Saturday, July 26, 2014


The only problem with Writer/Director Luc Besson’s Lucy may be in how the distributor is selling it. It’s a smart action thriller to be sure, but it is also a visionary work that prompted this type of reaction I overheard from a departing female viewer: ”I’m not usually a fan of action films, but I didn’t want this one to end.  I wanted even more exploration of its ideas.”

Luc Besson has a vision of the potential of the human brain may be and whether you accept it or not, you have to be in awe of the story he tells and the images he uses.
The setup concerns Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), a meek young woman, living in Taiwan, who is kidnapped and has a bag of a new drug based on what pregnant women actually produce to strengthen embryos sewn into her stomach.  She is going to be forced to take it into New York along with 3 kidnapped men, who are to take theirs into Paris, Rome and London.

The problem is that one of her jailers kicks her in the stomach, causing her bag to break and, instead of killing her, the drug boosts her brain power from the average 10% of its capacity to 20% and climbing throughout the film.

Morgan Freeman plays a professor of brain studies, lecturing in Paris, who provides us with all the information we need to understand what may happen to a human as their brain power increases.  It’s all done with fascinating images and provocative dialogue.

The action in Lucy’s odyssey is thrilling and the journey she undergoes internally is equally exciting.

Lucy easily gets a 4+ out of 5.

Magic In The Moonlight

The scenes are on the French Riviera and Provence and they’re beautifully captured by the great Cinematographer Darius Khondji.  You have two of my favorite stars, Colin Firth and Emma Stone.  Yet, there’s not much magic in Writer/Director Woody Allen’s Magic In The Moonlight.

What’s wrong here? 

First of all, it’s the morose and slow-moving story that only makes us happy when there’s the infrequent laugh. 
But, it’s not all Woody’s fault.  Colin Firth plays a wooden character woodenly.  It almost seems, at times, that English is his second language.  And, his ending scene, where he tries to call on his inner Henry Higgins, is almost cringe-worthy. 

Poor Emma Stone seems stunned that she’s witnessing this debacle and her performance is drained.

Only Eileen Atkins brings some energy to this freight train.

I’m sorry to say Magic In The Moonlight is only worth a 3 out of 5.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I Origins

Acting as Writer/Producer/Director/Editor, Mike Cahill has made a fascinating and highly intelligent film entitled I Origins.

It’s the story of a molecular scientist (Michael Pitt), who, along with his assistant (Brit Marling) is trying to determine the origin of the human eye in an effort to disprove the existence of God. 

Through a Halloween encounter with a mysterious woman (Astrid Bergès Frisbey), his belief system is challenged and he is, eventually, sent on a quest that may destroy it, completely.

This is a metaphysical drama that is extremely absorbing, but is meant only for intelligent viewers, who can appreciate its complexity. 
I would expect no less from a film that stars Brit Marling, who first graced the screen in Cahill’s film Another Earth. If you’re not familiar with Marling’s talent, that is reason enough for seeing I Origins.

But, if you like an interesting story that is well-made, that is all the more reason to see it.

I give I Origins a 4 out of 5.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an exciting action thriller directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback. 

Andy Serkis is, once again, excellent as the alpha-ape Caesar and Jason Clarke makes a fine hero as the man who tries to make peace between the humans and the apes.

The Hawks versus Doves scenario echos much of what is going on in our Country, not to mention the World. 

What is most remarkable about this film is the ape characters created by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver and the production team that has realized them.  One never doubts their reality.

If you’re looking for intelligent excitement, this is a film for you.
I give Dawn of the Planet of the Apes a 4 out of 5.

Le Chef

Writer/Director Daniel Cohen’s Le Chef is an amusing French farce about a young savant chef named Jacky Bonnot (Michaël Youn), who gets kicked out of every job for his over-the-top culinary creations, and 3-star chef Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Reno), whose boss’s son (Julien Boisselier) is trying to ruin his restaurant so he can take over.
Jacky’s pregnant girlfriend (Raphaëlle Agogué) demands he get a paying job as a painter and that leads to his and Lagarde crossing paths.

Lagarde takes him on as a non-paid assistant and the fun begins.

Le Chef is sweet in the style of last-century French comedies.  I give it a 3+ out of 5.