FLICKS: FLIFF, Pulp Fiction & Fright Asylum

Posted on 11 September 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.Com

One of my favorite memories from last year’s Ft. International Film (FLIFF) Festival was the screening of One Chance, which made The Observer’s Top 10 List for one of the best films of 2013.

As the lovable lunk who aspires to sing like Luciano Pavarotti, James Corden proved his chops and revealed potential.

Starting in January 2015, Corden will now replace Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show on CBS. Also FLIFF’s 2013 honoree, Lea Thompson, will be on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Perhaps, this is a reminder that now is the time to gear up for this annual fall event.

FLIFF has been known as the world’s longest film festival, lasting from mid October until Veteran’s Day, but, this year, FLIFF will open its red carpet on November 7 and wrap up the weekend before Thanksgiving. With an opening night, centerpiece and festival finalé, FLIFF promises three weekends of unique cultural activities.

Before November, Cinema Paradiso, (FLIFF Headquarters) will be showcasing some major theme parties. Next week, Sept. 19, Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood will be hosting the 20-Year Anniversary screening of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Often imitated, but never duplicated, Pulp Fiction created iconic roles for John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis, who breaks his deal with the devil.

Cinema Paradiso encourages ticket buyers to come dressed in mobster attire or as a favorite Pulp Fiction character for a costume contest. There will also be door prizes and a display of paintings inspired by the movie. Perhaps even a Chuck Berry dance contest?

Last but not least, Cinema Paradiso will be converted into “Cinema Inferno” when Fright Asylum (www. frightasylum.com) moves in this Halloween night. Chief inmates Woody Meckes & Manny Cologne will be hosting the 40th Anniversary screening of The Last Man on Earth, starring FLIFF Lifetime Award honoree, the late Vincent Price.

This evening will also include a costume contest, with one of the prizes being a copy of my latest book, The Querulous Nights of Athena Minerva. Expect a night of thrills, chills and multiple belly laughs.

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FLICKS: The Discoverers & The Last of Robin Hood

Posted on 04 September 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal. com

With the exception of the juggernaut box office of Guardians of the Galaxy, August 2014 will be remembered as a very disappointing month for The Expendables and Sin City fans. So it is a sense of relief that we begin the new season with more gentle fare with new movies opening this weekend, The Discoverers and The Last of Robin Hood.

Written and directed by Justin Schwarz, The Discoverers is a family drama about loss and redemption with humorous moments spread throughout the film. Griffin Dunne portrays Lewis Burch, a history professor who works for a paper mill university by day and moonlights as a security guard by night. He has written a 500+ page book about the Lewis & Clark expedition and he hopes to present his book at a swanky writer’s conference in Oregon.

Professor Burch uses this opportunity to create a family trip for his son and daughter. The son is a pot smoking womanizer and the daughter, Zoe (Madeleine Martin), is having the worst birthday ever. Along the way, Burch is forced to take a detour to his parent’s house, which leads to more personal trauma.

The family trauma is real, but how the family deals with the drama is unreal. The deluded grandfather (Stuart Margolin) finds solace by recreating the 19th Century world of the American discoverers Lewis & Clark. The Burch family join Grandpa in this world minus cell phones, vegan meals and other modern conveniences. The results are painfully, but tastefully, amusing.

The Last of Robin Hood also deals with history; it is a film about Errol Flynn’s final years as a fading Hollywood icon. It has been said that when Flynn passed away at age 50, he had the organs of an 80-year-old man from his hard living, drinking and womanizing. It seems appropriate that the elder swashbuckler is portrayed by 67-year-old Kevin Kline, who eerily seems possessed by the ghost of Errol Flynn.

While the ghost of former glory is significant, The Last of Robin Hood is about the actor’s last love, Beverly Aaland (Dakota Fanning), and her embittered stage mom Florence (Susan Sarandon). The winter-spring romance appears genuine, but unfortunately a mother’s ambition becomes fodder for the sleazy paparazzi.

This film feels like a time capsule of the same world presented in Oscar-winning movie L.A. Confidential. Like that film, The Last of Robin Hood features authentic performances from Kline, Sarandon and Fanning. If you like movie history that is timely, go see this film.

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FLICKS: “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” & “The Querulous Nights of Athena Minerva”

Posted on 28 August 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal. com

Thirty years ago this Labor Day weekend, I began my film writing studies under Peter Stowell, an English professor with Florida State University. I was taking the class Film Genres: Film Noir and the required reading was The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir, written by Foster Hirsch, who is a regular moderator with the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival.

Beyond talking about cinematic motifs, acting and themes, Foster’s book reviews the literary influences of Film Noir and how many of these stories grew out of the original pulp fiction of the early 20th Century.

Released in 2005, Sin City, considered “Neo Noir,” was a natural extension of the literature of James Cain, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, or the 1940s movies starring Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and Barbara Stanwyck as the femme fatale. Created from the graphic novels written by Frank Miller, wunderkind director Robert Rodriquez used green screen techniques and hired an all-star cast to recreate the mean streets of Sin City. A Sin City sequel has been one of the most anticipated movies of the decade.

Alas, with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, one thinks about the time Rodriquez wasted with projects like Grindhouse, Machete Kills and the Spy Kids reboot. As fans clamored for the Sin City sequel, we mourned the loss of cast members Brittany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan as Manute.

As the murderous henchman with impeccable manners, Dennis Haysbert does a commendable job as the younger version of Manute. His behemoth battle with Marv (Mickey Rourke) is better than what Frank Miller envisioned in his graphic novel. However, this is only one story of the four and there are stretches of dullness between each action set piece.

The movie opens with Another Saturday Night, which features Marv dealing with his amnesia and dead bodies. The film then introduces two new stories not produced as a graphic novel. In The Long Bad Night, Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a gambler with a death wish. The ghost of Bruce Willis returns in Nancy’s Last Dance, in which Jessica Alba avenges the loss of her protector. Sadly, these new stories are just not as interesting as Frank Miller’s original graphic novels.

Good Film Noir is a triumph of style over content. As Film Noir of the 1940s grew from literary giants, this “Neo Noir” has grown upon weak imitation of 1940s film noir. Sin City A Dame to Kill For does not live up to its potential.

For those seeking some literature before the professional football season begins, authors Darrell House, Rachel Galvin and I will be among the approximately 25 authors attending August Authors & Autographs this Sunday Afternoon at the Butler House. This event will feature the debut of my latest book, The Querulous Nights of Athena Minerva.

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FLICKS: Guardians of the Galaxy

Posted on 20 August 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal. com

While listening to Pop Radio hit music from 1974, Rocket Raccoon flies a spaceship. That sentence alone determines the litmus test for anyone interested in seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Comics latest movie . While this new film fits right into the Marvel Comics Universe, it provides its own unique story that is very approachable.

The film opens with its darkest moment; young Peter Quill watches his mother die. The grieving boy steps out of hospice and is abducted by Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker), a space pirate who knows secrets about Peter’s father. The film fl ash forwards approximately three decades and Peter (Chris Pratt) is a space adventurer reminiscent of an Indiana Jones in his prime.

While seeking a special stone, Peter runs afoul Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a green alien with father issues. While stealing the stone from each other, both Gamora and Peter confront Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his slow sidekick Groot (Vin Diesel, who earns the easiest paycheck for his vocal work in this movie).

As the stone changes hands and paws, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) enters the scene to settle a score with Gamora. Despite deep seated anger, these five individuals form an alliance and call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Unlike the genuine respect Captain America and the Falcon develop in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, these Guardians of the Galaxy seem to enjoy picking on each other. Rocket Raccoon has a perverse sense of humor. The brutal Drax the Destroyer inadvertently makes insulting comments about his peers. It is up to the leadership skills of Peter Quill to utilize conflict resolution with his peers.

Despite the over reliance of dark scenery and an over abundance of CGI, this film is an entertaining motion picture. The soundtrack from the ‘70s has become a hit again for young people. People my age were tapping their toes during the credits and dancing along with Groot.

While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been the box office champ for the last two weeks, Guardians of the Galaxy is poised to take the box office crown for August. It’s a cool movie to catch for a matinee price in an air conditioned movie theater.

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FLICKS: The Expendables 3, The Discoverers, Robin Williams & Danny Murphy

Posted on 14 August 2014 by L.Moore

FLICKS081414By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

The Expendables 3 opens tomorrow with a sense it’s the last hurrah for the old action stars.

Four years ago, it was a novelty to see Stallone and Schwarzenegger in the same scene at the same time; but the couple has made four movies together and the novelty has worn thin. The good news is that the film does hold up as an action movie with sly Hollywood humor. Bruce Willis is out; Harrison Ford replaces him with double entendres about Willis’ missing character.

The Expendables team (Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jason Statham) rescue Wesley Snipes from a runaway train and blow up a prison.

After The Expendables are tricked by the master villain (Mel Gibson), Stallone decides it’s time to retire the team and reboot with a young team of mercenaries. Taking a page out of The Dirty Dozen, Stallone uses Kelsey Grammer to recruit the young talent. The mission is a failure and Gibson gloats.

The action scenes are as overwhelming as one expects, but tongue-in-cheek humor keeps the filmed glued in reality. Of the three Expendables, Gibson is the best antagonist to match Stallone. Both are cold professionals whose staring contest is scarier than blowing up a building or flying into a helicopter blade.

For those seeking action entertainment minus loud explosions, check out The Discoverers. In this film, a 21st Century family reunite with a quirky grandfather (Stuart Margolin), who likes to reenact 18th Century history. The family learns to cope with the great outdoors without cell phones and the Internet. As the father, Griffin Dunne is getting his best notice in two decades.

I could not wrap up this column without mentioning the loss of Robin Williams. For 37 years, Williams has been a household name and managed to reinvent himself to the point that no one could take him for granted. My generation knows him as “Mork,” current college graduates know him as the “Genie” and today’s young people know him as “Teddy Roosevelt.” He made us feel good; but nothing is more poignant than the tears of a clown — when no one is around.

We have also lost actor Danny Murphy, who lived in Florida. Paralyzed for over 30 years from a diving accident, Danny rose above his disabilities and lived an adventuresome life. He began his acting career in his early 40s with cameo roles in films like Something about Mary, Shallow Hal and Fever Pitch. Last autumn, Danny premiered CinemaAbility, an award-winning documentary about how Hollywood perceives people with disabilities. He was an inspiration to everybody who ever met him.

[This week, we also lost legendary actress Lauren Bacall, known for films like “To Have and Have Not.”]

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FLICKS: Boyhood

Posted on 07 August 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Upon reviewing my 15 years of columns for The Observer, I came to the realization that my column is older than actress Bailee Madison (who I have written about)! Fifteen years was more than enough time for Director/ Writer Richard Linklater to create Boyhood, the most critically-acclaimed motion picture of 2014.

The biggest gimmick about Boyhood was the ambition. For 12 years, Linklater contracted the same cast to meet for a few days and shoot his movie project. In 2 hours and 45 minutes, we watch 6-yearold Ellar Coltrane grow up to become a college freshman. The plot is that simple, yet it is the genuine moments in between that is giving Boyhood it’s Oscar buzz.

Mason Jr. (Coltrane) and his big sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter) live with their divorced mom (Patricia Arquette). Their Father (Ethan Hawke) works in Alaska. When financial times get tough in the summer of 2002, Mason’s family moves to Houston to stay with their grandmother.

As a struggling single parent, mom attends college and dates successful men. The father visits on the weekends, and shows Mason and Samantha a good time, and discusses his hatred of President George Bush and the meaning of life.

As Mason matures in the Texas environment, the cute little kid grows into a long haired teenager who is only interested in his art. At times, Mason is irresponsible, other times he is a dutiful son who is always in search of meaning.

Boyhood concludes with a-blink-and-you-miss-itmoment, but the final lines serve Richard Linklater’s philosophy found in his Before Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight trilogy about the importance of “carpe diem.” The sad thing about Mason is that he is under the influence of hash brownies as he comes to his big revelation.

Heavily influenced by cinema verite icons Francois Truffaut, Satyajit Ray and Vittorio De Sica, the beauty of Boyhood is that it is a film that is open to interpretation. Despite the use of profanity that is appropriate, Boyhood is a film to see with the family in the afternoon, if only for the family discussion afterward.

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FLICKS: Hercules & Master Sang

Posted on 30 July 2014 by L.Moore

flicks073114By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.

Born in Seoul, South Korea in 1966, Sang Koo Kang immigrated to the United States and has lived the American Dream. His family settled in Miami and Sang drew attention for kicking field goals in High School. While Hurricane Coach Jimmy Johnson took notice of this young talent, Sang impressed the legendary Bobby Bowden and became the Florida State Seminole field goal kicker for four years. With his interest in martial arts, Sang Koo Kang earned the designation “Master Sang.”

Upon graduation in 1990, Master Sang opened a small martial arts studio in Miami Beach on Collins Avenue. Sang’s Academy has grown to several schools in Miami- Dade area and expansion into Coconut Creek. As for success, Sang says, “1. Make sure you have the right attitude, you are special and different from others. 2. Everything must be consistent, you have to find something and be the best at it.”

Director Brett Ratner cast Master Sang in Rush Hour 2 and 3 and, more recently, Sang was flown to Budapest, Hungary to contribute his expertise for Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson. Sang is philosophical about his involvement with the motion picture.

Brett Ratner is a genius, so smart with a good eye. Ratner gets his family involved and works with good action people. Going to Budapest and working with Brett Ratner helps set a good example for my children that they can do it.”

With $30 million in the box office treasure chest, Hercules is proving to be formidable summer blockbuster. Marketed as another “sword & sandals special effects extravaganza,” this film contains a good story with strong character development and clear action-packed visuals.

Based on the graphic novel The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore, this Hercules debunks the “son of Zeus legend” with a story about a mortal mercenary and his team of myth-makers. The King of Thrace (John Hurt) recruits Team Hercules to train his country of farmers to become soldiers. After accomplishing this task, Thrace gains an empire.

Despite his box office success, Ratner is an under-rated filmmaker. Hercules tells an old story with a modern twist and is perfect for a matinee.

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15 Years of FLICKS; congrats, “Cinema” Dave

Posted on 30 July 2014 by JimLusk

Dave 2

“Cinema” Dave Montalbano Photo by Barbara McCormick

The Observer’s Flicks columnist celebrates 15 years

Congratulations to “Cinema” Dave Montalbano for successfully completing 15 years of coverage with his Flicks column. Steadfastly relaying information on current films playing at a theater near you, Montalbano, a 1981 Deerfield High School graduate and Florida State University alum, incorporates film history into every piece. His knowledge of the classics is evident and his love for cinema keeps him writing year after year. When not writing and watching movies, this former teacher and WAXY radio promotions coordinator spends time at local film festivals and Spooky Empire events, and dining with his mother, who just celebrated a 90th birthday not long ago. His “mortgage-paying job,” as he terms it, is with Broward County libraries. In addition, he is just finishing up his third novel. This one, still untitled, is themed Christian Horror, whereas his last, “Davy Jones & the Heart of Darkness” was set on the high seas. His first book, “The Adventures of Cinema Dave and the Florida Motion Picture World” includes many of his columns from The Observer as well as other historical tidbits and essays. What’s next in the world of Cinema Dave? Visit his blog to find out: http://cinemadave.livejournal.com.

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FLICKS: A Wolf at the Door, A Coffee in Berlin, A Most Wanted Man, Boyhood

Posted on 24 July 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.

For the past 10 years, San Diego Comic-Con has become as much of a summer staple as the summer movie blockbuster season. While local businesses like CJ’s Comics, Tate’s Comics and Docking Bay plan local events, Hollywood studios will promote their agendas with Marvel Comics/Disney expected to announce their movie titles until 2019, featuring some of the final screen appearances of Captain America, Thor and Iron Man in their current incarnation.

Lacking the multimillion dollar promotional budget of comic books and cartoons, there are a series of independent films opening locally that could stand scrutiny. One such movie, Boyhood, is generating Oscar buzz for director Richard Linklater.

Filmed once every nine years, Linklater created three films (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight) about the maturation of a couple played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. Hawke returns in Boyhood, which has been filming for 11 years starting in 2002. The purpose of this project was to document the rites of passage of the film’s leading man, Ellar Coltrane as Mason Jr. (Hawke portrays Mason Sr.)

Given the current international crisis in Ukraine, A Most Wanted Man is a timely spy thriller about a half-Chechen, half-Russian fugitive who takes refuge in an Islamic community in Hamburg, Germany. This film is based on Jean Le Carre’s best-selling book of the same name.

This film also features Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final performance in a leading role. This ensemble piece also features Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright and Willem Dafoe. What the film lacks in big budgeted explosions, this thriller will make up with suspenseful character motivation.

A Coffee in Berlin seems to combine two elements of A Most Wanted Man and Boyhood. The winner of six German Academy Awards, A Coffee in Berlin is about the rite of passage for a college dropout slacker.

While the countdown to Halloween does not start until August, A Wolf at the Door opens this weekend and features a parent’s worst nightmare, child abduction. This Miami International Film Festival winner opens this weekend at Cinema Paradiso (www.fliff.com).

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FLICKS: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes & Gabrielle

Posted on 16 July 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

With the loss of the Star Wars franchise, 20th Century Fox has devoted much to their remaining science fiction franchises, X-Men and the rebooted Planet of the Apes series. Beyond the special effects and visual cinematography, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes succeeds for two reasons: a good story and strong character motivation.

The film takes place 10 years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis, an actor wearing a motion capture suit) has consolidated his ape regime to a park near San Francisco, while becoming a father of two. Unleashed during the closing credits of Rise, the simian flu has devastated the human population, who now live in disconnected city-states.

While on a scouting mission, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his family run afoul of Koba (Toby Kebbell), Caesar’s scarred right hand simian, who holds a grudge against all humans. While Caesar seeks a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Koba’s paranoia antagonizes the situation.

With a small amount of dialogue for an action movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is based on an intelligent screenplay. The motivations are clear and concise; both humans and apes struggle for the same goals, protecting one’s family. One relates to the struggles of both Malcolm and Caesar.

Given his work as Gollum, King Kong and Caesar, Andy Serkis’ performance should be considered for an Academy Award. Despite the special digital effects, Serkis manages to invest some heart into Caesar, while revealing character maturity from the last movie. I can’t wait to see how Caesar evolves in the next Planet of the Apes movie.

This film is a visual treat. Director Matt Reeves makes use of light and shadows to support the symbolism of the relationship between man and ape. Koba is definitely the best villain of the summer. The street battle between the militia and apes on horseback is worth the price of admission.

For those seeking a quieter movie experience, the awardwinning Gabrielle opens this weekend at The Living Room Theater. Gabrielle (played by Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, who has Williams syndrome in real life) suffers from a disability, but finds a connection singing in a choir at a recreational center. As the choir goes on a field trip, Gabrielle finds independence and a potential boyfriend.

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