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At The Movies

Turn to TWC News every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday for the At the Movies report featuring reports on movies, DVD releases, the hottest websites and more!

08/16/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Review: 'About Alex'
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A new film tries to update the 1983 classic "The Bill Chill," as old college friends reunite, sparks fly and old wounds are opened. It's called "About Alex." Neil Rosen filed the following review.

A group of familiar television actors team up in a new film that tries to update the classic formula of "The Big Chill." It's called called "About Alex."

When Alex, played by Jason Ritter, tries unsuccessfully to kill himself, several of his close college friends reunite for a long weekend to lend him their support.

Over the course of a few days, as this bunch indulges in good food, drink and drugs, old jealous feelings, resentments and romantic rivalries are reignited, pushing the limits of everyone's long standing friendships. The college pals include Nate Parker, Maggie Grace, Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield and Max Minghella. Director Jesse Zwick makes no secret about trying to emulate "The Big Chill," as he makes obvious references to that film throughout.

Zwick even goes as far as to invoke Jeff Goldblum's name at one point, who was one of the stars of that film. But I think Zwick is also trying to emulate the TV series "Thirtysomething," which his dad, Ed Zwick, created, but unlike that program, or "The Big Chill," you won't really care about what's happening on screen here.

The humor, for the most part, is lacking and you'll have very little fondness for any of these characters or the individual, personal crisis that each of them is dealing dealing with. The one exception is Greenfield, who is quite funny as a cranky, cynical, bitter guy who's always spewing fun cultural references. I would have preferred to see a whole movie just built around him.

Most of the characters are superficial and underdeveloped, while the film itself is filled with predictable scenarios. Strong performances by the cast elevate the material, but it's simply not enough.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 1.5 Apples


08/09/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Daniel Radcliffe Talks 'What If'
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08/02/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Movie Review: 'Get On Up'
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The life and times of musical legend James Brown, known as "The Godfather Of Soul," gets the big screen treatment in a brand new bio pic. It's called "Get On Up."

From his humble beginnings in the South to his becoming a superstar in the world of music, this is a look at the man who was dubbed the hardest working man in show business.

Chadewick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson last year in 42, plays James Brown. He's remarkable here, capturing the many sides of this iconic performer.

On stage, Boseman gets Brown's dance movies and unbriddled energy down pat, and these musical numbers are electrifying. Off stage, Boseman also hits all the right notes, in all phases of James Brown's life.

Unfortunately, the movie itself is riddled with problems. Director Tate Taylor, who also did "The Help," takes a non linear approach as he quickly jumps from one time period time to another for no apparent reason. The fourth wall is broken periodically, with Brown talking directly to the camera, and it feels out of place.

The narrative is unsatisfying as it leaves lots of unanswered questions. For example, there's a scene of Brown, in the 1980's, trying to outrun several police cars. His insane behavior is never explained, so we don't really know what led to his deterioration.

Other issues, like Brown's domestic violence charges are barely touched upon, while the screenplay fails to draw you in emotionally.

The film is over two hour and a quarter hours, but seems much longer as several scenes, especially near the end, feel redundant while others just drag on.

The supporting cast, which includes Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis as maternal figures, and Dan Aykroyd as his longtime manager do perfunctory work.

One standout is Nelsan Ellis as Bobby Byrd, Brown's longtime musical sideman and loyal friend. The whole thing is really Boseman's show, though.

Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 2.5 Apples


Updated 07/26/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Emma Stone, Colin Firth talk "Magic in the Moonlight"
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Woody Allen's latest romantic comedy is "Magic in the Moonlight." It takes place during the 1920's in the South Of France where Colin Firth plays a world famous magician trying to debunk a self proclaimed medium, played by Emma Stone.


07/19/2014 05:00 AM Posted By: Neil Rosen
CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Diaz, Segel Play Married Couple In "Sex Tape"
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Three years ago, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel teamed with director Jake Kasdan to make a movie called "Bad Teacher." Now, these three are back with a new comedy. It's called "Sex Tape."

Diaz and Segel play Annie and Jay a relatively, happily married couple. But between their busy work schedules and taking care of their kids, free time is pretty scarce. Consequently, their love life has grown a bit stale.

Looking to spice things up, Annie proposes a racy concept. They do indeed make a video, and afterwards, Annie has a simple request: erase that video. Unfortunately, Jay doesn't follow those instructions.

The naughty video only exists on a handful of iPads that Jay has handed out as gifts, so before it goes totally viral and gets out to the general public, Annie and Jay go to extreme lengths to get all the tainted devices back.

Unlike "Bad Teacher," which was consistently funny, Diaz, Segel and Kasdan's latest effort is disappointingly uneven. There are a few segments that are genuinely amusing, and some of the dialogue will occasionally prompt a few laughs, but many of the scenes of go on for too long, the setups are belabored, and a lot of this falls flat.

Making matters worse, Director Jake Kasdan frequently goes the slapstick route. One lengthy scene, where Segel tries to dodge an attack dog while he's trying to retrieve one of the iPads, was funny at first, but ultimately wore out it's welcome.

Diaz and Segel are quite appealing and have great chemistry. Also quite good is the always reliable Rob Lowe, who sort of parodies his own real-life sex tape past here.

It's a mixed bag that's not really worth full price at the box office. It's better suited for a less expensive video or on-demand rental, which is where it will wind up eventually.


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