Nick’s Picks – July 1, 2015

Spy

SPY

In this surprisingly funny spy caper film, Melissa McCarthy is back to her best comedic form that was missing from her last film, “Tammy”. Reunited with writer/director Paul Feig who cast her in the hilarious film “Bridesmaid” and paired her with Sandra Bullock in “The Heat”, Melissa takes us on a thrilling ride of car chases, undercover shenanigans and double agent trickery, unleashing toxic barbs that will have you rolling in the theater aisles.

McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a mousy, intelligent CIA desk jockey whose job is to be the eyes and ears of field agent, Bradley Fine (Jude Law) while crushing on him. The supporting cast is top notch and the “behind the scenes” of a spy agency is revealed more than what we’re accustomed to seeing in the James Bond films. Knowing this keep you glued to the screen as you watch Susan transform from an ugly duckling into a glamorous super spy. The comedy in seeing how she handles her undercover identities as an unattractive cat enthusiast and a frazzled single mom then transforming into a classy, elegant espionage operative would seem implausible if it wasn’t for McCarthy’s comedic talents. Displaying relentless fierceness by going rogue and off book of her assignment to “observe and report”, Susan breaks all the rules and without thinking risks the undercover operation because she wants payback against the Bulgarian arms dealer (Rose Byrne) who killed her beloved Mr. Fine.

This is one spy movie that is packed with a lot of action and punch for punch matches it with laughter from the entire supporting cast as well as McCarthy. Hilarity ensues in high speed car and plane chases, knife and gun fights and a few celebrity sightings that make the unpredictable and unbelievable escapades an exciting joy ride.

Jason Statham pokes fun at himself in his over-the-top agent persona that propels his typical macho roles to a funny new level. Think “Transporter” plus the arrogance of Donald Trump times ten.

Yes, at times it’s hard to imagine McCarthy in this role, but she makes it her own and by using quick thinking and wit as her defense, whether logical or illogical, you’d definitely send her on your next undercover assignment.

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Jude Law and Allison Janney
Director: Paul Feig
Company: 20th Century Fox
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: R (strong language, some violence, and some sexual content)
Grade: A

Dovekeepers Get Hard Janelle Morrison Story

FREE DVD GIVEAWAY

We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at
winning a free copy of Get Hard, The Dovekeepers or A Second Chance: The Janelle Morrison Story, it is really easy! All you have to do is send me an email at HoustonMovieGuy@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing. Best of luck!

GET HARD – Warner

When millionaire hedge fund manager James (Will Ferrell) is nailed for fraud and bound for San Quentin, the judge gives him 30 days to get his affairs in order. Desperate, he turns to Darnell (Kevin Hart) to prep him for a life behind bars.

THE DOVEKEEPERS – Paramount

The Dovekeepers is based on the true events at Masada in 70 C.E. After being forced out of their home in Jerusalem by the Romans, 900 Jews were ensconced in a fortress at Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. Besieged at Masada, the Jews held out for months against the vast Roman armies. The series will recount the events from the perspective of a few extraordinary women who arrive at Masada with unique backstories, but a common bond for survival. Additionally, these women, who work together daily as dovekeepers, are all concealing substantial secrets.

A SECOND CHANCE: The Janelle Morrison Story – Factory Film Studio

A Second Chance is the story of Janelle Morrison, a professional long distance triathlete who suffered a near-fatal car crash and her battle to race again. Nearly every major bone in Janelle’s body was broken and her organs pushed into her chest, forcing doctors to place her in a medically induced coma. As Morrison slept, doctors worked hard to reassemble her broken body, questioning whether she would ever walk again. Janelle’s recovery was nothing short of miraculous, astonishing doctors every step of the way. Within three months she was walking without crutches and was able to run a few weeks later. She returned to training camps with her coach 7 months into her recovery and returned to professional racing less than two years from her horrific accident. This inspiring story follows Janelle’s incredible road to recovery, from wheelchair to podium, giving audiences a unique insight to what it takes to chase a dream.

GANGLAND UNDERCOVER: Season One – Lionsgate

A gritty fact based drama series that tells the astonishing story of a drug dealer who was arrested then given a desperate ultimatum: serve over 20 years in jail, or go undercover inside one of America’s most notorious biker gangs. Charles Falco opted to go undercover and for the next three years he led a crazy and dangerous life infiltrating the Vagos motorcycle gang, collecting evidence while faced with the constant risk that he might be discovered and become one of the gang’s victims. Each episode unfolds a different step in Falco’s covert investigation into their illegal activities, while across the series, the drama builds as carefully constructed character arcs unfold bitter personal rivalries. These tensions finally erupt when the gang’s Vice President is killed in a motorcycle accident, unleashing a chain of unforeseen consequences that ultimately tear the gang apart. With suspicions about Falco’s true identity mounting, the operation threatens to unravel, leading to a tense and dramatic conclusion.

LAST KNIGHTS – Lionsgate

Clive Owen delivers an electrifying performance as a fallen warrior who rises against a corrupt and sadistic ruler to avenge his dishonored master, Morgan Freeman in this epic, sword-clashing adventure of loyalty, honor, and vengeance.

WHILE WE’RE YOUNG – Lionsgate

Noah Boaumbach’s comedy While We’re Young stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as Josh and Cornelia, a childless New York married couple in their mid-forties. As their other friends all start having children, the couple gravitates toward a young hipster couple named Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried). He’s an aspiring documentary filmmaker, a vocation Josh already has. Soon the older couple begins enjoying the energy they feel haging out with the younger generation, but eventually Josh begins to suspect his new best friend might not be as straightforward and trustworthy as he thought.

FROG KINGDOM – Lionsgate

When the Frog King announces that the winner of the Froglympics will marry his daughter, Princess Froglegs, she runs away, and begins training as a commoner. She is determined to win both the games and her freedom. Meanwhile, the villainous snake Serpent has ideas of his own: to ruin the Froglympics and take over the kingdom. With a little luck – and a little help from their friend, the trusty Sidekick – Freddy and Princess Froglegs must save Frog Kingdom from the wicked clutches of Serpent.

ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX – Blue Underground

The year is 2000 and the Bronx has been reduced to a decaying, desolate wasteland infested with swarms of vicious street gangs and outcast scavengers. When an imperialistic mega-corporation plans to rebuild the doomed No Man’s Land into a perfect metropolis, they unleash their secret army of sadistic death squads to wipe out the few remaining inhabitants. But beneath the twisted rubble, fierce legions of resistance fighters arm themselves for the final onslaught ready to die for their homeland – and ready to kill for it.

1990: The Bronx Warriors – Blue Underground

It’s 1990 and the Bronx has officially been declared a ‘No Man’s Land.’ The authorities have given up all attempts to restore law and order. When a beautiful young woman runs away from Manhattan into this wasteland of motorcycle gangs and marauding warriors, her corrupt father sends a ruthless mercenary to bring her back at all costs. But gang leader Trash has other plans, uniting the rival outlaws to wage an all-out guerilla war against their corporate oppressors.

THE NEW BARBARIANS – Blue Underground

It’s the year 2019 and the world has been devastated by nuclear war. The few survivors try desperately to reach a distant land, only to be thwarted by brutal attacks from the fierce Templars and their leader One. When solitary warrior Scorpion rescues the beautiful Alma from the clutches of the Templars, they join Nadir and a ragtag group of survivors in a furious fight to the finish against the ruthless exterminators.

OF GIRLS AND HORSES – Wolfe Video

Featuring a quartet of talented stars, this under-stated drama from prolific lesbian filmmaker Monika Treut deftly unfolds the coming-of-age of rebellious teen Alex (popular German TV star, Ceci Chuh). Sent away by her mother to a horse farm in the country, Alex keeps up her bad girl ways but is gradually enamored with the horses and with the resident lesbian riding instructor, Nina (the stunning Vanida Karun) who is taking a break from her partner Christine (the equally beautiful Ellen Grell). As Nina maintains her boundaries and tries to help Alex find purpose and maturity at this crucial moment in her life, the arrival of privileged young equestrian Kathy (Alissa Wilms) presents new challenges and opportunities for Alex as she grapples with her longing for love and connection. A beautiful drama.

SOLDATE JEANNETTE – Indiepix Films

Austrian director Daniel Hoesl takes the reins for this eccentric comedy with a satirical edge. Fanni (Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg) is a middle-aged Viennese woman with a familial scandal in her past that is never fully explained. She develops an utter disregard for all material comforts – one so strong that even after her landlords stop by and indicate same-day eviction, she scarcely takes notice. After they forcibly lock her out of her building, she steals an automobile from a dealership, retreats to the woods, burns all of her money in a bonfire, and eventually takes up work on a livestock and potato farm. Meanwhile, another employee of the farm, Anna (Christina Reichsthaler) grows equally disenchanted with the grunge of farm chores and the grotesque come-ons of a male co-worker, who has her routinely submit to him for sexual trysts; she also begins to long for the comforts of urban living, such as money and fine dresses. In the days that follow, these two women from radically different walks of life develop an unlikely bond and begin to change places with one another.

DANNY COLLINS – Universal

Al Pacino stars as aging 1970s rocker Danny Collins, who can’t give up his hard-living ways. But when his manager (Christopher Plummer) uncovers a 40 year-old undelivered letter written to him by John Lennon, he decides to change course and embarks on a heartfelt journey to rediscover his family, find true love and begin a second act.

A PLACE TO CALL HOME – Acorn/RLJ

As the smash hit Australian drama returns, momentous changes await indomitable nurse Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp) and the wealthy Bligh family. Sarah and dashing George Bligh (Brett Climo) contend with the machinations of his mother (Noni Hazlehurst, Little Fish) to drive them apart. George’s daughter, Anna (Abby Earl), is determined to prove her love for the unsuitable Gino (Aldo Mignone), while son James (David Berry, Home and Away) and his pregnant wife, Olivia (Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood), face fierce challenges to their marriage. Set in the 1950s, A Place to Call Home tackles issues of social class and sexuality with insight and intrigue. Universally praised by critics and adored by audiences, this captivatingly filmed, deeply romantic drama of immense intelligence distinguished by a uniformly superb cast is sure to win your heart.

LOVEJOY: Series 6 – Acorn/RLJ

In the sixth and final series of Lovejoy, Ian McShane’s raffish antiques dealer may have finally found some professional and personal stability. But if the cutthroat, underhanded world of antiques has taught him anything, it’s that looks can be very deceiving. Spirited auctioneer Charlotte Cavendish (Caroline Langrishe) finally starts to take Lovejoy’s romantic overtures seriously. But doing so may put her in grave danger when a vengeful murderer comes to settle a score with Lovejoy. Tinker (Dudley Sutton) and Beth (Diane Parish) aren’t immune to the trade’s drawbacks either, as they are constantly at odds with thieves, the police, and each other. Thanks to Lovejoy’s years of experience, he stands to benefit from some of the rarest, most valuable antiques he’s ever encountered. But to do so, he’ll have to face a lifetime’s worth of enemies at every turn.

THE GUNMAN – Universal

Sean Penn stars as a former Special Forces soldier and military contractor suffering from PTSD. He tries to reconnect with his long time love, but first must go on the run from London to Barcelona and across Europe in order to clear his name. The film also stars Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance and Jasmine Trinca.

THE DECLINE OF THE WESTERN CIVILIZATION COLLECTION – Shout Factory!

Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline Of Western Civilization was perceived as shocking and outrageous at the time of its original release in 1981 and its two follow-up films were no less extraordinary and revealing. Today, museums and educational institutions around the world present them as a historically significant works of art. Featuring some of the most influential and innovative musicians and groups of all time: Germs, Black Flag, X, Fear, Circle Jerks, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne, these riveting, unflinching and hard-core films adeptly captured the spirit of a major cultural phenomenon. Now for the first time, all three films are available in one deluxe box set. And while all three films have been restored in high definition, they are in keeping with the feel of the rebellious times in which they were shot. Here’s an immersive tour of in-your-face filmmaking and music.

PAUL BLART MALL COP 2 – Sony

After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart (Kevin James) has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday, and when duty calls, Blart answers.

JUSTIFIED: Final Season – Sony

From creator Graham Yost, each episode of the edge-of-your seat final season propels U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and criminal mastermind Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) ever closer to their ultimate confrontation. While Raylan is torn by just how far he will go to bring Boyd down – including using Boyd’s fiancée Ava (Joelle Carter) as his secret informant – both Raylan and Boyd must now contend with the new incendiary force in town (Sam Elliott), a drug lord intent on building his own pot empire in Harlan. Based on the short story “Fire in the Hole” by Elmore Leonard, the Peabody Award-winning drama now takes its place in the pantheon of acclaimed drama series.

TENTACLES & REPTILICUS – Scream Factory

TENTACLES – It’s angry. It’s hungry. It’s extremely well-armed and it’s descending on a small seaside town to sample the local cuisine! John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins and Henry Fonda do all they can to keep a giant marine menace from turning their sleepy village into a one-stop snack-shop in this fast-paced thriller! Directed by cult director/producer Ovidio G. Assonitis (Beyond The Door, The Visitor, The Curse), Tentacles is a menacing jolt-a-thon that’ll grip you with relentless terror and never let go!
REPTILICUS – Discover the true meaning of survival of the fittest, as a terrifying creature from the past brings the future to its knees! Packed with thrills, chills and prehistoric spills, Reptilicus proves that “if cats have nine lives, monsters have even more”, (Citizen News)! Directed by Sidney W. Pink (writer and producer of the cult films The Angry Red Planet, Pyro), Reptilicus is a spine-chilling creature feature about a cold-blooded 90-foot killer whose time has come… again!

HART TO HART: Final Season – Shout Factory!

Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers return as your favorite glamorous gumshoes Jonathan and Jennifer Hart in the fifth and final season of Hart to Hart! With their loyal friend and servant Max (Lionel Stander) by their side once again, the Harts are ready to take you to new heights of intrigue and elegance in these final twenty-two episodes of their hit series. Created by Sidney Sheldon, both a bestselling novelist and hit television producer, Hart to Hart is a smart and sexy detective drama featuring sparkling and witty dialogue, gorgeous costumes, and jet-setting thrills.

MISS HILL: MAKING DANCE MATTER – First Run Features

Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter reveals the little known story of Martha Hill, a visionary who fought against great odds to make contemporary and modern dance a legitimate art form in America. In a career spanning most of the 20th century, Hill became a behind the scenes leader of the field and the founding director of The Juilliard Dance Division. Stylistically weaving together over 90 years of archival footage, the film is a celebration of dance and an examination of the passion required to keep it alive.

KNOW HOW – First Run Features

A film written and acted by foster care youth ripped from the stories of their lives. Five youth’s worlds interweave as they confront loss, heartbreak, and come of age in this tale about transience and perseverance. Addie struggles to graduate from high school while her best friend Marie loses her grandmother. Megan copes with being taken from her abusive family and faces the harsh reality of living in a residential treatment center. All the while Eva works to be mother to her sister while their father falls deeper into a crack addiction. Finally, there’s Austin who’s living on the street with his brother; barely able to feed himself. All of them must decide to survive or else fall victim to a broken system.

ME WITHOUT YOU – First Run Features

Anna Friel and Michelle Williams star as best friends growing up in the London suburbs in the 1970s. Spanning three decades, the film begins when Marina (Friel) and Holly (Williams) form an unlikely bond as teenagers: free-spirited and wild, Marina is vastly different in temperament from the serious, bookish Holly. Their disparate personalities complement each other, allowing the girls to build a defense against the boring suburbs while leading them to define themselves in relation to each other. Over the ensuing decades, Marina and Holly’s friendship endures hard drugs, random sex, manipulation, betrayal, and lots of other saucy stuff, including Kyle MacLachlan as a very influential professor.

THE ROOSEVELTS: An Intimate History – PBS

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of the most prominent and influential family in American politics. It is the first time in a major documentary television series that their individual stories have been interwoven into a single narrative. This seven-part, 14 hour film follows the Roosevelts for more than a century, from Theodore s birth in 1858 to Eleanor s death in 1962. Over the course of those years, Theodore would become the 26th President of the United States and his beloved niece, Eleanor, would marry his fifth cousin, Franklin, who became the 32nd President of the United States. Together, these three individuals not only redefined the relationship Americans had with their government and with each other, but also redefined the role of the United States within the wider world. The series encompasses the history the Roosevelts helped to shape: the creation of National Parks, the digging of the Panama Canal, the passage of innovative New Deal programs, the defeat of Hitler, and the postwar struggles for civil rights at home and human rights abroad. It is also an intimate human story about love, betrayal, family loyalty, personal courage, and the conquest of fear.

SHE MUST BE SEEING THINGS – First Run Features

Agatha is an international lawyer, Jo a filmmaker. The two women are lovers. While Jo is on the road showing her films, Agatha discovers and reads her diaries. Problems ensue as Agatha’s transgression leads to jealousy and a spiraling cycle of sexual obsession. Sheila Dabney and Lois Weaver star in this landmark lesbian classic. Digitally restored and available for the first time on DVD, She Must Be Seeing Things is revelatory for its representation of a new lesbian desire, a politicized eroticism that mirrored the burgeoning butch/femme scene at the time. The film was attacked by anti-porn feminists as it arrived at the height of the feminist ‘Sex Wars.’

All synopsis’ used with permission.

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