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Rob’s Review: Short Term 12

Short Term 12 on Cinedraft.com
Letter Grade:
(?)

A+
The Good:

Brie Larson is spectacular
Incredibly touching story that examines the foster care system from both directions
Well-shot and impeccably paced


The Bad:

It took an incredible amount of willpower to wait until the movie was actually over to start tweeting about it

Cast & Crew:

Writer: Destin Cretton
Director: Destin Cretton
Stars: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Alex Calloway, Keith Stanfield, Frantz Turner

Rated R for language and brief sexuality

I’ve gotten terribly far behind in actually writing the reviews of the movies I’ve seen, but after seeing Short Term 12 tonight I have to skip this right up to the top of the list. Short Term 12 is absolutely the best film I’ve seen this year. Everyone should go see it.

Short Term 12 on Cinedraft.com

*Photo courtesy Cinedigm

Brie Larson, in a role that deserves an Oscar nomination, stars as Grace – a counselor at a foster care facility for troubled teens. John Gallagher Jr is Mason,  her boyfriend and fellow counselor, and  and  are two of the featured foster children.

Short Term 12 is based on Writer/Director  short of the same name, which in turn was based on Cretton’s time actually working in a foster care ward. His intimate familiarity with the subject matter really shines through. You get a real good examination of not just what the foster children go through, but also what the counselors go through in dealing with them, how they take their work home with them, and how the foster children are affected even into their adult years. Both Grace and Mason were themselves foster children and now that Grace is pregnant she has grave doubts about her ability to be a parent.

Short Term 12 on Cinedraft.com

*Photo courtesy Cinedigm

Brie Larson gives an incredible performance. Grace goes through some real turmoil and Larson is completely natural throughout. She brings real charm and depth to the character. The rest of the cast holds up as well with great performances all around. Cretton got great performances out of his cast and it’s beautifully shot as well.

Short Term 12 even ends on a great note. I found myself sitting in the theater slack-jawed at the perfection of the last scene. It would be really easy for a movie like this to get mired in the sadness, but Short Term 12 strikes a perfect balance. There’s abuse and neurosis, but there’s also joy and catharsis.

Go see this film.








Jennie’s Review: The Way, Way Back

Letter Grade:
(?)

A
The Good:

The Screenplay is great
Actors are well cast
Fun and Enjoyable Movie


The Bad:

Honestly, nothing comes to mind
(Other than this film may be hard to find)

Cast & Crew:

Directed and Written by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon
Starring: Liam James, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, AnnaSophia Robb (and other folks...)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, language, some sexual content and brief drug material

The Way, Way Back opens with our main character Duncan (Liam James) riding in the back (the way, way back) of one of those station wagons with the seat facing the back window. The driver, Duncan’s mom’s (Toni Collette) boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell) is talking to Duncan in an extremely condescending way, telling him he hopes he can become a “better” guy  (read cooler, more popular, more superficial sort of traits) while they are at his summer home for the next few months.  They show up at the house and get settled in for adult spring break (only their kids are there so…awkward).  Duncan finds a bike in the shed and rides off every day to escape.  Duncan is in need of a father figure and is actively resisting the most obvious answer, Trent, who is (to put it politely) a jerk.  Luckily, he meets Owen (Sam Rockwell) who manages the water park in the area and (at least temporarily) is available to fill the role.  Owen ends up offering Duncan a job at the park and he of course begins to come out of his shell.

First things first, how dangerous and awesome were those seats facing the back?

Ok, now to the movie. (more…)








Rob’s Review: White House Down

White House Down on Cinedraft.com
Letter Grade:
(?)

A
The Good:

Emmerich delivers great action
Tatum good in the action star role
Teaming of Tatum and Foxx results in a much steadier pace than Olympus Has Fallen
Joey King is great as Tatum's daughter


The Bad:

CGI is overused and noticeable
I'm not sure they understand how the 25th Amendment works...

Cast & Crew:

Writer: James Vanderbilt
Director: Roland Emmerich
Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, Joey King, James Woods

Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image.

White House Down on Cinedraft.com

Photo Courtesy Columbia Pictures

If you see only one “the White house is taken over by terrorists and one bodyguard must single-handedly rescue a child and the President” movie this year, make it White House Down. I find that after seeing White House Down I’ve gone back in my head and retroactively downgraded Olympus Has Fallen.  I think White House Down has a more believable scenario for the White House being attacked, and the way White House Down structured the action led to a much more interesting movie.

 is with the Capitol Police and guards the Speaker of the House() and is at the White House interviewing for a position with the White House’s Secret Service detail (which is lead by  and ). Tatum doesn’t get the job, but his daughter (), who idolizes the President(), is with him, so afterwards they go on the White House tour. While on the tour the White House is invaded by terrorists and the regular guards are taken out, leaving Tatum alone to get his daughter out and also rescue the President. (more…)








Rob’s Review: The Heat

The Heat on Cinedraft.com
Letter Grade:
(?)

C-
The Good:

Bullock and McCarthy are both enjoyable.
The one-off jokes and physical comedy work best.


The Bad:

Characters don't mesh well.
Slows to a crawl when they try to advance the plot rather than tell jokes
Some cringe-inducing bad comedy
Their attempt to satirize the Boston accent is embarrassing.
Not enough Tom Wilson

Cast & Crew:

Writer: Katie Dippold
Director: Paul Feig
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Tom Wilson

Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude content and some violence

The Heat on Cinedraft.com

Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox

I went into The Heat with pretty low expectations, and they were exceeded, but not by enough for me to actually recommend the film. It has its really funny moments, but it also has quite a few really cringe-worthy moments. It’s at its best when it’s making quick jokes or doing physical comedy, but it grinds to a halt whenever they take time to actually advance the plot.

 is a hot-shot FBI agent who is not very well-liked by her peers. She has the technical skills to be a great agent, but lacks the interpersonal skills and common sense. Hoping to be promoted to replace her boss, she is sent off to Boston to investigate a new drug kingpin.  is a Boston PD detective with street knowledge, but no use whatsoever for correct police procedure. The two are teamed up when McCarthy brings in a suspect (via clobbering him in the head with a watermelon) who has ties to the drug kingpin. (more…)








Jennie’s Review: Warm Bodies ~ New to DVD & Streaming

Letter Grade:
(?)

A
The Good:

The writing is funny, heartfelt, and clever
Nicholas Hoult’s delivery is perfect
(For me anyhow) Not too violent or scary


The Bad:

The CGI characters could be better
Some of the supporting cast

Cast & Crew:

Directed and (Screenplay) written by Jonathan Levine
Based on the Novel by Isaac Marion
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, and John Malkovich

Rated PG-13 for zombie violence and language

The movie opens with our hero, and main zombie, “R” (Nicholas Hoult) shuffling through an airport.  His inner monologue is the voiceover to this scene.  He waxes poetically about what it is like to wander around the airport all day, to communicate through mumbling and grunting to his best friend (the also zombified Rob Corddry), and how it’s a pain to get food when you move so slow.  As R and his group of zombie friends are on their pilgrimage for food, we meet Julie (Teresa Palmer) and a group of people who are still alive being sent on a trip out beyond the protective walls to find supplies for the non infected inhabitants. As is pretty predictable, these two groups end up in the same place and it doesn’t end well for most of the characters on either side.  However, something happens when R sees Julie and instead of trying to eat her brains, he rescues her from the situation and they head back to his home (an abandoned plane) at the airport.  As they say, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

(more…)








Rob’s Review: This Is The End

This Is The End on Cinedraft.com
Letter Grade:
(?)

B+
The Good:

Good performances from actors, including a standout appearance by Michael Cera
Excellent satire
Very funny if this is your type of comedy


The Bad:

Quite campy and cheesy.
Special effects aren't great.
Dirty subject matter will turn many off.

Cast & Crew:

Writer: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Stars: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson

Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence

Fair warning, don’t pay too much attention to the letter grade on this one, your enjoyment of This Is The End is going to vary greatly depending on your taste. It’s ridiculous, cheesy, and over-the-top, but it works a lot better than I expected it to.

This Is The End on Cinedraft.com

Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures

The actors play versions of themselves here.  and  are best friends who have drifted apart after Rogen moved to Hollywood and Baruchel stayed behind in Canada. Rogen has made friends with , and  (to the extent that anyone can be friends with McBride) and Baruchel is threatened by this.  Rogen tries to bring them all together at a party at Franco’s house while Baruchel is in town. Things at the party don’t go well, and THEN the apocalypse happens.  The worthy are raptured up into Heaven, which leaves the unworthy (including everybody at the party) to be tormented on Earth. The group holes up in Franco’s house to avoid the raging fires, giant sinkholes, and marauding demons. (more…)








Rob’s Review: Now You See Me

Letter Grade:
(?)

B+
The Good:

Likable characters
Familiar things done well and with style.


The Bad:

Actors don't have to stretch themselves much.
Beginning of the third act drags a bit.

Cast & Crew:

Writer: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt
Director: Louis Leterrier
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content

Now You See Me

Now You See Me is a fun movie. There’s nothing terribly groundbreaking about it, but the stuff we’ve seen before is done well and with a good deal of style. There are secrets and intrigue, car chases through the streets of New York, and foot chases through the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. It’s actually kind of a throwback to an older style of movie. (Charade came to mind in the theater, but that’s not a perfect fit.) (more…)








Rob’s Review: The Great Gatsby

Letter Grade:
(?)

A-
The Good:

Masterful performance from DiCaprio.
Superb visuals give the film a dream-like quality.
Gave me a much greater appreciation for the book.


The Bad:

Loses its way in the middle and meanders about for a while before picking up again.

Cast & Crew:

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, Amitabh Bachchan
Rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language

If you go into Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby just looking for a happy-go-lucky interpretation of the hedonistic Roaring 20s (and the party scenes ARE wondrous), you’re going to be disappointed. If you go in with an appreciation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel then I think you’ll be very pleased. (more…)








Dave’s Movie Review: Iron Man 3

Letter Grade:
(?)

A
The Good:

Robert Downey Jr. is amazing as always as witty and confident Tony Stark
Very Funny
Great Special Effects
Not Your Typical Superhero Action Movie


The Bad:

Perhaps too similar to 80’s/90’s action films
A little too violent for a comic book movie
Not Your Typical Superhero Action Movie

Cast & Crew:

Director: Shane Black
Writers: Shane Black, Drew Pearce
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Sir Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content

After two wildly successful Iron Man films, Director and Producer Jon Favreau (and Marvel/Disney) has turned the franchise over to action movie Writer/Director extraordinaire, Shane Black. Iron Man 3 is obviously the third movie in the Iron Man franchise and takes place after the events of Marvel’s Avengers movie. Unlike the over the top, comic-booky (I‘m almost certain that should be a word despite what my spell check says) villains in the previous Iron Man movies (an Iron-Suit-Clad, maniacally evil Jeff Bridges and Iron-Suit-Clad, electric-whip-wielding, and generally dirty looking Mickey Rourke), Tony Stark/Iron Man now battles the international terrorist group lead by The Mandarin. Played with great range by Sir Ben Kingsley, the Mandarin is an all too realistic modern-day-style terrorist who has taken credit for anti-American bombings across the world. After the terror strikes a little too close to home, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) issues a challenge to The Mandarin which ends in the destruction of Stark’s seaside mansion and general way of life. Stark is then left alone and with only his ingenuity and clever wit to solve the mystery, catch the bad guy, and prove that Tony Stark can be a hero without all of Iron Man’s hi-tech gadgety things.

(more…)








Jennie’s Movie Review: The Place Beyond the Pines

Letter Grade:
(?)

B+
The Good:

Well written & acted
Beautifully styled & scored
Realistic portrayals of rough life situations and circumstances


The Bad:

Shaky camera
Misleading trailers

Cast & Crew:

Directed By: Derek Cianfrance
Written By: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes

Rated R for language throughout, some violence, teen drug and alcohol use, and a sexual reference

The Place Beyond the Pines is a 3 act movie about a group of people living in Schenectady, NY who are interconnected through a series of events.  It starts out by introducing motorcycle stuntman Luke Glanton, played by Ryan Gosling.  You quickly find out that he has an infant son with an old fling named Romina (Eva Mendes) that he did not know existed.  In his own way, he wants to be responsible and do the right thing.  She is with someone else but she doesn’t completely shut him out.  He quits his job as a stuntman and starts working at a car shop.  Predictably, this doesn’t bring in the money needed and since he’s pretty handy on a bike, he begins to use his skill set to get income in a far less legal way, robbing banks.  He is successful at first, but of course everything begins to unravel and eventually he crosses paths with rookie idealistic cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).  The 2 men’s lives are forever changed and forever intertwined. (more…)