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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

La La Land

This is a refreshing, eye popping, toe tapping, finger snapping nod to old school Hollywood films in this love story between an insecure aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) & a struggling jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). This unique film is visually simulating, artistically creative, & musically magic. It's an entertaining delight that fills the heart with a whole gambit of emotions as this couple takes us through their seasons together. Stone is absolutely fabulous as she demonstrates her acting skills even in mid song. Gosling is convincing as he tickles the ivory keyboard. This is the story of two talented individuals whose lives cross as they each strive to find their path in life. It's a surreal interpretation of falling in love through song & dance. Be mesmerized by songs & stunning choreography that breaks out all over Los Angeles aka La La Land.

Alien gives it 4 "hopes & dreams" stars out of 4.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Office Christmas Party

It's "Project X" meets "Horrible Bosses" meets "Believe" when an uptight CEO (Jennifer Aniston) threatens to close down her hard partying brother's (TJ Miller) branch of the business. He along with his chief technical officer (Jason Bateman) decide to save their branch by throwing the most epic office Christmas party in order to lure a multimillion dollar client. Of course, zany outrageous craziness ensues in this crude comedy poking fun at the holiday season & the prim & proper office environment. Olivia Munn plays a savvy software techie & Kate McKinnon is hilarious as the head of HR. Aniston, Bateman, Miller, & McKinnon play to their comedic strengths. Once again it's 'tis the season for another Christmas miracle. Rated "R" for language, drugs & drinking, and brief nudity.

Alien gives it 2½ "Any-W-Air at Zenotek" stars out of 4.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Incarnate

This is not a sneak preview. This film has released. 

It's "The Exorcist" meets "Inception" meets "Nightmare on Elm Street" when a wheelchair bound doctor tries to rid victims of their demons. Surprising that talented actors Aaron Eckhart & Carice van Houten are trapped in this predictable & not too scary horror thriller. Look for your typical jump scares, a twist to mess with your mind, & an inevitable conclusion for this genre. It's mildly enjoyable but nothing startlingly fresh here. Nevertheless, true horror fans will be greatly disappointed.

Alien gives it 2 "what's your favorite color eviction gimmick" stars out of 4.

Believe

This is not a sneak preview. This film has released.

'Tis the the season for another heart warming modern day Scrooge story. A small town auto parts factory owner has fallen on hard economic times when his workers go on strike & town sentiment turns against him. However, a struggling single mom & her enthusiastic son come into his life in his time of need & he learns to help the less fortunate. Yes, it's a predictable contrived sappy feel good Christmas miracle story about having faith & believing you can rebound from even your darkest hours. 

Alien gives it 2 "Peyton Pageant" stars out of 4.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Miss Sloane

Move over Marvel & DC comics, a new superhero, mega-lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is on Capitol Hill to fight the NRA & protect the citizens of our nation. Pay attention to the opening monologue as a hint to what's to come in this gripping political drama where you may learn more about the game of lobbying & politics than you care to know. Chastain is absolutely fabulous as the pill popping, success driven, win at all cost obsessed strategist. Miss Sloane is a real shark. These 2 quotes from the film will help to describe her: "Were you ever normal?" and "You are a real piece of work." Mark Strong, Sam Waterston, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, & John Lithgow are just some of the talented supporting cast. Don't sweat trying to absorb a lot of fast political talk thrown at you at the beginning as long as you get the drift. This is perfect release timing for this engaging film after this incredible election year with hot debates, lots of media attention, & where candidates struggled hard to win votes. Is all is fair in love, war, & politics? Do the ends justify the means? When are you crossing the line?

Alien gives it 3½ "taking the 5th at the Senate Hearing" stars out of 4.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Rules Don't Apply

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

Two star crossed lovers are employed by Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty) but aren't allowed to fraternize. One is a country bumpkin/aspiring actress (Lily Collins) from Virginia & the other is a hired driver (Alden Ehrenreich) from Fresno. Beatty produces, writes, directs, & stars with Mathew Broderick, Annette Bening, & a whole bunch of familiar faces in the supporting cast. It is a great looking period piece especially if you were old enough to experience it first hand. Hughes' eccentricity is fascinating to watch. Collins' performance is captivating to watch. The story is fictionalized with Hughes' fascinating world as the backdrop. 

Alien gives it 3 ½ "you're an exception" stars out of 4.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bad Santa 2

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

Billy Bob Thornton & Tony Cox are back as bad Santa & his nasty little elf. These partners in crime reunite for another heist now masterminded by his mom (Kathy Bates). Lauren Graham (aka Lorelei Gilmore) wisely opted out of this unnecessary & lame sequel so the voluptuous Christina Hendricks has been substituted here. Then add in one clueless idiot for more unfunny bits. I'd recommend passing on this raunchy mess filled with f-bombs & perverted sex jokes, unless you enjoy this type of crude humor that's devoid of any creative comedy. Thornton & Bates are perfect for roles but wasted talent in this silly show. This one is definitely on Santa's naughty list.

Alien gives it 1 "double cross" star out of 4.

Bleed For This

This is not a sneak preview. This film has already released.

Yet another boxing film? It's a real life "Rocky" & another "Cinderella Man" story that culminates in the "Hands of Stone" Roberto Duran battling it out with the "Pazmanian Devil" Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller). Aaron Eckhart plays Vinny's trainer. Both give tremendous performances in this incredible true life comeback story. The supporting cast is also wonderful portraying Vinny's colorful Italian family. This is an inspiring story of one man's desire & determination to persevere when no hope seemed possible after a tragic event. Real life videos & footage add to drama's authenticity.

Alien gives it 3 "Duel in the Dessert" stars out of 4.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Allied

This movie premise directed by Robert Zemeckis sounds like "Casablanca" meets "Mr & Mrs Smith" meets "Sleeping With The Enemy" meets "Behind Enemy Lines", but is it? Canadian intelligence officer (Brad Pitt) meets French Resistance fighter (Marion Cotillard) in Morocco to assassinate the German ambassador.  They fall in love & wed. Then she is suspected of being a double agent, but is she? This is a tremendous suspense thriller & touching love story. Pitt & Cotillard are marvelous as the loving couple in this gripping WWII spy drama that may have you second guessing how this will end. Is it all's fair in love & war? Do you keep your friends close, but your enemies closer? Does love conquer all? The film is about love & trust in the middle of a war.

Alien gives it 3 "blue dye" stars out of 4.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Moana (3D)

In Disney's latest coming-of-age animated feature, Moana is the strong-willed daughter of an overprotective chieftain. She is on a quest to save her people with the help from Maui, a shape shifting demigod. This great looking film is filled with adventure, music, & humor.  The film is also steeped in Pacific Islander culture & legends. It follows the classic Disney princess role model blueprint to inspire little girls. Audiences will even get to hear "The Rock" Dwayne Johnson sing to lyrics co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda of "Hamilton" fame.

Alien gives it 3 "finding one's identity" stars out of 4.

PS  Preceding the featured film is a funny & charming animated short entitled "Inner Workings". It's the story of the rational brain & the passionate heart competing to guide the behavior of a mundane office worker with a monotonous job. Very cute.

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