Sarah Knight Adamson and Jessica Aymond are both Members of the Chicago Film Critics Association

Chicago Film Critics Association

Film Rating Code:

★★★★ Outstanding Film- Run, don’t walk to the nearest movie theater.

★★★½ Excellent Film- Highly recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★★ Very Good Film- Recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★½ Good Film- Wait for the DVD, the film is still worth viewing.

★★ Wait for the DVD and proceed with caution.

★½ Wait for the DVD the film has major problems in most areas.

★ Can’t recommend the film.

Latest Reviews

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And So It Goes (PG-13) ★★½

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in "And So It Goes." Photo credit: Clarius Entertainment

Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in “And So It Goes.” Photo Credit: Clarius Entertainment

Retirement-Age Romance

With the lackadaisical title, And So It Goes, one does not necessarily anticipate intense action or a risk-taking film. While very basic, it perfectly describes the latest rom-com from actor, writer, director and producer, Rob Reiner (A Few Good Men, 1992, The Bucket List, 2007).

It’s hard to believe that the two legendary actors in this film, Michael Douglas (Last Vegas, 2013) and Diane Keaton (The Big Wedding, 2013) have never worked together. For Reiner and Douglas, however, this represents a reunion from their last collaboration in the 1995 film, American President.

The storyline centers on a dubious mid-sixties pair who are both widowed and keep themselves busy just to get through each day. Oren Little (Douglas) is a cold, self-centered and obnoxious realtor. Leah (Keaton) is a bighearted, slightly flakey, ‘struggling’ lounge singer who lives next door to Oren at the Little Shangri-La, a waterfront apartment building, of which he owns (hence the name). They live below other tenants who have rowdy young boys who are always running around the front yard, which drives Oren up a wall. Oren states he will move out of his apartment as soon as he sells his grand Connecticut estate where he raised his former drug-addict of a son, Luke (Scott Shepherd, Side Effects, 2013). He wants to retire away from it all and escape the life he knew best in Connecticut.

One day, Luke unexpectedly drops off his 10 year-old daughter, Sarah (Sterling Jerins, The Conjuring, 2013), of whom Oren never even knew existed. Although he is now clean, Luke explains he has to do six months behind bars for something completely unrelated to substance abuse and needs Oren to take care of Sarah. Sarah’s mom fled after giving birth and is still a heroin addict. Even though they are estranged and Oren flat out told Luke that he wouldn’t be able to watch after her, Luke hugs Sarah goodbye before driving off to do his time. Of course, Leah sees all this transpire and immediately flies out of her front door in typical flustered-Keaton style. In complete disbelief that A) Oren didn’t know he had a granddaughter and B) That he refused to watch her, Leah immediately takes Sarah under her wing. After a few tiffs between Oren and Leah about the wellbeing of Sarah, Oren starts to get a little sense knocked into him and gradually lets his guard down. He not only begins to open his heart to Sarah, but yes, you guessed it, Leah too.

The film starts off slow with some scenes that try too hard to make audiences laugh and fall short. After the first 20 minutes or so, it begins to pick up. One scene that is actually funny is when Oren is suddenly forced to deliver his neighbor’s baby on his very own living room couch. Although Oren would move upon selling his estate, there wasn’t enough of an engaging conflict in the story to fully latch on to a character and empathize. Perhaps this easygoing storyline is more appealing to seniors. The premise of unexpectedly finding love at a later point in life may also connect more with an older demographic.

Douglas plays the (initially) heartless Oren Frances with a natural ease. Keaton plays the kind, modest, worrywart who manages to get in her customary share of cries and moans throughout the movie. Frances Sternhagen (Julie & Julia, 2009), who plays Oren’s real estate partner Claire, is quite a hoot. She is as crass and blunt as they come and it only makes it even more hilarious coming from an 80 year old woman. Frankie Valli has a cameo as a club owner who takes a chance on Leah’s singing (Keaton does sing in the film). The Douglas and Keaton duo is what will attract audiences to take a chance on the film, but the question will be if they can keep them watching for 94 minutes.

Bottom Line? And So It Goes certainly isn’t groundbreaking. It would be the perfect example of a movie you’d watch on the airplane to pass the time, and once would be enough. The underserved retired audience would likely consider it a crowd pleaser.

Cast: Diane Keaton (Leah), Michael Douglas (Oren Little), Sterling Jerins (Sarah), Frances Sternhagen (Claire), Frankie Valli (Club Owner), John Scott Shepherd (Luke)

Credits: Directed by Rob Reiner; Written by Mark Andrus

Studio: Clarius Entertainment

Run Time: 94 minutes

Jessica Aymond © July 25, 2014

Posted in Movies 2014, Reviews

Lucy (R) ★★★½

Scarlett Johansson stars in "Lucy." Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Scarlett Johansson stars in “Lucy.” Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Scar Jo Goes Out of Her Damsel Comfort Zone

Scarlett Johansson is one of Hollywood’s most well-known blonde vixens who most often plays the role of the seductress like in Her (2013), Don Jon (2013), Hitchcock (2012) and Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008), to name a few.

When I first saw the trailer for the action, sci-fi movie, Lucy, initially, I could not take it seriously; Scar Jo getting beat up, assassinating countless people and playing a superhuman? It just didn’t seem right. Although she’s starred in Marvel Comic films, Johansson played more of a seductress than anything.

I must confess, my initial instincts were wrong. Johansson steps it up as the hyper intelligent Lucy. After La Femme Nikita (1991) with Anne Parillaud and The Fifth Element (1997) with Milla Jovovich, acclaimed French writer/director Luc Besson is back with another female action hero in Lucy.

Lucy is an American student studying in Taipei, Taiwan who accidentally gets herself caught in a drug trafficking deal through her ex-boyfriend of one week (Pilou Askaek, Sex Drugs & Taxation, 2013). Within minutes, she’s captured and held captive by the dark side with Mr. Jeng (Min-sik Choi, New World, 2013) and his entourage. After being tortured and drugged, Lucy is forced to transport lethal substances, and not in a carrying case. She wakes up the next morning disoriented with severe abdominal pain and realizes she’s been cut open. A chemical pouch was inserted into her body for ‘safe’ transport. After a violent encounter with her cell guard, the pouch is punctured and the chemicals begin seeping into her bloodstream. Lucy suffers an extremely intense seizure-like reaction and immediately resorts to a flight-or-fight mentality.

The new, secret drug, named CPH4, enables Lucy to use more than the average 10 percent of cerebral capacity…and that she does. As the percentage of her cerebral capacity increases exponentially, Lucy is capable of knowing every last memory down to when she was born and tasted her mother’s milk. Lucy can feel gravity, air and vibrations, “I feel everything…except for feelings, fears and desires…” She eventually can stop and even rewind time and has telekinetic abilities as she tosses people around with her mind. She uses theses superhuman capabilities to her advantage to try and kill Mr. Jeng and his mob who are chasing after her to retain the drugs. She also educates researchers like a college professor (Morgan Freeman, Transcendence, 2014) about her condition before the drug kills her.

The film begins with a somewhat cheesy opening in which Johansson narrates while the evolution of the human is progressively depicted – from a gorilla slurping water out of a steady stream to the congested and polluted streets of Taiwan. For the first 10 minutes, scenes jump back and forth between Lucy and her ex Richard talking outside of an office building to animals in the wild. The scenes are supposed to juxtapose each other and foreshadow what’s ahead. Just before Richard tries to scam Lucy into completing his drug drop off for him, the screen jumps to a tiger murdering an antelope and walking away with its latest catch dangling from it’s mouth. A few audience members were laughing, but definitely not the majority. This animal-to-human metaphor is rarely used throughout the remainder of the film. The theme of evolution is understood, but I’m not sure if the comedic comparisons were the route to take, or, if the humor was even intentional in the first place.

Despite the pockets of misplaced comedy and cliché narration, Johansson proves herself in her unlikely ‘girl power’ role as Lucy. Freeman’s character as the intelligent, composed professor is spot on. Choi as the drug lord and Amr Waked (Odysseus, 2013) as the police chief round out the main cast, although their roles are more limited.

The film has a very appropriate run time of an hour and a half. It also utilizes a small cast of main characters which fits the film’s length and scope. Audiences should expect disturbing images and intense violence.

Bottom-Line? Lucy uses the unique and interesting concept about the potential of enhanced cerebral power and takes it to the next level. The film provides enough twists and turns and forces you to use your own brain…even after the credits are rolling.

Cast: Scarlett Johansson (Lucy), Morgan Freeman (Professor Norman), Min-sik Choi (Mr. Jang), Amr Waked (Pierre Del Rio), Pilou Askaek (Richard)

Credits: Directed and written by Luc Besson

Studio: Universal Pictures

Run Time: 89 minutes

Jessica Aymond © July 22, 2014

 

Posted in Movies 2014, Reviews

Tammy (R) ★★½

TAMMY

Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon go on a road trip in ‘Tammy’ Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Click Here to listen to Sarah Knight Adamson’s Hollywood 360 Radio Podcast:

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2014, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

Life Itself (R) ★★★★

roger-ebert

Roger Ebert stars in his own Life Documentary. Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Click Here to listen to Sarah Knight Adamson’s Hollywood 360 Radio Podcast:

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2014, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

22 Jump Street (R) ★★★½

22JS_DOM_FINAL_1SHEET_RVSD

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back and this time they go to college. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures

Click Here to listen to Sarah Knight Adamson’s Hollywood 360 Radio Podcast:

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2014, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

Snowpiercer (R) ★★

Snowpiercer_Radius_key_art

Chris Evans stars in the Sci-Fi/Horror film. Photo Credit: Weinstein

Click Here to listen to Sarah Knight Adamson’s Hollywood 360 Radio Podcast:

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2014, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

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