The Morning After: Aug. 29, 2016

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Her


Beginning with Being John Malkovich in 1999, Spike Jonze turned his strange music video fascination into a profitable enterprise on the big screen. With only his fourth film, Jonze continues to impress us with his dazzling and bizarre impressions on life and growth.

Telling the story of a lonely letter writer named Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with the Artificial Intelligence operating system he installs on his futuristic computer, Her explores the nature of love in how it supports each person individually. Will the perfect man or woman make us whole or is that perfection in itself a flaw?

Scarlett Johansson’s superb vocal performance is the highlight of the film, though Phoenix’s vulernability adds immeasurable depth as well. That both had to convey complex emotions without physically being present shows the capabilities of each actor. Amy Adams as Theodore’s longtime friend Amy is a weak point, as is Chris Pratt as Theodore’s co-worker Paul. Rooney Mara does fine work in a limited engagement on screen and Kristen Wiig has a killer vocal cameo as a lonely woman with a very bizarre sexual fetish.

Jonze’s film isn’t a conventional love story, just as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation. and Where the Wild Things Are aren’t conventional pictures. However, he grounds each film with a solid directorial hand that plays matter-of-factly with the bizarre stories and gives the audience the impression that they are watching real events no matter how unusual they are.

Review: The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

The Secret Life of Pets

Rating

Director

Yarrow Cheney, Chris Renaud

Screenplay

Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch

Length

87 min.

Starring

Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Chris Renaud, Steve Coogan, Michael Beattie

MPAA Rating

PG for action and some rude humor

Original Preview

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This Day in Oscar History: August 29 (2016)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born


Died


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Poll: What Are You Most Anticipating? (Sep. 2016, Limited)

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What Are You Most Anticipating? (Sep. 2016, Limited)

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Film Preview: The Wild Life (2016)

Page Revisions:

(August 21, 2016) Original

Release Date:

September 16, 2016

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “On a tiny exotic island, Tuesday, an outgoing parrot lives with his quirky animal friends in paradise. However, Tuesday can’t stop dreaming about discovering the world. After a violent storm, Tuesday and his friends wake up to find a strange creature on the beach: Robinson Crusoe. Tuesday immediately views Crusoe as his ticket off the island to explore new lands. Likewise, Crusoe soon realizes that the key to surviving on the island is through the help of Tuesday and the other animals. It isn’t always easy at first, as the animals don’t speak “human.” Slowly but surely, they all start living together in harmony, until one day, when their comfortable life is overturned by two savage cats, who wish to take control of the island. A battle ensues between the cats and the group of friends but Crusoe and the animals soon discover the true power of friendship up against all odds (even savage cats).”

Poster Rating: C+ / C / C+ / C- (3)

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Review: (#1) A fairly standard design for animated features, which doesn’t necessarily mean it will sell to those with a discerning palette. (#2) Similar to the first except in its corny exuberance, which doesn’t make it that much more interesting. (#3) The simplicity of a lone figure walking away while animals look on is striking, but the purpose is unclear. (#4) These character posters build off the style of the third design, which doesn’t add much in the way of depth and the individual elements just aren’t that interesting.

Trailer Rating: D+

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Review: Animated movies like this used to make it directly to video, not directly to the cineplex, but here you are. This dreadful, painfully unfunny trailer does little to excite the audience, which has been spoiled mightily by Pixar.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Outlaws and Angels (2016)

Page Revisions:

(August 21, 2016) Original

Release Date:

July 15, 2016

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “When outlaws on the lam invade the home of an unsuspecting, seemingly innocent, frontier family to hide out for the night, an unexpected game of cat and mouse ensues, leading to seduction, role reversal, and ultimately, bloody revenge.”

Poster Rating: C+

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Review: If you haven’t seen the trailer, the scar being on the opposite cheek of the lead character won’t bother you, but once you see it, it will. The rest of the design is fairly commonplace, nothing exceptional, but it’s distinct enough to possibly create minor interest.

Trailer Rating: D+ / D

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Review: (#1 & #2) These Red Band trailers that are scene-by-scene copies, but only add a couple of bad words and some blood, are a tiresome. Not only does the R-rated trailer not make the film look better, it makes the questionable elements seem affected. The rest of the trailer presents a film that seems utterly devoid of fun and lacking in redeeming qualities.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Gallery: Sully (2016)

Below is a gallery for the upcoming film Sully.

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Gallery: Storks (2016)

Below is a gallery for the upcoming film Storks.

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Weekend Preview: Sep. 2-4, 2016

Below are seven previews for films opening next weekend.
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Film Preview: White Girl (2016)

Page Revisions:

(August 28, 2016) Original

Release Date:

September 2, 2016

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “Summer, New York City. A college girl falls hard for a guy she just met. After a night of partying goes wrong, she goes to wild extremes to get him back.”

Poster Rating: C+

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Review: It’s a provocative design taken directly from the film. It also adequately reflects the film in question. The problem is that it’s neither sexy, nor compelling.

Trailer Rating: C+

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Review: A challenging, dark drama about a young girl fighting for love and survival amidst a drug-fueled landscape. It has potential and I love the double-entendre of the title, but overall the film doesn’t look like something most audiences would care to see.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: No Manches Frida (2016)

Page Revisions:

(August 28, 2016) Original

Release Date:

September 2, 2016

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “NO MANCHES FRIDA is the story of Zequi, a recently released bank robber who goes to recover stolen money buried by his ditzy accomplice before going to jail. They return to the site only to find that Frida Kahlo High has built a gymnasium over the loot. To get the money, he poses as a substitute teacher for a school that can’t seem to keep any teachers around. Zequi comes in ready to lay down the law- but he quickly finds out that life on the inside may have been easier to deal with than a school full of wild and rebellious teenagers.”

Poster Rating: C

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Review: An unimpressive comedy design that tries to build on so many school-based poster foundations that it ends up a mess.

Trailer Rating: C- / C

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Review: (#1) The first trailer paints the picture of a simple film about a substitute teacher trying to corral and educate recalcitrant students. The film looks like a pale imitator of countless inspirational education dramas, except is a wan comedy. (#2) This second trailer creates a whole different premise for the film, one of an ex-convict trying to gain access to buried loot, but having to invade a school to do so. This is a bit funnier, but many of the same problems from the first trailer arise in this one as well.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Klown Forever (2016)

Page Revisions:

(August 28, 2016) Original

Release Date:

September 2, 2016

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “Frank and Casper’s friendship is put to a test, when Casper decides to leave Denmark to pursue a solo career in Los Angeles. Determined to win his best friend back Frank chooses to follow Casper ensuring an eventful trip.”

Poster Rating: C

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Review: It’s meant to be provocative, but there’s little here that’s worthy commenting on. It may have a light significance to the film, but that’s largely immaterial.

Trailer Rating: C

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Review: This unfunny trailer seems to be akin to the Jackass movies, but even then it’s not comparably funny.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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This Day in Oscar History: August 28 (2016)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born

Died


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Film Preview: Moonlight (2016)

Page Revisions:

(August 21, 2016) Original

Release Date:

October 21, 2016

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “A three-part narrative spanning the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood of an African-American man who survives Miami’s drug-plagued inner city, finding love in unexpected places and the possibility of change within himself.”

Poster Rating: C

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Review: The V-shaped three-color artistic design is more compelling in its broadened design, but it adds a measure of uniqueness to the poster that keeps the vague simplicity from being too forgettable.

Trailer Rating: C

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Review: A black, gay love story is uncommon. While the trailer suggests there may be some examination of the strictures and taboos still rampant in the black community, its ultimate goal is couched in trying to look daring, which it doesn’t quite succeed at.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: The Phenom (2016)

Page Revisions:

(August 21, 2016) Original

Release Date:

June 24, 2016

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “A Major League rookie pitcher loses control over his pitching and is sent down to the minor leagues, where he begins sessions with an unorthodox sports psychologist. In the process, hidden conflicts with his overbearing father are brought to light.”

Poster Rating: C-

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Review: If you’re a baseball fan, this might appeal to you, but it’s ambiguous and not particularly informative. The actor names at the top aren’t going to make that connection.

Trailer Rating: C

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Review: A straight forward, uncomplicated trailer that presents a common story we’ve seen many times before, even in the realm of baseball movies. It doesn’t inspire or disgust and should have a basic appeal to those who are into baseball stories, but few others.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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