***SCROLL DOWN TO LISTEN TO CHUCK’S REVIEWS***
Black or White
Kevin Costner stars as Elliot Anderson, a successful lawyer and alcoholic who finds himself in a custody battle over his mixed-race granddaughter when his wife dies and the girl’s paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer) sues for visitation rights and more. Though it suffers from a contrived climax that borders on the ridiculous, director/writer Mike Binder’s earnest attempt to discuss the racial divide in the country today is sincere and worthy of starting an honest dialogue on the issue. Costner, Spencer and the rest of the cast give genuine performances which helps make the film more than just a movie-of-the-week piece of schmaltz. 3 Stars (Chuck Koplinski) Rated PG-13. 121 minutes.
2015 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Animated. (Starts Friday) The five nominees for the Oscar for Best Animated Short are a mixed but overall solid lot of films. Canada’s charming “Me and My Moulton” concerns three dissatisfied sisters who come to realize how lucky they are: the predictable Disney short “Feast” follows the shifting role of a dog as his owner dates and marries; “The Bigger Picture” from England is a confused bit of mixed media anarchy; “A Single Life” from The Netherlands is the most imaginative of the bunch as a woman finds that her life is mirrored by the playing of a record on a phonograph, while “The Dam Keeper” from the United States is an effectively atmospheric piece about impending doom and the importance of duty and responsibility. The shorts “Sweet Cocoon,” “Footprints,” and “Bus Story” will also be screened. 3 Stars (Chuck Koplinski) Not Rated. 82 minutes.
2015 Oscar Nominated Short Films – Live-Action (Starts Friday) A surprisingly weak roster of films, the five nominees for the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short are of disparate quality and interest. Israel’s “Aya” is an overlong, tedious exercise about an insecure woman that who leads a stranger on only to retreat to the safety of her marriage; the German film “Parvaneh” revolves around an unlikely set of circumstances between two teenage girls, one from Afghanistan, the other a native German; England’s “Boogaloo and Graham” tries far too hard to be cute in this tale of two boys given tiny chicks to raise in 1978 Belfast; the Tibetan film “Butter Lamp” effectively shows the stability and strength of a traditional community that stands strong in the face of global change while “The Phone Call” from England is the best of the bunch as Sally Hawkins gives a strong performance as a counselor attempting to prevent the suicide of a man who’s phoned the crisis center where she works. 2 Stars (Chuck Koplinski) Not Rated. 118 minutes.
Chuck’s Classic Picks
The Blues Brothers (1980) (Starts Friday)
John Landis’ uproarious road comedy, about musicians Jake and Elwood Blues (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) who are on a mission from God to save the orphanage where they grew up, is a rather dated exercise. However, it’s saved by the deadpan performances of the two leads, the manic style of the director and stellar musical performances that lift the film just when it’s about to lag. It’s all a bit of a mess, but its done with such reckless, good-natured abandon it’s hard not to get swept away by it. 3 ½ Stars (Chuck Koplinski) Rated R. 133 minutes. VIR.
Ferris Buehler’s Day Off (1986) (Starts Saturday)
Yet another overrated John Hughes’ film about a privileged kid (the title brat played by Matthew Broderick) who plays hooky with two friends and proceed to take a whirlwind tour of Chicago. Episodic and predictable, the movie has a hard time gaining our sympathy for the supposedly charming Buehler who you’d likely want to punch in the nose if you met him in real life. 2 Stars (Chuck Koplinski) Rated PG-13. 103 minutes. VIR.
M (Starts Friday)
Fritz Lang’s brilliant urban thriller features an unforgettable performance by Peter Lorre in his debut film.He’s Hans Beckert, a serial killer who targets children and has managed to escape the police time and again. Their increased efforts upset the operations of organized crime, the leaders of which eventually agree to join forces with the police to track him down. With stunning black-and-white cinematography from Fritz Arno Wagner, Lang creates a nightmare world of light and dark where menace lurks around every corner with the urban landscape swallowing up victims right and left. Lorre is genuinely unnerving as Beckert and that he nearly has you sympathizing with him during the climax is a testament to his ability. 4 Stars (Chuck Koplinski) Not rated. 105 minutes. ART
Click below to hear Chuck review these movies on the show…