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THE NOVEMBER MAN (2014) review

August 29, 2014

 

 

 

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written by: Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek
produced by: Beau St. Clair, Pierce Brosnan and Sriram Das
directed by: Roger Donaldson
rating: R (for strong violence including a sexual assualt, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use)
runtime: 108 min.
U.S. release date: August 27, 2014

 

Dropping a Pierce Brosnan spy thriller during the last days of August does not bode well for anyone encouraged by the thought of the actor getting back into the genre. The trailer and TV spots hope you’ll get excited at the sight of Brosnan back, but there is this element of them trying to sell it as Old Man Bond. Considering the time of year it’s hitting theaters and the fact that Relativity Media hasn’t really had a huge marketing push behind it (the lame posters don’t help), it’s understandable how one might approach “The November Man” with a certain amount of trepidation. So, maybe because my expectations were put aside, I found this somewhat flawed film to be quite an engaging and kind of unpredictable feature. Surprise surprise.

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SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (2014) review

August 23, 2014

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written by: Frank Miller
produced by: Sergei Bespalov, Aaron Kaufman and Stephen L’Heureux
directed by: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller
rating: R (for strong brutal stylized violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and brief drug use)
runtime: 102 min.
U.S. release date: August 22, 2014

 

It’s August. Generally considered to be the month where studios release whatever summer releases they have left as they prepare for fall. Most comic book related movies have typically already been released, except this year. “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is the third movie based on a comic book to be released this month and surprisingly, the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, have been the biggest hits of the summer. This sequel will draw a predominately different kind of audience though.

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THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014) review

August 17, 2014

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written by: Creighton Rothenberger, Katrin Benedikt and Sylvester Stallone
produced by: Avi Lerner, Kevin King-Templeton, Danny Lerner, Les Weldon & John Thompson
directed by: Patrick Hughes
rating: PG-13 (for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language)
runtime: 126 min.
U.S. release date: August 15, 2014

 

If you’ve followed my reviews over the years you may recall I have absolutely no issues with old dudes mowing down faceless bad guys and creating an excessive amount of collateral damage. It’s become the norm to poke fun or roll your eyes at these leathery sextagenarian (at this point, even septuagenarian) actors who remain in the genre they’re known best for. I’ll take the action veterans of “The Expendables” movies over any new blood that other action movies try to sell us as the next best thing. I appreciate what Sylvester Stallone and company were doing with the first two movies, but “The Expendables 3”, with its tedious recruiting montage, a terrible injection of youth and a sad attempt at addressing aging, wore me down and ultimately bored me.

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2013) review

August 8, 2014

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written by: Nicole Perlman and James Gunn
produced by: Kevin Feige
directed by: James Gunn
rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language)
runtime: 122 min.
U.S. release date: August 01, 2014

 

As a rule, I try not to get my hopes up to high for movies. Although, I do my best to remain an optimist, I’ve been burned before and I kind of tend to ease up on the level of anticipation I maintain for certain movies. Well, all the trailers and the updates on co-writer/director James Gunn’s Facebook account reassured me that Marvel Studio’s latest comic book flick, “Guardians of the Galaxy” was going to be something special. Guess what? It is something special and it’s also quite a gamble and actually something of a game changer.

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MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (2013) review

July 28, 2014

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written by: Woody Allen
produced by: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Helen Robin
directed by: Woody Allen
rating: PG-13 (for a brief suggestive moment, and smoking throughout)
runtime: 98 min.
U.S. release date: July 25, 2014

 

Woody Allen’s latest annual output is one of his more obvious vacation movies. Meaning: it’s clearly one of those films where Allen thought about where he’d like to vacation with his family first and a locations for another film second. “Magic in the Moonlight”, which he wrote and directed, is a romantic comedy that takes place predominately in the French Riviera, surroundings that are accentuated in this easy-going tour along curvy roads nestled in beautiful mountainsides. Allen must have been too relaxed though when he came up with this dreadfully uninteresting screenplay. His two leads are generally likable in everything they do, yet wind up flailing in Allen’s vacation mode, making this film another flat entry in his canon.

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STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS (2013) review

July 21, 2014

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written by: Micah Bloomberg and Rose Lichter-Marack

produced by: Andrew Neel, Veronica Nickel, Dave Saltzman & Craig Shilowich

directed by: Sam Fleischner

rating: no rating

runtime: 102 min.

U.S. release date: May 23, 2014 (New York) & July 18, 2014 (limited)

 

There have been enough missing-child thrillers over the years to categorize them as a sub-genre. Usually, they involve an abduction, suspects and an official investigation of some sort, while worried parents or guardians are left to feel helpless or take matters into their own hands. However, director Sam Fleischner’s powerful new film “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” involves none of those conventions. He instead relies heavily on the building emotions in the aftermath of a child’s disappearance and the sound and vision from the perspective of the missing child. It’s a refreshingly interesting approach to a familiar subgenre, leaving the audience with several memorable moments and causing them to notice life in a different way.

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EARTH TO ECHO (2014) review

July 14, 2014

 

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written by: Henry Gayden

produced by: Ryan Kavanaugh and Andrew Panay

directed by: Dave Green

rating: PG (for some action and peril, and mild language)

runtime: 89 min.

U.S. release date: July 2, 2014

 

What we needed from the tiresome ‘found footage’ subgenre was a family-friendly sci-fi adventure that aspires to be the “E.T.” for the youth of this generation. It’s not. Not even close. I found myself either nodding off or getting annoyed at the shaky cam that is all over this feature. Then again, my 8 year-old daughter enjoyed it. So, while I may not be the target audience for “Earth to Echo”, it’s easy to identify how this movie would’ve worked better and where it fell short. If anything, it made me realize that the family-friendly sci-fi flicks I grew up with in the 80s were pretty awesome.

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