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MFG Weekend Movie and Video Preview: June 6
By Bill Newcott, June 5, 2014 03:50 PM
Tom Cruise finds himself stuck in a time loop, and a Hollywood agent discovers that time is not on his side.
That can mean only one thing...
It's time to check out this week's new movies!
Edge of Tomorrow
Tom Cruise stars as a soldier who dies in a battle against space aliens, only to find himself in a time loop that plops him back into that same fateful day over and over again. It's a Twilight Zone-worthy scenario that gets smart, spectacular treatment from director Doug Liman ( Swingers, The Bourne Identity).
Cruise is laugh-out-loud funny in the early scenes as a cocky Army information officer, and he even gets some good-sport points for playing a sight gag that emphasizes his (usually hidden) short stature. Emily Blunt is tough as nails as a fellow warrior who warms up to Cruise - after a few hundred replays. FULL REVIEW
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Writer/director Clark Gregg ( The Avengers, Iron Man) also stars as a former child star now working as an agent to other kid actors in this uneven comedy. Despite a great cast (Felicity Huffman, Allison Janney, William H. Macy, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell and Molly Shannon), Gregg's movie can't make up its mind: Is it a wild satire of Hollywood heartlessness? Or a solemn meditation on the victimization of children? FULL REVIEW
Get ready for the most promising Grownup Movie Summer ever!
Click here for our exclusive checklist of don't-miss flicks through August.
Still Out There . . .
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
Henry Altmann (Robin Williams) is already a cranky guy, but his worst day ever comes when his doctor (Mila Kunis) dismissively tells him he's got a brain aneurysm-and only 90 minutes to live. What follows is a mad rush as Henry frantically tries to track down everyone he's hurt with his rotten attitude so he can make amends before it's too late.
Handsomely filmed and beautifully acted, this true story of a half-African woman raised in an aristocrat's home at the tail end of slavery in the British Empire takes some of the hard themes studied in 12 Years a Slave and wraps them in Jane Austen finery. The luminous Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the title role; Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson are the conflicted blue bloods who try to balance their affection for Belle with the realities of 18th-century England. FULL REVIEW
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Cold in July
This small, perfect crime thriller introduces us to a quiet Texas businessman (Michael C. Hall of TV's Dexter) brooding about fatally shooting a prowler. His guilt and regret shift to terror when the burglar's father (Sam Sheperd) turns up, seemingly bent on revenge. That somewhat predictable set-up takes a quick left turn, though - and soon we're off on a chase as murky as a Texas back road on a moonless night. Don Johnson crackles as a low-rent private eye. FULL REVIEW
D-Day: Normandy 1944
June 6 marks the 70th anniversary of the Allies' assault on Nazi-occupied France. Thanks to clever graphics, spectacular historical footage and the giant IMAX screen, civilians can finally start to get a grip on the sheer scope of the largest military invasion in history.
John Turturro is a male prostitute and Woody Allen is his pimp. If that premise doesn't bring a smile to your face, then stop reading now. Otherwise, this surprisingly sweet tale of loneliness, longing and looking for love features Woody's best performance since Deconstructing Harry. FULL REVIEW
Here are two things this re-re-reboot of the 1954 Japanese classic does not have enough of:
1) Bryan Cranston
Unwisely, the star of TV's Breaking Bad makes an early exit...and inexplicably the title character doesn't really show up until the second half. Most of the film focuses on two incredibly ugly prehistoric critters that terrorize cities on both sides of the Pacific; the G-Man arrives later, Mighty Mouse-like, to save the day.
Heaven Is For Real
Based on the New York Times best seller, the true-life story of a 4-year-old boy's tale of his supposed visit to Heaven could have gone cinematically wrong in oh-so-many ways. But under the sure direction of Randall Wallace, Greg Kinnear gives one of the best performances of his career as the boy's conflicted father. FULL REVIEW
Director James Gray's lush vision of 1921 Manhattan stars Marion Cotillard as a young Polish woman forced into prostitution by a charming but evil businessman (Joaquin Phoenix). Jeremy Renner plays the guy's brother, a sensitive magician who is her only hope for escape.
How riveting can a film be when we see just one character - and he never leaves his car? In the hands of star Tom Hardy and writer/director Steven Knight ( Dirty Pretty Things), Locke hits the gas and never lets up. Hardy plays the manager of a billion-dollar construction project who, on the day before groundbreaking, finds himself juggling crises personal and professional from his car phone. For him, it's the ultimate case of distracted driving; for audiences, it's a white-knuckle ride from start to finish.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Every time Seth McFarlane's Western satire takes a turn along its winding, dusty road, we discover that Mel Brooks got there first, 40 years ago in Blazing Saddles. There's a story about the hero (McFarlane), an out-of-place sheep farmer, preparing for an ill-advised shootout. But the film works best whenever McFarlane presents - in hilariously graphic fashion - yet another way in which the Old West can do you in.
Angelina Jolie is the chief attraction here. As the "evil" queen who cast that shut-eye curse on Sleeping Beauty, she gives a brainy, heartfelt performance in a movie that mostly sacrifices nuance for bombast. Director Robert Stromberg visually quotes a lot of better movies, including Fantasia, Wings of Desire and Kevin Smith's Dogma (check them out!). Jolie's stellar turn aside, however, he seems unwilling to make an emotional connection.
A Night in Old Mexico
Robert Duvall revisits his grizzled-old-cowboy persona, starring as a Texas rancher forced off his land and facing the realities of old age. He heads with his grandson (Jeremy Irvine) for one last "Yahoo!" south of the border, but their plans change when they unexpectedly find themselves holding a satchel of mobster loot.
The Other Woman
Three betrayed women (Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton) seek revenge on the guy who done them wrong (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). But First Wives Club got here first, and it was a whole lot smarter .
The Railway Man
Colin Firth is a World War II veteran who won't talk about his ordeal in a Japanese POW camp; Nicole Kidman is the wife who forces him to come to terms with it - and, in a sense, finally escape that long-ago prison. It starts out as a touching husband-and-wife drama, but when Firth's character heads to Thailand to confront the man who tortured him, the stakes rise exponentially. FULL REVIEW
Mia Wasikowska stars as Robyn Davidson, a city dweller who became a National Geographic cover girl in 1978 after she made a solo trek across 2,000 miles of Australian outback accompanied only by her dog.
Words and Pictures
To this summer's list of handsome grownup couples, add Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen in a romance that's got more on its mind than boy-gets-girl. She's an art professor who thinks pictures are supreme; he's an English prof who insists words are all that. As their debate rages, we discover two damaged people who just might be able to supply each other's missing emotional elements.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
You needn't be obsessed with the X-Men mythology to be utterly caught up in this spectacular new adventure about Marvel's ultimate crime-fighting tag team. Set partly in the future and partly in the past, it's the story of how a government program to eliminate the X-Men "mutants" goes horribly awry. The team sends Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to enlist younger versions of the group to head off the carnage before it starts.
Now on DVD and VOD...
12 Years a Slave
Chiwetel Ejiofor, as a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery, leads a powerful cast. FULL REVIEW
All That Heaven Allows
The ultimate 1950s "Women's Picture" is Douglas Sirk's sumptuously filmed story of an upper-crust woman (Jane Wyman) whose family condemns her love for a much-younger groundskeeper (Rock Hudson). Come for the suds, stay for the Technicolor brilliance of cinematographer Russell Metty.
You won't have more fun at the movies than you'll find here with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Louis C.K. and Jennifer Lawrence as assorted con artists and Feds conspiring to bring down crooked politicians. FULL REVIEW
The Bob Newhart Show: Complete Series
This is the one where Bob played a Chicago psychologist and Suzanne Pleshette was his wife. They were surrounded by one of the all-time great ensemble casts: Marcia Wallace (the secretary), Peter Bonerz (the dentist across the hall), Bill Daly (the annoying neighbor) and Jack Riley (the grumpy patient). After 142 episodes, you'll be all laughed out.
Dallas Buyers Club
At the height of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, a tough heterosexual Texas electrician (Matthew McConaughey) gets the dreaded diagnosis - then sets up a lucrative business smuggling alternative anti-AIDS drugs into the state. McConaughey won his first Oscar for his compelling performance.
Decoding Annie Parker
Samantha Morton is the title character, whose grandmother, mother and sister all died of breast cancer - and who has just been similarly diagnosed herself. Helen Hunt is the researcher who's certain there is a genetic link to some forms of breast cancer, but who is running into one brick wall after another within the medical establishment. Both double-Oscar nominees, the stars make engaging work of this true story of two women who barely meet yet are intimately joined in a race against genetics. FULL REVIEW
You may remember the 1966 Shirley MacLaine/Michael Caine original, but you almost certainly never saw this Cameron Diaz/Colin Firth sort-of-remake from last year. The Coen Brothers wrote the enjoyable script for this caper flick; even if it lacks their trademark quirkiness, sometimes that's not a bad thing.
What happens if you love your technology just a tad too much? Joaquin Phoenix finds out when he falls hard for the seductive female voice (Scarlett Johansson) in his computer's operating system. Writer/director Spike Jonze creates a compelling portrait of a near future when people would rather interact with their machines than each other. Imagine such a thing!
Inside Llewyn Davis
Joel and Ethan Coen's most balanced movie ever is a fond look at the early 1960s Greenwich Villlage folk-music scene. Oscar Isaac is irresistibly mopey as the title character, but the real treat comes when Llewyn hitches a ride to Chicago with a blustery, bloated blues musician, played with great aplomb by John Goodman. FULL REVIEW
L'Eclisse (The Eclipse)
Michelangelo Antonioni's 1962 masterpiece, about a free-spirited woman (Monica Vitti) who moves ruthlessly from one lover (Francisco Rabal) to another (Alain Delon), explores the modern world's determination to keep people alienated from each other. Fifty two years later, his tocsin rings louder than ever.
A Matter of Trust-The Bridge to Russia Concert
It was a really big deal when Billy Joel staged the first-ever Western rock 'n' roll show in Russia in 1987 . Here's every minute of that landmark performance featuring previously unreleased versions of "Honesty," "You May Be Right" and "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me." (Also featured: a whole lotta hair on the Piano Man's noggin.)
The Monuments Men
George Clooney enlists Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Cate Blanchett to help him patrol Nazi-occupied Europe in search of stolen artworks. A greater sense of urgency would have helped push the plot along, but what's more fun than hanging out with George and his buds for two hours? FULL REVIEW
In a season of extraordinary acting accomplishments, Judi Dench gives the performance of a lifetime as the title character, a woman seeking the son she gave up as a child. Steve Coogan, who also wrote the film's moving and disarmingly funny script, costars as the investigative reporter who helps unravel a tangle of deceit and corruption. FULL REVIEW
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Director/star Ben Stiller celebrates the mystery of imagination, the wonder of real life and the point at which they converge in this spectacular comedy adventure loosely based on the classic James Thurber short story. Kristin Wiig plays the adorable object of Mitty's affection, Shirley MacLaine cameos as the hero's loving mom and Sean Penn pops up in a brief but pivotal role as a globetrotting photographer. FULL REVIEW
Sin City (2005)
The sequel is coming to the big screen, so you may as well catch up on the original: A hyperviolent splatterfest unlike anything you've ever seen. Director Robert Rodriquez creates a dark comic-book world spotlit in primary colors, pulsing with loud music and roiling with naked molls. If that's your cup of tea, here's the dirty cup to brew it in.
Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley
Once billed as "The Funniest Woman in the World," gravelly-voiced Moms Mabley was a sensation in African-American vaudeveille. She became known to white audiences only through scattered TV spots in the late 1960s, shortly before her death in 1975, but she was idolized by Goldberg and a generation of younger comics, many of whom appear in this heartfelt documentary. Among them are Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, Kathy Griffin, Anne Meara, Robert Klein, and Bill Cosby.
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