Movie News

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

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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

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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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Check Out Our Other Best Of Lists:


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Now Playing: American Sniper, Blackhat, The Wedding Ringer, Paddington

American Sniper
Official Synopsis: 
From director Clint Eastwood comes "American Sniper," starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. But there was much more to this true American hero than his skill with a rifle. U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and, as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname "Legend." However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, becoming emblematic of the SEAL creed to "leave no man behind." But upon returning home, Chris finds that it is the war he can't leave behind.

North's Thoughts:
With six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, American Sniper is a must-see.
I've stated time and again that Bradley Cooper is one of the best actors around.
He had superb performances in American Hustle, The Place Beyond The Pines, and Silver Linings Playbook . Even his voice over work in Guardians Of The Galaxy stood out in a great ensemble.
Rest assured that he will bring the goods here, even if the film's director, Clint Eastwood, is hit-or-miss.

Official Synopsis: 
Set within the world of global cybercrime, Legendary's Blackhat follows a furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners as they hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta.

North's Thoughts:
The latest film from supremely talented director Michael Mann.
Much like I stated about Paul Thomas Anderson, Mann has earned my trust and price of admission.
His films are almost always slick, well shot and exciting dramas.
It's been over five years since he directed a feature and I can't wait to see his return to form.
Check out our Best Of Michael Mann Lists tomorrow to revisit his career.
And in the meantime slake your thirst for Mann with this little ditty.

The Wedding Ringer
Official Synopsis:
Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is a loveable but socially awkward groom-to-be with a problem: he has no best man. With less than two weeks to go until he marries the girl of his dreams (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), Doug is referred to Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner and CEO of Best Man, Inc., a company that provides flattering best men for socially challenged guys in need. What ensues is a hilarious wedding charade as they try to pull off the big con, and an unexpected budding bromance between Doug and his fake best man Jimmy.

North's Thoughts:
In my mind there is no better theater experience than sharing laughs with an audience.
Seeing a good comedy with friends at the movies will forever enhance your thoughts on the film.
That's why we love the goofy comedies of our youth:
Even if the content isn't as great as once thought, you remember the good experience you had with it.
That being said, seeing a bad comedy is only worth it for snarking afterward.
Kevin Hart, Josh Gad and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting are all funny people, so I have high hopes for the film.
And if I'm wrong, enjoy thrashing it mercilessly!

Official Synopses:
From the beloved novels by Michael Bond and producer David Heyman (HARRY POTTER), PADDINGTON tells the story of the comic misadventures of a young Peruvian bear (voiced by Firth) who travels to the city in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone, he begins to realize that city life is not all he had imagined - until he meets the kindly Brown family who read the label around his neck that says "Please look after this bear. Thank you," and offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.

North's Thoughts:
The trailer for Paddington screened before two films I recently saw and the reaction was the same:
Kids want to see this movie.
There was jumping, shouting and pleading ("I want to go watch this!").
Too bad for the parents it wasn't opening for a few weeks.
The film is getting great reviews, from adults, with a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
If the kids are right about Paddington, then I must report their other prediction:
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 will be the greatest film is the history of the world.

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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

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


Official Synopsis: SELMA is the story of a movement. The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernays SELMA tells the real story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.

North's Thoughts:
Everything I've read or heard about this film conveys the same message: it's powerful.
Sometimes historical films can lack a certain bite and turn out like made for TV movies.
Did you ever see The Alamo (2004)?
Just plain brutal.
By all accounts Selma is the opposite: it's a moving, relevant and done very well.
It has a 100% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Getting over eighty critics to agree on anything is nearly impossible, so go in with confidence!

The Imitation Game

Official Synopsis: During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of 'gross indecency', an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality - little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany's World War II Enigma machine. An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, THE IMITATION GAME follows a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives.

North's Thoughts:
These days Benedict Cumberbatch can do no wrong.
He was awesome as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.
He had a brilliant turn, in the supremely great, August: Osage County.
And seems to be all over the stage and the voice-over booth, all the time (he is Smaug too!).
And now, it looks like his work in The Imitation Game will get him an Academy Award nomination.
It doesn't take Mr. Turing to figure out that you should go see this film.

Taken 3

Official Synopsis: Liam Neeson returns as ex-covert operative Bryan Mills, whose reconciliation with his ex-wife is tragically cut short when she is brutally murdered. Consumed with rage, and framed for the crime, he goes on the run to evade the relentless pursuit of the CIA, FBI and the police. For one last time, Mills must use his "particular set of skills," to track down the real killers, exact his unique brand of justice, and protect the only thing that matters to him now - his daughter.

North's Thoughts:
A while ago I made a confession on Twitter that sent a few shockwaves:
I have never seen Taken or Taken 2.
Impossible, right?
Blasphemy, possibly?
I usually see fifty to one hundred new films a year, but somehow, some way, I never caught them.
I have seen about half a dozen parody bits and skits on TV, but I have never been "taken".
This is a promise that I will watch all three by the end of 2015.
What is a life without goals?

Inherent Vice

Official Synopsis:"Inherent Vice," is the seventh feature from Paul Thomas Anderson and the first ever film adaption of a Thomas Pynchon novel. When private eye Doc Sportello's ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a looney bin...well, easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic `60s and paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," that's being way too overused - except this one usually leads to trouble. With a cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists... Part surf noir, part psychedelic romp - all Thomas Pynchon.

North's Thoughts:
Paul Thomas Anderson.
That's it.
I don't care what the premise is, or from what book it was adapted.
P.T.A. is one of the best directors of all-time and if he makes a new film, I'll be there.
Put it this way: I read a list that ranked his films and it said The Master was his worst.
If your "worst" movie garners three Academy Award nominations, you're doing something special.

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