Elizabeth Banks

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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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2015

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2015. Here is Carrie’s list, presented in alphabetical order. (And you can find Chad’s here.)

1.) Brooklyn

Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) shares a tender moment with boyfriend Tony (Emory Cohen).

The immigrant experience in America is exquisitely captured in director John Crowley’s finely crafted film about love, loss, and longing in 1950s Brooklyn. Based on the novel by Colm Tóibín, Nick Hornby’s screenplay presents us with the intrepid young Irish woman Eilis, who leaves her family in the Irish countryside for adventure and opportunity in New York. Saoirse Ronan suberbly conveys Eilis’s gradual shift from shy newcomer to confident cosmopolitan. Called back home for a family emergency, Eilis must choose between familiar comforts and new possibilities, and Ronan depicts Eilis’s struggle with heartrending openness and aching honesty. Emory Cohen and Domhnall Gleeson, as competing suitors on opposite sides of the Atlantic, also deliver strong, sharply drawn performances.

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Spinning Platters brings you more spotlights from the 57th San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF), which continues through this Thursday, May 8th. Program notes and tickets available here.  There is still plenty of time to catch some screenings, and you can also see many of the films as they open widely throughout the year.

Boyhood
(USA 2014, 162 min)

Life awaits young Mason (Ellar Coltrane) in Boyhood.

Life awaits young Mason (Ellar Coltrane) in Boyhood.

Stunning, remarkable, and amazing don’t begin to do justice to Richard Linklater’s new movie. Filmed over the course of 12 years using all the same actors, the picture follows young Mason (a captivating Ellar Coltrane) from the ages of six to 18; in one scene he’s maybe 8, and maybe 30 minutes later, he’s 12, in seamless transitions that will leave you astounded. The film could have just as easily been called Childhood or Parenthood (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette are equally terrific as Mason’s parents), as it’s about nothing less than the ephemeral nature of time and the meaning of life itself. Is life just a series of events – marriages, divorces, birthdays, graduations? What can we count on in life besides change? Breathtakingly original and achingly poignant, Boyhood is sure to be on many critics’ top ten list at year end; I know it will be on mine.

Screenings:

  • Opens July 18th at the Landmark Embarcadero Cinema

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Everything about this movie is awesome.

Cast of colorful characters, assemble!

Cast of colorful characters, assemble!

When I first learned of a LEGO movie, I was cautiously optimistic.  I was raised on LEGO.  I still vividly remember setting up Robin Hood-esque forest fortresses, flag-covered castles, and farming villages (yes, the medieval times was my go-to theme).  The instructions that came with each box provided the groundwork for my imagination to later run wild.  The idea of a LEGO feature film confused me, since I couldn’t conceive of a plot worthy of the great expanse of LEGO wonder.  But then I saw the trailer, and it seemed to click.  In a brilliant maneuver, LEGO and the filmmakers have included it all – legos from across “universes” and time periods – into a charming underdog story with a genuinely heartfelt message.  The Lego Movie succeeds in its perfect execution of jam-packed jokes, self-referential humor, pop culture teases, talented voice acting, frenetic action that borders on being chaotic, and jaw-dropping animation.  So yeah, it succeeds all over the place.

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Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick in PITCH PERFECT

starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks, John Benjamin Hickey

written by: Kay Cannon

directed by: Jason Moore

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sexual material, language and drug references

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Alex Kurtzman and Chris Pine on the set of PEOPLE LIKE US

If I were to tell you that one of this summer’s most character-driven and emotionally mature dramas comes to you from the writing team responsible for three of Michael Bay’s last four films, you’d accuse me of being hopped up on bath salts and run away covering your face and screaming. And yet, such is the case with People Like Us, the directorial debut of writer/producer Alex Kurtzman. In addition to his work with Bay, Kurtzman (along with creative partner Roberto Orci) is best-known for writing action-packed episodes of TV shows like Alias, Hawaii Five-0, and Fringe, and blockbusters like Mission: Impossible III, Cowboys & Aliens, and the J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek (as well as its upcoming sequel). And when the time came for him to finally tell a personal story inspired by one of the most shocking chapters from his own life, he chose his dashing Star Trek leading man, Chris Pine, to play his onscreen surrogate.

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Film Review: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”

May 18, 2012

starring: Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Rodrigo Santoro, Ben Falcone, Chace Crawford, Dennis Quaid, Brooklyn Decker, Rebel Wilson, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Chris Rock written by: Shauna Cross and Heather Hach directed by: Kirk Jones MPAA: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language

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Film Review: “The Hunger Games”

March 23, 2012

starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Donald Sutherland, Alexander Ludwig, Toby Jones, Isabelle Fuhrman written by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray directed by: Gary Ross MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – all involving teens

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