Green Room (2015) Patrick Stewart – Movie Review

Touring the Pacific Northwest, the D.C.-based punk quartet known as the Ain’t Rights haven’t quite taken this part of the country by storm, ending up taking a bit of a detour from their tour to secure some much-needed gas money for the cross-country trip home by playing in a backwoods Oregon roadhouse for skinhead neo-Nazis. After the gig, they stumble into a room backstage and discover a young woman murdered on the floor, and the skinheads culpable aren’t going to just let them walk out after they’ve alerted the police. As Darcy the dive club’s owner, wants to keep all traces of their activities, illicit and otherwise, from being discovered by the cops, they stage a cover-up story while the Ain’t Rights are locked tight in the room. Knowing that things aren’t going to end well for them, it’s up to the band to try to figure out a way out of the situation before they end up the next victims.

Keanu (2016) Key & Peele – Movie Review

Key stars as Clarence, a straight-laced suburbanite who is lured by his recently broken-up slacker cousin Rell, played by Peele, to finally cut loose with his wife away for the weekend. Little do they know that this ‘cutting a little loose’ might involve strippers, drugs and murder, as Rell’s adorable kitty, which has given him his long-lost mojo back, has been taken in a mistaken-identity burglary by Cheddar, the leader of the gang called the Blips (those who left the Bloods or Crips), who will only give Keanu back if the men, who are posing Tectonic and Shark Tank, out-of-towner hitmen called the Allentown gang (mute, trench-coated thugs also played by Key and Peele), who are also on the lookout for the lovable kitten that got away from them during a gunfight at the film’s intro.

Elvis & Nixon (2016) Michael Shannon – Movie Reviews

In this semi-fictional yarn, the impetus for Elvis wanting to meet with either J. Edgar Hoover or Nixon is born from his growing discontent at seeing where America has been headed, particularly in the growing cultural unrest among its people, from the hippie movement, to the pot smokers, to the war protestors, to the Black Panthers. The King decides that he can actually help the country if he can be made a Federal Agent. Joined by his “Memphis Mafia” friends Jerry Schilling from Hollywood and bodyguard Sonny West, Elvis travels to the White House in order to have an impromptu meeting with the President, hoping to convince him to get the badge he will need to carry out his “agent at large” duties. The road seems at an impasse, but Nixon’s aides, sensing that a photograph of the two together could endear him come re-election time to large swaths of Elvis fans, particularly in the South, try to make it happen, despite Nixon’s initial protests.

The Jungle Book (2016) Disney – Movie Reviews

Neel Sethi stars as young Mowgli, raised in the jungles of (presumably) India by a pack of wolves after his father is slain by the power-hungry tiger Shere Khan, who does not like humans one bit, fearing that the older Mowgli gets, the more he will threaten their way of life. Sensing the danger from the lurking tiger, Mowgli’s savior and mentor, a panther named Bagheera, decides that the young “man-cub” is in mortal danger, striving to escort the tyke to the place where he’ll be most protected: a village of human beings in relatively close vicinity. However, the road to civilization proves to be just as treacherous, especially when Bagheera loses track of the man-cub’s whereabouts, leaving him susceptible to giant bears, hypnotizing pythons, stinging bees, and disturbingly ambitious apes.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016) Chris Hemsworth – Review

On the prequel front, we find that the wicked Queen Ravenna (Theron) has a sister named Freya (Blunt), a more benevolent (at least at first) younger sibling who is seemingly always in the eldest’s shadow. Freya ends up in an affair with a handsome duke and soon has his child, but instead of starting a new life with her, the duke destroys their future by killing the baby. The resultant grief Freya fees at the deplorable act brings out latent superpowers within her to control the powers of cold and ice, which she not only uses to get revenge, but, once leaving to form her own kingdom up north, she also aims to make use of in order to raise and train many of the children of the land to not only fight for her as “Huntsmen” (who don’t hunt?), but to also forbid them dreaded thing she was denied in life through the cowardly actions of her ex: love.

Two of the children in her Huntsman training regime are Eric and Sara, not only her best warriors, but also secretly in love with ach other. Knowing they can never openly live a life together as lovers, Eric and Sara, now grown, vow to leave their responsibilities and start a life together on their own, but Freya catches wind and forces a wedge, quite literally, between the would-be couple. From there, we presume, comes the events of Snow White and her battle with Ravenna, who ends up mortally defeated, and the rest of the film continues Eric’s story as he goes on the quest to find the magical mirror, which leads him to also discover that many things he believed to be true were merely deceptions.

A Hologram for the King (2016) Tom Hanks – Movie Review

Tom Hanks plays Alan Clay, a recently divorced IT salesman, down on his luck in both his personal and professional life, called out on a rare assignment to Saudi Arabia in order to try to peddle his company’s pricey holographic technology to the king for use in their rich country.  Many missteps occur as Alan is never quite able to get his bearings there either, persistently having to call for a ride with a local cab driver named Yousef to get him to the site in a tardy fashion, often giving the American fish-out-of-water a crash course on local customs, while he has to return day after day to try to get help for his IT team to be able to set up optimal conditions for the presentation to the king who is told will be coming soon but never does.  Meanwhile, Alan is lured to the possibility of something more around the corner, spending some choice time with a lusty Danish executuve named Hanne, and some flirtatious encounters with Dr. Zahra Hakem, who is treating him for a growing cyst on his back, a symbol of the woes he carries around that continue to fester, further increasing his escalating anxiety.

April and the Extraordinary World (2015) – Movie Review

Comic book legend Jacques Tardi’s graphic novel provides the inspiration for this loose big screen adaptation from France, from screenwriters Franck Ekinci (who-codirects with Christian Desmares) and Benjamin Legrand, with graphic design work on the film by Tardi himself.  It’s a steampunk alternate world where Earth’s has progressed little scientifically since the Industrial Revolution, primarily because scientists have been outlawed, and they’ve begun disappearing en masse. 

Most of the film is set in that alternate Paris in 1941, under the rule of Napoleon V, where much of the power supplied to the world comes from pre-fossil fuels like coal, charcoal and wood from the rapidly dwindling forests of the world.  April is an inventive orphaned woman with a smart-alecky talking cat named Darwin.  She lost her scientist parents at a young age when it was discovered that they had possibly invented something called the Ultimate Serum, a chemical cocktail that makes its imbiber rejuvenated, cured of disease, and virtually immortal — something that could tip the global war for resources in France’s favor should they be able to create their own invincible super-soldiers.  April is being closely monitored from several interested parties in case she happens to stumble on the potent concoction, or invent it on her own, with the tenacious French policeman, Gaspard Pizoni, on orders to observe her every move.  April makes that discovery, but finds an even larger one emerges that threatens to shift the balance of world power in an entirely unexpected direction.

Criminal (2016) Kevin Costner – Movie Review

Criminal starts with Ryan Reynolds as a CIA superspy named Bill Pope, on assignment in London, soon finding himself surrounded by murderous assassins working for an international super-terrorist from Spain named Xavier “The Anarchist” Heimbahl.  Heimbahl is looking for a man named, Jan “The Dutchman” Stroop, who is a genius hacker who has managed to infiltrate American defense systems that control the launch and destination of nuclear missiles, hoping to rid the world of the governmental/corporate choke-hold that he thinks is responsible for all of the world’s ills.  Pope is tortured for info, then offed, but Pope’s boss in the CIA, Quaker Wells, knows that nearly every life on Earth may hang in the balance of getting information Pope had, deciding to throw a ‘hail mary’ by bringing in a scientist named Dr. Franks to perform the first human memory transplant from one human to another. 

Born to Be Blue (2015) Ethan Hawke – Movie Review

The film starts with Baker playing himself in a film that was planned, but never actually made, about his own life. Born to be Blue utilizes this film-in-a-film approach to draw out the glamorized, black-and-white version of Chet Baker with the so-called reality of the situation, even with the very unsavory issue of his womanizing and his own addiction to heroin. Also included is the love affair he would have with a struggling but ambitious actress named Jane, who is a composite fictional character, played by Carmen Ejogo, who also plays Baker’s wife in the fictional film. He’s out of prison, but still under the close supervision of his probation officer, who wants him to get a clean and steady job and get out of the lifestyle that has too many temptations for him at the ready, knowing that the methadone he is prescribed to kick the habit will only get him so far.

Sing Street (2016) John Carney – Movie Reviews

Set in Dublin in 1985, teenage dreamer Conor is a new student in a Christian Brothers school that writer-director John Carney also attended during the same year, Synge Street, whose hard-knocks with bullies and over-petulant Catholic headmasters equally as turbulent as his home life with his parents who are struggling with a lack of finances and a drift apart in their relationship. Conor soon meets slightly older local beauty Raphina, who wants to pursue a modeling career in London, and he asks her if she’d like to be in his band’s music video. The problem? There is no band. In order to win Raphina, he’s going to have to put the music where his mouth is and put one together, so he puts the word out, gets a group (a la New Romantic and synthpop bands like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Spandau Ballet) in to make the music based on his lyrics (using Raphina as his muse) and with him as the front-man, and soon, Sing Street is born.