Monday, April 30, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) ***

G, 144 min.
Directors: Richard Fleischer, Kinji Fukasaku, Toshio Masuda
Writers: Larry Forrester, Hideo Oguni, Ryûzô Kikushima, Gordon W. Prange (story “Tora! Tora! Tora!”), Ladislas Farago (story “The Broken Seal”)
Starring: Martin Balsam, Soh Yamamura, Joseph Cotten, Tatsuya Mihashi, E. G. Marshall, James Whitmore, Takahiro Tamura, Eijiro Tono, Jason Robards, Wesley Addy, Shôgo Shimada, Frank Aletter, Koreya Senda, Leon Ames, Junya Usami, Richard Anderson, Kazuo Kitamura, Keith Andes, Susumu Fujita, Edward Andrews, Bontarô Miake, Neville Brand, Ichirô Ryûzaki

“Tora! Tora! Tora!” was made at the end of an era in Hollywood. War films had long been a staple in Hollywood filmmaking. Like the western, it was once a very popular genre. “Tora! Tora! Tora!” was the last of its breed, a war film that propped up our patriotism. It reflected that once we needed to embrace war to succeed as a country. Vietnam changed that, and war films fell out of popularity. They barely even returned as their own genre until almost a decade later when “Apocalypse Now” started the trend of presenting the horrors of war above the patriotism that once convinced teenagers to lie about their age to go to combat for their country.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ebert Thoughts ‘12—Citizen Kane (1941) ****

PG, 119 min.
Audio Commentary: Roger Ebert
Director: Orson Welles
Writers: Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles
Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Comingore, Ruth Warrick, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, Erskine Sanford, Everett Sloan, William Alland, Paul Stewart, George Coulouris

This year marks the first for one of the features being shown at Roger Ebert’s Film Festival in Champaign-Urbana today. It isn’t unusual for the programmers to show a cinematic classic like “Citizen Kane”. They even programmed such respected titles when it was called the Overlooked Film Festival. That’s one of the reasons they changed the name. But, as far as I know, this is the first time they’ve screened a movie at this festival with the audio commentary track. This is a rare opportunity for festival goers to hear Ebert’s words with his own voice since throat cancer took it from him a few years ago. Luckily, Ebert recorded the commentary track years ago and it was included on the original DVD release of the film, so it’s pretty easy to hear what he has to say about the movie many call the greatest movie of all time in the comfort of your own home.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ebert Thoughts ‘12—Take Shelter (2011) ****

R, 121 min.
Director/Writer: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker

“Take Shelter” is the second film I’ve watched because of Ebertfest mere months since my initial screening. I reviewed this amazing movie from last year less than two months ago as a Penny Thoughts. You can read my initial impressions here.

Ebert Thoughts ‘12—Higher Ground (2011) ***

R, 109 min.
Director: Vera Farmiga
Writers: Carolyn S. Briggs (also memoir “This Dark World”), Tim Metcalfe
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Joshua Leonard, Norbert Leo Butz, Michael Chernus, Dagmara Dominiczyk, Donna Murphy, John Hawkes, Sean Mahon, Barbara Tuttle, Nina Arianda, Taissa Farmiga, Boyd Holbrook, Bill Irwin

I’m a little conflicted in my feelings on Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut “Higher Ground”. It’s about a woman, played by Farmiga, who endures a lifelong struggle with her own Christian faith. Certainly her life is filled with reasons to both embrace faith and question it. I suppose everyone’s is. But, I guess that gets to the heart of my conflict about the film. There don’t seem to be any other characters who struggle with their faith in it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ebert Thoughts ‘12—Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) ***½

NR, 106 min.
Director: Robert Hamer
Writers: Robert Hamer, John Dighton, Roy Horniman (novel)
Starring: Dennis Price, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood, Alec Guinness, Audrey Fildes, John Penrose

I’m not sure what I expected from this British classic. It’s good. It’s a little twisted. It certainly isn’t what Hollywood was making in 1949. Well, maybe Hitchcock, but even he wasn’t quite so subversive. And, eight roles for Alec Guinness? Take that Jedi Masters.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ebert Thoughts ‘12—Terri (2011) ***½

R, 105 min.
Director: Azazel Jacobs
Writers: Patrick Dewitt, Azazel Jacobs
Starring: Jacob Wysoki, John C. Reilly, Bridger Zadina, Creed Bratton, Olivia Crocicchia

This is the first of two movies screening at this year’s Ebertfest that I’m looking at again after having last seen it only a few months ago. I watched “Terri” last November and included an entry in my weekly Penny Thoughts feature about it. Read it here.

Ebert Thoughts ‘12—Big Fan (2009) ***½

R, 88 min.
Director/Writer: Robert D. Siegel
Starring: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Jonathan Hamm, Matt Servito, Michael Rapaport

Robert Siegel’s “Big Fan” is an incredible character study on just what it means to be a fan and care very little about anything else. Plenty of people are fanatics over professional sports teams. It takes all kinds. Lawyers, stockbrokers, blue-collar workers, teachers, artists, anyone can be a fan. I’m crazy over the Big Blue myself, but that’s not the reason I like this movie so much. I suppose a Dallas Cowboys fan might not appreciate the “Dallas Sucks” t-shirt Patton Oswalt wears in one scene, however.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ebert Thoughts ‘12—Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) ***½

PG, 102 min.
Director/Writer: John Patrick Shanley
Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Abe Vigoda, Dan Hedaya, Ossie Davis, Barry McGovern, Amanda Plummer, Nathan Lane

There’s nothing like a little existential romance to brighten your day. My wife was feeling blue when I decided to put this one in and soon her day was bright again. That’s a little strange just because “Joe Versus the Volcano” is more than a little bit strange, but therein lays its charm.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Batman: The Movie (1966) **½

PG, 105 min.
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Writers: Lorenzo Semple Jr., Bob Kane (characters)
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Caesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Stafford Repp, Reginald Denny

This is one of those movies that runs hot and cold. I’ll watch it one time and it’s just so bad and so dull I curse my need to own everything Batman. Sometimes I’ll watch it and find it just hilarious. Such was the case when I finally decided to try it out on my boys.

Monday, April 23, 2012

American Reunion / **½ (R)

Jim Levenstein: Jason Biggs
Oz: Chris Klein
Kevin: Thomas Ian Nicholas
Finch: Eddie Kaye Thomas
Steve Stifler: Seann William Scott
Michelle: Alyson Hannigan
Vicky: Tara Reid
Heather: Mena Suvari
MILF Guy #2: John Cho
Stifler’s Mom: Jennifer Coolidge
Jim’s Dad: Eugene Levy
Selena: Dania Ramirez
Kara: Ali Corbin
Mia: Katrina Bowden
Dr. Ron: Jay Harrington

Universal Pictures presents a film directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. Written by Hurwitz and Schlossberg. Based on characters created by Adam Herz. Running time: 113 min. Rated R (for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking).

Last year I was asked to contribute to a article about the rising popularity of R-rated raunchy comedies. One of the points I contributed was that the raunchy comedy was hardly a new phenomenon in Hollywood. So,13 years after the release of one of the raunchiest and most popular comedies of the 90s, comes the fourth movie in the franchise to prove my point. Certainly, the raunchy comedy had to hold some weight in Hollywood before “The Hangover” and “Bridesmaids” in order to spawn a four-movie franchise over the course of 13 years.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) ***½

R, 127 min.
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writers: Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan, John le Carré (novel)
Starring: Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, John Hurt, Toby Jones, David Dencik, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Firth, Kathy Burke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Graham, Simon McBurney, Tom Hardy, Amanda Fairbank-Hynes, Stuart Graham, Konstantin Khabenskiy

I’ve heard a good deal of people comment that the British spy flick “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, based on the novel by John le Carré, is confusing. I suppose I can understand such comments, but the basic plot isn’t confusing at all. Set in the 70’s, in the bleakest days of the Cold War, it comes to the attention of MI6 that there is a double agent in the upper echelons of the British spy agency, in the leadership division known as “Circus”. Retired agent George Smiley is recruited to smoke out the mole.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ebertfest 2012 Preview

Another year has rolled around and once again it’s time for Ebertfest. The 14th Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival plays at the Virginia Theater in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois next week April 25-29. I’ve attended five of them over the years and hope beyond my financial considerations each year that I might attend again. Alas this is another year that I won’t be in attendance, but as the programming for this film festival is probably the best a cineaste can ask for, I will be doing my best to keep up with the movies as they watch them in the Virginia Theater next weekend.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Lady Eve (1941) ***

NR, 94 min.
Director: Preston Sturgess
Writers: Preston Sturgess, Monkton Hoffe (story)
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, William Demarest, Eric Blore, Melville Cooper

You just have to love the preposterousness of the set ups they used to come up with for old romantic screwball comedies. So Henry Fonda is this heir to a very popular brewing company. Barbara Stanwyck is a con artist who wants to grift him but ends up falling in love with him. I guess the writers really wanted to start their story out on a cruise ship, so instead of having some metropolitan Meet Cute, they make Fonda an explorer as well. He’s been finding exotic snakes in South America I guess, but must get back to the States and stops a cruise ship to sail him home. He’s super rich, so it could happen. Wow. That’s a lot of work to go through just to set up your romantic comedy. But hey, it’s a whole lot more interesting than just knocking her newly nicked clothes all over the pavement on 5th Avenue.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Titanic 3D / ***½ (PG-13)

Jack Dawson: Leonardo DiCaprio
Rose Dewitt Bukater: Kate Winslet
Caledon Hockley: Billy Zane
Molly Brown: Kathy Bates
Ruth Dewitt Bukater: Frances Fisher
Old Rose: Gloria Stuart
Brock Lovett: Bill Paxton
Captain Edward James Smith: Bernard Hill
Spicer Lovejoy: David Warner
Thomas Andrews: Victor Garber
Bruce Ismay: Jonathan Hyde

Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox present a film written and directed by James Cameron. Running time: 194 min. Rated PG-13 (for disaster related peril and violence, nudity, sensuality and brief language).

I had originally planned to see the 3D re-release of James Cameron’s mega-blockbuster “Titanic” on its first weekend back in theaters. Circumstances arose that made taking off from the family to watch a three and a half hour movie in the middle of the evening an inconvenience. So weekend two of the re-release rolls around and without thinking about it I found myself in the theater on April 14, exactly 100 years after that fateful night that became one of the most infamous dates in history.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Up All Night, season 1 (2011-12) ***

NR, 24 23-min. episodes
Creator: Emily Spivey
Directors: James Griffiths, Randall Einhorn, Troy Miller, Joe Russo, Jay Chandrasekhar, Michael Blieden, Beth McCarthy-Miller
Writers: Emily Spivey, Caroline Williams, Erica Rivinoja, Tim McAuliffe, Tucker Cawley, David Iserson, Alex Reid, Brian Rowe
Starring: Christina Applegate, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Hall, Will Arnett, Jean Villipique, Mat Braunger, Jason Lee, Nick Cannon, Steven Pasquale, Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Forte, Molly Shannon, Megan Mullally, Blythe Danner, Eve Best

The term ‘bubble’ gets thrown around a great deal at this time of year in respect to television shows. Shows that are “on the bubble” are ones the may or may not get renewed for the next season. There’s often a group of shows that lead the pack and there’s no chance they’re going to be cancelled unless the producers have chosen to end it. Other shows are quite obviously going to be cancelled because of their poor ratings, or have already in fact been cancelled. All of the rest of the shows are “on the bubble.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Gamer (2009) ½*

R, 95 min.
Directors/Writers: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Starring: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Amber Valletta, Kyra Sedgwick, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Logan Lerman, Alison Lohman, Terry Crews, John Leguizamo, Zoe Bell

The only thing saving this movie from the dreaded zero star rating is that there are actually some ideas behind this smorgasbord of horridness. Really, this movie isn’t a far cry from “The Hunger Games” in concept. It’s also incredibly similar to many other violent sci-fi movies, like “The Running Man” and “Death Race”. The difference is this one makes all of those look like masterpieces.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Tyrannosaur (2011) ***

NR, 92 min.
Director/Writer: Paddy Considine
Starring: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Paul Popplewell, Ned Dennehy, Samuel Bottomley, Sally Carman

Paddy Considine’s “Tyrannosaur” begins with a scene that disturbed me to the core. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been as disturbing were I not a dog person, but even a cat person might take umbrage with it. The fact that this scene is offensive to someone who enjoys animals doesn’t mean the movie is bad. The impact of this opening is important to the filmmakers’ purpose.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Giant (1956) ****

NR, 201 min.
Director: George Stevens
Writers: Fred Guiol, Ivan Moffat, Edna Ferber (novel)
Starring: Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, Rod Taylor, Earl Holliman, Fran Bennett, Charles Watts, Elsa Cardenas, Victor Millan

George Steven’s “Giant” is a movie about America. That’s as simply as it can be put. It’s about how modern America was formed, how it was shaped. How we struggled against change that was inevitable and progressive. But, it shows how we prevail through these struggles, how our basic goodness wins us over through time.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Adventures of Tin Tin (2011) ***½

PG, 107 min.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Hergé (comic book series)
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Daniel Mays, Toby Jones, Joe Starr

“The Adventures of Tin Tin” is the second movie in the past week that I’ve revisited from the holiday season of 2011. Both of which were good movies for the whole family, although both also contained elements that we’ve come to think of as being unacceptable for children. “We Bought a Zoo” had some fairly harsh language for a ‘PG’ rated movie, although nothing that I didn’t hear in movies all the time as a kid. “Tin Tin” includes a drunkard as one of the heroes.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Immortals (2011) **½

R, 110 min.
Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Writers: Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides
Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, John Hurt, Joseph Morgan, Anne Day-Jones, Greg Bryk, Isabel Lucas, Daniel Sharman, Kellan Lutz

Tarsem’s movies are always a pleasure to look at. “Immortals” is no exception. “Visually stunning” seems an understatement for this movie. What’s more, it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be in terms of acting and dialogue. Its story structure is kind of falling apart, however.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island / ** (PG)

Sean: Josh Hutcherson
Hank: Dwayne Johnson
Alexander: Michael Caine
Kailani: Vanessa Hudgens
Gabato: Luis Guzmán
Liz: Kristin Davis

New Line Cinema presents a film directed by Brad Peyton. Written by Brian Gunn & Mark Gunn and Richard Outten. Based on the novel by Jules Verne. Running time: 94 min. Rated PG (for some adventure action and brief mild language).

I remember watching the 1961 version of Jules Verne’s sci-fi classic “Mysterious Island” with stop motion creature visual effects by the great Ray Harryhausen. It was a marvel to my seven-year-old brain and imagination. It was scary and wonderful to think of an island where the tiniest of creatures were giant behemoths, and the largest animals could be picked up and carried like lap dogs. I would imagine that “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” probably has a similar effect for children under a certain age.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Into the Abyss (2011) ****

PG-13, 107 min.
Director/Writer: Werner Herzog
Starring: Jason Burkett, Michael Perry, Jeremy Richardson, Kristen Willis

The films of Werner Herzog have become a fascination in the examination of the human soul. Herzog obsesses over the desperation and delusion of the human condition. Often he chooses subjects who are unusually chipper considering their circumstances. Often they are oblivious to their misperceptions. That’s wrong. ‘Misperceptions’ would be too judgmental for Herzog.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Big Year (2011) ***

PG, 100 min.
Director: David Frankel
Writers: Howard Franklin, Mark Obmascik (inspired by the book)
Starring: Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, Rosamund Pike, Rashida Jones, Brian Denehey, Dianne Wiest, Kevin Pollack, Joel McHale, JoBeth Williams, Anjelica Huston, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Parsons, Barry Shabaka Henley, Anthony Anderson, Steven Webber

“The Big Year” seems like a Hollywood anomaly to me. I think this is the way movies used to be for the public. The movie kind of flew in under the radar last fall even though it contains an all-star cast. What it doesn’t contain is anything that you’d expect from a comedy starring Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black. It isn’t a formulaic plot that only exists as a clothesline upon which to hang a series of visual gags and fart jokes. It has a genuine story, and it isn’t even all that funny.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Music Never Stopped (2011) ***

PG, 104 min.
Director: Jim Kohlberg
Writers: Gwyn Lurie,  Gary Marks, Oliver Sacks (essay “The Last Hippie”)
Starring: J.K. Simmons, Lou Taylor Pucci, Cara Seymour, Julia Ormond, Tammy Blanchard, Mía Maestro, Scott Adsit

“The Music Never Stopped” is an oddly paced drama. It has a kind of Lifetime/after school special feel to it, but it’s a good treatment.

It tells the true story of a man who lost his memory and was treated by using rock music to reconnect him with the memories he formed when he originally listened to the songs. The movie isn’t really about that man so much as it is about the man who shaped him in his formative years—his father. The great character actor, J.K. Simmons, plays the father, whose son walked out of the house twenty years earlier. When he is finally returned, it is as a near vegetable.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—We Bought a Zoo (2011) ***½

PG, 124 min.
Director: Cameron Crowe
Writers: Aline Brosh McKenna, Cameron Crowe, Benjamin Mee (book)
Starring: Matt Damon, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Angus Macfadyen, Elle Fanning, Patrick Fugit, John Michael Higgins, Carla Gallo, J.B. Smoove

I often second-guess myself after I heap praise upon a movie that others don’t. Some liked “We Bought a Zoo” when it was released in theaters, others not so much. I didn’t see any critics seeming to enjoy it as much as I did, however. Upon seeing it again, my initial feelings about the movie were confirmed. I really like this movie. It strikes my heart.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Tower Heist (2011) **½

PG-13, 104 min.
Director: Brett Ratner
Writers: Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage
Starring: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Michael Peña, Alan Alda, Téa Leoni, Judd Hirsch, Gabourey Sibide, Stephen Henderson

“Tower Heist” is exactly the amount of entertainment that it needs to be. It’s a comedy, but it’s a little more serious than some. It’s a heist movie, but it’s a little more silly than most. It’s fun.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—My Left Foot (1989) ***½

R, 103 min.
Director: Jim Sheridan
Writers: Shane Connaughton, Jim Sheridan, Christy Brown (book)
Starring: Daniel Day Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Ray McAnally, Fiona Shaw, Ruth McCabe, Alison Whelan, Cyril Cusack

I have a special needs child. She has developmental delays. She’ll catch up. That’s what we say, and we believe it. Not that we don’t think she’ll need some help, but those developmental delays can be tricky. It would be easy to think she just doesn’t get it, that she doesn’t understand. I think often she acts like she doesn’t understand when she does, but it’s very hard to tell what’s going on in that head of hers.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) **½

R, 102 min.
Director/Writer: Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, John Hawkes, Louisa Krause, Brady Corbett, Maria Dizzia, Christopher Abbott, Julia Garner

Yesterday, I reviewed Elizabeth Olsen’s latest theatrical release, “Silent House”. Today, I’ll look at the movie that placed her name on so many people’s lips last fall.

Many thought the Olsen twins’ little sister deserved an Oscar nomination for her work in the independent drama “Martha Marcy May Marlene”. One of the reasons she may not have gotten enough votes is because people had such a hard time remembering the exact name of the title. That’s a lot of ‘M’ names, and there are so many others that are very similar.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Silent House / *** (R)

Sarah: Elizabeth Olsen
John: Adam Trese
Peter: Eric Sheffer Stevens

Open Road Films and Liddell Entertainment present a film directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau. Written by Lau. Based on the film “The Silent House” by Gustavo Hernández. Running time: 85 min. Rated R (for disturbing violent content and terror).

There’s a misconception that originality equals greatness. The Ancient Greeks, when they invented drama, theorized that there were only a few original story lines and that every story was a variation on those few. The new horror film “Silent House” isn’t original. It couldn’t be by its very nature because it is a remake of a foreign film, as so many American horror movies are. Where it distinguishes itself is in its execution.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Undefeated (2011) *

PG-13, 117 min.
Director: Stephen K. Bannon
Writers: Stephen K. Bannon, Sarah Palin (excerpts from the book “Going Rogue: An American Life”)
Starring: Sarah Palin, Andrew Breitbart, Kurt Gibson, Rick Halford, Mark Levin, Kate Obenshain, Mary Rutherford, Gene Therriault

OK, so here’s the thing. I don’t want to talk about politics, or Democrats and Republicans, or any of all that. The thought of Sarah Palin as president has scared me. I was also as impressed by her speech at the GOP’s Convention as everyone was when she was announced as McCain’s running mate. Hell, maybe she would be a good financial guide for our country. I don’t know.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 (2011) *

PG-13, 97 min.
Director: Paul Johansson
Writers: John Aglialoro, Brian Patrick O’Toole, Ayn Rand (novel)
Starring: Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler, Matthew Marsden, Edi Gathegi, Patrick Fischler, Michael Lerner, Joe Polito, Rebecca Wisocky, Jsu Garcia

The first part of the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” has the effect of making you feel like you’re being clubbed to death with a baby seal. The ideas about how everything in our society should be based on the notion of rewarding individual achievement, and that the whole thing is being run off the rails by bleeding hearts and corrupt politicians are so insistently heaved upon the audience that the story can hardly bear their weight.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—YellowBrickRoad (2011) ***½

R, 100 min.
Directors/Writers: Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton
Starring: Michael Laurino, Anessa Ramsey, Alex Draper, Cassidy Freeman, Clark Freeman, Tara Giordano, Sam Elmore, Laura Heisler, Lee Wilkof

As a horror aficionado, I have a pretty strong heart for these types of movies, but “YellowBrickRoad” filled me with a sense of utter hopelessness. I believe that’s what they were going for, and they get there in a way that masks just how low budget this feature is. This is a horror movie for the horror fan looking for something that he can’t get out of just any old horror flick.