Papa Hemingway in Cuba - Review

R | 1h 49min | Biography, Drama
Review - Matt Mungle

*In theaters April 29th*

SynopsisIn 1959, a young journalist ventures to Havana, Cuba to meet his idol, the legendary Ernest Hemingway who helped him find his literary voice, while the Cuban Revolution comes to a boil around them.

Review: As a fan of Giovanni Ribisi I am always excited to see him attached to a project. In Papa Hemingway in Cuba he plays journalist Ed Myers (based on real life Miami Herald reporter Denne Bart Peticlerc) who has a chance to meet and spend time with his literary hero, Ernest Hemingway (Adrian Sparks). This friendship blossoms into a deep relationship that becomes an important part of Ed's own writing 

This is obviously a film that you watch for on location visuals and character acting. To try and use it as a biopic for Ernest, Ed, or any other character will leave you scratching your head. We are allowed a glimpse into some areas of their life but many of the dark corners remain unlit. There are subtle references to the Cuban Revolution, the FBI's interest in Ernest, and the relationship between Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary (Joely Richardson). 

Director Bob Yari was given unprecedented access to not only Cuba but Hemingway's estate. These elements make it special for those who, again, like the visual nuances of film. The late 50's has a style all its own and the film captures the time period nicely. The Revolution was just hitting its heights and Ed Myers was allowed to get up close and personal which helped his articles at the Miami Globe. 

Sparks plays Hemingway with an ease and comfort. He seems to embody the spirit of the writer (as far as we are allowed to see) which helps to ground the audience to the story. He has a warm report with Ribisi that creates a mentor bond that is close to fatherly. The supporting cast add depth of dialogue and side stories that help propel the main characters. 

Papa Hemingway in Cuba is rated R for language, sexuality, some violence and nudity. It is an adult film but not an offensive film. The Hemingway's are very open and granola long before it was a thing. They are comfortable in their own minds and bodies and have few hangups. This ability to put it all out there make them interesting but certainly not for young viewers. I give it 3.75 out of 5 rough drafts. Not a perfect film but the acting an backdrop make it worth a viewing for the right art house patron.


Green Room - Review

R | 1h 35min | Crime, Horror, Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle

*In theaters April 29th*

SynopsisAfter witnessing a murder, a punk rock band is forced into a vicious fight for survival against a group of maniacal skinheads.

Review: Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier takes the psycho thriller to a new level with GREEN ROOM. Certainly  a step in the right direction for the genre and one that does not rely on cliche predictability. In fact it has elements that should be studied for anyone wanting to dip their toes in the horror market. 

Pat (Anton Yelchin) and his punk rock band mates are just trying to play some shows and spread their growling message to the moshing crowds. They never expected or planned to get caught up in a nasty murder involving white supremacists and backwoods vigilante justice. Now they find themselves being held captive by a venue owner (Patrick Stewart) and his militant militia. Pat and the gang are going to have to match brutal force with brutal force if they have any hope of survival.

The backdrop of the punk rock scene and the undercurrent of angst fuel this story in ways that make it unique. Even without the mayhem it is gritty and in need of a shower. But at the same time the protagonists are likable. These aren't bad kids. They just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So you feel for them in a way that is human because they are not simply paying the consequences of some stupid action. The bad guys are easy to hate too which lends to a no-brainer when it comes to choosing sides. 

For the most part the film is set in a dark music club and even most of that in a single room. The Green Room is the place that talent hang out and relax when not performing. Every venue has them and they all serve the same purpose. Granted some are a tad cleaner or fancy. This one becomes a windowless cell and elevates the claustrophobic fear. 

The creepiness is thick and oozing from every scene. Not in that jump out and grab you but rather in a depraved humanity. Plus no one is safe in this one. The rules do not apply as the script changes on a dime. It is fresh and focused which keeps the audience on their curled up toes. 

Yelchin is joined by some solid supporters including Alia Shawkat and Imogen Poots. Alia fits the movie perfectly and is so realistic in the role. Poots is almost recognizable as the gritty ally. It is fun to watch her in this movie and deserves some kudos.

Green Room is rated R for strong brutal graphic violence, gory images, language and some drug content. This is an adult thriller and not for the squeamish. There are several look away moments that make your skin crawl and your stomach turn. But it is so much fun. I give it 4 out of 5 band riders. This is certainly a headliner on the blood and gore tour.

Mother's Day - Review

PG-13 | 1h 58min | Comedy, Drama
Review - Matt Mungle

*In theaters April 29*

Synopsis: "Mother’s Day” is the latest star-studded ensemble comedy from director Garry Marshall (“Pretty Woman,” “Valentine’s Day”).  Bringing together Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Julia Roberts along with Jason Sudeikis, it's a celebration of mothers everywhere.  This big-hearted comedy invites us all to enjoy the laughter, tears and love as three generations come together in the week leading up to Mother’s Day. 

Review: MOTHER'S DAY is the third film from Director Garry Marshall in which multiple story-lines weave together into one common narrative. The first one, Valentine's Day, was a tad better than the follow up, New Year's Eve. This one is actually the best of the three. Possibly due to writer Lily Hollander being brought into the mix and the stronger cast. Though at times a tad repetitive and forced it seemed to have a deeper group of stories than the two earlier films. Or maybe Mother's Day is just a better holiday. 

The main plot follows Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) a mother of two boys who is dealing with the fact that her ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant) is in a new, younger relationship. Having to share her sons is not setting well with her. Then you have Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) and his two daughters spending their first Mother's Day since his wife's death. Add to the mix a woman (Kate Hudson) trying to reconcile with her head strong mother (Margo Martindale), a young mother (Britt Robertson) with commitment issues, and a older woman (Julia Roberts) who opted for the career path and you have quite a bit of personality all mingling in and out of each others lives. 

The focus of the film is moms but never does it feel like a heavy handed hallmark homage. The plot points are subtle enough that you get the different layers and subtleties of motherhood in varying degrees. Plus each actress, for the most part, has the ability to make the role of mom her own. The age range is wide enough too that you get the generational nuances. Robertson's young mother character is far different than Margo Martindale's. But they are both mother's and that common thread ties them together. 

It isn't a perfect film and you sometimes get the feeling that the actors have not had much time to deal with the script. There is a lack of comfortableness that makes several scenes feel awkward and disconnected. Marshall does have a laid back directing style that might be to blame. The only one who seems the most at ease is Julia Roberts who has worked with Garry on such blockbusters as Runaway Bride and Pretty Woman. This history obviously paid off here like it did in Valentine's Day in which Julia also appeared. 

I have to note that the film does not try and mask its promotion of commercial products as well. From Hudson's constant display of Yoga gear to the blatant mention of a popular flower company. Viewers may not be ready for this type of ad space but I have a feeling we will see it more and more. 

There is something in this film for all age groups and it is a solid option for a Mother Daughter outing or a girls night away from the kiddos and hubby. It is rated PG-13 for language and some suggestive material. If you go into it with even the slightest open mind you will find the humor in all aspects of the comedy and material. The cast work well together- even with Jennifer Aniston being the same Jennifer Aniston - and again the story lines are endearing and clever when needed. I give it 3.5 out of 5 potato heads. It shines a good light on the mom role and the women we too often take for granted. 


Ratchet & Clank - Review

PG | 1h 34min | Animation, Action, Adventure
Review - Matt Mungle

*In select theaters April 29*

SynopsisWhen the galaxy comes under the threat of a nefarious space captain, a mechanic and his newfound robot ally join an elite squad of combatants to save the universe.

Review: Never judge a book by its cover or a movie by its poster. Yet there was something about RATCHET & CLANK that just did not bode well from the beginning. The thin characters and Saturday morning motif of the animation just screamed, "rent me later!". It is based on the original PlayStation Video game and after several failed attempts over the last decade to actually make it to production, it finally limps to the big screen.

If you read up on the history of the film it makes sense why this one seems so disjointed. Numerous big name directors were attached but then walked away. The main characters are voiced by the actors who did the video games which is lost on a normal movie audience who are used to hearing familiar big name stars. And even though this one has a few (Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Sylvester Stallone) they never truly stand out. 

Also the main characters, which may come across as memorable on a video console, seem flat and uninteresting on the silver screen. Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor-Voice) is a hybrid fox like animal who has a large heart and larger ears. He longs to join the ranks of his galactic heroes led by the egotistical Captain Qwark (Jim Ward). When his home planet comes under attack he gets the chance to save the day while teaming up with a robot he calls Clank (David Kaye)

Animation movies must reach a wide audience from the young tots to the adults siting beside them. We are spoiled by the PIXAR and Disney franchises that know how to write deep, humorous, well balanced scripts. This film is void of laughs and the attempts at adult aimed jokes and witty banter fall way short. Everything feels forced and rehearsed and at no time do you get an organic line that evokes a natural response. 

Thirty minutes into the film and you are ready to check out. The hook that grabs you and engages you with the story and characters never happens. As each new personality is introduced you think this will be the one that gives you some substance. But they soon fizzle out. The look of the animation doesn't help. Though teeming with bright colors and expansive graphics it still evokes a video game/small screen image. In this day and age that just will not cut it. 

RATCHET & CLANK is rated PG for action and some rude humor. It is kid friendly though not very kid entertaining. If you only want a safe environment for your younger family members then it does deliver that. The smaller kids will laugh a little more than the rest but not much. I give it 1.5 out of 5 ejection seats. Wait a few months and then rent it. If your kids have something else to do while this plays in the background it will make go further.