Archive for May 25, 2014

Summer’s Coming: Hollywood’s Offerings for 2014

May 25, 2014

The big screen will light up this summer with several long-anticipated films that cover everything from romance to futuristic science-fiction.  The summer of 2014 is shaping up to be one of Hollywood’s most diverse in a decade, as studios hope that a “shotgun” approach may bring out moviegoers in greater numbers than in the past few years.

Here are previews of some of the hottest summer films of 2014, replete with big-name stars and action-packed plots!

  1.  X-Men:  Days of Future Past.  Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender star in this alternate future extravaganza.  Surviving mutants have been penned up in concentration-style encampments while Sentinels patrol America in a glimpse of the future while the X-Men are forced to stop a modern event to prevent that future from happening.  This movie promises to combine the best of Back To the Future plotting with the special effects that make the X-Men series great.
  2. The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.  This is an odd little movie that promises to leave viewers thinking more deeply than the cast might suggest at first glance.  Robin Williams plays the title role and Mila Kunis the doctor who gives him a false diagnosis that leads him on a journey of reparation to all the people he has wronged.
  3. Words and Pictures.  Of all the romances this summer, this one may be the most thought-provoking.  A prep school teacher, played by Clive Owen, is depressed by his student’s disenchantment with language, although he himself has not published in years.  He is drawn to an abstract painter who is suffering from arthritis and has lost her ability to express herself through art.  His crippling drinking and her physical handicaps bring them together in a way that is unexpectedly tender and enjoyable.
  4. Maleficent.  This hommage to the idea of Wicked takes a look at the queen from Sleeping Beauty, played incredibly by Angelina Jolie.  A completely different look at the fairy tale will give a couple of hours of enjoyment and, surprisingly, some thought provocation as well!
  5. The Fault in Our Stars.  In an interesting take on the Romeo and Juliet trope, two teenagers meet and fall in love at a cancer support group.  Their wit, unconventionality and love take them on an incredible journey.  Willem Dafoe, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley and Sam Trammell round out the cast.

Enjoy your summer at the movies!

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Great Movies Produced in Hollywood

May 1, 2014

Blair StoverThere is no doubt that Hollywood studios produce great movies, but the consistency of these films leaves something to be desired.  Lately, Hollywood seems to have fallen into the trap of focusing too much on the gross receipts a movie can generate and too little on artistic value.  This is clearly evident in the rash of “genre” movies that plague the theaters each summer.  It is not unusual to see five or six superhero movies in a span of two years as well as numerous 30-something comedies, light romances and other movies that can instantly be typecast into a specific box.

Fortunately for those who want a better choice of movies, there are plenty of quality films being made outside of Hollywood.  These films are known as “indies” and include some of the most forward-thinking plots and character developments of today’s filmed art.

This summer, you may want to check out a couple of these great films rather than the fare at your local movie theater, particularly if you find one that speaks to an interest of yours.  If you are a little afraid of the indie film, just remember that you are broadening your horizons!

Here are five incredibly diverse films that promise to be some of the best of the summer offerings:

  • Ida.  This story of a young woman about to become a nun who discovers she is actually a Holocaust survivor is directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, the same director who uncovered the talent of Emily Blunt in My Summer of Love.  This film has received glowing reviews since it was released in 2013.
  • The Double.  In a hilarious version of Poe’s “William Wilson,” Jesse Eisenberg declares war on his Doppelganger who moves in next door and takes a job in his office.  Of course, they both love the same girl, Mia Wasikowska.
  • The Immigrant.  Filmmaker James Gray collaborates again with Joaquin Phoenix, this time with Marion Cotillard, to bring a 1920’s drama about a woman just “off the boat.”  The film resonates not only with great acting but also with wonderful cinematography by Darius Khondji.
  • Palo Alto.  Gia Coppola, granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola, directs this story based on the work of James Franco.  Franco stars as a teacher having an affair with a student in a somewhat-comic rendition reminiscent of Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
  • Korengal.  This documentary is a parallel look at the war in Afghanistan, giving alternative viewpoints to a situation that may cause some deep introspection.

Try something new this year and take in an indie film.  You may be pleasantly surprised at how exciting an artistically-conceived film can be!

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