Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes / **** (PG-13)

Caesar: Andy Serkis
Malcolm: Jason Clarke
Dreyfuss: Gary Oldman
Ellie: Kari Russell
Koba: Toby Kebbell
Alexander: Kodi Smit-McPhee
Carver: Kirk Acevedo
Blue Eyes: Nick Thurston

20th Century Fox presents a film directed by Matt Reeves. Written by Mark Bomback and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver. Based on characters created by Jaffa & Silver and inspired by the novel “Le Planéte des Singes” by Pierre Boulle. Running time: 130 min. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief strong language).

For the past two weeks we’ve watched as the Gaza Strip has once again blown up in conflict with innocents dying on both sides and both sides claiming the righteousness of their causes. I would not claim to know enough about either side of this never-ending conflict to judge whether anyone is right or not. I do believe that after a certain point the righteousness of such conflicts fades in comparison to the cost in human life. War is just war after a while. Is it just an inevitable aspect of the human existence? The new film “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, in the same tradition of the original series of films inspired by Pierre Buolle’s novel “Le Planéte des Singes”, argues that it may be the nature of any dominant species, be it man or ape.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—The World’s End (2013) ****

R, 109 min.
Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan, David Bradley, Michael Smiley, Steve Oram
Voice: Bill Nighy

“The World’s End” was one of my favorite movies from 2013. I think some people might look at it and wonder why. It’s a strange British movie. It’s part of the Cornetto Trilogy by filmmakers Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The two previous films were “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”. The only three things that really tie them together are these three artists, the fact that the ice cream treat called a cornetto appears at some point in each film and each is a spoof of a decade specific genre.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Sound City (2013) ****

NR, 108 min.
Director: Dave Grohl
Writers: Mark Monroe, Dave Grohl
Featuring: Vinny Appice, Joe Barresi, Brian Bell, Frank Black, James Brown, Lindsey Buckingham, Mike Campbell, Tim Commerford, Kevin Cronin, Rivers Cuomo, Warren Demartini, Mick Fleetwood, John Fogerty, Neil Giraldo, Christopher Allen Goss, Jessy Greene, David Grohl, Omar Hakim, Taylor Hawkins, Peter Hayes, Joshua Homme, Rami Jaffee, Alain Johannes, Jim Keltner, Barry Manilow, Paul McCartney, Nate Mendel, Rupert Neve, Stevie Nicks, Rick Nielson, Krist Novoselic, Shivaun O’Brien, Keith Olsen, Stephen Pearcy, Tom Petty, Nick Raskulinecz, Trent Reznor, Ross Robinson, Rick Rubin, Paula Salvatore, Jim Scott, Chris Shiflett, Sandy Skeeter, Tom Skeeter, Pat Smear, Rick Springfield, Corey Taylor, Benmont Tench, Robert Levon Been, Lars Ulrich, Butch Vig, Lee Ving, Brad Wilk, Pat Wilson, Neil Young

There is so much good music in “Sound City”, Dave Grohl’s documentary about the famed Sound City music recording studio, I can barely stand it. Much is made about the Neve soundboard that drew so many acts to recording in the rather glamourless studio, and I’m sold. Every classic album mentioned in the film has a very distinctive sound to them that is recaptured in the album Grohl made with many of the artists behind those albums after purchasing the soundboard from the studio when it closed its doors.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) ****

PG-13, 105 min.
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Pierre Boulle (novel “The Planet of the Apes”)
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Richard Ridings, Chris Gordon, Jay Caputo, Tyler Labine, Jamie Harris, Ty Olsson, David Hewlett

Sometimes I hold back on star ratings because I just feel like I can’t be handing out four stars left and right. Also, I often just love a movie and hold back because I don’t think others will see it the same way. As a critic that’s really going against my job, which is to point out what others may not see in a movie whether it be good or bad.

As I recall, I took a star away from this movie only because it embraces an action element in its final act. The thing is the plot of the film wholly supports the action sequence on the Golden Gate Bridge. Everything about it comes from elements that have come before in the film. It establishes the apes as the “good guys” were this a more traditional movie. But then, it really isn’t.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A-Dub II iPod (2010-2014) R.I.P.

A-Dub II iPod died Thursday, July 17, 2014. He was the primary music source device for film critic, author and pest technician Andrew D. Wells.  He was an iPod classic 160G, almost big enough to hold all the music Mr. Wells wished to be available to him at all times. A-Dub died suddenly when the charging device he was attached to malfunctioned and overheated the unwitting media player.

A-Dub was a sturdy music media device born at an Apple, Inc. manufacturing facility in 2010, who performed dutifully for a music lover who holds music in the highest regard, second only to movies. Out of respect for the art form, Mr. Wells never demeaned the music on his iPod by over-crowding it with movies. Despite the insistence of the film studios to rule every media platform in a home, A-Dub was solely dedicated to providing music of every style and genre.

A-Dub was responsible for enriching Mr. Wells’ life with such classic albums as Wu-Tang Clan’s “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”, John Mellencamp’s “Scarecrow”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska”, Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere”, Dire Strait’s “Brothers In Arms”, and AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. A-Dub also carried more recent classics to Mr. Wells’ ears, like Kings of Leon’s “Only By the Night”, Kurt Vile’s “Wakin On a Pretty Daze”, Sharon Jones and the Dap Tones’ “Give the People What They Want”, Frank Ocean’s “Planet Orange”, Stardeath & White Dwarves’ “The Birth”, and No Joy’s “Wait to Pleasure”.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle (2013) ***½

TV-PG, 180 min.
Director: Michael Kantor

Writers: Michael Kantor, Laurence Maslon

Featuring: Grant Morrison, Joe Quesada, Mark Waid, Len Wein, Geoff Johns, Jack Kirby, Trina Robbins, Carmine Infantino, Todd McFarlane, Adam West, Zack Snyder, Denny O’Neill, Neal Adams, Stan Lee, Jim Steranko, Jerry Robinson, Joe Simon, Lynda Carter, Michael Chabon, Jeanette Kahn, Paul Dini, Alan Moore, Jim Lee

Voices: Edward Hermann, Marc Damon Johnson, Adriane Lennox, Adam West, Tim Daly

Host: Liev Schreiber

I began reading comic books at the heart of their modern popularity. By “modern” I mean the age when following comic books meant an investment in them. They were probably more popular in the wartime era, when they cost 10 cents. In the late 80s and early 90s it required an income to follow comics. That’s when I got in, just when I was gaining an income.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—The Lego Movie (2014) ***½

PG, 100 min.
Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Writers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman
Voices: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Keith Ferguson, Orville Forte, Dave Franco, Jake Johnson, Keegan-Michael Kee, Shaquille O’Neal, Melissa Strum, Jorma Taccone

“The Lego Movie” is easily one of my favorite films of the year so far. I’m not saying anything new with that, however, as it seems to be a phrase that finds its way off the lips of just about anyone who sees it. It’s good enough, I’d place it in the top three so far.