Sunday, November 30, 2014

Replay of 1994 Retrospective

Today's episode of Sounds of Cinema featured a rerun of the 1994 retrospective. That year produced a cornucopia of great and memorable films and the episode included a look at Forrest Gump , Clerks, The Shawshank Redemption, The Lion King, Pulp Fiction, Natural Born Killers, The Crow,and Dumb and Dumber. Read a supplementary blog post for a more on these and other films here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Film Reviews: November 23, 2014

Here is a summary of the films reviewed on today's show:

Birdman is an extremely well made picture with some very strong performances. The movie is odd but it’s also very intelligent and ribs show business with a sardonic sense of humor.

Dumb and Dumber To is not the classic that the original film was and it is unlikely that in twenty years anyone will regard this film as anything more than a footnote. However, that is an unfair way to judge a movie and Dumb and Dumber To accomplishes what it was intended to do—further the adventures of its central characters and make the audience laugh.

Big Hero 6 is an acceptable animated film. A lot about it feels generic but it is entertaining and competently made and will satisfy family audiences looking for something to watch together.

St. Vincent is a movie that alternates genuine moments with scenes that are cliché and contrived. It is led by some strong performances and the actors generally overcome the weak portions of the storytelling.

Beyond the Lights is an above average movie about love and fame. It’s ultimately a conventional story but the love story is done well and there is enough going on in the background of the film to elevate it above other movies.

Begin Again is a fine movie with a terrific soundtrack and some strong performances. It may not be the movie that audiences expect but it is one of the better films about music to come along in a while.

You can find the full text of each review in the Sounds of Cinema review archive.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Film Reviews: November 16, 2014

Here is a summary of the reviews featured on Sounds of Cinema on November 16:

Despite some misguided storytelling decisions, Interstellar is a remarkable film. There is a lot in it that is to be admired, especially from a technical standpoint, but the quality that really defines the movie is the awe that it inspires for nature and for humanity’s place in it.

The Nicholas Sparks playbook was exhausted a long time ago and there is nothing new in The Best of Me. Whatever captured the audience’s imagination ten years ago in The Notebook has been degraded through an endless rearrangement of clichés that now hedge on self-parody.

The shortcomings of Nightcrawler are largely immaterial, especially in light of how much it does well. This is a smart, provocative, and highly entertaining movie with a great performance by Jake Gyllenhaal.

Hateship Loveship will appeal to fans of romantic stories but the performances by the central cast, especially Kristin Wiig, elevate it above the average entry in the genre.

You can find the full text of each review in the Sounds of Cinema review archive.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Film Reviews: November 2 and 9

Here is a look at the reviews featured on Sounds of Cinema on November 2nd and 9th:

John Wick is a satisfying action shoot-‘em-up. The story is pretty thin but the film is high on style and full of energy, and it makes for consistently engaging viewing.

The Book of Life is a fun animated film. It isn’t without its flaws but the picture tells an engaging story with compelling characters and unique visuals.

Ouija is a lazily made movie in which story and scares are all secondary to selling more of Hasbro’s board games. This movie is a cynical cash grab and little else.

Before I Go to Sleep has some good performances and an interesting premise but it isn’t quite able to give those performances or ideas the movie that they deserve.

The humor of Obvious Child will have a narrow appeal but the film has a humanity that transcends its other trappings and it features an impressive performance by Jenny Slate.

There isn’t much in Fury that is new and it’s unlikely that viewers are going to come away from the movie with any new understandings about World War II or warfare in general. However, the filmmakers tell this story very well and it’s an exciting, entertaining, and well-acted picture.

The only thing worse than a pretentious movie is a pretentious movie that has nothing to say. Men, Woman & Children is a movie whose makers think they are making a big important statement about big important issues but this movie contributes nothing to anyone’s understanding about life in the digital age while managing to trivialize much more immediate human struggles.

The Judge has some very good performances but the script has too much plot getting in the way of the story. The moviemakers keep diluting the central premise with a lot of extra nonsense that just inflates the length without creating substance.

They Came Together is not likely to be a broad hit with the romantic comedy audience but those who get it are really going to like it. The movie is smart and funny while managing an off-kilter tone and that’s enough to merit a recommendation.

You can find the full text of each review in the Sounds of Cinema review archive.