Friday, September 12, 2014

A Letter to Momo (September 14th and 17th at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[A LETTER TO MOMO screens Sunday September 14th at 7:00 pm and  Wednesday September 17th at 7:00 pm at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Charles Cassady, Jr.

As regular readers of my reviews (probably the NSA; nobody else) knows, I landed a critic gig that pays me actual money - yes, just like in the old Clinton era - to review Japanese animation on DVD and Blu-ray. I know that probably arouses envy in some of you. Isn't Japanese "anime" supposed to be the coolest thing?

Well, it isn't much money. Far less than I deserve. Hear me, O My Brothers, when I watch this Japanese stuff in massive doses, I have to go back and decontaminate with a Far East episode of Capra's WHY WE FIGHT or other WW2 propaganda pieces, to settle accounts with those bastards of the Rising Sun.

One of my recent assignments, for example, was this thing about teenage girl ninjas (not Ninja Turtles, even). You'll notice I'm not divulging the title. But like a lot of Japanimation, it runs a 12-episode cycle - 300 minutes, folks, not counting the disc "extras.' Enormous, beachball-like breasts is/are the primary attraction, pendulous with what the anime cognoscenti (or "otaku," as they're called) have dubbed "fan service": partial nudity, shower scenes, swimsuits, lesbian-ish gropings, and panty flashes.

Dolphin Tale 2

Review by Bob Ignizio

The first DOLPHIN TALE told the more or less true story of how an injured dolphin was rescued by the staff at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and fitted with a prosthetic tail fin. Unable to return to the wild, which is CMA's primary mission, the sea creature was dubbed “Winter” and became a star attraction at the Aquarium, entertaining and inspiring countless visitors.

In DOLPHIN TALE 2, Winter's companion dolphin dies of old age. Since USDA regulations state that captive dolphins must be paired up with another dolphin of the same gender, that puts Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick, Jr.) under some pressure. When another injured dolphin is brought back to the CMA with sunburns and a lung infection, Haskett's daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) and fellow employee Sawyer (Nathan Gamble), both of whom played a major role in Winter's rehabilitation, think it's the answer to their problems. Clay isn't so sure, though, as this dolphin, named Mandy, has a real chance of full recovery and return to the ocean. Meanwhile Winter has become despondent and even a little aggressive, at one point injuring Sawyer. Other subplots pad out the film, including a rescued sea turtle, and Sawyer's struggle to decide whether he should take a once in a lifetime chance for a marine biology scholarship, or stay at the aquarium until Winter's situation is resolved.

The Drop

Review by Joseph Anthony

In Brooklyn, Bob Saginowski is just a regular bartender working for his cousin Marv. Bob, played by Tom Hardy (THE DARK KNIGHT RISES), is also a guy who can tell you where the cash drops are made – that includes his bar.  He and Marv, played by James Gandolfini (THE SOPRANOS), work for a Czechian gang.

One night, the bar is robbed by masked gunmen and $5,000 is stolen. Bob and Marv are on the hook for the cash and the Czechians want it, as you might have guessed. Calm by nature, the cousins know the consequences for not finding the money are real. The pressure comes from the outside too. Police are investigating the robbery, but lead Detective Torres, played by John Ortiz (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK), senses something is amiss.

108 Stitches (opens in Cleveland September 12th exclusively at Great Lakes Stadium 16 Theater)

[108 STITCHES opens in Cleveland on Friday September 12th exclusively at the Great Lakes Stadium 16 Theater in Mentor.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

If you were to cross ANIMAL HOUSE with MAJOR LEAGUE and then suck out all the funny, you'd wind up with something a lot like 108 STITCHES. I'm not sure why you'd want to do that, and I imagine it's not what director David Rountree and his team of co-writers intended – the sucking out the funny part, that is – but things don't always go as planned.

The film concerns the usual band of wacky misfits, in this case college baseball team that hasn't been a contender in a very long time. Our window into the team is Vietnamese recruit Phan Quan (Dat Phan), your classic “fish out of water” and more or less a Vietnamese Long Duk Dong (if you don't know what I'm talking about, see SIXTEEN CANDLES). The only English he knows are quotes from American baseball movies, and that's not going to help him deal with the Delta House style debauchery and shenanigans orchestrated by team captain Frank Bender (Ryan Carlberg), a third rate Bill Murray type anti-authoritarian slacker who will, of course, rise to the occasion when the chips are down. And of course, we have to have an uptight authority figure trying to destroy our lovable losers, and who better than Kate Vernon, daughter of Dean Wormer himself, John Vernon, as President Pratt.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Last Days (now on video)

Review by Bob Ignizio

Even if you leave out all the one with zombies in them, there have still been about a bazillion movies made in the last 10 years or so about the end of the world. All the popular methods of destruction are well represented – global warming, global cooling, plagues, Mayan prophecies, dirty bombs, the Rapture, rougue planets crashing into our orbit. Trying to find a fresh twist on the genre that isn't completely ridiculous is no easy task. So kudos to THE LAST DAYS (original title Los Ultimos Dias) for not only coming up with a nifty new way to wipe out humanity, but putting that idea into a pretty good movie, to boot.

Only Lovers Left Alive (now on video)

Review by Bob Ignizio

I've gotta' say, I never expected to read an interview with Jim Jarmusch in Fangoria magazine. Nonetheless, the noted indie filmmaker made it into the venerable journal of gory horror films earlier this year thanks to his latest effort, the moody vampire romance ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE. In the piece, Jarmusch showed himself far better versed in the horror genre, particularly as it pertains to bloodsuckers, than most of the hacks who wind up helming Hollywood fright flicks these days. He even mentioned French director Jean Rollin, whose singular vamp films mixed erotica, psychedelia, and a certain kind of dreamlike romanticism, which immediately upped my level of interest in the film. And he wasn't just whistling "Dixie", as even the poster art for LOVERS recalls Rollin's work.

A Coffee in Berlin (September 11th and 12th at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[A COFFEE IN BERLIN screens Thursday September 11th at 6:45 pm and Friday September 12th at 9:20 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Matt Finley

The reaction friends had when I told them I was going to be watching a German slacker comedy was fairly consistent: “They have slackers in Germany?!” Yes – the stereotypical precision, focus and efficiency America associates with German culture are far from the associatives invoked alongside names like Spicoli, Wayne Campbell or Dante Hicks. By the same token, “slacker comedy” – a descriptor I cadged straight from the Cinematheque program – isn’t quite representative of Jan-Ole Gerster's debut film (and winner of 6 Lolas) A COFFEE IN BERLIN (OH BOY in its native country), a slight and charming rumination on modern Berlin as seen through the eyes of a wandering twenty-something who’s as parched for direction as he is for the titular cup o’ Joe.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cleveland Italian Film Festival returns in 2014

[Press release from the Cleveland Italian Film Festival.]

September 18 - October 9, 2014
Cedar Lee Theater, Atlas Cinema Eastgate & Capitol Theater

                           Once again the Cleveland Italian Film Festival  
                        is showcasing award winning films from Italy at the 
                   Cedar Lee Theater, Atlas Cinemas Eastgate and Capitol Theater
Helpful tips to remember:

All Films are Thursdays at 7:30 pm
$10 ea.
All Pre-film parties 5:30-7:00 pm
      (Dinner/beverage, tax & tip included!) 
$20 ea.
All Tickets are sold in advance.

   Each year film tickets and pre-film parties sell out early. 
     Many of you are familiar with our Wait Lists. In this instance 
the early birds gets the tickets to the films they wish to see!
Tickets on sale June 10

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Last of Robin Hood (opens in Cleveland September 5th at the Cedar Lee and Capitol Theatres)

[THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD opens in Cleveland on Friday September 5th at the Cedar Lee Theatre and the Capitol Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

It's doubtful there was a need for a film about Errol Flynn's late in life fling with teenage aspiring actress Beverly Aadland, but nonetheless we have just that in THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD. As the film starts, Flynn (Kevin Kline) is already dead and Beverly (Dakota Fanning) is being bombarded with questions from reporters. The pressure proves to much, and the young girl faints. Or is it all a staged performance orchestrated by Beverly's mother, Florence (Susan Sarandon)? Perhaps flashing back in time will shed some light.

Falcon Rising (opens in Cleveland September 5th exclusively at Atlas Great Lakes Stadium 16)

[FALCON RISING opens in Cleveland on Friday September 5th exclusively at Atlas Great Lakes Stadium 16 in Mentor.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Michael Jai White's iconic performance as the titular hero of 2009's cult satire BLACK DYNAMITE should have been a star making performance. Why that movie didn't launch the muscular actor into a career as an action movie (or even comedy) star is beyond me, as his charisma and talent are undeniable. FALCON RISING probably won't change that, but it does possess a certain charm for fans of old school seventies and eighties low budget action flicks.

White plays John “Falcon” Champman, an Afghan war vet suffering from PTSD. He plays Russian roulette, and when a group of armed robbers hold up his favorite liquor store, he doesn't hesitate to take the punks out largely because he doesn't care if he lives or dies. About the only thing Falcon does care about is his sister Cindy (Laila Ali), who works with the poor of Brazil's favelas. When Cindy is brutally beaten and left in a coma, Falcon has to pull himself out of his despair and find out who is responsible. And with the Brazilian police all either corrupt or ineffectual, it looks like Falcon will have to mete out the punishment as well.