Friday, April 18, 2014

Weird Science (screens April 19 at midnight at the Capitol Theatre)

[WEIRD SCIENCE screens Saturday April 19th at midnight at the Capitol Theatre.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

Adolescent audiences eagerly flocked to it, critics hated John Hughes' WEIRD SCIENCE when it premiered in 1984 (what was I doing? Lots and lots of college homework, you know, for that career and the good jobs that I was never going to have). The persnickety movie-scribe establishment including Hughes supporters like Roger Ebert, took the movie as an almost personal betrayal by writer-director Hughes, whose 16 CANDLES, PRETTY IN PINK and THE BREAKFAST CLUB seemed to save society from many PORKY'S-inspired lowbrow 1980s youth comedies that were all about teen sex and revenge-pranks.

To them, Hughes was a cinematic messiah and master of mass-audience Teen Comedy-Dramas With Heart and Soul. Until WEIRD SCIENCE, of course, that suddenly dove head-first into exaggerated juvie sex references and revenge-pranks, taking full advantage of the newly created PG-13 rating.

Here is what the critics forgot (but which I probably could have told them, if I weren't busy doing lots of college studies and homework, you know, for that career and the good jobs I was never going to get. Have I neglected to mention that yet?):

Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian (April 18th and 19th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[JIMMY P: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN screens Friday April 18th at 5:15 pm and Saturday April 19th at 7:10 pmat the Cleveland Cinematheque. ]

Review by Milan Paurich

If you can overlook the fact that it looks, feels and sounds nothing like any previous Arnaud (“A Christmas Tale,” “Kings & Queen”) Desplechin film, “Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian” is something altogether extraordinary. A true-life story of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as experienced by the titular WW II veteran and the doctor who treated him, “Jimmy P.” is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen about the psychoanalytic process. There’s a lot of talk here—splendidly written dialogue by Desplechin, Kent Jones and Julie Peyr—but Desplechin is such a dynamic filmmaker that it never feels remotely static.

Psycho, with the Cleveland Orchestra, on April 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

It was upbeat for a moment there, when the Cleveland-filmed CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER broke box-office records internationally. For an instant it seemed like the world actually liked Cleveland. But...remember, that while CAPTAIN AMERICA shot all over town, it was simply the ruins of post-industrial Great Recession Cleveland passing for other Marvel Comics locales. The real test of "Renaissance City" would come when the Browns-centered football movie DRAFT DAY, actually set in Cleveland, premiered in wide release right after CAPTAIN AMERICA. And we all know what happened.

DRAFT DAY scored a paltry $10 million gross opening weekend. There are Cuyahoga County bureaucrats and educators who regularly steal more than that. It's on track to be the least-seen Kevin Costner movie since SIZZLE BEACH USA. Costner's people have been hard at work floating the story that DRAFT DAY was actually made by an actor-director called "Cevin Kostner," no relation; the real Costner would never dream of setting foot in Cleveland. The Cleveland Film Commission has issued a disclaimer that it actually promotes Cleveland Tennessee; they only have offices in Ohio because the flatline-economy rent was cheaper here.

In other words, superheroes notwithstanding, we're back to relying on the esteemed Cleveland Orchestra being the only thing significant about Cleveland (now that LeBron James has gone).

Dom Hemingway

Review by Pamela Zoslov

It opens with a loud, boastful paean by the title character, a cockney convict played by Jude Law, to his penis, which he praises as, among other things, “a fuckin' work of art, like a Renoir or a Picasso.”

That bold opening suggests a more exciting experience than Richard Shepherd's film, DOM HEMINGWAY, delivers, but it's is still a pretty enjoyable ride. The movie tells a familiar story, that of a long-imprisoned criminal sprung free upon a changed world. The inmate, Dom, is an unlucky safecracker who's been 12 years a convict for keeping his mouth shut about his accomplices in a heist. Newly released from prison, Dom sets out to settle scores and collect the cash and gratitude he feels he's owed.

Under The Skin

Review by Pamela Zoslov

Jonathan Glazer's sci-fi movie UNDER THE SKIN was ten years in the making. “It was very easy to spend that much time on the film,” says the director, best known for SEXY BEAST.” “I wanted to keep going [to] make something that...was a kind of experience that matched the perspective of the character.”

It is an experience, all right, but not necessarily the kind most viewers will embrace. The movie stars the ubiquitous Scarlett Johansson as an alien who inhabits the body of a young woman and roams the Scottish Highlands in a van, luring young hitchhikers to their deaths. Not all of this plot exposition is obvious to the audience, who after watching this highly abstract, nearly dialogue-free film, may wonder what the hell it was all about. The cinematography and effects are often mesmerizing, and were this a film-school exercise or twenty-minute short for art class, it would deserve an 'A.' But a theatrical film should not ask an audience to watch an arty exercise for an hour-thirty-eight and essentially make up its own story.

Le Week-End (opens in Cleveland April 18th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[LE WEEK-END opens in Cleveland on Friday April 18 th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

An old English married couple take a trip to Paris hoping to rekindle their romance in LE WEEK-END. Husband Nick (Jim Broadbent) is a professor who has just recently lost his job for making an inappropriate comment about a student's hairstyle. At one time full of passion and potential, Nick pretty much stumbles through life, making bad judgments not just at work but in his dealings with wife Meg (Lindsay Duncan). As a result Meg finds herself having to carry most of the weight in trying to make something out of the couple's vacation, and it begins to take a toll.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Review by Joseph Anthony

If I were to tell you OCULUS was a film about two people trying to kill a mirror, you might feel inclined to pass on it. Don’t, it’s worth a serious look. You might not know anyone who made the film or the actors in it. Even director Mike Flanagen is a relative newcomer (though won’t be for long), but OCULUS is sure to please those looking for a scare. 

When young sister and brother Kaylie (Annalise Basso) and Tim (Garrett Ryan) move into their brand new home, their father also purchases an antique mirror for his office. Things turn sour in a hurry, particularly between mom and dad, and the children are faced with constant bickering between their parents and accusations that dad is having an affair with a woman in his office. Things take a murderous turn shortly after. The question as to why these string of tense and peculiar events happen is what the movie revolves around.

Draft Day

Review by Pete Roche

Are you ready for some football?

Are you ready for some Cleveland Browns football…in April? 


Yes, thanks to modern movie technology, filmmakers can do just about anything:  They can make Superman fly, resurrect the dinosaurs, transform a mild-mannered scientist into a raging Hulk, and yes…director Ivan Reitman (STRIPES, GHOSTBUSTERS) can turn the perennially-losing Brownies into a champs just in time for Easter dinner.

Rio 2

Review by Pete Roche

RIO ended with a triumphant musical number at the titular Brazlian city’s annual Carnival.  RIO 2 commences with a similarly bombastic New Year’s Eve celebration, during which director Carlos Saldanha (ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN) reintroduces us to the first film’s amusing animal ensemble. 

Former pet bird Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) has been successfully reintroduced into the wild and has learned to fly.  He and soul-made Jewel (Anne Hathaway) now live atop a sunny sanctuary with their three kids, who between them display all the quirks of your typical teenager:  chubby Carla (Rachel Chow) is musically-inclined daughter with an attitude; brainy Bia (Amandla Stenberg) is a petite Jewel clone; and free-spirited son Tiago (Pierce Gagnon) is a goofy miniature version of his dad.

Jesus People (opens in the Cleveland area April 11th exclusively at the Great Lakes Stadium 16 Theatre.)

[JESUS PEOPLE opens in Cleveland on Friday April 11th exclusively at The Great Lakes Stadium 16 Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

As JESUS PEOPLE begins, Pastor Jerry (Joel McCrary) learns from his doctor that he is dying. So he does what anyone in such a situation would do: he keeps the information from his wife and decides to start a Christian rock band to rescue his son from the influence of secular music. All this is conveyed using the mockumentary format made popular by Christopher Guest's films lke WAITING FOR GUFFMAN and BEST IN SHOW.

The characters are portrayed as nice but clueless, and the film seems to be unsure whether to really go for the throat or just softball it. The opening scene where Pastor Jerry is dressed down by his doctor inclines one to think the film will pursue the former path, but most of what follows lacks the appetite for such biting satire. Thankfully the film does deliver a fair number of mild laughs, and as with the casts of Guest's films, the actors do a good job of inhabiting their roles. 2 ½ out of 4 stars.