Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Get Ready for Fruitvale Station

Our next film is Fruitvale Station. You won't want to miss this one. It's gotten rave reviews, but it's disappointing that it didn't get any Oscar nominations. Maybe it was released too early in the year.  
John has come up with some questions to ponder as you're watching the film. He'll lead the discussion after so be prepared with some insightful questions.

1.  How does the film's limited point of view shape the audiences reaction to the event being depicted?  Is this limited perspective nevertheless a fair one?

2.  Why did the filmmakers only dramatize events in the last day of Oscar Grant's life?  Does the attenuated time frame of this biopic enhance or diminish the subjects life?

3.  In what way does knowing the outcome of the story affect the audiences reactions to specific scenes as we are watching them?

Critics Corner

Gail Brown's latest review:

Jack Ryan:  Shadow Recruit, 2 hours 25 min
Rated:  PG-13
Ratings:  IMDB, 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes, 6.0 with a 63% fresh, 4 of us today rated it 8-10!!
Cast:  Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightly, Kenneth Branagh
Directed by:  Kenneth Branagh

Based on the character created by bestselling author Tom Clancy, "Jack Ryan" is a global action thriller set in the present day. This original story follow a young Jack (Chris Pine) as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot. The story follows him from 9/11, through his tour of duty in Afghanistan, which scarred him forever, and into his early days in the Financial Intelligence Unit of the modern CIA where he becomes an analyst, under the guardianship of his handler, Harper (Kevin Costner).

Two Critics Comments:
While all involved talk a good game, this movie really is a bit of a toss-off, a disposable date movie to enjoy momentarily and then completely forget about. (Isn’t that what January movies are all about??)

This film had an oddly generic feel like we have seen this story in some form before. Even if this was set several years post-9/11, it had that dated Cold War (a la classic James Bond) feel especially when the action shifted to Moscow. Fortunately though, despite those gripes, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is still a very exciting action-packed thriller

My opinion:
I am recommending this movie as a good January CIA ‘edge of your seat’ drama/adventure.  We enjoyed it a lot more than most of the critics apparently…same critics that wanted Her to win best pix of the year!!

The pace of the movie was very good…with surprise moments.  Of course the things that happen in these movies are not plausible…but it was a fun ride.  Chris Pine is a likable actor, someone you root for.  I have always enjoyed Kevin Costner….there is just a charm about him…the camera took nicely to both of them. After the crazy, over the top movies I have seen lately…this was a welcome change of pace, as well as a throwback to movies we grew up with (ala 007 but not that good!)

Would never win an award but entertaining…glad we saw it today….

More About The Sapphires

I'm still thinking about The Sapphires and after seeing that fun, interesting film, I did a little more research about it. Are you still wondering about parts of the story? Here's an update that actually includes some of John Anderson's comments after the film (but for those of you who didn't stay after, you'll be interested). This article about Tony Briggs, the writer of the film who is the son of one of the Sapphires is also interesting.

Local Film News

Coming February 6 - 16, The Jewish Film Festival. Fourteen different films will be shown in various venues including San Diego, La Jolla, Carlsbad and San Marcos. Click on the link for more information and for the list of films.

In the meantime, we'll see you Sunday, the 26th for Fruitvale Station.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

NCFC's Exciting New Season

The North County Film Club kicks off the new season with The Sapphires on Sunday, January 12. You're not going to want to miss this film. In 1968 four young talented Australian Aboriginal girls learn about love, friendship and war when their all girl group, The Sapphires entertain the US troops in Vietnam. Based on a true story, The Sapphires is a triumphant celebration of youthful emotion, family and music. 

Here's a photo of the real Sapphires as they are now:

And here's a review of The Sapphires with some interesting points which might make for some good discussion after the film showing on Sunday.

If you don't know about the film club and want to join - the membership fee is $10.00. Sign up for membership at the table outside of the Digiplex (Mission and College, Oceanside). The pass for all 10 films is $45.00 and can be purchased at the box office (can you imagine? only $4.50 per film!). If you only want to see 5 of the films, you can purchase a pass for $30.00 (you must select the 5 films before you purchase your pass).

We welcome new members. Join us for some great films. Here's the lineup for 2014 Winter-Spring Season.

Film News
Once again, I'm missing the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Maybe next year. It started on the 3rd and runs through the 13th. So if you're in the area or want to make a special trip, here's the info: Palm Springs Film Festival. This is one of the best festivals in the U.S. It features mostly foreign films, but also showcases some of the more important US films.

Critic's Corner
Gail Brown is favoring us with another of her film reviews, this time for American Hustle.

Starring:  Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence
Directed and Co-written by:  David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Rated:  R
Ratings:  IMDB 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes 94% fresh and 8.2, the five who saw it today, 7 to 9.5

This movie is not easy for me to review.  It is still swirling around in my head.  Definitely not one of my favorite movies of the year….although it did have redeeming qualities as I noted below.

The Good:  The casting and acting…..I could not take my eyes off the four characters.  Amy Adams, who we once looked at like the ‘girl next door’…will surprise you.  Christian Bale who gained 50 lbs for this role, is a very intense actor (since he was 11 in Empire of the Sun) who totally sank himself into this role.  Jennifer Lawrence, at age 24, has the acting chops of someone twice her age.  Bradley Cooper’s passion for his craft comes through in every role he plays.  The four of them do not disappoint. Also the music was very good.

The Disappointing:  It is not a good thing when a 2 hour and 9 minute movie feels like 3 hours….I also found myself drifting off through a number of scenes.  Although the acting was superb and memorable…I could never sit through this movie again.  It was just a little too ‘over the top’ for me and maybe even over-acted here and there as well.

Note:  Most of the critics are raving about this movie and you will see that many have it as one of their top ten movies of the year.  Others I know liked it a lot… so please don’t let my review discourage you from seeing it.  If you love these four actors, then by all means see this movie because their performances made it worth seeing.  Could get an award or two for ensemble acting as well as for some individual performances.

Hope to see you all on Sunday the 12th at the Digiplex in Oceanside (unless, of course, you're in Palm Springs).