Films

Film Review: Life

by Marie Carney on March 24, 2017

Life shows us how a few complacent space people can endanger our entire existence

Maybe Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) should take growing Martians more seriously.

When I first found out I was reviewing Life, I was super excited. I love big budget space movies! I love sci-fi! Then I remembered that I am terrified of aliens. Whoops. Soon the question became — will I actually be able to watch the movie without having a panic attack? Much like everything to do with this movie, that answer is unclear. I sat in my chair nervously twitching, waiting to be terrified and got my shoulder muscles knotted up, but I never had to cover my eyes and had no trouble falling asleep when I got home. It was an intense thriller, but maybe just too predictable to actually be scary. [read the whole post]

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Even with a few stumbles, this is an ultimately fun return of a classic franchise.

Saban's new Power Rangers

Saban’s new Power Rangers

Remaking a story like that of Power Rangers requires a great deal of care on two fronts. On the one hand, preserving the world, the characters, and the essential plotlines, is important in order to make the new film appeal in the first place (brand new characters, names, etc., simply wouldn’t fly), but also requires being modernized to fit the sheen and shine of big-budget motion pictures. However, there’s also the concern of keeping a lot of the original charm — which isn’t without its strong sense of extreme camp and over-the-top flashiness — and not having that clash strongly with a modern sense of acting and drama. Thankfully, Lionsgate’s new attempt at rebooting the Power Rangers franchise is ultimately a very fun effort, despite its occasional awkward moments that stumble slightly before the big, explosive finishes arrive. [read the whole post]

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This movie shouldn’t exist. It shouldn’t work. It’s great.

                         Exciting jolts of visual flair abound in Danny Boyle’s new film.

 

There’s a type of movie that internet film nerds refer to as a “legacyquel”. This term applies to a sequel that is released many years after the original, in which the original actors play their original roles. When this idea fails, like the recent Independence Day movie, which brought back a dead character with a flimsy explanation, it can fail spectacularly, but when it succeeds, like Star Wars: The Force Awakens does, we can celebrate the return of our favorite characters in an entirely new story line. T2: Trainspotting is one of the latter instances.

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(Films #11-#20 of Chad’s goal of seeing 60 films to commemorate SF Film Festival’s 60th anniversary! #60for60th)

Our preview coverage of the 60th SFFILM Festival continues! Be sure to get your tickets now — visit http://www.sffilm.org/festival for tickets and info. Also, be sure to check back here frequently, or follow along at our Facebook page and on Twitter (or follow film critics Carrie Kahn- @CKCinephile / Chad Liffmann- @chadcarsten). And now, time for 10 more spotlights:

Heaven Sent
(France/Lebanon 2016, 70 min; in Lebanese with English subtitles)

A scene from HEAVEN SENT, playing at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 5-19, 2017.

Uproariously absurd and twistedly entertaining, Heaven Sent is a rewarding dark comedy from the Middle East. It features a tight script and talented actors with superb comedic timing. The story revolves around a celebrity’s bodyguard, Omar, whose life is turned upside down when his presumed dead soldier brother returns out-of-the-blue. Even with some political jabs, director Wissam Charaf still invites the audience to laugh with solid slapstick and visual gags. Much of the film’s biting satire stems from the audience’s pre-existing knowledge of the ongoing war in the Middle East, and thus to contrast that knowledge with the hilariously trivial annoyances of Omar’s life become more and more comedically pronounced as the film unfolds. Definitely see Heaven Sent with a full house, since laughter is infectious!

Screenings:
(click here for tickets)

  • Thursday, April 13th, 9:00 pm, YBCA Screening Room
  • Friday, April 14th, 6:00 pm, Alamo Drafthouse
  • Tuesday, April 18th, 6:30 pm, Alamo Drafthouse

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(Films #1-#10 of Chad’s goal of seeing 60 films to commemorate SF Film Festival’s 60th anniversary! #60for60th)

The SF Film Festival is back and celebrating its 60th year! It’ll be taking place at venues in San Francisco and the East Bay from April 5-19. Once again, Spinning Platters is thrilled to provide you extensive coverage of the films, special events, and award ceremonies. Check back here frequently, or follow along at our Facebook page and on Twitter (or follow film critics Carrie Kahn- @CKCinephile / Chad Liffmann- @chadcarsten). Without further ado, let’s take a look at ten titles:

A Date for Mad Mary
(Ireland 2016, 82 min; in English)

Tara Lee and Seána Kerslake in Darren Thornton’s A DATE FOR MAD MARY, playing at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 5 – April 19, 2017.

I loved A Date for Mad Mary! It’s a funny, heartfelt, coming-of-age comedy filled with real characters and even realer interactions. Adapted from a stage play, the script by Darren Thornton and his brother Colin is clever and well-balanced, dealing with serious subject matters (bullying, prison, sexual identity) while also poking fun at classic comedy targets like dating, weddings, and sex. Throughout the story, complex emotions are expressed in subtle and delightfully informal ways. The cast is a powerhouse of strong Irish actresses, led by Seána Kerslake in a star making turn as the ostracized Mary. Bring a date to see A Date for Mad Mary, since it’s destined to be the feel-good sleeper hit of the year.

Screenings:
(click here for tickets)

  • Sunday, April 9th, 6:00 pm, BAMPFA
  • Saturday, April 15th, 7:00 pm, Alamo Drafthouse

[read the whole post]

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Still magical. Yet, there’s something there that wasn’t there before, and that something is meh.

Belle and Beast dance the night away.

If you’ve seen the 1991 Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast as much as I have, you’re probably just as nervously excited for the live-action version as I was. The 1991 film was the first animated feature to ever be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar Award, and for good reason: it was smart, magical, romantic, and broke down animation barriers. The new live action version had to stay true to these things, while simultaneously amping up the drama, the romance, and the magic, and still embracing its classic songs (“Bonjour”, “Be Our Guest”, “Beauty and the Beast”, etc.). For a while, it was scarily unclear if the new version would be a musical at all. Once announced it would be, however, the producers needed to cast actors who could sing, and employ special effects that didn’t ruin the fun-loving side characters like Lumiere, Cogsworth, and, of course, the central character of the Beast. While the new songs and expanded character backstories are jarring and uninspired, the majority of the new Beauty and the Beast is still full of magic and romance, and does the original and Disney source material proud. The film also marks a pivotal point in Disney’s aspiration to have one of the industry’s most inclusive, and ethnically and racially diverse, modern film portfolios.

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Film Review: Kong: Skull Island

March 10, 2017
www.youtube.com/watch?v=44LdLqgOpjo

Kong delivers without monkeying around. I’ll admit that I was more than skeptical when Kong: Skull Island was first announced. A new King Kong movie, really? Peter Jackson’s 2005 version still felt fresh in my mind, perhaps because it’s been playing on TV so often. But Kong: Skull Island was supposedly a different type of Kong movie. It […]

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Film Review: The Last Word

March 10, 2017
youtu.be/MaRroK_qVeg

The final words on the The Last Word are: Skip it Shirley MacLaine has been making movies for almost six decades, so it’s a shame that as she enters her mid-80s and starts the twilight of her career, she’s not offered projects more worthy of her talents. Case in point is this saccharine, hackneyed new […]

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Film Review: Before I Fall

March 3, 2017
youtu.be/q3Zyy4ZXegE

Groundhog Day in high school: Reliving teen angst proves effective in new drama about growing up Gen Xers who still have a hard time grasping that all the cool, disaffected icons of their youth (Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder, Kyra Sedgwick, to name a few) are cast as parents now — and of teenagers no less […]

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Noise Pop Film Review: Ticket to Write: The Golden Age of Rock Music Journalism

February 26, 2017
youtu.be/ih77mMgiONI

Engaging new doc brings us back to rock criticism’s glory days Last Sunday night, thanks to co-presenters Noise Pop and KQED, a crowd of music aficionados at the Swedish American Hall was treated to a viewing of writer/director Raul Sandelin’s documentary Ticket to Write: The Golden Age of Rock Music Journalism, followed by an engaging […]

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