“Good thing you didn’t go to the movie last night. It was sooo boring! U would have definitely fallen asleep.” That’s the text I sent to a friend who luckily escaped seeing Ginger & Rosa, which manages to make both teen angst and the Cuban Missile Crisis mind-numbingly dull.

The movie is beautifully shot and there are slow, gorgeous close-up shots of the characters and their surroundings while not much of interest occurs. The entire movie is a series of snapshots that together don’t quite make a whole and certainly not a story that is in any way gripping or intriguing. That is essentially because the characters are never developed.

Elle Fanning fares the best. That’s because her character Ginger is the only one that’s even remotely fleshed out and Fanning has an abundance of charisma and screen presence. She perfectly captures that contradictory mix of insecurity and arrogance of teens in the midst of discovering new ideas and testing their independence. If it were not for Fanning this movie would be unbearable but even she with all her talent cannot work miracles as evidenced by a couple who did walk out in the middle of the film. Continue reading »

End of Watch follows two street cops Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) as they patrol the gang infested neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. The film uses the now familiar device of showing the action through the lens of a camera. At first this overused gimmick is distracting but as Brian and Mike go about their day, the camera settles down and the technique delivers a voyeuristic quality and a sense of urgency to the unfolding action.

The camaraderie between Brian and Mike is the heart of the film. The relationship between the two feels lived in and authentic from the start. You believe these two guys are cops and best friends. Peña and Gyllenhaal both give natural and organic performances. They both are at times funny, charming, vulnerable and tough. There’s an unpretentious, stripped down quality to the dialogue and story that makes it feel real and immediate. Continue reading »

Spring break the yearly ritual depicted in Spring Breakers, where college students travel to Florida or Mexico to indulge in a week of reckless drinking, sex and partying has a long tradition on screen dating back to 1960 in Where the Boys Are. The two films couldn’t be more different but one thing remains constant; spring break is where you will find the boys. In Spring Breakers four small town bored college girls go in search of adventure and end up encountering one very bad boy.

Unlike many of the films that deal with spring break, there is no dorky guy trying to lose his virginity, nerdy girl trying to win the heart of a jock or loser group of friends attempting to fit in with the cool crowd. Spring Breakers is about the darker side of what can happen when youth, drugs, and alcohol mix with the aimless and disconnected. In this case, Brit (Ashley Benson), Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), and Cotty (Rachel Korine). And, how the girls finance their trip sets the tone for the rest of the film.

Faith is the good girl of the group first seen at a church meeting and who serves as the conscience of the group. Once in Florida the friends ride around on scooters in their bikinis and join in the drinking and drugs mayhem of spring break. Of course, things take a wrong turn and this is when the coeds meet Alien (James Franco) a pot dealer who fancies himself a rapper and the movie takes off.   Continue reading »

LouieLouie presents a fully defined world-view that feels totally real and relatable. The show has a matter of fact honesty that is stripped of any showiness or self-aware hipness and that may be its strongest point and the reason for its appeal. If you’re looking for a comedy loaded with witty banter and pop culture references, keep on clicking because you won’t find it on Louie.

What you will find instead is a character based show rooted in the experiences of an everyday guy who isn’t part of the cool, attractive crowd but one of the masses who just happens to be a comedian. Louie is a divorced dad of 42 with two young daughters trying to do his best as a father and a human being while suffering indignities big and small and occasionally messing up as we all do.

While Louie does present a three dimensional flawed individual who is socially awkward and often bewildered by those around him including his own daughters it also gives audiences one of the most nuanced and raw portraits of an adult male on television. As the season goes on, Louie emerges as a man with a clear set of principles rooted in a common sense and fair-minded broad view that the world doesn’t owe anyone anything. Continue reading »

It’s Kansas in 1905 and Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a magician in a traveling circus who is busy juggling women, a mediocre act, and a vague desire for greatness. In spite of his shifting moral compass Oscar does have a loyal assistant Frank (Zach Braff) and the love of the good-hearted, small town girl Annie (Michelle Williams) who sees a potential for meaning in Oscar’s life beyond his transparently charming façade. But, before he has a chance to fulfill that promise he’s forced to escape in a hot air balloon after one too many transgressions and is caught up in a powerful tornado that whisks him away to the Land of Oz.

Oz is a visually rich land teeming with vibrant colors; flowers that pop open, water fairies and the beautiful witch Theodora (Mila Kunis). It is Theodora who first sees Oscar fall out of the sky and welcomes him to Oz, innocently believing he is the wizard prophesied to save Oz from the evil witch who has killed the benevolent king. Oscar is happy to play the role of wizard when he learns there is a throne and scepter of gold that goes along with the title. Of course, he soon finds Oz is a darker place than it first appears. The yellow brick road to the emerald city is paved with danger, ominous flying creatures and live snapping tree branches.

Along the way to the emerald city Oz saves the life of a flying monkey Finley (voiced by Zach Braff), picks up China Girl (Joey King) and charms Theodora who falls in love with him and imagines she will be his queen. Once he arrives in the emerald city, Oz meets Theodora’s older sister Evanora (Rachel Weisz) who sends him on a mission to kill the “evil” witch Glinda (Michelle Williams who also plays Annie) but he soon discovers that Evanora is the wicked one. Continue reading »

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