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Richard Linklater really did a worthy 12-year project with Boyhood
Unlike most films about the life of someone growing up throughout, this one actually has the same actor playing the leading role through 12 years of his life while his character goes through those same years as evidenced by many of the real-life events sometimes depicted in the film. Ellar Coltrane is fine as Mason, who we first meet when he's about 6 and then see him go through high school before concluding when he starts college. Lorelei Linklater, daughter of the film's writer/director Richard Linklater, is his older sister Samantha. And then there are his estranged parents, played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette who ends up being the one who raises them. Both Hawke and Arquette got Oscar nominations though only Arquette won which she deserved. The film could be both a little harrowing due to some personality conflicts depicted and also heartwarming when Mason discovers some truths from some of his relationships. Director Linklater has really created a fine slice-of-life piece. So on that note, I highly recommend Boyhood.
This version of Poltergeist was pretty effective in its way not unlike the original for what it's worth
Before I review this remake, let me make a few remarks about the original: I was a young teen in '82 when Steven Spielberg had two hit movies out that summer, E.T. and the original Poltergeist. I saw it at a mall theater with my brother and his friend. The screen was not very big so that may partly explain why I remember not being too scared by what was happening on screen. Still, it looked quite effective and was funny as hell part of the time. I saw it three more times on TV and liked it a little more with each showing while recognizing where the real effectiveness was-during scenes where the family were really concerned about little Carol Anne's safety. Anyway, the remake changes much of the structure such as the family just moving in as opposed to the one in the previous movie having already settled in, the teen daughter having more of a participation in the proceedings this time around, and a much different ending. There seem to be a bit more scares with the way things come more quicker at you (perhaps also due to both the 3D images and a much larger screen this time around) and things are explained sooner rather than later as in the original. In summary, this version of Poltergeist was effective in its own way as the original was in its way then.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (2015)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is another enjoyable Kevin James comedy of one of his clueless lovable characters
I remember liking the original Paul Blart several years back though the beginning didn't do it any favors, initially. I seem to have felt the same way here. There are some lines and scenes explaining why certain characters don't return for this sequel. Not that that actually matters since the only reason this was made was 1) Make some more money and 2) Have Kevin James reprise a role that helped him make that money back then. And he's the reason this sequel is still quite likable with his character a mix of dumb, a little smartass, and a little wise when needed to be. In summation, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is no great shakes but if you're in the right mood, it's still a humorously enjoyable time-waster, if you don't mind that...
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
Pitch Perfect was almost as good as its predecessor
Like the previous Pitch Perfect movie, this sequel was also shot in my current hometown of Baton Rouge, LA. I noticed the LSU campus right away, as well as WBRZ-TV 2 anchorperson Sylvia Weatherspoon in the news segments at the beginning. Among the veteran Bellas in the concluding sequence was "Good Morning America" host Robin Roberts who originally hailed from New Orleans. Oh, and one of the food products showcased in the movie, as in the previous one, was some stuff from a local hangout named Zippy's (which I finally sampled about a year ago, having not done that when the original movie came out). With that out of the way, I'll just say this was quite enjoyable both musically and comedy-wise, if not as believable. Still, it was also a little less vulgar (no barf scenes this time around) and often sweet. So on that note, I recommend Pitch Perfect 2.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Avengers: Age of Ultron was another awesome epic from Marvel Studios!
Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios have done it again! That is, they made an awesome Avengers movie full of great action, good humor, and nice dramatics concerning characterization. Whedon, previously creator of such classic TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, is such an expert of mixing genres that it's easy to take him for granted now but he still has some surprises in how he still puts it all together. Like the fate of one of the superhero characters, for instance. It's so awesome seeing Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, The Hulk, and the Black Widow fighting side-by-side once again saving the world! Oh, and yes, Stan Lee does another of his awesome cameos saying something he's famous for this time! So on that note, I definitely recommend Avengers: Age of Ultron!
J.K. Simmons deserved his Oscar for his performance in Whiplash
Just watched this on Netflix disc with my mom. She was perhaps puzzled by many scenes especially the ending. She certainly wasn't in love with J.K. Simmons' pretty sadistic music teacher character. Simmons' Oscar-winning role does show quite the range of emotions concerning his wanting his students showing how much excellence-according to him-he wants to get from them. His recounting the story of Charlie Parker and of a former student who died-which he says happened one way but we find out later it was in a much different way-does humanize him in a way that one would feel for him. And Miles Teller is great as the one student who seems obsessed with this teacher in trying to achieve greatness. I also liked his scenes with Paul Reiser as his father. The one question one should probably ask is if the ends of the way the movie goes on justify the means that it achieved when it got there. So on that note, I highly recommend Whiplash.
The Good Lie (2014)
The Good Lie is a touching fact-based drama with star Reese Witherspoon not the most important part of it
Just watched this on Netflix disc with my mom. She and I were touched by this inspirational tale of a family of refugees from the African country of Sudan coming to America, post-9/11, to start a new life. While Reese Witherspoon has above-the-title billing and her face is on the DVD cover, her character isn't as important as those refugees. In fact, she's not seen at all until at least 30 minutes has passed. Because of protocol here in the U.S., the sister has to be separated from her three brothers. Also, another brother gave himself to the enemy group in Sudan when younger and his fate won't be known until the film is almost over. The sequence concerning that last part is especially touching. So on that note, me and Mom recommend The Good Lie.
This Is Where I Leave You (2014)
While not great, This Is Where I Leave You was pretty entertaining
Just watched this with my mom on Netflix disc. She wasn't crazy about the dysfunctional aspects of the film plus she thought it was too raunchy. I liked both of those and mostly emphasized with the characters. Tina Fey does a pretty good job with both the drama and comedy as does Jason Bateman, both of whom are usually known for the latter part. Jane Fonda looks and performs as fine as ever in her advanced years as the matriarch who just lets things play out between her now-grown children as they work out their issues in the wake of their father's death. In summary, This Is Where I Leave You was pretty touching and entertaining.
Pullet Surprise (1997)
In honor of the late Stan Freberg, I watched his second cartoon as Pete Puma-Pullet Surprise
Several years ago, I watched Rabbit's Kin-a Bugs Bunny short. It was notable as the only one to feature one Pete Puma as his adversary. In fact, it was the only one to feature Pete Puma, period, during that classic WB cartoons era. I did mention in my review of that cartoon that he later appeared in a future short made a few decades later that I wanted to see. So now that the voice of that character, Stan Freberg, passed away recently, I finally watched that one-Pullet Surprise-on YouTube. He's paired with Foghorn Leghorn this time. Mel Blanc had died by that time so Mr. Leghorn's voice is done by Frank Gorshin here. Anyway, this was quite funny both verbally and visually though perhaps maybe a bit rushed. Still, I laughed throughout heartily. Darrell Van Citters did pretty well as director. So on that note, I recommend Pullet Surprise. R.I.P. Mr. Freberg
Home is a funny and touching animated film about loneliness among different races and species
Last year, me and my movie theatre-working friend saw a short called Home Again which seemed rushed though we later found out it was a preview of this feature. What we now just saw was a pretty funny and touching tale of one alien from another planet and a little girl who's been seemingly abandoned bonding together and finding out their destinies. Jim Parsons is the voice of Oh who is often shunned where he's from and Rhianna is the voice of Tip who's looking for her mother who-like other Earthlings-has been relocated after Oh's planet's leader basically invaded this world. Nice parable of loneliness and alienation that should provide some good thoughts to viewers who can relate. So on that note, me and my friend recommend Home.