Read the best movie reviews for the latest films showing in N Hollywood movie theatres including: Regency Theatre North Hollywood, Century 8, and Laemmle NoHo 7.
The Equalizer reunites Denzel Washington and his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua for another 1980s television reboot, and a fairly entertaining one at that. If you remember the series with fondness, as I do, you’ll recall it was about retired agent Robert McCall and how he offered help, free of charge, to desperate folks who were usually trapped in life-or-death situations. McCall had, at his disposal, a wealth of experience, contacts, weaponry, and in the hands of that superb actor Edward Woodward, a formidable, occasionally stentorian approach to dealing with miscreants, murderers, and mayhem-makers: “LEAVE HER ALONE—OR I—WILL--KILL--YOU!”
Kevin Kline may not be the first one to admit (except perhaps when pressed--on camera) to his nickname, Kevin De-Kline (spelling mine—I don’t know how he spells it), so it was exciting to learn that he would be gracing the bijous with star turns in two independent films, The Last of Robin Hood and My Old Lady. Both are enjoyed if flawed, and provide glimpses into Kline’s considerable skills as an actor.
The premise of the beautifully acted Love is Strange might remind some viewers of Leo McCarey’s 1937 Make Way for Tomorrow. In that classic drama, an aging couple is forced to live separately with different relatives after they lose their home, and despite the hardships that ensue, what abides is their undying love and devotion.
There’s plenty of action in Guardians of the Galaxy, the latest Marvel cash cow to enter the multiplexes, but what might really win you over is the lighthearted, often funny nature of the enterprise.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a satisfying sequel in practically every way to 1911’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. There is no need to fret if you missed the first movie, as the sequel immediately sets the scene with a lethal virus (dubbed the Simian Flu), as well as all kinds of war and civil unrest, leading to devastation all over the world, with the survivors living in fragmented communities—and one community in particular engaged in a very uneasy truce with the intelligent apes who have made the Muir Woods their home.
Transformers: Age of Extinction is the first in the series without the presence of that Transformers fixture, Shia LaBoeuf, but the series (based on the box office grosses, if nothing else) will do just fine without him.
Maleficent turns out to be a surprisingly heartfelt, visually ravishing Disney variation on Sleeping Beauty, with Angelina Jolie majestically commanding center stage as the deeply conflicted Maleficent (hence the name and the title).
As I watching the events unfold in latest screen incarnation of Godzilla, several thoughts entered my mind, including, why so much Aaron Taylor Johnson, who must be one of the more colorless leads in movie history--and why so little Godzilla? Not that I need to see wall-to-wall Godzilla, but the big fella has been relegated here to a supporting role in his own mega-budget blockbuster.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the most satisfying entries in the Marvel superhero series, mainly because it’s an exciting, intelligent, entertaining blend of political thriller and superhero adventure. It would be hard to convey my enthusiasm without spilling key plot elements, but imagine a superhero adventure blended with elements of Three Days of the Condor and The Manchurian Candidate, and you’ll get the idea.
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is an engaging endeavor that combines old-fashioned elegance, zany antics, and elements of poignancy in telling the tale of a concierge, his new lobby boy, and an era of gentility endangered by the barbarians at the gate.
Liam Neeson reunites with Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra in Non-Stop, yet another movie destined never to be coming to an in-flight theater near you. Neeson is an alcoholic air marshal going through a rather rough patch: his daughter has died of cancer, his wife has divorced him and if that’s not enough--he has been receiving text messages while on a nonstop flight from New York to London, that passengers will begin to die every twenty minutes, unless a hefty sum ($150 million) is transferred to an off-shore bank account. He has to cope with any number of potential suspects (as in a planeload of passengers who resemble loud, obnoxious castoffs from the 1970 classic Airport), as well as off-camera superiors who think he’s lost his edge and his reason, and a suspicious, if not downright contentious flight crew.
George Clooney’s The Monuments Men plays like a cross between Ocean’s 11 (either Clooney’s or Sinatra’s) and sixties commando adventures like The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare –only without the wisecracking humor of the former (again, either version) and the action-packed thrills that marked the latter films.
Since it’s the dead of winter and many studios are in a holding mode on major new releases (as in holding on to these releases until such time as most of America can get to them—or become weary of the December releases), here are some pretty good films you may have missed—and are definitely worth catching:
American Hustle, David O. Russell’s follow-up to his widely praised Silver Linings Playbook proves to be his latest oft-kilter version of the American success story. It is also a vibrant, volatile, and frequently very funny film that occasionally feels like a cast reunion, what with Russell alums Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, joined by Jeremy Renner and Louis C.K. in what proves to be one of the best ensembles of the year.
It’s a particularly gray New York winter in 1961, and Llewyn Davis, the talented but struggling folk singer at the center of the Coen Brothers’ bittersweet odyssey Inside Llewyn Davis, has endured more than his share of hardships and is approaching a crossroads. Carrying on as a solo act in the aftermath of his partner’s suicidal leap (off the George Washington Bridge), Llewyn’s paying gigs have been dwindling, as is his own manager’s interest in Llewyn’s career; he’s also down to his last few dollars (dimes?) and the list of friends who will offer him a spare couch is pretty much exhausted (his future stayovers with some uptown non-folk friends being jeopardized when he loses their cat).