CNN Films, Film Rites, Kartemquin Films,

Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel, Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Marlene Siskel

This documentary was requested by Robert Ebert himself prior to his death in 2013. This film chronicles his life from a young man and early work for a Chicago paper as a sportswriter, and then as one of the early movie critics. He came into his own with Gene Siskel and became on of the most well known movie critics of all times. Then Cancer came calling and we have seen the shell of the man with a quick mind and all of his wit and wisdom who worked till the last. We learn a lot about Mr Ebert, his attitude, self confidence, and self esteem. Yet he was loved and feared at the same time. With a quick slash of his pen he could devastate a directory or an actor, and wipe out a movie, yet he viewed movie criticism as conversation, where it’s is fun to disagree and yet you can never be persuaded or change your mind once you’ve chosen a side. His battles with Gene Siskel, a personal competitor since he became the critic for a competing newspaper, and what came from pure hatred turned into mutual respect, yet they still took pot shots at each other throughout.

This is a very well done movie documentary, and I learned a great deal about both Siskel and Ebert, and how their careers and legacies were created, but also a lot of personal stuff about the life of this man I thought I knew that was intensely satisfying considering I knew none of that. Roger wanted his story told, and when his wife Chaz objected, he would wait until a day when she was not around and go ahead and do it his way without her having to see it. Right until the end, which is very vividly portrayed, they followed Roger’s demand that if you’re going to tell the story, you tell ALL of it and hide nothing. Based on his memoir, this film is right to the point and quick to the punch, and after it’s over, you’ll feel like you’ve been punched in the gut, but with a greater respect and admiration for one of America’s greatest writers. If you enjoy biographies and documentaries, then this is an excellent one.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Walt Disney Pictures, 21 Laps Entertainment, The Jim Henson Company,

Jennifer Garner, Steve Carell, Bella Thorne, Jennifer Coolidge, Megan Mullally

Alexander Cooper’s (Ed Oxenbould) day is starting out really awful. His birthday is coming, and everything is going wrong. When he gets the chance to make his birthday wish, he simply wishes the rest of the family could understand what a terrible day is like. It appears he has cursed his whole family on a very important day as his wish comes true. See, Alexander’s family doesn’t understand how hard it is to be a young boy today. His Dad, Ben (Steve Carell) is the ultimate optimist. Mom (Jennifer Garner) isn’t much better with her gung ho attitude. But today is an important day for everyone, and it’s going very, very, very badly for all of them. The family needs to pull together to get through this and life through till tomorrow.

This is a family film, and so it follows the line of dozens and dozens of other Disney live action films that go back to the 50’s and 60’s. Likewise, it’s based on a book, like a number of the other films of this genre. But that’s exactly how Walt did it too. He’d find a book that his daughters loved and made it into a film. With this film, you get exactly what you would expect which burns up a lot of people. There are many haters out there. This is not “American Pie” or “Superbad” and it never tries to be. It’s been a good while since we’ve had a good family film like this, and with the appearance of Steve Carell as the Disney family Dad, he’s not bad at all at it. He does his best to be a cool guy, but the bumbling Michael Scott character comes out when he’s trying his best, but everything is literally burning down around him. I thought it was really funny, in a PG sort of way that is appropriate for youngsters, especially boys. There are lots of good pre-teen girl movies out there, but the boys typically get either cartoon superheroes or sports movies, which are good in their own right, but it’s nice to see a family togetherness movie aimed at boys. So if your kids haven’t seen it, it’s out on DVD now, so be sure to spend an evening and watch it with them. It’s not spectacular cinema and special effect explosions, but it’s got a lot of childish humor and it really is a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Movie Rentals Releasing Tuesday March 24, 2015


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Red Wagon Entertainment, Mandeville Films, Summit Entertainment,

Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer,

Things went bad for Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) upon her initiation day in the first film “Divergent”. It ended up with her finding out she is divergent, or a member of all the factions. After the destruction of Earth, the survivors were broken up into factions and focused on one part of humankind to the exclusion of all else. There were those who value truth above all, those who nurture children, the group that cherish simpleness and non-violence to the extreme, and so on. A divergent had all of the qualities at once. Tris, by running away and joining another group of divergents suddenly found her whole world turned upside down. Those she loved were killed, because of her and their attempt to protect a valuable object at all costs. Tris is doubting herself as war seems eminent and there seems no other way than to attack and kill Jeanine (Kate Winslet) who as leader has started an all out search for the divergents to solve the puzzle and secure her rightful place as ruler of mankind.

This is the sequel to Divergent, and in this film, it picks up exactly as it left off. Tris has a valiant task to overcome and she’s ready for it, although she’s questioning herself and the cause of all the terrible things that happened. Does it sound like Hunger Games? Well that’s because there are many, many similarities between the two. This came along, definitely to ride the coattails of Hunger Games, which came along to follow Harry Potter, and so on, and so on. Does that make it worth not going after? No, not really. There are some definite twists along the way, and some of the details in these stories are quite interesting. I am impressed with Shailene Woodley, but she’s definitely not Jennifer Lawrence. Although in the very first Hunger Games Jennifer wasn’t all that polished either, but as the series went on, she got much stronger acting chops. Shailene still has a way to go, but she’s still the strong woman heroine who is required to step in and save the world. This is the theme these days. The men are either two faced, incompetent, or traitorous, and without the women to save the world, we’d be in trouble. This is what we’ve come to expect in 2015. So with that out of the way, Tris is a pretty decent heroine. With plenty of self doubt, she’s a bad ass and and kick butt and take names as well as anyone. I really enjoyed the look and feel of this movie, and was able to look past some of the cheesy acting of the bad guys who were about as hapless as the storm troopers in Star Wars Chapter V. The special effects are good, and the story is not all that bad. Don’t watch this expecting it to be exactly like the book, as it’s apparently not very closely followed, but as a stand alone film, it’s really good. I would definitely watch Divergent first to get the feel from the original and the background you will need for this film. Others found the story hard to follow, and especially the ending part about the relic and what it all meant. I didn’t find it that hard to follow, but perhaps if you miss a few critical pieces it might get that way. I thought it was an intelligent and very interesting action adventure film which gave me a lot of stuff to think about what is important in life and what is trivial. An interesting comparison is TinkerBell who being a pixie is only able to feel one emotion at a time. So when she’s filled with jealousy, it consumes her to wipe out all other feelings. The class system in Divergent is similar. Those who have only one trait miss a lot of life by not having the others. I recommend this film, but with the caveat that it’s not of the caliber of Harry Potter or Hunger Games, but it’s a nice little adventure film. I recommend it.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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Bold Films,

Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Kevin Rahm, Riz Ahmed

Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a young man living on his own and trying anything to make ends meet. On one evening he runs across an accident, and watches the “Nightcrawlers” the loners who track police calls to compete for live action footage to sell to the TV stations. Louis is a fast learner and listens and catches on quickly to become the top guy in the business. But does Louis go a little too far over the line of what is appropriate? This is the dark side of TV news.

This movie did very well in the theaters. I was really not clear what it was even about. I thought it some kind of war film. So when the DVD arrived, I had no expectations going in. I was stunned by the depth of this film. It’s very, very dark, and extremely realistic. The accidents, tragedies, and crimes are very realistically depicted, and it is VERY intense and quite deserving of the R rating. But I think the thing that impressed me so much was the depth of the character that Jake plays. We really get to the bottom of this character, yet even at the end, we’re not sure if he’s the cleverest guy we’ve ever seen, or if he’s totally mad. Rene Russo has the role of a local TV News producer who feeds on the stuff Louis brings in even though it’s borderline illegal. Bill Paxton is the mentor that he naturally turns on, but steal from all the time. But the suspense is very intense, and the story is very well written. Jake really pulls it off, and the story is not a nice one, but it’s riveting from start to end. Not since “The Talented Mr. Ripley” has there been a character as sneaky as Louis Bloom. This is an awesome film and very well worth seeking out as it’s very nicely done.

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog

 

 

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