The Founder Advance Screening

The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ fast food eatery, McDonald’s, into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world.

Find your chance to receive special advance movie screening passes below.

Phoenix, Arizona

Date: Tuesday, January 17
Location: Harkins Scottsdale 101
Time: 7:00pm
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Lion Advance Screening

A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

Find your chance to receive special advance movie screening passes below. 

Phoenix, Arizona

Date: Tuesday, December 8
Location: Harkins Tempe Marketplace
Time: 7:00pm

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hacksaw-ridge-movie-review

Hacksaw Ridge

War is Hell, as it is said, but a movie about War can go many different ways. “Hacksaw Ridge” plays up the unusual angle of a World War II conscientious objector who was the first one to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. He refused to carry a weapon on the battlefield, and instead carried 75 wounded men to safety on Okinawa.

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) grows up in a backwoods area in Virginia. He was raised by his strict alcoholic father (Hugo Weaving) and loving mother (Rachel Griffiths). When his brother goes off to WWII, Desmond also decides to enlist. His new girlfriend Dorothy (Teresa Palmer) is surprised, because Doss is such a gentle soul.

Doss proclaims status as conscientious objector is valid in the Army. But it does not sit well with his superiors, Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Captain Glover (Sam Worthington).  They try every way possible to make Doss uncomfortable so he will leave on his own. The base commander orders Doss to pick up a rifle. When he refuses, Doss is threatened with court marshal.

Doss misses the leave from the base when he was to be married to Dorothy. Desmond’s father pulls some old favors from a World War I buddy. Desmond Doss is set free again to become a medic for the unit.

As the war winds down in Europe, the savage battle rages on in Japanese waters. On Okinawa, the unit is sent to perform an impossible mission: take Hacksaw Ridge. The long climb up rope ladders deposits the troops in a barren field of death. Other units have tried to take the Ridge, and many have died fighting the Japanese.

The fierce battle starts death coming from every direction. There are tunnels and bunkers and heavy weapons that the Japs are bringing down on the troops. Doss and his unit are slogging and fighting on, at the cost of many dead and wounded.  The Japanese retreat into hiding, getting ready to come in full force again.

Doss remains in the field, up on top of the Ridge. He hears a weak cry and goes to help a soldier. And then there is another, and another. He devises a way to lower the wounded down the side of the cliff, so he can stay and care for more wounded. Doss becomes the only one able save some of the solders. He helps Sergeant Howell among others.

Captain Glover is shocked to see so many of his men in the field hospital the next day. He finds out that Desmond Doss treated and carried out each of the 75 men. Doss and the rest of the troops are ordered to take the Ridge again. But this time, all the men are ready to reach the goal, knowing that Doss had the courage to stay up on the Ridge all night and save so many.

Andrew Garfield does a marvelous job with the difficult role of Doss. He plays a man of principles who is put down for his beliefs, but who is so strong in his conviction that he makes up for the fact that he will not fight. In a bloody and gruesome situation, Doss continued to find a way to save his fellow solders.

Every other actor does a really good job with the roles that they portray. But a special nod must go to Vince Vaughn, because in this role he is stretching his acting ability to new level. He plays a drill sergeant with a slight sarcastic streak. He is nowhere as good as R Lee Ermey in “Full Metal Jacket”, who was the real deal.

Mel Gibson is the director, and he is making his way back to place of respectability in Hollywood. Gibson might be criticized for the level of violence and gore in this movie. But it is a War movie, of course, so there will have to be something that will be bloody. The first part of the movie is almost a fantasy of small town and rural life, so the next part with the blood and guts does come as a shock.

The true life story of Desmond Doss is worth telling, and this movie tells the story well. It dips into a section of extreme war time violence that is disturbing. But Doss made the choice not to fight, he made the choice to help save. He was recognized and rewarded for his efforts.

christine

Christine

“Christine” is based on the story of Christine Chubbuck (Hall), an investigative news reporter in Florida, where she lived with her mother, Peg (Smith-Cameron).  The most compelling part , and it is fascinating, of this sluggish film is watching people behind the scenes at a news station in the 1970’s, work with the tools they had to work with to run the news in the pre-digital age.  They were still cutting film together before the advent of video tape and it’s especially interesting watching them scramble to put a segment together last minute from the very expensive film they were then using.  This is where we find, Christine; behind the eight-ball, unhappy at work and depressed.  Her editor, Mike (Letts), wants Christine to do more “exploitive” work.  Mike wants his reporters to work on stories that have grit; stories that sensationalize and grab the attention of the audience.  What she wants is to be taken seriously by the public and do good work; work that will get her a promotion.

She struggles with the difference between what he wants and what she believes is right and when she finds out she has a tumor, Christine insists she leave her mark on the world even quicker.  Sadly, the film doesn’t concentrate on one subject long enough to give her one true and distinctive reason to be banal.  She’s unhappy but what can bring a person to be so tormented to bring them to do what she ultimately does?  She gives her editor what he wants, though.  She gives him a gripping story and a television first.

The film does exploit what eventually happens to Christine.  She gave Mike his story and she got the attention she dreamed of at the same time.  Unfortunately, the film depicts her as the coldest and most dreary individual ever born, with incredibly dry and humdrum dialogue.  Too dull that it becomes fatiguing to actually watch.

She gives her editor what he wants, though.  She gives him a gripping story and a television first.
Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

Learning that Christine had never had love in her life, never had a sexual relationship and clearly was not able to cope with the cards she was dealt any longer that she commits suicide on television for all to see, got people to tune into the news and might be what gets you to tune into this, however, had director, Campos, concentrated on how Christine could get to this point and gone back further in her life, rather than jump all over the place, (even making it unclear as to exactly who Peg was at first), “Christine” could have had you more engrossed in the story, in who she was and quite heartbroken when she takes her life; rather than just mildly touched, a bit surprised and not sure of the films true purpose.

Florence Foster Jenkins

I make Simon Helberg from Florence Foster Jenkins and The Big Bang Theory laugh

I had just screened “Florence Foster Jenkins”, a well acted and decidedly entertaining film, when I was honored, along with a few others, to have a chance to then speak to one of its stars, Simon Helberg, most known for his work as Howard Wolowitz on the hit show “The Big Bang Theory.”  I say that I was honored because not only was Helberg courteous, friendly, open and honest but he was extremely attentive and gave a lot of thought to his answers, never once giving the impression that doing press for the film was the last place he’d want to be.  He was warm and pleasant and very thorough in his responses; being careful to answer the question to its fullest.  Here is that interview. 

Q:  Outside of some other great films, your father, Sandy, was in “Spaceballs”, “History of the World pt 1”, “High Anxiety”, This is Spinal Tap, not to mention the great television he has done.  Once you saw this quality in him, was it his comedic talents that encouraged you to follow in his footsteps and would you encourage your children to follow in yours?

SH:  Encourage is a tricky word cuz I think you want to be supportive but I’d never want to suggest to my children (and my dad never did to me) in any sort of way, push someone into something.  You’d be kind of a fool if you did that because it’s so hard to make it as an actor or a comedian or anything in the arts so, I’d be very supportive and my dad was very supportive of me and I think he was more inspiring.  I watched him at “The Groundlings” and, obviously, those were great movies that you named and I think it definitely shaped me in many ways and I also say that it was very hard to, sort of, get success and make it.  Even though my dad worked and did well, it… that’s kind of, that’s sort of grounding.  It kind of helped me as I went into it to have a pretty good handle on the difficulty of it and then to sort of be appreciative of the successes. 

Q:  You character and performance has tons of facial expressions they’re a huge part of your performance; they range from very subtle to overt.  In the scene where you hear Florence sing for the first time, were you already aware of what Meryl was going to sound like or were those expressions real? 

SH:  Both, I guess, which is kind of a trick in doing this which is, it has to be new, sort of, every time.  She’s doing something every time and she made my job a lot easier.  We’d already rehearsed for about a week and a half with the music and we’d actually recorded at Abby Road, as well, which was amazing.  So, we had a lot of time to laugh and figure out what we were doing and then, of course, they ended up wanting to shoot it all live so all of the stuff that we had recorded was thrown out and because of that we’re playing all that music live as you’re seeing it and as it was being shot which I think both helped… well, it helped us contain our laughter and, sort of, focus but it also made all of it very authentic; so those reactions… that was really happening, for the most part, in real time.  I mean, obviously the editing is pretty masterfully as well, but what you’re seeing is actually what is coming out of us… for better or for worse. 

Florence Foster Jenkins

Q:  You speak in a higher pitched voice in this film and kind of change your speaking patterns, what was behind your decision to do that?  Was there something you pulled from your research of him?

SH:  Some of it… not from his voice, actually.  The most that I could find in doing this research was some fact and little tidbits of information that were in the movie but there is a recording of him, actually, but he’s much older and he talks about that night at Carnegie Hall and I had a moment of thinking, ‘Hmm… do I want to use this as inspiration?’ because he was probably, I think, in his seventies at that point and it was a bit different than I had pictured it and his outlook was very different than it was in the script.  I thought, ‘you usually always want to start with the script.’  So, to me I just saw it vividly and heard him vividly in this way but as far as the voice, I saw him as being very pure and chaised and very innocent and having no sense of cynicism and hadn’t been corrupted in any way whatsoever like a little bird or a gecko or something.  And I thought, there’s something very childlike and I feel like he’s probably unaware of his sexuality and, I don’t know, he didn’t seem to me to be… uh, that’s just how I guess I heard him.  I guess there are people in my life who I know kind of have… I don’t know, there’s something very chaised about him and very alien at the same time.  And then there’s also the fact that it was the forties and he was walking into this elevated high society, cosmopolitan lifestyle and people actually did take speech classes and there was this sort of dignified way of talking back then and it’s just kind of all of those things combined, I guess, that led me to that.

Q:  Why did you choose to be in this film?

SH:  I couldn’t think of one reason why I wouldn’t be interested or want to claw my way into this movie.  There’s the obvious people that were making it and involved with it who are probably the best, you know, ever at this.  Between Meryl and Stephen and Hugh and… Alexandre Desplat did their music, Consolata Boyle (costume design), Alan MacDonald (production design) did the sets.  I feel like I’m accepting an award.  But all these people who are the most brilliant at doing this, I mean that was in and of itself a dream.  I mean, the script was so unique and the scenes, I guess, really speak to me and not just the love of music but this idea of perception and sort of disparity between our perceptions of ourselves and what other people perceive and the question therein, I guess, being, ‘Does it matter that we hear one voice in our head and other people hear a different one when we all leads to the same place?’  I don’t know, there’s just something that was beautifully poetic about her journey and I felt that the script did an amazing job celebrating this woman and celebrating this love and this joy that she found in music.

Q:  With it being a period piece and being based on real life events, what was the most challenging aspect of making this film?

SH:  Well, the most challenging part of it was combining the music and the acting.  It’s sort of being hired as an actor and having then kind of having the music take over in many ways because it was so hard and challenging and also it was such an enormous part of the film that I knew that ultimately whether I played the piano or not really wouldn’t matter.  People are going to see it in my performance as an actor but then it all got tied together because Meryl was going to sing and they want to do it live and for it to be live, they want the piano to be live and it was going to be different every time so, there was just… part of the pressure of getting this music done live while they were shooting us, working with Meryl and Stephen in this incredible movie and it was just built in pressure and it was just challenging and then on top of that to find this character and do it simultaneously.  It felt very, you know, it’s very hard not to play piano with two hands so it felt like I had like eight arms and I was trying to do multiple things.  And then, of course, you want to be faithful to these characters because they’re real but at the same time there wasn’t a ton of information on them so that was sort of liberating because the script was really the bible.  It was just ultimately great fun even when it was sometimes brutally challenging.

“Florence Foster Jenkins” is enchanting!  The cast is delightful. This is an absolute must see!
Shari K. Green

Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager, tmc.io

Q:  “Florence Foster Jenkins” is about someone who is an opera singer but not very talented.  Luckily there are a lot of talented people on this movie, yourself, Meryl Streep being one of the best actresses of all time and so on, how do you all bring out the best in each other?

SH:  (laughs) I was probably the odd man out in a sea of talent.  Well, it was both like every actors dream when you can jump into a part with, honestly, the greatest people working today and maybe ever because ultimately you are only as good as the people around you and these people make you even better.  I think that’s a sign of greatness… so with that also came quite a bit of paralyzing fear as well because you don’t wanna be the one that brings Meryl Streep down… not that that’s possible but it’s scary to kinda get to work with people who are your heroes but then what you kind of realize when you, and I hope this is true for everything and everyone, when you get around people that are that great, usually they’re there to make the best thing they can make and they bring their whole self to.  And in order to make something wonderful I think you have to be sensitive and you have to be generous and you definitely have to be passionate; in this experience I was very warmly welcomed and it was very collaborative and I feel like and hope and think that’s true of truly great people.  

Q:  There’s this great moment when Cosme McMoon (Helberg) asks St Clair Bayfield (Grant) about his arrangement with Florence at St Clair’s apartment and later McMoon speaks to Florence at his own apartment and I thought McMoon really wanted to insert his opinion on Florence and St Claire’s relationship but felt better of it and that he was protecting her like everyone else in the movie.  But near the end of the film, at Carnegie Hall, he says to her, ‘We can do it!’ in a very confident voice and I think at that moment it turns from protection to support.  Is that how you see it or what do you think?

SH:  You have really tapped into so many things that I didn’t know anyone else would necessarily pick up on and (inaudible).  That is all that you said; and something at some point that I was cognizant of.  That being the moment in the apartment when Bayfield is there and he says, ‘I love her.  Do you love this woman?’  There was a real moment there when I thought, ‘How dare you, sir, ask me?  Of course I love her!’  Because he is protecting her.  Florence comes to McMoon’s apartment and he sees how broken she is by Bayfield and so this innocent little McMoon is now… he’s been sort of somewhat corrupted by this harsh and strange reality of this love… this relationship these characters have with each other and all of the sudden he does have to step up and he does feel this protective desire and I think that in Carnegie Hall that becomes the moment, you know, she’s scared and it’s just so beautiful the way the script and the movie, kind of… you can just see all the color in these people, I guess, and that’s his moment.  He has that bond.  McMoon is the only one who understands the music, really, with her.  Bayfield doesn’t.  They don’t play music together so here’s this transition from, ‘Okay, I’ll help this woman’ to ‘You know what, let’s do this.’  Like, ‘this is important not just for her but for me.  We have something greater than this kind of courier minded, reputation focused… you know, frame of mind.  We have the love of music and it doesn’t matter.  Nothing else matters. 

Simon Helberg Florence Foster Jenkins

Q:  It’s amazing how everyone around Florence continued to keep up her status.  She was well protected and people truly loved her but why do you think people loved her so much?

SH:  I think there’s a very human quality and I think there’s almost nothing more human than failure.  I think it’s funny and it’s tragic and I think it’s comforting but only when it’s done passionately.  Only when someone is putting themselves out there genuinely and un-ironically and (inaudible) kind of falling flat (no pun intended).  So, I think that is one element of it and the fact that she was so filled with joy and so moved by music and wanted to share that joy and that love of music with people… I think it’s just magnetic.  It’s like watching a little child with total abandon singing out and dancing.  The part of your brain that had any kind of judgment or criticism is overridden by the joyous part.  Other people were laughing or their jaws were on the floor or; they were enjoying themselves.  

Q:  The world is about to find out that you’re a very talented pianist from this.  I was wondering what else do you with the world knew about you and the things you bring to the table?

SH:  I’m not that much of a showoff.  Well, I don’t know, I guess I can answer sort of as opposed to what I want people to celebrate about me, because God forbid I am somebody looking for a parade, there are different things I want to do.  I love acting and the great thing about that, especially in a case like this is, sometimes that requires other talents and sometimes you don’t have ‘em and you learn to have ‘em.  Look at Meryl and the things that she’s done.  She has all the talent in the world but look at the things she’s learned to do for a film; violin and languages and she played a Rabbi and a man.  I think that’s what’s great about acting.  You get to know other people and find other interests and so, yeah, I’m interesting in discovering what else I might be able to do and when I find things I think I can’t do it’s torturous sometimes but it’s very gratifying to push through that.  This was no exception.  I didn’t expect that I’d be able to play all of these pieces.  There were times when I felt like, ‘If Meryl can do it…’  I was working with that company and I felt, ‘Geez, she’s going to sing all of this live?!  I better do my best to get there.’ 

“Florence Foster Jenkins” is enchanting!  The cast is delightful. This is an absolute must see!

Deepwater Horizon (2016) Hollywood Movie

Deepwater Horizon

The ‘Disaster Movie’ from the ’80s is back, but in a more professionally produced package. There are no airplanes falling from the sky, but there is an Inferno, and it does tower. There is no sinking cruise ship, but a floating oil rig in the Gulf is in deep(water) trouble. The actual events of 2010 are recalled and given the up-close-and-personal treatment. “Deepwater Horizon” makes a statement about the strength of ordinary men and woman in a very extraordinary situation.

Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) is an oil rig engineer ready to take on another three week shift on the Deepwater Horizon rig. His wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) wishes for his safe return, as usual. He meets “Mr. Jimmy” Harrell (Kurt Russell) who is the supervisor on the rig. Mr. Jimmy is a no-nonsense leader who believes in safety first. Andrea (Gina Rodriguez) is a worker in the control room who helps keep the rig on target.

TransOcean is the company who owns the rig, and it is being leased by BP (British Petroleum). A few BP executives are on board, including Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich). They are worried that rig’s drilling has not been completed and tested in time, and now they are weeks overdue and millions are being lost. So there are reductions made in testing and not every normal regulation has been followed completely. The oil needs to be drilled already, dammit!

While running some functional testing, the results are unclear. The BP bosses, like Donald, want a quick retest done. But “Mr. Jimmy” and Mike and many other oil rig workers want every option completely tested. This includes Caleb Holloway (Dylan O’Brien) a guy on the main drill line floor. He notices that after the aborted test, there is some violent shuddering in the drill line. He starts to see the mud and oil oozing up from the drill. This is not a normal result.

Within minutes, the rig explodes with highly pressured oil and gas that had been trapped in the faulty drill line. Methane seeps into the air ducts, ready to ignite – and there is no place to hide. There are 11 people who do not make it out alive. But the remaining one hundred plus workers, engineers, pilots, cooks and everyone assigned to work on the Horizon are in trouble. There are many injured and people are in shock. The story of how the rest of them got out and helped each other makes for the second half of the movie.

Movies that are based on true life situations are interesting. There is a build up to an oncoming oil rig disaster or a double bird strike on a jet out of JFK. You basically know the story. But there so many details of the actual situation that the movie portrays, that you are still amazed to see the whole thing unfold.

Mark Wahlberg plays the smart yet humble oil rig expert, and he shows how average guy can become a hero in the right circumstances. Kurt Russell it a force to be reckoned with, and his character is devoted to by-the-book safety measures. “Mr. Jimmy” will not let the sneaky executives pull any fast ones, but when they get him out of the room…

Kate Hudson does her best to act like the loving wife, and she is nervous when she hears the news. Dylan O’Brien plays a typical oil rig grunt, the guys who are there pulling the pipe and manning the drill at all hours. The money-grubbing monster had to be played by someone, so John Malkovich was the only logical choice.

The acting plays second fiddle to the visual chaos of the Horizon under assault by flaming jets of gas and oil. The action scenes are so realistic that you also feel under assault. Everyone is covered in oil and blood, and the horror takes a human toll. The means to escape are few, and pathways to survive are slim. Special effects, computer enhanced imagery, sound design and mixing are all on display.

Peter Berg has taken a eerie chapter from America’s recent past with this event leading to the worst oil spill in history. But rather than focus on the long-term affects to the ecology of the Gulf, he instead narrows it down to the workers on the rig. We feel the confusion and despair of the men and women who made up that team. And at the very end, there is a fitting tribute to the 11 souls who perished on the disaster. With additional review (from this movie), perhaps there is some hope for changes and continued vigilance on the deepwater oil rigs.

Masterminds movie poster

Masterminds

“Masterminds” is a comedy based on the true story of one of the largest bank heists in America… and one of the most simplistic minds there is.  Galifianakis plays David Ghantt who would do anything for the woman of his dreams.  Galifianakis would do anything for a role, going as far as “sharting” in a pool for this one.  Okay!  I couldn’t help myself.  I laughed at that.  Sometimes the really stupid funny makes me giggle and this is about as stupid as they come. 

Based in North Carolina, Hess uses every southern stereotype he could find from wood paneling on all the walls to a high-rise double-wide trailer to the hicks in them but the worst is the extra nauseatingly thick accent Galifianakis uses.  It gets old very fast but there’s something about his comedy in this movie that you can’t help but find amusing and enjoy.  I’d guess it’s his chemistry with director Jared Hess of “Nacho Libre” and “Napoleon Dynamite” that works to create a blissfully ignorant hayseed who is somehow still smart enough to pull of a 17 million dollar heist for the woman he loves, Kelly (Wiig), who is not his fiancé, might I add.  His fiancé is Jandice and portrayed by McKinnon who does white trash brilliantly and the only way to describe her character is “weird”.  McKinnon is always good at weird but this Jandice character goes way beyond the norm.  Wiig, executes the love interest in the film and is, for the most part, playing straight for a change.  There are a few laughs from her but it seems oddly fitting that she is the balance to all of the crazy going on; you expect insane from her in a film like this but when she delivers compassion and caring for someone getting taken advantage of, the story seems more real.

Kelly gets David to help her and her pals steal the money and behind his back they have planned on David to also be the fall guy.  Steve Chambers (Wilson) is running the show and after David steals the money from Loomis, Fargo & Co., which becomes the second largest cash robbery in U.S. history, even appearing on shows like “America’s Most Wanted” because of it, he sends David to Mexico with a small allowance until things cool down and they “meet up with him later.” While they are living the good life, he’s in Mexico waiting for his girl.  So, perhaps the David in the film isn’t so far removed from reality.  However, feeling the pain of being the patsy, perhaps an exaggerated film of bringing them all to justice was his best revenge.

The sight gags in “Masterminds” are great.  The characters are grotesquely over-the-top and you’ll laugh but to dig deeper into what you’re seeing, the structure isn’t there and doesn’t hold up.  It feels as if you’re clicking on Youtube, looking for the funny clips and all the while not as entertained in-between the clicks. However, the costume changes and bizarre you get from Galifianakis and then the relationship that develops between him and the man sent to kill him, Mike McKinney (Sudeikis), makes this absurd film one to take a peek at.  It has that “Napoleon Dynamite” feel to it and I wouldn’t be surprised if it picks up momentum with people watching this more than once to take it all in again and to perhaps take another look at the characters to figure out who may have taken the still missing two million dollars.  Now you’re interested.  By the way, stay at the end for some extra fun stuff.