Thursday, July 3

BEGIN AGAIN




The Film Fatales are big believers in beginning again and again.

Begin Again. 2013. Rated R. 104 minutes. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Adam Levine, Catherine Keener, James Corden, Hailee Steinfeld, Mos Def, Cee Lo Green. Written and directed by John Carney (Once).


A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents. (IMDb)





Nicole: I didn't think I was going to like this movie nearly as much as I did. I think the reasons I enjoyed it have to do with the performances, both acting and musical. This movie is very much a love letter to the art of making music unfettered by corporate intervention. Through music, the main characters Greta (Knightley), a fledging songwriter, and Dan (Ruffalo), a down-on-his-luck record producer, bond and grow to understand each other...and help each other heal the wounds brought upon them by love's betrayals. They come out of their shared experience better, stronger people…and watching their journey was a pure delight. 

elizabeth: I did go into the movie believing I was going to like this movie for several reasons: A) Can Mark Ruffalo make a bad movie? B) Keira Knightley sings her own songs and she is pretty good in a Nora Jones/Suzanne Vega way. C) While Adam Levine is a tad stiff, he did portray a very believable cad. No “Moves Like Jagger”, but that road kill on his face needs to go. 


Nicole: By “road kill” I take it you’re referring to his beard. I may be in the minority here, but I thought it was a sexy beard and it worked for him. Most things work for Adam Levine… I’d like to work for Adam Levine. Just sayin’. But I digress. Watching Greta, Dan, and a host of starving musicians make music with New York City providing ambient sound and a gritty backdrop was as original as it was a pleasure to watch. Dan starts off rough around the edges, but through his unique brand of charm ends up successfully redeeming all his faults. Ruffalo really goes a long way to make this character likable. Another actor may not have been able to pull it off with such finesse. Greta, though shy and lacking confidence because she lives in the shadow of her boyfriend Dave (Levine) eventually finds herself and her voice. Greta's transformation is handled aptly by Knightley's performance. 


elizabeth: The love story to the city made me want to spend my 401K on a fifth floor walk up again. If you lived in certain parts of Manhattan at a certain time, these would be some of the people you would run into. They were just that believable. Ruffalo looks like men I have met at parties when I lived in the city. He was so Mr. New York City. His Dan is cool with a self-destructive bitterness, but when he lets his defenses down you know there is a man with heart and soul looking for permission to resurface again. And, I liked how the strong one in this movie is Knightley’s Greta. She takes her pain and makes beautiful music. Who needs men? I do.


Nicole: *shakes head, smirks, and agrees* After seeing the trailer for Begin Again, I figured it would be a decent film as long as the music, which features prominently throughout, was good. I'm really happy to say unlike some movies that center around fictional bands and feature original music, this movie ticks all the boxes. So, if you're worried that you will have to sit through 104 minutes of excruciatingly corny, amateurish music...don't be. You'll walk out wanting to own the soundtrack. And, on that note, who knew Keira Knightley had such a lovely voice? And, why has she been hiding that fact all these years? What a totally pleasant surprise. Adam Levine's songs are infectious ear candy as well. I suspect “Lost Stars” will be a number one hit in no time. 


elizabeth: I ordered the soundtrack this morning and both versions of “Lost Stars” are on it. I don’t think I am revealing too much of the plot, and I am so happy to see music become a starring role in a movie again. Another movie that multi-generations can like. I got to lie down.

The Film Fatales give Begin Again 

Watch the video for LOST STARS... 

Thursday, June 5

A Million Ways to Die in the West

The film Fatales are trying to come up with one reason to see A Million Ways to Die in the West.

A Million Ways to Die in the West (AKA A Million Ways to Kill Your Brain Cells). 2014. 116 Minutes of excruciating gas pain. Starring Seth MacFarlane (who also wrote this piece of crap and directed it), Charlize TheronAmanda SeyfriedLiam NeesonGiovanni Ribisi,Sarah Silverman. Neil Patrick Harris

As a cowardly farmer begins to fall for the mysterious new woman in town, he must put his new-found courage to the test when her husband, a notorious gun-slinger, announces his arrival.(IMDb).




elizabeth: I don’t even know where to begin with my part of The Film Fatales’ review of A Million Ways to Die in the West. I am not even going to waste my time with trying to explain this movie to the intelligent people who read our reviews. Let me just say that this is a perfect movie for young men whose testicles have not dropped yet and who cleverly hide a case of Clearasil under their beds. In other words, it is for boys who don’t know what funny is, but anything that starts or ends with a fart is pure genius. I would like my brain cells that died from being utterly grossed out to be given another chance at life.  I can’t believe that I am writing this, but the fart jokes were the tamest part of this “movie.”

Nicole: I had high hopes for this movie. I figured if anyone had the B.A.DoubleL.Sto tackle a modern send-up of Mel Brooks’ masterpiece Blazing Saddles (and don’t argue with me world, the comparison is warranted – one cannot make a politically-incorrect, comedic Western and expect people not to compare it to Blazing Saddles), then Seth McFarlane had a brass pair big enough to do the job. Unfortunately, his brass pair must have been out getting spit-shined when he sat down to pen this “script.”



elizabeth: McFarlane can be quite charming, so why the hell did he stoop so low? He could be a leading man (if he finds his upper eyelids…meow). But, I was beginning to wonder if he suffered a mini stroke while scripting this screenplay. Friends don’t let friends write crap. ThenMcFarlane gets Charlize Theron to star in it. What the hell was she thinking? And Liam Neeson: You broke my heart, but I must say your butt is holding up quite nicely. The rest of the movie I wish I could have erased from my memory.

Nicole: Seth McFarlane “stoop so low”? We’re talking about the creator of Family Guy here, stooping low is his forte. And, he’s usually good at it. (BTW: I’m one of the few who thoroughly enjoyed his turn as Oscar host.) I just think he was out of his wheelhouse here. Maybe the genre wasn’t a good fit. Sure, it scored a few laughs, but a ton of repetitive jokes and few-and-far-between funny gags in a way-too-long script culminated in a lackluster attempt at what could have been a very, very funny movie. Unfortunately, it missed the mark on too many occasions to count. So says a person who really and truly enjoys a fart joke. Don’t highbrow me, ‘merica!




elizabeth: And this is coming from someone who laughed her ass off while watching TheCampaign and then prayed for forgiveness.  Do yourself a favor and just watch the trailerAsusual, they took all the semi-amusing scenes and made a 30-second commercial of out it. You don’t want to go beyond that time allotment. Give your money to charity. You’ll feel better. Or just send me your damn money. I’ll make sure it gets to the right places – like Neiman Marcus.

The Film Fatales give A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST



Monday, June 2

X-MEN: Days of Future Past



This Marvel universe's future depends on its past being rewritten. 

X-Men: Days of Future Past. 2014. PG-13. 131 minutes. Starring Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy, Evan Peters...and a host of cameos (some you'd expect, others you won't).


The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants. (IMDb)




Nicole: Cassidy, I can just hear you now: "Oh, God, not another comic book flick." Well, sorry to say it, but this genre ain't going anywhere. So, buck up soldier and take one for Team Fangirl. 

elizabeth: You just woke me up from a nap. Colin Firth and Daniel Day-Lewis were fighting over me. I was just going to tell them which one I would run away with and then I asked them both to don tights and fancy head gear. 

Nicole: Not a cravat or waistcoat? You’re slipping, Cassidy. Of late, the clever and mischievous minds at Marvel have been all about drastically rewriting history (as evidenced by the complete dismantling of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Well, this part of the X-Men franchise, which hinges on 2011's X:Men: First Class, is no different. Where First Class helped to establish the historical foundation of the X-Men team of mutants, Days of Future Past obliterates it, rebuilds it and leaves room to renovate it for 2016's gravely titled X-Men: Apocalypse. 

elizabeth: Say what?

Nicole: What. I said it. There. Moving on… To prevent the very bleak future from ever having taken place, Charles Xavier/Professor X (played in the future by Patrick Stewart and in the past by James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (played in the future by Ian McKellan and in the past by Michael Fassbender) task Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) with sending Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back into the past to warn their younger selves of their impending doom. Wolverine's mission includes stopping a now rogue Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing the man responsible for inventing the Sentinels, an army of unstoppable mutant-cloaking robots cloned from her own DNA. But, before Wolverine can do that, he must reunite the feuding Charles and Erik...both of whom have seen far better days. 


elizabeth: All this back to the future traveling makes me wonder if it would have been easier if they just used a DeLorean DMC-12. Insert groan.

Nicole: That certainly would have been easier for Wolverine. Fans may disagree with me on this point, but I'm gonna suit up and suffer any punches. I found this movie lagged a little, and maybe by a very small margin wasn't as good as First Class. BUT...it was excellent in providing the surprise factor and a dizzying assortment of cameos. It is dialog heavy and action light, so if you're expecting the same pace as say Winter Soldier or Avengers, you won't get it. Because of the time travel plot line, they had a lot of ground to cover that didn't necessarily involve action sequences. That being said, it's still a great movie that's super important to the entire mythology. (And, do not leave the theater for any reason, lest you miss the movie's best scene featuring Quicksilver [Evan Peters]. Trust me, you're gonna love every second of his screen time.)


elizabeth: I have said this to you before, but it bears repeating: Go outside and stare at the yellow round ball in the sky. Your D-3 need is running low.

The Film Fatales (well, one of us anyway…)
give X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

Friday, May 30

Chef



The Film Fatales serve up a review that's sure to cleanse your palate. 

Chef. 2014. R. 114 minutes. Starring Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Sofia Vegara, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Emjay Anthony. Written and Directed by Jon Favreau. 


A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family. (IMDb)


Nicole: Every now and then a movie comes along that renews your faith in the art of storytelling. Chef is one such movie. I can't wait to express my enthusiasm for this movie. I gotta get it said right now: I loved every second of this wonderful film. From the originality of the story, to the stellar art direction, to the ingenious casting, to the toe-tapping, hip-swaying soundtrack--Chef adds up to one satisfyingly delectable watch.


elizabeth: Look at this: Every time you start a review, you read my mind about what I am going to say. Stop it! The day after we saw Chef, I posted that this movie will make you happy, hungry and you will move your moneymaker. Someone sent me a note asking if a moneymaker meant one’s butt. Dear Nervous Smile, yes it does. And this is from someone who just got a new right hip. I couldn’t sit still. It took my mind off the hunger pangs. If this movie does not get some Oscar nominations, I will sell off my red carpet gowns. Once I buy them.

Nicole: I'm sure the personal stylists at Givenchy were really looking forward to that commission, Cassidy. How will they ever recover the loss? So, Chef Carl Casper (Favreau) is stuck in a culinary rut, no thanks to his tyrannical, afraid-of-taking-risks boss Riva (Hoffman). A supremely terrible review of the restaurant's menu and Carl's skills sends him into a downward spiral that forces him to reinvent himself by sacrificing his pride. Along the way, Carl not only gets his mojo back in the kitchen, he learns the true meaning of loyalty, family and friendship. 


elizabeth: It was almost like watching a man make love (I did that a lot; the restraining orders prove my point) when Carl gets back to what really matters in life. Watching him prepare food made my knees weak. And for the record, I tend to favor heroin-addicted looking men, but the joy and delight you see painted on Favreau’s face made him quite…dare I say…incredibly sexy. I think that is the right word for this movie – it was sexy from the great dialogue, to the food and let us not forget the music, which they were smart enough to make into a soundtrack. Hello, Amazon! 

Nicole: Seriously downloading that soundtrack! This movie was a feast for the eyes and ears. It was shot with the intent of making food and music central characters. Each, in their way, express the soul of this movie...how both food and music can bring people together...how much tradition and roots make life meaningful. 

elizabeth: Did you play a Sunday school teacher in a former life? I feel like putting on sensible shoes.

Nicole: Don't make me threaten you with a ruler. Oh, and what a cast, by the way. You can really tell how much Favreau enjoyed this role. His lows are our lows. His highs are our highs. And he surrounded himself with people who complemented his love of the material. Leguizamo as Martin and Cannavale as Tony are terrific at providing comic relief in an already light-hearted movie. And, Favreau's Marvel-franchise buddies Downey Jr. and Johansson lend well to the cast.


elizabeth: Kudos to Sofia Vegara and Scarlett Johansson; they added had just the right amount of cool and H-O-T! But, you had to bring up Marvel didn’t you? You were doing so well until now. Do tell: I bet you never left one of those movies wanting to dance. I will say this about you: I have never seen anyone bring in as much chocolate as you do to a movie. I am not surprised they don’t make you check in your luggage. And for the record, I don’t like being used as a human shield.

Nicole: What can I say? I like to be prepared. Except this time, I really would have rather had one of El Jefe's Cuban Sandwiches...

The Film Fatales give Chef