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Jay B. Lane "professional audience member" RSS Feed (Seattle, WA USA)
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
DVD ~ Gary Oldman

4.0 out of 5 stars Serkis is Amazing!, July 9, 2014
Andy Serkis really is amazing. He was the genetically enhanced baby, then the adult Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." In addition, he was Golem in the "Hobbit/Ring" series, along with Professor Haddock in the "Tin Tin" series. His job is to convey a panoply of emotions using just his eyes.

In this second PG-13 chapter of the "Planet of the Apes" prequel, we are ten years into the simian flu which has destroyed most of the human population on earth. The apes live a peaceful life in the misty forests of northern California, hoping there may not be any human survivors. To their dismay, two dusty vehicles jostle their way through the woods, looking for a dam that includes a generator which holds the key to life in the remains of San Francisco, where many human survivors have gathered. The apes are NOT thrilled.

Here is part of the (huge) cast:
* Andy Serkis ("Arthur Christmas") is Caesar, the lab experiment grown to the Alpha male of this new generation of apes. He believes in education, peace and mercy.
* Jason Clarke ("The Great Gatsby") Malcolm is the first human captured by the apes. He does NOT expect recognizable bits of human language, a sense of justice, nor the imposing presence of a thoughtful Caesar. "They could have killed me!"
* Kirk Acevedo (Lots of TV) is Carver, the trigger-happy lamebrain who refuses to listen to reason and tests Caesar's resolve for nonviolence. I really liked what happened to him.
* Keri Russell ("Austenland") Ellie is a doctor who is also Malcolm's significant other. She comes along on that exploratory trek "just in case."
* Gary Oldman ("RoboCop") Dreyfus is convinced the dam will generate enough electricity for San Francisco to recuperate. He has no qualms about killing apes: "They're animals!"
* Karin Konoval ("Rise of the Planet of the Apes") returns as Maurice, the orangutan who serves as a teacher to young apes. He emphasizes "apes do not kill apes."
* Kodi Smit-McPhee ("Romeo and Juliet" - 2013) Our youthful Alexander discovers that he and Maurice have something in common: they both love books.

Of course they have spent a king's ransom on excellent Computer Generated Imaging; personally, I could have cut at least 30 minutes from the 130-minute running time, but the story of human bungling and its impact on an untested ape population, kept me involved to the very end. They included scenes from the first prequel in this new series, although I had to smile at that amazing battery in the abandoned video camera which still worked after 10 long years; I want one!

Those of you who are familiar with San Francisco will enjoy the landmarks (not limited to the Golden Gate Bridge). Just fast forward your DVD from Amazon if you don't care for all the CGI.


Tammy (DVD+UltraViolet)
Tammy (DVD+UltraViolet)
Price: $21.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ACOA Can Use This, July 7, 2014
This review is from: Tammy (DVD+UltraViolet) (DVD)
We have a standard setup for a movie: Woman discovers husband has been unfaithful and her life is torn asunder. In this one, our heroine hits the road with her drunken grandmother. Chaos ensues.

Actually, we see a deft touch with this screenplay: real-life couple Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy co-wrote this R-rated script (language, alcohol, and sexual innuendos); as a result, it has far more going for it than I expected.

Directed by Ben Falcone, we see a star-studded cast:
* Melissa McCarthy("The Heat") Tammy is a mess. She doesn't like her job and her "exit interview" is the most destructive and raucous I've ever seen. Her relationship with both her mother and her grandmother is "testy" to say the least and her husband just dodges her verbal barrages.
* Allison Janney ("Bad Words") Deb despairs of her daughter ever completing anything she starts, including her marriage.
* Susan Sarandon ("The Big Wedding") Pearl had always been closer to her granddaughter than Deb, but her parenting left a lot to be desired. However, she still has a good eye for a guy!
* Kathy Bates ("Harry's Law") and Sandra Oh ("Grey's Anatomy") Lenore and Suzanne provide our two runaways with a palatial shelter and a doozy of a party, which includes a Viking funeral for a jet ski (you'll just have to see it).
* Toni Colette ("Lucky Them") and Nat Faxon (Lots of TV) are Tammy's heart-breakers. Missi is caught red-handed at Tammy's house with the faithless Greg.
* Gary Cole ("Veep") My favorite chameleon plays Earl, a frisky old coot who will never see sixty again, as he brings a lot of action to the back seat of a Cadillac!
* Mark Duplass ("The Mindy Project") Bobby thinks Tammy isn't the most un-interesting person he has ever met (read it twice - it doesn't improve....).
* Dan Aykroyd (Lots of TV) Don has been a pretty absent father in Tammy's life, but he's willing to step up to the plate now!

This started out as a throwaway plot, but I think ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) could embrace this as a pretty good example of the effects of alcoholism on grown offspring. Be prepared for anatomical humor, vehicular mayhem, profanity and many laugh-out-loud moments. McCarthy is fearless! Based on the size of the audience at the screening, I think this gal can open a movie by herself!

As long as you know what to expect, you can ignore the slams by other reviewers.


Chef
Chef
Price: $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I Can Recommend This Road Movie to Anyone!, June 28, 2014
This review is from: Chef (DVD)
My taste buds have been tingling every since I watched that first scene in the restaurant kitchen; this one is a "foodie's" paradise! Mouth-watering food, dazzlingly expert preparation and irresistible presentation make it almost pornographic: I wanted the address of that restaurant! Of course when a witty food critic trashes the place, everything comes to a head (I won't tell you how it happens): our chef is fired by his father, who owns the place, so reluctantly he hits the road for Miami, where he ventures into his own business with a food truck.

Producer/writer/director Jon Favreau ("Iron Man") brings us:
* Jon Favreau ("Identity Thief") as Carl, the poor fellow we are rooting for. We want him to bond with his son, mend his fences with his ex, and find his way to success.
* Emjay Anthony ("It's Complicated") is Percy, a son who really misses his dad. He's a good kid, a hard worker and a willing apprentice chef. And does he ever know how to use Twitter!
* Robert Downey Jr. ("The Avengers") plays Marvin, who used to be married to our hero's ex wife. (Ya got that straight?) He's a little odd, but then again, he has a used food truck for sale, so...
* John Leguizamo ("Ride Along") is Martin, a guy who loves to work with Carl. He knows how to make Cubanos, and they are the perfect sandwich for a food truck! (They sure LOOK yummy!)
* Scarlett Johansson ("Don Jon") brings us Molly; she has her hands full as hostess at the restaurant when they have a full house and no chef!
* Oliver Platt ("Lucky Them") plays Ramsey Michel, the restaurant critic, a fellow who enjoys entertaining his readers with his acerbic wit, with absolutely no thought to the careers he ruins. I LOVE Carl's rant about how hard people work in restaurants.

This is a road movie, with father and son traveling from Miami to Los Angeles in the food truck. Dad has a lot to learn about social networking and the son has to learn how to use the grill.

The R-rating must be for some of the language, but I can assure you there is very little profanity, absolutely no vehicular mayhem, no sexual situations, no gunshots and no blowie uppie stuff...although there IS that little bit with the corn starch... These people are decent law-abiding folks who even get permits when they sell their sandwiches. This is just FUN!

I've pre-ordered mine from Amazon.


Belle and Sebastian (Region 3 DVD / Non USA Region) (English Subtitled) French Movie a.k.a. Belle et Sébastien
Belle and Sebastian (Region 3 DVD / Non USA Region) (English Subtitled) French Movie a.k.a. Belle et Sébastien
DVD ~ Felix Bossuet

5.0 out of 5 stars Charming Homage to Disney, June 28, 2014
"Belle et Sébastien" (English captions) was submitted by France for the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival. We had young invitees from six local schools in attendance and that always enhances my experience. How perfectly splendid that their first taste of the festival should be this winning story about a boy and his dog! They could relate to his point of view, the story is captivating, there is plenty of humor, we saw white-knuckle drama, and everyone had plenty of folks to root for...always a plus!

Nicolas Vanier from Senegal directed this story about an orphan boy raised in the Pyrenees, the impossibly beautiful mountain range with France to the north and Spain to the south. The cinematography by Eric Guichard is breathtaking! We loved the marmots, rabbits, boar, elk, wolves and chamois, particularly the baby chamois that is stranded after its mother is shot in those thrilling opening scenes.

Here is the cast:
* Tchéky Karyo plays César, a grouchy old mountain man who drinks too much. He wants to shoot la bête that has been killing sheep. He's sure the beast is a feral dog who escaped its brutal master in a neighboring village.
* Félix Bossuet is Sébastien, an adventurous six-year-old boy; our little hero has been told that his absent mother has gone to America, "just over those mountains." He befriends that stray dog and does not think she kills sheep. BTW, she is a Great Pyrenees and that breed is well known for its fearless protection of its flocks.
* Dimitri Storoge is Docteur Guillaume, the heroic Resistance fighter who guides Jewish refugees on their way to the Swiss border. (He can also fix a dog that has been shot!)
* Andreas Pietschmann brings us Lieutenant Peter, a handsome German officer we come to fear...but he really admires that lovely young woman in the bakery where he demands a weekly supply of bread for his troops.
* Margaux Châtelier makes an irresistible Angélina, who tells the German officer, "Soldiers fight wars, they don't plunder bakeries!" She also knows her way around those mountains.

This inspiring story is a charming homage to the live-action films of Disney, but I could see that the pulse-pounding World War II subplot thrilled those kids in the audience today. Me too!!! This should soon be available in Region 1 format at Amazon.


Obvious Child
Obvious Child
DVD
Price: $14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Self-Inflicted Wounds...., June 28, 2014
In this USA entry to the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival, we see a Brooklyn comedienne get dumped, lose her job and become pregnant just in time for Valentine's Day. Then our story begins.

Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre, this bittersweet R-rated comedy reminded me how out of step I am. I kept asking myself, "Why does contemporary comedy have to be so anatomical?!" I found that aspect so off-putting it was hard for me to sincerely like our heroine.

Here is the cast:
* Jenny Slate ("Parks and Recreation") is Donna, sifting through the detritus of her current life, trying to discover the next step. (And she hasn't told her mother anything yet.)
* Jake Lacy ("The Office") is Max, a Gentile she meets on the rebound. They have waaaay too much fun together!
* Gaby Hoffmann ("Veronica Mars") is Nellie, Donna's wingman: experienced, wise, and always on HER side!
* Richard Kind (Lots of TV) is Jacob, Donna's dad, successful and supportive.
* Polly Draper (Lots of TV) is Nancy, Donna's mother, a genius college professor and very understanding.
* Gabe Liedman (Lots of TV) is Joey, Donna's employer at the comedy club. He is VERY flexible.

Truth-telling can be a real challenge, particularly when you do stand-up "comedy" about your breakup and your pending abortion.

In my opinion, Donna suffers from self-inflicted wounds, so I probably didn't root for her as much as I should. I found this to be unpredictable in a mildly predictable sort of way... Clear enough for you? Amazon will soon have the DVD available.


Ida (DVD)
Ida (DVD)
DVD ~ Pawel Pawlikowski
4 used & new from $19.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is It A Sacrifice If You Won't Miss It?, June 28, 2014
This review is from: Ida (DVD) (DVD)
Poland submitted this award-winning drama (16 wins) to the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival about a young nun who, in 1960s Poland, suddenly suspends her decision to take her vows, because she has just uncovered a long-hidden family secret that dates back to WWII. The Mother Superior wisely advises her to visit her aunt in a nearby village before she takes her final vows.

We watch:
Agata Trzebuchowska is Anna, the uninitiated young woman raised in a Catholic orphanage who has never been to the beach, never kissed a boy, and can't count her vows as a sacrifice if she doesn't know what she'll be missing.
Agata Kulesza is Wanda, our novitiate's Communist aunt, who breaks the news to her that she wasn't born a Catholic. Red Wanda is blunt and assertive in everything she does; she asks Anna, "What if you find out there is no God?"
Dawid Ogrodnik plays Lis, a saxophone-playing hitchhiker who adores John Coltrane's "Naima." His family also suffered during the Holocaust because some of them were Gypsies. He's trying to avoid Army duty, so he observes that both of them are afraid to take vows. BTW do NOT miss him in "Life Feels Good" also from Poland!

We explore Poland's collective guilt over the fate of three million Polish Jews who disappeared during the holocaust (their property was quietly confiscated by local families), while we watch a devout young woman question (and then answer) her concerns about becoming a Catholic nun.

This effective PG-13 film is in black and white, so the expert use of light and shadow is obvious from the first frame. This is particularly effective in the nunnery. Our screening audience agreed that even though the pace was very, very slow, the story was gripping and accessible.


The Trip to Italy (original uncut version) [UK import, Region 2 PAL format]
The Trip to Italy (original uncut version) [UK import, Region 2 PAL format]
DVD ~ Steve Coogan
Offered by Cinema Cornucopia
Price: $59.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hurrah For My All-Region DVD Player!, June 28, 2014
Did you see "The Trip" from 2010? If so, this is the sequel; if not, this is a gab fest between two long-time friends, Steve Coogan ("Philomena") and Rob Brydon (Lots of TV), on a road trip from Naples to Capri. We watch them as they eat six meals in six different locations and gab all the way. The scenery is astounding, the food looks scrumptious and the gab is a movie lover's Nirvana.

They talk about (and do impressions of):
* Diane Keaton and Woody Allen
* Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando
* Hugh Grant from the movie Notting Hill
* Gore Vidal and Al Pacino
* Anthony Hopkins and Humphrey Bogart
* All the Batmans plus Michael Caine

They have discussions about:
* Adolescent girls
* Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne
* The movie Roman Holiday
* Pompeii and those plaster casts of people
* Kumquats
* The absurdity of handing the Mini Cooper keys to a young man simply because he had a polo shirt with a hotel logo on it. No ID.
* Running on a beach with De Niro.

I can't think of a time I have heard our 2014 Seattle International Film Festival screening audience laugh as often as I did in this one. I will be forced to watch for the DVD with captions so I can catch up on all the funny stuff I missed!


Half of a Yellow Sun
Half of a Yellow Sun
DVD ~ Chiwetel Ejiofor
Price: $26.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's One Thing to READ About Violence..., June 28, 2014
This review is from: Half of a Yellow Sun (DVD)
The 2014 Seattle International Film Festival hosted the acclaimed actor/director Chiwetel Ejiofor ("12 Years a Slave") on Monday, May 29th @ the Egyptian Theatre. More details were in SIFF Programs.

Okay, let's talk about this drama based on the novel of the same name written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and directed by BiYi Bandele. It brings us 1960s Nigeria on her shaky path to freedom and democracy. We see news clips from the time with a very young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip deplaning at the airport and see clips of speeches made by Nigeria's new leaders.

We see:
* Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Amistad") as Odenigbo, a college post-graduate who has returned to his homeland to help his country join the world as a new democracy.
* Thandie Newton ("Rogue") is Olanna, a highly educated young woman deeply in love with Odenigbo; his mother is NOT in favor of this union! Much of the early tension is from Village -vs- Cosmopolitan cultures. Olanna is described as an "educated witch."
* Anika Noni Rose ("The Good Wife") is her sister Kainene, another sophisticated, highly educated Nigerian back to help her country make its transition.
* John Boyega ("Star Wars: Episode VII"!!) Ugwu is the absolute heart of this film, a village boy who lies when he says he can cook rice (he really needs the job!). He becomes the cook, the nanny, the houseboy and the courageous heart of Olanna and Odenigbo's family.

It is one thing to read about the violence taking place in locations like this; it is another thing entirely to have to WATCH it! I found the horrific slaughters to be shocking and upsetting and there were times when I despaired of our folks making it through with their lives. The massacre at the airport was particularly distressing.

I had a lot of trouble making out the details of the political maneuvers because I really needed closed captions. I don't know if others had the same trouble with this excellent film. The DVD from Amazon will solve that problem.


Tell No One
Tell No One
DVD ~ Kristin Scott Thomas
Offered by MoreThanMachines
Price: $22.46
59 used & new from $2.45

5.0 out of 5 stars I OWN This One, June 28, 2014
This review is from: Tell No One (DVD)
"Ne le dis à personne" is one of the most confidently directed movies I have had the pleasure to watch! This French (with English subtitles) movie is still in first-run houses, the release date for the DVD hasn't been announced. The director, Guillaume Canet, has been around for awhile, but I am not familiar with him or his work.

On the other hand, Francois Cluzet ("French Kiss" and "Ready to Wear"), the wonderful actor who portrays a busy pediatrician, is a more familiar face, as is Kristin Scott Thomas ("Four Weddings and a Funeral," "The Horse Whisperer," and "The English Patient") who has a principal role -- and speaks French fluently, as she is married to a Frenchman and lives there.

Our story begins with the pediatrician and his much-loved wife on an outing at a lakeside cabin. After skinny dipping with him one night, she climbs out to go to their cabin, while he prepares to follow. She cries for help from the underbrush and he is brutally whacked on the head with a baseball bat. After three days in a coma, he awakens to discover that her corpse has been found, the victim of a serial killer.

Eight years later, still single, he is quietly involved in his medical practice when he receives a mysterious e-mail advising him to "tell no one" about the attached video clip which is a film of a woman who appears to be his long-dead wife. Naturally he is vitally concerned and step by step we watch him become more and more deeply embroiled in a tangled web of lies, deception and violence.

This film has NO wasted dialogue, NO unnecessary scenes, NO careless editing. It is exciting, involving and leaves no questions unanswered. It sweeps us along as our man, still in love with his long-deceased wife, tries with dogged determination and uncommon intelligence to untangle an eight-year-old (closed) murder case. His task is complicated by a Colombo-like police detective, played by Francois Berleand ("The Transporter" and "The Chorus"), who reopens the case and is convinced that our hero is somehow implicated.

There are a number of plot twists but each makes sense and is consistent with the character of the person doing the twisting. There are a number of beautifully staged chase and street scenes that are brilliantly executed, along with high caliber acting every single minute. Cluzet's pediatrician is a person you WILL root for and this satisfying movie is one you will remember for a long time.

I will watch for other movies by this director! Amazon lets you search, remember....


Million Dollar Arm
Million Dollar Arm
DVD
Price: $14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We See the Real People: Lovely Touch!, June 28, 2014
This one's a winner; AND it's based on true life! Here a less-than-successful sports agent realizes there is a vast talent pool for new Major League Baseball players in India...playing cricket. He creates a reality television show to find suitable players to bring back for the All-American Sport.

Obviously, we are talking major culture shock. Both for him when he goes to India on his scouting trip and then when his poor winners come back with him to the unnerving abundance of the United States. It's both funny and sad. So we learn that culture shock cuts both ways! And when someone is homesick, it doesn't matter where they are or how old.

We watch:
* Jon Hamm ("Friends With Kids" and a LOT of television) is JB, jumping into the culture gap with both feet, but forgetting that his young charges are just that...YOUNG.
* Pitobash ("3 Idiots" a Bollywood comedy which I enjoyed, by the way) is Amit, the live-wire interpreter, who has a "flexible" approach to English.
* Suraj Sharma ("Life of Pi") is Rinku who hates cricket and has never played it in his life. He is a javelin thrower; you've gotta see his "Flamingo" stance.
* Madhur Mittal ("Slumdog Millionaire") is Dinesh, who just wants to buy a new truck for his injured father back in India.
* Alan Arkin ("Argo" he was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) Ray is skeptical, to put it mildly. And very, very bored.
* Aasif Mandvi ("Premium Rush") is Aash, the American fellow who has taken a big risk to go into business with JB, so success is vitally important to him....and his twins!
* Lake Bell ("In a World...") is Brenda, the wise young doctor who rents the bungalow on JB's property. Both washing machines break down so she dates the Maytag man for awhile.

This is a big, comfortable, satisfying film with no gunshots, no vehicular mayhem, no sweaty bodies, no profanity and no blowie uppie stuff, it's just pure PG-rated entertainment followed by photos and updates on all the real-life folks you just watched. Lovely touch!


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