Nick’s Picks – July 8, 2015

Pitch Perfect 2

PITCH PERFECT 2

Unfortunately this movie is far from being perfect and quite often off pitch. What worked in the first film just doesn’t work as well in this latest installment. So much of the humor and musical rivalry just seems to fall flat. I don’t know whether to blame it on the writer, Kay Cannon (who also wrote the first Pitch Perfect movie) on place the blame on Elizabeth Banks who directs this film.

Much of the humor from the first film is missing. The rivalry between the Barden Bellas and the Treblemakers to win the coveted title was humanely funny as this group of freshmen tried to adjust to college life and find a way to belong by ending up in a acapella group of misfits. In this film the Barden Bellas have their own sorority house, everyone gets along but because there was a wardrobe malfunction when they performed for the President, they are shunned and become pariahs in the world of acapella.

Anna Kendrick reprises her role as Becca but this time she hides from the Bellas that she’s interning at a record company. Everyone from the Bellas is there except for Aubrey, but she makes an appearance later in the film when Chloe feels that the group has lost its mojo and they need to bond again. So off to bonding camp they go. This is equivalent to the final gym scene in the first film. Bringing in Hailee Steinfield to play the misfit newbie, Emily, who so desperately wants to be a Bella because her mother was one is an adorable move and that may pave the way for her to carry the torch in Pitch Perfect 3 or beyond, should Kendrick decide to cut ties, but it’s still not enough to have you singing along.

There are no major surprises or nothing new in this film. The “sing off” is still there, with different songs and a different high-tech location. Everything seems amped up as far as production value, probably because the first film was a big hit, but all the flashiness and international flare doesn’t make up for a tired, bland, tuneless story.

Majority of the first film’s humor came from the acapella officials who are now podcasters regaling tired jokes and informing the Bellas that they have to win the world title in order to regain their top spot. As far as victory laps go we already suspect that they’ll win the world competition but we’re curious as to how they’ll do it and what sort of surprises will the Bellas have for them to come out on top? It was a nice surprise but not the earth shattering, final winning performance that we fell in love with in the first film. Even for all the wrong notes this film strikes, it is still an entertaining musical interlude worth humming along to.

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfield
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Company: Universal Pictures
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (some language, some sexual content)
Grade: C+

 

Stray Cats

FREE DVD GIVEAWAY

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Best of luck!

STRAY CATS: Live at Rockpalast – MIG

Every era has its heroes and every scene has its legends. The 80’s had the Stray Cats and today they are the indisputable icons of neo-rockabilly. When the US trio stormed the top of the charts in their adopted country of England, punk still reigned supreme in the United Kingdom. But Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker brought that certain something that the mo-hawked men also had: a feeling for danger and rebellion. Impressive footage of this time includes two performances in Germany: one in 1981 in Cologne and one in 1983 at the Loreley that were recorded by WDR. These are genuine recordings that make the trio’s sound still accessible today. Both concerts are released here for the first time in the best possible quality and with a superb sound on DVD and CD. The Stray Cats will come to life at home just as they were at their best: young, raw and wild! Brian Setzer works passionately as he struck the strings on the stage of the Cologne Satory Halls. But this guitarist has a desire: he wants to bring Rock n’ Roll back to life. He wants to play his guitar as Eddie Cochran did. No question that he has succeeded – he is still loved for this today. The Stray Cats aren’t only made up of Setzer with his phenomenal guitar playing and his powerful vocals. Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom are responsible for their special sound, too. The influence Stray Cats had on music and fashion is in hindsight undeniable. Would the sound of the 50s still be so popular today if the Stray Cats had not brought it back to life in the 80s? And what would bands such as Duran Duran or Culture Club have carried if the US trio had not established creepers, snake and tigers patterns, or knee-long coats? Today we enjoy classics such as Stray Cat Strut, Runaway Boys, Rumble in Brighton, and Rock This Town like they will never be heard live again with two concert recordings for eternity.

FOR THE EMPEROR – WellGo USA

A disgraced pro baseball player goes to work for a mob-connected loan shark, rising through the ranks of money and power. But when his love interest disappears, he finds himself in a deadly battle of wits against his bloodthirsty mentor.

SLOW WEST – Lionsgate

At the end of the nineteenth century, 16-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas (Michael Fassbender), a mysterious traveler, and hotly pursued by an outlaw along the way.

ABSOLUTION – Lionsgate

When a contract killer (Steven Seagal) encounters a girl on the run from a dangerous, politically connected mob boss (Vinnie Jones) running a human trafficking operation, he is torn between protecting the girl, and remaining loyal to the government agency that hired him.

MAGGIE – Lionsgate

When a deadly zombie virus sweeps the nation, a father will stop at nothing to save his infected daughter in this post-apocalyptic thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin.

’71 – Lionsgate

’71 takes place over a single night in the life of a young British soldier (Jack O’Connell) accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, and increasingly wary of his own comrades, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorientating, alien and deadly landscape.

BARNEY MILLER: Season 8 – Shout Factory!

The detectives of the 12th Precinct work their last shift. An Emmy Award-winning comedy classic comes to an end in Barney Miller: The Final Season. Acclaimed throughout its eight-season run, Barney Miller remains a beloved sitcom to this day for its quirky yet humanistic exploration of the lives and exploits of a police squad in New York’s Greenwich Village. A comedic peek into the world of the American Everyman, Barney Miller’s approach to television comedy is reflected in the many programs that have followed in its wake and taken inspiration from its distinct style and humor. Hal Linden, Max Gail, Ron Glass, Steve Landesberg, Ron Carey, and James Gregory star in this twenty-two episode collection commemorating the final season of a true original. It’s time to close the case and complete your collection.

THE ROAD WITHIN – WellGo USA

Vincent (Robert Sheehan), a young man with Tourette s Syndrome, just lost his mom. As his symptoms get worse, his dad (Robert Patrick), a frustrated politician, sends him to a behavioral clinic run by an unconventional doctor (Kyra Sedgwick). But Vincent made his mom a promise, and with the help of a rebellious anorexic (Zoe Kravitz) and his withdrawn OCD roommate (Dev Patel), the three embark on a life-changing race to the sea that includes car theft, shoplifting, fights, self-discovery, and maybe finding a new way to live.

THE KILLERS – Criterion

Ernest Hemingway’s simple but gripping short tale “The Killers” is a model of economical storytelling. Two directors adapted it into unforgettably virile features: Robert Siodmak (Criss Cross), in a 1946 film that helped define the noir style and launch the acting careers of Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner and Don Siegel, in a brutal 1964 version, starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, and John Cassavetes, that was intended for television but deemed too violent for home audiences and released theatrically instead. The first is poetic and shadowy, the second direct and harsh as daylight, but both get at the heart of Hemingway’s existential classic.

5 FLIGHTS UP – Universal

Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton star in this heartwarming story about a happily married couple, Ruth and Alex Carver, who have decided to cash in on their sought-after Brooklyn apartment. After enlisting the help of Ruth’s niece, real estate agent Lily (Cynthia Nixon), they’re about to embark on a whirlwind weekend they never imagined! As a series of crazy events unfold and offers on the apartment fly, they’ll find their unwavering love tested in surprising ways – and ultimately discover a whole new lease on life!

UNDERDOG KIDS – Anchor Bay

It’s a few weeks before the big karate tournament, and the struggling Mid-City Community Center has just lost their instructor. But when former MMA champ Jimmy The Lightning Bolt Lee returns to the old neighborhood, he reluctantly agrees to train the misfit kids for their match against the undefeated Beverly Hills team. Can a washed-up fighter and a bunch of urban underdogs now teach their opponents and each other about confidence, courage and honor? Mirelly Taylor, Adam Irigoyen, Ryan Potter, Cade Sutton, Patrick Fabian, Tom Arnold and Beau Bridges co-star in this inspiring, action-packed comedy for the whole family.

JOE DIRT – Sony

David Spade plays Joe, whose search for his family has him hittin’ the road and keepin’ it real with every lowlife he meets, including a sweet hottie (Brittany Daniel), a janitor (Christopher Walken), and a psychotic cannibal (Brian Thompson) with whom he has a brief interlude. Through it all, Joe keeps on trucking all the way to L.A., where a shock jock DJ (Dennis Miller) targets Joe as the butt of his show. But Joe’s plucky spirit encourages listeners to cheer him on and help him find a better family than the one he thought he wanted.

KILL ME THREE TIMES – Magnolia

Kill Me Three Times is a darkly comedic thriller from rising star director Kriv Stenders. Simon Pegg plays the cunning assassin, Charlie Wolfe, who discovers he isn’t the only person trying to kill the temptress of a sun-drenched surfing town (Alice Braga). Charlie quickly finds himself at the center of three tales of murder, mayhem, blackmail and revenge.

GERONTOPHILIA – Strand Releasing

18-year-old Lake has a sweet activist girlfriend, but one day discovers he has an unusual attraction for the elderly. Fate conspires to land him a job at a nursing home where he develops a tender relationship with Mr. Peabody. Discovering that the patients are being over-medicated to make them easier to manage, Lake decides to wean Mr. Peabody off this medication and help him escape, resulting in a humorous and heartfelt road trip that strengthens their bond.

THE TREATMENT – Artsploitation Films

The Treatment is an unsettling Belgian murder mystery that gets under your skin and stays there. A nail-biting suspense yarn based on one of a series of best-selling novels by British crime writer Mo Hayder, the film is not an old-fashioned Agatha Christie-type whodunit, but its gritty themes of sexual violence and pedophilia give it a raw, contemporary intensity that places it in the same company as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book and film series. Police inspector Nick Cafmeyer is investigating a case where a mother and father have been bound and beaten, and their young son is missing. An obsessive loner, Cafmeyer discovers that there are other similar cases tragedies where the parents were forced by a psychopath to harm their own children, who then vanish. For the inspector, this triggers memories of his own brother s abduction as a child, and the possibility that he may still be alive somewhere. Grim and wholly engrossing, The Treatment is a thriller with an edge.

COMET – IFC Films

Justin Long and Emmy Rossum are star-crossed lovers whose relationship blooms and unravels over the course of six years in this mysterious, dazzlingly original romance. When a chance encounter brings together the cynical Dell (Long) and the quick-witted Kimberly (Rossum), the stage is set for a tempestuous love affair that unfolds like a puzzle. As the film zigzags back and forth in time from a meteor shower in LA, to an encounter in a Paris hotel room, to a fateful phone call an unforgettable portrait of a relationship emerges. Sumptuously shot and boasting incredible chemistry between the leads, Comet is a one-of-a-kind cosmic love story.

THE PACT 2 – IFC Films

Picking up only a few weeks after the events in the new horror classic The Pact left off, this stunning sequel finds June Abbott (Camilla Luddington) plagued by nightmares of murder so awful that they disturb her waking life. Meanwhile, a copycat of the Judas Killer has been terrorizing her neighborhood, and when the FBI agent assigned to the case informs her of the danger, June is horrified to discover that the actions of this new killer mirror the bloody visions she s been having in her sleep. Determined to pursue her own investigation even while her grip on reality weakens, June sets off on a quest that may lead her to the horrifying truth of the Judas Killer s master plan.

THE LOVERS – IFC Films

Unfolding across multiple centuries and continents, this breathtaking epic time travels to 18th century India and beyond to tell a sweeping saga of treachery, betrayal, and a love that defied all boundaries. Josh Hartnett stars as present-day marine archaeologist Jay Fennel who, following a diving accident while rescuing his wife, is left brain dead. In his comatose dream state, Fennel is transported to India circa 1778, where a young British captain (also played by Hartnett) embarks on a life-threatening mission and a steamy romance with a female warrior (Bollywood superstar Bipasha Basu).

 

 

All film synopsis’ used with permission.

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