Youth (2015)

For my 100th movie on the 100th day in this series I was wanting something a little special to mark this huge milestone.  Oops.   Not to worry, I will chose better for my 200th movie.

Youth had so much promise, with

Michael Caine and

Harvey Keitel as two aging friends, at a spa retreat in the Swiss Alps.  Quirky and stylistic, we followed these pair as they wrestle with what is their last professional outing.  Caine is maestro conductor who is coaxed to giving one last performance in front of the Queen.  Keitel is a movie director who wants to his one last movie made and in the can.

They both bump into a variety of surreal characters who find themselves at the same retreat for a variety of reasons.

Paul Dano plays the hip young actor (think Shia LaBeouf – who he incidentally looks very alike) who represents the old boys career beginning.  He is there for them to bounce off and realize opportunities taken and also lost.

Many a cameo creeps in, including a wonderful piece by the beautiful quirky  Paloma Faith who plays herself, when the son decides to date a pop star.

The movie tries far too hard to be a mood piece.  Drawn out scenes that never seem to get to the point, lots of lingering shots on people standing around (sometimes nude granted so not as bad as it could have been) and basically you are left wondering if you have missed anything.

There is one particular scene with

Rachel Weisz sitting on a sun lounger while she talks with her new mountaineer.  The problem is that the scene switches between two cameras – one in front of her, one behind her.  However the continuity is so ridiculously out of sync as her hand moves on each scene you can’t help but be drawn to it.

The movie could have been great, but failed. 

#100 in the series


Viewing Date
Thursday, 26th November 2015 (Orlando)


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Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

When will I learn?  How much pain should one go through before I realize that

Adam Sandler movies, no matter the format, should be avoided at all costs?  Though in my defense I wasn’t aware this one was voiced and written by him.  This movie was at the request of my 9 year old who found the first one funny and wanted to see the second one.   Just to be clear, he thought this was bombed big time and wasn’t at all worthy of the first one.

The reason I will hold to his recommendation here is because I will confess to falling asleep halfway through it and waking up, only to discover I still had a good 20 minutes to endure before the end.  /sigh/

This is a Sony Animation production, and believe me, you aren’t going to forget that fact.  I have never seen product placement as gratuitous as this particular in animation movies.   Three main moments popped up, that added little to the story, but gave opportunity to have Sony products embedded.

Now this isn’t a rendered Sony Vaio laptop, or Sony phone, or Sony large screen TV.  No, this is the actual device, with logos very prominent, sticking out like a sore thumb against the usual animated environment.  Crass.

If you watch the trailer of this one, then you are pretty much caught up in the all ‘funny’.  There isn’t more to add by actually sitting down and watching this title.  Hell it isn’t even worth the bandwidth to download it illegally, should you be so desired to skip the local multiplex.

I think I have learned my lesson now, Adam Sandler was funny in the early part of his career, but he’s long since lost that gift.  I will admit the Pixels movie was nearly okay, but titles like The Cobbler (which I am not going to rewatch as part of this movie review series) illustrates that he’s truly lost it.

Oh well.


Viewing Date
Monday, 19th October 2015


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Three Amigos (1986)

It was a Friday evening, a great day out with the family and what a wonderful way to relax in front of a roaring fire than to throw on a real classic from your childhood.

Steve Martin,

Chevy Chase and

Martin Short, three comedic legends of the 1980′s, surely this can’t fail to be a hit with a new virginal audience.   What started out with 5 viewers, ended up with just 2, and only that one stayed to keep me company and get the benefit of the glowing fire.  I will confess, I was completely dismayed at how awful this one was.   Did my memory really betray me that much?

A story line not dissimilar to Galaxy Quest (meets the Magnificent Seven) where 3 out of work actors think they have been hired in Mexico to do a special show for a small village where the village thinks they have hired real heroes to come down sort out their local menace.   Hilarity ensues.

There are some funny moments in this, no sorry, what I am saying.  There are two funny moments and after that, it is just painful to watch this horrible horrible vehicle come to a crashing and embarrassing stop.   

Taking the horrendous racial cliches away from this for argument, you are left with neither a witty dialogue or even a funny slapstick.  I would wager it would have been funnier if they had just improvised as they went along – just keep the camera rolling and see what comedic gold they can mine.  But they didn’t.  There should be no excuse as Steve Martin was one of the principal writers on this.

Had you asked me about this movie before I watched it with my 40+ year old eyes I would have waxed lyrical how funny it was, how side tickling funny the camp fire sing-a-long My buttercup was.  Maybe that was my mistake, revisiting a memory that was cemented when I was barely into jeans.  The fact my movie literate children got up and left, is a huge indication just how badly this has dated.  Couldn’t even find a pre-puberty audience.

In short, stay well clear.  Don’t go anywhere near this and whatever you do, do not rate this anywhere near the likes of the other real classic Steve Martins.


Viewing Date
Friday, 16th October 2015


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Z for Zachariah (2015)

Post nuclear war and very few human survivors are left.  We open up with Ann (Margot Robbie) taking various things from an abandoned town in her radiation suit.  She then walks out far enough into the country and gets rid of the suit – clearly setting up that there is an area that for some reason is not bathed in radiation.

She goes about her lonely existence, when she happens upon John (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is living out of a trailer and she rescues him from taking a shower in a radiated waterfall.

They of course do the usual song’n’dance of trust and caring for him etc then he decides he can build an electric generator to give them electricity, except he wants to use the church as raw materials.   Ann, not so keen on this, being a god fearing woman whose father preached there.  So stale mate, with John respecting her decision on this.

Movie plods along at a woefully slow pace until another man pops up, Caleb (Chris Pine). Caleb is a lot sexier than John but no where near as practical.  Ann is conflicted.  Brains or beauty.  Agony of choice.  Though one wonders, in a world where you may be the only 3 people left, just have a menage a trois?  little threesome sex would have picked this movie up a lot!

Pace does not pick up at all here and still plods on with no real drama or tension.  The trailer makes this movie seem far more interesting than it actually is.   Then it ends.   Just ends.   It’s as if the movie makers decided, enough is enough, just stop it now.  End this pain for everyone.

Simply awful movie with no real purpose and long lingering camera shots of characters thinking, deep in thought.


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 6th October 2015


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Whiplash (2014)

This obscure unknown movie made quite the splash at the 2014 Oscars being nominated across the board for a number of awards including Best Picture.  While getting a huge promotion boost with the Oscars (and various other awards) it still only managed to pull in $13M at the box office, which isn’t a huge amount but against a $3M budget, kept the bean counters very happy.

The movie centers around an upcoming drummer, at music school, against a teacher who simply bullies him into playing more and more.  There really is nothing more than that.  

If you look up the word pretentious you discover: “
Claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified”.  Or if you wish to shorten that then just say Whiplash.

J.K. Simmons plays the hard assed music teacher who is hell bent on making everyone’s lives hell.   Preparing for this role must have been fairly straight forward as he has lifted every, now parodied, move from the classic actor   R. Lee Ermey as General Hartman in Full Metal Jacket.  

The difference here is that General Hartman is training men for war.  There is a huge amount of method in his madness.   However, Whiplash, is a jazz song.  A frigging piece of music!  No tune is worth blood pouring from your fingers as you drum too hard or being slapped by your teacher.  Ridiculous.

But it gets worse/better depending on which position you take on whether this is a masterpiece or not.

Miles Teller is the student who is putting up with this nonsense.   He believes this is the only way he can be great and become famous (hasn’t he heard of YouTube?).   Teller, who looks spookily like a young John Cusack, is in a continual dazed state as he moves from scene to scene.

Let us keep this in context.  It’s music.  Period.   No lives are being lost.  No countries are going to fall.   Yet, when Teller is involved in a very nasty car crash that crushes his car, he still gets out and wobbles, bleeding, and still runs to a music competition that he will muscle his way onto the band to play the drums.


He’s leaving the scene of an accident for a start.  He is also covered in blood, in addition to his head streaming blood, and NOT ONE person asks him if he is okay or should go to a hospital.  Really?

There is zero heroism or even admiration in this act.  Completely stupid.  We have to keep going back to the original goal .. to play drums at a competition!  Who cares!

That is the problem for me with this movie.  I have absolutely no sympathy or desire for the student to gain his dream.  I am not invested in his outcome and when I see the lengths he will put himself through, I can’t help but wonder if he is perusing the right dream.  If you are that single minded then refocus that to something may indeed save lives.

J.K. Simmons without a doubt played this role extremely removed from his usual characters he puts on.  You kept waiting for a witty remark or comment, but none came.  He played General Hartman perfectly.

At a 107 minutes, if you watch the first 10 minutes, then come in for the last 10 minutes, then you will have missed nothing but saved 87 minutes of your life.

The original movie started off as a short film shown at the Sundance festival.  It should have stayed short.


Viewing Date
Saturday, 5th September 2015


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