Starring: Lily James, Richard Madden and Cate Blanchett
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Walt Disney Pictures / Rated PG
Once in a great while a film lives up to not only the promise to entertain, but to the promise of suspending belief and creating a perfect theater experience for the audience.
Cinderella is that film!
The beauty of the film is in the way it trusts the basic story and doesn’t overwhelm you with major changes and special effects.
Also Cinderella is perfectly cast with Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother, Richard Madden as the handsome prince and “Downton Abbey’s” Lily James as Cinderella.
This is an instant classic! It gets an A and is rated PG.
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Paul Walker
Directed by: James Wan
Universal Home Entertainment / Rated PG-13
“Furious 7,” marks the seventh film in the “Fast and Furious” series and stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and the late Paul Walker.
In this chapter, Dominic and the gang have to deal with the vengeful brother of a mercenary they went up against in the film, played by perennial tough guy Jason Statham.
“Furious 7” is exactly what you’d expect it to be… tough guys, tough chicks, tough cars and tough stunts.
Yet at its core, the film isn’t tough at all. In fact at times “Furious 7” is overly sentimental and sappy.
It seems that after each act of violence, the movie counters with some kind of saccharine-filled moment, hitting you over the head with its message of “family first.”
The violence in the film is comic bookish leaning more toward the “A-Team” than anything else, after all the film is PG-13.
“Furious 7” is also trying to tie up a lot of loose ends as it is figuring out what to do with Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner character. Walker was tragically killed in 2013 as filming began.
“Furious 7” gets a B-.
“Fast and Furious 8” is in pre production right now.
“Love & Mercy”
Starring: Paul Dano, John Cusack and Elizabeth Banks
Directed by: Bill Pohlad
Roadside Attractions / Rated PG-13
The Beach Boys were the biggest musical group in the early 1960’s. But the band’s leader, Brian Wilson, struggles daily with psychological and emotional problems. By the 1980’s, he is a damaged and confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.
The film follows Wilson in two different time periods. Paul Dano plays Wilson in the 1960’s and John Cusack plays the musician in the 1980’s. The film co-stars Elizabeth Banks as Wilson’s future wife, Melinda Ledbetter, and Paul Giamatti as Wilson’s therapist, Eugene Landy.
Paul Dano plays the cherub-faced young Wilson with perfect precision. Dano learned to play piano for the role and it’s his voice you’re hearing in most of the soundtrack.
It is not an easy performance to watch as Dano takes us from a bright and exuberant young man to a man broken emotionally and mentally from the physical and mental abuse his father delivered.
Then the story shifts to the 1980’s where John Cusack as Brian Wilson begins to rebuild his life.
Elizabeth Banks has one of her best performances of her career as the Melinda, who subtly supports her husband without being overbearing.
Love and Mercy is a movie you should not miss. It gets an A and is rated PG-13.