Friday, June 21, 2019

Review: Toy Story 4

 Toy Story 4
Release date: June 21, 2019
Running time: 100 minutes
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts

After almost 10 years, the next installment of the Toy Story saga returns with Toy Story 4. This movie picks up from the conclusion of Toy Story 3 where we see Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks, back on duty protecting his child’s best interest. Now that Andy is off to college, Woody has a new child named Bonnie, a much younger toddler who is ready to embark on the adventure of Kindergarten.  However, when Woody tries to help Bonnie in Kindergarten, he ends up doing more than simply helping her survive her first day.
Woody and Forky walk along the road.

This movie is more than simply the toys in their home or at school.  The plot takes us to a few locations including a beautifully animated carnival, an antique toy shop, and several other unexpected places.  We also are introduced to old friends and plenty of new ones.  

Like all Disney Pixar movies, Toy Story 4 is visually stunning.  The characters are animated beautifully and the lights from the carnival especially are a joy to see.  Also, the little touches that Pixar is known for shine through here.  I was especially impressed by the wear on Woody where his kid's name was interrupted by natural imperfections. Also, the hair and materials look fantastic; this is Pixar studios at its best.  

Accompanying the stunning visuals was an equally impressive audio experience.  The voice acting, the new score, and the old classics all come together to make this movie sound fantastic.  Speaking of voice acting, the cast is filled with popular voices you will be familiar with such as Keanu Reeves, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, and many more!  And those voices contribute to a serious story about growing up and a laugh out loud film that is enjoyable for all ages.  

Toy Story 3 ended so perfectly that an additional film did not seem necessary.  But now that I have seen what Disney Pixar can do, I am excited to see what else comes from this universe.  

Toy Story 4 revisits our classic friends while introducing new ones.  It took the impossible task of following up on the third film, and went to infinity and beyond.

See It.

Be sure to stay for the entire credit scene. YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS
Ducky, Bunny, Woody and Buzz at the carnival

Monday, June 17, 2019

Screening: YESTERDAY

In Theaters: June 25, 2019
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon
Director: Danny Boyle
Rating: PG-13

Yesterday, everyone knew The Beatles. Today, only Jack remembers their songs. He’s about to become a very big deal. From Academy Award®-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) and Richard Curtis, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually and Notting Hill, comes a rock-n-roll comedy about music, dreams, friendship, and the long and winding road that leads to the love of your life.

Featuring new versions of The Beatles’ most beloved hits, Yesterday is produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (Love Actually, About A Boy, the Bridget Jones series) alongside Matthew James Wilkinson and Bernie Bellew. Curtis and Boyle also produce. Nick Angel, Lee Brazier and Liza Chasin serve as executive producers. 

Screening Details:

Monday, June 24
AMC Mazza Gallerie

How to Enter:

If you would like to enter for an admit-two pass, please send an email to watchorpass [at] gmail with the subject "YESTERDAY SCREENING", and in the body include your name, email address, and the answer to the following question: What music could you not live without?

As always, screenings are first-come, first-served so please arrive early to ensure you get a seat.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


In theaters June 26
(New Line Cinema)

Director: Gary Dauberman
Cast: Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, Katie Sarife, with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga

Horror. Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s holy blessing. But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target—the Warrens’ ten-year-old daughter, Judy, and her friends.

Wednesday, June 19 – 7:00 PM
AMC Mazza Gallerie

to Download Passes NOW!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Screening: SHAFT

In theaters June 14
(New Line Cinema)

Director: Tim Story
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Matt Lauria, Titus Welliver, Cliff “Method Man” Smith and Richard Roundtree

Action Comedy. “Shaft” is the next chapter in the film franchise featuring the coolest private eye on any New York City block. JJ, aka John ShaftJr. (Usher), may be a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death, he needs an education only his dad can provide. Absent throughout JJ’s youth, the legendary locked-and-loaded John Shaft (Jackson) agrees to help his progeny navigate Harlem’s heroin-infested underbelly. And while JJ’s own FBI analyst’s badge may clash with his dad’s trademark leather duster, there’s no denying family. Besides, Shaft’s got an agenda of his own, and a score to settle that’s professional and personal.

Monday, June 10 – 7:30 PM
Regal Majestic

to Download Passes NOW!

Review: Yesterday

Release date: June 28, 2019
Running time: 116 minutes
Starring: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino

Yesterday is a British Comedy where musician Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) struggles with creativity and direction in his path to fame and celebrity. But despite his challenges his core fan base has always been his friends and one in particular, Ellie Appleton (Lily James) who not only has been his friend for over 20 years but his manager who truly has his best interest at heart.

As Jack struggles in his musical career, he feels the pressure of life's challenges in this path to stardom.  His dreams of fame are fading and he even begins to ignore the positives he is surrounded by. Then the unthinkable happens and Jack is involved in a bus accident on his bike as a global blackout happens for over 12 seconds. When Jack wakes, Ellie is by his side but he has woken to another timeline, a timeline where The Beatles never existed.

This movie truly is a Beatles fan movie. Tons of references and puns to the many songs they made over the years and historical landmarks that were either from album covers or used as motivation in the creation of the songs were planted throughout this movie. If you have no prior knowledge of the Beatles you may find yourself struggling to keep up with not only the jokes, but the significance of scenes. The element of Jack struggling to remember the lyrics of each song and having him mess up over and over is absolutely hilarious but if you do not know the songs then the humor can be lost a little.

However, even if you are not a Beatles fan, you can still enjoy a decent number of funny scenes and solid musical performances by the cast, with special guest Ed Sheeran himself. The cast overall give solid performances in this heartwarming story.  Particularly, Lily James reminds me a lot of Brie Larson in that she can captivate the audience with her display pure emotion.  Like Jack in the film, this movie and her excellent performance is a preview of the superstar she can become!

Yesterday is a fun movie but maybe not truly a movie for anyone who isn't a true Beatles fan to really go out their way to watch. Surely a life without The Beatles is infinitely bad but a life possibly not seeing this movie will be just fine.

Rent it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Screening: 5B

5B tells the story of nurses on the fifth floor of San Francisco General Hospital in the mid-1980s, the first in the country designed specifically to deal with AIDS patients. Unlike many AIDS documentaries this one focuses on the nurses who became everyday heroes when they decided to treat their patients with love, kindness and an emphasis on humanity at a time when many in the healthcare profession lived in fear of being infected by their patients. 

Opening on June 14th


95 Minutes


In the mid-1980s, a simple number and letter designated a ward on the fifth floor of San Francisco General Hospital, the first in the country designed specifically to deal with AIDS patients. The unit’s nurses’ emphasis on humanity and consideration of holistic well-being was a small miracle in the midst of a devastating crisis and the ensuing panic about risk and infection. The story of 5B is stirringly told through first-person testimony of the nurses who built it, their patients, loved ones, and the hospital staff who volunteered, resulting in a bittersweet and moving monument to a pivotal moment in American epidemiology, San Francisco history and a celebration of quiet heroes worthy of remembrance and renewed recognition.

Screening Details
Monday, June 10th
Regal Gallery Place

to Download Passes NOW!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Review: Rocketman

Release date: May 31, 2019
Running time: 121 minutes
Starring: Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard

Rocketman is the biographical drama of Sir Elton John, chronicling the performer's childhood, rise to fame, and some of the challenges that resulted from both.  

The story is told in an unexpected way:  instead of a standard historical drama, many of the scenes have musical and fantastical experiences.  Some of this might be due to childhood whimsy, some might be due to drugs, and some might just be a way to capture John's unique perspective.  It is jarring at first, but fits the character and the various stages of his life.

The movie about the life of Elton John needs a strong actor to take on that role, and thankfully Taron Egerton fully embraces the role.  Egerton transforms as Elton, taking on his mannerisms, style, and personality.  He is fantastic.  Egerton is joined by some equally engaging talent, but as I imagine all people do around Elton, they cannot match the brilliance of the main character.  And a film about Elton John wouldn't be complete without some fantastic music, and thankfully the film sticks to Elton John's repertoire. The music and costumes, what John is most well known for are perfectly recreated in the film.  However, this is a movie that can be enjoyed at home.

However, the film really tries to take on the dramatic nature of Elton John's life.  And the main problem with this is that, at least in the film, the problems he deals with and the trials that he has to overcome don't have the weight that they should have.  There is a scene part way through that is supposed to be a callous statement about his life, but the way the movie portrays him it is spot on.  Maybe there was just too much to cover for a two hour movie, but it does seem like the film spends an inordinate amount of time on his childhood and not enough time on his rise and later life.  

Rocketman is a spectacle with fantastic music and a phenomenal performance by Taron Egerton.

Watch it.