Nick’s Picks – August 5, 2015

Mission Impossible

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The fifth film in a twenty year Mission Impossible film franchise, Rogue Nation does not disappoint as an action packed, thrill ride of epic proportions. It’s what Tom Cruise does best. Rogue Nation delivers as a fun escapist romp with spine tingling action sequences.

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie who last directed Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow” and best known for “The Usual Suspects”, Rogue Nation is everything the title suggests with McQuarrie taking us on a thrilling ride of unbelievable feats that only Ethan Hunt, I mean Tom Cruise can pull off. Much has been made of Cruise’s stunts and how he likes to do his own stunts regardless of how dangerous or “impossible” they may seem. We love this “Tom Cruise” and his signature running warp speed in the hopes of catching someone; the daring racecar and motorcycle stunts; the impossible leaps and airplane stunts only made real because they didn’t use green screen. The stunts alone are worth the ticket price. For five films we’ve witnessed the growth and aging process of Cruise as Ethan Hunt getting better with time, making the unbelievable, believable.

Rogue Nation is mind boggling in that we think we know who the bad guys are. It can’t be the CIA can it? There’s a group of highly skilled operatives called the Syndicate that is going around wreaking havoc by bombing and killing people and creating terroristic plots to further their own agenda. The IMF has been terminated by the CIA so Ethan and his team must go “rogue” and embark on the dangerous mission to stop the Syndicate. Along the way Ethan joins forces with Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) (best known for the White Queen tv series), a disavowed British intelligence agent who can kick ass like James Bond. (I see a female action-star film franchise in the future) Ferguson is the female embodiment of Ethan Hunt. There’s not a romantic element in this film and there hasn’t been one since he married the Katie Holmes lookalike in MI 3. No romance works for Ethan because although I can see Tom doing these incredible stunts, I just can’t fathom him as a romantic, sexual hero.

Humor is sprinkled throughout and with Luther (Ving Rhames) and Benji (Simon Pegg) returning, the gang is back and better than ever, quips and one liners abound. Jeremy Renner returns and plays it safe compared to the stunts he pulled off in Ghost Protocol, yet he brings a subtle humor to the albeit astonishing mix of action and adrenaline rushes. The dialogue is cheesy at times, but with a film jammed full of excitement no one is paying attention to the dialogue.

Rogue Nation is a dazzling spectacle of breathtaking scenes and follows the recipe for a good action movie. If it’s action you want, then this is the film for you. For a more “cerebral” film experience Rogue Nation will have you scratching your head at how in the world at 53 years old can Tom Cruise still do those stunts?

Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Company: Paramount Pictures
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (intense action, violence, partial nudity)
Grade: B+

FREE DVD GIVEAWAY

SNOW GiveawayDora Double GIVEAWAY Dora Doggie GIVEAWAY

We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of Snow Girl, Child 44, Dora the Explorer: Double Length Adventure or Dora & Friends: Doggie Day, 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!

SNOW GIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL – WellGo USA

Directed by Academy Award Winner, Peter Pau, Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal is a big budget romantic fantasy adventure about the legendary hero Zhong Kui, a fabled warrior with mysterious powers who is forced to conquer the realms of Heaven and Hell to save his people and the woman he loves.

CHILD 44 – Lionsgate

A disgraced member of the military police investigates a series of nasty child murders during the Stalin era of the Soviet Union.

DORA THE EXPLORER: Dora’s Double Length Adventures – Nickelodeon

This set follows Dora on her most exciting and educational adventures. These three double-length episodes follow Dora and Boots as they encounter pirates, fairytale characters and a dancing elf. With three DVDs and over four hours of adventures and special features, this is a must-have for any Dora fan.

DORA & FRIENDS: Doggie Day – Nickelodeon

Dora and her friends must complete a mission to help their puppy friend Cusco reunite with his brothers before Doggie Adoption Day in Dora and Friends: Doggie Day!

THE COMEBACK – HBO

The Comeback, which premiered in 2005, was a 13-episode half-hour comedy series starring Lisa Kudrow, and created/executive produced by Michael Patrick King and Kudrow, and executive produced by John Melfi and Dan Bucatinsky, Nine years after its debut, The Comeback returns as a 6-episode limited series, with Lisa Kudrow reprising her Emmy nominated role as Valerie Cherish! Kudrow stars once again as the embattled one-time TV “It Girl” Valerie Cherish. It’s now ten years later, and Valerie has hired a student film crew to shoot footage she hopes will get the attention of Bravo, and put her back on the map. The new episodes of this “very meta” comedy series feature much of the original cast as well as celebrity guests.

BARELY LETHAL – Lionsgate

A teenage special ops agent coveting a normal adolescence fakes her own death and enrolls in a suburban high school. She quickly learns that surviving the treacherous waters of high school is more challenging than international espionage.

I LOVE LUCY: Season 2 – CBS Paramount

Cuban-born bandleader Ricky Ricardo and his wife, Lucy, live in a Brownstone apartment building on East 68th Street in New York City. The beautiful, but daffy Lucy has the nasty habit of getting into jams, scrapes, and predicaments of all kinds. The Ricardos’ best friends and landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz, frequently find themselves in the middle of Lucy’s outlandish escapades.

STRIKE BACK: Season 3 – Cinemax

Cinemax’s first scripted primetime drama series returns. A high-octane, globe-spanning thriller, Strike Back focuses on two members of Section 20, a secret British anti-terrorist organization: Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), a consummate British soldier still struggling to overcome tragedy in his life, and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a disgraced U.S. Delta Force operative who has found redemption with S-20. In Season 3, the series will have a true global canvas, opening in Colombia – with parallel missions in Beirut, Budapest, Russia, and Germany – and following a trail of drug money that is funding terrorists in the Middle East.

BLACK BOX – Lionsgate

Inside a mysterious black box lies the secret to one’s desires. As the black box changes hands, each new owner must resist what they covet most or prepare to defend their salacious greed against an immortal assassin. As several lives collide, can they escape the wrath of avarice and the black box?

ANTARCTIC EDGE – First Run Features

A thrilling journey to one of the world’s most perilous environments, Antarctic Edge: 70° South follows a team of scientists as they explore the West Antarctic Peninsula. In the wake of devastating climate events like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, oceanographer Oscar Schofield teams up with a group of researchers in a race to understand climate change in the fastest warming place on earth. While navigating through 60-foot waves and dangerous icebergs on a world-class icebreaker, the scientists travel to 70° south to a rugged and inhospitable island called Charcot with an arsenal of cutting-edge technology that will revolutionize how climate change is studied.

LAKE PLACID V. ANACONDA – Sony

Anacondas large enough to crush an SUV. Crocodiles strong enough to leap onto speedboats. When they’re not hunting for human prey, they’re more than willing to tkae on each other. Get ready for a non-stop bloodbath unlike anything you’ve seen before in this heart-pounding battle between mutated crocodiles and genetically engineered anacondas. Packed with hot sorority girls, big guns, and jaws massive enough to swallow a human in one bite, this is one screaming good time!

THE AFFAIR: Season 1 – CBS Paramount

Welcome to “The End of the World.” Noah Solloway has escaped the city with his family to his in-laws’ estate in eastern Long Island. He’s joined by his loving wife, Helen, and their four precocious children. At the same time, local Montauk waitress Alison Lockhart struggles with her husband, Cole, to move past a recent tragedy. In a chance encounter, Noah and Alison meet and connect. But in this bucolic beach town, it’s impossible to avoid someone you yearn to see again.

THE SALVATION – IFC Films

The mighty Mads Mikkelsen unleashes a maelstrom of bloodshed in the Wild West in this white-knuckle tale of revenge. When he lays waste to the scoundrels who killed his wife and son, a Danish ex-soldier (Mikkelsen) incurs the wrath of a sadistic gang leader hell-bent on hunting him down. Exploding with eye-popping action, dazzlingly dramatic frontier landscapes, and a smoldering performance by Eva Green, THE SALVATION is a rip-roaring, blood-spattered saga of sin and redemption.

BLACK AND WHITE: The Dawn of Assault – Shout Factory

When a maverick cop and a gangster headed for retirement team up, sparks will fly and heads will roll in Black & White: The Dawn of Assault! A big-screen prequel to the popular television series from Taiwan, The Dawn of Assault puts its own spin on the classic buddy cop formula with this outrageous actioner filled to the brim with over-the-top stunts, government conspiracies, and weapons of mass destruction. Suspended detective Wu finds himself back in the thick of things when he crosses paths with Triad member Xu, who’s looking to unload a stash of hot diamonds. When Xu’s deal turns into a shoot-out and the diamonds go missing, the cop and the criminal reluctantly join forces to retrieve them. Before long they find themselves not only to be the hunters, but the hunted as their mission escalates into something bigger and more dangerous than they’d ever expected!

INSURGENT – Lionsgate

Insurgent raises the stakes for Tris as she searches for allies and answers in the ruins of a futuristic Chicago. Tris (Woodley) and Four (James) are now fugitives on the run, hunted by Jeanine (Winslet), the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite. Racing against time, they must find out what Tris’s family sacrificed their lives to protect, and why the Erudite leaders will do anything to stop them. Haunted by her past choices but desperate to protect the ones she loves, Tris, with Four at her side, faces one impossible challenge after another as they unlock the truth about the past and ultimately the future of their world.

INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE – Sony

James Marsden, Thomas Jane, Piper Perabo and Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton star in this action-packed adventure set in the Alaskan wilderness. After a relentless grizzly starts to wreak havoc on a small town, the sheriff heads into the forest to find his ecologist wife but instead crosses paths with his estranged, ex-con brother. They soon find themselves on the run from the massive killer bear. The hunted become the hunters in this edge-of-your seat thriller about the power of nature and the smell of blood.

FLAMENCO, FLAMENCO – Music Box

Directed by legendary Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura, Flamenco, Flamenco is an evolutionary musical journey through the light, song and dance of a dynamic and alive art form. Beautifully photographed by famed Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, and showcasing a powerful new Flamenco through dazzling musical and dance performances by emerging talents, and the greatest living Flamenco masters, this unique musical odyssey reaches beyond the borders of Flamenco and Spanish culture toward a universal artistic expression.

PEPPA PIG: School Bus Trip – E1 Entertainment

Peppa is a loveable, cheeky little piggy who lives with her younger brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. Peppa s favorite things include playing games, dressing up, days out and jumping in muddy puddles. Her adventures always end happily with loud snorts of laughter.

THE DEAD LANDS – Magnolia

Hongi (James Rolleston) – a Maori chieftain’s teenage son – must avenge his father’s murder in order to bring peace and honor to the souls of his loved ones after his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery. Vastly outnumbered by a band of villains, led by Wirepa, Hongi’s only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious “Warrior” (Lawrence Makoare), a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.

THE TROUBLE WITH CHICKEN – PBS

Every year, Salmonella causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any other foodborne illness, with about one in four pieces of raw chicken contaminated with Salmonella today. Why isn t the U.S. food safety system stopping the threat? Correspondent David E. Hoffman investigates how and why the standards and laws around Salmonella have failed to keep up with the increasing danger posed by some strains of the bacteria.

A LITTLE CHAOS – Universal

Kate Winslet stars in this romantic drama as Sabine, a strong-willed and talented landscape designer, who is chosen to build one of the main gardens at the new palace at Versailles in the court of King Louis XIV (Alan Rickman). In her new position of power, she challenges gender and class barriers while also becoming professionally and romantically entangled with the court’s renowned landscape artist André Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts).

DESCENDANTS – Disney

Meet the next generation of villains in Disney’s Descendants! Imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost, home of the most infamous villains who ever lived, the kids of Maleficent (Kristen Chenoweth), the Evil Queen, Jafar and Cruella De Vil have never ventured off the island… until now. Sent to idyllic Auradon to attend prep school alongside the children of beloved Disney heroes, these villainous kids must execute a plan that helps their evil parents achieve “world domination” once again! Will Maleficent’s daughter (Dove Cameron) and the other rebel teens follow in their rotten parents’ footsteps or will they choose to embrace their innate goodness and save the kingdom? Co-starring Booboo Stewart, Cameron Boyce and introducing newcomer Sofia Carson, this wickedly cool comedy adventure is awesome to the core!

DEEP SEA BLUES – MVD

Since the 1960s, generations of fans have adopted outdoor festivals as the ideal place to experience live musical performances. But in recent years, the best American music festivals have moved onboard specially chartered cruise ships sailing from the U.S. to the Caribbean, Mexico, and elsewhere. One of the first and most successful of these, Roger Naber’s Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, is now considered the true Woodstock of the Waves, offering, as it does, the finest in traditional and contemporary music along with the same sense of peace, love and community spirit most often associated with late ’60s rock festivals. At the same time, these Blues Cruises are a welcome contemporary refuge for artists who once performed in juke joints and Chitlin’ Circuit clubs throughout the South, most of which have now disappeared. In January of 2007, Legendary’s Blues Cruise to the Caribbean featured more than 70 performances (Taj Mahal, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Otis Clay, Buckwheat Zydeco, Tommy Castro, Tab Benoit, Deanna Bogart, Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials, Commander Cody Band) and 14 special guests (Bobby Rush, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Earl Thomas). It also featured daylong stops on the gorgeous islands of St. John, St. Barth’s, and Grand Turk, two of which hosted additional concerts, and one a unique blues wedding on the beach.

TRUE STORY – Fox

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) meets accused killer Christian Longo (James Franco) – who has taken on Finkel’s identity – his investigation morphs into an unforgettable game of cat-and-mouse. Based on actual events, Finkel’s relentless pursuit of Longo’s true story encompasses murder, love, deceit and redemption.

I DREAM OF WIRES – First Run Features
Exploring the synthesizer’s history, the film reveals how innovators like Robert Moog developed the first room-sized prototypes. It shows the meteoric rise in popularity of the synthesizer – later made obsolete by a flood of cheap knockoffs. And it tracks the phenomenal resurgence of the high-end modular synthesizers being used today by a whole new generation of musicians, many of them at the forefront of EDM (electronic dance music). Musicians including Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Gary Numan, Carl Craig, Morton Subotnick and Vince Clarke (Erasure) talk about their passion for the modular synthesizer, and how it influencestheir music, while new EDM artists including Clark, James Holden and Factory Floor discuss why they’ve embraced its sound and physicality. Innovative companies including Modcan and Doepfer reveal how they planted the seeds that have now grown into a major cottage industry. What started out as a vintage-revival scene has grown into an underground phenomenon with modular obsessives craving ever more wild and innovative sounds and interfaces. Today, the modular synthesizer is no longer an esoteric curiosity or even a mere musical instrument – it is an essential tool for radical new sounds and a bona-fide subculture.

Synopsis used with permission

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