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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FLICKS: Transformers Ultracon & Life Itself

Posted on 09 July 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.

In the past seven years, when I have reviewed the four Transformers movies, I have always begun each film with a sense of dread; the films are made for people 40 years younger than me, the action scenes are best suited for people with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and the plots will be inane. After acknowledging this prejudice, I ended up enjoying the Transformers franchise each time. Transformers: Age of Extinction is no exception.

The new flick opens with the mass extinction of a species, the dinosaur. The film flash forwards billions of years and evidence of a unique dinosaur is found in the Arctic circle. DNA is taken from dinosaur bones and is used for nefarious means by a government agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer, in a chilling performance) and corporate entrepreneur Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci, in a goofy performance).

Meet entrepreneur Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a widowed father of high school senior Tessa (Nicola Peltz) who lives on a farm facing foreclosure in Texas. Cade converts trash into working Rube Goldberg machines. After tinkering with a beaten up old truck, Cade learns that the truck is really a Transformer. In fact, the beaten down truck is the alpha male Transformer Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen).

Since the last movie (Revenge of the Fallen), many heroic Transformers have become outlaws. Despite defeating the evil Decepticons, the heroic Autobots are treated with extreme prejudice for turning Chicago into a battlefield. Harold Attinger takes advantage of this situation by making a deal with the devil.

Transformers: Age of Extinction has many likeable moments and Easter Eggs for cinema academics. The Optimus Prime truck is found in an abandoned movie theater, which features posters of John Wayne classics. The Science Fiction elements acknowledge Michael Crichton, Arthur C. Clarke and H.P. Lovecraft. This film deserves its success for providing detail beyond the surface of battling giant robots on the big screen.

For those who want to continue the alternative universe experience, Irving Santiago will present UltraCon of South Florida next weekend (July 19-20) at the Broward Convention Center. Fans of Transformers, Star Wars and comic books will want to attend this fan-friendly convention.

For those of more high-brow tastes, Life Itself, the documentary about the late film critic Roger Ebert, plays this weekend at Cinema Paradiso. The most respected of modern film critics, Ebert and I butted heads with each other on his blog regarding politics. With executive producers Steve Zallian and Martin Scorsese, Life Itself acknowledges this Chicago critic’s contribution to the history of cinema and his battle with throat cancer. Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary? You be the critic. For information , visit www.fliff.com

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FLICKS: Jersey Boys

Posted on 03 July 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Twenty-five summers ago, 105.9 WAXY FM sponsored a blockbuster concert at the Sunrise Musical Theater, starring The Four Tops and Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. The show was magnificent and the people were dancing in the aisles. Minus The Four Tops, the same concert experience can be shared at your local movie theater with the screening of Jersey Boys this 4th of July weekend.

Based on a Tony Award winning show, Jersey Boys opens in Belleville, New Jersey in 1951. Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) breaks the 4th wall and talks directly to the audience about the birth of the band that would eventually become known as The Four Seasons. Tommy tells us about young Francesco Stephen Castelluccio (John Lloyd Young), who would grow up to become the legendary Frankie Valli.

Growing up in the streets of Jersey, Frankie, Tommy and two other Jersey Boys sing “Doo Wop” songs on the street corner, which is used as a distraction for their petty criminal activities. While Tommy and the other Jersey boys rotate in and out of the penitentiary, Frankie continues his career as a singer with a unique falsetto voice.

Enter Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), the lyricist who penned “The Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Polka Dot Bikini.” Gaudio joins the band and forms a tight friendship with Frankie. As Bob and Frankie become more successful, the egos of the other Two Seasons destroy the group.

With Director Clint Eastwood’s unfussy direction, this is the best musical on the big screen since Mama Mia. While his directorial representation rests on violent movies, Eastwood has always been a jazz and musical enthusiast. With Jersey Boys, Eastwood is able to direct a project that satisfies his own desires and that pays benefits for ticket buyers.

Having originated the role in the Broadway play, John Lloyd Young is able to capture the charisma of Frankie Valli in a subdued medium. With three pivitol scenes, Christopher Walken steals scenes as Gyp DeCarlo, a gangster with a soft spot for Frankie Valli’s singing.

A talented dancer in his own right, Walken performs in the final “curtain call” as the closing credits roll. Closing the show on an upnote, Jersey Boys is a nice air-conditioned distraction this 4th of July weekend.

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FLICKS: How to Train Your Dragon2, Le Chef & Living Easy with Eyes Closed

Posted on 26 June 2014 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

It was during the ending of the first movie that I realized that How to Train Your Dragon was going for something deeper. With the onslaught of animated motion pictures, one felt a sense of diminishing returns, although the visuals, humor and musical score made the original Dragon film a cut above most offerings at the time. Would How to Train Your Dragon 2 survive high expectations?

It is the first moments of both brilliant and supple animation that one knows they are going on an epic journey. The first view is that of Nordic water. As the scope expands, one sees the depth of details on the island village of Berk. Our hero,

Hiccup (voiced again by Jay Baruchel), and his best friend, Toothless the dragon, are surveying uncharted isles. The two run afoul dragon poachers, who want to enslave dragons to take over Hiccup’s hometown. Hiccup warns his father and tribal chief, Stoick (Gerard Butler) and sidekick Gobber (Craig Ferguson) about the threat. When the name of “Drago” (Djimon Hounsou) is mentioned, Stoick prepares for the worst, (as Stoick said earlier, “Men who kill without reason are men you cannot reason with”).

Dragon 2 takes on a darker tone with a touch of Scottish melancholia. Parents be warned, there is a traumatic scene that is as stunning as Lassie getting shot in the paw. Somehow the film ends in triumph that does not seem forced.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a full epic presented in 98 minutes, with a score worthy of an Oscar nomination. Guillermo Del Toro and Drew Suzen are acknowledged in the credits for their contributions, most likely for so many visual Easter eggs. How to Train Your Dragon 2 has earned it’s box office and critical success.

A French comedy with English subtitles, Le Chef opens tomorrow. It stars Jean Reno and Michael Youn as bickering chefs who unite to challenge the status quo of snooty food critics and corporate downsizing. Based on a true story, this light comedy provides much mouth-watering close-ups of French cuisine.

Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (Vivir es Facil con los Ojos Cerrados) is inspired by John Lennon’s visit to Spain, circa 1966. Spoken in Spanish with English subtitles, a classroom teacher uses Lennon’s lyrics to teach English to his students. Planning a road trip to meet the myopic Beatle, the teacher takes two passengers on his quest, a runaway and a pregnant teenager.

There are plenty of dramatic choices this weekend at the movies.

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