Movies: Review

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Movie review: Oscar shorts hit Tampa Theatre

Posted by on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 4:01 AM

  • "Possessions"

Tampa Theatre’s annual screening of the Oscar-nominated short films comes as a welcome relief after weeks of mindless dreck (and one “block” buster) at the multiplex. This year’s batch of films (five animated, five live action) are all worth seeing, though I found the real gems to be on the live action side. Which is where I’ll begin …

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Movie review: The Great Beauty is bellisimo!

The visually captivating Italian import is nominated for the year’s Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Posted by on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Review: 4 out of 5 stars.

Start narrowing down your Oscar picks in one of the Academy Awards’ less-hyped categories. The 2013 Italian film The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) is held over at Tampa Theatre until this Thursday, Feb. 13. Showings are at 7:30 p.m. 

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Movie Review: Clooney's Monuments Men invade the multiplex

Posted by on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 4:05 AM


The Monuments Men should have been a slam dunk. A passion project for writer/director/star George Clooney, the film features a stellar cast, excellent production values and tells a compelling story about World War II that eschews the usual bullets and bloodshed jingoism in an effort to make larger points about how the destruction of a society's culture is even more insidious than the murder of its people. Clooney's detractors love to point out that he's a Liberal (heavens no!), but even the haters will have to admit that George's bleeding heart is in the right place here.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

That Awkward Moment offers cause to give pause

Zac Efron-centric bromantic-comedy is cliched and angsty but still enjoyable.

Posted by on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 12:18 PM

ROSTER SPOT: Imogen Poots and Zac Efron navigate modern relationships in That Awkward Moment.
  • ROSTER SPOT: Imogen Poots and Zac Efron navigate modern relationships in That Awkward Moment.

That Awkward Moment is a light-handed cultural commentary masquerading as a raunchy rom-com. It tells the tale of a young man steeped in the modern American socio-sexual climate and the perils that befall him as he slavishly clings to the image and ideals he thinks he's supposed to want, despite all indicators to the contrary.

It's unclear which of these avenues writer-director-waiter Tom Gormican intended for his creative debut to go down; while Moment isn’t especially effective in either direction, the film offers enough giggles to tickle your funny bone and enough titillation to tickle your fancy, despite its predictability.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit fills the January doldrums

Chris Pine and Kenneth Branagh aim for international intrigue but miss the mark.

Posted by on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 1:21 PM

THE NEW RECRUIT: Star Trek's Chris Pine takes a shot at a second franchise with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit..
  • THE NEW RECRUIT: Star Trek's Chris Pine takes a shot at a second franchise with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit..

Welcome to the what frequent moviegoers know as the "January doldrums." Having sprayed movies at the audience like a fire hose over the previous two months, Hollywood uses the first weeks of the year as a graveyard to bury flicks that just didn't work out. Case in point is Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, an A-list effort at rebooting the cragy old Tom Clancy franchise that peaked with 1992's Patriot Games. On board are Kenneth Branagh doing double duty as director and actor (he plays the movie's Russian baddie), and Chris Pine (Star Trek's Captain Kirk) taking his shot at fronting a second revived franchise. Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley co-star, and it seems like a solid package. It isn't.

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Ride Along can’t even pull the trailer

Kevin Hart isn’t enough to elevate this flick beyond standard buddy-cop fare.

Posted by on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 11:35 AM

PARTNERS: Kevin Hart (hilarious) is saddled with Ice Cube (drab) in the by-the-numbers Ride Along.
  • PARTNERS: Kevin Hart (hilarious) is saddled with Ice Cube (drab) in the by-the-numbers Ride Along.

Actor Kevin Hart has a thing for standing out in bad movies, offering the only real glimpse of potential comedic genius. He ended last year with the snorer that was Grudge Match, in which he plays a high-energy pipsqueak son of a boxing promoter who left him nothing but a soiled name and a chip on his shoulder. Working alongside proven comedic dead weight like Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro didn’t help the fate of the film.

Now Hart is saddled with Ice Cube in Ride Along, in which he plays a high school security guard telling white folk they’re not supposed to fight and keeping the star basketball player away from the wrong crowd while awaiting entrance to the police academy. This time Hart gets plenty of backup from John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen, but bad writing trumps good acting any day and Ride Along’s flimsy script is scrawled with such a crude hand you might as well put flashing lights on the plot points. It’s all so clichéd and predictable you’ll want to call the rat squad at Internal Affairs.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis and Her are solid Oscar bait

Two high-profile awards contenders finally get a Bay area release.

Posted by on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 12:55 PM

MUSIC MAN: Oscar Isaac as the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis.
  • MUSIC MAN: Oscar Isaac as the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis.

If there’s one big downside to being a movie fan living in the Bay area, it’s the delayed openings of some of the best movies of the year. Blame the Hollywood release machine, which believes in progressively rolling out “small” movies in New York and L.A. to start the word of mouth buzz, then opening the film in theaters around the country over subsequent weekends with an eye toward keeping the conversation going. In a world where Netflix dumps full seasons of new TV shows on an insatiable general public, and Video On Demand is slowly smothering theater attendance, how can the studio suits keep doing this to us?

Case in point: Inside Llewyn Davis and Her. Both are the work of art house darling directors (Joel and Ethan Coen are responsible for Davis, while Her is the singular work of Spike Jonze), feature A-list stars, and have become fixtures in the prognostications of the award season fortunetellers. Both films also came out last year in the big cities, and are only now limping into Tampa Bay.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that both movies are fabulous.

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Mark Wahlberg is the Lone Survivor

Director Peter Berg delivers a stirring homage to America's fallen heroes.

Posted by on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM


One of these soldiers is not like the others …
  • One of these soldiers is not like the others …

The newest Mark Wahlberg action movie, Lone Survivor is based on the true story of a combined/joint military operation dubbed Operation Red Wings. The goal was for four soldiers to survey and recon a group of structures that were being used by the operation’s target, Ahmad Shah. Shah was a leader of the Anti-Coalition Militia, which made him a primary target for the U.S. military.

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