Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chris's Top 30 Films of 2014, and Other Best Of Lists for the Year in Cinema

No explanations, just my Best of 2014 lists. 

30 - Boyhood
29 - The Imitation Game
28 - Joe
27 - Gone Girl
26 - Starred Up
25 - Obvious Child
24 - Calvary
23 - The Babadook
22 - Foxcatcher
21 - Guardians of the Galaxy
20 - Love is Strange
19 - Listen Up Phillip
18 - Venus in Fur
17 - Selma 
16 - Interstellar
15 - X-Men: Days of Future Past
14 - Nightcrawler
13 - Ida
12 - Dear White People
11 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier 
10 - Inherent Vice 
 9 - The One I Love
 8 - Snowpiercer
 7 - A Most Violent Year 
 6 - Frank
 5 - Enemy
 4 - Whiplash 
 3 - Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
 2 - The Grand Budapest Hotel  
 1 - The Immigrant

For more (including Best Actor/Actress, Best Scenes, and Most Overrated Movie...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Now Playing: Hot Tub Time Machine 2, The DUFF, McFarland USA

Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Official Synopsis:
This time around, Lou (Rob Corddry) finds himself in a whole heap of trouble, and the rest of the gang must fire up the hot tub to get back to the past, but accidentally get sent to the future.
It’s time to alter the future, to save the past which is actually just the present…

North's Thoughts:
Although it didn't set the box office aflame, Hot Tub Time Machine got some love when it hit video.
Who could resist the 1980s retro charm, Lougle, and stealing pop songs from the future?
John Cusack is missing from the gang, but I still want to ride with these dudes again.
They've brought in the always funny Adam Scott and will surely go back to some old gags.
If it turns out to a bad time in the tub, you can always go back five years and be happy once again.

Official Synopsis:
Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a content high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body knows her as 'The DUFF' (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends (Skyler Samuels & Bianca Santos). Now, despite the words of caution from her favorite teacher (Ken Jeong), she puts aside the potential distraction of her crush, Toby (Nick Eversman), and enlists Wesley (Robbie Amell), a slick but charming jock, to help reinvent herself. To save her senior year from turning into a total disaster, Bianca must find the confidence to overthrow the school's ruthless label maker Madison (Bella Thorne) and remind everyone that no matter what people look or act like, we are all someone's DUFF.

North's Thoughts:
With genuinely funny people like Mae Whitman and Ken Jeong, I hope to get some good laughs.
High School Movies can be amazing or amazingly bad.
Always give them a chance because every now and then you also find a hidden gem, like Project X.
Here are the Top 5 High School Movies Of All-Time:
5. Clueless
4. Fast Times At Ridgemont High
3. The Breakfast Club
2. Dazed And Confused
1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

McFarland USA
Official Synopsis:
From Disney comes MCFARLAND, the true against-all-odds story of the 1987 McFarland high school cross country team in an economically challenged community. 

North's Thoughts:
I love how Disney doesn't even bother with an extensive synopsis:
Disney. True Story. Sports.
Here's The Top 5 Disney Sports Movies Of All-Time:
5. The Big Green
4. Cool Runnings
3. D2: The Mighty Ducks

And while we're at it, Kevin Costner is really the king of the sports movie.
Plus, he was a good athlete in real life:
He hit a Home Run in a major league stadium during an all-star event and has a good arm.
Sports movies are so much better when the actor can, you know, actually play the sport.
Here's The Costner Sports Movie List:
6. For Love Of The Game
4. Draft Day
3. Tin Cup

Check Out Other Recent Editions Of Now Playing:

Now Playing: Fifty Shades Of Grey, Kingsman: The Secret Service

Now Playing: Jupiter Ascending, The SpongeBob Movie, Seventh Son

Now PlayingA Most Violent YearProject AlmanacBlack Or WhiteThe Loft

Now Playing:  Mortdecai, Strange Magic, The Boy Next Door

Now PlayingAmerican SniperThe Wedding Ringer, Paddington and Blackhat

Now PlayingSelmaThe Imitation GameInherent ViceTaken 3

Thanks For Reading!
Follow Us On Twitter For Daily Movie News And Links: @NorthSouthFilm

Friday, February 13, 2015

Now Playing: Fifty Shades Of Grey, Kingsman: The Secret Service

Fifty Shades Of Grey
Official Synopsis:
E.L. James' kinky best-seller gets the big screen treatment with this Universal Pictures/Focus Features co-production. The steamy tale details a masochistic relationship between a college student and a businessman, whose desires for extreme intimacy pen from secrets in his past.

North's Thoughts:
If you haven't at least heard of "Fifty Shades Of Grey", I must assume that you live off the grid.
Once the series of novels took off, the first question became:
How will they make this movie?
Hollywood has shied away from the "sex scene" in recent years.
The days of extended, steamy montages like the one in Top Gun are long gone.
What was once commonplace, is now often one of the first things to be cut out of the script.
So can Fifty Shades revive a once proud Hollywood tradition?
Audiences hope so, as the pre-sale ticket numbers were huge enough to greenlight the next two films.
And don't forget to add the extra couple of million dollars to Shades total for theater-jumpers.
This will be the number one movie of the week, so don't get left out of the conversation on Monday.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Official Synopsis:
Based upon the acclaimed comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men First Class), Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a super-secret spy organization that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

North's Thoughts:
I've been excited for this release since I saw the first trailer months ago.
Kingsman looks like an action packed cross between a James Bond film and 21 Jumpstreet.
With crazy fight sequences, cool gadgets and an updated spy world, this could be great one.
It is helmed by talented director Matthew Vaughn (if you haven't seen Layer Cake, do so directly).
It also features the consistently great Samuel L. Jackson and Academy Award winner Colin Firth.
Basically, it should be tons of cinemaplex fun and could become a series of films if it succeeds.

Check Out Other Recent Editions Of Now Playing:

Now Playing: Jupiter Ascending, The SpongeBob Movie, Seventh Son

Now PlayingA Most Violent YearProject AlmanacBlack Or WhiteThe Loft

Now Playing:  Mortdecai, Strange Magic, The Boy Next Door

Now PlayingAmerican SniperThe Wedding Ringer, Paddington and Blackhat

Now PlayingSelmaThe Imitation GameInherent ViceTaken 3

Thanks For Reading!
Follow Us On Twitter For Daily Movie News And Links: @NorthSouthFilm

Friday, February 6, 2015

Now Playing: Jupiter Ascending, The SpongeBob Movie, Seventh Son

Jupiter Ascending
Official Synopsis:
From the streets of Chicago to the far-flung galaxies whirling through space, "Jupiter Ascending" tells the story of Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), who was born under a night sky, with signs predicting she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people's houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all along-her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

North's Thoughts:
I can tell this much from the trailer:
the movie looks beautiful.
The space ships, the cities, the aliens and the battles, could make for some epic 3D fun.
It's written, directed and produced by the Wachowskis, who gave us The Matrix series.
Even if one of their films flops, it will always bring pleasure to the eyes.
Sure, Speed Racer got people fired, but it looked dope!

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water
Official Synopsis:
SpongeBob SquarePants, the world's favorite sea dwelling invertebrate, comes ashore to our world for his most super-heroic adventure yet.

North's Thoughts:
The synopsis and title are one in the same:
SpongeBob On Land.
I've got to admit, aside from passing it on TV, I've never seen any of SpongeBob's work.
Did he start off doing theater?
I have seen thousands of clothing items, toys, videos, and cars, so obviously he's a big deal.
This is the best reviewed new film of the week, so go in to get your Spongebob fix with confidence.

Seventh Son
Official Synopsis:
In a time long past, an evil is about to be unleashed that will reignite the war between the forces of the supernatural and humankind once more. Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a knight who had imprisoned the malevolently powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), centuries ago. But now she has escaped and is seeking vengeance. Summoning her followers of every incarnation, Mother Malkin is preparing to unleash her terrible wrath on an unsuspecting world. Only one thing stands in her way: Master Gregory. In a deadly reunion, Gregory comes face to face with the evil he always feared would someday return. He has only until the next full moon to do what usually takes years: train his new apprentice, Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) to fight a dark magic unlike any other. Man's only hope lies in the seventh son of a seventh son.

North's Thoughts:
Love Julianne Moore.
Love Jeff Bridges.
So Seventh Son should be awesome, right?
Oh well, if it doesn't pan out for them, at least we will always have this.

Check Out Other Recent Editions Of Now Playing:

Now Playing: A Most Violent Year, Project Almanac, Black Or White, The Loft

Now Playing:  Mortdecai, Strange Magic, The Boy Next Door

Now PlayingAmerican SniperThe Wedding Ringer, Paddington and Blackhat

Now PlayingSelmaThe Imitation GameInherent ViceTaken 3

Thanks For Reading!
Follow Us On Twitter For Daily Movie News And Links: @NorthSouthFilm

Friday, January 30, 2015

Now Playing: A Most Violent Year, Project Almanac, Black Or White, The Loft

A Most Violent Year
Official Synopsis: 
Set during the winter of 1981 -- statistically one of the most crime-ridden of New York City's history -- A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is a drama following the lives of an immigrant and his family as they attempt to capitalize on the American Dream, while the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built. 

North's Thoughts:
This looks awesome and I love films set and/or shot in 1970s and 1980s New York City:
Mean Streets, The French Connection, Taxi Driver, and The Warriors come to mind as classics.
It features Oscar Isaac, who is a star on the rise:
He scored a Golden Globe nomination for Inside Llewyn Davis and is a lead in Star Wars VII.
Also, Jessica Chastain who is always superb and was nominated for a Golden Globe in this role. 

Project Almanac
Official Synopsis:
A brilliant high school student and his friends uncover blueprints for a mysterious device with limitless potential, inadvertently putting lives in danger. 

North's Thoughts:
Okay, the synopsis isn't exactly detailed, but bottom line: time travel movies are always watchable.*
Will Project Almanac become the next Back To The Future?
Probably/Definitely not, but I'll watch almost all time-bending flicks once.
Here's my Time Travel Top 10:
10. Flight Of The Navigator
9. Back To The Future III
8. Hot Tub Time Machine
7. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
6. Groundhog Day
5. Primer
4. The Terminator
3. Back To The Future II
2. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
1. Back To The Future

*Exception: The Butterfly Effect which is a horrible film and should be erased from history.

Black Or White
Official Synopsis: 
BLACK OR WHITE is the story of a grandfather (Academy Award winner Kevin Costner) who is suddenly left to care for his beloved granddaughter. When her paternal grandmother (Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer) seeks custody with the help of her brother (Anthony Mackie), the little girl is torn between two families who love her deeply. With the best intentions at heart, both families fight for what they feel is right and are soon forced to confront their true feelings about race, forgiveness, and understanding. Anchored by an all-star cast and based on real events, the movie is a look at two seemingly different worlds, in which nothing is as simple as black or white.

North's Thoughts:
A family drama, with some heavy hitters in Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer.
Quick Costner Top 5:
5. American Flyers
4. The Untouchables
1. JFK

The Loft
Official Synopsis:
Karl Urban (Star Trek Into Darkness) and James Marsden (2 Guns) star in the tense psychological thriller THE LOFT, the story of five guys who conspire to secretly share a penthouse loft in the city--a place where they can indulge in their deepest fantasies. But the fantasy becomes a nightmare when they discover the dead body of an unknown woman in the loft, and they realize one of the group must be involved. Paranoia seizes them as everyone begins to suspect one another. Friendships are tested, loyalties are questioned and marriages crumble as the group is consumed by fear, suspicion and murder in this relentless thriller.

North's Thoughts:
Why is James Marsden listed as the star of 2 Guns in the synopsis? 
He headlined several films and is best know as Cyclops, from the hugely successful X-Men series. 
Not the seventh lead in some long forgotten, Mark Wahlberg action flick.
Plus, don't forget about Disturbing Behavior.
Marsden, Nick Stahl, Ethan Embry and of course, Katie Holmes.
Katie took home an MTV Movie Award for her work and the rest in history.
Hopefully, The Loft will become Marsden's go to credit.

Check Out Other Recent Editions:

Now Playing:  Mortdecai, Strange Magic, The Boy Next Door

Now PlayingAmerican SniperThe Wedding Ringer, Paddington and Blackhat

Now PlayingSelmaThe Imitation GameInherent ViceTaken 3

Thanks For Reading!
Follow Us On Twitter For Daily Movie News And Links: @NorthSouthFilm

Friday, January 23, 2015

Now Playing: Mortdecai, Strange Magic, The Boy Next Door

Official Synopsis:
Juggling some angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) must traverse the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.

North's Thoughts:
At one point in his career, Johnny Depp was one of the coolest actors alive.
He was churning out great roles, in good films like Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood.
Chris and I did a Best Of Depp and it was hard to narrow it down to 5 films each.
More recently he has been starring in miss after reviled miss.
But with each new film Depp still casts the glimmer of hope we'll get to see his best again.
The rest of the cast is solid: Gywneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor and Olivia Munn.
So the big question: is this Johnny's next flop or smash?
I guess we will know by Monday morning.

Strange Magic

Official Synopsis:
"Strange Magic," a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion. Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic bring to life the fanciful forest turned upside down with world-class animation and visual effects.

North's Thoughts:
I find it very tough to gauge animated films before I've seen them.
I thought Rise Of The Guardians and Arthur Christmas looked like duds, until I gave them a chance.
And I'm glad I did because they have both become holiday viewing staples at my house.
If Strange Magic has the charm of those films and couples it with good music, it could be a big hit.
Never forget what can happen when an animated movie takes off . . .

The Boy Next Door
Official Synopsis:
Jennifer Lopez leads the cast in The Boy Next Door, a psychological thriller that explores a forbidden attraction that goes much too far. Directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious) and written by Barbara Curry, the film also stars Ryan Guzman, John Corbett and Kristin Chenoweth.

North's Thoughts:
My Jennifer Lopez Top 3:
3. The Cell
2. Out Of Sight
1. Selena
She was nominated for a 1998 Golden Globe for Selena and should have won.
Sorry Helen Hunt, nobody has watched As Good As It Gets in the last ten years.
Oh well, I guess J-Lo has to settle for being one of the most beautiful humans to ever live.

Check Out Other Recent Editions:

Now PlayingAmerican Sniper, The Wedding Ringer, Paddington and Blackhat

Now Playing: Selma, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, Taken 3

Thanks For Reading!
Follow Us On Twitter For Daily Movie News And Links: @NorthSouthFilm

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Michael Mann Lists

With his eleventh feature, Blackhat, hitting theaters today, Michael Mann is back in our lives.
It's been five years since his last film (Public Enemies) and we are excited to see our old friend back where he belongs, doing crime films for the silver screen. Over the years, he has developed a signature style that saturates his films and has caused movie geeks like us to head to the cinema over and over. So let's look back and celebrate a great career with . . .

The Michael Mann Lists
Dan's List

#5. Thief

James Caan is an all-time badass of cinema.
The unchecked emotion and the explosions that follow are incredible to watch.
He shoots and seethes his way through Mann's debut feature to great success.
Thief is full of Mann's signature style: the close-ups, the criminals and of course, the pounding music.
The composer for Thief was the group Tangerine Dream, who always bring a powerful sound.
Have you ever seen Risky Business? Yup, thank Tangerine Dream for that banging score too.

#4. Miami Vice

Mann was the Executive Producer of  "Miami Vice" (TV), and he came full circle with this film.
I'm not going to lie, I didn't love Miami Vice the first time through, but it grew on me over time.
Mann may be from Chicago, but the glitz of Miami at night is is a perfect setting for his edgy cops.
The Ferrari, the powerboats, the drugs and the suits were all great call-backs to the show.
And don't forget about the trailer with the cool Jay-Z/Linkin Park mash up.
Even Harold Faltermeyer would have loved that!

#3. The Insider

This is the film that put Russell Crowe on the map.
It gave him his first of three consecutive Academy Award nominations for Best Actor .
It's not the typical Mann fare as the "shoot-outs" here are metaphorical.
Still, it delves into the criminal side of big business and remains thrilling throughout.
The Insider was nominated for seven Oscars, but American Beauty took home most of the hardware.

#2. The Last Of The Mohicans

The French-Indian War just got awesome with this flick.
How Daniel Day-Lewis didn't get a nomination for this is beyond me.
This film proved that Mann can do anything, including a historical epic.
While it differs from his other films in terms of setting, the action is still incredible.
Certainly a great film to check out if you've never seen it or want to see top level directing in action.

#1. Heat

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer make this heist film an absolute classic.
Throw in Jon Voight, the once great Tom Sizemore and you've got one of the 1990s best films.
The bank robbery scene will go down in film history and rightfully so:
The shots are incredible and the sound makes you want to duck in your seat.
This is the quintessential Mann film and remains one of the best cops and robbers tale ever filmed.

Chris's List

5 – Manhunter
The big screen’s first incarnation of the legendary serial killer, Hannibal Lecter (played here by a still-chilling, though less refined Brian Cox). Mann, in all his 1980s glory, shows signs of future brilliance and dominance of the thriller genre. 

4 - The Last of the Mohicans
 Daniel Day-Lewis + historical drama = sold. A beautifully shot epic.

3 – The Insider
A fascinating, superbly acted (Russell Crowe, Al Pacino, etc.) film about a tobacco whistleblower courted by “60 Minutes.” Sounds slow and dry, but Mann injects an enthralling amount of tension and paranoia into the film. 

2 – Heat
One of the best crime dramas ever put on film. Amazing cast, gripping story, several fantastically shot action sequences, and that trademark moody Michael Mann atmosphere. 

1 – Collateral
Michael Mann’s films truly come alive at night. So, a film that takes place completely after hours, in downtown Los Angeles no less, is right in Mann’s wheelhouse. Throw in an absorbing hitman plot and arguably Tom Cruise AND Jamie Foxx’s best performances, you have one amazing film (that Dan, for some unknown reason, just does not care for).

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Follow Us On Twitter For Daily Movie News and Links: @NorthSouthFilm

Check Out Our Other Best Of Lists: