawyer to the town to defend the families, but he discovers that everything is not what it seems.
Director: Atom Egoyan
Writers: Russell Banks (novel), Atom Egoyan (screenplay)
Stars: Ian Holm, Sarah Polley, Caerthan Banks

Director Atom Egoyan is known for “Chloe” and “Devil’s Knot” among many more. He is an accomplished director. He knows how to write and ignite passion in his films. He shines a light on human nature.

There is an age-old topic here of money vs. retribution in court. Ian Holm plays the lawyer that has come to call on this very small snow covered town. It seems the school bus that held every child in the town veered off a cliff and sunk into the frozen lake. Sarah Polley plays one of the few who survived the crash. The film consists of this lawyer trying to get these people to press charges and then get a story together that will win them money. It’s a fun ride but the payoff is just mild. The lawyer learns some towns don’t care about winning lawsuits. There is much to discuss here. I give this film a 7/10

Between Us (2016)

Streaming now on Netflix! This is an independent film that tries to show the reality of fights in a couple that probably shouldn’t be together but stay that way out of comfort. It shows we can get comfortable in familiar torture.

Director, Rafael Palacio Illingworth, has directed 3 films as near as I can tell. Another film of his, “Macho,” is described as having a lot of sex scenes in between titles. He seems comfortable shooting sex scenes, there are many in this film as well. Mayeb it was just me but it seems these were forced and served to show how the lovers were incompatible.

The actors include Alison Sudol, Analeigh Tipton, Olivia Thirlby They all do a pretty good job but in my opinion the script isn’t realistic and that takes away from their impact.

A man and a woman feel pressured to get married so they begin to question why they are together.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This film is not very well made. Still, it does fit into the “chick flick” category. There is a coupe and they fight, a lot. They explore things and it’s a great film to discuss at Starbucks later. Expect little and be impressed as well as entertained. Please leave me a comment! This title is streaming now on Netflix!

8/10