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Is That A Gun in Your Pocket?

The plot of Is That A Gun in Your Pocket? is loosely based on the ancient Greek play “Lysistrata.”  It was written and first performed in 411 BC.  It’s interesting to see how little has changed in that men and women still lock horns over what the other considers to be best for their family and also in the way we entertain one another.

In the play, Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sex from their husbands until they negotiate peace and end the Peloponnesian War.  Using the theme of a 2,000-year-old sex comedy works for what the women of this small Texas town want from their men.  These are strong values to stand on and the film does a good job of giving the audience both point of views.  The comedy chafe’s the brain a few times as some scenes are not only too contrived but sophomoric, however, in the long run, it’s worth a watch for the number of times you’ll chuckle at this battle the sexes.

In Rockford, Texas, guns are the order of the day.  This is set up in several ways.  Pay special attention to the titles playing at the theatre for the wittiest of them.  This little borough of 6,969 people is calm and quiet almost idyllic, in fact, and everyone seems happy on the surface yet deep down brews a silent soldier in the form of resentment.  The women speak of it and make fun of men in group chats; the men do the same behind the backs of their wives or girlfriends, mostly while hunting.  What is this resentment based on?  Their sex lives.  Their sex lives couldn’t be staler if it were a cracker from 1991 found this morning behind the refrigerator.  As if it were a sketch comedy show, writer/ director, Matt Cooper (Perfect Opposites, The Last Supper) gives us set up after set up and joke after joke of men and women pinned against one another, all charged up and in full battle mode.  Some japes in this comedy do land better than others but if you don’t take the subject too seriously, the touchdown is a lot less bumpy.

Married couple, Glenn (Passmore) and Jenna (Anders), and seemingly the rest of the town, are having problems in the marital bed.  After their son takes a loaded gun to school and accidentally discharges some bullets, Jenna decides to take some of her unspent energy out on a cause.  That cause is to rid the town of guns altogether.  Glenn is against this and before you know it, the frustrated couple decides on one thing… neither will give in.  She talks her girlfriends into helping her take a stand for something she feels is important to her after she learns that guns contribute the most to the death of children… above everything else.  She explains that gun violence can end by removing the reason it exists… guns.   The women agree and the men aren’t going to have it.  So, the fairer sex comes up with the one thing that’s sure to break the men… they’ll close their legs until the guns are gone.

When the men hold up surprisingly well and are still not giving in, the women decide to turn up the heat.  This is also when Cooper turns up the funny.  These gals play some dirty tricks on these unsuspecting lads.  I’ll let you discover those when you watch the film.  As the title alone might suggest, there are some really fun moments that will hook you into the lampoonery you’ll find in Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?; like the revelation of a vibrator thought to have been a candlestick, a man crying because his ak47 is painted pink and the men wishing the women would have had a talking strike instead of a sex strike.

It’s slow to get going at first but hang in there.  Laughing at jokes aimed at your sex, whether you think they’re completely accurate or not, is healthy.  If you can do that you’re going to be entertained.  There’s some really funny dialogue delivered by Cloris Leachman’s character, as well, such as suggesting that, ‘There is nothing more powerful than p*ssy.’  But her dirty old lady was a bit overused.  Had she said only a few filthy things, I believe the declaration of that particular line would have had a much bigger impact.  That said, when Horatio Sanz says, ‘Hell hath no fury like a Latina scorned,’ I hope you don’t have a drink in your mouth.  My suggestion is to see this crazy little movie and don’t worry so much about the politics mentioned within.  Whether you agree with the stance within or not you’ll laugh if you let yourself.  You’ll like the characters once you get to know them and you’ll want to see where the story is leading.  You truly care for them and what they’re standing up for and it’s also hard not to like this wonderful cast; there’s hardly a name you won’t recognize.

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David Lynch: The Art Life Movie Review

David Lynch, in case you didn’t know, (and it would be a shame if you didn’t because he’s one of the most important artists of our time), is an American director, screenwriter and producer.  He’s a musician, sculptor and a painter; the former is broadly noted in this film.  Looking him up, one will find that he’s labeled a Surrealist.  Surrealists perceive their work as expressions of the philosophical, abstract and even metaphysical points of view.  If you’d like to know more about him, this Documentary will enlighten you and then stimulate you into wanting to see everything he has ever had a hand in creating.   

We open on a long shot of Lynch sitting in a chair smoking… contemplating life.  He then talks about his childhood, moving from Montana to Idaho to Washington.  His mother, seeing his drawings as a boy, supported his young imagination by not allowing him to use coloring books as they might stifle his creativity.  There’s joy in his voice as he examines the early memories of his family and friends until he reaches his move to West Virginia when he was in high school.  It’s here where he is ridiculed and his life changes.  He sees everything around him as cloudy and muted, often stormy whereas before there was always sun and happiness.  The good boy turns bad when he starts to hang out with the wrong crowd and this time in his life, as well as a bit later when he visits a morgue, that you can see his style of provocative art and filmmaking start to take shape.  The drawings that Director Jon Nguyen and his co-directors Rick Barnes and Olivia Neergaard-Holm choose for the words that Lynch now speaks set the tone beautifully.  The art displayed at this time is intense; one is of a giant face screaming, ‘Help me!’ as he spoke of pure hatred for where he moved to, was shocking. 

Soon after, the atmosphere changes and the camera catches him talking about Bushnell Keeler, the artist and person who is most responsible for encouraging his painting (and who got him to attend art school), more than anyone else.  It’s seeing Keeler’s studio that cemented his love of the craft… this is when he knew what his future held.  He gave him the book The Art Spirit by Robert Henri and Lynch loved it so much that he carried it everywhere with him.  What made his spirit live by this time in his life was drinking coffee, smoking and painting.  A few minutes later, into the microphone, he recants how his parents allow him to blossom and before you know it he’s going to school, has his first child and begins to try film on for size.  Why not?  He has done everything else?  Pieces of his first films The Alphabet and The Grandmother are shown and we are taken down memory lane into how Eraserhead came to be.               

You learn so much about him in this short amount of time that you may feel as if you know him intimately.  This documentary is so well done that you’re grateful for the filmmakers having decided to capture him at this stage in life.  Lynch is so open to the filmmakers that we even get to watch him interact with his baby daughter Lula as she plays inside of his studio.  You can’t help but wonder what she has in store for us.  All throughout the film his art dances across the screen such as, ‘Angel of Totality,’ a disturbing piece that gets you thinking about man’s ability to create life and destroy all other living things simultaneously… or at least that’s what I saw in it.  Every bit of this art got me looking for more, which luckily isn’t hard to find.  I suggest you do the same.  He’s made comics, during angry stages of his life, and is proficient in still photography which is used all over the film to set a certain mood.  It seems Nguyen and co. learned a lot from their subject and joined the dark side so to speak.  The Late David Foster Wallace best described Lynch’s work as ‘Lynchian’ explaining that meant ‘a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.’ This is something that Nguyen clearly understood and wanted his audience to explore. 

Each pencil drawing or morbid morsel that you set your eyes on seems to outdo the other which is unfortunate if you’re watching in the theatre because you want and need to pause to take it all in.   You must see it at the theatre but then it’s one to buy, as well, so you can PAUSE to absorb the film in its totality.  It doesn’t matter what kind of art you like best or what kind of films you most enjoy, this movie is one to see.  It’s deeply contemplative while being absorbing, haunting and insightful at the same time. 

In Phoenix, see it at the FILM BAR tonight.

Tommy’s Honour Movie Review

Director Jason Connery, son of actor Sean Connery, is usually in front of the camera. Appearing in over seventy films, he now has five directing credits to his name. Tommy’s Honour, a piece about the birth of the golf pro of today, is his latest achievement. Appearing in Film Festivals across the globe, the Phoenix Film Festival being one of them where it had the honour of closing the fest, it’s getting great buzz and as it’s now at a theatre near you, I must recommend you see it. It’s an engaging movie with history about the evolution of the professional golfer and in my opinion; you don’t have to be a fan of the game to enjoy the spirit within the movie. Interestingly enough, the players went from being paid employees, hired to play the game for rich men who bet on the winners, to then playing on their own terms… and it would not have been possible if not for Young Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden) who made it happen.

At the time Tommy was the best player, one that the members of the club St. Andrews for whom he played, could always count on. He, well aware of his skills and knowledge of the game, refused to continue to play and only take home a small percentage of his own winnings. Not appreciating how the men of St. Andrews have always treated his father Old Tom, (Peter Mullan), he rejects the idea of ending up like his dad, crawling around on the ground setting up Tees for men who only looked down at him. Tommy decides it’s time to redesign how players are seen and how the game is played and with one game he does just that. Shocking every man in the club, especially Alexander Boothby (Sam Neil), he makes some requests that the members deny, fearing that next Tommy will expect to be called a Gentleman and demand entrance through the sacred door.

Tom, greenskeeper at St. Andrews, who’s responsible for establishing many of the game’s rules as well as making their balls and clubs, is fine with his station in life. When Tommy suggests rising above it, he gets a little nervous. Being a much better course designer these days than player, Tom is no longer asked to play; therefore he can no longer bring home the extra money his family needs. Having his son around to help run things and support the family has always been the plan. What starts concerning Tom, even more, is that at the time Tommy decides to carve his own path in golf, he also meets a woman, Meg (Ophelia Lovibond), who he falls instantly in love. Now his parents worry that he, along with this woman they do not trust, will destroy his future… and theirs.

What accent heavy dialogue you can make out in Tommy’s Honour, (you’re likely to miss a few words here and there so it’s worth mentioning), will affect you. It’s a thought-provoking and compelling story. With the characters being set up so well, you root for Young Tommy right away and want him to achieve his goals and prosper. You also feel for his family but when Meg enters the scene that may start to turn. As previously mentioned, Tommy has never been encouraged to dream or to love but he does now. With what he has achieved and where he sees his future heading, he insists on being his own man, no matter who likes it or who doesn’t. Suddenly, a sports movie about Tommy planning to tour different courses collecting his winnings and forever changing the face of the game turns into a heavy drama. Be prepared when it does… that’s all I’ll say about that.
Ophelia Lovibond is fabulous as she faces Tommy’s unforgiving mother and Peter Mullan expresses Old Tom impressively through not only dialogue but his face, especially when he sees his actions has cost him so much. This is an incredible cast in a wonderful story. See it playing in Phoenix at the theatres listed below or at a theatre near you, today.

Harkins Fashion Center 20

Superstition Springs 25

Harkins Arrowhead Fountains 18

AMC Desert Ridge 18

Shea 14 Theater

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The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

It always gets Faster, and it always gets more Furious, and there is no limit to the movies Over-The-Topness. But, danged, it sure does work! It becomes like a movie version of a roller coaster ride that spins and twirls and goes in any direction that it wants to go.

Odd Brodsky Indie Film Movie Review

Everyone knows independent film is where it’s at these days.  You can’t argue the facts.  Their creators aren’t inhibited like filmmakers working on big budget films.  They have all creative control over their art.  If you want something unique, indie has the pickle for your palette.

Today, are you looking for an interesting indie film that can give you a good chuckle?  If ‘yes’, then I have the perfect film for you to add to your list of must-sees.  Odd Brodsky.  It’s… odd… and that’s its charm.

It’s not impossible to believe that every single one of us has found ourselves in a situation where we feel a little out of place; a bit uncomfortable where we stand or who we are surrounded by at a given moment.  Oftentimes we are facing a position that doesn’t give us the level of comfort we’d prefer to have and we’re troubled by that.  Well, imagine this is the norm in your life; that this IS your life.  Meet Audrey “Odd” Brodsky, the spirit for which filmmaker Cindy Baer introduces you to such an existence.

Odd Brodsky is a comedic story loosely inspired by some of Baer’s own journeys on this planet, and if you’re a filmmaker you’ll especially appreciate the whimsical musings of these familiar attempts at making it in the business.”

Aud… Odd is a woman who has made it her life’s work not to fit in and has accepted her fate… or has she?  In what feels like a one hour and thirty-three minute SNL skit, Odd and her gang of friends are trying their best to make something of themselves.

Working in Hollywood and being an actress seems to not only be Odd’s passion but also the only thing with which she excels, ‘Acting makes me braver than I really am.’

Audrey’s friend Sammy is producing a play that gives writers Baer and Matthew Irving an opportunity to bring on the silly. For instance, when Sammy is looking for a particular actor to be on stage who is playing the part of God in her stage show Hell is Here, she shouts for him, and the way this whole scene plays out… I almost choked on my chips.  It’s hysterical.

Now thinking maybe behind the scenes is best for her, Odd decides to produce a reality show.  Again with the laughs… of using scenes to their fullest; labeling people such as Photolab guy and Camera One.  It’s great!  Odd moves from building to building and as she moves back and forth, painted on the wall, literally on the wall, are the paths she’s choosing.  The symbolism is great fun.  Very clever.

Tegan Ashton Cohan is so wonderful as Audrey, and with her, Camera One, is perfectly cast.  Matthew Kevin Anderson shows the perfect emotion for what he’s going through and the feelings he’s starting to have for Odd.  Grand kudos goes to Baer for handling the role of Sammy and keeping her fellow actors in mind at the same time.  She handled this set well and it is abundantly clear that she has the product to prove she… made it.

Warning to you, however.  You’ll want to find Cindy Baer and give her a big hug after watching this movie, because not only did she entertain you, but you can’t help but wonder how much of this is reality and how much pressure had she truly felt deep down growing up?  Did her family support her?  Well, if they didn’t, she proves them wrong with this winning film.  Not only that, she makes fun of it so you know that if the pain was there… it certainly isn’t now.

Impressive job, Cindy Baer!  Genuinely delightful film.  I cannot wait to see what you, even Audrey, has in store for us next… until then, may I borrow Camera One?

Here are VOD links for you to watch Odd Brodsky!  

iTunes: https://itun.es/us/K7n1fb
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mUFOTu
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2mm34Xj

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The Blackcoat’s Daughter Movie Review

Are you a horror fan looking for something new?  Then don’t miss Blackcoat’s Daughter; another winner from A24!  The short answer as to why you can’t miss this is that it totally embodies the new part that you’ve been looking for.  So, here’s a bit of unsolicited advice for you, if you don’t mind, don’t read much more about the film.  Don’t watch a trailer.  Go in cold, only knowing that you have to see it.  You’re a horror fan and that’s all you need to be.  If you’d like to continue reading, I don’t give away too much. 

Cinematically, it’s a stunner.  I’m ready to watch it again for the pure enjoyment of it.  The music is so unsettling, the way bows screech across their string instruments or the strings are plucked hard to get your attention in a given moment… genius.  Much like horror classics, the music is central in setting the sweeping tenor of the film.  It was absolutely unnerving. 

You’ll also be impressed with how this story, that centers on three different girls, starts to unfold.  Kat (Shipka) and Rose (Boynton) are stuck at their Catholic school in Bramford during winter break.  When their parents don’t come and pick them up, the headmaster asks that they are watched over by a couple of nuns.  Kat and Rose don’t know one another very well, nor do they particularly like one another, but they’re making due with the situation they find themselves. 
Then we are introduced to a young woman on the road named Joan who is played by Emma Roberts.  She’s odd; almost lifeless when she is approached by Bill (Remar) and Linda (Holly) who assume the girl’s in trouble and would like to help.  She reminds Bill of their daughter and he can’t help but tell her so.  Uncomfortable, but desperate to get to Bramford, she accepts the ride.  As Joan gets closer to Bramford, she gets more and more dark and we cut back and forth to and from the other girls.

We begin to pick up on more of each storyline.  Things are revealed about Kat who is having terrifying visions and she, like Joan, seems to get ill while her demeanor changes, as well.  Rose overhears something sinister and creeps around in the dark, abandoned school halls.  She does something that I don’t believe anyone in her situation would, however, and that is go downstairs where it’s dark and peeks through the window in a door she has no business looking through.  It’s here she sees something she wishes she hadn’t.  But when did this happen exactly and are you sure?  Just when you think you have this movie figured out, you didn’t know a thing.  What really works is how the tension builds in both storylines and you cannot wait to see them intersect… if that’s in fact what’s going to happen. 

Perkins’ writing and directing mixed with cinematographer Julie Kirkwood’s style, who worked with Perkins on the Netflix original I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, as well, will leave an impression on you.  This is a well told, rare, impactful story.   Perkins took special care in making sure you remembered his characters long after the movie was over.  I can assure you that you will.  The weather adds shading, the sets add mood, the lighting creates fear and, of course, the performances grip you.  Perkins wastes nothing in enhancing the film’s ambiance to set a specific tone for you. 

I couldn’t wait to see where the stories would come together.  As the movie got further and further in, I was getting more and more uncomfortable watching it alone… I’ll admit to then allowing a little daylight in by opening the curtains.  Let’s see how you fair.  Catch Blackcoat’s Daughter exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse in Chandler, or wherever it’s playing near you, this weekend.  Good luck! 

Enter To Win 2017 Phoenix Film Festival Flex Passes

The Phoenix Film Festival, named one of The 25 Coolest Film Festivals by MovieMaker Magazine, is back for its 17th year! The Festival annually screens over 150 films, holds amazing parties and provides filmmaking seminars. If you are a movie lover, this is an event that is not to be missed!

The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival happens in conjunction with the yearly Phoenix Film Festival. Attendees can catch premieres of short and feature horror and sci-fi films from all over the world, along with eclectic programming of older films, special guests and cult classics. Plus, patrons can enjoy all the great parties and entertainment the Phoenix Film Festival is known for. It’s the best of all worlds!

Tickets and passes will be available beginning March 1 at www.PhoenixFilmFestival.com. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Phoenix Film Festival Ticket Center next to the Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theater. Tickets range in price from $13 for a single screening to $300 for a platinum pass.

FESTIVAL OFFICIAL CHANNELS
SITE: http://www.phoenixfilmfestival.com
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/PhoenixFilmFestival
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/PhoenixFilmFest
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/phoenixfilmfestival
OFFICIAL HASHTAG: #PFF2017

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Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

“Ghost in the Shell” has been around for quite a while, first as a Japanese manga comic series, and in 1995, as an animated movie based on the series. Now it has become a live-action version. This cyber-punk classic is given a new look and feel, still keeping with the dystopian future and the Asian-themed storyline. The most prominent roles are not played by Asian actors in this version. But it still has a futuristic vibe that has been seen before.

In this future generic Asian city, the largest company is Hanka Robotics. A crucial experiment is successful when Dr. Ouélet (Juliette Binoche) oversees a living human brain merged into a cybernetic ‘shell’ body, with a perfect human form. The Major (Scarlett Johansson) becomes a super-powered crime fighter for a counter-cyberterrorist group called Section 9. This group is led by Togusa (Chin Han), who reports to the government about all criminal activity.

Major and her partner Batou (Pilou Asbæk) are caught in a series of murders when top executives from Hanka Robotics are brutally killed. Evidence leads to a shadowy figure called the Puppet Master, later found out to be named Kuze (Michael Pitt). The Major catches up to Kuze and they find very unusual similarities. Major starts to question everything about her past, which has always been clouded and mysterious.

The more that Major and Batou investigate, the more troubled Major becomes. She knows that her body is manufactured, but she tries to understand why her brain (her “ghost”) is leading her to a place and time in her past. Hanka Robotics is led by a shady CEO who keeping many secrets from Major. When she finally learns the truth, it will change everything in her world.

Marvel will probably not release a stand-alone “Black Widow” movie for a long time. So now with “Ghost in the Shell”, you can see it as “I, Black Widow Robot”. Scarlett Johansson has perfected her bad-ass, take-no-prisoners hot chick fighting machine persona. In this movie, she further perfects the ‘machine’ part of that equation. She is always cool and in control, and this movie demands that she continue in that role. She pulls it off with no problem.

The rest of the cast is very much on target to the original source material. Pilou Asbæk is terrific as Batou, and he looks like a young cyber-punk Kiefer Sutherland. Juliette Binoche brings a very conflicted worry to her role, as she does not want Major to know her true origin. Chin Han has the perfect look for a wise man who can lead the Section 9 group, always speaking his native language when everyone speaks English.

The production values and set designs are stunning. They are beautiful to see and visually very active and colorful. The action sequences are set up and carried out with a smooth style. The story leads deeper into the background of the Major, and finds that she might want to be there.

However, the main drawback is that all has been done before. All classic science-fiction movies are copied here and there: ‘The Matrix’, ‘The Terminator’, ‘Blade Runner’, The Fifth Element’ and others. Even the animated version of this same movie beat it by over 20 years. If all you want is something 100% original, then you must look somewhere else.

If you are looking for a well-produced and action-filled science-fiction movie, then this will please you. Scarlett Johansson plays the role well, even without being Oriental. If you do not mind all the places where they have borrowed from other movies, you might really like “Ghost Blade in the Matrix Runner Shell”…

The Boss Baby Movie Review

Boss Baby is a new spin on the old tale of sibling rivalry.  DreamWorks starts this little story off by telling us of the life of one Tim Templeton.  The grown up Tim and narrator for the film, Toby Maguire, recants for us his childhood.  Tim spends his days in an incredibly vivid dream world where he may see a tent as a spaceship or a wagon as a police car, you know, that sort of thing.  Being an only child, he has his parent’s (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow), undivided attention, particularly at bedtime when they tuck him in, read him some bedtime stories and sing him to sleep.  His life is perfect.  Perfect until the moment his baby brother (Baldwin) arrives, who proceeds to then ruin everything.  The baby has started taking over Tim’s once happy life.  His idyllic world begins to crumble as time with his parents slips away and even his precious bedtime stories and songs get cut down to a simple goodnight.  Boss Baby, as babies need love and attention, is seen, by Tim, as ruling over his parents and about to take them from him completely.

Keeping in mind that he has the most colorful imagination ever, his parents’ new offspring is a baby who speaks with a boorish attitude, dresses from head to toe in black and carries a briefcase.  He isn’t just a baby… he is up to something.  Tim, who is immediately suspicious of the baby, sees right away that the child is up to no good when he overhears him speaking on his toy phone to Baby Corp.  Tim may know this now, but how to prove it? 
Play dates become meetings that Boss Baby hosts.  He and his cohorts are from Baby Corp which is where babies come from.  Babies run down a conveyor belt and are routed to families who eagerly await their newborn.  Every now and again, a baby will be tagged to work in the head office, and Boss Baby is one of those special few.  He has now infiltrated Tim’s family because of where his parents work, Puppy Co. 
Baby Corp is losing the market on love to puppies and Puppy Co’s Francis Francis (Buscemi), who holds a long-time grudge against Baby Corp, is about to do something that will change the ‘puppy love versus love for a baby’ game forever.  Boss Baby lets Tim know the whole truth and now they must work together to stop Francis Francis.  Boss Baby promises that once the task is accomplished, he’ll move up to Baby Corp, get his own corner office and be out of Tim’s hair forever. 

There’s a lot of cute here.  It’s amusing the way we see things getting fast and furious for Tim with Boss Baby and his gang and then we cut to the point of view of the parents and everything is at a normal pace and fine.  I always appreciate the type of humor in animated films that execute a good balancing act of G and PG to be smart in thinking of its entire audience. 

Everyone in the family will like Boss Baby for what is aimed at them.  Everything appears to be meant for kids but the true humor soars over their heads and strikes the intended target directly; the parents.  That is always clever.  There are a lot of resourceful, imaginative and fun ideas put to use here.  It’s a good cast and the animation is delightful.  Some moments are a bit over the top or weren’t ever necessary but in the end, it pretty well evens out.  See it at the theatre if you can. 

THE BOSS BABY Official Channels

SITE: http://www.dreamworks.com/thebossbaby/

FACEBOOKhttps://www.facebook.com/thebossbaby

HASHTAG: #TheBossBaby