Kroger’s Canteen shares the short story of an aid station perched on a tiny ledge, 13,100ft above sea level, providing care for runners during the Hard Rock 100 mile.
Heartwarming and breathtaking, Kroger’s Canteen is a short 8-minute feature that show’s us one of the world’s most committed running community. This was the sixth scheduled film on the list for the night at the BANFF Mountain Film Festival in St. Louis. It’s an aid station perched on a tiny ledge, 13,100ft above sea level, that provides care for runners during the Hard Rock 100 mile run through the San Juan Mountain system.
Spirited and adventurous, Kroger’s Canteen brings out your inner runner as you root for athlete Kilian Jornet’s and his record-breaking run through Hard Rock 100 mile endurance run. People and community are ultimately what makes Kroger’s Canteen a film full of heart. Its message is to grow relationships with other people, be active daily and, most importantly, get out and run.
Paradise Waits thrills the audience with its exciting ski jumps and ‘80s pop music.
Clocking in at a fast 7 minutes, Paradise Waits landed some impressive stunts and was a visual treat for the audience to enjoy while munching on their popcorn. Coming in at number five on the scheduled list of films I saw that night at the BANFF Mountain Film Festival in St. Louis, Paradise Waits hurdles its viewers through twists and turns down some of Alaska’s biggest mountains.
The short film follows freeskier Tim Durtschi, as he guides down the tram laps at Jackson Hole while listening to fun ‘80s pop music. It’s funny and relieving to see him poke fun at other skier’s while gliding down the Jackson Hole. Paradise Waits also follows big mountain skier Angel Collinson, as she rips up some of the Alaskan lines. It's a dazzlingly display of snow skiing that shows us why winter is a time to celebrate.
Mixing old 16mm footage and new footage, The Important Places captures the heart of life one lens at a time.
After the short intermission at the BANFF Mountain Film Festival, I was introduced to a rare 9-minute gem that truly captures the essence of life. The Important Places is a short document about the special bond between a father and son while exploring the necessity of returning to “The Important Places” in their life. Winner of Best Short Mountain Film, The Important Places narrates the bond of father and son and captures the life lessons of family and what it means to be human.
The short film shows the father and son’s time spent on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. In a matter of minutes, the film explores the growth of these two men, through different stages of their lives and how the silver lining between them, the Colorado River, brought them back the most important place of all. Beautifully shot and skillfully crafted, The Important Places sticks with you as it unveils the breath of life right before your very eyes.
Four men, 16 wild mustangs and a donkey set off on a 5000 kilometer journey across the American West from Mexico to Canada in this rewarding cowboy odyssey.
Unbranded was the fourth featured film of the night shown to me at the BANFF Mountain Film Festival in St. Louis. Winning the People Choice Award and seeing reasons why, Unbranded was a total delight in this man vs. horse drama. Clocking in a 45 minutes, director Phillip Baribeau tells the spirited true story of adventure, whiskey, tragedy and the bonds of friendship in the American West.
Beautifully shot and emotionally satisfying, Unbranded was definitely a highlight of the night. The scenery is gorgeously shot throughout as is echoes the mythology of the American West. This is a film for those who dream of living free as it captivates the heart. Unbranded is a gripping story of a bold adventure waiting for its viewers to join.
Inspirational and heartwarming, Operation Moffat focuses on the adventurous life of Britain’s first female mountain guide Gwen Moffat.
This was my third visual treat of the night at the BANFF Mountain Film Festival in St. Louis. Clocking in at 20 minutes, Operation Moffat is inspirational and witty, showing us the colorful climbing life of Gwen Moffat. Writer Claire Carter and Filmmaker Jen Randall scramble, swim and even barefoot climb through Gwen’s landscapes in the United Kingdom. Trying to grapple Moffat’s preference for mountains over people, Carter and Randall find the hidden secret of what makes Moffat so happy in life. Operation Moffat is a visual treat about adventure, wilderness and the pursuit of happiness through the eyes of England’s most legendary climber.
Living Rivers – Surf, shows us athlete Kevin Benhardt emerging into a new sport river surfing.
This was my second film of the night at the BANFF Mountain Film Festival in St. Louis. It’s a unique story shown through visuals of athlete Kevin Benhardt and his connection to the river. Living Rivers – Surf reveals to the audience a quick glance that some of the world's strangest new sports out there. Clocking in at 3 minutes, Benhardt demonstrates his passion with surfing and the river in the beautiful lands of Montana. Produced by Max Lowe Media, Living Rivers – Surf is a dazzling tale of what makes a surfer a surfer.
Clocking in at 8 minutes, Builder tells the quick story of trail building through the eyes of riders.
Starting off on my first ever experience with BANFF Mountain Film Festival here in St. Louis, I had the treat of being introduced to some of sport’s most creative builders. Produced by Pinkbike Company and director by Scott Secco, Builder tells the quick story of trail building through the eyes of riders. The audience even witness a 12-year-old boy demonstrating first hand the awe of sport biking. Nicely filmed and choreographed, Builder zips through the wooded trails leaving the audience eager for more.
A penultimate chapter that's a total slog of a film. Witness before your very eyes, a movie that spends two hours digging its own grave. This poorly made Hollywood cash grab should make you mad as hell and you have the right to be! Cynical and boring, The Divergent Series: Allegiant paddles it's way through a toxic wasteland. The cast is let down as is its audience in this YA mess. While the books hit acclaim the movies have taken a very different path. The first film, Divergent, was just mediocre and same goes for Insurgent.
But none were as awful as Allegiant and don’t even get me started with the CGI. Unfortunately for Divergent, it got caught in the shadows of The Hunger Games’ success and could never overcome it. In my opinion, The Hunger Games series is like night and day compared to this one. They’re better constructed, acted, written, directed and a hell of a lot more exciting. Shailene Woodley deserves a better paycheck because Allegiant fails her every step of the way. Actors Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz and Miles Teller are the same old same old.
Fans of Tris and her team may not be so forgiving after seeing this film. Director Robert Schwentke’s (Insurgent and R.I.P.D.) dystopian follow-up dipped 44% compared with the $52.3 mil. opening haul by previous installment Insurgent. The film only grossed $29 mil. on its opening weekend, showing that its niche audience are loosing interest fast. It’s unfortunate how much this series has plummeted in quality since its debut in 2014. From here things can only get worse, right?
Allegiant is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity.
It’s the sleeper hit of 2016, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a claustrophobic thrill ride that came out of nowhere.
Producer J.J. Abrams' "secret" project (shot it under the title Valencia) has paid off. Talk about a sneak attack, 10 Cloverfield Lane is the sci-fi thriller of the year. Bad Robot kept this movie under wraps to shock you senseless, job well done. This semi-sequel to 2008’s found-footage horror show, Cloverfield, is blown completely out of the water by this film. There’s better acting, better thrills and no shaky cam, thank God! Nevertheless, 10 Cloverfield Lane still has some of the same vibes as the first one.
This psychological thriller will pinch a nerve and shatter your conscious. The outstanding cast consisting of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr. and John Goodman all excel the powerhouse for the film. Winstead is killer in the role of Michelle, a young woman who finds herself locked up in a cellar after a terrible accident. While, Goodman, a doomsday prepper, fuels the film with mystery and despair. Howard (Goodman) insists that he saved Michelle’s life and that the world outside is uninhabitable following an apocalyptic catastrophe. So, did Howard save her or kidnap her? I won't tell.
Spoilers are a bitch, so I’ll let you check out the film’s surprises on your own. It's a grand directorial debut for Dan Trachtenberg as he crafts the film with style and paranoia. Scriptwriters, Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle (director of Whiplash), energize the script by keeping the audience guessing around every corner. You’ll be on the edge of your seat from beginning until end. The pulsating score along with the excellent performances are just a few elements that made this film great. All in all, 10 Cloverfield Lane kicks ass and is a riveting piece of filmmaking. I can’t wait for 11 Cloverfield Lane to arrive.
10 Cloverfield Lane is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language.
Hello, My Name Is Doris is this generation’s Harold and Maude (1971); filled with the warm and funny performances of Sally Field and Max Greenfield.
Sally Field elevates the film with heart and soul. Hello, My Name Is Doris is a quirk indie dramedy that shows us the story about a sixty something woman (Field) in love with her thirty something co-worker (Greenfield). It’s a pleasurable treat on characters and life even with some familiar faults. Field and Greenfield’s chemistry is spot-on as director Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer) grapples with the romantic character study.
When Doris Miller meets John Fremont, her company's hip new art director, sparks fly-at least for Doris. Doris fantasizes about John day-to-day, trying desperately to gain his attention. Doris is also going through a rough patch as she lives in a cluttered house she shared with her late mother. Doris' only hope is to be guided by her friend Roz (a sassy Tyne Daly) and Roz’s 13-year-old granddaughter, Sally (Natasha Lyonne). They set her up with the social media life as she tracks down John to understand more of his personality.
While there are stereotypical traits of the indie genre, Field and Greenfield’s chemistry is enough to overpower them. Hello, My Name Is Doris is a sweet picture enhanced by one of Hollywood’s most talented ladies, Sally Field. She has cherished the big screen in films like Smokey and the Bandit, Norma Rae, Places in the Heart, Steel Magnolias, Mrs. Doubtfire, Forrest Gump and Lincoln. Field’s continues her reign in Hello, My Name Is Doris, it’s a total delight.
Hello, My Name Is Doris is rated R (Restricted) For language.
Beautifully animated and brilliantly well-rounded; Zootopia shares an important message on stereotypes and prejudice. It’s one of the best animated films of the year and its only March!
Filled with pop culture references (The Godfather, Chinatown, L.A. Confidential and Shakira) and an inclusive message that's as rich as it is timely; Zootopia came prepared to party hard in 2016. Both kids and adults will love it! Disney didn’t hold back as they scrap the marshmallow fluff and go straight to the point. The heart and soul of Zootopia is in its characters and story, while the animation beautifully backs its podium.
In todays day and age, we need more films like Zootopia that break down the walls of stereotypes and fill it with community and love. The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is an animal city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like Sahara Square and Tundratown. The city is a melting pot where animals from every environment live together in harmony big or small. “You can be anything,” is one of the overall ideas this film stresses. And when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voiced by a wonderful Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn't so easy.
Judy is smart, spunky and determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a missing animal case. While on the case, she partners with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voiced by a terrific Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery. Nick’s design is heavily based on Disney's Robin Hood (1973), which is also a fox. The bracing color and rich design will engulf the little ones for 108 minutes straight no complaints.
Adults will cheer at The Godfather scene and laugh hysterically at the sloth scene. This is one of best animated films I’ve seen from Disney in a long time. It’s better than Big Hero 6, better than Frozen, better than Wreck-It Ralph and even better than Tangled. Zany with sumptuous state-of-the-art animation, Zootopia delivers an exciting treat for all ages. It stays fast and funny, never missing a beat.
So let’s break down the walls and fill them with compassion and harmony. Zootopia is a film about community, telling its sophisticated story with style and pazazz. It’s only March and Zootopia is already the best film of 2016 thus far. It receives 5 out of 5 stars! Cheers to our heroines, Judy and Nick, who guide us through the heart of their city. “You can be anything” is a message that rings so true and vibrant in our world today.
Zootopia is rated PG (Parental Guidance). For some thematic elements, rude humor and action.
This sequel, London Has Fallen, mixes action clichés with xenophobia and turns them into a basic-cable nightmare.
A junk action sequel that recycles its predecessor and the only difference is the location. Let me explain, in 2013's Olympus Has Fallen, a North Korean paramilitary block invades the White House to capture the President (Aaron Eckhart). Now, it’s up to one brave secret service agent named Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) who can save the day. Spoiler alert … he does.
Fast-forward to present, London Has Fallen, a Pakistani terrorist block invades London to blow up a meeting of world leaders including the American President (Eckhart, yet again). Now, it’s up to one brave secret service agent named Mike Banning (Gerard Butler, again) who can save the day yet again. Spoiler alert … he does. Ugh! It’s the same cliché story only to trap its talented cast (Butler, Eckhart and Morgan Freeman) into limbo.
This conned filmmaking hustles its audience into thinking they’re in for a show, but in reality it’s just a mid-1990s basic-cable nightmare. Even worse is that director Babak Najafi (Easy Money: Hard to Kill) fills the film with Islamophobia. Another stereotype our world doesn't need right now. This toxic phobia will cloud the minds of its followers turning them into zombie bigots. Has the computer-generated London crumbles so does your mind. Next stop Tokyo? A.K.A. Tokyo Has Fallen, coming Spring of 2019.
London Has Fallen is rated R (Restricted). For strong violence and language throughout.
Nothing left besides remains and decaying mummies; Gods of Egypt gets lost in its budget and fails to deliver anything worth satisfactory.
$140 million wasted on bloated CGI and a brain dead plot. This film is so awful its hilarious, but that’s only the half of it. Gods of Egypt finds actor Gerard Butler lost in despair. Director Alex Proyas (The Crow, I, Robot and Knowing) is at his lowest point in directing today. Where The Crow was exceptionally dark and well executed, here Gods of Egypt fails to live up to any reality worth seeing. Each of his films have gotten progressive worse as the years have dragged go on, leaving us with the worst film of 2016 thus far.
Filled with cheeseball computer-generated effects, there’s zero epic in the title nor the plot. Mortal hero Bek (Brenton Thwaites) teams with the god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in an alliance against Set (Butler), plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. A.K.A. two gods are fighting. Botched with FX effects and digital monsters, Gods of Egypt is a film for 40-year-old men living in their mom’s basement. Yikes! It receives zero stars and is the worst film of 2016 to-date. Sorry actors, it’s my job to do the mocking.
Gods of Egypt is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For fantasy violence and action, and some sexuality.
Austen's classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England are collided with zombies … let that one sink in.
There’s not much to say about Pride, Prejudice and Zombies besides the fact that the title explains itself. It's England, lovers and zombies and that’s about it. When the zombie outbreak takes hold of the land, the two upper class prejudices must join forces on the battlefield and take out the dead. Yes, it’s prosperous and rather silly from beginning until end. There’s a romantic love story meshed with decaying bodies throughout.
A fun Valentines treat? Meh, I’d say go to Deadpool or bing The Walking Dead instead. Nevertheless, PPZ hits some exciting fight scenes throughout the madness of the Victorian period. Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth and Matt Smith all take a slice at the dead. Yes, there were some fun moments out of its premise, but none enough to satisfy fans of the original story nor fans of the zombie age. In the end, PPZ ends up being a PG-13 bloody funeral.
PPZ is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For zombie violence and action, and brief suggestive material.
Bravura, raunchy and gleefully profane; Deadpool and his smart ass stay ahead of the game the entire ride.
“You're probably thinking ‘This is a superhero movie, but that guy in the suit just turned that other guy into a fucking kebab.’ Surprise, this is a different kind of superhero story.” This is Deadpool, a new wave of anti-superhero. Mr. Pool is like no other superhero film you’ve seen before and it’s all thanks to a bravura performance from Ryan Reynolds. Man, I never thought I’d say that? Reynolds engulfs the trashy class of Mr. Pool and gives one of his best performances I’ve ever seen from him on the big screen.
Since, the decline of the X-Men films from The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Deadpool has be in some serious need of a reboot and revival for his character. Then, came a fresh new trilogy from director's Bryan Singer and Matthew Vaughn who gave us First Class, Days of Future Past and this summer's anticipated blockbuster, Apocalypse. Days of Future Past was a forgiveness film to die-hard fans that gave the series a clean slate to start over. Green-lighting Deadpool to revive his character back to his adult comic book roots. Director T.J. Miller spares no punches and catapults Mr. Pool to a hard-R adult superhero extravaganza.
Breaking multiple records at the box office thanks to its terrific advertising team, Deadpool is a total hit and it came out of nowhere. It has blood, violence, language and nudity. Prudes and conservatives will cringe, but die-hard fans and open minded non-fans alike will have a total blast. The film tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson (Reynolds), who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers. This forms into an alter ego known as Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life A.K.A. Francis (a stern Ed Skrein).
Some of the best scenes in the film are when Deadpool and his twisted sense of humor break the fourth-wall multiple times throughout. Lines like: “McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing.” Or “A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That's like, sixteen walls.” Backed by his two faithful semi-companions, Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (a terrific Brianna Hildebrand), Deadpool and his X-Men duo take down the bad guys.
Hopefully, this is a righteous path for more R-rated superhero films to follow. Yes, in the past we’ve had them before (Watchmen, Dredd and Blade trilogy), but none of them have had the successful chemistry as Mr. Pool as had. So, “From the studio that inexplicably sewed his fucking mouth shut the first time comes five-time Academy Award viewer, Ryan Reynolds in an eHarmony date with destiny. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ... me! Deadpool.” It’s a bloody good time!
Deadpool is rated R (Restricted). For strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.