Movie Reviews

Posted January 5, 2018 at 12:00 am

A24 

The eccentricities of a notorious self-funding filmmaker (James Franco, who also directed) and the story of the friendship (with Dave Franco) that led to the making of his famously bad 2003 movie “The Room” provide steady laughs but will also touch viewers’ hearts as the relationship at the center of this fact-based comedy endures through numerous strains. The humor occasionally goes astray, particularly in scenes playing male nakedness for laughs, and the dialogue is overstuffed with vulgarity. But adults willing to overlook such flaws will find this study in strangeness, adapted from the 2013 book by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, richly entertaining. Recurring rear nudity, brief simulated sexual activity, cohabitation, about a half-dozen uses of profanity, a milder oath, frequent rough and crude language. A-III; R 

Ferdinand

Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Coco

    Disney

    A young Mexican lad’s (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) quest to follow in the footsteps of his hometown’s most famous son (voice of Benjamin Bratt) by becoming a world-renowned musician takes a supernatural turn on the Day of the Dead when he is mysteriously transported to the afterlife as depicted in the folklore associated with the pre-Columbian aspects of that celebration. There, a good-hearted but slippery character (voice of Gael Garcia Bernal) becomes his guide and agrees to help

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Daddy’s Home 2

    Paramount

    Silly slapstick predominates in this follow-up to the 2015 comedy about the blending pains of a post-divorce family. As the stepfather (Will Ferrell) and biological dad (Mark Wahlberg) whose rivalry fueled the first outing try to preserve the fragile harmony they’ve achieved during a Christmas visit by their own temperamentally contrasting fathers (sensitive John Lithgow and trouble-loving womanizer Mel Gibson), returning director and co-writer Sean Anders busies himself finding outlandish mishaps for Ferrell’s character to undergo. Although the film is

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    A Bad Moms Christmas 

    STX 

    Aggressive vulgarity is the incongruous hallmark of this holiday-themed sequel. As the trio of mothers (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn) featured in the 2016 original deal with the wholly unrealistic problems caused when their own moms (Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon) show up for Christmas, with or without an invitation, the only thing more tiresome than their sex-obsessed wisecracking is their self-important resolve to take the feast back and celebrate it in their own fashion.

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Geostorm 

    Warner Bros. 

    After a network of weather-controlling satellites designed to overcome the effects of global warming is sabotaged and begins causing a series of overwhelming natural disasters, its designer (Gerard Butler), his estranged brother (Jim Sturgess), a State Dept. official, and the bureaucrat’s live-in girlfriend (Abbie Cornish), a Secret Service agent, team to uncover and defeat the conspiracy. Armchair apocalypse fanciers may relish the ravaging of cities around the globe and the threat of the titular civilization-destroying phenomenon. But anyone looking for more

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Only the Brave  

    Columbia  

    Heartbreaking true story of the “Granite Mountain Hotshots,” the elite Arizona firefighting team which raced into a raging inferno in 2013 to save a neighboring town from destruction. Their leader (Josh Brolin) has honed his 20-member crew into a well-oiled machine with the assistance of his right-hand man (James Badge Dale). During a recruitment drive, an unlikely candidate (Miles Teller) appears, intent on turning away from a dissolute life to join the group. In adapting a magazine article by Sean

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    A Question of Faith  

    Pure Flix  

    Sober religious drama in which a minister (Richard T. Jones) grapples with a tragedy involving his young son (Caleb T. Thomas) that shakes his fundamental beliefs. As he gradually discovers that the mishap has linked his family’s fate with those of several strangers, including a restaurant owner (Jaci Velasquez), her daughter (Karen Valero) and a cash-strapped contractor (C. Thomas Howell), the clergyman benefits from the steady support and guidance of his wise wife (Kim Fields). Director Kevan Otto

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    American Assassin

    CBS Films  

    This adaptation of the 2010 novel by Vince Flynn, directed by Michael Cuesta, is a gory revenge fantasy that opens with a bang and proceeds at a breakneck pace, unleashing a veritable tsunami of bullets, bodies and blood as it goes. When his fiancee (Charlotte Vega) is gunned down by terrorists, a young man (Dylan O’Brien) seeks to avenge her death by transforming into a lean, mean, fighting machine. Recruited by a CIA official (Sanaa Lathan),

    Read Full Story…

    Movie on historic papal election to debut on Netflix

    Catholic News Service 

    VATICAN CITY – The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and subsequent election of Pope Francis will be the subject of a new film set to debut on Netflix.  

    According to a Sept. 6 report by entertainment news website Deadline, the film will star Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI.  

    Titled “The Pope,” the movie will depict events beginning

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Birth of the Dragon  

    BH Tilt  

    Fictional retelling of a real 1964 kung-fu confrontation between future martial arts legend Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) and an older Chinese master (Yu Xia). Set in San Francisco, and adapted from an article by Michael Dorgan, the film hits all the usual chopsocky notes, but dully. Director George Nolfi and screenwriters Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen J. Revele show Lee, who died at only 32 in a 1973 accident, as cocky and engaging. Most of the screen

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    The Glass Castle  

    Lionsgate  

    Film version of Jeannette Walls’ 2005 memoir of her impoverished childhood tries to put a cheery gloss on everything, as if all the excruciating history was somehow not as bad as it seemed at the time. Together with her alcoholic, wannabe-engineer father (Woody Harrelson) and failed artist of a mother (Naomi Watts) as well as her three siblings Walls (Ella Anderson, mostly, as a child; Brie Larson from high school on) leads a peripatetic existence one step ahead

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    The Dark Tower  

    Columbia  

    Dull sci-fi fantasy in which a psychic teen (Tom Taylor) first dreams about, then travels to a distant world where he gets caught up in the cosmic battle between a villainous wizard (Matthew McConaughey) and the lone remaining member (Idris Elba) of a group of Old West-style gunmen still resisting him. Their struggle concerns the supernatural structure of the title which somehow keeps the evil lurking at the edges of the universe at bay. Awash in such high-flown

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Dunkirk

    Warner Bros.

    Compelling historical drama, set in the spring of 1940, recounting the surprisingly successful evacuation of hundreds of thousands of British and French troops from the port of the title following their rapid defeat and encirclement by the forces of Nazi Germany. Taking an Everyman’s view of the situation, writer-director Christopher Nolan follows the exploits of three ordinary soldiers (Fionn Whitehead, Aneurin Barnard and Harry Styles), the owner of a small yacht (Mark Rylance) who, like hundreds of others, answers

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    All Eyez on Me

    Summit

    Radical politics and the wayward values of hip-hop culture take this sometimes intense but overlong and rarely insightful biography of rapper Tupac Shakur (Demetrius Shipp Jr.) off course. Born into a family of Black Panther activists, Danai Gurira turns in a powerful performance as his mother, Afeni. The future singer and actor confronts the challenges of an inner-city childhood before gaining stardom. Structured around an interview with a fictional journalist (Hill Harper) during a real stint in

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

    Fox

    Cheerfully silly, bodily functions-obsessed kid’s cartoon adapted from a series of books by Dav Pilkey. Two fourth-grade pranksters (voices of Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) fear that their friendship will be broken up if their strict principal (voice of Ed Helms) follows through on his threat to separate them by assigning them to different classes. Improvising a solution, they hypnotize him and use mind control to convince him that he is Captain Underpants, the superhero

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    The Mummy

    Universal

    Clumsy horror flick charts the dire consequences that follow when a shady soldier (Tom Cruise) and an archeologist (Annabelle Wallis) unwittingly revive an evil Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella) who was put to death for her crimes in the days of the pharaohs. Pagan mumbo jumbo aside, there’s not much to bother grown viewers in director Alex Kurtzman’s film, which has a sketchy but respectable good-versus-evil theme. Yet, as the eventual injection of Robert Louis Stevenson’s character Dr. Henry Jekyll

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Everything, Everything

    Warner Bros.

    Director Stella Meghie’s adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s young adult novel bears more than a little resemblance to one of those fairy tales involving a princess locked up in a castle who needs a handsome prince to rescue her. In this case, a bright and literate teen (Amandla Stenberg) has long been confined by a rare illness to the hermetically sealed house specially designed for her by her protective mother (Anika Noni Rose). Then a sensitive lad (Nick

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    How to Be a Latin Lover

    Pantelion

    Scattershot comedy with too many plot threads and an uncertain tone that wavers between warm family fare and a sex farce. Dumped by the heiress (Renee Taylor) he long ago married for her money, and left penniless by a prenuptial agreement, a lazy ne’er-do-well (Eugenio Derbez) moves in with his estranged sister (Salma Hayek), a hardworking widow with a 10-year-old son (Raphael Alajendro). This is where the pathos and life lessons are presumably supposed

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Free Fire

    A24

    The premise of this action comedy is that a single extended gunfight can sustain an entire film, provided the participants in the showdown keep making incongruously funny and mordant remarks. The setup involves a deal to buy assault rifles that quickly goes bad. So the two sides represented, most prominently, by would-be gun buyer Brie Larson and arms dealer Sharlto Copley spend the rest of the run time pulling their triggers and reloading while attempting to retrieve a briefcase

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    The Blackcoat’s Daughter

    A24

    Stylish and very adult demon-possession drama set at a Catholic boarding school in the dead of winter. There an old-fashioned fiend complete with two horns inhabits a glowing basement coal furnace and uses a hallway pay phone to command a gloomy freshman (Kiernan Shipka) to carry out murderous sacrifices. Writer-director Oz Perkins keeps the gore factor comparatively low emphasizing instead slow-building psychological horror spooled out slowly through interlocking time-shifting plot lines which also take in the lives of

    Read Full Story…

    MOVIE REVIEWS

    Slamma Jamma

    RiverRain Productions

    This well-intentioned sports drama based very loosely on the life of slam-dunk champion Kenny Dobbs occasionally comes to tepid life on basketball courts. But a weak script, together with production values indicative of a low budget, keep it hobbled as a story of redemption and Christian faith. Chris Staples (a former Harlem Globetrotter in real life) plays a onetime college star who has to rebuild his life after serving a six-year prison term for armed robbery, during

    Read Full Story…

    Martin.pdf

    A farewell column

    It has been a great privilege for me to write this column for the past 40 years. During this time, I have received hundreds of letters and emails from readers. One of the sure blessings of writing this column is how many of you engaged with me, offered your own perspectives or brought questions about your lives to me for suggestions.

    Whenever possible, I have offered ideas of who you might contact in your

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    Kong: Skull Island

    Warner Bros.

    Impressive monster movie, set in 1973, in which an ensemble of scientists and soldiers the civilians led by a fringe researcher (John Goodman), the troops by a hard-bitten colonel (Samuel L. Jackson) travel to a previously uncharted island where they encounter an updated version of King Kong. As a World War II-era Air Force officer (John C. Reilly) who bailed out over the isle and has been stranded there ever since eventually explains to them, however,

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    The Shack

    Summit

    After his young daughter (Amelie Eve) is abducted and murdered, a previously devout man (Sam Worthington) has a crisis of faith until a supernatural encounter with the Trinity (Octavia Spencer, Avraham Aviv Alush and Sumire) alters his perspective. Beautiful settings and a sense of humor help to keep director Stuart Hazeldine’s screen version of William Paul Young’s bestselling novel from bogging down in sentimentality. Patches of dialogue discounting the value of religion, however here implicitly set in opposition to

    Read Full Story…

    Martin.pdf

    ‘This house is not for sale’

    This House is not for sale

    This house is not for sale

    These four walls have got a story to tell

    The door is off the hinges, there’s no wishing them well

    Outside the sky is coal black, the streets are on fire

    The

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Review

    A Cure for Wellness

    Fox

    Creepy, but otherwise pointless horror exercise in which a Wall Street business executive (Dane DeHaan) is dispatched to a Swiss spa to convince a higher-ranking colleague (Harry Groener) who has mysteriously decided to remain there permanently that he must instead return to headquarters to sign off on a big pending merger. As the young wheeler-dealer eventually discovers, however, despite the soothing manner of the resort’s proprietor (Jason Isaacs), something is profoundly amiss, and his own chances

    Read Full Story…

    Martin.pdf

    Trusting God in difficult times

    Trust in You

    Letting go of every single dream

    I lay each one down at your feet

    Every moment of my wandering

    Never changes what you see

    I’ve tried to win this war I confess

    My hands are weary, I need your rest

    Mighty warrior, king of the fight

    No matter what I

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    A Dog’s Purpose

    Universal

    Pet lovers will revel in this slight but charming tale of a clever canine (voice of Josh Gad) and his adventures over a series of lifetimes as he is repeatedly reincarnated. His most significant bond is with a little boy (Bryce Gheisar) who grows into a high school football star (K.J. Apa). Though he finds support in the love of his mother (Juliet Rylance) and, later, that of his girlfriend (Britt Robertson), the athlete’s life is increasingly darkened

    Read Full Story…

    Martin.pdf

    ‘Keeper of the flame’

    Keeper of the Flame

    I’m walking in their footsteps

    I’m singing their old songs

    Somebody blazed this trail

    I’m treadin’ on

    I’m bent but I’m not broken

    I’m stronger than I feel

    I’m made of flesh and bone

    Not made of steel

    Refrain:

    Read Full Story…

    Movie Reviews

    The Bye Bye Man

    STX

    Overwrought horror flick in which a college student (Douglas Smith), his live-in girlfriend (Cressida Bonas) and his best pal since childhood (Lucien Laviscount) rent a spooky house together where they are plagued by the malevolent specter of the title (Doug Jones). His main trick is to cause hallucinations setting each member of the trio against the others with potentially fatal results. In adapting a chapter from Robert Damon Schneck book, “The President’s Vampire,” director Stacy Title

    Read Full Story…

Bla